You’ve probably heard a lot about the big Amish settlements–Lancaster County and Holmes County and the northern Indiana Amish community, to name a few. But do you know some of the other places Old Order Amish can be found across America?
I’ve been visiting Amish communities since 2004, and keep a running tally of the places I’ve been. Ten years later, it’s up to 53 communities. I always seem to find something interesting about each new settlement, whether it’s a neat business, an unusual accent, or an odd style of buggy.
Here are some things you might not know about the 400+ places the Amish call home:
- Amish live in 30 states. There are Amish communities in Colorado and West Virginia and Maine. You’ll even find Amish in Florida, Texas, and Montana.
- There are no Amish communities outside the US and Canada. Though the Amish came from Europe, none have lived there since the 1930s.
- Either Pennsylvania or Ohio has the largest Amish population. Estimates are so similar it’s probably too close to call. According to Elizabethtown College’s Amish Studies website, over 65,000 Amish live in either state.
- The largest Amish community in the South? That depends what you consider the South. Ethridge, Tennessee, home to around 1500 Amish, may be the largest. But if Kentucky or southern Missouri count as “Southern,” then it’s probably in one of those states (either Munfordville, KY, or Seymour, MO).
- Some of the places Amish live have neat names (I am a map nerd, so bear with me). Amish live in places like Beeville in Bee County (Texas), Philadelphia (a town in New York), Lucknow (Ontario) and Fertile (in northern Minnesota–and in my opinion the “perfect” Amish place name 🙂 ).
- States with a single Amish community include North Carolina, Delaware, Mississippi and Idaho. Some of those are brand-new (Idaho’s sole settlement started in 2012), some have been around awhile (the Dover, DE community turns 100 next year).
The oldest surviving Amish community is in Lancaster County. The next two oldest are also in Pennsylvania (Somerset County and Mifflin County).
- Amish of different affiliations may live in the same community. You see this in Holmes County, Ohio, home to four major Amish groups, or in Mifflin County, PA’s Big Valley settlement, where three distinct groups live. The different Amish affiliations interact to different degrees; some are more traditional, others more progressive.
- With large families typical, Amish are growing at a rapid rate. And they’re moving. According to one Ohio State study, a new Amish settlement is gained about once every 4-and-a-half weeks.
- The most scenic Amish community? Okay, this one is much more opinion than “fact.” =) My own short list includes Lancaster County, Rexford, Montana, and Parke County, Indiana (where you’ll find the greatest number of covered bridges in America). Which do you think it is?
Questions? Know something interesting about an Amish community? Let us know, or ask your questions, in the comments section below!
Erik Wesner writes about the Amish in print and online. His first book, Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive was based on 60 interviews Erik conducted with Amish business owners, as well as his own experiences living and working in Amish communities from Pennsylvania to Iowa. He has contributed to Amish-themed articles featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other print media. He also has served as a consultant for numerous authors of Amish fiction and non-fiction and writes the Amish America blog. His upcoming book is called 50 Fascinating Amish Facts.
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, first-look excerpts and much more.