You’ve seen them in For Richer or Poorer and various Hallmark movies. Perhaps you live in Pennsylvania and have seen them on the side of the road with their buggies. The Amish way of life is very mysterious and not many know how it works, nor where they live. For instance, did you know that more than two-thirds of all Amish live in three U.S. States, while over 95% of Amish live in North America? That’s a lot of Amish in the US. Because the word “Amish” didn’t even exist until the Germans immigrated here and created it.
But even if you do live in a state of the Amish, there’s a good chance you’ve never even seen any in person. This is because, in general, they don’t travel far, preferring to stay close to home. While the car-driving, electricity-using Amish live in El Salvador, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ireland, Ukraine, Romania, Kenya, and Australia, the Old Order Amish don’t tend to migrate.
For those who don’t know, the Old Order Amish live a very strict lifestyle. Most don’t use electricity, indoor plumbing, or pay taxes. However, this varies depending on where they live. There are hundreds of different variants in the Amish world, and each of them have different beliefs and connections with us, the “Englischers.” But where are all of these Amish? Take a look at these fifteen places with the most Amish settlements in the whole world!
15. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Now, I’m sure anyone who has ever heard anything about the Amish has heard of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. That’s because a good majority of Amish live here, and it’s the largest Amish community in the world. There are over 50 settlements belonging to the Amish in the state. Lancaster County was founded in 1760.
If you want a real Old Order Amish Tourist Town, go to Intercourse in Lancaster County. There you will find Amish quilt shops with all quilts made by hand, Amish friendship bread fresh out of the oven, and woodwork done by hands that have been tuning their expertise for decades. This town isn’t far from the place that the tragic school shooting took place in 2006, taking the lives of young Amish girls. But if you’d rather not think about that, then take a load off and stay at one of the homes of the Amish where you can join them for every meal as one of theirs in a Bed and Breakfast.
14. Holmes County, Ohio
The second most populous Amish communities reside in Holmes County, Ohio. And it is actually the largest Amish community in the world, known as “Amish Country” to those in the US. The Amish population is so large that nearly fifty percent of the population considers German or Dutch their first language. The Dutch they know is a different form of Dutch that has been adapted over time to fit the region. Here, about 35,000 Amish live in a secluded community. Some predict that, in about a decade, it will be the first community in history to have more Amish than non-Amish individuals.
While being known for being large, it is also known for having the most diverse Amish settlements. Some are Old Order, some are New Order, and some have developed their own set of rules, residing somewhere in the middle.
13. Kings County, Prince Edward Island
It may surprise you to hear that there is an Amish community in Canada, but believe it now. It helps to know that Kings County is Prince Edward Island’s smallest, most rural, and least populated county. It depends largely in the agricultural industry, run primarily by the Amish. The county owns the province’s largest sawmill. It may seem odd to hear this, but the truth is that the Amish just started migrating there in the last two years.
In 2016, about 15 farms were purchased by the Amish and business at the hardware store is booming. People have been very welcoming, adding hitching posts in various stores in Montague and Cardigan. The province has even put up signs urging drivers to take care of buggies driving alongside them. The reason that the Amish migrated there is due to the cost in farmland. Where a piece of land may cost $25,000 where they come from, in Kings County, they are finding pieces for less than $3000. Smart move, Amish people.
12. Elkhart/Lagrange Counties, Indiana
The Amish here prefer to call themselves the Elkhart-LaGrange Amish affiliation. There are nearly 200 churches in the two counties and there’s one thing that separates this affiliation from most. The Elhart-LaGrange Amish are united as one. Whereas the communities in Lancaster and Holmes see themselves as separate churches, the Amish in these two counties see themselves as one large church with identical beliefs. While it only makes up 7% of the Amish population, it is the most densely populated in the whole country. This might be because the Amish here see themselves as one. Because of this, they wish to remain in close contact with each other.
Despite this, they are one of the very few communities that allow what they call “Englischers” to work with them. Often, they even hire non-Amish people to teach their children, who only go to school through 8th grade.
11. Geauga County, Ohio
Another county that enjoys their integration is Geauga County, which seems to be on friendly terms with the Englischers who live nearby. They claim to have not only one of the closest-knit communities, but the best maple syrup outside of Canada. But it’s the integration that really makes them shine.
The county has created public websites for each of the Amish run business to help both market and make their content easy to access. From Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen to Yoders Amish Furniture, you can find anything that the Amish at Geauga can make. Just remember to try out some of their signature cheese before you leave at a place like Rothenbuhler Cheesemakers. The sense of community at Geauga is exquisite and not one that is easy to miss upon visiting.
10. Allen County, Indiana
In all of Indiana, the “nicest” Amish community to live is Allen County. If the Amish had classes, Allen County would be upper class. They are known for having nicer buggies, horses, and expensive homes. While most Amish home are made of wood, many of the homes in Allen County are made of brick. Ask any Amish community and those who know of Allen County will tell you that the Amish there are well off and use more than they need.
The reason behind the prosperity is their stroke of luck with the construction industry, and the fact that they have the agricultural industry as support. Compared to the outsiders, they may seem like they aren’t living too well. But compared to other Amish, they are living on Cloud 9, with more than enough to survive.
9. Palatinate (Region), Germany
Though you can rarely find Amish outside of North America, there are a select few areas in the world where they reside on occasion. As you likely know, the Amish originally came from Germany hundreds of years ago before migrating to the US and creating the Amish way of life. This is why many of the US Amish speak primarily Pennsylvania Dutch, which is derived from the Palatine German language. Not long ago, a few Amish families decided to regain touch with their roots and traveled back to Palatinate. Today, a few still reside there, but many believe the number will rise as more and more Amish join their brethren in Palatinate.
Even though not many Amish reside there at the moment, the influence is easily seen. You will see many of the types of bread, kraut, soup, and meats that the Amish eat in Palatinate. It just shows you the roots of the Amish way of life that we don’t see too often due to America being so new to us.
8. Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
Though Mifflin isn’t any Lancaster, it is still a very prominent Amish community in the US. About 40% of all residents are of German ancestry, meaning that many of them either are or have family of the Amish faith. In Mifflin County, the Amish have a very special, rural area to call their own called Kishacoquillas Valley. It is the third oldest Amish community in existence. It is considered “one of the most diverse expressions of Anabaptist-Mennonite culture anywhere in North America,” due to the differences in the way the Amish and Mennonites believe. There are three prominent groups: the Byler, the Renno, and the Nebraska, all of varying conservativeness.
Mifflin is home to the famous author John A. Hostetler who was born to an Old Order Amish family. After reading false accounts as to what the Amish life is like, he was inspired to become a truth teller who would spread the word about the Amish.
7. Colonia Naranjita, Bolivia
Though many of the conservatives in Bolivia are Mennonites, there are still Old Order Amish as well, many who moved there in 2016. As for the Mennonites, they are known as Russian Mennonites who lived in Prussia for 200 years before moving in 1789. As for the Amish, the sect involved has about 300,000 people, though many of them have not yet moved to Bolivia, there are plans for more to move from various areas.
At first, it was solely the 50,000 Mennonites, but as close friends to many of the Amish, they reached out and invited them to share the land there. It’s up to the future to decide how many will eventually migrate to the South American country of Bolivia. Who knows, it could become South America’s very own Lancaster County!
6. Seymour, Missouri
Seymour isn’t as well known to outsiders as Lancaster or Holmes, but to locals, it’s a legend. Ask any Missouri resident where the most Amish are and they will tell you Seymour. There are books on Seymour focused on the Amish community. Unlike many Amish communities, both the city and the Amish have adapted to each other. The Amish have hitching posts and provide businesses for the Englischers. Many even offer corn and other veggies to Englischers who will come to their houses and pick it up. Years ago, they even sent their children to public school. But the addition of electronics and computers threatened their way of life, so they took them out and began homeschooling. The community is fairly new, the first Amish settling in just 1968, making it a rather fast-growing Amish settlement in comparison.
5. Arthur, Illinois
In 1877, the population in Arthur was just 300, but today, the population of Amish alone highly exceeds that number. Something odd about the Amish in Arthur is that they are often called “Plain People” rather than Amish. There is no doubt that this town is the sweetest Amish town in the country. The town motto is actually, “You are only a stranger once.” Now doesn’t that sound inviting?
The town is small, but they make you feel at home. But there is a catch. The Amish here are one of the biggest believers in not having their picture taken. While all Amish generally believe that it is a sin to have their picture taken, the Amish in Arthur feel even more strongly about it than most. So it is asked by the town itself that you respect their wishes. But enjoy the sites and homey shops! They say that if you get lost, just ask the man standing next to you where you are, cause they’ll always be a friendly hand to help out.
4. Cashton, Wisconsin
In all of Wisconsin, Cashton has the largest Amish community. Unlike many other Amish, the Cashton Amish not only don’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, but they don’t have warm water. That means they wash and cook with cold water. They have to boil their own water over a fire to cook. But that doesn’t mean they don’t associate with the “English.” In fact, the Amish supply milk for cheese shops. They even have many shops on their own, such as three hat shops, three buggy makers and a shoe store, which keep the Cashton Amish supplied with clothing and transportation. Smaller stores include cabinet makers, metal shops, bulk food stores, a hardware store and a clockmaker!
3. Milverton, Ontario
Yep, Canada has more than one Amish community. Milverton has the oldest and largest Amish community in Canada. It was settled in 1824 and is known as the most traditional Amish settlement in the country, which is likely because they are the oldest. They even go so far as to use buggies solely without tops, while many other communities have progressed to covered buggies. Inside word says that the Old Order Amish here refuse to associate with the Newer Amish communities. There’s a good chance that the newer communities were previously part of the Milverton settlement before progressing too far for the Old Order thinkers to handle.
Every year, the Amish hold an Amish School Auction, open to the public that has furniture, tools, animals, and food. Thousands and thousands gather to witness the auction and take part. The proceeds go directly to the Amish to fund the schooling, supplies and all, for the entire year.
2. Adams County, Indiana
Adams County is what many call a windmill-powered community, at least as far as the Amish are concerned. Most of what they use is powered by windmills, and like many Amish communities, they tend to share most of what they have. Photos have been taken of their houses and schools where one cup will be shared as a drinking cup for the whole schoolyard or family. This is to form a sense of community.
As for the English, you can buy stoves, shoes, and more here. But the most common tourist attraction is called “Amishville,” where many come to camp out overnight. Here, you can camp out, taste homemade Amish food, and experience the sights every day and night. Even those who don’t enjoy the down to earth experience will love the waterpark and more secular attractions within a short driving distance of the campsite.
1. Catamarca, Argentina
Likely the only Amish settlement in Argentina can be found in Catamarca. For hundreds of years, no Amish person resided in the country. But just a few years ago, a few families decided to move to Catamarca, making in the most populous Amish city in all of Latin America. Like the settlement in Bolivia, this started with the Mennonites who lived there and invited the Amish to join them. Argentineans were incredibly surprised when this happened, considering Amish communities never last down there. Whether it’s the climate or the economy is unknown. All they know is that the Amish tend to leave after only a few years there. Maybe this time will be different and pretty soon, there won’t be a continent or country even that doesn’t have at least one Amish settlement. Until then, we’ll just have to deal with the fact that about 70% of them are in three states in the US. Now that’s concentrated.
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