While many people are quick to upgrade their phones or other pieces of technology, the Amish are a group of people who are more resistant to technology. They embrace a simpler way of living through the way they dress, their religious beliefs, and avoiding modern technologies.
If you’ve never spotted an Amish horse and buggy trotting along the highway, there’s a good chance they don’t live in your part of the country. So, where do the Amish live in the USA?
Let’s look and see!
Who Are The Amish?
The Amish are a group of traditionalist Anabaptist Christian followers that typically have Swiss German or Alsatian origin. While closely related, Amish and Mennonites are different branches of the Anabaptist denomination.
They value their rural life by working hard, having humility, and submitting themselves to God’s will. The Amish strive to maintain personal relationships and be as self-sufficient as possible in all ways of life.
Most people recognize the Amish for their rather plain attire. A typical man wears a collared shirt, a brimmed hat, and a suit on occasion. The men grow beards that reflect their manhood and marital status. However, you’ll never see a male with a mustache as the Amish connect mustaches to the military, and their pacifist beliefs cause them to oppose all military actions strongly.
Why Did They Settle In The USA?
The Amish settled in Pennsylvania as a part of William Penn’s “Holy Experiment.” This was an attempt by Penn and others in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to create a community for religious minorities facing persecution. They began settling in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County in the 1720s and 1730s.
The Amish were European farmers, but very few owned their farmland. The promise of owning their land and being a part of a welcoming community of religious folks was exciting. The Amish continued to arrive in America through the 18th and 19th centuries. The group began expanding westward and eventually started popping up in other rural states like Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois.
Are The Amish and Mennonites The Same?
No, the Amish and Mennonites are not the same. The Amish are very resistant to using technology and will often stick to themselves away from society. The Amish follow Jakob Amman, a former Anabaptist leader who believed in a new birth experience for Christ followers.
On the other hand, Mennonites live among normal populations and are less likely to separate themselves from the surrounding community. Mennonite followers continue to follow a plain and simple lifestyle but are a bit more liberal regarding technology use. The two groups are deeply committed to their religious beliefs.
Pro Tip: Hop on I-80 to get to where the Amish communities live with our Interstate 80 Road Trip Guide.
How Do The Amish Live Differently From Other Americans?
The Amish live very different lives than most Americans. They live in communities that follow strict guidelines regarding almost every area of their lives. However, it’s important to note that many rules and restrictions vary between the various communities. Some communities are stricter than others. The strictest communities even prohibit the use of things like buttons and zippers.
Aside from the deeply religious beliefs, what stands out to most Americans is how the Amish rejects technology. Horses and buggies are the primary means of transportation and they rely on manual labor to plow, plant, and harvest their crops. Their resilience to technology may cause more manual labor, but it frees them from the constant distractions that many Americans face.
Where Do The Amish Live In The USA?
The Amish may have started in Pennsylvania, but they’ve expanded to many other states. In fact, you can find their communities in more than 30 different states and in Canada as well. They’re more commonly seen throughout the midwestern states that are more likely to have a rural setting.
However, they’re a growing group as Amish families average seven children per family, and they retain nearly 80% of their church members.
What State Has The Largest Amish Population?
Two-thirds of the US Amish population lives in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, with the largest population in Ohio. You’ll find the most living around Holmes County, approximately 78 miles from Cleveland.
There’s also quite an impressive amount of the group living in Elkhart, Indiana, where many RV manufacturers employ them. The total population is about 350,000.
Pro Tip: Go off grid for a few days and camp at one of these 7 Best Free Campgrounds in Ohio.
Can You Visit Their Communities?
Some Amish communities embrace the curiosity of others and provide tourism opportunities. This can include guesthouses on their property, horse-and-buggy rides, or shops for them to sell their hand-made crafts and food items. These tourist destinations are easy to find throughout areas with a significant Amish population.
You must remember that some enjoy the separation from those who do not follow their way of life more than others. Just because you see an Amish property does mean they are accepting of visitors. Despite their pacifist beliefs, we don’t recommend wandering onto any private property.
Drive Through Amish Country To Appreciate The Simple Life
The Amish lead a unique and very interesting way of life. Many of us have no idea what to do when our cell phones die, or the WiFi goes down at home. We simply can’t imagine living a lifestyle free from technology and many modern conveniences.
However, if you ever interact with an Amish person, they’re some of the happiest and stress-free people you’ll ever encounter. Maybe they’re onto something?
Have you ever visited an Amish community? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
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