Amish Communities

Descendants of the reform movement in founded in Europe by Jacob Amman (1644 to 1720), today’s Amish communities live apart from the rest of society. Motivated by faith to live a very disciplined and ordered life, the Amish split from the Mennonites communities clustered around the southern Rhine river region in Switzerland in the late 17th century.

The first Amish immigrants came to America in the early 18th century, settling in Pennsylvania. Later immigrants established communities in Ohio, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. Each of these communities operates independently of one another. Their religious practices and daily lives differ in specifics from one another and there not an over-arching religious structure. A German dialect, often referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch, is the first language of most Amish. Children usually learn American English in school.

Amish children attend one-room schools until they reach the equivalent of 8th grade, after which they begin to work in a trade.

Modesty and humility guide the life practices of the Amish. You see this in their clothing that covers in dark colors without patterns, their shunning of electrical devices such as TVs and computers, and vehicles.

There is not a complete census of the Amish population, but it is estimated that about 180,000 adults Amish now live in 22 states.