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The Ohio Amish community is one of the largest in the world. The Amish started to settle in Ohio with the purchase of land grants in the early 1800s. As the Amish community in Ohio grew, so did the Amish congregations. There are several different Amish affiliations that make up the Ohio Amish community and Wayne County settlements. There are nearly thirty thousand Amish in Holmes County Settlement nearly one-seventh of the total population of the Amish in the United States. Amish distinguish themselves through their religious ideologies that infiltrate into every aspect of their lives.

History[edit | edit source]

“The government would not allow Anabaptist's to own land. Consequently they fled from one location to another, and were usually burdened with taxes. Bibles and religious literature were strictly forbidden by the officials. They were often forced to hold church services in secret places. This was the way of our forefathers in the European countries” – Gideon Fisher

The Amish in the 1800s were a mobile people; westward expansion allowed for easy travel and settlement in America. The first recorded Amish pioneers settled in Tuscarawas County, Ohio in the fall of 1808. These first settlers were Jacob Miller and his two sons Henry and Jacob. Jacob Miller traveled to Somerset County, Pennsylvania and returned the following spring with others including Jonas Stutzman (Weiss Stutzman). Jonas Stutzman was draw into an Ohio settlement with the land deeds that President Thomas Jefferson signed for land near Walnut Creek in Holmes County. These small clusters of Amish settlement quickly grew and flourished in Ohio's arable farmland. In 1835, nearly two hundred fifty Amish families lived in Holmes County. [1] In 1984 the Holmes – Wayne – Tuscarawas Amish settlement contained 111 congregations, the largest anywhere.[2]

Religion[edit | edit source]

The Amish stem from Dutch and Swiss Protestants know as Anabaptists. They believed in adult baptism, after a candidate professes their faith in Christ and wants to be baptized. While all Amish share the same theology, the way in which they apply the doctrine differs, creating doctrinal disputes which create subgroups.[3]

Amish Affiliations[edit | edit source]

Holmes Old Order Amish: This Amish order was made up of a conservative faction of Amish that developed with the first settlement in 1808. Holmes Old Order emphasizes traditional practices and beliefs. [4]

Swartzentruber Amish: Swartzentruber Amish broke off from the Holmes Old Order Amish around 1913. Swartzentruber Amish are considered more conservative subgroup of Old Order Amish. Their first language is Pennsylvania German. Some differences include: they moved north to Mt. Hope in the Mt. Eaton, they mainly wear browns and blacks, no car use except in an emergency. [5] The main reason for the split from the Old Order Amish concerned “bann und Meidung” (excommunication and shunning).

New Order Amish: The New Order Amish in Ohio separated from the Holmes Old Order in the 1960s. This New Order was concerned with their youth which resulted in developing Sunday schools and Wednesday evening religious instructions. New Order Amish do not condone tobacco, alcohol, or the practice of bundling, or non-sexually lying in bed together, during courtship.[6]

Andy Weaver Amish: The Andy Weaver Amish developed from the Old Order Amish in 1952. This Amish group typically has conservative notion on technology and strict social shunning practices with liberal notions concerning tobacco and alcohol use.

Settlements[edit | edit source]

Amish settlements refer to geographically contiguous cluster of church districts, regardless of affiliation.[7] The first Ohio settlers came from Somerset County, PA settlements. They moved to Holmes County, Ohio, around 1807, expanding after the War of 1812. This Holmes County group slowly spread into Tuscarawas County eastward and into Wayne County northward, ultimately becoming the largest single settlement of Amish, exceeding even the Berks-Lancaster settlement, with a baptized population of about 5,000 in 1990. [8]

Historical events[edit | edit source]

The next couple of years, 1850 - 1870, Amish settlements grew, expanded and experienced division based on issues of adaptations. The leading issues were over church Ordnung interpretations.

The Baptism Controversy

The Amish experienced their first major controversy over arguments concerning whether stream baptism was adequate. Bishop Jacob D. Yoder was a proponent for this change, he held along with other progressive notion such as, mule racing and horse trading. This Baptism Controversy created tension between leading ministers’. David Luthy in this book The Amish in America: Settlements That Failed 1840 – 1960, argues that this controversy was the start of division which separated the Amish into progressive and conservative groups: Amish-Mennonite group and an Old Order Amish group.

In 1820, John Burkholder, a Mennonite from Switzerland applied for membership in the Mifflin County Amish community. John Burkholder refused to be baptized and was denied membership in Mifflin County Amish community. [9] Burkholder moved to Wayne County where he was accepted without being baptized. The Relationship between Mifflin and Wayne county settlements became strained and several meeting with ordained brethren took place to discuss the Baptism Controversy and other problems. In 1826 and 1827, the first meeting came together to discuss the baptism of the Mennonites and whether to recognize them as Amish. The first large scale minister’s meeting was on May 25, 1831 they decided that baptize of strangers would not be recognized. [10]


The Amish in America would hold annual conferences to discuss differences in religious practices, called Diener-Versammlungen. The first Diener-Versammlungen was sparked by The Baptism Controversy in Wayne County. At the first session held in 1862, major consideration was given to the controversy over baptism which had troubled certain Pennsylvania brethren for some years. The main issue that was discussed concerned if baptism could be administered in a flowing stream (creek or river) or in the house? This first meeting did not develop a definite decision by the conference.[11]

Amish historical timeline[edit | edit source]

Date Events
1517 Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany.
1525 Anabaptist movement begins in Zurich, Switzerland
1632 A meeting of Mennonite ministers endorses he Dordrecht Confession of Faith in Dordrecht
1693 The Amish movement coalesces in Switzerland.
1730-1770 The first wave of Amish immigrated to North America.
1815–1860 The second wave of Amish immigrated to North America
1862–1878 Continent-wide Amish ministers meeting (dienerversammlungen) are held to confirm Amish unity, but the meetings result in division. A distinct Old Order movement emerges after 1865.

Church[edit | edit source]

Amish church districts are made up of twenty-five to forty families called Gmay. The Gmay are social units following after the direct families that structurally help stabilize Amish communities. [12] The size of Gmay depends on population size, shrinking and growing depending on the community. A church district is typically represented by geographical marker’s from roads, streams, township lines and other markets. The Amish community members participate in the church district that encircles their home.

Church Districts are governed by an Ordnung, the understanding of expectations that are handed down orally that is reviewed twice a year.[13] The Amish do not have a building for Church, families live close enough to attend church services in community homes instead of meeting houses. The Church district consists of a bishop, two ministers, and a deacon. These positions are selected by drawing lots from a pool of married male church members.[14] In the church the Bishop serves as the spiritual head of a district.

In 1855, the Amish settlement in Wayne County became large enough to split into two church districts; the North District and the South District. These two districts where split by the Smucker Road, running east to west in Green Township. [15]

Ordained Ministers[edit | edit source]

David Zook: (1780-1863) was the first resident Bishop in Wayne county. In 1834, Zook moved to the Settlement in Fairfield county, Ohio. [16]

Christian Brandt: (b. 1783 - d. Dec 20, 1866) was ordained a minister in Canton Bern, Switzerland. He immigrated to America in the summer of 1817 where he moved to Wayne County in 1818. He ministered for fifty years in Wayne County.[17]

Peter Schrock: (b. 1795 – d. May 1846) Peter was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He married Sarah Miller and came to Holmes County in 1818. [18]

John Fordemwalt “Farmwald”: (b. 1782 - ) John Fordemwalt was born near Strasbourg, Alsace. He married Anna Wagler in 1807 an immigrated to America in 1817. He was a thought to be ordained in Wayne County. John was one of the ministers who signed the agreement regarding the baptism controversy. He had two sons, Adam and David, who he later moved with to settle in Lee County in Iowa.[19]

Christian Schantz: The 1850 Ohio census shows he was married to Catherine and they resided in Milton Township. He was evidently a Bishop since records indicate that he united Jonathan B Stutzman and Fannie Bachman in marriage Feb. 3, 1842. His name appears in the ordained brethren who attended the Diener Versammlung in 1862 and 1865, which was held in Wayne County both those years (one year his name was reported as “Peter” which evidently was an error.)

Christian Nofziger: (b. June 24, 1819 - d. March 21, 1892) at Condoman , Weisenburgh , France and came with his parents in 1831 , to settle in Canaan Township of Wayne County.

Peter Blough: (b. 1804) Migrated to Wayne County from Somerset County, Penna.

Jacob King: (b. 1811 - d. January 4, 1891) and emigrated from Freiburg, Germany in 1832. Married Rebecca Zook and was ordained a deacon sometime before 1855.

Historical documents[edit | edit source]

Land Grant Records[edit | edit source]

Name Date Year Location
Jacob Plank October 21 1813 Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
John Zook October 21 1813 Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
Jacob Kurtz May 23 1814 Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
Abraham Kurtz October 21 1814 Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
Christian Yoder December 1 1813 Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
Stephen Yoder December 1 1813 Tuscarawas County, Ohio
Abraham Schrock October 30 1813 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
David Stutzman November 12 1813 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Jacob Yoder November 12 1813 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Joseph Yoder November 12 1813 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
John Yoder May 19 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Christian Yoder May 19 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
John Stutzman June 25 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Abraham Stutzman June 25 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Christian Schrock July 16 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania
John Schrock August 13 1814 Somerset County, Pennsylvania


Way of Life[edit | edit source]

Within the Amish community moral order is a continuous concern for each member. Moral order reinforces who they are and how they should live.[21]

There are two main sources of authority in Amish society. The first Scripture and the second Ordnung which dictate social norms and behavior within the Amish society. Scripture sets out what is right and wrong based on the Bible. The Ordnung goes beyond the Bible and covers issues that the scripture does not directly address.

The Amish live a life modeled after Jesus Christ and based in Scripture. Gelassenheit is a term that the Amish identify with meaning spirit of selflessness, humility, or meekness. The Amish see themselves as separate from the world.[22] The Amish avoid force and competition in social relations, so they do not file lawsuits or hold political office.The Amish practice non-violence and so do not serve in armed forces. They do not believe in taking vows, making them incapable of participating in jury duty. Amish who are self-employed or employed by other Amish are exempted by Federal law and so not have to pay for Social Security and Medicare funds. Amish children are not considered adults until the age of 17 -21. At this age, they make the choice as to whether they want to fully join the Amish church and make the conscious decision.

Traditions[edit | edit source]

Religious traditions in the Amish community distinguish them from other communities. [23] The Amish celebrate four holidays: Easter, Ascension Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. They celebrate Christmas on January 6th, as they never agreed with Pope Gregory moving it in 1582. The experience of Rumspringa varies from Amish affiliations and by family. Rumspringa is a coming of age ritual activity that Amish youth can take part in. Shunning and excommunication are more ritual activities present in the Amish communities. The Amish have distinct clothing that they wear. Each Amish affiliation clothing typically has a different color or style that distinguish them. Bundling is an Amish tradition where a man and women occupy the same bed without undressing, especially during courtship.

Myths[edit | edit source]

Hex Signs: As portrayed in tourist magazines and books Hex signs are not used by the Holmes County Amish.[24]

Schools[edit | edit source]

"When you have too much education you become strong, arrogant, and lose your humility. If you get high-minded then the honor goes to you instead of God" -Retired business owner.

Amish communities distinguish schooling into two concepts; "book learning" which teaches skills, and education (wisdom), which inculcates values.[25] The Amish believe that learning and knowledge have a tendency to cultivate pride in individuals. According to Scripture, pride is a sin which threatens to place oneself before god. The main goal of an Amish education and apprenticeship is to produce hard-working, self-motivated individuals.

The Amish school is perceived to be a one-room schoolhouse. Amish school lasts though the 8th grade.[26] Eight years of educations allows for a basic education, college preparing class is not viewed as necessary to the Amish. The 1972 Supreme Court decision for State of Wisconsin v. Jonas Yoder et al., exempted the Amish from the compulsory schooling beyond the eighth grade. This controversial case was important in Amish communities before which many Amish parents had been arrested for failing to send children to school.

There are three main options for Amish schools; private Amish-run parochial schools, public schools, and home schooling [27]. The majority of the Amish send their child to Amish-run parochial private schools [28]. Parochial schools are controlled by an Amish broad, parents and teachers. Amish private schools are organized in terms of the number of families who send children to them. These classes are led by a young educated Amish women or men. The Amish started leaving public schools in the 1940s because of consolidation. The Amish agree with public schools that remain small and community values are stressed over individual agency. Homeschooling and putting an adult in charge of a child's education is seen by the Amish as privileging agency over structure.[29]

After the eighth years of education the Amish typically continue learning through apprenticeship.

Business[edit | edit source]

In Wayne County and surrounding areas Amish agricultural means of profit have shifted to a Business oriented design through a products and services focus. Types of businesses include furniture making, construction firms, and retail stores. Construction firms, specializing in residential or commercial, have found a home in the Amish workforce conducting roofing, plumbing, and painting. Amish retail stores selling food, clothing, and crafts have entered into the economic market.

Amish family dynamics and communities were once shaped after a farming per-industrialization system. However, a movement away from this farming means of production to one focused on business has infiltrated Amish life. Amish women and men now participate in businesses and become entrepreneurs. Amish communities have historical been conservative in the method of farming creating strict forms of farming techniques. Amish districts depending on church affiliation have different notions of what is acceptable to use in an Amish business. According to differences in Ordnung from one settlement or affiliation restrictions on levels of technology used in businesses occurs.

New controversial enterprises Amish have explored as a means of profit are dog rising and deer farming.[30]. These diverse uses of Amish land allows for a relatively easy source of income.

Amish business owners exist in contradictory to the Amish idea of Gelassenheit considering owning a business requires a competitive nature. While Amish continue to create businesses, the ideology Amish hold concerning exiting separate from the sinful and global world will most likely be influenced by the Amish presence in these environments.[31] Amish Ordnung influences Business endeavors through access to the technologies available to business owners and employees. Depending on the Amish affiliations different Ordnung interpretations allow different technology.

Technology[edit | edit source]

Technologies influence on Amish societies has circuitously caused disputes between Amish affiliations. Distinguishing between ownership and access to different forms of technology creates this discrepancy in mode of responses from one group to another. The dichotomous relationship between Amish and growing use of technology has controversial effects in how the Amish views technology. Some examples include: Cars, Radio, Television, video, smartphones, the internet and some non electric technology.

Newspaper articles[edit | edit source]

Template:The Holmes County Hub

Timeline[edit | edit source]

Newspaper Topic Year Date
De Luxe Buggies, Made fr Amish, Now have Timken Bearing, electric lights and foam robber cushions 1951 June 14
Bishop Tells Writer About Naming Pastor 1924 Jan 10
Daily Record Buggy - Making Revival Told 1952 June 10
Daily Record Ancient Trade Continues At East South St. 1957 March 3
Cleveland Plain Dealer Amish Keep Wooster’s Anvil Busy 1957 Feb 6
Daily Record “Old Christmas” Today Is Serious 2nd Holiday For Amish Residents Of Areas 1957 March 18
Daily Record Mt. Eaton Area Amish Plan Canada Migration 1961 Feb 20
Daily Record Combined factors Send Area Amish 300 Miles 1961 Feb 21
Daily Record Amish Trek to Canada Started 5 Years Ago 1961 Feb 22
Daily Record Local Bus Line Meanders To Serve Amish, Small Towns In Wayne, Holmes 1965 Jan 25
Cleveland Plain Dealer Ohio Claims Biggest Amish Settlement 1967 June 28
Daily Record Defects Pinpointed in Amish Settlement 1968 March 5
Daily Record Amish Church Districts In Wayne Co., Holmes, Coshocton, and Tuscarawas (Map) 1957 March 16
Daily Record This area’s Colorful “Plain People” Have Long History 1967 March 16
PW John Hostetler Bears Witness to Amish Culture and Calls The Movie Witness “A Mockery” 1985 March 11
Beacon Journal Amish Population Boom 1989 May 11
Daily Record German Museum To Unveil Posters of 100 – Year – Old – Drawing 1989 July 26
Daily Record 40 Amish Families Laving Northeast Ohio For Kentucky 1989 August 1
Daily Record German Museum Volunteers Honored 1989 December 13
Ohio Magazine Ohioans The End Of His Rope 1989 March
Wheeling News- Register Amish Families Leave Northeast Ohio for Kentucky 1993 April 19
Holmes County Guide Amish live simple lifestyle void of modern conveniences 1993 N/a
Columbus Dispatch The Amish “We Are Different” 1988 April 17
Amish Traditions And Myths 1967
Horses Get New Shoes In 49 – Year Old Shop Here 1985
Six horse hitch 1989
Horse and Wagon crew delivers windmill 1989
Artwork on display 1989
Two Charged with sexual assaults on 3 Amish girls 1989
An Amish Family at Table 1989
Major Mennonite and Amish Settlements in Ohio 1993
Cleveland Plain Dealer Grace Goulders’s Ohio Amish Wedding Near Sugar Creek Last 3 ½ Hours; 1951 April 15
Daily Record Writer Tells Of Amish Beliefs In Scripture Verses 1958 Feb 5

Newspaper ads[edit | edit source]

Map of Amish Church Districts.pdf [32]

Map of Amish Church districts in Wayne, Holmes, Coshocton, and Tuscarawas counties in addition to names of towns and main roads. Bishops' names are listed in their districts. This is a copy of a map made and sold by Ervin Gingerich of Millersburg Star Route. Heaviest lines are county boundaries.

Amishmen To Go To Mexico.pdf

Amishmen To Go To Mexico: Report Says Many Have Joined Together to Purchase 3,000 Acres There.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 27
  2. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339
  7. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.18
  8. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339
  9. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.340
  10. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.340
  12. Kraybill, Donald B., Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt. The Amish. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. p. 174
  13. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 16
  14. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 16
  15. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.341
  16. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339
  17. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339
  18. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339-40
  19. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.341
  20. Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that failed, 1840-1960, Pathway Publishers, 1986, p.339
  21. Kraybill, Donald B., Johnson-Weiner, Karen M., Nolt, Steven M. The Amish, The John Hopkins University Press, 2013, p. 116
  22. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 18
  23. Luken, Yost. Amish Tradition and myths. p65
  24. Luken, Yost. Amish Tradition and myths. p65
  25. Kraybill, Donald B., Johnson-Weiner, Karen M., Nolt, Steven M. The Amish, The John Hopkins University Press, 2013, p. 253
  26. Luken, Yost. Amish Tradition and myths. p. 65
  27. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 171
  28. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 142
  29. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 171
  30. Hurst, Charles E., David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox, The John Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 200
  31. Kraybill, Donald B., Johnson-Weiner, Karen M., Nolt, Steven M. The Amish, The John Hopkins University Press, 2013, p. 302
  32. March 16, 1957. Wooster Daily Record