Common Amish Last Names
Since not very many outsiders join the Amish, there seems to be only a small selection of common Amish last names that you will most often find within the Amish communities. Of course, there are the occasional rare names. And the last names usually vary in different communities.
If you've grown up in an Amish community, you can typically identify ex-Amish and ex-Mennonite by their last name. I've run into people with the last name Miller, etc. and immediately I think that they must have Mennonite or Amish background. And I am usually right.
Amish Names in Lancaster County, PA
I grew up in Lancaster County and my maiden name is Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus is the most popular Amish name in Lancaster County. Someone made a joke once, saying that he finally figured out why there are so many Stoltzfus's in Lancaster because he went past a farm with a sign out "Stoltzfus Hatchery" (lol).
Stoltzfus is a German surname that means "proud foot". Sometimes it is also spelled as Stoltzfoos. And I am told that all Stoltzfus's in America are descendants of Nicholas Stoltzfus, who migrated here from Germany in 1766. According to records, there are over 7,000 people with the last name Stoltzfus in the United States. And by far, the greatest majority of those are in Pennsylvania.
Some other common Amish names in Lancaster County are King, Fisher, Esh, Lapp, Zook, Schmucker, and Beiler.
Holmes County, Ohio
Miller is probably the most common Amish last name in Holmes County. And other more common names are Troyer, Yoder, Hershberger, Schrock, Gingerich, Schlabach, and Hochstetler. (Sometimes you will find slight variations in the spelling). Many of these Amish last names are also common in Indiana and other states.
A few less popular Amish names would be Kauffman, Schwartz, Kline, Weaver, Graber, Garber, Raber, Bontrager, Burkholder, Peachy, Lehman, Kuhns, Helmuth, and Headings. And I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now, and probably some that I never heard of.
Female Amish Names
There is a variety of Amish women's names. But several names are very common among the Amish. And part of the reason for this is that many families name their children after their grandparents, aunts, or uncles. It is a great honor when a family member gives their child the same name as yours. It can be confusing though, because there may be several cousins with the same name. So to clarify which Anna they are referring to, they use her father's name first (for example Dan's Anna), or if she's married they use her husband's name. Or they use a middle initial along with their name.
My full name is Anna Mary Stoltzfus, and my best friend in school had the same name. So our teacher decided to call her Anna Mary, and I went by Anna.
Many Amish names come from the Bible. And some of the most common Amish girl names are Mary, Anna or Annie, Priscilla, Rachel, Sarah, Malinda, Miriam, Martha, Sadie, Ruth, Hannah, Naomi, Lydia, Susie, Lena, Amanda, Barbara, Betty, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Esther, Lavina, Edna, Clara, and Fannie.
Amish Male Names
Years ago most of the Amish did not have middle names, they just had a middle initial. Sometimes they used their mother's maiden name initial or their dad's first initial. My dad's name was Benuel S. And he had to change his middle initial because there were three Benuel S. Stoltzfus's in our mail route. So to keep their mail separate, he changed his initial to J. Obviously, Benuel was a very common Amish male name in our area :).
Some other common Amish boy names are Aaron, Mark, Steven or Stephen, Samuel, Abner, Eli, Vernon, Elmer, Amos, Leroy, John, Paul, Jacob, David, Daniel, Omar, Abram, Isaac, Jonas, Henry, Mervin, Emmanuel, Moses, Lloyd, Christian or Christ, and Melvin.
I listed some of the popular Amish first names that you will hear most often in Amish communities. Although there are many more names that are not used as often. And in more recent years it seems like some of the Amish are giving their children more untraditional names.
But if you hear any of the last names that I listed, there's probably a good chance that they have Amish or Mennonite background. Although, Fisher is a common Amish name in PA. And I have found that not all Fishers have Amish or Mennonite background (at least not as far as they have traced).
Click on the links if you are interested in reading my story of growing up Amish...
Amish Story part 1, My Childhood
My Story part 3 (My Testimony)
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Yep, I know a lot of of people with all those last names (Except Fisher, not as common in NE Ohio) and a few with those first names. Ross is a common Mennonite first name here, too. In my pastor’s community, it was so common that he had to go back four or five generations to explain who he was growing up (I.e Abraham-Harold-Marion-Ephram’s Ross, wrong names just demonstrating).
I’ve always wondered if my family had been amish or Mennonite at some point… my family is from a really rural area that is mostly amish. Lehman and Hansel are the names from my moms side.
I haven't heard Hansel associated with Amish or Mennonite, but Lehman is not uncommon.
It's interesting to note that a lot of the German last names are also really common amongst Ashkenazi Jews, like Klein/Kline, Fisher/Fischer, Schwartz, Kaufman/Kauffman, Weber/Weaver, Miller/Mueller. Add in all the biblical first names, and the first thing I'd think if I ran into a "Suzanna Schwartz," or a "Moses Fischer," is that they were Jewish. Definitely a geographic thing!
that is interesting! Did not realize that.
It is also interesting to know the derivatives of the names: for example , my last name (Schlabach, though sometimes spelled Slabaugh) means "lived by a brook". Kaufman (also Kauffman and Kaufmann) means "merchant man", Schwartzentruber is "metal maker", etc. I enjoy knowing these.
It is interesting.
I worked with a young man here in California. My co-workers were surprised that I knew how to pronounce his name. When I met him I asked if he were telated to folks in Lancaster. Yes, he said, we’re all related. We even had friends in common. A year or so later I was visiting West Chester and saw a sign for Stoltzfus RV. It was my friend’s grandpa. Small world
Yes it is a small world ?