Where did the Amish originate from?

Amish in buggy

Where did Amish originate from??

 As I’ve stated in my earlier post “Who are the Amish?”; the Amish originate from a group called the Anabaptists.

The Catholic church in Europe believed in infant baptism,  but the Anabaptists were a part of the Protestant Reformation. They believed that individuals should be baptized as adults because it symbolizes new birth in Jesus Christ.

So they broke away from the Catholic faith and became rebaptized – hence the name Anabaptists. Many of them faced persecution because of this, and some were martyred for their faith.

You will find the book The Martyr’s Mirror in many Amish homes because it holds many stories about their forefathers giving their lives for their faith. So the first Anabaptists came to America for freedom of religion in the 1700s.

The Amish Originated From the Mennonites

Menno Simons was the Anabaptist leader and his followers were called Mennonites.

But over a hundred years after the beginning of the Anabaptist movement, a Mennonite bishop (named Jacob Ammon) was concerned that the Mennonite church was becoming too worldly. He wanted to return to a more strict way of life and believed that church discipline was not strict enough.

So he, along with his followers, broke away from the original Anabaptists (Mennonites). And they called themselves Amish in honor of Jacob Ammon.

They wanted to live a simple lifestyle of humility, that is completely separate from the world. And they started to practice the ban/shunning as a form of church discipline.

So the Amish and Mennonites went separate ways. They still have a lot in common, holding on to many of the same traditional values. But there is a vast difference in rules and dress, and the Mennonites drive cars instead of horses and buggy.

Where do the Amish live?

Today there are approximately 250,000 Amish in North America. Holmes County, Ohio is believed to hold the largest population.  And Lancaster County, Pennsylvania comes in second and is probably the most famous Amish area.

The first settlement was in Pennsylvania,  but as their numbers grew they have been spreading out; and today you will find Amish groups scattered throughout a large number of the states and even into Canada. They seem to constantly be expanding all across the United States.

Their membership growth is fueled by a robust birth rate that averages seven or eight children per family. And with the rising land prices in the East, they are branching out in search of affordable farmland.

Where do the Amish live in PA?

Pennsylvania was the first state that the Amish called home. So naturally, there are many Amish in Pennsylvania. Today, the Lancaster County area is home to over 30,000 Amish people, most of them being Old Order Amish.

But there are many other settlements all over Pennsylvania. In some areas, you will find the New Order, in other areas the Nebraskan, or Swartzentruber. And there is a lot of variation among them.

amish barn-raising
Amish barn raising

Amish Family and Community Spirit

The Amish have a strong family and community unit. And it is ideal to live on a farm so that the family can work together, eat all their meals seated around the table together, and always be able to help their neighbor.

In today’s world, we see a lot of every man for himself, but the Amish differ from the rest of the world in this area.

If a neighbor has a big harvest of corn to get in, they pull together and get it done quickly. Or if he needs a barn built, they’ll have a barn-raising where everyone volunteers to help and it gets built at an amazing speed. The men help with the work, and the women bring and serve the food.

If someone has a tragedy, they are there to help in any way they can.

It is very much a community spirit among their own. And this is one thing that I miss, about the Amish – the community spirit of helping each other.

There’s a lot of variety among the Amish

You will find that the Amish vary a lot in rules and dress, etc. in different states. In Lancaster County, most of them are what they call Old Order Amish. Holmes County has a lot of both Old Order, New Order, and Swartzentruber.

In some other areas, you will find a lot of Swartzentruber and Nebraskan Amish. These are usually more strict. And I’m sure there are other kinds of Amish too, that I’m not as familiar with.

The ones in our area, here in Missouri, don’t have indoor plumbing or any motors. They are more strict, and farms aren’t kept as neat as I was used to in Pennsylvania.

The rules just depend on each individual church and what they agree upon. And sometimes you’ll see splits in the group because they can’t agree on certain issues. So some of them will break off and start their own church.


So the Amish originate from the Mennonites, and they were all a part of the Anabaptist movement.

Read More About the Amish…

Why Do Amish Women Wear Head Coverings?

Do the Amish Drink Alcohol?

Traditional Amish Food

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7 thoughts on “Where did the Amish originate from?

  1. I am enjoying this blog so very much! I visit Amish country in Holmes County, Ohio several times a year and always learn something new with each visit.

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