What States Are The Amish Found In And Why

What States Are The Amish Found In And Why

By Josh Brown

April 18, 2022

Amish construction, Amish country, Amish Goods, Amish Home, Amish homestead, Amish location, Amish Products, Amish religion, Amish Stores, Amish usa, Livestock

Populations Of Amish People And What Makes Them Choose Certain Areas To Inhabit

Lawrenceburg Tn Sign.

Lawrenceburg TN Sign.

Where are all these large Amish communities located and why did they settle there? Most Amish families are farm families, but why did they pick the farming lands of the United States that they did? In the future, will we see more Amish communities spring up? Why have the Amish people chosen the locations they have to set up their homesteads? Here's some information to get your buggy wheels turning.

Amish Barn With Tobacco Hanging Up.

Amish Barn With Tobacco Hanging Up.

 The Amish Buying Farm Land Based On New Communities 

As most people know, many different Amish communities are based around farming and the land that makes up those farms. In the United States, there are many Amish communities; most are small, but some are huge. A few major Amish settlements are located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee but not all of them. The Amish are found in many different states. For a quick look at some numbers about populations of Amish communities, here is a link to the different Amish settlements by population, Amish By Population. Unfortunately, in the United States, remote areas for future farming are becoming more populated with people instead of farms and transformed into urban areas. So the amount of suitable farmland used for crops is getting hard to find and even harder to purchase.

But how do the Amish find new lands to establish new communities, and why do they choose the lands they do? Of course, the Amish choose the areas they often do because of the size of farmland available. But, there is a list of other factors that come into play when purchasing a large farm for the Amish; some of these issues are. 

Points The Amish Look For When Buying New Farm Land

  • The ability of one Amish family to expand its land by buying other tracts close to the initially purchased farm. 
  • The availability for additional Amish settlers to move and buy in close near Amish farms to ensure the growth of the new Amish settlements.
  • The makeup of the soil to ensure good crop growth.
  • The natural resources found on future farms, such as wood, an open range for pasture, and water for livestock and personal use.
  • The regulations and laws on homeschooling for children in the particular state.

The factors mentioned above are essential for a group of  Amish families seeking relocation in a new area that intends to set up a new Amish settlement. In many established large Amish communities such as in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, farms stay in Amish families for generations, passed down from father to son, or are sold to other family members or just members of the Amish communities to ensure the Amish way of life is maintained. After all, the Amish community in Pennsylvania was established in the 1720s and is still thriving today.

Types Of Soil Amish Farmers Might Look For And Why When Establishing A New Community

Cotton Crop

Cotton Crop Growing Good In Silty, Clay, Mixed Soil.

Now keep in mind that most, but not all, Amish communities do their fair amount of Subsistence farming, cooperative farming, and some Commercial farming. But don't be fooled. Just because some Amish communities don't have major commercial farms does not mean that the Amish farms can not also support many of us "English" in different ways, such as through sales of vegetables and wooden products. In addition, when the Amish decide to expand their community and need to buy a new farm in a new area, soil type will play a significant factor. About 6 different types of soil are found in the United States Amish farmers have to choose from to farm. Those soil types are Clay, Sandy, Silty, Peaty, Chalky, and Loam but all of these soils have pros and cons when it comes to farming, and many soil types are mixed and require an Amish farmer that knows their way around soil amendments. 


Clay has downfalls, such as it can be hard to till, especially for many groups of Amish that use horse-drawn equipment!!! Clay is also horrible at draining water but works exceptionally well at retaining water. Now depending on the type of crops the particular new Amish settlement is intent on producing. Soils such as clay will be conducive if the new Amish community wants to start a greenhouse business growing, using, and selling things like Broccoli, Beans,  Potatoes, Cabbage, and Blueberries if enough compost and organic material can be amended to the soil. Another significant factor about clay is it will hold nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium once it is added to the soil because of Clay's binding abilities. Red Clay soil is found mainly in the Southern United States. Now Amish communities that are relatively new such as the ones found in North Carolina and Mississippi, plan on growing field crops and vegetables for personal use and sale. Adding things such as lime to increase the pH and ensure large yields is now a problem for the new Amish community to tackle. Keep in mind that the Amish usually use all natural fertilizers produced from their livestock to enhance their soils.


When it comes to Sandy soil, there are many benefits new Amish communities might look for. With Sandy soils unlike clay, the Sandy soil will not pack together once it dries from rainfall and dries much quicker than clay. The Sandy soil, or a mix of soils with large amounts of Sand in the soil, works much better for Amish communities that use horse-drawn equipment because of its easy cultivating abilities. Also, when adding amendments like fertilizers and compost to the soil.  Sandy soil is much more willing to accept these add-ins because of its granular properties and ease of cultivation.  Finally, the Sandy soils would benefit flowering plants, but this might rule out many Amish communities due to their religious beliefs on vanity.


When it comes to Silty soil, this is where many Amish communities will indeed hit "pay dirt" in their abilities to grow crops such as Wheat, Soybean, Corn, Pecans, Watermelons, and Rye. Silty soil can be challenging for Amish communities that use horse-drawn equipment to farm because of the properties that make up the content of the ground. Silty soil can remarkably retain water but also give air to the roots of any crop grown in silt. Silty soil is usually found in states such as Oklahoma; Port Silt Loam is the official soil of Oklahoma.  That, in turn, explains the first Old Order Amish settlements that were located in Oklahoma. The Old Order Amish community was founded close to Thomas in Custer County, Oklahoma, around the late 1800s  to the early 1900s. Sadly to say the first Old Order Amish community in Thomas dissolved. However, many of its members relocated elsewhere in different areas of Oklahoma and still live there and formed different sectors of the Amish faith in Oklahoma.  The Beachy Amish is an excellent example of an Amish community in Oklahoma that split from the Old Order Amish community and can still be found in Oklahoma. But, the Beachy Amish have decided to use more modern equipment to farm Silty soil like in Oklahoma.   


Peaty soil is another soil mainly used when growing certain crops like celery, lettuce, and peas.  Peaty soil is usually found in low-lying areas that retain lots of rainfall and do not drain well, which you might think would be bad for crops.  Examples of Peaty soil found worldwide are in the plains of Canada, Asia's tropical climates, and India. Often because of Peaty rainfall retention. Peaty soil is usually found in marshlands and not used for farming, but rather soil additions that can be purchased for potting plants at home and flower gardening. Because Peaty soil is found in marshlands, most would think that marshlands are a total loss when farmed. However, this is incorrect if proper drainage is given to the land and cover crops are planted to keep the peaty soil from suffering erosion. Land with Peaty soil can be used for farming, but the pH will always be a significant concern. Peaty soil will often be considered very Acidic with low natural fertility levels. Usually, correcting this pH difference would be a must for any Amish farmer. But, due to Peaty soils scarcity and high compressibility vs. low sustainability, few Amish communities, new or old in the United States, are located around this type of soil.


In Chalky soil, the "chalk" is formed from many deposits of tiny shells. A great place to look for this type of soil would be in California, around the part of the state that produces wine. Usually, when it comes to Chalky soil, the pH of the soil is very alkaline because the soil was formed by matter or shells that were initially in the ocean and waterways. When the water recedes from those areas, the tiny shells left are compressed over time. Then after the compression has occurred and erosion has taken place, the Chalky soil is formed and exposed. This type of soil would be great for a new Amish community that wanted to grow such things as grape vines, vining plants such as Virginia creeper, or trees such as certain pines. Overall, plants and trees enjoy soil that drains quickly. Unfortunately, only a few Amish communities in the United States are found on the west coast, especially around wine country, because Chalky soil will not support vegetables that the Amish communities grow for personal use and sale to the public. 


We've saved the best for last, Loam soil. Many new and old Amish communities are found around areas with Loam in the soil. Loam is found in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio, down into Kentucky and North West Tennessee. Loam soil would be the best for a new Amish settlement that wants to establish a community that is outgoing in planting gardens and crops. Loam is ideal for plants as it will hold plenty of water and drain plants' roots to get air for growth. However, Loam can have the ability to be compacted during heavy rainfall, and an Amish community that uses horse-drawn equipment to till compacting soil can make it difficult. But, overall, loam is the best for farming and is found in many areas where older Amish settlements have been established for years due to its ability to sustain the farming needs of the Amish community. 

Natural Resources Found On Land For New Amish And Old Amish Settlements 

Amish Home And Signs

Amish House And Sign

The Amish have many side businesses besides farming that require lumber, like sawmills, construction/contracting, buggy builders, and wood shops that produce wood crafts, such as in the sign above. So it comes as no surprise for a new Amish community to spring up natural resources are a must on the land they purchase for a farm. Good forests with hardwoods are essential for Amish communities to build homes, barns, fencing, and schools. When building most Amish buildings are constructed with hardwoods like Red Oak and Poplar. The average Red Oak tree will grow about 2 feet each year for the first 18 to 20 years. Depending on many factors, such as soil type, rainfall, sunlight, the genes of the tree, and climate, some Red Oaks will develop faster than that. An interesting side point many English people need to learn is that the Amish communities are into conservation, especially regarding the regrowth of hardwood trees to ensure the Amish way of life in wooden products!!!  

Another natural resource that new Amish communities look for is water, either from Well Water, Spring Water, or Grey Water for livestock. With the Old Order Amish and the Swartzentruber Amish, their religious ideas on electricity differ from everyone else in the English world because they DO NOT use electricity from the standard power lines or grids. Instead, the Swartzentrubers use power from wind, sun, or in most cases, gasoline engines. So a Well Water Pump driven by wind or gas is how the Amish stay hydrated. In this pumping process, a new settlement of Amish settlers might consider many things. First, does the new settlement area have a steady wind stream if the wind is used? Does yearly rainfall keep the groundwater table high if a well is drilled for water? Lastly, with spring water and well water, not only is water table height a significant factor, but how pure the water is, and if there is lots of Sulphur Water present!!!

Amish Windmill

Amish Windmill

Regarding livestock, one point a new Amish community or established Amish community must have is open pasture land for livestock such as horses, pigs, and cattle. When looking for new farmland, open tracks of land with natural grasses such as Fescue, Orchard Grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Ryegrass would be a must. Now, many factors can be discussed about grasses and their effects on different types of livestock with weight control and health, but I'll leave that for another blog post dedicated to just that topic. Primarily a good balance of natural grasses without such plants as Wild Onions, Nightshades, Lupine, and Water Hemlock would be what a new settlement of Amish settlers would want to consider when setting up homesteads.   

Laws Governing School And How Those Laws Effects New Amish Settlements

Amish School

Amish School House

Children are a significant concern for the Amish way of life, especially when starting a new community. It is effortless to find an Amish family with up to 13 or more children!!! So, just like with the public school system and the English, the Amish children also need an education. Most Old Order Amish communities depending on their location in the United States, will have their own schools, but state laws govern the Amish schools. However, many times the New Order Amish or Old Order Amish will attend public schools. But, for the Old Order Amish, the state laws that govern school attendance for children are significant in new Amish settlement locations because of the Amish religious beliefs. A great example of education laws concerning the Amish is found in Tennessee. The Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3001. All children ages 6-17 are required to attend school. In the case of the Amish Schools, unlike public schools, the Amish school system here in Tennessee is considered parochial school, non-public school, or private school, whatever you want to call it, but governed by the state's laws on attendance. Under state laws in Tennessee, Non-Public schools must adhere to attendance policies like the public school system. But, many times, the grade levels, curriculum, school calendar, and educational requirements are achieved differently for these schools compared to the public school system. Here is a link with the option to download for Non-Public Schools in Tennessee for a quick, more in-depth look Non-Public Schools in Tennessee.

Here Is A List Of Things To Ask The Next Time You Travel Through The Amish Community And Strike Up A Conversation With An Amish Farmer.

  1. Ask how long has this Amish community been around.
  2. Did your relatives ever tell you what problems they faced when establishing or moving to this Amish community?
  3. A critical point to ask is, which Amish faith do you follow?
  4. If you speak with Old Order Amish Farmer, how do you power things such as the well pump?
  5. Finally, a fascinating question to ask if you are in a large established Amish community, Are there members of this Amish community leaving to form new communities elsewise in the United States? 

These few questions might help you learn a little more about the Amish way of life and the problems they face many times in society. 

Hopefully, this post has helped you learn about the Amish and how they look at different factors to establish new Amish settlements. Remember to make sure to sign up for our newsletter. It's free and will keep you informed about what's happening at the Amish Of Ethridge. Also, please leave us a review. We love to hear from our readers and gain your opinions. Check out the entire Amish of Ethridge site. Finally, look for the Amish of Ethridge on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thanks again for reading this blog; I hope you have a great day and an even better tomorrow.  


Do The Amish Still Use Old Types Of Windmills?

Only sometimes, many times, windmills have been replaced with alternative sources to pump water, such as gasoline engines and solar pumps.

Do the Amish travel between established and newer communities?

Yes, many times, the Amish will relocate from older established areas to new areas based on their ability to make income. The number of people in the community plays a factor in marriage and available farmlands.

How do you tell if the Amish community is newly established or older?

Only sometimes, by viewing an Amish community, can you tell how old it is or what order of Amish live in that community, many times different orders of Amish will live close to each other. So overall, the best policy is to ask an Amish person in that area. 

Is Amish school as challenging as the public school system?

Yes, in many ways, those outside the Amish community don't think the Amish are educated. This needs to be corrected. Education plays a significant part in the Amish upbringing of children. 

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