Religion in Family History
When and where were the first Amish settlements in America? This is a question that people often ask about the Amish.
Most people are not surprised that the first Amish settlements were in Pennsylvania, but are surprised as to when the Amish first came to America.
The first Amish came to America in the mid 1730’s and settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania near Northkill Creek.
By 1750 there was a sizable community of Amish of almost 200 people. Many of the names that we associate with Amish today were represented in this community. My Hochstetler, Kauffman, Miller, Stutzman and Yoder families were all there.
Unfortunately, the settlement did not survive as they disbanded after the Northkill Massacre in 1757. Three members of the Hochstetler family were killed in the massacre, including the wife and two children of Jacob Hochstetler who was my immigrant ancestor. I tell part of the story in a previous post titled: The Light in the Forest
By the time of the Northkill Massacre, the Amish had already started settling in new areas as land became available to the west. The next two settlements were in Lancaster County. Old Conestoga came first and was followed by Cocalico. Another settlement was also started on the border between Berks and Lancaster counties at Conestoga Creek. Maybe a list of 18th century Amish Settlements is in order 🙂
- Northkill – Berks
- Old Conestoga – Lancaster
- Cocalico – Lancaster
- Conestoga Creek – Berks/Lancaster
- Tulpehocken – Lebanon
- Cains – Lancaster
- Casselman River – Somerset
- Glades – Somerset
- Malvern – Chester
- Pequea – Lancaster
- Conemaugh – Somerset
- Big Valley – Mifflin
Another wave of Amish immigration from Europe started in about 1817 and continued up to the middle of the 19th century. Amish also followed the lead of other Americans and slowly moved westward as the frontier expanded across America. The Amish eventually reached the West Coast with settlements in California and Oregon.
My third great-grandmother Rachel Yoder Kauffman lived in Oregon from 1880 until her death in 1922.
The Amish are still expanding across America and currently live in 30 states plus the Canadian province of Ontario. The Young Center for Anabaptist & Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College releases regular reports on Amish population trends.
Do you live near an Amish community? Have you had the opportunity to visit one?
This post is part of a series on Religion in Family History. See also: