The Amish populations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana are well known, but did you know that Wisconsin is fast becoming the state with the fourth highest Amish population.
The Amish Population in Wisconsin
The first Amish families moved to Medford, Wisconsin in 1920, and in the 1960s a larger migration began. Since the 1990s the population growth rate has increased. As populations rise in the eastern states and land prices increase, there is more motivation for families to move to less expensive, open areas of land.
There are an estimated 8,000-12,000 Old Order Amish in Wisconsin as well as a large number of New Order Amish and Mennonites. Determining the exact number of Amish living in the state is not easy. The Census Bureau and other statistical agencies do not have data on religious affiliation.
In mid-2002 an attempt was made to estimate the Amish population in Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. While the study did provide the geographic location and distribution of Amish communities, it provided population numbers thought to be too low.
Amish Tourism Sites in Wisconsin
Escape to a simpler, quieter way of life this summer by visiting one of Wisconsin's Amish communities.
Journey to West Central Wisconsin, known as Amish country, and glimpse a life without automobiles, telephones, computers or a technology. While traveling through one of Wisconsin's largest Amish settlements, it is not uncommon to see horse-drawn buggies moving down the road and colorful quilts drying in the summer breeze.
To experience the Amish life, take a trip Down a Country Road in Cashton. A personal guide will take you on voyage through the quilt shop, woodworking shop, cheese factory and bakery, as well as through several different homes and farms. Learn about one-room schoolhouses, barn raisings, Sunday services and the general history of this Amish community.
The Amish are known for their beautiful handmade quilts, baskets, furniture, and many other items. In their communities you will often find bakeries, furniture or cabinet making shops, quilt shops, as well as general stores with unique items. Along with the general curiosity the Amish arouse in the rest of the population, this makes their communities a popular destination.
The Woodshed, in Augusta, specializes in Amish antiques and woodworks and offers tours through a nearby Amish settlement. Visitors can savor mouthwatering homemade candy and baked goods, watch furniture makers and visit the sawmills. This tour also offers the chance to visit horse breeders and harness makers.
Trempealeau County offers car tours around Amish settlements. Travelers can also obtain audiotape guides to listen to while riding past Amish farms, sawmills, ferries and a buggy shop. Watch for small retail shops and services that sell food items, leather goods, furniture and fabric.
The Amish society is welcoming of people and friendly outsiders that observe their wishes to not be photographed. Most, in fact, are quite willing to talk about their authentic way of life
Tourism plays a large part in Wisconsin’s economy, but many rural areas have little to attract tourists. Several areas have taken advantage of their Amish populations to bring tourist dollars into the area.
The Amish are united by a common Swiss-German ancestry, language, and culture, and they marry within the Amish community. The Amish therefore meet the criteria of an ethnic group. However, the Amish themselves generally use the term only to refer to accepted members of their church community, and not as an ethnic designation. Those who do not choose to live an Amish lifestyle and join the church are no longer considered Amish, just as those who live the plain lifestyle but are not baptized into the Amish Church are not Amish. Certain Mennonite churches were formerly Amish congregations. In fact, although more Amish immigrated to America in the 19th century than during the 18th century, most Amish today descend primarily from 18th century immigrants, since the Amish immigrants of the 19th century were more liberal and most of their communities eventually lost their Amish identity.
In some circumstances, Mennonites of Amish descent may still consider themselves Amish, especially in Canada. The former Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (WOMC) was made up almost entirely of former Amish who reunited with the Mennonite Church in Canada. The author Orland Gingerich, for instance, wrote a book entitled The Amish of Canada which devoted the vast majority of its pages not to the Beachy or Old Order Amish (although it dealt with them too), but to congregations in the former WOMC.
Like some Mennonites, the Amish are descendants of Swiss Anabaptist groups formed in the early 16th century during the radical reformation. The Swiss Anabaptists or "Swiss Brethren" had their origins with Felix Manz (ca. 1498–1527) and Conrad Grebel (ca.1498-1526). The name "Anabaptism" means "baptised twice"; once as a young child, and again as an adult. The name "Mennonite" was applied later and came from Menno Simons (1496–1561). Simons was a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who converted to Anabaptism in 1536 and was baptized by Obbe Philips after renouncing his Catholic faith and office. He was a leader in the Lowland Anabaptist communities, but his influence reached Switzerland.
The Amish movement takes its name from that of Jacob Amman (c. 1656 – c. 1730), a Swiss-German Mennonite leader. Amman believed the Mennonites were drifting away from the teachings of Simons and the 1632 Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith, particularly the practice of shunning excluded members (known as the ban or Meidung). However, the Swiss Mennonites (who, because of unwelcoming conditions in Switzerland, were by then scattered throughout Alsace and the Palatinate) never practiced strict shunning as the Lowland Anabaptists did. Amman insisted upon this practice, even to the point of expecting a spouse to refuse to sleep or eat with the banned member until he/she repented of his/her behavior. This strict literalism brought about a division in the Swiss Mennonite movement in 1693 and led to the establishment of the Amish. Because the Amish are the result of a division with the Mennonites, some consider the Amish a conservative Mennonite group.
The first Amish began migrating to the colony of Pennsylvania in the 18th century, and were part of a larger migration from the Palatinate and neighboring areas. They came, along with their non-Anabaptist neighbors, largely to avoid religious wars and poverty, but also to avoid religious persecution. The first immigrants went to Berks County, Pennsylvania, but later moved, motivated both by land issues and by security concerns tied to the French and Indian War. Many eventually settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Other groups later settled in or spread to Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Maine, and Canada. The Amish congregations left in Europe slowly merged with the Mennonites. The last Amish congregation to merge with the Mennonites was the Ixheim Amish congregation which merged with the neighboring Mennonite Church in 1937. Some Mennonite congregations, including most in Alsace, are descended directly from former Amish congregations. No Old Order movement ever developed in Europe; these communities are all in the Americas.
Most Amish communities that were established in North America did not ultimately retain their Amish identity. The original major split that resulted in the loss of identity occurred in the 1860s. During that decade Dienerversammlungen (ministerial conferences) were held in Wayne County, Ohio, concerning how the Amish should deal with the pressures of modern society. The meetings themselves were a progressive idea; that bishops should get together to discuss uniformity was an unprecedented notion in the Amish church. By the first several meetings, the conservative bishops agreed to boycott the Dienerversammlungen. Thus, the more progressive Amish within several decades became Amish Mennonite, and were then later absorbed into the Old Mennonites (not to be confused with Old Order Mennonites). The much smaller faction became the Amish of today. As the non-Amish world's usage of electricity and automobiles increased, a tourist industry sprang up around the Amish in places such as the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Wayne County, Ohio and Holmes County, Ohio.
Amish - Wikipedia
Cranberry Country Lodge
Drive down a country road and experience the largest Amish community in Wisconsin.
The Wood Shed
Augusta, Bonduel and Cambridge Wisconsin
Households, Population, Type of Occupation
Our Neighbors in Black
Understanding the secluded life of the Amish, and what their increasing numbers mean for Wisconsin
Down A Country Road
Chuck and Kathy Kuderer and family invite you to their farm in the heart of Wisconsin's largest Amish community. Set deep in the heart of southwestern