A Little Amish History

The Amish people in America are an old religious sect, direct descendants of the Anabaptists of sixteenth-century Europe who challenged the reforms of Martin Luther and others during the Protestant Reformation.

Amish buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amish buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They rejected infant baptism in favor of baptism (or re-baptism) as believing adults.

They also taught separation of church and state, something unheard of in the 16th century.

The Anabaptists were regarded as a threat to both Roman Catholic and Protestant establishments.

In the years that followed, Anabaptists leaders were persecuted and tortured for their faith. In spite of persecution, the Anabaptist movement spread through central and western Europe.

In Holland, a Roman Catholic priest named Menno Simons (1496-1561) left the Church to become one of those persecuted for his Anabaptist beliefs. He led a group that fled to Switzerland and other remote areas of Europe to escape religious persecution.

Simons’ followers became known as Mennists, and later Mennonites.

Nearly 150 years later, during the late 1600s, dissension arose among the Mennonites regarding matters of faith and practice.

In 1693, Jakob Ammann, a young bishop in the church, broke away from the Mennonites to follow his own, more stringent, beliefs.

See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story  at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ammann’s group valued commitments to family and community and sought to be humble in both behavior and appearance. They believed their group should separate from the outside world. Ammann’s followers became known as Amish.

In 1727 the first Amish immigrants left Switzerland to come to America and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Indiana, with the third largest number of Amish people, was settled in 1842.

The Amish are a kind and welcoming people, but you shouldn’t photograph—or ask to photograph—them as it is against their religious beliefs.

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

The Amish are islands of sanity in a whirlpool of change.
—Nancy Sleeth, Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

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