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The History of Pennsylvania Amish Country

5 minutes read Apr 23,2020
The History of Pennsylvania Amish Country

If you've been near an Amish community, you've seen the buggies rolling down the road. The quiet way of life is one of the most distinct in the world, but not many know its origins. The history of Pennsylvania Amish Country tells a story of one of the world's most traditional cultures.

Keep reading to learn more about the Amish in Pennsylvania and why you should explore this fascinating part of the country.

Amish Attire

A Few Facts About the Pennsylvania Amish

The Beginning of Pennsylvania Amish Country

Though October 8, 1737 isn't a date known by many, it's an important date for the Amish. It marks when the Charming Nancy, a ship carrying Amish families, arrived in Philadelphia.

Many of the families settled in what is now Lancaster County. Some spread to the surrounding areas as well. As time went on, more Amish immigrants arrived and many joined the communities around Lancaster. This was the beginning of Pennsylvania Amish Country and the entire Amish community in the U.S.

It's about this time that a second name for the settlers arose. Many of the Amish were members of a larger group of German speakers that put down roots in Pennsylvania. As a result, English speakers began calling the group "Pennsylvania Dutch." This name, though misleading, was the American variant of "Deutsch," which means "German."

What do the Amish Believe?

That's a good question. And it varies from church district to district. But there are some core values like humility, family, community, and tradition. Of these, humility is most important, often displayed through a patient, modest personality and plain dress.

Some other things you might not know:

  • Amish don't allow personal photographs.
  • Personal Bible study and devotions are discouraged.
  • Pennsylvania Amish use dark gray buggies so they blend in, rather than stand out.
  • Amish men usually wait until marriage to grow a beard.
  • Traditionally, more conservative Amish live in southern Lancaster County. As you go north, the districts grow slightly less conservative.
Amish Farming

What is the Amish Lifestyle?

In Pennsylvania Amish Country, the lifestyle hasn't changed much in the past 300 years. The most important piece remains the family. Amish families often have five to ten children, which keeps the communities strong and emphasizes the family as the highest social unit. Additionally, Amish families usually have several generations living together.

You may also not know that the Amish in Pennsylvania often speak Pennsylvania Dutch. This is a German dialect spoken in the home and the Amish community. It serves as a nod to tradition, a way to tie the community together, and a way to limit interactions outside the Amish community. That said, Amish are also taught English and often know some High German too.

Most people know that the Amish don't use electricity from power lines. That means they get creative. Some very small items are powered by 12-volt batteries. But most appliances and tools either don't use electricity or rely on air, hydraulics, and bottled gas.

Here are a few other facts about the Amish lifestyle:

  • Owning a car is prohibited but getting a ride from someone else is not.
  • The Amish often use trains and buses to reach markets or visit other settlements.
  • Amish people pay taxes, but don't use social security, unemployment, or welfare benefits. They rely on the community to support its members.
  • Occasionally, some Amish visit museums, zoos, or other attractions. Some may even enjoy a meal at a restaurant to mark a special occasion.
Amish Food Stand

Farming and Business in Amish Country

If there's one thing the Amish know, it's farming. Those who have visited Amish country have enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Cheese, produce, shoofly pie, and more are all hallmarks of Amish work. But why is farming so important for the Amish?

The Amish way of life revolves around tradition and self-sufficiency as a community. Farming covers both. Amish people exercise traditional growing practices and can produce most of their goods within the community. As such, homemade foods like cheese, bread, and fresh produce are staples of the diet.

But since the Amish do need income to pay taxes and buy goods not produced within the community, they run small businesses. Roadside stands, community markets, and selling goods to local grocers are all acceptable ways to make necessary income. Check out these recommendations for Amish shops and stands in Lancaster County.

lake in wood rv resort

Camping in Pennsylvania Amish Country

With a a peaceful setting, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is an excellent vacation spot, especially for families. If you're looking to visit, come to Lake in Wood RV Resort.

Situated in Narvon, Pennsylvania, Lake in Wood is ideal for all ages. The resort sits in a magical forest dotted with treehouses, yurts, tipis, and more, along with traditional campsites. In the valley lies a serene six-acre lake, while more fun takes place up the hill. At the top, you'll find the entertainment hall, Gnome Café, and an indoor/outdoor pool complex.

Lake in Wood has everything you need for a relaxing stay, including a camp store. But the onsite amenities aren't the only draw. Guests come to relax and recreate in the Pennsylvania countryside, where they can explore the quaintness of Amish country.

Come visit and see! To make a reservation at Lake in Wood, call (877) 663-4523 or book online.  

Loved learning about the history of Pennsylvania Amish Country? Share this post and tag a friend who should visit with you!  

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