America’s Plain People
Chances are you’ve heard about the Amish, or maybe you’ve even been through Lancaster, PA or another area where these traditional communities live their lives in peace.
We know the basics: simple dress, horse and buggy, no technology… but how much of that is true? Turns out the Pennsylvania Dutch are pretty different than we were taught! For starters, they’re not even Dutch, and most of them aren’t even in Pennsylvania. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
See what other lies you’ve been told about the Amish!
1. Pennsylvania “Dutch”
We call them the Pennsylvania Dutch, and yet it’s a total misnomer. The religion was founded by Jakob Ammann, a Swiss man, following a schism in Switzerland in 1693. In the following century, communities of them moved to Pennsylvania, where traditional descendants still speak Pennsylvania German. Other groups of Amish within the United States speak a dialect of Swiss German.
2. “Pennsylvania” Dutch
Typically, if you think of the Amish, you might only think of Lancaster, PA. But as it turns out, Ohio has historically been the state with the highest population of Amish people (estimated at 69,255 in 2015). Pennsylvania is in a close second, and Indiana is in a not-so-distant third.
With over 300,000 Amish people estimated in 2015, it’s not hard to believe that their communities are reported in 27 states as well as Canada. The Amish are among the fastest growing communities in the world, with a recorded 84% growth in population between 1992 and 2008.