Amish and the Plain People

The Amish Country of Lancaster County

Welcome to this overview of the Amish, the Mennonites, the Brethren, and the other “Plain People” of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country / Lancaster County, PA.

The farmlands of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country are among the most productive in the nation. Many of the farmers here are different from most Americans – different by choice. They are the Amish and Mennonites, also known as the Plain People.

An Amish farmer raking hay.

An Amish farmer raking hay.

Amish people have been using horses since the days when only horses made horsepower. In comparison to our fast-paced society, the simpler, family-centered Amish culture holds a special fascination for many of us.

The Amish trace their heritage back hundreds of years, and yet, despite all the time that has passed and the many changes that have taken place in society, they still live and work much as their forefathers did. For the Amish people, family, farm and faith are top priorities.

The Amish are devout in their faith, believing in a literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God. They take seriously the Biblical commands to separate themselves from the things of the world. They believe worldliness can keep them from being close to God, and can introduce influences that could be destructive to their communities and to their way of life.

Today, there are over 25 different Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren church groups in Lancaster County, all holding to slightly different traditions and their own interpretations of the Bible. The more traditional groups are called ‘old order Amish.’ They do not permit electricity or telephones in their homes.

By restricting access to television, radio, and telephones, the Amish are better able to keep the modern world from intruding into their lives.

The Amish have long preferred farming as a way of life. They feel their lifestyle and their families can best be maintained in a rural environment. While they do not permit the use of tractors in their fields, old order Amish groups will use modern farm equipment pulled by teams of horses or mules.

Old order groups do not own or operate automobiles, believing that cars would provide undesirable access to the ways of the world. You will often see their horses and buggies on our local roads.

They wear plain clothing styles, which is why they’re called “Plain People.” It is the simple, peaceful lifestyle of these plain people that attracts such a curiosity today. Many wonder how the Plain People can survive in their supposedly backward ways. Well, they’re not only surviving – they’re thriving! Since 1960, the Amish population in Lancaster County has almost tripled.

Their separation from the rest of society actually helps to strengthen their community. Amish children attend one-room schoolhouses through the eighth grade. Amish worship services are held every other week in one of the members’ homes. Socializing is an important part of Amish life.

The Amish have a strong sense of community spirit, and often come to the aid of those in need. Their barn raisings are a good example. Neighbors freely give of their time and their skills to help one another. And, of course, Amish women love making handmade quilts.

The Amish people are generally private people and often find all the attention and curiosity about their lifestyle disturbing. They believe that the taking of photographs where someone is recognizable is forbidden by the Biblical prohibition against making any ‘graven image.’ Please respect their desire for privacy when on Amish Country tours.

With our society’s current interest in restoring “family values,” much can be learned from studying the Amish way of life. Their devotion to family and community and their strong work ethic are good examples for our society at large.

We invite you to learn more about the Amish and their culture:


  1. Terrence Marsland says:

    When technological society comes crashing down, the Amish are the ones who will come out on top.

  2. SomeoneInAsia says:

    As the modern world crumbles into ruin through resource depletion and environmental degradation, I think it’s no exaggeration to say that it may well be prudent for us all to leave behind the sorry ways of industrial society and adopt the ways of the Amish if we are to survive.

  3. Michelle Raborn says:

    I have to say, I often envy the simplicity of their lives. I hope they will be able to maintain their lifestyle.

  4. Tracy Harp says:

    The Amish live the way God intended. Faith, love family, support of others. If we would all let the worldly things go and live as they do, the world would be a much better place.

  5. PEGGY DAVIS says:


  6. Judith Sanchez says:

    I just came from Lancaster. It is a different world out there and the Amish are a very nice people. Their children look so innocent and made me remember the tales of Tom Sawyer in their ways of clothing. The young people behave different from the other young and their clothing is simple clean. The community likes to work and do not live from the government. They do not work Sundays

  7. I wish I could live this kind of life I don’t like the city life its all about stress, bills and money

  8. Congratulations to your informative webside here and the impressive photos.

    Greetings from the good old conservative Switzerland.

  9. Hello there, Have just read a trilogy based on the Amish people. We “englishas” have an awful lot to learn from their way of life. So well-ordered, clean, peaceful and their love of God is amazing. Yes, their way of life is hard; rising before dawn doing manual labour, but still …. Their women are beautiful and never cut their hair which adds to that beauty and their femininity. Many of our women have lost that; forsaking their role as homemaker to work long hours away. Something is badly wrong in the world, turning people obese and aggressive. We need the “plain people” (no insult intended) to intercede for us, as we have lost our way. Thank you for reading.

  10. Mark Forsyth says:

    I live in the Thousand Islands area of Northern New York State.There are many Amish here abouts and many farms.While driving past an Amish farm today,I stopped to buy some eggs.I slowly drove my truck into the yard then stopped and got out and was greeted by a little girl of about eight years old or thereabouts,who had come out of the house to inquire what I wanted.I asked to by a dozen eggs.She went to get them and when she returned with the eggs I asked her how much I should pay.I thought for sure that I would pay three or four dollars but she only asked for one.Well I just couldn’t believe it. I told her that I would happily pay two dollars but she insisted that the price was one dollar.I suggested that she take the two dollars,take one for the eggs and keep one to spend on herself the next time she went to town.That little girl gifted me with a beautiful smile and took the money. I wished her “goodentag” and left.
    I’m sure that girl and her family knew exactly what they wished to charge for the eggs. I felt that I wanted to give a fair price for what I was fairly sure would be an exceptional dozen eggs.They are some of the nicest big brown eggs that I have seen in some time and I wanted to do the right thing for the right reason.I sincerely hope that I did not give offense and hope that you will let me know whether I did all right by those folks as they certainly did right by me and I plan to go back for more eggs when I need somemore.

  11. Hi. I am from England, uk. I am a support worker and I help people with learning difficulties. I am married with two children. I just wanted to let you know how insulted I am by your use of the word “English”. We are good people here. I urge you to adopt a different name please. Thank you.

    • Gordy Harrower says:

      Hi Karen. Please don’t be offended by the way the Amish use the term “English”. The Amish speak their own Pennsylvania Dutch dialect among themselves. They simply refer to those who don’t speak Pennsylvania Dutch as “English”. It is not intended to be an insult.

    • I’m English from England and I don’t take offence.

    • Donna Shirk says:

      I’m insulted too when I’m called English, my ancestors fought, lost life & limb to free this land from England’s rule.

      • Jim Keen says:

        Don’t be offended, Donna It’s no insult. I live in Md. very close to Lancaster Co. The language they speak among themselves is a combination of Dutch and German. If you “don’t get it” about the rest of their world being English speaking, too bad. They are kind, generous people. Read up on what they’ve done for “English ” neighbors in times of calamity. In fact, educate yourself about the Amish in general.

        • I’m English and proud to be called English.
          The amish don’t seem to mind been called amish so why not call us English.

    • The Amish have referred to people who are not Amish as English. There is no intention to insult anyone. The Amish are referred to as Plain People. There is no insult intended with that.

    • Ken Westmoreland says:

      I’m English, and I’m not insulted or offended at all. The term has far more to do with English speakers than with English people.

    • Karen,

      First of all, Hello. Greetings from the United States of America!

      I am an Englisher in the United States of America, I Was born in the United States of America, I have lived in the United States of America all my life, and I can say: I am not ashamed to be an Englisher. I am not offended by the title. “Englisher'” are what the Amish call non-Amish here in the United States of America.

      Frankly speaking Karen, when you consider what we are called by certain groups, I find “Englisher” actually a compliment compared to “infidel” “daughter of a dog”, and certain other names and titles that are used for us.

      Karen, one last point: People in France speak French. I don’t hear any of the citizens of France complaining of being offended by being called “French”. Citizens of Germany speak German and they are not offended by being called “Germans”. Italian citizens don’t find offense to being called “Italian”. Greeks, Russians, Chinese, Koreans, Canadians, Vietnamese, Irish, and thousands of other languages and cultures do not find offense with their language, culture, and way of life. Yes, there are some people like you who are not happy with their way of life, but they go and change their circumstances so that they will be happy. If one is ashamed and embarrassed by their language culture, and way of life, that person may decide to learn a new language and move to a different country.

      In college, I had a classmate who was working towards that goal. She disdained being an American and speaking English. She majored in French and something else which I don’t remember what it was with the sole purpose of graduating and permanently moving to France and even considering giving up her American citizenship and becoming a French citizen. That was 28 years ago. I wonder, if after 28 years, if she is happy and better off with the life altering decision she made. I hope she is happy because if she did forsake her American citizenship, American law stipulates that she can never get her citizenship back.

      Well, let me just end by saying: I am not offended by being called “Englisher”.

      P.S. Karen, “Englisher” sounds a lot better than what the Amish men call their wives: “Frau” (Fr- ow like ow in owl), and the poor wife usually will only hear her birth name when other women or other family members use it. When she gets married, she usually loses her name to “frau”. “Frau” means “wife”.

    • I think the term “English” is a reference to the language difference. The Amish have a dialect of German they use among themselves while most Americans speak the English language. It was a description of that, not any sort of insult to those from England. You shouldn’t be offended … it was not an insult.

    • Is your life so unfulfilled that you’re offended by them using the term “English”? I’m sure they are offended by us calling them ” Plain” because of the way they dress, not to mention us intruding in their lives EVERY DAY , taking pictures of them, pointing and laughing and staring at them, etc. They are good, honest, hard working, devout people who mind their own business. You need a hobby and news flash – YOU ARE ENGLISH!!!

    • Karen, you don’t get it. These are loving and simple people. Everyone who is not Amish are called Englisher. I’m sure these beautiful people would never address anyone to insult them.

  12. The picture is a farmer raking hay, not plowing.

    • Gordy Harrower says:

      Good eyes. We have corrected the caption. Thanks!

      • Kate Marsland says:

        Hi, I think the Amish way of life is so uplifting and simple it makes sense in all areas. I wish l could live with them. Hopefully one day that might be possible even though I’m an outsider.

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