Where Are Amish Communities in Michigan?
A rugged climate can challenge unestablished Amish settlements, especially in northern Michigan. Luthy quotes one letter from an early settler at Mio, who noted the shorter growing season and harsh winter weather.
The Old Order Amish in Lenawee County, for example, disavow indoor plumbing. Yet members of this community work in area factories and operate a sawmill, among other businesses.
The Amish are famous for their skilled craftsmanship, and many families run small businesses in the area. Their products can be found in local shops, markets and stands. They also produce homemade furniture and textiles for sale to the public. Visiting these communities is a great way to experience the Amish culture and traditions.
The Old Order Amish do not own cars or use indoor plumbing. They dress plainly and do not use power lawn mowers or electricity. They travel by horse and buggy and rely on septic systems to dispose of waste.
The Amish and Mennonites are similar in some ways, but there are a few key differences. The Amish believe in shunning technology, news and even family members that do not adhere to their interpretation of scripture. The Mennonites, on the other hand, do not have that same strict interpretation of shunning and often work in conjunction with Amish communities. The Amish in Michigan include both Old Order and New Order groups.
Michigan is a state that has attracted new Amish settlements, with many of these communities founded in the 2000’s. Amish in this region tend to be Old Order Amish and adhere to strict church rules known as the Orndung. These rules vary from community to community, but generally involve restrictions on technology (such as power lawnmowers and cell phones) and social interactions.
The Amish in Jackson County work hard to maintain their traditional lifestyle, and the community is tight-knit. Many residents work in local businesses, including furniture-making and quilting.
Like the Amish in other communities, those at Camden rely on agriculture and family-run businesses to survive. But they have had some difficulty adjusting to changing times. One example involves a dispute in 1964 when 11 fathers refused to allow the school’s teachers to be state-certified, arguing that it would violate the principle of separation of church and state. That issue prompted some Camden Amish to move to Steuben County in Indiana, where schools were permitted by the state.
The Old Order Amish do not use indoor plumbing or toilets. Instead, they dip out their waste by bucket and treat it with lime before mixing it with animal manure and spreading it on their farms. The county’s threat to force these Amish families to install septic systems strikes some locals as government overreach.
Manistee County is home to one Amish settlement, North Adams. The youngest of the state’s Swiss Amish communities, it was established in 2010 by Menno Graber and other families from Quincy and Camden.
The Amish are known for their close-knit community and strong sense of family. They live simply and rely on each other for support and assistance. Their children are educated in one-room schoolhouses until the eighth grade, when they typically enter the workforce. Many Amish have their own businesses, including bakeries and woodworking shops. They also own restaurants, such as Yoder’s in White Pigeon, which specializes in Amish cooking.
Gratiot County is home to a few Amish communities. One of these, Quincy, has 6 church districts and is the second largest Amish settlement in Michigan. The other is Bronson, which has 1 district. Both have Amish schools and churches.
Branch County is another Amish-heavy county in the state, with 5 separate Amish settlements. These include the large Quincy community, Bronson, Reading/Hillsdale (which also includes part of Hillsdale County), and Coldwater/Kinderhook. One of these is actually one of the oldest Amish settlements in the state, founded at Mio in Oscoda County in 1970.
Amish tours are popular in these areas, and give visitors a chance to observe the Amish way of life while learning about its history. Many Amish families operate small farms, where visitors can purchase locally grown produce and handmade goods. There are also Amish restaurants in these areas, such as Yoder’s Restaurant in White Pigeon, which serves up a menu of traditional Amish dishes like chicken and noodles, meatloaf, and homemade pies.