The Amish Way of Life

Horse-drawn buggies clattering down rural lanes, men sporting suspenders and broad-brimmed straw hats, women clad in simple homemade dresses and modest bonnets, tables groaning under a bounty of fresh-from-the-farm food. From a distance, our view of Northern Indiana’s 20,000-plus Amish is a postcard view of serenely simple life.

Of course, we know better. Amish daily life is as complex as ours—led by constantly evolving rules rooted in Switzerland’s 16th century Anabaptist movement.

Amish & Mennonite History

The Amish and Mennonite groups emerged from the Anabaptist movement during the 16th-century Protestant Reformation in Central and Western Europe. To escape persecution, the Dutch Anabaptist leader and former Catholic priest Menno Simons gathered his followers and fled to Switzerland, where the Mennonite group was established. By the end of the 17th century, a group led by Jakob Amman split from the Swiss Mennonite group and was named Amish after its leader.

Attracted by the promise of religious freedom, the Amish began migrating to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. Amish residents, who first settled in this area near Middlebury in 1841, are descendants of the Swiss Amish from Pennsylvania. For more information visit

Amish Country Courtesies

Please be mindful of the following courtesies while driving in Amish Country:

  • Take care when driving – buggies travel well under the speed limit
  • Keep a sharp eye out for buggies as you crest hills and round corners
  • Flashing headlights and car horns can startle buggy horses
  • Don’t ask to photograph or film the Amish. It’s against their religious beliefs
  • Respect private property, but take some time to chat with Amish shop owners and artisans who welcome guests
  • Amish businesses are closed on Sundays
  • Many Amish businesses do not accept credit cards, preferring instead to conduct business in cash

Want to experience Amish Country? Check out these great ideas and sample itineraries!

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