Our Neighbors: A Simple Way of Life
Wayne County, together with neighboring Holmes, Stark, and Tuscarawas Counties, is home to the largest community of Amish in the world. The roots of the Amish began in Switzerland among Swiss Brethren in 1693 under the leadership of Jakob Amman. In the early 18th century, the Amish began immigrating to Pennsylvania due to intense religious persecution in Europe. From 1813 to 1860, another wave of immigrants settled farther west in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. This wave included Swiss-German speaking Mennonites, along with more Amish from Switzerland and the Alsace-Lorraine area.
Although Amish lifestyles vary between and sometimes within communities, the Amish are widely known for their plain dress, simple living, and their resistance to modern conveniences and technology. The Amish generally live in homes without electricity or telephones, ride in buggies and other horse-drawn vehicles, and wear very plain, homemade clothing. Their profound religious beliefs require that they live as close to their founding principles as possible. Their self-reliance and work values are displayed in their community barn raisings, threshing rings, quilting groups and church services.Although most Amish in Wayne County still live on the farm,reflecting their roots as an agricultural community, many have occupations in other areas such as woodworking, cabinetry and carpentry; others are blacksmiths, buggy and carriage makers, and repair shop owners.
Amish farms, one-room schoolhouses and the black, horse-drawn buggies are familiar sights around Wayne County. Visitors and residents alike often visit the many Amish-style restaurants in the area. Authentic Amish recipes are prepared for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as extraordinary desserts including pastries, apple fritters, and deep-dish fruit pies. Quality, handcrafted Amish products are often sought out, including fine wood furniture, hand-stitched quilts, and carvings.
The Amish community is made up of friendly people who are eager to speak about their unique lifestyles. It should be noted, however, that they prefer not to be photographed due to their religious beliefs and will not pose for photos. Visitors who enter into the atmosphere of the Amish community often gain a new perspective on modern life and a greater respect for the Amish, who seek to maintain a simple lifestyle.