The Illinois Amish
There are approximately 4000 Amish people in the Arthur area. Their ways of life and religious beliefs are an important aspect of the greater Arthur community and are of interest to many of our visitors.
The Amish Faith had its start in Switzerland and was founded by Jakob Ammon. He and a small number of people became dissatisfied with the worldliness of the parent Mennonite Church. It was their wish to live a more strict and simple life; therefore they formed together as a group who rejected wars, materialism and frivolity. Early Mennonites came to America to seek religious freedom in 1632. They settled in Pennsylvania and were divided into two groups. The "Church Amish" favored a central church building; the other group known as "House Amish" favored holding services in a home.
The Amish in the Arthur area are "House Amish." There are more than 22 church districts in this locality which covers an area of approximately twelve miles East and West, and 15 miles North and South with Arthur in the center of the settlement.
The first Amish family came to Arthur in 1865. An average family consists of six children. When the young people are married they are often given a parcel of land by one of the fathers from which they are to make their living. An average Amish farm consists of approximately 80 acres. Their main crops being wheat, oats, clover, and corn. Until a few years ago, farming was their only way of life. Due to the fact that ground is no longer plentiful, some of them are leaving farming for other ways of life such as woodworking, canning, watch repair, and several are now employed at various manufacturing jobs in the Arthur area. Many Amish folk are employed in various community support businesses such as metal workers, machinists, and rural grocery and supply stores.