History and Culture

Amish settlers from communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa founded Arthur, Illinois in 1864.  The Arthur Area Amish settlement is the oldest and largest settlement in Illinois.  It is the seventh largest in the nation and has a more rural look to it than some of the larger Amish communities to the east in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The rules that govern the local communities are unique to that area, which is why there are differences from place to place.


“Come from among them and be ye separate,” is a verse from 2 Corinthians. This verse along with several others, form the basis for the Ordnung (German for order), which is the unwritten code by which the Amish live. One of the most fundamental beliefs common to the Amish faith is to maintain a simple life based on family, community and belief in God.


An example of this simplicity is the Amish use of transportation. Motor vehicle ownership is not allowed because it puts the owner “too much in the world.” Acceptable forms of transportation are those that are just sufficient enough to keep one involved in the local community, but not for travel far and wide. This keeps the community tight-knit and responsible for each other’s welfare.  For health reasons, employment reasons, and personal reasons it is not out of the ordinary for the Amish to travel with someone else pretty much anywhere in the world. It is their day-to-day existence as members of their local communities where their lives are more structured around their beliefs.


Another tenant of the Amish community is the dress of both the women and men is based on the same principle – keep it simple, plain and useful.  You will see some variation of dress and appearance, especially between the younger and older Amish, but it remains pretty much a standard, especially as one gets older.


Amish earn their living in a various ways these days. While agriculture remains fairly common, Amish at Arthur work in a number of other trades.  Some work for large overhead door manufacturer C.H.I. and can be seen bicycling to and from work at the local plant.  Other Amish in the Arthur community are known for their small businesses, in particular furniture and wood-related enterprises.


The Amish are all around us. They reside in the country on farms where often a family business will be located, as well. You’ll see our Amish friends and neighbors on the street, shopping in the stores, eating at our restaurants, and just chatting on the street. One of the first things you learn being in the midst of an Amish settlement is that their practices may be different than the modernity of our non-Amish world, but the people are basically the same. In fact, he Amish emphasize this quite a bit.


If you’d like to learn more about the Arthur Area Amish, there’s no better way than to come and visit us!  Watch, observe and interact with the people, Amish and non-Amish alike.  We are not re-enactors and there is no entry fee. We want you to come see, ask questions, shop, eat and enjoy a fun time with your family. Experience downtown Arthur and the surrounding countryside in a real time, real life way that you simply won’t find anywhere else.









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