A Sturdy Sapling in the Trans-Appalachian West: The Origins and Development of the Holmes County Amish Community, 1809–1846


  • Marcus Yoder Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center/Ohio Amish Library




Amish, Holmes County, Ohio, chain of migration, kinship, familial connection, community


For five states carved out of the Northwest Territories, the first half of the nineteenth century was a frontier era, replete with the first European settlers and the development of the first towns. As with any historical narrative, it is necessary to "reach" on either side of that era to provide context to the era in question. It is with this chronological connection in mind that the earliest history of what is known today as the Greater Holmes County Amish settlement is examined, specifically the arrival and growth of the Amish in the Walnut Creek area on the east side of Holmes County. The theme of this article is the "chain of migration" that describes the trans-Appalachian migration of the Amish into the Ohio country. The links in this chain include the kinship and familial connections, coupled with information and encouragement that bridged the divisions brought about by families and individuals moving from Pennsylvania into Ohio. The consequence of these linkages was the redevelopment of a common ecological space that was sustainable and viable, and it is these networks that defined the initial shape of the settlement itself during its early development in and around Walnut Creek. In turn, these early settlement patterns still influence the social and cultural makeup of the Greater Holmes County Amish settlement today.