Brief Words About The Amish

I wrote this awhile back to explain the Amish to a lady who I was doing some research for.  I am posting this for Sarah to give her some background of the Amish/Mennonites.

The Amish are direct descendants of the Anabaptists of the 16th century Europe and were among the early Germanic settler’s in Pennsylvania.[1]

There was a wide-spread counter-culture of religious reform. This is where the Anabaptist movement started.

The three groups are:

  • The Mennonites of Dutch and Prussian origin
  • The Hutterian Brethren of Austria
  • The Swiss Brethren

 Jacob Ammann founded the Swiss Brethren and the Amish are a branch of the Swiss Brethren.[2] The Swiss Brethren were a small group of dedicated people in Zurich, Switzerland. The early leaders were Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock. The three ran into trouble for preaching without authorization by their government.

Grebel, Manz, and Blaurock thought the name “Christian” applied to the teachings of Jesus. In their view, the definition of Ulrich Zwingli,Menno SimonsChristian was to avoid confusion by everyone else who belong to the state church, went through the baptisms, and went to Mass just to fit in. In other words, The Swiss Brethren were more conservative and wanted a “pure” religion with faithful followers.

 They brought their concerns to the head of the Swiss state (Reformed) church. Ulrich Zwingli, head of the Swiss Church rejected their reforms and ideas. 

 The three men did not care. They baptized each other, and other adults who believed as they, and started the Amish Church. They then left Europe to remove themselves from persecution by different state churches that opposed them. The three men died, two from execution by the Swiss and one from getting the plague while exiled by the Swiss.

Menno Simons joined the Anabaptists in 1536. Menno was highly educated and could write well. He wrote The Handbook (Enchiridion) and Complete Writings of Menno Simons. The Amish treasure the German and English additions of both books.

 This got them into trouble because it undermined the Catholic, Lutheran, and Protestant idea of religion. The three religions mixed politics and different practices of religion the Amish did not believe in.


[1] Amish Society Fourth addition, by John Hostetler Chapter 2 page 25

[2] Amish Society Fourth addition, by John Hostetler Chapter 2 page 27Buggys have to have  license plates too!

The above picture is a buggy plate

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About hoosierbeth

I have been researching my ancestors, your ancestors and everybody else's since 1981.
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