Bay Minette Old Order Amish Settlement (Bay Minette, Alabama, USA)
The Bay Minette, Alabama Old Order Amish community began in 1906 when five men from Geauga County, Ohio, Stark County, Ohio and Lagrange County, Indiana, investigated clear-cut logging land in Baldwin County, Alabama's southernmost county bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the state of Florida.
Eli N. Beachy was the first to move to the settlement with his family in December 1906 to land east of Bay Minette, the county seat. By 1913 there were 18 families in the settlement, comprised of 39 adults and 50 children. Some families stayed only over winter, and some stayed only a few years, though there was a core that stayed for many years.
Many stumps had to be removed from the unimproved land, and the Amish discovered their farming methods differed from the local population. Local farms were very small (perhaps 10-12 acres), while the Amish desired farms of 60 acres or more. The most common crop raised during the life of the settlement was potatoes. However, over time the farmers found the soil to be of lower quality than they were accustomed to in their former communities, and contributed to the settlement's ultimate failure.
John E. Bontrager of Shipshewana, Indiana was the first Old Order Amish minister to preach in the community. He bought a small 10-acre farm there in 1907, and sometimes spent the winter in Alabama. More frequently he visited for several weeks at a time. Other ministers who lived briefly in the community were Joseph E. Mast of Middlebury, Indiana, Henry J. Mast of Arthur, Illinois. John E. Miller was ordained a minister in 1913, but returned to Arthur, Illinois in 1916. Daniel C. Schlabach was ordained a minister in December 1915, but also left for Arthur, Illinois a year later.
A hurricane in summer 1916 that caused extensive damage in the community helped to spell the end of the settlement. In September 1917 another hurricane struck even as more families were planning to leave. By November 1918 only four families remained. Eli N. Beachy, the first settler, moved to Hartville, Ohio in June 1919. The last settler, John K. Fisher, moved from the community in 1924.
Luthy, David. The Amish in America: Settlements that Failed, 1840-1960. Aylmer, ON: Pathway Publishers, 1986: 10-23.
|Date Published||July 2017|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Sam. "Bay Minette Old Order Amish Settlement (Bay Minette, Alabama, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2017. Web. 16 Feb 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bay_Minette_Old_Order_Amish_Settlement_(Bay_Minette,_Alabama,_USA)&oldid=149208.
Steiner, Sam. (July 2017). Bay Minette Old Order Amish Settlement (Bay Minette, Alabama, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 February 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bay_Minette_Old_Order_Amish_Settlement_(Bay_Minette,_Alabama,_USA)&oldid=149208.
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