New Wilmington Old Order Amish Settlement (New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, USA)

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1957 Article

Lawrence County was organized in western Pennsylvania in 1849. A Mennonite (Mennonite Church) congregation and an Old Order Amish settlement of four church districts with 250 members (1954) were located in the county, near New Wilmington. The origin of the settlement dates back to 1847, when Amishmen from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania located there. Christian Yoder purchased 200 acres on 1 April 1847, and Abraham Zook purchased 200 acres on 8 May 1847. A large number of Beilers, including Jacob Byler, son of Hans Beiler, the first Amish bishop of Mifflin County, moved soon after the settlement began. The early settlers often traveled to and from Lawrence and Mifflin counties on foot. Other settlers who followed were Adam Hostetler, John Knepp, John Kanagy, Shem King, and Jonathan Lantz. The new settlers were without ministers until Dan, son of Jacob Byler, and Christ Byler were ordained with the help of outside ministers, probably from Holmes County, Ohio. Christian Byler was the first resident bishop. He was succeeded by his son Jonas Byler, Yost J. Byler, and Gideon Wengerd, the present bishop.

There were three church districts (East, East North, South East) in the New Wilmington area in 1955 with a membership of about 300. These three districts had a combined ordained ministry of 12 members. The East North district extended over the border into Mercer County. The original settlement was first divided into the East and West districts in 1916, and in 1947 the East was divided again, making a total of three districts.

About 1850 a number of families withdrew from the Amish Church. The new group with Preacher John Kanagy and Bishop Shem King as leaders worshiped in homes for 22 years (until 1872), when a meetinghouse, the present Maple Grove Mennonite (MC) Church, was built.

In 1924 about eight families moved from the New Wilmington settlement to the vicinity of Enon Valley, in the southwest part of Lawrence County. This group was led by Reuben Byler and son Jacob S. Byler, who organized a congregation. The Enon Valley settlement was supplemented by families from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania and from Ohio, so that the settlement consisted of 32 families. The Byler families outnumbered by far all others. The Mausts were numerous also, having come from Holmes County, Ohio. Other families who have lived there include Hostetler, Sommers, Detweiler, Plank, Knepp, Kurtz, Kaufman, King, Shetler, Swartzendruber, Kanagy, Miller, Yoder, Lantz, Petersheim, Spichear, Lapp, and Moose. -- John A. Hostetler

1990 Update

The New Wilmington Old Order Amish settlement in Lawrence County in western Pennsylvania is about 30 miles (50 km.) east of Youngstown, Ohio, was first settled in 1849 by families from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Later migrations from Holmes County, Ohio made the New Wilmington Amish community one of the largest in Pennsylvania. Amish in New Wilmington demonstrate strong identification with some of the more conservative groups in Mifflin County in matters of dress and buggy style. Buggy tops are uniformly burnt orange in color and brown is the dominant color in apparel. In spite of several divisions in this Amish community resulting in the formation of related Beachy Amish Mennonite congregations, there has been slow growth in its 140 years of existence with 11 church districts (congregations) serving approximately 2,000 people. -- Samuel L. Yoder

2011 Update

In 2011 the New Wilmington settlement had an estimated 19 church districts with an estimated population of 2,415.


"The Twelve Largest Amish Settlements (2011)." Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College. Web. 24 July 2011.

Author(s) John A. Hostetler
Samuel L. Yoder
Date Published July 2011

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hostetler, John A. and Samuel L. Yoder. "New Wilmington Old Order Amish Settlement (New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2020.,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=149132.

APA style

Hostetler, John A. and Samuel L. Yoder. (July 2011). New Wilmington Old Order Amish Settlement (New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 September 2020, from,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=149132.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 300; vol. 5, p. 626. All rights reserved.

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