Mennonite-Amish Culture in the Pen-Mar Highlands
The Mennonite-Amish Culture in the Pen-Mar Highlands
"Blessed are the meek, for they shalt inherit the earth."
Felix G. Robinson
When the public reads about the Mennonites and Amish it invariably thinks of their communities in Eastern Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster County. In the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania and Western Maryland these people have been here almost two hundred years. As their families multiply, more of the abandoned land of the mountains is being regenerated. Every day one can see bearded men in broad-brimmed hats and women with sombre bonnets and darkhued dresses driving their horse and buggy to and from Meyersdale and Salisbury in Pennsylvania—Grantsville and Oakland in Maryland. They exhibit healthy, happy and relaxed countenances.
Pennsylvania-Dutch is a generic term that embraces mostly the German immigration of the 18th century. Their original dialect was known as "Pfalz". They established themselves originally in Eastern Pennsylvania, which is still the dominant locale of their culture. They included all Protestant German sects that were already established in the old country, including those of the Lutheran and Reformed faiths. The latter two, like all the old-world forms of Christianity, have been absorbed in the dominant American culture.
"Since the Amish keep few church records of their own and unwillingly respond to religious censuses by outsiders, their population can only be estimated. The MENNONITE YEARBOOK annually carries Amish membership data with a list of church districts and their leaders. Allowing for churches that failed to report in the current issue of the yearbook, we may safely assume that there are 19,000 Old Order Amish adult church members. Multiplying that membership by three, which has proved to be a reliable index for estimating the total population, gives 57,000 as the total. Today Amish communities may be found in twenty states. Over eighty percent are in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. . . . The Amish have completely disappeared from their European homeland, and there are no Amish churches on the continent. Those who remained in Europe have been absorbed into other churches." (1)
At this juncture let us look at a brief summary of their origins.
The Amish stem from the Mennonites whose founder was Menno Simons, a former Catholic priest. The parent organization commenced at the time of the Protestant revolt. The Mennonites date from 1550. They were known in Holland as "Doopsgezinde" (Dooper) the Dutch
Felix G. Robinson
(1)'"Amish Life" by John A. Hostetler, The Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa., pp. 8-9.
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Western Maryland, 1750-1963