Holmes County, Ohio is the center of a large Amish Community totaling over 36,000.
Holmes County was formed on January 20, 1824 from portions of Coshocton, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. It was named after Andrew Holmes, an officer in the War of 1812. During the Civil War, small-scale riots broke out in ethnic German areas. Holmes County was an isolated localistic area dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch and some recent German immigrants. It was a Democratic stronghold and few men dared speak out in favor of conscription. Local politicians denounced Lincoln and Congress as despotic, seeing the draft law as a violation of their local autonomy. In June 1863, small scale disturbances broke out; they ended when the Army sent in armed units.
A large Amish community of about 36,000 exists in Northeast-Central Ohio, centered on Holmes County and extending into surrounding counties. The Holmes Old Order Amish affiliation with 140 church districts out of 221 in the Holmes County Amish settlement in 2009 is the main and dominant Amish affiliation. Holmes County houses the highest percentage of Amish of any U.S. county, currently 42 percent of the population, and experts speculate that within 15 years Holmes County may be the first majority Amish county. The Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin explains traditional ways of the Amish and provides an illustrated history for visitors in its 10-foot-by-265-foot mural.
The overall Amish population of the area, centered on Holmes County, is the largest Amish community in the world. Called locally “Amish Country”, it draws many visitors to the county, thus making tourism an important sector of the local economy.
The Holmes County Amish Settlements have the most diverse Old Order Amish affiliations. The Holmes Old Order Amish affiliation is the main and original affiliation, the Swartzentruber Amish, that also originated in 1917 in Holmes County, has three sub affiliations there. There are also Andy Weaver Amish (formed 1952) and New Order Amish (formed in the early 1960s) there.
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