Mifflin County (Pennsylvania, USA)
Mifflin County in central Pennsylvania, organized in 1789, contains large settlements of Amish and Mennonites. The beautiful Kishacoquillas Valley, enclosed by Stone and Jacks Mountains, and extending about 30 miles (50 km) across the central part of the county, is host to the Mennonite and Amish inhabitants of the county. There were five Mennonite meetinghouses in the county in 1956. The first settlers known were Michael Yotter (Yoder), whose name occurred on the assessment roll of Union Township in 1791, and Christian Zook, who warranted land in 1792. That Amish Mennonites were in the county as early as 1760 (S. W. Peachey) cannot be substantiated. Family names of early Amish settlers who came to Mifflin County from Lancaster, Berks, Chester, and Union counties were Yoder, Zook, Byler, Hooley, Hartzler. Peachey (Bitsche), Renno, and Kauffman. The first Amish minister was probably "Long" Christian Zook, the first bishop Hans Beiler. In 1850 there were three Amish church districts with a membership of 290. In 1900 the total membership in Mifflin County was 863: Belleville 155 and Allensville 110 in the Eastern A.M. Conference; Peachey (3 districts) 250, Old School (2 districts) 159, Locust Grove 110, and Mattawana 79 across the mountain and in the Eastern A.M. Conference.
The Mennonites in Mifflin County in the 1950s all stemmed from the early Amish settlers. The settlement gradually gained in membership in its 200 years of history, even though at various times some of its families moved westward to Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Since 1849 there have been various schisms in the Amish group so that there were eight differing Amish and Mennonite branches or conferences in the county in 1956, totaling 1,796 members. Farming was then the chief occupation, with special emphasis on dairying. The three villages in the heart of the settlement in Kishacoquillas Valley are Allensville, Belleville, and Reedsville.
Shem Zook, Samuel Yoder, and J. K. Hartzler were outstanding Amish Mennonite leaders of the county. The four Mennonite churches belonged to the Mennonite Church branch. Of these, in 1956 only Maple Grove (Belleville) was a member of the Allegheny Conference ; the others belong to the Ohio and Eastern Conference. Locust Grove (Conservative Mennonite) members conducted mission points at Woodland and Crenshaw. Following is a summary of Amish and Mennonite membership in the county in 1956:
Hartzler, J. K. "Fifty Years with the Amish Mennonite Churches of Pennsylvania." Herald of Truth (1 June 1902).
Hostetler, John. A. "Life and Times of Samuel Yoder." Mennonite Quarterly Review 22 (October 1948).
Hostetler, John A. "The Amish Family." MA thesis, Penn State, 1951.
Peachey, S. W. Amish of Kishacoquillas Valley, Mifflin Co., PA. Scottdale, 1930.
Yoder, J. W. Rosanna of the Amish. Huntingdon, 1940.
Yoder, J. W. Rosanna's Boys. Huntingdon, 1948. The Yoder books portray Amish life and customs of the Mifflin County area.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 683-684. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Hostetler, John A. "Mifflin County (Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M5416.html.
APA style: Hostetler, John A. (1957). Mifflin County (Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M5416.html.