About 75 percent of the Amish in America live in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, with smaller settlements in most of the rural areas east of the Mississippi River. Very few live in Texas, and Amish tourism isn’t highly developed as it is in eastern parts of the U.S. The Amish and Mennonites in Texas share the beliefs and customs of their eastern brethren: self-sufficiency and a simple life.
Amish Texas Settlements
About a half-dozen Amish settlements exist in Texas, most of them in the southern part of the state. The largest and most stable is in Stephenville, about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth. A community of about 33 Beachy Amish lives in Bastrop, a town about 30 miles east of Austin. The Grandview Gospel Fellowship in Grandview, south of Fort Worth, welcomes Amish Mennonite worshipers, and Bee County is home to a settlement established in 1999. Towns with some history of Amish settlers include Waco, Mexia and Lott.
The Stephenville Settlement
The Stephenville settlement has about 20 families. Like the Amish in Pennsylvania and Ohio, residents dress simply, drive buggies and forgo movies and television. Unlike other settlements, the men work on dairy farms and telephones are common in farmhouses. The Stephenville Amish compromise on electricity and motorized vehicles when they’re a component of their jobs, such as living in a worker’s trailer on the dairy farm’s property. They still drive buggies for personal use, as a hitching post in front of the grocery store attests. A local restaurant serves traditional Amish food, and shoppers are welcome at the monthly bazaar.
Amish Furniture in Texas
The Amish Barn, about 30 miles north of Houston in Spring, Texas, represents about 100 Amish furniture craftsmen. The furniture, made from solid hardwoods, comes in styles that include traditional, Shaker, Mission and country. Food gifts, like preserves, honey butter and sauces, also are for sale. The Amish Craftsman in Houston sells made-to-order custom furniture built in more than 100 workshops. Customers choose the wood, stain color and hardware. The piece then is built by Amish carpenters.
Tips for Visiting the Texas Amish
Unlike more developed Amish communities with large populations, the Texas Amish live in small settlements spread across the countryside. Don’t expect an immersive tourist experience like you might find in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with attractions such as farm tours, buggy rides and home-cooked meals. Do expect to see buggies on country roads and take care not to startle the horses. Ask around to see if there’s an Amish bazaar or shops selling Amish goods. Remember that the Amish people themselves are not tourist attractions. Be respectful of their privacy and traditions.