What’s in a name? Among the Amish there are a core group of surnames that make up the foundation of the church: Yoder, Mast, Stutzman, Stoltzfus Hershberger, and various others. The commonality of surnames is not surprising given the insular nature of the Amish church. None of the “lists” in this posting are meant to be all inclusive, because I would inevitably leave some out, it just makes for interesting discussion.
Then there’s a second tier of very common Amish names: Eicher, Slabaugh, Coblentz, Chupp, Troyer, Wengerd, Raber, Petersheim and Miller that seem to be fairly universal across a broad spectrum of settlements.
Not too long ago I met an Amish man by the last name of Martin , an unusual surname among the Amish, but as common among the Mennonites as Yoder is among the Amish. Turns out he was a rare Amish person that left the Mennonite church to join the Amish.
Some names are common mainly in certain areas: Glicks, Kings, and Lapps reign supreme in Pennsylvania, while Bontrager and Lehman reign supreme in northern Indiana.
But then there are some other surname that are more rare among the Amish, probably because of recent conversions or are hyper-local to certain areas. Stuery is an Amish surname that I run into frequently in southern Michigan, while Swarey is a name I see in some Amish settlements in Pennsylvania. Schwartz is quite common among the Swiss Amish of Berne, Indiana and Webster County, Missouri. Lengacher is a common Amish last name in the Grabill-New Haven area of Indiana, but I hardly ever see it elsewhere. I spoke with a Jason Wanner in Conneautville, Pennsylvania recently who said there are only a handful of families with his last name. His great grandfather had joined the church from the Old Order Mennonites.
In Holmes County, Ohio, Bowman’s Harness show stands-out among Amish businesses as a bit of an anomaly. The name Bowman isn’t one you hear all that much among the Amish. The harness shop’s owner explained to me that his grandfather’s family, a similar trajectory as the Wanners, joined the Amish from the German Baptist faith. Duff is a last name found in Oakland, Maryland’s Amish settlement from a convert.
What are some other common Amish last names that I’ve left out? And what are some less common ones you’ve run across?