Introduction to First-Hand Accounts of Amish Settling in Smicksburg, PA

A Journey Through Time: The Amish Migration to Smicksburg

In the heart of Western Pennsylvania, amidst its rolling hills and serene landscapes, lies Smicksburg, a small town with a significant historical narrative. This narrative is intricately woven with the experiences of the Amish community that migrated here from Ohio in the early 1960s. As we approach the 60th anniversary of this pivotal move, we have the privilege of hearing directly from those who lived through this transformative period.

The first-hand accounts of Mrs. Dan R. Byler and Mrs. Amos S. Byler provide a vivid window into the past, offering insights into the challenges, joys, and profound cultural shifts experienced by the Amish settlers. Their stories are not just personal recollections; they are living testimonies of a community’s resilience, faith, and enduring commitment to their heritage.

Mrs. Dan R. Byler recounts the early days of settlement, the struggles of adapting to a new environment, and the joys of establishing a community in Smicksburg. Her narrative brings to life the simplicity and contentment found in their way of life, despite the challenges they faced.

Mrs. Amos S. Byler’s memories add another layer to this rich tapestry, illustrating the hard work and determination of the early settlers. Her vivid recollections of constructing a new life from the ground up, the integration with local communities, and the preservation of their cherished traditions, offer a poignant perspective on the Amish experience during this period of change.

As we delve into their stories, we are not just reading history; we are immersing ourselves in a journey through time. These accounts provide an invaluable connection to the past, reminding us of the enduring human spirit and the timeless values that continue to shape the Amish community in Smicksburg to this day.

Join us as we step back into the 1960s, through the eyes of those who lived it, and explore the roots of the Amish settlement in Smicksburg, Pennsylvania.

These stories were written in the Smickburg’s Amish directory book.

August 2, 2012
Mrs. Dan R. Byler

It is now 50 years since our parents settled into the beautiful hills of western Pennsylvania. They were the third family to leave Ohio and help get a settlement started in this area.

At this time in life, living here since being nine years old, I can’t think of a place here on earth I’d rather live. Just being content with our heritage feels so precious, living a slow, simple life.

Dad bought a 123-acre farm with an old brown-shingle siding house, a big barn and milk house next to Route 119, a busy highway. The Edwards Lake to Sea bus would drop off land-shoppers, then one of us would have to slip off to the grocery store about a half mile down the road for groceries.
Mike Harrick owned a store at the intersection of Routes 210 and 119, which was handy for us.

We would go there and buy our supplies for selling baked goods. Mom had to charge it, then when the bake sale was over, and we paid our bill, Mike gave us a free half gallon of ice cream. A real treat in those first lean years.

We always had to go Round-Top hill on our way to church. We would have to get off and walk behind the buggy up that long hill. My sister Mary had her arm broken on that road, before we got to church, by putting her hand between the spokes of the wheel.

March 3, 1962, was the day we moved. By April, brother Noah was the first baby boy to be born in the community. After Dad, Mahlon J. Byler, passed away in June of 1970, Mom, Gertrude D. Miller, moved back to Ohio, where she had grown up.

There are now 19 church districts extended through the community, and we have quite a few old-timers in their eighties. We treasure them, being a solid foundation in keeping our faith.

Mrs. Amos S. Byler
I was asked if I would write my memories of moving to Smicksburg 54 years ago in March 1962. I could have easily refused; I was eight years old, and it is so fresh in my mind as yet.

There are not many of the elders living who started this settlement. They worked hard to leave us a precious heritage that we have a longing to keep forever. They all worked so hard to also make a living and to get their houses and barns in shape. Our living room floor swayed, and our cellar with the one small window was always so spooky, and most times had water in it.

That first summer, a new cellar was dug out by hand and a man came to dynamite the huge rocks under there. A hole was blown into the bedroom floor and a piece of flooring was blown into the crib. Nobody was in the house at the time. All our water had to be carried in from the hand pump in the yard. A cistern was laid up in the new cellar to catch the rain water, which then was pumped up to the kitchen. That was a real luxury!

I remember the first church service at Mel Troyers. It was such a small group.

Riding the school bus with strange English children turned out to be quite interesting. Some did not like these Amish creatures, while other took us up as friends, and are friends to this day. There was not such a big difference in the Amish and English then, and were taught as we. Can you imagine sending your children to a school with a bus having English along and the teachers, too? Times change, people change, and sad to say, the Amish do, too.

The apple butter sandwiches, the eggnog, rival soup, and corn pone. We ate what we had or went hungry.

We wore patched clothes. Everyone was in the same boat. Money was scarce. Mother baked every Friday, and Saturday, she, with one of us children, drove out to the five mile house at Mahlon Bylers and sold it, then stopped on the way home at Herricks’ Grocery Store to stock up. This was for the bare necessities, though.

Traffic was scarce and we children walked many a mile. If it would be possible, we would turn the time back to the early 1900’s. Let us keep trying to travel on.

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