Amish Heritage by Sonny Franks

In 1865, another group arrived in Douglas County looking for opportunities. Three Amish families moved to rural Arcola along the Kaskaskia River settling in Douglas County for the rich farmland. The three original families had moved to here from Somerset County, PA and included Moses Yoder, Daniel P. Miller, and Daniel Otto.

Ministerial leadership for the first church district in Illinois was provided by Bishop Jonas Keim who arrived from Goshen, IN. Soon after Moses J. Kauffman and Jonas J. Kauffman, brothers, were ordained as ministers. In 1888, as more and more families settled into Douglas County, the church divided into districts, each consisting of one bishop, two ministers, and one deacon, each selected by lot. This was the first of several divisions over the years. Today the Douglas County settlement in rural Arcola and Arthur now consists of nearly 4,500 Amish people organized into 27 church districts. 

A sign artist from Atlanta, GA, Sonny Franks got his start in sign painting while working summer jobs during his college days at Clemson University in Columbia, SC while studying Political Science. His early ventures included starting a screen printing business in 1971 while still in college. Sonny’s involvement with the Walldog group began through his prior involvement with the Letterhead Group.