After the Harmonists
Harmony, PennsylvaniaOn December 22, 1804, the first payment on land in Butler County, PA was made. The land was not the most desirable; it was on the non-navigable Connoquenessing Creek, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. The Harmonists could not secure as much land in one unbrok en area as they needed. During the winter of 1805, 31 families arrived and began work. On February 15, 1805, Articles of Association were signed and the Harmony Society came into being with about 500 members. This did not include those followers still in Ohio, most of whom later sued to regain their funds placed in Rapp's common treasury. [Note: According to Arndt, although the founding date of the Society is correct, the Art icles were prepared later and backdated, possibly as evidence in a lawsuit of the 1820s.] In 1805 Rapp officially adopted Frederick Reichert as his son. Frederick became the invaluable business manager for this community-organized religious sect. Growth was slow at first, for the group was relatively poor and did not expect to remain in Pennsylvania for long. But when Rapp's request for government land in Ohio was turned town in 1806, development picked up quickly.
George Rapp was accepted as the spiritual and organizational head of the Society. After 1809, his followers began to address him as "Father." He preached, heard confessions, led prayers and religious discussion, and advised in spiritual matters. Rapp also knew much about agriculture and manufacturing and was involved in all details of daily life in Harmony.
In 1807-1808 a religious revival occurred. From the late 1790s Rapp had preached that the second coming of Christ was imminent. Rapp saw the prophecy of the "Book of Revelation" being fulfilled in historical events of his time, especially those dealing wi th the rise of Napoleon. To purify themselves for Christ's advent, the Harmonists gave up tobacco, and adopted a chaste or celibate life. The last marriage on record until 1817 is that of George Rapp's son John in 1807.
By 1815 the Society had planted orchards, vineyards, fields of grain, and tended merino sheep. The Harmonists, who became American citizens, operated several mills, a brewery, a tannery, and manufactured woolen cloth. The Harmony Inn accommodated visitors and the general store provided supplies for the community members. Each family had its own house on a quarter acre lot. A school was held, and a small brass band was formed. Religious services were held twice on Sunday a nd once in mid-week in the brick church, constructed in 1808, on the town square.
But the Harmonists could not expand their land holdings. They had also had trouble with their neighbors, and the climate was not good for cultivation of grapes. However, not only for these reasons but just as much because of his interpretation of the "Boo k of Revelation" did Rapp, together with John Baker and Ludwig Schreiber, set off in 1814 to find a location for a new town. In May they found it along the banks of the Wabash. In June, Harmony, PA was offered for sale. It sold in May 1815 for $100,000, half of the original asking price.
Harmony, PA, the first settlement of the Harmony Society, is located in
Butler County, 18 miles north of Old Economy, Exit 27 of I-79. For
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