History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895x28

History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895

Harmony Borough, Chapter 28

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Transcribed by: Lexie Gallagher For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
Link to a sketch of Harmony Borough from the Atlas of Butler County, G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1874.

Surnames in this chapter are:




[p. 409]

The distinctive character of many of the old colonies, handed down and perpetuated even unto the present time, in the beliefs, dress and personal peculiarities of their descendants, is traceable to the fact that they came hither from the other side of the Atlantic in search of that religious liberty and freedom of conscience denied them in their native lands. It was this desire to escape from intolerance and persecution that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, the Catholics to Baltimore, the Quakers to Philadelphia, and the Harmonists to Butler county, Pennsylvania, resulting, in the latter instance, in the founding of the village of Harmony, in Jackson township, in the year 1805, by George RAPP and his Harmonist disciples, who were associated together under the name of "The United Society of Germans."

George RAPP, the founder of this peculiar communistic religious sect or association, was a native of Iptingen, Wurtemberg, Germany, where he was born October 28, 1757. He was the son of a farmer, vine-planter and weaver, the recipient of a fair common school education, an ardent reader of the Bible in his youth, and a literal interpreter of its text. This led him to take issue, in his early manhood, not only with the rationalism and infidelity of the times, but with the practices and forms of worship of the established church. From giving private expressions to his views he took, when about thirty years of age, to assembling his friends in his home and expounding the Scriptures unto them. He urged not only a return to the primitive simplicity of the early Christian worship, but a following of the example of the early Christians in the common ownership of property.

He soon had a following, and notwithstanding the opposition and denunciation of the clergy, his disciples increased, until they numbered over three hundred families, in 1803, when they resolved to seek religious freedom and an asy- [p. 410] lum from persecution in the New World. At their request, therefore, in that year, George RAPP came to America, accompanied by his son, John, and a few others, in search of a new home for himself and his disciples. They landed at Baltimore, visited portions of Maryland and Pennsylvania, even going as far west as the Tuscarawas valley in Ohio. Finding this place too far from civilization, they returned to Pennsylvania, visited the Connoquenessing valley, and found amid its beautiful scenery a location that pleased them, and which George RAPP secured for the society by purchasing from Dr. Detmar BASSE about 5,000 acres of his 10,000-acre tract, with twenty-four acres in the village of Zelienople. The deed for this property bears the date of October 17, 1804.

His disciples in Germany were satisfied with this purchase, and early in 1804, 300 of them sailed from Amsterdam, arriving at Baltimore July 4, of the same year, where he met and secured temporary homes for them during the winter, after which, taking with him a picked party of workmen, he returned to Zelienople. The founding of the village of Harmony followed, and by the ensuing February homes were ready for the members of the new colony. Six weeks after the arrival of the first contingent in Baltimore, a like number, in charge of Frederick RAPP , reached Philadelphia, followed soon after by the remainder of the disciples. This latter body were nearly all persuaded to locate in Lycoming county, by Mr. HALLER, who had been sent by RAPP to meet and conduct them to the new settlement.

Of the three contingents, 135 families accompanied their leader to the Connoquenessing. February 15, 1805, the Harmony Society was organized, on a purely communal basis. Money and goods all went into a common fund. A distinctive and uniform style of dress was adopted; there were no rich and no poor; the houses of all were nearly alike; and the new society sought, in its public worship and the lives of its individual members, to conform as nearly as possible, to what they conceived to be the practices and the usages of the early Christians. At the close of 1809, notwithstanding the withdrawal, in the meantime, of ten families, the community numbered 140 families, and was in a prosperous and healthful condition. All worked together in concord and harmony, each line of work being under the superintendence of a foreman, and all under the direction of George RAPP, or of his adopted son, Frederick RAPP, or REICHERT.

During the year ending in February, 1806, there were 150 acres of land cleared, fifty log cabins, a grist mill, barn, machine shop and a house of worship erected. At the close of the ensuing year, 600 acres had been cleared, a vineyard of four acres set out, a distillery, tannery, brick yard, saw mill and large brick granary added to the little town. Of the farm products there was a surplus of 600 bushels of grain, which with 3,000 gallons of whisky was ready for market. The year 1808 was equally satisfactory, while that of 1809 surpassed all expectation, the products being 6,000 bushels of corn, 4,000 of wheat, 4,500, of rye, 5,000 of oats, and 10,000 of potatoes, with 4,000 pounds of flax and hemp, fifty gallons of sweet oil, manufactured from the poppy, thousands of gallons of whisky, with beef, mutton and pork far beyond the possible needs of the little community. In 1810 a woolen factory was added to the communal industries. This year no less than 2,000 acres of land were in cultivation.

[p. 411] The Harmonists certainly formed a model industrial community. Under RAPP's leadership they worked almost as one man. Whenever it was necessary, for instance to harvest a field, they all joined in the work. As a rule, however, each class was confined to the division of labor assigned to it. It was only in emergencies that those of one department were called to assist in another. Industry and frugality being practiced by all, prosperity was the result. Three times a year the festivals described in the history of Jackson township were observed. Provision was also made for daily recreation, Sunday being devoted to a cheerful worship of the Giver of all Good.

It is difficult to state precisely what the spiritual ideas of the Economites were. George RAPP taught at first the doctrine of heaven for the just and hell for the unjust; later, he believed that purgatory would be the refining place of the majority, and again, he was an Adventist, giving it as his opinion that in 1837 the world would be destroyed. He and the majority of the colony taught that celibacy, with fasting and prayer, brought the creature nearer to God, and agreed that sexual intercourse between its members should cease. The society has practiced this doctrine up to the present.

In 1814 the colony advertised their property here for sale, and succeeded in finding a buyer in Abraham ZIEGLER, who purchased it for $100,000. In 1815 they removed to a new location on the Wabash river, in Posey county, Indiana. Here they purchased 27,000 acres of land, on which they settled and remained until 1824, when becoming involved in pecuniary difficulties, they sold both land and improvements to Robert OWEN, who was anxious to try a socialistic experiment on a plan of his own. They then returned to Pennsylvania, located in Beaver county, and founded the towns of Economy and Harmony on the east bank of the Ohio river, seventeen miles northwest of Pittsburg. Here George RAPP died, August 7, 1847, being almost ninety years of age. His adopted son, Frederick REICHERT, who was a man of considerable ability, died in 1834.

On February 15, 1894, the Harmony Society celebrated its eighty-ninth anniversary at Economy. The old members have all passed away, 100 of their number lying at rest in the cemetery at Harmony in this county, around which a stone wall was built in 1869. In May, 1894, there were only eighteen living members.


The Harmony of the ZIEGLERS is scarcely less interesting than that of the RAPPs. The transfer of the property, though voluntary, made it necessary for the society to seek a new home. Its individual members, had in the meantime became attached to the place, where for ten years they had pursued quite, peaceful and industrious lives, and where their dead, loved in life, lay buried; and it was not without feelings of regret that they turned their faces westward, and left Harmony, with all its pleasant associations, behind them. The new proprietor, who took possession in 1815, bringing his family hither, soon found himself embarrassed to meet the unpaid balance of the purchase money and its accruing interest. He accordingly made a trip to New Harmony, Indiana, saw RAPP, and offered to return the land and improvements to the Economites. There he learned, however, that they , too, were involved. RAPP urged him to hold the property, can-[p. 412] celled some interest coupons and agreed to pay fifty cents a pound for all the wool which the new proprietor would produce on the old Harmony estate. Returning, Mr. ZIEGLER entered at once on sheep farming, and, within a few years, he cleared the land of all incumbrances. In accomplishing this he was aided by David STAUFFER, John SCHWARTZ, Jacob SWAIN, Samuel SWAIN and other early settlers, who were to act as shepherds for him a stated time and receive a certain area of land round their homes in compensation. The contracts were faithfully carried out and all parties concerned reaped rich rewards.

In 1815 Samuel BEAM moved from the BASSENHEIM furnace and established a blacksmith shop here. At the same time, Jacob KELKER took possession of the Harmony tavern--not the hotel of 1806--but one of the old log houses of the village; John FLEMING, an Irishman, taught school; the STAUFFERS, LATSHAWS, SCHWARTZ, and HERRS, with Johann LADENSCHLAGER, formerly an Economite; Baltzer GULL, the butcher; John ROTH, the blacksmith; Philip NOSS, the cooper; Joseph TINSMAN and Francis BASSLER, also coopers; Jacob GROSS, the weaver; John TRINNELLS and John SCHEELY, freighters; John BOYER, the Mennonite preacher, and the members of the ZIEGLER family, may be accounted as the pioneers of 1815-1816.

The population in 1870, was 414; in 1880, 497, and in 1890, 585. The assessed value of property in 1893, was $106,737; the county tax, $426.95, and the State tax, $93.60.


The SCHONTZ & SIEGLER flouring mill, north of the public square, was the Economite barn of 1806, converted into a manufacturing industry in 1837. The fire of 1852 swept it away, with the old houses in the neighborhood, including the original communal or manor house of Geroge RAPP, on the northwest corner of the square. SCHONTZ became owner of another of the original barns, placed machinery therein and carried on the milling business until he sold to John PEARCE. Other owners or lessees followed until David ZIEGLER became owner in 1872. Eight years after the concern was remodeled and new machinery introduced. The SIEDEL mill, now known as the HARPER mill, is more of a Zelienople or township than of a Harmony industry, and therefore, finds mention in the chapters on Jackson township and Zelienople. The woolen factory of 1837, like the flouring mill, was one of SCHONTZ' enterprises. Ten years before the big colony barn was burned, this factory became a prey to the flames; but SCHONTZ rebuilt on the same site, put in new machinery and carried on the industry until 1850, when Robert SAMPLE became interested in the enterprise. In 1865 John PEARCE purchased SCHONTZ' interest therein and the new firm extended the industry. In 1871 Robert SAMPLE sold his half interest to PEARCE, who subsequently made his son a partner and raised the old woolen mill to a great industry. Almost thirty years before the SCHONTZ factory was started, the Economites did a flourishing business in flannel and cloth manufacture. H. M. BENTLE & Company's planing mills at Zelienople and in this borough, are modern manufacturing enterprises. Wagon and carriage shops and other industries are plentiful round the twin boroughs. LATSHAW & ZIEGLER established a machine shop in 1866, and H. WECKBECKER bought the foundry from William LATSHAW some time later. Andrew [p. 413] ZIEGLER's tannery may be considered the successor of the original Economite tannery. He was followed Later by J. BOWMAN as proprietor, but the business was finally abandoned.


In 1835 Samuel BEAM, the blacksmith, purchased the frame inn-building of 1806 from Abraham ZIEGLER, the consideration being seventy-five cents a day for ten years, or $2,737.50. The property was sold by the BEAM estate, the building torn down, and in 1862 Jacob SCHOENE built a large brick house on the site for hotel purposes. The third story was subsequently added, and in 1881 BEAM & DINDINGER became the landlords. In Jacob KELKER's tavern the Fourth of July banquet, described in the general history, was served. Henry SHEPARD, who gave up the trade of hatter to become a tavern keeper, was here in the "twenties," and in 1825 James MEHARD built the Welcome Inn--an old hostelry, in which one or more of the BEAMS presided.

John FLEMING kept the first store in the town after its sale to Abraham ZIEGLER. Later, Henry and John SCHWARTZ began business, and were followed by George HOWELL, Alfred PEARCE, Peter OTTO, John and Isaac LATSHAW, Reuben MUSSELMAN, E. L. GILLESPIE, PEFFER & RANDOLPH, ENSLEN & HAINE, PEFFER & SWAIN, SWAIN & MOYER, SWAIN & HOUSEHOLDER, SWAIN & BENTLE and G. D. SWAIN; also LATSHAW & STAMM and MILLEMAN Brothers. These firms succeeded each other with various measures of success. At the close of 1894, the general stores of G. D. SWAIN and MILLEMAN Brothers; A. FOEHRINGER, tinner; F. R. LATSHAW, and George MILLEMAN; the hardware stores of George DINDINGER and the Oil Well Supply Company; the drug store of J. H. HUBER; the flour and feed store of F. B. STIVER; the bakery of H. W. BAME; the coal yard of A. EPPINGER; the lumber business of H. M. BENTLE & Company; the livery stables of Alfred M. WISE, and the foundries, mills, machine, carriage, blacksmith and carpenter shops were all doing a thriving business.


The Harmony Savings Bank was incorporated in 1867, and organized a few months later, in 1868, with Alfred PEARCE, president; R. H. PALMER, treasurer; George BEAM. John ENSLEN, Henry GOEHRING, Joseph SCHWARTZ, J. C. SCOTT, and the president and treasurer, directors. In 1877 Henry GOEHRING was elected president and George BEAM treasurer. They, with Messrs. PEARCE, GOEHRING, ENSLEN, Jacob SLEPPY, David ZIEGLER, E. F. WINTER and J. C. SCOTT were the directors. William WILSON presided in 1882, with H. M. WISE, cashier, who held the office from 1878 to 1884. Ira and Abraham STAUFFER, Alexander STEWART and other stockholders have been on the directory, while Henry GOEHRING has served as president of the institution.

The Harmony National Bank was organized in 1876, with W. H. H. RIDDLE president, and H. J. MITCHELL cashier. John DINDINGER was one of the organizers. In 1882 Edward MELLON was president. Butler men were for a long time the principal stockholders and directors.

The Commercial Bank was established by S. E. NIECE, March 1, 1892. He [p. 414] was one of the early operators in this oil field and a well known man in banking circles. It lasted only a brief period.


Harmony and Zelienople have post offices now; but they were not always so fortunate. In 1813 the old Tory postmaster of Zelienople, Andrew McCLURE, was tarred and feathered, and fled to Harmony. He caused the post office to follow him, and one of RAPP's men was appointed postmaster. After Abrabam ZIEGLER came here, John FLEMING, the poet, was appointed, holding the office until his removal to Zelienople, in 1835. The office followed him, and Harmony people had to walk to her rival's office for letters for many years. After the office was re-established, S. P. P. YOUNG was appointed, and his successors have been as follows: Jacob STAUFFER, H. C. WEISE, T. H. WHEELER, D. P. BOGGS, and Adam EPPINGER.

The justices of the peace for the borough of Harmony, elected from 1840 to 1894, inclusive, are named as follows: Jacob BEAR, 1840; John SEAMAN, 1840, 1851 and 1856; Jacob COVERT,1841 and 1846; Isaac LATSHAW, 1845 and 1850; Jonas UMPSTEAD, 1851, 1856 and 1861; Francis R. COVERT, 1861-66-71-76-81-86-91; Alfred PEARCE, 1866; John PEARCE, 1879; James D. LYTLE, 1877-82-87 and 1889; G. F. HAINE, 1883; G. D. SWAIN, 1884; W. M. GRANT, 1885; W. F. WILD, 1890 Adam EPPINGER, 1891 and Henry NIECE, 1892.


The order to incorporate the borough of Harmony was issued in 1838, and a charter election held, which resulted in the choice of William KECK for burgess. Very little was accomplished by the old councils toward improving the town. The record of elections on file gave the following names of successful candidates for burgess and councilmen from 1877 to 1894:

1877--T. H. WHEELER, burgess; G.D. SWAIN, W. H. LATSHAW, J. C. HYLE, R. M. McNAIR, A. H. WILSON and A. W. ZIEGLER.
1878--W. C. LATSHAW, burgess; R. T. COVERT, George KLINE, B. F. PEFFER, A. SHAFFER, A. H. WILSON and Joseph RODENBACK.
1880--F. T. SHAFFER, burgess; B. F. COVERT, C. HERTZOG, Joseph B. GROVER, Jacob C. HYLE, John PEARCE and William ROTH.
1881--H. M. WISE, burgess; S. A. BEAM, J. C. HYLE, A. W. ZIEGLER, F. WEIGLE and D. P. BOGGS.
1882--Henry WECKBECKER, burgess; E. N. KNOX, G. F. HAINE, W. LATSHAW, John PEARCE, D. M. STAMM and J. D. LYTLE.
1883--F. T. SHAFFER, burgess; E. N. KNOX, F. M. MITCHELL, Jacob ENSLEN, Walter PEARCE, G. D. SWAIN and Thomas WHEELER.
1884--E. N. KNOX, burgess; James H. HALLSTEIN, Jacob ENSLEN, H. SHAFFER, H. M. BUTLER, Joseph RODENBACH and G.D. SWAIN.
1885--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; F. M. MITCHELL, B. F. STIVER, councilmen for three years; H. WECKBECKER and G. KLINE for two years.

[p. 415]

1886--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; H. M. WISE and F. WEIGLE.
1887--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; F. WECKBECKER, and J. H. HALLSTEIN.
1888--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; N. ZIEGLER, E. N. KNOX and F. T. SHAFFER.
1889--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; R. E. REDMOND, S. B. MEYER and S. A. BEAM.
1890--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; Fred FOEHRINGER and D. M. STAMM.
1891--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; F. T. SHAFFER, and Joseph RODENBACH.
1892--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; H. M. WISE, and A. EPPINGER.
1893--G. D. SWAIN, burgess; Philip KRADEL, and SIDNEY J. MOYER.
1894--E. N. KNOX, burgess;S. J. MOYER, H. M. WISE, A. EPPINGER, Alexander MILLER, John KLOPFENSTINE and Philip KRADEL.


The schools and teachers from 1805 to the departure of the Economites, were part and parcel of the community, like the farmers, weavers, vineyard workers, dairy hands, etc. In 1815 or 1816 John FLEMING established a school, in which the teachers named in the history of Zelienople taught subsequently, one of them, Jacob HEBERLING, the mason, teaching where G. D. SWAIN's store now stands, and William HUNTZBERGER, where in later years stood the UMPSTEAD building. The Harmony Collegiate Institute is the successor of a long line of select schools carried on here since the forties, and has done good work in the cause of education. Since the advent of public schools, Harmony has enjoyed similar advantages to other boroughs throughout the county. In June, 1893, there were sixty-seven male and eighty-three female children of school age within the borough; while the total revenue for school purposes amounted to $1,834.64.


The Mennonite Church is the pioneer religious organization of modern Harmony. For ten or eleven years before the ZIEGLERS arrived, the Pietists observed the teachings of George RAPP here, as well as in the pastoral towns of Eidenau, Ramsdale and Oilbronn. Rev. John BOYER was the first Mennonite preacher, and Abraham ZIEGLER the principal supporter of the church from 1816, when a building was constructed, to his death, in 1836. In 1825 he caused a stone building to be erected, which is to-day the house of worship. Rev. Abraham TINSMAN succeeded Mr. BOYER, and Rev. Jacob KULP came after TINSMAN. Then Rev. Joseph ZIEGLER became pastor, and for forty years preached to the little congregation. In 1816 the ZIEGLERS and the families of David STAUFFER, John SCHWARTZ and the WISES formed the congregation. To-day, almost eighty years after its organization, it embraces about the same number of members, though many of the grand-children of the founders have joined other Protestant denominations.

Grace Reformed Church was organized in 1826, as a German speaking society, by Rev. John KOCH, with the following named members: Conrad STAMM, Daniel SHANOR, John RICE, Samuel MOYER, Abraham MOYER, Gottlieb BURRY, Andrew ZIEGLER and their wives, and Henry MUNTZ. The pastors, in order of service, are named as follows: Revs. John KOCH, 1826; Daniel RAHAUSER, 1827; Jacob DAUBERT, 1835; E. F. WINTER, 1837; J. F. DIEFFENBACHER, 1839; E. F. WINTER, 1843; Samuel MILLER, 1845; L. D. LIEBERMAN, 1848; Samuel MILLER, 1849; Joseph MILLER, 1852; H. F. HARTMAN, 1853; Lucian CORT, 1857; F. W. [p. 416] DECHANT, 1858; William M. LANDIS, 1864; F. A. EDMONDS, 1870; H. H. SANDOE, 1885, and E. H. OTTING, 1887. Mr. OTTING resigned early in 1894, after having brought the membership up to 260. The old brick meeting house of the Pietists, built under the direction of the RAPPS in 1805, has been the meeting house of this congregation since its purchase from Abraham ZIEGLER in 1826. It has been subjected to repeated remodelings, the last having been finished October 30, 1892, when the building was re-dedicated.

The German Evangelical Church was organized in 1843, by Rev. Eli STEAVER, an itinerant of that denomination. For about ten years the little society worshipped in the school house or in private houses; then a frame house was purchased and transformed into a church, which was used for worship until 1868, when the little brick building was completed. It was the place of worship until it began to fall to pieces.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Zelienople, in 1842, where a brick building was erected, which was used until 1880, when the congregation moved to Harmony, by the advice of Rev. J. W. RIGHTER, who was then in charge of the circuit. A church building was commenced and completed and dedicated August 15, of that year, at a cost of about $2,000, exclusive of the building lot.

The Baptist Church of Harmony, never a prosperous society, though owning a building, is merely a reminiscence.

The Church of God was organized here by Rev. W. B. LONG, who was pastor at Benwood, West Virginia, in recent years. He secured a number of converts, baptized them in the Connoquenessing, and sent them forth to bring others into the fold.

The First Cemetery was the old burial ground of the Harmony Society, from 1805 to 1815, which was covered, in the last named year, with rock, to a depth of several feet, so that the bones of their dead would not be disturbed, was restored in 1869, by the representatives of the old community, who built a wall around the graveyard, removed the rocks and marked the graves of those interred there. The work was performed by Elias ZIEGLER, at an expense of over $7,000.


Kinnear Lodge, Number 648, I.O.O.F., was chartered November 17, 1868, with Jacob COOPER, N. G.; Jacob SCHOENE, V. G.; Henry COOPER, sec.; Theodore KERSTING, asst. sec., and Philip DIEHL, treas. Robert KINNEAR and Henry COOPER, who were instrumental in organizing the lodge, the officers named, with three other citizens, formed the roll of charter members. The membership rose at one time to about 130, then fell to eleven, and again increased. The lodge at Middle Lancaster now embraces many Harmony and Zelienople Odd Fellows.

Harmony Union, Number 875, E. A. U., WAS ORGANIZED December 4, 1891, with J. M. CARNAHAN chancellor, and the following named officers in the order of rank: Mrs. C. A. BLACKMAN, Dr. D. W. FIEDLER, Mrs. A. M. KINGSLEY, Mrs. W. L. DAVIS, Jacob WEIGLE, D.P. BOGGS, Jacob ENSLEN, Rev. E.H. OTTING, Mrs. J. WEIGLE, Mrs. C. S. AHNER, W. L. DAVIS, Maud HORIBON, Jessie McGAFFIC and C. H. BLACKMAN.

[End of Chapter 28 - Harmony Borough: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895]

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