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Manuscript Group 185
303 cu. ft.

The Harmony Society was founded in 1805 by Johann Georg Rapp (1757-1847), a farmer and vinedresser born in Iptigen, Germany. Rapp and his followers believed in refashioning their lives around their vision of early Christian communalism during the first centuries of the Christian era. They established their first community called Harmony in the Connoquenessing Valley of Butler County in 1805 where all property was held in common and, in 1807, the group also adopted the practice of celibacy. A small cloth factory was established in 1806 which was followed by a sawmill, tannery, distillery, vineyards, and a two-story hotel.

In 1814, the Society sold the property in Butler County and founded New Harmony in Posey County, Indiana where they erected even larger factories. In 1824 the members returned to western Pennsylvania and established the village of Economy in Beaver County where Rapp died in 1847. Under the trusteeship of Romelius L. Baker. (1847-1868) and Jacob Henrici. (1868-1892), the Society became involved in real estate speculation in Beaver Falls, construction of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, established the Economy Savings Institution and Economy Brick Works, and operated the Economy Oil Company, Economy Planing Mill, and Economy Lumber Company. Following litigation by heirs, the Harmony Society was dissolved in 1905 and seventeen structures comprising Old Economy Village were acquired by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in 1919 for use as a historic site. Most of the archival records thereafter came into the possession of John S. Duss and Susanna C. Duss, the last trustees and were employed by John Duss to write The Harmonists: A Personal History. (1943). The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania took custody of part of the records in 1931 and 1933 and the balance were sold to the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in 1937.

This manuscript group has been transferred to the PHMC's Old Economy Village Historic Site, but microfilm copies of most of the materials can be viewed at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

For related records see the John S. Duss Papers. (Manuscript Group 310), Old Economy Village Collection. (Manuscript Group 354), Karl Arndt Collection of Harmony Society Materials. (Manuscript Group 437), Knoedler Family Collection. (Manuscript Group 330), and Henry Mohn Family Collection. (Manuscript Group 332), which have also been transferred to Old Economy Village.

Administrative File

Music Archives

General File

Legal File

Business File: Letter Books and Correspondence

Business File: Account Volumes

Business File: Domestic and Handicraft Industries

Subsidiary Records: Economy Lumber Company Records

Subsidiary Records: Economy Oil Company

Subsidiary Records: Economy Planing Mill Company Records

Subsidiary Records: French Point Planing Mill and Lumber Company

Subsidiary Records: Harmony Brick Works

Subsidiary Records: Liberty Land Company Records

Subsidiary Records: Post Office

Subsidiary Records: Real Estate Enterprises

Subsidiary Records: The Union Company

Subsidiary Records: Tucabe Gold Mining Company

Subsidiary Records: Western Grain and Products Company

Subsidiary Records: William J. Werner Enterprises

Reference Literature: Monetary

School Materials

Religious Materials

Publications File

Public Records File - Aldermen and Justices of the Peace

Public Records File - Economy Volunteer Fire Department

Public Records File - Tax Materials

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records