Manuscript Group 437 2017-10-25T11:55:00-04:00

Manuscript Group 437 – Karl Arndt Collection of Harmony Society Materials 1749 – 1949, 24 cu. ft.

Karl J.R. Arndt (1905 – 1991) was a scholar specializing in utopian societies, a linguist, and Head of the Department of German at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. These materials were collected by Dr. Arndt during the course of his research and publication of documentary histories of the Harmony Society (1805-1905) of Harmony, Pennsylvania; New Harmony, Indiana; and Economy, Pennsylvania. The members of the Harmony Society, also sometimes called Harmonists, Economites, and Rappists, were religious separatists devoted to communal living. The 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 what “primitive Christianity” was like during the first centuries of the Christian era. They established their first community called Harmony in the Connoquenessing Valley of Butler County in 1805 in which all property was placed in a common fund and in 1807 the group also adopted celibacy. A small cloth factory was established in 1806 which was followed by a sawmill, tannery, distillery, vinyards, 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 was sold to the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in 1937. The majority of the materials in this collection were obtained by Dr. Arndt through a series of interlibrary loans, 1941-43, from the Old Economy Village historic site while the remainder was collected independently by Dr. Arndt.The collection consists primarily of original administrative and legal papers, correspondence and accounts of the Harmony Society and its business enterprises. In addition, there are related materials interfiled in the collection which were collected by Dr. Arndt from unidentified sources.These materials have all been transferred to the PHMC’s Old Economy Village Historic Site, but microfilm copies of the materials can be viewed at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

For related records see the Harmony Society Papers (Manuscript Group 185)John S. Duss Papers (Manuscript Group 310)Old Economy Village Collection (Manuscript Group 354)Knoedler Family Collection (Manuscript Group 330), and Henry Mohn Family Collection (Manuscript Group 332), which have also been transferred to Old Economy Village.

Administrative Files

  • Copies of the Articles of Association of the Harmony Society
  • Appointment Letters
  • Resignation Letters
  • Dissolution Agreement for the Society in 1905

Legal Files

  • Acts
  • Agreements
  • Birth records [Geburts Brief] of Johann Georg Bentel and Johann Georg Rapp
  • Certificates
  • Citizenship Papers of Johan Friedrich Reichert, July 9, 1798.
  • Citizenship list of Harmony Society members who filed a declaration of intent to become citizens on September 25, 1810 and November 12, 1811.
  • Commissions
  • Coroners Inquest for Beaver County into the death of an unidentified man who drowned following an explosion on the steamboat Mayflower on May 16, 1848.
  • Court Case papers and Legal Proceedings
  • Death Certificates (Toden Schein) for John Mayer (1813), Jphn George Shaffer (1804), Jacob Steck (1812), a child of Carolina Teiling (1884), Elisabeth Wahl (1878), Anna Catharina Wolfangel (1848), and Gottfried Nikander Wolfangel (1849).
  • Deed extracts, 1854, 1873.
  • Depositions
  • Divorce Papers pertaining to Christoph Mohl, 1807, 1824, 1831, 1849.
  • Election Certificates
  • Guardianship Papers of Barbara, Godfray, and Theophilus Lively, December 26, 1808.
  • Indentures of Servitude for Gotlieb Napper (Knapper), (October 22, 1804) and for Henry and Elisabeth Knapper (January 16, 1818).
  • Judgements
  • Land patents for Peter Shriver for a lot in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1805 and of John S. Duss for land in Webster County, Nebraska in 1887.
  • Lease
  • Passport
  • Petitions
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Surveys, Courses and Distances, 1804-1930.
  • Widow’s Application of Caroline Duss, widow of Civil War veteran John Rutz (Duss), for an additional bounty
  • Wills and Estate Papers, including certified copies of the wills of Susannah E. Crees of Beaver County (1897), Jacob Fruit of Beaver County (1875), William T. Henrici of Beaver County (1877), Mary Elizabeth Creese Spitzer of Marengo County, Illinois (1901), and Henry Sybert of Lancaster County (1806).


  • Dr. Edward Acker
  • Daniel Agnew
  • John L. Baker
  • R.L.Baker
  • Emil Baur
  • Andreas Bimber
  • F.L. Braun
  • J.T. Books
  • M.P.Creese
  • Charles A. Dickson
  • James Dickson
  • Carolina Duss
  • John S.Duss
  • Benjamin Feucht,
  • Fridrika Feucht
  • Henry Feucht
  • Rebecca Feucht
  • Joseph F. Fink
  • Herman Fischern
  • George Flower
  • Richard Flower
  • Walter Forward
  • John David Gloss
  • Godfrey Haga
  • John D.Hay
  • B.C. Henning
  • Jacob Henrici
  • Henry Hice
  • Franz Hilvetl
  • George Kirschbaum
  • Andrew Leibbrandt
  • Jonathan Lenz
  • William Merkle
  • Hugo Miller
  • Dettmar Basse Muller
  • Phillip L. Passavant
  • James Patterson
  • Frederich Rapp
  • George Rapp
  • Sara Roth
  • David Shields
  • David L. Silvan
  • J. Solms
  • Peter Ulrich
  • Charles L.Volz
  • Louise Weil.

Also present is correspondence of George C. Buell, Charles F. Straube, and H.G. Wasson, which relates to escheat proceedings instigated by the State of Pennsylvania after the dissolution of the Harmony Society in 1905; and the correspondence of Gilbert H.Hays, which relates to the creation of the Harmony Society Historical Association.

Bound Accounts

  • Account of Cloth Sold, 1809-1811
  • Account of Outlay by families for store goods and shoes, 1813-1814
  • Account of Wool bought by A. Way for account of Frederick Rapp, 1831
  • Cancelled Notes,1885-1911
  • Inventory of Goods taken at the Harmony Store Shawneetown, Ill., 1825
  • Inventory of Goods taken at the Harmony Store at Vincennes, 1826-1831
  • Memorandum Books, 1804-1862
  • Shoemaker’s Ledger, 1831-1838
  • Sales Account of Abishai Way & Frederick Rapp, 1827-1828

Loose Accounts

  • Accounts Current
  • Bills of Lading
  • Banknotes
  • Bills
  • Debit-Credit Account
  • Inventories
  • Invoices
  • Memoranda
  • Orders
  • Promissory Notes
  • Receipts
  • Statements

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