Who lived in the Rapp Houses?

//Who lived in the Rapp Houses?

Who lived in the Rapp Houses?

We’ve taken a 2-week break while 2 exhibits have been taking up all of my time.  Harmonizing at Economy: Two Centuries of Music opened at the end of March in the Visitor Center lobby, and Their Own Style: Clothing and Textiles of the Harmony Society is set to open Thursday, May 8th at 7 PM in the changing exhibit gallery.  Faces and Places: Photographs of Economy will be ending Sunday, April 20th.

While the plastering, painting, carpentry, and electrical work continue at the Rapp Houses, I thought we’d take a look at who lived in the houses throughout time.

Much of what we know about who lived in the houses comes from the census data, the most early of which for these buildings is 1830.  The census combines the George and Frederick Rapp Houses into one structure.

The Obvious

We know the obvious people that lived there from the time the houses were completed in 1826-28 until their deaths: Harmonist leader George Rapp (1757-1847), his wife Christina (1756-1830), his daughter Rosina (1786-1849), his adopted son Frederick (1775-1834), his daughter-in-law Johanna (1787-1873), and his granddaughter Gertrude (1808-1889).  None of the censuses indicate that George’s sister  Maria Barbara Rapp (1765-1844) lived there.

The Not So Obvious

The 1830 and 1840 censuses tell us that George Fleckhammer (1783-1843) lived there.  Fleckhammer was George Rapp’s steward of the house and caretaker of the garden, as well as a stone mason.


Everyone listed above except for Frederick, who died in 1834, lived in the houses in 1840.  Jacob Henrici (1804-1892) also moved into the house before he became trustee.  He shows up in the 1840 census at the age of 35.  Fleckhammer died in 1843.  By the time of George Rapp’s death in 1847, Florian Keppler (1796-1851) had moved in.  Keppler was a coachman and probably replaced Fleckhammer.  Rosina Rapp died in 1849.


In 1850 the houses were the home of Johanna and Gertrude Rapp, Jacob Henrici, and Florian Keppler, who died in 1851.  The 1850 census tells us that John Stahl (1776-1856) and Gertrude’s friend Paulina Speidel (1809-1870) had also moved into the house.  Stahl was on the Board of Elders and a farm supervisor.


By 1860, the houses held the two Rapps, Henrici, Speidel, as well as Romelius Langenbacher (a.k.a. R.L. Baker – then Head Trustee, 1793-1868), his sister Catharina Langenbacher (1800-1874), Christoph Keppler (Florian’s brother, 1800-1876), and Johanna Rapp’s sister Elisabetha Diem (1790-1863).  That decade, Diem died in 1863 and R. L. Baker died in 1868.


The 1870 census shows that the two Rapps, Henrici (then Head Trustee), Speidel (who died in 1870), Christoph Keppler, and Catharina Langenbacher lived there, as well as Jonathan Lenz (Junior Trustee, 1807-1890), and non-Harmonists Joseph (aged 18) and Rosina Loeffler (aged 14).  Johanna Rapp died in 1873, Langenbacher in 1874, and Keppler in 1876.


In 1880 Gertrude Rapp, Jacob Henrici, Jonathan Lenz lived in the houses, and non-Harmonists John (aged 69) and Carolina Jaeger, Minnie (aged 26) and Gottlob Killenger (aged 23), and Christian Loeffler (aged 20).  These later folks were probably hired workers of the Society.  Gertrude died in 1889 and Lenz died in 1890.


Unfortunately the 1890 census was destroyed, but we can make a conjecture about who lived in the houses.  Jacob Henrici lived there until he died Christmas day 1892.  John Duss (1860-1951) and his wife Susie (1859-1946) and their two children Vera (born 1883) and John Jr. (born 1885) moved into the house around this time.  John Duss became Head Trustee of the Harmony Society upon Henrici’s death.

1900 and after

John and Susie Duss lived part time in Pennsylvania and part time in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  Susie mostly stayed in Florida due to her health.  The Harmony Society closed in December 1905.  John Duss, Jr. and his wife Elizabeth lived in the house with their children Vera (1910-2005) and John Duss III (born 1912) for a couple of years around 1910-12.  Mary Fruth (1861-1966) moved into the house as John Duss’s housekeeper in 1900.  She lived there with her caretaker Molly Skiles (born c. 1876) until 1961 when the restoration of the house began.  No one has lived in the house since 1961.


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By | 2022-09-13T10:01:44-04:00 April 11th, 2014|Rapp Houses Restoration|0 Comments

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