Original Document
Original Document
Documents on the Daily Life of the Harmonists, 1824-1866.

"The heavenly Kingdom admits of no idle time. Let it not be thought that men were simply created for mere contemplating, admiring, rejoicing, and enjoying. How can that be without objects? Man is man and will continue to live as such even after death, only in a more refined and perfect state, of which he is susceptible.

His melioration consists of progressive activity in a direct course towards the perfecting of all the faculties of his nature, to become a united member of the whole, and a great, coherent, symphonious, intimately connected part of a universum; consequently a being of everlasting persevering and increasing activity in the human sphere... .

Source: George Rapp, Thoughts on the Destiny of Man. (Harmony: Harmony Press, 1824), 17.

"I can hear you chattering, singing and laughing...our girls have too much to do, for 20 women are too few for 70 men. They can do nothing aside from their housework. By the time they are finished with the washing, mending and cooking the week has passed especially since the people tear so much of their clothing. But they get plenty of practice. The younger ones can cook for 14-15 people just as readily as the older ones. It is as nothing for them. The same can be said of other household activities. And I have not heard a word of discontent–everyone is peaceful, willing and obedient. (Gertrude was 17 years old)

Source: Letter, George Rapp to Gertrude Rapp, Jan. 22, 1824, Old Economy, Archives, Box 4.

"Writers are continually using the misnomer, "peasant" when describing the Harmonists. From the above it is evident that they were clever farmers. The Harmonists were also gardeners, tanners, shoemakers, butchers, bakers, distillers, brewers, smiths, coopers, stocking weavers, tailors, seamstresses, carpenters, bricklayers, stonecutters, wheelwrights, cloth weavers, cabinet makers, "teachers," clerks and herdsmen. The herdsman rode to the pastures in "Noah's Ark," a small house placed on wheels and drawn by cattle. The Harmonists, also, always had a doctor.

Source 5C:

"As has been indicated throughout, the society was not oriented toward play, but it has also been seen that they received an enormous amount of pleasure from music, flowers, gardens, and their calendric feasts. Also, for communal interests Dr. Muller and Frederick Rapp had developed a museum. Frederick procured from New York and Philadelphia rare minerals, painting, collections of birds, insects, and shells. He also brought in Indian antiquities. A copy of West's "Christ Healing the Sick" was a particular favorite among visitors. Another pleasure was the Deer Park and the gold fish pond. Simple pleasures they were, but in the days before mass media this was the nature of entertainment, and even today people visit far and wide to see lovely gardens.

Source: Aaron Williams, The Harmony Society (Pittsburgh: W.S. Haven, 1866), 67.

The night watchman:

the day ended at 9:00 p.m. and the night watchman called out:
"Again a day is passed and a step nearer our end, our time runs out and the joys of Heaven are our reward.
At twelve o'clock, he cried out:
"Harken unto me all ye people, twelve o'clock sounds from the steeple! Twelve gates has the City of God, Blessed is he who enters the fold, twelve strokes, all is well!"
At three a.m., he cried:
"Again a day has come, our time rung away and the joys of Heaven are our reward.

Source: Watchman Words

"The great charm about these labours of the Rappists is, that no one appears to be over-worked or under-fed; none without abundance of clean and comfortable apparel; there are in their factories no children, whose strength is taxed beyond its power to bear; there is no anxiety on the mind of a single being, as to a stoppage of the works, a loss of employment, a reduction of wages, or any of those vicissitudes, which place before many an English operative the choice between a prison, a poor-house, or emigration. There is no drinking to intoxicate old or young, and to produce the disease and misery which that engenders, no confined air and heated atmosphere to oppress respiration and vitiate the blood: no want of medical aid, rest, and recreation, if sickness should require absence from labor: and no fear of want resulting from loss of time.... The day glides on tranquilly; and after light labor and sufficient food, mingled with the enjoyment of a cheerful walk in the open air or music practiced in concert, they retire early to rest.

Source: James Silk Buckingham, The Eastern and Western States of America, II (London: Fisher Son & Co., 1842), 233-234.

"When we reached Economy, we passed two smoking charcoal ovens, Note (see picture of charcoal ovens) and as we came to the first house, we were greeted by three men, blowing horns in welcome. We reached the inn, a substantial frame building on the corner (note see picture of inn) and on the steps stood Father Rapp to receive us. One could not conceive of a more benign patriarch or what has been accomplished by him, unless an eye-witness to the unity and love displayed toward him by his community of 700 persons. After a hearty meal, we visited the place. Everything was laid out in perfect order, wide streets at right angles, and houses so far built of attractive design, In four days it will but two years since they began here to hew down a dense forest, where Economy now stands. As a proof, the stumps of trees can still be seen in the streets. It is surely marvelous to see how much can be accomplished in a short time by unity of purpose and well-directed human activities. Some streets completed, show frame houses, set wide apart, to allow room for gardens.

The brick buildings so far, are where the wool and cotton is manufactured, Mr. Rapp's dwelling and a house.

Fresh flowers greeted us everywhere, even on the work benches. With regret we left this busy and happy community to drive back to Pittsburgh.

Source: Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar visited Economy, May 17,1826.
Hilda Adam Kring, The Harmonists: A Folk-Cultural Approach, Chapter X.

5-A quoted in Kring, p. 152.

5-B quoted in Kring, p. 153.

5-C from Kring, p. 155

5-D quoted in Kring, p. 163.

5-E quoted in Kring, p. 165).

5-F quoted in Kring, pp. 176-177.

5-G from Economy of Old and Ambridge of Today Compiled by Elise Mercur Wagner, Centennial Souvenir Program, June 6,7,8, 1924. p. 5.
Back to Top