The National Historic Landmark town of Harmony, Pennsylvania, showcases exhibits from Native American, Harmonist and Mennonite cultures. At the Harmony Museum see how Harmonists and Mennonites lived, tour the wine cellar and learn about the French and Indian War.
Native American Roots:
The history of Harmony, alternately spelled Harmonie, began with Murdering Town, a small Delaware Indian village. George Washington visited there in 1753 on his way to France's Fort LeBoeuf the mission that precipitated the French and Indian War. Nearby, a "French Indian" fired the war's first shot at Washington who, luckily, survived the shooting.
Arrival of the Harmonists:
The town of Harmony, PA, was founded in 1804 by the communal Harmony Society of pacifist German Lutheran Separatists. They were led there by Pietist Johann George Rapp, who came to America from Wuertemberg, Germany in search of land for his followers.
The Harmonists, who became American citizens, were a farming community, planting orchards, vineyards and grain, as well as raising merino sheep. The self-sufficient community also included several mills, a brewery, a tannery, the Harmony Inn and a general store. Each family had its own house on a quarter acre lot, and a brick church dominated the village square.
In Come the Mennonites:
Within ten years of their arrival, the hard-working Harmonists had outgrown their land. In 1814, they left Pennsylvania for a larger colony in Indiana, known as "New Harmony." Their land in Harmony was sold to the Mennonites, also pacifists, whose many descendants still live there.
Return to Pennsylvania:
The Harmonists ended up returning to Pennsylvania in 1824, this time founding the nearby village of Economy - now known as Economy Village in Ambridge, PA. Since the group believed in celibacy, however, they eventually died out when John and Susanna Duss, the last survivors of Harmony, died in 1951.
Harmony Historic District:
The historic district of Harmony centers around the village diamond and includes the Wagner House and Ziegler log house, as well as the Harmonist cemetery, Father Rapp's hillside bench, the Mennonite meetinghouse and cemetery, and the Harmony Museum.
The Harmony museum preserves relics that belonged to the Harmony Society and the Mennonites who acquired the town from the Harmonists. A collection of Harmonist furniture has been arranged to depict the lifestyle of the communal group. Encased exhibits supplement the docent's description of Harmonist beliefs and accomplishments. The Museum also houses Native American artifacts from the original Delaware Indian settlement.
The Harmony Museum, built in 1809 as a warehouse and granary, is open 1-4 p.m. daily except Mondays and holidays. Regular fees for guided tours are $5 for adults and $2 for children, but you can download a $5 discount coupon from VisitPA. Guided tours include both the museum, and the nearby buildings and cemeteries.