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Quaint Old Economy

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"Nellie Bly," wrting from Pittsburg to the New York World s;is: fCUJNUMÏ IS tllO quaintest village in the United States. It is situatcd on the Fort --sga Wavno railroad. efghteen miles bclow I ittsburg, vet it is as unlike an American lown as if it belonged to amitliorpartofthe globe. Neitherthe Uistleof the nearby city nor the r a i 1 r o a d and steamboat linos cvtT penétrate the heart of the sleepy tovvu. It is the home of the Econojiites, a society founded by ('eorge Kapp in crmany naany, many years;ago. What all their beliefs were is more than any outsider can ever teil. Their chief aim was to live as the earliest Chrisfans did, as poilrayed in the writings of the apostles. Driven from Germany by religious persecutions.they etuigrateii to America in 18 5 and settled in Pennsylvania. '1 hey bought land and built a village which" they enlled Harmony. They dubbed tbeinselves Harmonltes, and gave what eaithly goods theypossessed to thcir founder and leader, George Bapp, who was their father, banker, advjsor and preacher. At lirst the members married with the understanding that they were to live togethcr for a few months evcry seven years Í fter severa] had broken this law, and among them Rapp's own son .'ohn. (ieorgo Kapp decided that it would be more in conformitv with the teachings of the disciples to ïive a life of celibacy. Several of the members who had wives and sweethearls rebelled against this. 1 hey were all formally ordertd to appear bef ore their leader, where they were told to give up their love and their wives or to renounce the society. Those who were true to Rapp moved with hint to Indiana, where another Harraony was founded. Disease attacked the new illageand reduced the nuniber of its inhabitants i-o greatly that tho remaining ones iled back. to Pennsylvania. In 1836 they bought 2,500 acres of land in a most beautiful valley near Pittsburg. Here they Siittled and here those of them who are still alive, live to day. The misfortunes that befell theni in the two Harmony settlements eaused them to ohange the name. 'J hey called their new home Economy and themselves Economites. The members who de serted the Harmonites either died out or became as othcr citizens of the globe, iviany of their descerrdants are well known peoplo in ad around 1legheny City. About onö tliousand members firsl settled in Economy, but as their number was never inereased by birth or by adoption, and as doa:h occasionally invaded therc homes, títere remain at the present time not moro than eight een members, the youngest of whom is sixty two years old. When they first took vows of celibaey they beiieved that the world was nearing its end, and so they lhcd simple lives, preparing for the mysterious hereaxcer. (leorge Kapp just beforj he died, told the others the world would snrely end before the last member died. They believe lt. ün entering the villageonesees plain houses, wide, well-kept streots, lined on either side with largo shado trees and chickens- nothing else. lt is a most unusual sight to see any people on the stretts. The thrifty appeiirance alone prevenís a visitor frorn thinking it a deserted village or imagining that the inhabitants were aaiting the prince's arrival to awake them trom a cenlury long sleep. The houses are all alike. They ure all built with the gable end lowards the street and cannot be entered except through the yards. Tbere are no front stoops to fall over in Economy. lirape vines are trained to cover the street side of all he houses but they are pruned so as not to interfere with the light of the windows. The men are housekeepers, and so are tho women. They never mingle, not even at work. The dress of one is the dress of all. Everything is on an equality. lhe men wear blue broadcloth long-tailed coats, wide trousers and broad brimmed blaok hats On holidays the broaduloth is exchanged for blue silk attire. The women wear straight, full skirts gathered on a plain waist of blue ilannel, giDghani or silk. Their heads, indoor and out, are always picturesquely attired in bright blue silken Norman dy c;i[s, The oldest citien of this part oi Pennsylvania still rememher and speaks of the wonderful broadcloth, llannels, blankets, E onomy whisky and wine they obtained from the Eeonomites. The factories are all silent anddesertec now, and the members have long sineo grown too feeble for hard labor. Il was in Economy that silk culture and manufacture on a large seale wore firs begun in the United States. Everythinsr in Kconomy is run by rule and regulation much as at boarding school. At 5 o'clock in the morning the bell on the one church rings and every one in the villagn rises. At 6 o'clock every dwi'ller sits down to breakfast and what is e iten in one house is eaten in all. There is a day for "milk soup" and one for "wine soup ' and for every other dish Decollar to th place. The bell i inirs again at 7 o'clock for all to go to work; at 9 it brings them back to lunch, at 12 to d.nner, al 3 to lunch again, at 0 to supper, and al 9 it rings for every one to put out his light and go to bed. No member ever rebels or disobeys. There is a wine cellar in Economy famous for its o!d llquors, l ut it is never sold except to invalids. None of tho Economists drink water, and their employés are given wine and eider Visttors are all cordially helped to wino and cake, no matter how short their cali. The only paper publislied in E onomy is a novel one on whee's. lt is the sido of the milk wagon which carnes to each dweller, a.s well as the milk. the work to be done. "The &PPles will be gat) ered to-morrow," "The cherries will bo gathered to morrow," or 'Such a fie ld will be reaped." is insenbed on the wagon's side so that when all ar supplied with their daily portion of I milk they know what labor awaits them. The store, postoflice, hotel, church, town hall and Rapp mansion are all situated near the center of the village. The store is a strange looking place, wih little else than needies, thread and a few dishes for salo. Kveiything is bong'ht and divided just the same as m a large faniily; even the carpet in one house is like those in all the others. No family namesare used among the lucmbeis. "Jabob" and "Anna" and "Dorothy" are suflicient. If there ar two men of a name tliey disünguish them by the loeality wbere they live Tlun there are "Dorothy near the mili" and "Dorothy near the orchard." One laundry does the washing for the entii'e town. All the work is done now by employés, is the menibers have grown too feeble. The workers are obliged to obey every rule of the village. No man is xllowed to snaoke. chew or be intoxicüt 'd within town limits, and notone inhabilant is permitted to le:ive the vi.lage. w.thout lirst ingobtained consent trom their leader. On Sunday no excuse is accepted for absence frotn cliurch. lt is a quaint little chapel painted blue and white, and in kee.iing with the peop!c who gather in it to worship according to their belief. There is no chance to forget prayers there while trying to see what others wcar. straight, uncushioned benches answer lor pews. The men sit on one side of the church md the womcn on the other Their leader, at present Mr. Henrici, selects a text from the Bible, and, sitting in a ligh-backed obair, tells the little band low they shonld ie. He never writes out any long and eloquent sermón, but speaks as his heart believes, in a very simple but impressive manner. In the center of the church is a clear space, with one lone bench. It is the "bench of punishment." If anyone should be so unwise as to nod over the sermón or act otherwise than he slioukl. Mr. tlenrici calis him out to tlie "punishment bench," where he must sit until service is over. Miss Gertrude Kapp, the granddaughter of the founder, although 68 years old, still plays the oigan and Jcads the singing twice every Sunday. She is yet a protty woinan rather petite, lias large blue eyes and the whitest of white hair, wliicli tu ked underhorquaict httlc bino Norinandy cap makes her a perfoct picture of ye olden aays. Mie occupies inc ivupp uuuse the White House of Kcononiy. It contains many costly, beautiful andcurious relies. Iii the large parlor aro vases filled with wax Üowers and fruit whieh Miss Kapp made wbeu a girl, and maoy other samples of her handivvork. Thero are two large square pianos, brought from Kurope, and some costly paintings, among whicli is a copy of West's 'Christ Healng the Síck' by Otis. with life size Ügures and the "The Nativitv,'" by Andrea del Sai to. Among the smaller objects of interest is an eserltoire once the property of James G. Blaine's mother, when she lived on the outskirts of Ei onomy. The Happgardenis another beautiful spot It is surrounded by a high ivy covered stone wall and is well slocked with modern and ancient llowers. ïho only modern building near it is a costly green house. Rising out of the centre of the lake is a band stand and here on Sunday, during the Slimmer months, the village band delights the citizens. i own near the corner is an Ivy covere t grotto, built of a variety of stones, many of which were put there by the founder, George Kapp. A heavy door, covered slill with the bark of the tree, keeps intruders out. The giotto is handsomely decorated on the inside. Set in the wall are four immense stones on each of which is ins ribed: Oeokgf. Rait. : ; Founder oL the Harmouy Society, : Bom 175'. Died 1347. : :Harmoy, Fa., IS 5. Harinony, Ind., 1'1: ; Ki onomy, Pa., lssSj. : AVhen an Economite dies he is wrapped in a winding sheet and uiied in the whitegraveyardneaithe orchard. No tombstone ever marks bis resting place. In the centre of the orchard is a mound wherethe Indiana buried tiieir fallen after a battle with the Frenen. Scientists have in vain oflered large rices to the Eeonouutes for the privilege of opening it, but they have an unuaual regard for the dead, even though they were redmen. 'lhe Economy hotel has many visitors. Une large room is always reserved for trauups. They are always treated just the same as citizens. They are kept over night, and, after being given some money in the morning, are started n their way. No one ever leaves Economy hungry. The Economites dislike to be written about, because so many write to them afterwards and want to join them or come to their village, which is as private as any home. They absolutely refuse to lake any one I eople often wonder what will become of their wealth, for they are very wcalthy Everything they engago in prespers, and it has become a saying that an Kconomite is always 1 cky. The l'ort Wayne tailroad tra veis for miles tlirough their property, and the society owns stock in boih it and the Httsburg and Lake Erie. The Econo i ites ere among the tirst to liud valuable oil and gas veins on their land, and it is said they have more millions than members at pre-ent. Miss Kapp says she has never tossed a penny since she was a baby, and that if she saw money sho would not know a cent piece f rum a dollar. "I have all I can eat all I can wear and I want nothing, so money is no use to me " she said. Romantic stories are often told by ontsiders about t.ho Economites George Rapp had a stone chair hewu out of a high cliü' ovcrlooking the rivcr at Harmouy, upon which he used to sit and watCü tho men at work in tiie flelda below, and in sumnier preach to his followers. This sp't is still visited by sight-scers and is known as "Rapp's chair." It is still well preserved. The world does not seem nearer its end than it did when Ueorge Uapp founded his ancient society, yet the followers are firm in their faith that the last member will see its end. it will not bo many years until its disciples will all have followed his footsteps through death's grim portals, as they did through lile, and Uien what wHl become of Economy and its millions?


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat