A Town for Sale

It is not often that we get a description of a town as it existed in the early nineteenth century in works other than in travel books, or possibly in novels.  There is one exception that I know of, and that description is contained in an advertisement for the sale of the whole town.  The town was Harmony, located in the summer of 1814 in Pennsylvania, and was being sold by George Rapp and Associates because the community of the Harmony Society was being crowded, and like so many families of that time, they wanted to move to new lands in the west.  The advertisement that follows appeared in the June 15, 1814, issue of the Pittsburgh Mercury.


With all the improvements, and about 9000 acres of land adjoining, on which are three Villages, in the tenure of George Rapp and Associates, is offered for sale.


Is situated on either banks of the Connoquenessing, Butler, county, Pennsylvania, twenty-five miles west of north from Pittsburgh, and eleven miles from the Ohio river, and contains about 130 buildings and lots of ground, a number of which are brick, some frame, and the rest log.  The principal buildings are the tavern house, of stone and brick, 54 by 32 feet, containing 12 convenient apartments, with kitchen, cellar, garden, and good stabling–a store house of brick 42 by 32 feet, with an arched cellar–a brick house for spinning and weaving, 56 by 40 feet, with a cellar under the whole–a brick house opposite the tavern, 44 by 33 feet with an arched cellar–a brick house on the adjoining lot 45 by 30 fee, with a cellar–a brick house opposite the store, 44 by 30 feet, a cellar under the whole–a brick house for carding and spinning, 50 by 40 feet, with a cellar–a large commodious brick house for shearing and finishing cloth–a brick house calculated in the best manner for dying–two brick houses 40 by 30 feet each–a dwelling house, brick and frame, 50 by 30 feet–a brick Church, 75 by 45 feet.  Besides several other brick and frame dwelling houses, there are a number of buildings for different uses.

A frame granary, 80 by 40 feet, with four floors and machinery, well adapted to the design of the building.

Two distilleries, one brick, the other stone, each calculated to distill by steam 18 bushels grain per day.

Two grist-mills, one first rate, on Big Connoquenessing, with one set of burrs, the other a pair of common stones–a fulling mill, and convenient rooms for two sets of wool carding machines attached to it.  The other grist mill is situated on a run with two pair of common stones–an oil mill on little Connoquenessing, together with a fulling and hemp mill, and one set of cotton carding machines–two saw mills–a large convenient tanyard, with suitable improvements–a brick yard–potash factory–rope-walk–brewery–a smith shop with 4 hearths–a nail factory–buildings suited to almost every branch of mechanism–and the town well supplied with water, having 10 wells with pumps, besides three springs.

There are in the town of Harmony 4 large barns with stables underneath, and on the premises 7 large sheep stables, that will hold 3000 sheep

Adjacent to Harmony, and on the premises, are three villages–the first is Ramsdale, half a mile north, containing about 20 log buildings, with convenient barns and stables–the second is Edenau, 1 1/2 miles east containing about the same number of houses barns and stables–The third is Oilbronn, two miles north, eight or ten houses with barns and stables; besides several other single farms with necessary buildings and handsome improvements.

There are of the whole quantity of land about 3000 acres remarkably well improved and durably fenced; at least 500 acres of which are meadow, and of the first quality.

There are two principle orchards, containing about 2000 bearing apple trees, besides smaller ones in different parts of  the farms.

Two vineyards, one of 10, the other of five acres, have given sufficient proof of the success in the cultivation of vines, they are made after the European manner, at a vast expence of labour, with parapet walls and stone steps conducting to an eminence overlooking the town of Harmony and its surrounding improvements.

There have been supported from the improvements and produce of Harmony annually 3000 sheep, 600 horned cattle, and a number of horses, besides the grain to feed the distilleries, and still affording large supplies to the country.

There are quaries of good limestone, building stone and stone coal, and good timber for building and other uses abounding throughout the improved land.

The soil–the most extensive part of it is of the first quality, on which are a number of good sugar camps, the situation level and rounding so as to form an agreeable variety of surface.

The man of capital who may wish to purchase will, upon viewing Harmony and its improvements, at once discover that he can not be better suited for the purpose of farming, manufacturing and every branch of mechanism.

Should no person or persons be inclined to purchase the whole property on or before the first day of October next, it will be then divided and sold in such lots and parcels as may suit purchasers.

The titles to all the above described property are indisputable.  Possession will be delivered on the first day of April next, and the terms made known by application to the subscriber residing at Harmony, Butler county.


By the summer of 1815, the society had purchased lands in the Indiana Territory — actually, seventeen thousand acres of “United States land.”  The purchase is described in the Hillsburgh, Ohio, Western American on August 12, 1815:

“It is on the eastern side of the Wabash, about 25 or 30 miles above the junction of that river with the Ohio.  A Bayou o the Wabash passes through a part of their lands for about three miles, and has water and descent sufficient for machinery to almost any extent.  The sobriety, the intelligence and well directed industry, and unanimity of this singular association furnishes a powerful external proof that they are rationally religious; and their example will certainly produce a beneficial effect on the surrounding settlements.  These lands, purchased at two dollars an acre, with a credit of five years, will probably, before the last installment is due, be worth ten, fifteen or perhaps twenty dollars an acre.  A well informed and free people may speedily make even a barren wilderness ‘rejoice, and blossom like the Rose;’ what then may be expected from such a people, possessing lands fertile and naturally rich?”

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden