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Introduction Utopian Literature Dystopian Literature Utopian Communities



In the early 1700’s, a series of German Second Adventists (pilgrims who believed in the imminent second coming of the Christ) moved to Pennsylvania and founded two important Utopian communes, Ephrata Cloister and The Woman in the Wilderness. Both believed that America would be the land of the Second Coming. Woman in the Wilderness derived its name from the woman in Revelation 12:6 who fled to the wilderness to escape a fiery dragon and wait for the return of Christ. Through their piety, creativity, learning, and work ethic, both communes heavily influenced the formation of the Pennsylvania Colony.




John Greenleaf Whittier.The Pennsylvania Pilgrim and Other Poems. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1872.

John Greenleaf Whittier composed a poem about Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of the Quaker settlement at Germantown, Pennsylvania. In this first edition, Whittier includes an essay on Pastorius and several others of the German mystics who settled on land purchased from William Penn. Among those mentioned in the poem is Johannes Kelpius, of the Woman in the Wilderness settlement on the nearby Wissahickon River nearby. Whittier describes Kelpius as the holder of the stone of wisdom, reading the books of Daniel and Revelation, waiting for the Apocalypse. 




Society of the Woman in the Wilderness
A group of scholars, led by Johannes Kelpius, arrived in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1694, the year their founder, Johann Zimmermann expected the dawn of a new millennium. They took their name from The Book of Revelation 12:6: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Mystics, philosophers, musicians, and artists, they developed a school for neighborhood children, held public worship services, and practiced medicine—out-going activities for men who otherwise lived as hermits in caves along the Wissahikon River.

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