Painting of Johannes Kelpius 1705
Credit: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Artist: Dr. Christopher Witt, 1675-1765, painter.
Johannes Kelpius led a band of European Separatists to the banks of the Wissahickon in what is now Philadelphia's Fairmount Park in 1694. The group came at the invitation of William Penn, seeking religious freedom, and awaiting the Millennium.
Members established a large meetinghouse, studied astronomy, began a botanical garden and orchard, taught the youngsters of the community, offered prayer and healing, wrote original poetry and music.
Little remains of the settlement today. The KELPIUS SOCIETY is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, whose goal is to research the community, restore the site, and spread the original group's message of peace and brotherhood to all.
In April 2004, the Kelpius Marker Committee (Dorothy Pinkett, Lucy Carroll, Alvin Holm) arranged for the establishment of an historical marker at the site, through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The marker is an official state historical marker of the PHMC. The cost was borne by the Kelpius Society with a generous grant from the PHMC. For more information on the PHMC, visit their website at http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/.
The Society gives special thanks to PHMC folks John Robinson, Toni Collins, and Michael Showalter.
Visitors are now invited to join the Kelpius Society. Future activities include research, publication, site development, restoration of garden and orchard, archaeology, and more.