From Ohio History Central
Text replacement - "Ohio Historical Society" to "Ohio History Connection"
<p>The community of Zoar was not originally organized as a commune, but its residents had a difficult time surviving in 1818 and early 1819. As a result, on April 19, 1819, the group formed the Society of Separatists of Zoar. Each person donated his or her property to the community as a whole. In exchange for their work, the society would provide for them. Both men and women signed the original document creating the society. Women had equal access to political leadership and had the right to vote in elections. Women also were not prohibited from holding office in the society, although no women were ever elected to these positions. Additional modifications to the society's organization were made in 1824 and a constitution established in 1833.</p>
<p>In the decades following the establishment of the Zoar commune, the Separatists experienced economic prosperity. The community was almost entirely self-sufficient and sold any surpluses to the outside world. In addition to agriculture, Zoar residents also worked in a number of industries, including flour mills, textiles, a tin shop, cooper, wagon maker, two iron foundries, and several stores. The society also made money by contracting to build a seven-mile stretch of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The canal crossed over Zoar's property, and the society owned several canal boats. The canal traffic also brought other people into the community, who bought Zoar residents' goods. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the community was quite prosperous.</p>
<p>Joseph Bimeler died in 1853. Although Zoar was still economically prosperous, the members' commitment to the society's original goals began to deteriorate in the second half of the nineteenth century. Over time, many of the original residents died. The younger generation did not have memories of the persecution back in Europe or the society's early struggles in Ohio. The outside world influenced the community more and more, as strangers traveled to Zoar and stayed in the town's hotel. In 1898, the remaining members decided to dissolve the society, and the Zoarites divided the property among themselves. It was the end to the communistic experience at Zoar. Throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Zoar has continued to exist as a small town in rural eastern Ohio. Today, the Ohio
Historical Society operates a portion of the town as a historic site. A number of the Zoarite buildings are restored and are open to the public.</p>
*[[Ohio and Erie Canal]]