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KnowLA, The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana

Germantown was a utopian colony founded in 1835 by a breakaway sect of the Harmony Society in what is today rural Webster Parish near the town of Minden. Restoration is underway at what is now the Germantown Colony Museum, operated by the Secretary of State’s office, where a new facility housing artifacts from the original settlers will be displayed, alongside log structures once inhabited by the religious enclave for nearly four decades up through its dissolution in 1871. The historic attraction will reopen later this fall; for updates click here.
Germantown operated on a communal basis led by the widow of an idealistic visionary named Bernhard Müller, the self-proclaimed “Count de Leon” and “Lion of Judah,” who died of yellow fever while leading his followers-known as the Philadelphian Society-to their Louisiana settlement from Pennsylvania. The converts believed that God had revealed to Müller that Christ would return first to North America and establish the true Christian church there because of the United States’ freedom of religion. Internal conflict following the Civil War led to the disbanding of the commune. Many of their descendants still call Webster Parish home.