History

Named after the daughter of an early 19th century German aristocrat, Zelienople, coined from “Zelie” was established with the Baron Dettmar Friederich Basse’s purchase of 10,000 acres of Revolutionary War Depreciation Lands. The area bears great historical significance as the site of activity that triggered the French and Indian War. None other than George Washington graced the territory in 1753 while embarked on this historic mission.

The neighboring town of Harmony, conversely, evolved from a pacifistic commune established by the Pietist “prophet” Johann Georg Rapp in 1803. The 4000 acres, purchased from Barron Basse became the Harmony Society whose members pledged to combined their worldly goods and live as one spiritual family.

Both communities thrived under the nurturing care of their respective leaders, however as the Harmony Society eventually adopted the practice of celibacy, that particular group met is demise a century later. Now, more than 200 years later, the philanthropic activities of the offspring of these early settlers are well-known locally as well as on a national level. Basse’s daughter Zelie married Philippe Louis Passavant. Together they bore five children, one of whom was the well-known William Alfred Passavant, founder of hospitals, homes for the aged and orphans, schools and churches. Christian Buhl, a German immigrant furrier who married the daughter of a Cranberry Township farmer produced nearly a dozen offspring, many of whom went on to establish world-known enterprises. The family name is probably best known for the former Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh.

Steeped in rich history, the Zelienople-Harmony area provides members of the community, tourists and travelers a plethora of interesting facts and curious folklore.  

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