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The museum is a look into the past settlement of German immigrants in north central Louisiana. The Museum is State funded and operated by local descendants of the Germantown settlers. The museum exhibits artifacts from the time of the settlement as well as a few buildings from the time; such include a water well, a barn, and a community kitchen. Tours are available.


  • The museum
  • The Countess' house
  • Road Sign to the entrance of the museum

 

The Germantown Colony was a settlement of German immigrants looking for religious freedom. They came from Grand Ecore, Louisiana and before that from Pennsylvania and Indiana. The colony site and the museum is located in northwestern Louisiana a short drive northeast of Minden, Louisiana on Highway 534. The museum is a famous historical sight and was an effort by a resident to preserve this essential historical sight. Until April 13, 2015, the site was a private institution. The museum offers lots of knowledge on which a majority of this essay is based on. The museum is dedicated to the story of the immigrants' journey that led them to the location of the colony, to the preservation of the few physical buildings that remain today, and some of their ways of life which I will not go in depth on in this essay. And was a collective effort of some local residents to preserve this essential historical sight. Until April 13, 2015, the site was a private institution.

The colony itself and one other site in Louisiana (New Llano in Vernon Parish)[1], were founded by members of America’s Utopian Movement, which occurred between the 1820s and 1860s. The utopian movement was an idea spread across specific groups of people to make “Utopian Cities.”2This group of people involved in the “utopian Movement called themselves the Harmony Society and were strong in number in the early to the mid 19th century.[2] The Germantown colonists were had fled from religious persecution, originating in Frankfurt, Germany. After sailing across the Atlantic, they first settled in Harmony, Pennsylvania, in 1803. They then moved then to New Harmony, Indiana in 1814. They moved and settled again in Economy, now known as Ambridge, Pennsylvania, in 1825.[3] After a few years, some two hundred and fifty former members decided to leave Economy because of arguments over the “Utopian society's” customs of abstinence and refusal to marry because it goes against their religious practices. Those who decided to leave opted to sell their land in Pennsylvania using the money for their voyage south. They left Economy, Pennsylvania, sometime in early 1833.

Some of the community members chose to stay, not wanting to leave again, while other former Harmony Society members followed Bernhard Müller and his family down the Ohio River on a flatboat. Bernhard Müller went by many names but most predominantly called him "Count de Leon" or “The Count.” Bernhard’s wife, Countess Elisa, will eventually lead the colonists of the Germantown Colony. After their departure on the Ohio River, they soon found themselves in central Louisiana and decided to start another colony at Grand Ecore Louisiana. Grand Ecore is a few miles due north of Natchitoches, Louisiana. In 1834, Müller contracted Yellow fever and died in Grand Ecore. After Müller's death, a congressman proposed and passed a bill that would donate a piece of land to Countess Leon. The property given to her is in what is known now as the central western part of Webster Parish. This is the history leading up to the Formation of the Germantown Colony.[4]

After the Establishment of the Germantown Colony in the Late 1830s, it served as an economic center for the surrounding area. The Colony began to diminish slowly after the Civil war. The Colony thrived for about 40 years and even though the Civil War until finally its residents dispersed or assimilated into the surrounding community. Countess Leon died in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1881. As the years pass the colony site will be looked after and kept up by residents in the surrounding area and descendants of the colonists and still is to this day.


[1] ""National Register Information System"." National Register of Historic Places. March 3, 2003. Accessed February 21, 2019. https://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html

[2] Garcia, Ashley, Kassandra Carreon, and Tara Schumacher. "Utopian Movements." Prezi. December 11, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2019. https://prezi.com/o-k5wcvqdp0p/utopian-movements/.

[3] Brochure, Germantown Colony Museum, 200 Museum Road, Minden, Louisiana 71055

[4] "Minden Germantown Colony", Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, August 14, 1987.