Zoar Ohio

Zoar, Ohio                                                                                                                     Back to Amish Towns

Zoar, Ohio
Every visit to Amish country in Ohio brings one close to a hidden town nearby that is not in Amish country, but is
well worth the visit: Zoar, Ohio.  Visiting Zoar is like stepping back in time, when one begins to take in the setting
of old buildings, museums, shops and places to dine.  But, Zoar has a very unique history, which is similar to the
Amish and Mennonite peoples.  Historic Zoar village found its beginnings when a group of German Separatists
fled from Wurttemberg to have the freedom to worship God as they saw fit.  
These brave people fled Europe in 1817, as they sought the separation of
church and State.  Having left in April, they arrived in a young America by
August of that same year.  

Quakers who had previously settled in Philadelphia, aided the Separatists in
procuring 5500 acres in the Tuscarawas River valley.  By October of 1817, a
small group of men arrived on the land they had purchased and began
building shelter to house the rest of their families who remained behind in
Philadelphia.  And so, the small town of Zoar began.

The name Zoar was chosen from the bible, as it was the city Lot fled to
during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  They chose a seven
pointed star representing Bethlehem as the town emblem.  The community
worked together as one, and put all property and earnings into one common
stock.  Fifty three men and one hundred and four women signed the articles
of association and chose Joseph Bimeler, their spiritual leader, also as their
Agent-General to lead the newly formed
Society of the Separatists of Zoar.
The Society of Zoar was contracted in 1827 to dig a portion of the Ohio-Erie Canal which was planned to run
through seven miles of the Separatists' land.  This proved to be an amazing stroke of luck for Zoar, as they
completed their work in 1828, collecting a handsome $21,000 for their efforts.  The canal digging monies
allowed them to pay off their land-debt, and better yet, created a waterway that brought the world to the little
Village of Zoar, allowing the community to sell supplies to boats and travelers.  After a couple decades, the
Society had over one million dollars of assets!

The year of 1853, their spiritual and village leader, Joseph Bimeler, died and the Society slowly began to
decline along with local commerce.  By 1898, the Society disbanded due to this decline and other outside
influences, dividing all assets such as houses, land and possessions among the members.  Today, the canal
and river are nearby, along with the houses which began being built in 1817.  The town of Zoar claims 75
families as residents, and many of the buildings are maintained by the Ohio Historical Society.  Zoar is best
seen on foot, as it is comprised of twelve blocks of private homes, shops, museums, bed & breakfasts, and
more.  Zoar also has special events from August through December, such as the Zoar Harvest Festival, Zoar
Civil War Encampment and Re-enactment, and Halloween Lantern Tours.

Zoar is located at exit 93 off of I-77 on State Route 212, on the outskirts of Bolivar, Ohio.  You can find more
information on-line at the
Zoar Community Association.  
Zoar can be visited anytime
out of the year, but the Fall
seems to be the best time to
catch special events.

Some of the attractions to see:
Zoar Schoolhouse
Zoar Tavern & Inn
Zoar Townhall & Museum
Zoar Farm Market
Zoar Chandlery Gift Shop

At left is an interactive map of
the area around Zoar, Ohio.