1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Amana

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AMANA, a township in Iowa county, Iowa, U.S.A., 19 m. S.W. (by rail) of Cedar Rapids. Pop. (1900) 1748; (1910) 1729. It is served by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railways. The township is the home of a German religious communistic society, the Amana Society, formerly the True Inspiration Society (so called from its belief in the present inspiration of the truly godly and perfectly pious), whose members live in various villages near the Iowa river. These villages are named Amana, West Amana, South Amana, East Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana and Homestead. The houses are of brick or unpainted wood. The society has in all 26,000 acres of land, of which about 10,000 acres are covered with forests. The principal occupation of the members is farming, although they also have woollen mills (their woollens being of superior quality), a cotton print factory, flour mills, saw mills and dye shops. Each family has its own dwelling-place and a small garden; each member of a family has an annual allowance of credit at the common store and a room in the dwelling-house; and each group of families has a large garden, a common kitchen and a common dining-hall where men and women eat at separate tables. Between the ages of five and fourteen education is compulsory for the entire year. In the schools nature study and manual training are prominent; German is used throughout and English is taught in upper classes only. No man is permitted to marry until twenty-four years of age, and no woman until twenty. The society's views and practices are nearly related to the teachings of Schwenkfeld and Boehme. Baptism is not practised; the Lord's Supper is celebrated only once in two years; foot-washing is held as a sacrament. At an annual spiritual examination of the members, there are mutual criticisms and public confessions of sin. The Inspirationists are opposed to war and to taking of oaths. The Society became attached to the Separatist leader, Eberhard Ludwig Gruber (d. 1728) in Wetterau in 1714; in 1842-1844 about 600 members, led by Christian Metz, the “divine instrument” of the Society, emigrated from Germany to the United States and settled in a colony called Ebenezer, in Erie county, near Buffalo, N.Y.; in 1855 the colony began to remove to its present home, which it named from the mountain mentioned in the Song of Solomon, iv. 8, the Hebrew word meaning “remain true” (or, more probably, “fixed”), and in 1859 it was incorporated under the name of the Amana Society. Metz died in 1864 and was succeeded by Barbara Landmann, since whose death in 1884 the community has lacked an inspired leader. Amana was the strongest in numbers of the few sectarian communities in America which outlived the 19th century. A few new members have joined the community from Switzerland and Germany in recent years. In 1905 the community won a suit brought against it for its dissolution on the ground that, having been incorporeted solely as a benevolent and religious body, it was illegally carrying on a general business.

See W. R. Perkins and B. L. Wick, History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, Historical Monograph, No. 1, in State University of Iowa publications (Iowa City, 1891); R. T. Ely, “Amana: A Study of Religious Communism,” in Harper's Magazine for October 1902; and Bertha M. H. Shambaugh, Amana, the Community of True Inspiration (Iowa City, 1908).