The History of a Settlement Called Emmaus

How it all Began

    Jacob Ehrenhardt who along with Sebastian Knauss donated the 100 or so acres to the Bethlehem Moravian church to establish a settlement in Emmaus.  On land originally granted to William Penn and his father by King Charles II of England, German settlers began to settle into this area (known by the Lenni Lenape as “maguntsche”, or feeding place of the bears) in the early 1700’s. Moravians had established the industrial settlement of Bethlehem in 1741, and local settlers Jacob Ehrenhardt and Sebastian Knauss found themselves drawn to the church. 
    So much was their desire to have the Moravian church establish a congregation in this area, that they donated a large portion of their land warrants for the creation of a “gemein-ort”; this was a closed congregational village in which people of similar spiritual needs could live and work together in harmony. They also built a small log church in 1742 on what would become the settlement’s cemetery – God’s Acre. 
    In 1746 a schoolhouse was built, and in 1747 the local Moravian congregation was founded. Eleven years later the village was surveyed and a map drawn up [ displayed in the hall]. And in April of 1761 the name Emmaus was given to the settlement by Bishop Spangenberg, in a hymn he’d written recalling Christ’s appearance to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus.
     The Moravian faith was one of strict adherence to the rules of the church. One couldn’t travel without permission of the “Warden”; no meetings could be held in the dark; marriages had to be approved by the church elders; and restrictions against noise and youthful playing were strictly enforced.
     Like the Quakers, the Moravians refused to bear arms, swear oaths, or to take part in political discussions. When troubles arose between the English king and the colonies, young Jacob and his community were faced with a series of events, which sorely tried their faith. They were asked to swear an oath, which would break their allegiance to King George III; and they were required by the Continental Congress to join the Pennsylvania Militia. It was a difficult time. Fines, imprisonment and confiscation of property faced those who refused to participate. The church diaries, kept by the Moravian ministers, make no mention of who was imprisoned for his faith, or who broke with his faith and joined the militia.

Historic Sites in Emmaus

The Moravian Church and "God's Acre"...around 1742, both the church and the cemetery were built.

The Shelter House
in 1734 this house was built along the South Mountain Trail heading into the Lehigh Valley. The Shelter House Society was established in 1963 and sold to the borough.

The Knauss 1777 this home was built North of the Moravian Church.  The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society was established in 1972 and the house was sold to the borough of Emmaus the same year;

The 1803 1803 this house was built on approximately 70 acres of land and constructed from with the large stones and wood from the property.  "The Friends of the 1803 House was established in 1976 and the house was sold to the borough of Emmaus the same year;

The current Moravian Church was built in 1834 at Main and Keystone Streets.

The Emmaus Historical Society...was established in 1993 and all historical information and artifacts of Emmaus are housed there;

The Emmaus Remembrance Garden...this beautiful garden was established in 2002 and dedicated in 2004. This  garden offers a simple way of honoring loved ones or special event with engraved paver bricks which are surround by beautiful flowers and shrubs creating a sense of calm in our community;