Celestia

WHERE : Latitude :41.423591, Longitude :-76.521567

WHEN :

WHAT HAPPENED: Ghost Town-"Deep in the woods of Sullivan County, in that region of Pennsylvania known as the Endless Mountains, lay the ruins of one religious group's belief in an apocalypse that never came to pass. The town was the brainchild of Peter Edward Armstrong of Philadelphia, who in 1850, began purchasing the land that was to become the town of Celestia, eventually amassing over 600 acres. Armstrong divided the land into lots measuring 20 by 100 feet, and by 1853 sold over 300 such lots for $10 each to people who thought the end of the world was near, and that it was vitally necessary to live in that specific community. Prior to founding Celestia, Armstrong was a Millerite, a believer in the prophetic teachings of William Miller of New York. Primary among Miller's teachings was his Biblical calculation of the exact day of the Second Coming of the Messiah, October 22, 1844. Peter Armstrong was among over 500,000 Millerites waiting to be ascended into Heaven just prior to a cleansing of the Earth by fire, but on the prescribed day absolutely nothing happened. This lack of supernatural occurrences in 1844 became known as the "Great Disappointment," and resulted in many Millerites losing faith and leaving the movement. Peter Armstrong's faith was unfazed, however, and he soon developed an explanation of why William Miller's prediction didn't appear to happen. The town took shape quickly, and featured numerous houses, a general store, a sawmill, a brick manufactory, and a meeting house where religious services were held. It was a short time, however, before the American Civil War would cause some disturbance in Celestia. When one faithful resident received a draft notice to report for duty in the Union Army, the town successfully persuaded President Lincoln to exempt, on religious grounds, all residents of the town from military service. Armstrong also petitioned the State Legislature to recognize the members of his religious community as "peaceable aliens and wilderness exiles from the rest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Going perhaps too far in his efforts to distinguish Celestia from other towns, Armstrong recorded a deed transferring the title to the entire town to "Almighty God, and to His heirs in Jesus Messiah for their proper use and behoof forever."n n With that, Celestia was thought to be successfully secured from the intrusions of the government and from the effects of the Civil War, which residents thought to be the Battle of Armageddon which scripture details as occurring at the end of time. Armstrong probably thought his salvation was secure, so long as his community was constituted of individuals who were faithful and acceptable to God. Celestia was soon infiltrated, however, by families and individuals whose motivations were more secular that spiritual. People looking to escape the military draft, as well as those looking for a free ride in a communistic society descended on the town, and Armstrong was determined to do something to keep his town pure." According to the book, "Pennsylvania Ghost Towns" by Susan Hutchinson Tassin, some foundations and the remains of a road can still be seen on the site. For directions and advice on visiting the town, contact the Sullivan County Historical Society in Laporte, Pa.n Source: StrangePennsylvania

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