Bishop Hill Colony

A commune that moved to America to wait for the apocalypse, but almost everyone died along the way

1844 - 1862

A painting of the colony, painted by member Olof Krans in 1855

In the 1840s, Eric Jansson started criticizing the Lutheran Church and gained many Swedish followers but was imprisoned for his beliefs. However, he escaped prison by dressing as a woman and skiing across the mountains into Norway. Afterward, he brought his followers to America to set up a "New Jerusalem" and await the second coming. However, approximately 80% of his followers died during the journey, and about 25% of the survivors did not live past the first winter. Nevertheless, the community soon recovered and prospered for the next 15 years, with the help of guards posted to prevent members from leaving. Eventually, a member killed Jansson so his family could escape, and the community dissolved shortly after.

Religion: Christianity

Denomination: Pietism

Founder: Eric Jansson

Founded: Movement started in 1844 in Vastmanland, Sweden; commune started in 1846 in Illinois

Ended: 1862

Location: Bishop Hill, Illinois, United States

Size: Up to 1,500 members. Commune had about 1,000 members at its peak

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