Germania Tour Site 2

#2 -- The “Big House”

Location: W2015 Eagle Road

Back in Massachusetts, Henrietta Jones Ellis Peirce became acquainted with Benjamin Hall, a successful Boston importer of woolens who retired at middle age, broke from the Congregational Church because of his fervent abolitionist views, and became involved with the Millerite religious movement in the 1840’s, organizing a small community of followers in Groton, MA. Following the “Great Disappointment” of 1844, when the second coming of Christ failed to materialize, Hall and his followers eventually split from the Millerites and considered moving westward to await the anticipated imminent return of Christ. In 1857, Hall married Henrietta, and in 1859-’60 the Groton “Community” settled on Henrietta’s land in Marquette County, WI, and established the Germania Company, also known locally as the “Colony.” Hall purchased an additional 80 acres for the communal Company’s purposes, and the group built a large house in which a number of initial community members lived. According to an account by one of Henrietta’s granddaughters who lived in this “Big House,” the original section of the building had a leaky roof because it was erected quickly without careful attention to workmanship, since the Colony expected the Second Coming to occur in the near future. However, subsequent additions to the Big House were built with greater attention to construction precision. Throughout the early years of the Colony, the Big House was the center of the Colony’s religious life.

Colony “Big House” (in center background of photo); Peirce mansion in left background, with Peirce farm buildings in left and right foreground. Picture: P. 18 of WI Magazine of History, Vol. 83, No 1; picture from “Faith In The Keeping” on p. 5; photo from John Muir Trail website