History of the Founding of Zion
John Alexander Dowie arrived in the United States from Australia in the 1890's to address a religious conference in San Francisco concerning his teachings regarding his Christian faith and belief in faith healing.
His religious message was well received and by 1895 Dowie had founded
the Christian Catholic Church in Chicago. He established a printing firm
to publish the weekly paper "Leaves of Healing", ran 13 healing
homes (similar to half-way houses) and started a worldwide mission program.
Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, 1901
After much controversy and conflict in Chicago, Dowie decided to establish his own community whereby the church membership could worship in a Christian environment. He purchased 6,800 acres of farmland in Lake County and the City of Zion was founded in 1890*.
Between 1900 and Dowie's death in March of 1907, the development of the city and the establishment of the authority of the church. All economic, social, political, educational and religious activities were coordinated through church leadership.
Dowie had generated a large following (about 6,000 by 1901) and he had recruited the finest minds in the Chicago area to provide managerial skills for the new city.
As the population grew and the monetary contributions came in, the worldwide distribution of the "Leaves of Healing" readped positive replies. The Zion Bank and the Zion Land Investments issued stock and land was leased to the newcomers while being held in trust by the church.
Dowie moved the Zion Lace Factory in its entirety from Nottingham, England, and fought labor unios and the U.S. Government in court to have the lace workers and their families enter the United States. Thus the first lace factory in the U.S. was located in Zion and laces were shipped all over the world.
The Zion Cookie Factory was established, sending fig bars to Europe and Asia and the Zion Candy Factory sent "Beauties" around the world.
Dowie also had the Zion Hospice, later known as the Zion Hotel, built to house workers involved in the developing the city.
Zion had its own planned streets, boulevards, alleys and park designs complete with a golf course and open spaces to accommodate the children.
Dowie had designed a full marina on the waterfront with manufacturing and recreation considerations. He envisioned the uniquesness of the land and the harbor areas hoping to develop permanent ideas for Zion's future. He had established a lumbering mill, brick kiln factory, and electric plant, the general store and even Zion's own postage stamps. Dowie also created a fine parochial school system complete with a four year college.
Zion's ability to rise above the average middle-sized American town in the early 1900's was due to the extraordinary talents of many individuals brought together by Dowie. Lawrence Harvey (photographer), Burton Ashely (engineer), and Paul Burkhardt (designer-Art Institute) were some of the gifted men responsible.
(This article taken from an article by Alice Marshall of the Zion Historical Society published in The News-Sun on August 28, 1996. Photograph of Mr. Dowie from Leaves of Healing, November 7, 1903. Photograph of Mr. Dowie and family from unknown source.)
*Actual date of founding was 1901.