Zion city was started on July 14, 1900, by a man named Dr. John Alexander Dowie, who was a Scottish minister of the Gospel and a religious nut, but also very intelligent. He wanted a city where a person would be free to warship as he (Dowie) thought was right. Dowie had traveled around the world, including Australia and America. In 1893 he arrived in Chicago and built a small tabernacle outside the gates of the Colombian Exposition. He grew in popularity and attendance increased until much larger quarters had to be rented. A school, rest home and a bank were started, in Chicago. Formal organization of the Christian Catholic Church, a new denomination, was born on February 22, 1896 in Chicago.
Ministers were ordained and churches were started in practically every major city and country with missionaries going to China, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico and other places.
Dr. Dowie dreamed of a Zion City where Godís People could live the life, that would lead to a clean Christian life, (No pork meat was allowed.) healthy habits and working together for the honor and glory of God. As will be seen later this form of communism would not work, as all men and women are imperfect.
This domination did attract a large following of very talented men with exceptional ideas. Many men and women were attracted to this church because of answered prayer to spiritual healing that was practiced in this church, real or fancied.
The top men in the church leadership, bankers, engineers and land agents looked at several sites in Indiana and other places close to Chicago, but because of finical consideration, chose land midway between Chicago and Milwaukee as the best place for this coming Zion City of God, as it was to be called.
After taking options in secrete on thousands of acres and the outright purchase of thousands of acres of other land in the region, The planning of the City of Zion was undertaken.. The layout of the city was to be east and west and the very center was to be the tabernacle of God (Zion Christian Catholic Church.). The names of the streets were bible names in alphabetical order, starting at the lake front, to the western edge of Zion.
A church owned, block long Zion City General Store was built at the corner of 27th Street and Sheridan Road, This store included a restaurant (Gene and his two sisters Alice and Flo worked at one time together at this restaurant.). The store also included a clothing, groceries, hardware, pottery, millinery, shoes, toys, plumbing, meat, etc. sections. One block north and on the other side of Sheridan Dr., a 350 room hotel was built that was considered the largest wooden building of the world. Across the street they built a two story limestone Administration Building. A four story limestone building was erected to house a parochial school for classes from kindergarten through college. It was not until 1939 that a public high school was built. A tabernacle was built in the very center of town that could seat 8,000 people. (Original plans called for a tabernacle that would seat 16,000 people, but never built.) The 8000 seat tabernacle burned down in 1937 and another auditorium was built onto the Educational building (College building.), which also burned down in 1959, along with the auditorium. Dowie started a saw mill, cookie factory, candy factory, printing industry, lace mill that was one city block long, a coal station and many, many other industries. It was planed that Zion would reach about 200,000 in population after some years. This never happened.
As with any group of men, there are problems that come up and this happened to the Zion City leadership. At one time Dr. Dowie took 3000 Zion people to New York city for two weeks to a revival at a considerable cost and he went to Mexico and Jamaica, where huge outlays of money was used in planning a pie in the sky Paradise Plantations, where many, many different raw materials would be shipped by boat to Zion. The raw material from these, pie in the sky plantations were to be shipped to Zion to be used in the industries there. All these plans required a lot of money just for the traveling around the world. This brought much fighting between the different factions that sprung up within the leadership of the Zion church.
Dr. Dowie had a severe stroke and his health began to go down hill. A man named Wilbur Glen Voliva had come into the ministry and was much in favor with Dr. Dowie and when Dr. Dowie died on March 9, 1907 Voliva took over after again much more infighting in the church. Dr. Dowie had been spending much money on questionable things and promised different people the leadership of the church and people being people, they began to fight over the spoils of the church.
Voliva tried to bring order out of disorder in the church and the city of Zion. Because of poor management, Zion City, the church and all of the more then 27 industries in town were in receivership. It took some years before the Christian Catholic Church was able to get things back in order. By then most of the buildings and industries were owned by the Christian Catholic Church again, including even the local bank.
Wilbur Glen Voliva turned out to be a real tyrant and dictator, as will be seen below and really run the town of Zion as his own personal fiefdom, into the mid 1930s and stayed the head of the Zion Christian Catholic Church until his death in 1942.
Now Zion is like most other cities, except, there is still no taverns in town. Dr. Dowie and Voliva were very much against alcoholic, cigarettes and other vices during their life time. But everyone knows there is no beer in heaven, so thatís why we drink it here.
Gene grew up in this type of atmosphere and it colored his emotional life for many, many years. Life did change for Gene and by the time he was 12-13 years old, he knew that as soon as he was on his own and free to choose what he would do with all this religion crap, he would be much better off. Little did Gene know that getting rid of this religious stuff in his mind was going to be so hard and it still colors his life, even at 70 years old.
Not a free life!!!!
Zion's form of communism at that time!!!
Every different form of communism has failed, in all the history of the world. The reason is the leaders are, all human, and have the same failures in their lives, as the average person has. Once a person becomes a leader, they change and think that they know what is best for the mass of people, who make up the rest of the world. At that moment, the form of communism that is being fostered on the people, starts to fail, in its place in history.
Below are some examples of signs that were erected around the city of Zion.
No. 1 - Grace Missionary Church was known as the Goat House.
No. 2 - Pentecostal Church Assembly was known as the Monkey House.
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