Beulah Farms

The Beulah Farms was a short-lived religious communitarian experiment located at Murray's Corners from 1920 to 1924.

Founder of the Almighty Church of God evangelist Justus James Evans (FG) purchased the land for this experiment in 1920. He first purchased two properties at Murray's Corners, adding two more parcels in 1921 to create the 418-acre farm. Evans, born in slavery in Paris, Kentucky, was self-educated.

Evans believed that, given the opportunity, African Americans could run a profitable communal farm while rearing orphaned children in a Christian-based belief system. "This farm," Evans stated, "is now truly fitted up for a wise and supreme training camp and industrial colony for negroes ... and a city of refuge for the negro youth to come."[1] Evans listed as his own two of the commune's children, Herman and Beulah.

On one lot, the community constructed a tabernacle with a thatched roof, invoking an African meeting place. Many rousing religious services were held there, attracting large gatherings of people in the summer. One of the baptismal areas was located at Big Spring Run on Ridge Road, on Lots #43 and #44.

Beulah Farms TabernacleImage courtesy of John Hinely.

The Farms quickly ran afoul of local authorities because the children possessed no accurate records of previous schooling and residency. The number of children reported to be living in the community fluctuated from ten to twenty-four. Some of the children were indeed orphans and some were from southern states. The commune could not satisfy authorities that it had legal custody of the children. Nor could it satisfy the Bureau of Institutional Inspection, when the commune wished to educate the children. The commune was not licensed to do so.[2]

At its height, approximately 60 tenants lived at Beulah Farms, in any of its four farmhouses. They cared for "21 head of cattle, four teams of horses, about 50 head of sheep, between 25 and 30 hogs and much poultry."[3] Women from the Farms were hired out to perform domestic work in Vienna households.

In July and August 1921, Beulah Farms was the site of a "high camp meeting."Bridgeport [Connecticut] Telegram on July 16, 1921 (p.3)

Evans spent much time away from the Farms, collecting donations for its upkeep. Mortgages came due, payments went unpaid. Some property was sold at sheriff's sale.[4] Justus James Evans died on November 12, 1924.

A small number of commune residents moved to a farm on Ridge Road in Fowler. They were able to keep the farm for a short time.

Justus James Evan full length portraits:

After the Farms closed, the Hunter family continued to live at a house on Scoville-North Road. Hunter had assisted Evans at the Farms. The Hunter children, daughters Willie and Mayme, and son Benjamin, attended school in Vienna between 1925 and 1930.

Justus J. Evans held camp meetings and traveled throughout the Eastern and Midwestern states to raise funds for what he called the "Almighty Church Training Colony" in Vienna.

Notice published the Indianapolis Star on December 10, 1921, p. 11.

Updated 11/08/2022
This article is adapted from Fred L. Martin, "Places of Worship," in Vienna, Ohio, Where We Live and Let Live: Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 157-159. Additional research by Shirley T. Wajda, 2012.
[1] Warren Daily Tribune, October 4, 1921, p. 6.
[2] Warren Tribune, November 24, 1924.
[3] Warren Daily Tribune, October 4, 1921, p. 1.
[4] Warren Tribune Chronicle, October 24, 1924.
Images of Archbishop Jusus Evans provided by Justus J. Anderson, relative.