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.

Archbishop Justus James Evans
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 describes Beaulah Farms and its purpose:

EIGHTH -- NOW HEAR THIS: You should do your best my people, for what is BEST FOR YOU as a people. That is, do your best for what God wants done for you! THINK OF THIS: “The Almighty Church People” under my direct leading, have established a training colony and camp in the State of Ohio, for the high industrial and pure righteous training and proper educating of the negro youth and coming children of our people. We have bought HUNDREDS OF ACRES of land for this training colony and camp, lying on both sides of the turnpike, about half way between Warren, Ohio and Sharon, Pa., at Murray’s Corners, about ten miles from Youngstown, Ohio and fifty one miles from Cleveland, Ohio, and now you that are willing to do so should do your level best in helping to build now a great institution of learning on this educational colony, as we will construct and make this the greatest place for the right training of our people’s children ever established for them in the history of the world. You just ought to see the place. It is most beautiful.

NINTH -- Now, my blessed people, I will tell you what God wants you each to do in this particular. He wants each of you, who are not in favor of this cause, to not give any of your money to it, so He will know you! Who you are!

And He wants each of you who are willing to help this cause to do it quickly! And I want you to give some of your money to it immediately, if it is not more that from $1.00 to $10.00 each. And I want you to do it AT ONCE, so I will know you: who you are. We are NOW HAVING A SEVEN MILLION DOLLAR CAMPAIGN for this cause and for your good as a people, who need God’s help.

Headquarters 2372 East 40th Street, Cleveland Ohio.

1085 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.

N.B. Ever since we started our seven million dollar CAMPAIGN some of the strongest influences and biggest people, have on account of their prejudice fought us with all their power, to keep us from succeeding, but we praise, and bless God, and thank Him that our friends have not obeyed their wishes, who---hate us; but our daily success has, while it is slow, the gifts, have averaged from one hundred, to one hundred and fifty dollars per day, all this year. It should have been not less than from three, to five hundred, to a thousand and up a day, and we expect to raise this year as high as from $500 to $1,000 and up every day, until we raise the full amount we need, for God says we shall have it. Despite them that are fighting against us. We invite our friends to come Every Sunday and inspect all our great Colony, where we will hold training and big Camp Meetings in July and August every year.

Our enemies want to know what “THE ALMIGHTY CHURCH” people are going to do with Seven Million ($7,000,000) dollars? O, My God! My God! My God! what a foolish question? The God of heaven has showed me, that you, MY PEOPLE, are not trained RIGHT! And as long as you are not trained right, you can not possibly do right, in your ignorance! Now in our training and industrial Colony, we have about Three Hundred and Fifty (350) Acres of the finest land in Ohio; which cost us Thirty-Six Thousand ($36,000) Dollars Cash. And we got it cheap at that; for this place is worth over One Hundred Thousand ($100,000) Dollars in gold! We bought four farms, all joining; reaching about three miles from one end of the colony to the other, and it is most beautiful.

And we have on this Colony and Training Camp, one of the finest Stone plants or Stone Quarries in the world, where you can cut stone any length, breadth, and thickness for building purposes, in any amount needed to build any amount of fine stone buildings we wish; and here is where we will spend some of the Millions of dollars we receive; in fitting up this Almighty Training Camp Colony; for a basis for the training of the Negro People, in a pure righteous line of life, in every degree; as God wills and demands. Now which of you and how many of you will help with your cash, right away. Some of our people are giving all in their power to give now! And all should do the same, if you want God to help you out of distress and ignorance. Whatever you do, do it quick, for God’s business requires Haste!

I am Archbishop Justus J. Evans, D.G.G. Founder of “THE ALMIGHTY CHURCH.”

--- From "The Royal Laws" of the Kingdom of God and Its Coming with the Second Coming of Christ Is Now Shown By Archbishop Justus J. Evans, D.G.G. The Founder of "The Almighty Church," pp. 27-31.

1923 map of Vienna shows parcels near Murray's Corners owned by Justus J. Evans.

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 portraits:

Archbishop Justus J. Evans in New York at the church headquarters.

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 12/19/2022
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.
Archbishop Justus James Evans declaration, September 14, 1919.
Images of Archbishop Justus Evans provided by Justus J. Anderson, relative.