We welcome you to the City of Zion, which
was founded 100 years ago as a Christian utopian society by Dr. John
Alexander Dowie, a powerful orator, and charismatic leader, who claimed to
be Elijah the Prophet.
The religious foundation of the City of Zion was designed by its architect
and visionary, Dowie and his Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. He was
the self-anointed General Overseer over the officers and members of the
church. In Zion, the city lots, acre tracts, residential properties and
farms were all conveyed and legally held by Dowie.
According to Christian Catholic documents, “all real estate is conveyed
under an 1,100 year lease, which contains numerous restrictions for the
protection of all parties concerned. There is not a restriction in the
lease which does not appeal to all persons who have the desire in their
hearts to build a City of Zion.
“…and every restriction placed in the lease is for the purpose of
insuring, as far as human being with their limited knowledge can insure,
the sure and firm establishment and maintenance of the City of Zion.”
The vision, as put forth by Dowie, was that Zion would be a “clean”
spiritual domicile and the property would belong to God – Dowie was at
first the “General Overseer,” ultimately he announced his prophethood in
In Zion, restrictions were plentiful including a ban on places to “sell
opium, alcohol, tobacco or any other poisonous drug; that they shall not
sell or use tobacco; that they shall not sell pig (pork), and they shall
not sell the filthy scavenger of the sea, the oyster; that there shall be
no harlot’s dens, no gambling halls, no theatres, nor Secret Society
Under the tight-fisted rule of Dowie, a theocracy was established that was
loyal to the United States government, but determined by example to
demonstrate a better form of government. Dowie would proclaim often in
speech and in his publication, “The Leaves of Healing:
“Zion declares that the Kingdom of God must be established upon the earth
and that the Flag of Jehovah must be established above every flag, and be
supreme over every nation.”
This website was created to introduce “seekers after the truth” to an
incredible American story with its roots in the history of Zion City with
a symbiotic link to a small remote and then unknown village in India –
Zion City at the turn of the 20th Century was more than just a small city
sitting on Lake
Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. It was a magnate for Christians
from around the world, who heard of and believed the message of Dowie, who
preached a message of the “Restoration of All Things.”
Zion was a prosperous city with a diverse group of creative city planners,
businessmen, lawyers and financiers, who created Zion institutions and
industries that included the following: Zion educational and athletic
buildings, the largest wood framed hotel, the Zion Home; administration
buildings for legal, real estate and city business; a huge printing and
publishing house; a baking business known worldwide for its creations; a
apron, handkerchief and lace curtain industry; the Zion creamery, meat
market, fuel yards, feed store, livery stables, automobile garage and
It was and still is a unique city created by Dowie with a vision for
Christians who invested their finances, along with hearts and minds
dedicated to the belief that this was God’s Kingdom on earth.
Dowie was able to attract people from all over the world. It was to be a
city of refuge for his followers seeking to preach the gospel of
salvation, healing and holy living. They were not interested in making
profits to enhance their lives. The people of Zion simply sought to
establish a Christian city where they could obtain employment and enjoy
the educational opportunities in fellowship with Christian people.
Today the city retains much of its history but very little is spoken about
Dowie. A visitor to Zion, especially someone not familiar with the
history, would be curious as to why some of the streets and boulevards are
named after a person or place in the Bible.
It was Dowie who personally chose the street names during the planning of
the city. In 1900, Zion was one of the few cities in the entire nation to
mapped out street by street and laid out in a symmetrical fashion.
According to information from City of Zion tourist website: “The city
street network was
planned with two points in mind. The major thoroughfares were to lead to
the center of town, which was the site of the Christian Catholic Church,
and each street was to be named for something in the Bible.
It should also be noted that many of the descendants of families – former
followers of Dowie – continue to reside in Zion, which is located in the
County of Lake. Today the mayor of the city, Laine Harrison, is one of
many African American families who flocked to Zion for religious, economic
and in an effort to participate in the American Dream as an equal in the
eyes of God.
There is much to learn at this website! We pray that you will keep an open
mind and appreciate the documented information that we have captured from
the perspective of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA.