Zion City: Founded by Flat Earth Believers

Great is Zion, and Voliva Is Its Prophet


Note: Here is an interesting article that appeared in a New York newspaper in 1922 about a flat earther. I had typed this as the original is not a good PDF copy.  As you will read, the two leaders of Zion City were not of the best of characters (more will be revealed in furture articles). However, that does not take away from the fact that the earth is flat and stationary.


New York Tribune, Sunday, February 12, 1922

Note: Copied as it was from the original. The word “Zionite” is not in the dictionary but it refers to people who believe in the Zion of the Bible, or New Jerusalem. The “Zionites,” as they are called has no connection either in belief or world-outlook to the people today who call themselves Zionist. For people who follow the alternative news knows that the Zionists are the worlds trouble makers.


TRAVELERS who had occasion to make the ninety-mile journey between Chicago and Milwaukee on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in the summer of 1901 were surprised to see that a large signboard had been erected about half way between the two cities. It bore the legend “Zion City, 6,500 acres,” and below the lettering was a bird’s-eye view of the proposed town site. The picture showed the wonderful marble temple which was to be, the great parks and the boulevards with Biblical names radiating from them – in fact, the gigantic signboard was a masterpiece of an architect’s imagination and the sign painter’s craft.

That signboard, however, marked the birthplace of Zion City and the first step in fulfilling the dreams of John Alexander Dowie, old-styled Elijah III, for a great religious colony. Dowie did not live to see the completion of the city. The original signboard has long since disappeared, as have many other signboards marking the various epochs in the history of the city – signboards constructed by the Zionites, signboards constructed by the “independents” or “non-believers” – but through it all Zion City itself has prospered.

Dowie’s Tax Bills Started Zion

Dowie came to America from Australia “broke” and in ten years he had achieved wonders. He came to Chicago in the early ’90s, and in less than ten years, after being laughed at, scorned, fought and ridiculed, he found himself enormously wealthy and paying a heavy tax to the city and state. He appealed for relief from those taxes on the ground of his religion, and when this was refused he decided to found a city for himself, where, if any taxes had to be paid, they would be paid to him. Thus was Zion City conceived.

He called upon his followers, who numbered many thousands, for aid, and soon the money began pouring in. Real estate men were sent out, options on land were taken and in 1901 Zion City became a reality. At first it consisted of only the signboard by the railroad tracks. Then tents, huts and houses sprang up, and the end of the first year saw several factories in operation and more than 3,000 persons living in the city.

During the early growth of the city the outside world looked on, laughed and waited for Dowies bubble to burst, but the little city struggled on. Many things happened to threaten its future, none more serious than its founder and overseer’s attempt to reform New York, but despite everything it prospered and continued to grow.

Dowie’s campaign against the wicked, nefarious City of New York, where liquor, gambling, smoking and general “cussedness” flourished, will long be remembered. With 3,000 of his followers he descended upon the metropolis prepared to drive out the devil or die in the attempt. The campaign, which, incidentally, was not a success, drained the treasury of Zion City, $300,000 being wasted, and when bankruptcy proceedings were started the city found itself unable to pay its bills.

A receiver was appointed and took charge. Affairs were straightened out. The bills were paid and the city found itself on its feet again, but with another overseer in charge. Dowie had become ill and had sent for Wilbur Glenn Voliva, a young Indiana minister, who had made a success in other fields. He made him deputy overseer, with full power, and went away to Mexico to recuperate. Voliva investigated and found things considerably run down. He had the strength and courage to talk out loud where others had only whispered, and Dowie, rushing hurriedly back from Mexico, found his power gone. He tried hard to regain it, but two years later he died and Voliva was in complete control.

Zion Is a Model City – for Zionites

Then followed years of strife. There were numerous onslaughts from “independents,” “non-believers,” “religious fools and idiots,” “stinkpots” and “infidels,” the stories of all of which are written in a photographic history of the city’s signboards, until to-day Zion City is a model city – for Zionites.

That little exception, “for Zionites,” however, has been the cause of much discord and dissension. There have been lawsuits and judgments, legislative quizzes and investigations, fines and penalties, for Zion City now numbers among its inhabitants thousands of persons who are “independents,” “non-believers,” etc., according to the true Zionites, and at times these have hotly rebelled against the rules laid down by the city fathers.

Zion City’s creed is that Zion City is a city for Zionists. Others are welcome if they behave themselves, if they live up to the Ten Commandments and a few others inaugurated by Dowie and Voliva, and if they don’t like it they can get out. And thus we find a city of many thousand inhabitants where smoking, swearing, gambling and drinking are against the law, punishable by fines; where peek-a-boo waists, low-cut dresses and short sleeves and skirts are taboo and doctors and drug stores are forbidden.

The first thought which strikes the visitor to Zion City to-day is, “What can the Zionites find for amusement?” Walking out of the huge depot which has been constructed there by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, he sees a gigantic signboard, even larger than the old original board which marked the birth of the city. On this board, in letters many inches high, one reads: “Zion City, No Tobacco, Whisky, Beer, Theaters, No Doctors, Drugs, Pork, Oysters. A clean city for a Clean People.”

Rather disheartened at the dreary outlook, especially if his business requires a stay of several days in the city, the visitor walks slowly up Shiloh Boulevard toward the heart of the city. As he moves on he is struck by the fact that he sees no one smoking, and he misses the idlers one ordinarily sees in the average American city. There is an air of business everywhere. No one seems to be looking into the shop windows. Every one who is walking or riding seems to have some definite destination in mind.

The visitor makes inquiries, and another signboard is pointed out to him by the Zionites, and he notices that there are numerous signs of this nature put up in conspicuous places about the city. One reads: “If any man will not work, neither let him eat,” and following the legend in the Biblical reference, “II Thessalonian iii. 10.”

And the order is enforced. There are no loafers lolling around on the benches in the parks. There are no street corner idlers to clutter up the sidewalks. During the working hours of the day the city seems almost deserted. And as there are no pool halls or saloons or theaters to attract loafers and idlers, and as beggars are not tolerated and alms not given, Zion City, Truly is no paradise for the great army of the unemployed.

But the rule against idling is the easiest that the authorities have to contend with. When the factories, textiles mills and workers of the city are in full blast there are thousands of workers in the

city who are not members of the Zion church or believers in the Zion faith, and many of these take as a personal affront the laws which refuse to allow them to smoke, to eat pork, or oyster, to play baseball or football for recreation, to buy medicine or have doctors when they are ill, to dress according to the prevailing styles and not according to city ordinances, and to worship as they see fit.

These, the “independents” of Zion City claim, are personal liberties which cannot be taken away from them, and many are the fights and riots, the arrest and convictions which have resulted from the efforts of the authorities to enforce the Zion City standards.

The first rule to cause any serious disturbances was the rule prohibiting smoking. The workers in the factories objected to the signboards with which the town was placarded prohibiting the use of tobacco and branding all smokers as “stinkpots.” they banded together and openly walked the streets of the city puffing on cigars and cigarettes. The police attempted to stop them, but only provoked fights. The signboards were torn down, but others took their places.

Zion’s Momentous War Against the Weed

The trouble lasted for a long time, but eventually the police authorities triumphed. They arrested some of the violators and fined them. The defendants appealed and lost, the court holding that the city could prohibit smoking in crowds. That broke up the practice, except for a few isolated cases – stubborn persons, who wanted to know what constituted a crowd, but the police magistrates and the judge of Zion City soon settled that little point.

To-day it is legal for a person to smoke in Zion City as long as he isn’t in a crowd. The smoker is walking along the street unaccompanied. The policeman spies him smoking and walks up and arrests him, and he is guilty of violating the city ordinance which prohibits smoking in crowds – the crowd in this instance being made up of the smoker and the policeman. There are very few arrests any more for violating the ordinance against smoking.

Following the crusade against tobacco came Voliva’s onslaught against the wearing by women of Georgette crepe or other transparent waists, low-necked, short-sleeved dresses or abbreviated skirts. The results here were just as pleasing to the Zionites as the tobacco crusade, but a trifle more expensive to the city. Young women wearing the prevailing styles didn’t relish the idea of disagreeable police cells and bought the suits for damages, and many of them collected, but the wearing of what the Zionitss termed “indecent and vulgar” clothing was discouraged.

Voliva’s campaign against opposing religions, however, was much more picturesque than either of the others. This took the form of a signboard war. The independents opened up a church and built themselves a signboard denouncing Voliva in particular and all Zionites in general. Voliva retaliated. The signs were burned or chopped down by opposing warriors and others took their places, and then, across the street from the rival institution Voliva erected the following masterpiece:

This is not indifferent. That wretched looking old dilapidated things across the street – look at it – was placed there by a little bunch of idiots and lunatics. They have pimples where they ought to have heads. They vainly imagine that they can destroy Zion! God and all of the Zion people are laughing at them! Some of their same bunch broke open the vault in the brick building across the street, mutilated the election rally sheets, attempted to steal the election, and were kicked out into the street by a mandamus of the Supreme Court of the State f Illinois. Most of their statements are absolute lies! Their invitation is a sufficient warning to all persons, except the loyal Zion people, to keep away from this city as a place of business and residence! This city is the private home of loyal Zion people, and outsiders who had any sense would not live in a “barbarous” town – a town “years behind the times,” “a town ruled by Voliva” – a town where a redhot war is raging and will continue to rae day and night until Zion people win a final and complete victory. In conclusion, pay no attention to this bunch of traiters. They are exactly like their old board – badly cracked. W.G. VOLIVA.

This campaign died out, things in Zion City quieted down a little, and then it all broke out in a new place. Voliva discovered that some of the restaurants were selling the “flesh of swin” and an independent opened up a drug store in the city. But both went the way of the short dressed and tobacco.

Voliva Versus Drugs, A Battle Won

The drug store owner put a big sign on the side of his store calling attention to the fact that he was running a drug store and that his drug store had made Zion City famous. The would-be dictator of the city, the sign said, spent $25,000 to put him out of business, but the store was still operating and carrying a full line of patent medicines, cigars and tobacco. The sign called attention to the fact that you can smoke in Zion City and advised patrions to pay no attention to those who try to stop you – “they are only bluffing.”

Under the terms of the leases in Zion City no one owns any property but the overseer, who in this case happened to be Voliva. By the payment of money land can be leased for 1,100 years. These leases make it possible for the overseer to enforce his laws. But by some means the drug store owner had managed to get a clear title to the land upon which his store stood.

For days the battle over the drug store waged, but a last it terminated in favor of Mr. Voliva. He bought the drug store, and the drugs, medicine and cigars were moved out. There is no drug store in Zion City now.

To-day Zion City is a model city – for Zionites. If you obey the Ten Commandments and a few others now in force you are welcome. If not you can get out; you are not wanted. Perhaps some day the factories and the mills and the lace works of the little city will draw enough “independents” and “non-believers” there to keep a whip head over the Zionites at the city elections, and then things may change. At the present writing, however, that day is not yet in sight, and Zion City, half way between Chicago and Milwaukee, is a model city – for Zionites.


zion article pic flat earth

WILBUR GLENN VOLIVA successor to John Alexander Dowie, the other day brushed aside all the findings of science with regard to the formation of the earht. According to Mr. Voliva, the sky is a vast dome of solid material, from which the sun, moon and stars are hung like chandeliers over a flat world. The edge of the dome, he explains, ress on a wall of ice which surround the flat earth to keep foolhardly mariners from tumbling off. Also, Mr. Voliva announced that the sun is a small body about forty miles in diameter and about 3,00 miles from the earth. Existence of a flat world has been taught in the Zion schools for a considerable time. Mr. Voliva merely cleared up these further details to set at rest any inquiries among unduly curious puplis or their parents. Queer place, Zion City – are of the queerest places on this flat earth. Its story, and incidentally the story of Mr. Voliva, who makes these scientific pronouncements every once in a while, serves as a reminder that it takes all sorts of people to make even a flat ice-bound, solid-domed, chandelier-lighted world.


About revealed4you

First and foremost I'm a Christian and believe that the Bible is the inspired word of Yahweh God. Introducing people to the Bible through the flat earth facts.
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3 Responses to Zion City: Founded by Flat Earth Believers

  1. Pingback: From Auld Reekie to the Windy City: John Alexander Dowie | Inkyn de Worde

  2. Joelle says:

    I work in Zion, IL and manage a senior community. I am going to start interviewing my residents.


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