John Murray Spear and “Harmonia”

Amidst our small community in the mid 1800’s there arose a community simply called “Harmonia” led by a man named John Murray Spear. John Murray Spear was a part of the great Spiritualist movement that was booming in that day. He was a Universalist Minister from Boston who began channeling the spirits of great men before him like Benjamin Franklin. In turn through these channelings he was told to create a great machine. A machine known as the “God Machine.” No one knows for sure what the machine accomplished in reality but over a nine month period he was told through channelings how to create it and piece it together. Some say that it was a perpetual motion machine, or even a way to communicate with God. Whatever it was it did not seem to accomplish what it was built for. Over time John Murray Spear heard of two magnetic springs on the New York-Pennsylvania border that boasted great healing powers among other things. Subsequently he moved his operation south to Kiantone, New York where he established “Harmonia.”

Harmonia became his “model” community with a modest beginning. Everything about the creation of Harmonia came from his spirit advisors who urged him to begin making radical changes in government and religion. These spirit advisors included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and even Socrates. With him John Murray brought his “God Machine” hoping that the stronger magnetic properties would cause it to work as it should. Not much is known of the machine after that other than supposedly it was stored in a barn in Randolph until one day a group of locals broke in and demolished the “machine.” The community continued to thrive in the area until the operation was picked up and taken south toward New Orleans. Local members stayed to run the businesses that were created out of the movement. John Murray Spear then went to England where he became acquainted with great leaders of the Spiritualist movement including the Davenport brothers, of which Ira Davenport made it back to Chautauqua County and was buried in Mayville upon his death. In 1873 Spears returned to America where he published a brief account of his twenty years as a medium.

Still standing today in Kiantone is a stone building which marks the spot of the spring that brought John Murray Spear to our area. It was told that sometime in the past a spiritualist medium had ordered a cave to be dug where it was said that the remains of an ancient race of web-footed Indians would be found. Nothing was found but the story of Harmonia and the God Machine has left an indelible impression on our community.

Recommended Reading

The Remarkable Life of John Murray Spear