John Konrad Beissel

1690-1768. Mystic and founder of the Ephrata Society.* Born in Eberbach (Palatinate), Germany, he was educated at the University of Halle, early adopted the views of the Dunkards, and because of religious persecution emigrated to America in 1720. He settled in Pennsylvania where he came under the influence of the Seventh-Day Baptists. Highly respected for his piety, he soon gathered a following which he rebaptized, constituting the Ephrata Society. Members changed their names, and Beissel was given the name Gottrecht Friedsam (“godly and peaceable”). Several of his hymns were published by Benjamin Franklin. After Beissel's death the Ephrata Society gradually declined.