New Harmony was founded by a group of German perfectionists, sometimes called the Rappites after their leader, George Rapp. Rapp had previously founded a settlement in Western Pennsylvania call Harmonie, hence the name. However, as was common in many Utopian settlements, with prosperity came worldliness, and his followers had begun to drift away. In an attempt to keep the group together, Rapp moved his followers to the wilderness on the Wabash River, in a relatively unsettled area, in 1814. These German immigrants were hardworking and inventive, and they had wonderfully built houses with mud brick insulation. They prospered here, too, and once again Rapp decided to migrate. He sold the entire settlement to Robert Owen, son of the famous Scotsman who had founded a temporal utopian society in New Lannark, Scotland.
Owen's settlement was less successful than that of Rapp. He attracted intellectuals who were not accustomed to working, and winter farmers who stayed only for a season when their crops failed. Slowly but surely the settlement disintergrated, leaving behind only the buildings, the maze, and some of Owen's descendents.