Zelienople, Pennsylvania

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Zelienople (pronounced /ˌziːliəˈnoʊpəl/) is a borough in Butler County, Pennsylvania, 28 miles (45 km) north of Pittsburgh. The population was 4,123 at the 2000 census.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), of which 98% is land and 1.35% is water.

Zelienople is situated on the left bank of the Connoquenessing Creek, in an area that is rich with coal and iron ore. The elevation is 935 feet (285 m) above sea level.


Zelienople was named for the eldest daughter of Baron Dettmar Basse (1762–1836), whose given name was Zelie.[1] Baron Basse arrived in 1802 from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and purchased a tract of 10,000 acres (40 km2) of land in Butler and Beaver counties.

He proceeded to lay out a village, and build his own private residence, a three story castle, complete with towers, turrets and battlements, named "The Bassenheim",[2] which was destroyed by fire in 1842. At the time, Zelie was betrothed to Philip Louis Passavant, and was still in Germany. Extensive preparations were made by Baron Basse, to establish the new home and town in America and prepare it for his daughter's arrival in September 1807.

Baron Basse sold 5,000 acres (20 km2) of his land to George Rapp, a Bavarian pietist religious leader, who founded the village of Harmony. Baron Basse came to be known as "Dr. Muller". Whether the title of "Doctor" was given to him due a knowledge of medicine, or conferred upon him as a degree, is unknown. He was regarded as an intelligent man, and during the Napoleonic era represented Frankfurt as an ambassador to Paris. Basse returned to Germany in 1818, leaving his business to his son-in-law, Philipp Passavant.

Philip Passavant opened the first store in 1807, and managed it for 41 years, until he gave it to his son, C. S. Passavant. By 1826, there were fifty houses in Zelienople, and three churches. The population in 1870 was 387, and in 1890, it had grown to 639. In 1879, the first passenger train arrived to the town, substantially increasing the growth and commerce. In 1880, the American Union Telegraph Company established an office in Zelienople. The Federalists appointed Andrew McClure, a local tavern-keeper, as the first postmaster of Zelienople in the first decade of 1800. Christian Buhl was named the first justice of the peace in 1840.[3]

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