Emmaus was settled in the 1740s and dates its founding to 1759. For approximately 100 years, until the mid-19th century, it was a closed community of the Moravian Church. The original land on which the town now lies was donated by Sebastian Heinrich Knauss and Jacob Ehrenhardt for use by the Moravian church. The founders and original residents of the town were members of the Lutheran and Reformed faiths, who joined the Moravian church when their own denominations were unable to provide ministers. Emmaus was one of the four leading Moravian communities in the northeast United States at the time of its founding; Bethlehem, PA, Lititz, PA and Nazareth, PA were the three others.
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