Join the Bettendorf Public Library for a Global Gathering World Tour edition of Community Connections with a living history skit featuring the Bishop Hill Heritage Acting Troupe.

It is not just “dirty laundry” that is tackled by the Colony washer women in the Bishop Hill Heritage Acting Troupe’s skit. Conversation centers around who made the dirty laundry, latest gossip, Colony news, and personal problems of those assigned to the Colony laundry shed. The Acting Troupe’s skit gives the audience an insight as to what everyday life was like in the Swedish communal settlement of Bishop Hill, from 1846-1861. While the “dirty laundry” is being sorted, scrub-boards attacked, and news of the day discussed, you will be left with an appreciation of communal days in the Bishop Hill Colony.

The Bishop Hill Colony began in Sweden when a group of religious dissenters dreamed of creating a utopia where they could live in harmony with their beliefs, free from the dogma of the established church. In 1846, Erik Janson and his followers, sailed from Sweden to New York, made their way to Chicago and walked the last 160 miles to Bishop Hill. They established a communal Colony on the prairie that grew in numbers and prospered, even though the Colony suffered a major loss when Erik Janson was killed in 1850. In the 15 year history of this religious collective, over a thousand immigrants journeyed from Sweden to join the Colony. The Bishop Hill Colony was one of the most significant forces in the later immigration of millions of Swedes. The Colony is still evident today in the form of historic buildings and artifacts as well as in its 130 residents, many of whom are descendants of the original settlers. Today Bishop Hill is a state historic site and a national historic landmark.

The Bishop Hill Heritage Association (BHHA) seeks to appreciate and preserve the rich history of the Bishop Hill Colonists and the town they built. In the summer of 1961, the abandoned Colony Bakery/Brewery building was demolished by the village of Bishop Hill. This was the catalyst that led to the formation of the Bishop Hill Heritage Association. In 1962, a small group of descendants met and resolved to preserve their Swedish heritage and ensure that no more colony buildings would be lost. BHHA was organized to preserve and protect the remaining buildings associated with the Bishop Hill Colony (1846-1861).

2021 Global Gathering World Tour is sponsored by The Bettendorf Public Library Foundation, Quad City Bank & Trust, Morgan Stanley, HNI Corporation, Bettendorf Rotary and Twin State.