In the Society of Separatists, the tavern keeper, Johannes Goesele, repeatedly flouts the Separatists’ rules. Finally, in 1844 he and his wife are evicted from their home and banned from the town of Zoar. In revenge, he files a lawsuit against Joseph Bimeler, Zoar’s leader, demanding a share of the Society’s property. If he prevails, the Society’s communal agreement will be dissolved, their lands will be divided, and the village’s way of life destroyed.
So, my play has a title: “The Case of Goesele v. Bimeler.” And the combatants head to court.
The Tuscarawas County clerk reads the charge against Bimeler:
“Bimeler, by fraud and evil practice, took and received the legal title to all of the property in his own name to hold to him and his heirs forever and now holds the same, to the great injury of your petitioner. And to continue his unjust conduct, he ordered plaintiff and his wife be expelled from the Society of Separatists thereby removing them from their home and rendering the plaintiff unable to work and, thus, provide for his family. By reason of the facts and circumstances stated above, Plaintiff alleges that said Bimeler has penalized him unjustly and cheated him out of his lawful property.”
Uh oh. Bimeler’s in big trouble. How will he counter these charges? Will the judge believe Johannes Goesele’s witnesses? Or can his attorney convince the judge that these charges are unfounded?
Judge John J. McLean pounds his gavel. “The court is in session,” he pronounces.