Alphadelphia Association

This website hosts a database I’ve put together of members of the Alphadelphia Association and documents on the Association. The Alphadelphia Association was a 19th century utopian community to which my Noyes family belonged. The database contains recorded members. If your family was involved in the Alphadelphia Association please consider contributing your data and family information as most has been lost.

Access the Alphadelphia database here.

Individuals in database

The society at its peak had 188 recorded members on the domain and has been reported by prior researchers to have had perhaps more than 300 including those living off site, but on May 20th, 1844, H. R. Schetterly reported to “The Phalanx” that the Association had “upwards of 1300 members” and had rejected one hundred “because there seemed to be no end, and we became almost frighted at the number.” For member sources I am going by a list of Shareholders provided to a Catherine Livingston, by the U. of Michigan, back in the late 50s, a list of holders of canceled certificates, and mentions in various articles of other participating individuals. The database I’ve compiled falls short of the number of members Alphadelphia had at its peak. Census records and other records at the U. of Michigan which would augment the list are not at my disposal.

The database is an outgrowth of research on the Noyes family and knowledge that James Allen Noyes, son of James Noyes (a president at Alphadelphia), participated in some other communes of the day after Alphadelphia folded. James Noyes of the Alphadelphia Association was distantly related to John Humphrey Noyes, of Oneida fame. John Humphey Noyes’ sister, Elizabeth, married to Fletcher Farnsworth Ransom, moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan and her brother-in-law, Roswell Ransom, was a member of the Alphadelphia Society. Oral family history has James Allen Noyes, James Noyes’s son, traveling at least to Oneida. He also participated in the Berlin Heights Community where he apparently met his wife. Records also give him as perhaps participating in a phalanx in Wisconsin. A dated document shows him in Lagrange, Indiana, site of yet another phalanx. A page remaining from an address book is our only documentation of a connection with Berlin Heights, nearly all the papers in a trunk holding documents concerning the family’s association with Alphadelphia and other communes destroyed during the McCarthy years.

It would be interesting to know more about cross-fertilization between communes, following members’ movements (especially with their closing), and how many members of folded communes, such as the family of James Allen Noyes, may have eventually moved to Liberal, Missouri in the 1880s, given as the only “free thinkers” community in the United States, founded by George Walser. That being beyond me, I am endeavoring to come up with some brief gene background on different Alphadelphia members so that we may know a little more about these individuals. I do not in this database replicate the Noyes genealogy and associated families.

Alphadelphia Background and Articles on hand

An experiment in Fourierism, the Alphadelphia Association, was also known early on as the Washtenaw Phalenx.

The first convention of the Alphadelphia Association was called 14 December 1843, their first meeting on their domain held 21 March 1844. The Association’s last journal entry was 30 April 1848, and a meeting was held 1 August 1848 for the purpose of disposing of the deeds of the members in attendance. Presidents from 1844 to 1848 are given as: Anson DELAMATTER, Benjamin WRIGHT, Harvey KEITH, Lyman TUBBS and James NOYES. But the Association was still to some extent in existence with acting officers afterward as on 11 August 1857 a few members met for the purpose of disposing the books of the Association as the secretary was moving to Kansas. The last acting president was Charles Luke Keith, who was present at that last meeting where was announced, “And thus ended the Alphadelphia Association.”

As mentioned above, during the McCarthy years, the Noyes family destroyed documents from the Alphadelphia Association and other materials concerning involvement of family in other utopian communities.

Barbara Triphahn, a descendant of Charles Luke KEITH (also a president of the Alphadelphia Association) responded to a posting of mine on the internet requesting contact with anyone who might have information on the Association. She supplied a number of newspaper articles from the early 1900s and the Alphadelphia Society Constitution.

Also thanks to Nancy BENTON, for a copy of the paper the “Alphadelphia Association” prepared by Catherine Livingston in 1958, whose research was based on documents loaned to her through Mrs. F. J. Buckley of Kalamazoo who had purchased records from Ethan Keith and Hannah Keith Towne.

ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG

Alphadelphia Association, a 1958 Paper by Catherine Livingston

The Alphadelphia Society Constitution

Alphadelphia Shareholders

The Object and Plans of the Alphadelphia Association Feb 5, 1844, Schetterly’s letter to the Michigan House of Representatives, Chairman of the Committee on Banks and Incorporations.

“Alphadelphia Association” in the JOURNAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, 1844

Phalanx Article on the formation of the Alphadelphia Association March 1 1844

May 20 1844 Letter from Schetterly to The Phalanx on the Alphadelphia Association’s Progress

EDGAR ALLEN POE ON THE ALPHADELPHIA TOCSIN January 18, 1845

Silk at Alphadelphia 1845

Review of the Alphadelphia Tocsin from Volume VIII, December 12, 1845, of “The Star in the West”

Summary Justice-Who Stole the Beef From Volume VIII, December 20, 1845, of “The Star in the West”, a story from Alphadelphia’s “The Primitive Expounder”

Review of the Primitive Expounder from Volume VIII, December 20, 1845, of “The Star in the West”

“The Primitive Expounder” published out of Alphadelphia by R. Thornton and J. Billings, 1846

The Alphadelphia Association in The People’s Journal

The Parting of Ways of “The Primitive Expounder” and the Alphadelphia Association March 1846

The Kalamazoo County Directory on Alphadelphia 1869

AMERICAN SOCIALISMS by John Humphrey Noyes in which is mentioned the Alphadelphia Association as the Washtenaw Phalanx, and the Lagrange Indiana community to which James Allan Noyes went after the collapse of the Alphadelphia Association–as well did H. R. Schetterly, the founder of the A.A.

The Alphadelphia Association, from a History of Kalamazoo Co., MI by Everts and Abbott, published 1880.

Samuel Durant on the Primitive Expounder

Mention of the Alphadelphia Tocsin in an 1881 history of Washtenaw

The Alphadelphia Association interesting 1884 article by A. D. P. Van Buren in “Pioneer Collections” Volume 5, Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan

Farm Society Sought Utopia in 1844; Lasted Four Years, Kalamazoo Gazette, October 18, 1925

WHY GALESBURG WAS MADE ALPHADELPHIA SOCIETY HOME, Kalamazoo Gazette, Jan. 14, 1937

DEATH OF E. B. KEITH IN 1934 REVEALS SOCIETY’S RECORDS, Kalamazoo Gazette, Jan. 24, 1937

SOCIETY PLANNED PUBLIC LIBRARY AND A SEMINARY, Kalamazoo Gazette, Jan. 24, 1937.

COLONY LISTED 188 RESIDENTS IN MAY OF 1845, Kalamazoo Gazette, Jan. 24, 1937.

Paper Gives Details of Old Society, Kalamazoo Gazette, 1962.

James Noyes and Sally Marble, parents of James Allen Noyes who married Caroline Atwell. This James Noyes was a member of the Alphadelphia Association.

Roswell Ransom at Alphadelphia a bio of one of the shareholders

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