Evermore Genealogy

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

NOTE: One of the more interesting things about this article, to me, is that at the time the society was given as having “upwards of” 1300 members, with at least 100 rejected. This far exceeds the typical assessment of numbers belonging to the society. Addressed here are the association’s early attempts to prepare for on site residence of members, only a limited number supported at that time due to housing and food production.

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J. Winchester, Publisher

Volume 1, New York, Saturday, July 13, 1844. Number 14


Ann Arbor, May 20th, 1844

GENTLEMEN: Your readers will no doubt to pleased to learn every important movement regarding Industrial Association; and therefore I send you an account of the present condition of the Alphadelphia Association, to the organization of which all my time has been devoted since the beginning of last December.

The Association held its first annual meeting on the second Wednesday in March, and at the close of a session of four days, during which its consitution, & as a society were perfected, and about eleven hundred persons, including children and adults, admitted to membership, adjourned to meet on the Domain on the first of May. Its officers repaired immediately to the place selected last winter for the domain, and after overcoming great difficulties, secured the deeds of two thousand eight hundred and fourteen acres of land, nine hundred and twenty-seven of which is under cultivation, at a cost of thirty-two thousand dollars. This gives us perfect control over an immense water power, and our land debt is only five thousand seven hundred and seventy-six dollars, (the greater portion of the land having been invested in stock,) to be paid out of a proposed capital of two hundred and forty thousand dollars, fourteen thousand of which is to be paid in cash during the summer and autumn. More land adjoining the domain has since been tendered as stock, but we have as much as we can use at present, and do not wish to increase our taxes, and diminish our first annual dividend too much. It will all come in as soon as wanted. At our last meeting the number of members was increased to upwards of thirteen hundred, and more than one hundred applicants were rejected, because there seemed to be no end, and we became almost frightened at the number. Among our members are Milwrights, six Machinists, Furnacemen, Printers, Manufacturers of cloth, paper, & and almost every other kind of mechanics you can mention, besides farmers in abundance.

Farming and gardening were commenced on the domain about the middle of April, and two weeks since, when I came away, there were seventy-one adult male and more than half that number of adult female laborers on the ground, and more constantly arriving. We shall not however be able to accommodate more than about two hundred resident members this season.

There is much talk about the formation of other Associations in this State, (Michigan,) and I am well convinced that others will be formed next winter. The fact is, men have lost all confidence in each other, and those who have studied the theory of Association, are desirous of escaping from the present hollow-hearted state of civilized society, in which fraud and heartless competition grind the more noble-minded of our citizens to the dust.

The Alphadelphia Association will not commence building its mansion this season, but several groups have been organized to erect a two story wooden building, five hundred and twenty-three feet long, including the wings, which will be finished the coming fall, so as to answer for dwellings till we can build a mansion, and afterwards may be converted into a silk establishment or shops. The principal pursuit this year, besides putting up this building, will be farming, and preparing for erecting a furnace, sawmill, machine shop, &. We have more than a hundred thousand feet of lumber on hand, and a sawmill, which we took as stock, is running day and night.

The fact is, I do not see any obstacle to our future prosperity. Our farmers have plenty of wheat on the ground. We have teams, provision–all we ought to desire on the domain; and more than all, since the location of the buildings has been decided, we are perfectly united, and have never yet had an angry discussion on any subject. We have religious meetings twice a week, and preaching at least once, and shall have schools very soon. If God be for us–of which we have sufficient evidence–who can prevail against us?

Our domain is certainly unrivalled in its advantages in Michigan, possessing every kind of soil that can be found in the State. Our people are moral, religious and industrious, having been actually engaged in manual labor, with few exceptions, all their days. The place where the mansion and outhouses will stand, is a most beautiful level plain, that wants no grading, extending nearly a mile in every direction, which can be irrigated by a constant stream of water flowing from a lake. Between it and the river is another plain, twelve feet lower, on which our manufactories may be set in any desirable position. Our mill race is half dug by nature, and can be finished, according to the estimate of the State Engineer, for eighteen hundred dollars, giving five and a half feet fall without a damn, which may be raised by a grant from the Legislature, adding three feet more, and affording water power sufficient to drive fifty pair of millstones. A very large spring, brought nearly a mile in pipes, will rise nearly fifty feet at our mansion. The Central Railroad runs across our domain. We have a great abundance of first rate timber, and land as rich as any in the State.

Our Constitution is liberal, and secures the fullest individual freedom and independence. Whilst capital is fully protected in its rights and guarrantied in its interests, it is not allowed to exercise an undue control or in the least degree encroach on personal liberty, even if this too common tendency could possibly manifest itself in Association.

As we proceed I will inform you or our progress.







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