In August of 1882, James Allen Noyes and wife Caroline Atwell, set out from their home in Anna, Union, Illinois for their new home in Liberal, Barton, Missouri, a town founded by George H. Walser in 1880 and intended for freethinkers, “no priest, preachers, saloon, God, or Hell” welcome. With Caroline and James would have been their children Cora, Victor, Allen, Paul and Ray who was then only 8. Emma, the eldest, had married Orrin Harmon in 1878 in Anna, Illinois and they, too, would eventually settle in Liberal but weren’t part of the migration. About 1882 they moved to Lewis County in Washington State, along with Orrin Harmon’s father, which would mean the family was entirely out of Anna, Illinois.

James Allen Noyes was 56 at the time of the move and Caroline was about 47. They likely believed that their final home would be in this liberal, free-thinking community–and it was their final home but only remained a free-thinking haven for a while.

The trip of about 300 miles took nearly three weeks; however, Caroline’s diary entries ended on the ninth day. Caroline is spare on details and stories, but she does give a number of towns that they stopped at so we’re able to trace their route for the first half of their journey.

A Hiram and a Harry are mentioned and I’ve no idea who these individuals might have been. Caroline had a first cousin (he was also a second cousin twice over) named Hiram Scagel, a son of her uncle George Scagel and aunt Deborah Hunkins Scagel. She had stayed with her uncle and aunt for a time in New Berlin, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Hiram was born in 1823 and was out of his parents’ household by the 1850s. The Scagel name is spelled a number of crazy ways in the censuses and I’ve been unable to locate him, and actually have no idea if he even lived to adulthood. I imagine it is another Hiram to whom Caroline is referring here, but who knows. Perhaps it was Hiram Scagel.

* * * * *


August 9, 1882 – Left home at 9 o’clock. The horses in the big wagon were frightened at wagon cover and began to run when they started. Hiram held them and stopped them before we got to Mr. Harmon’s gate. I walked to Jonesboro, stopped at courthouse for important paper. Got started at 2 afternoon. Camped at night on the bank of Mississippi River ten miles north of Cape.

View Larger Map
From Anna, Illinois to Cape Giradeau, Missouri

August 10 – Started at 7 A.M. and reached the ferry at 11 A.M. Crossed alright. Camped for dinner in a little grove of trees by a stream of water. Got started half past 2 P.M. Camped just beyond Jackson just before dark. Spread carpet on ground and made beds for four. Made up bed in big wagon for Mr. Noyes and Paul and in the small one for Cora and myself. The boys kept guard all night. Had a good fire and kept the lantern lamp burning.

View Larger Map
From Cape Giradeau, Missouri to Jackson, Missouri

August 11 – Got started early. A pleasant day but cool enough so I have worn waterproof cloak all the afternoon. We are camped at noon on the bank of a clear beautiful stream of water. Camped about sundown in a nice grove of timber near a small stream of water. Cora got a good supper fried potatoes and corn cakes. Everybody went to bed and all rested well and did not guard horses. Hiram cut a small tree and wove it in other small trees and made it an excellent tying place.

Friday – Got started early and got along very well. Country rough and stony. Came over a long ridge that had wild timber land. There were many wild flowers, some pretty enough for ornamental gardens. Harry shot one rabbit and one of our boys caught one fish. Did not come to water at noon so drove till between one and two when we came to a nice creek. Camped a little after sundown near a dwelling house and the road was fenced but the boys managed to gather wood and we were quite comfortable. Kept guard all night.

View Larger Map
From Jackson, Missouri to Farmington, Missouri

August 12 – We started at seven. Drove four miles to Farmington, a town of two thousand inhabitants two miles from the Iron Mountain Railroad. The country around it is very good and we were told was worth $30 to $50 per acre. We bought supplies at Farmington. Have passed thru two toll gates and one covered bridge, quite a number not covered. The road is gravelled and mostly level. A few high hills and a great deal of rock. We passed through Iron Mountain town the middle of the afternoon. Camped a half mile east of Bell View. Did not get supper ready till after dark and washed dishes by lamplight.

View Larger Map
From Farmington, Missouri to Belleview, Missouri

Sunday 13th – Rested till noon. Then started. Drove 10 miles over a rough wild country. Plenty of wood and water where we camped but horseflies and sand ticks were very bad.

14th – Started about seven. Drove thru a wild hilly country, did not come to water at noon but stopped and got one pail of water for the folks and fed the horses. We ate our dinner without making fire, then drove on a mile and a half when we came to water and watered the horses. Late in the afternoon we came to a country store. Bought supplies. A little before sundown we came to Turnback Hill and camped.

15 Aug – A slight shower in the night. The boys gathered their bedclothes from the ground and threw it in the wagon. We passed over Turnback Hill without difficulty. It has rained during the forenoon part of the time but we kept on. The country is rough and wild. Stopped at noon. Fed the horses and ate our dinner of canned blackberries and crackers. Sprinkled a little in the afternoon but cleared off and the sun shone and it was quite warm. Camped a little before sundown near a stream of water one mile east of Salem.

View Larger Map
From Belleview, Missouri to Salem, Missouri

Aug 16 – It rained last night before we got our supper ready and we got in the big wagon and ate it, but the rain got in both wagons and wet our bedding and things. We all slept in the wagons. I lay in the wet all night. The sun shines bright this morning. They have packed the wet things and we are about starting.

17 – Drove till sundown thru a new country, hardly any houses and those mostly tiny log ones. The roads…

View Larger Map
How Google plots a trip from Anna, Illinois to Liberal, Missouri

* * * * *

The diary, which was sent to me by Nancy Benton, ended mid sentence. Whether Caroline didn’t finish the diary or the rest of it was destroyed when the Noyes burned their papers during the McCarthy scare in the 1950s, I don’t know, but it’s an unsatisfying conclusion, isn’t it. One feels left hanging, however bare the story is of personal reflection. And there’s no going to the source to ask what happened.

In later years Caroline told her granddaughter, Pansy, the story that one of the men with them realized, the second or third day out, that he had left his rifle leaning against a tree the night before. Because he felt he needed the rifle to survive, he left his family with the rest of the group and rode his horse back to the former night’s campsite to get the gun. He told them that he would catch up with them later. He was never heard from again.

Did he really forget his rifle or did he conveniently leave it behind? Was he killed or (more likely) did he abandon his family? I’m assuming this other family was one who moved with the Noyes from Anna to Liberal, and thus arrived in Liberal without a male head of household. Or did they eventually quit the journey and return to look for him? The tale caused me to try to reason what the options would have been for a mother and her children, during that day and age, when on a long journey and the husband disappears. If they were traveling with friends and family would she have left them or continued on, thinking that when she reached her destination and was settled she could then hope to search for her husband? Would she have felt secure enough to leave her party and return to the town nearest her husband’s disappearance and wait for him? If she did that, how long might she have to wait and on what money would she survive? How would she then get to her destination, where she and her husband had likely already purchased land?

Somewhere out there is a family with a story of an ancestor who disappeared during a journey, in 1882, across Missouri to a new home. It’s to be wondered if they’ve by now found him in the census living his new life in wherever he eventually turned up.


Pansy Noyes Bryant recorded the family’s connection with Marais Des Cygnes Massacre.

First, a few introductory notes from me. On May 19 1858, Charles Hamilton–who had arrived from Georgia in 1855 with the determination of making certain Kansas would enter the Union as a slave state–with some 30 Pro-slavery Missourians from the neighborhood of West Point, Missouri, set out to Trading Post, Linn County, Kansas where they proceeded to “arrest” Free State settlers. Just what this means that Hamilton and company “arrested” these men, and how they had any authority to do so, I’ve no idea. Such basic points that history takes for granted only baffle me. I read Charles Hamilton had also settled in Kansas and been run out. Elsewhere I’ve read that many of the men were former neighbors of Hamilton’s who didn’t imagine he’d do them any harm. I’m supposing they had been neighbors in Kansas–and if they believed Charles Hamilton wouldn’t do them any harm then they had sorrily misread his character.

Placing the so-called “arrested” in a wagon, they started for the Missouri line, and after about three miles met with others with more Free State prisoners. These 11 men were lined up facing a ravine and shot down. I read that after they were shot, Hamilton got up close with a pistol to finish them off executioner style. John F. Campbell, William Colpetzer, Michael Robinson, Patrick Ross and William Stillwell were killed. William Hargrove and brother Asa Hargrove, Rev. Benjamin Reed, Charles Snyder and Amos Hall were wounded. Austin Hall, brother of Amos, dropped with the others and feigned being dead. That Austin (who was then sun blind) got away with this paints a picture of the bloodiness of the scene. He was likely so covered in it that he appeared to be deathly wounded.

This incident is given as a key one in deciding Kansas’ decision toward being a free or slave state.

Only one man was arrested that year but escaped. In 1863, another was arrested, tried and executed, a William Griffith of Bates County, Missouri. He had been identified by William Hargove in Platte County, Missouri, was taken into custody and returned to Linn County, Kansas where, it’s said, William Hargrove was granted the duty of performing as his hangman.

Charles A. Hamilton returned to Georgia.

These thirty odd men had performed their deed openly and it was known who they were. Yet, if you search around the web, though you’ll repeatedly find the names of the victims, the identities of the other assailants are never revealed. I’ve read that Stillwell was a mason and, some of the assailants being masons, he gave the mason’s sign of distress to no avail. The names of the murderers are perhaps preserved in documents of the time, but I’ve a feeling that they were likely not broadcast and haven’t made it into the history books.

Despite Charles Hamilton’s notoriety, exactly who he was and how he subsequently lived seems also to not merit much attention, which is particularly odd.

From the web, the Marais des Cygnes Massacre,
as portrayed in A. D. Richardson’s “Beyond the Mississippi” (1867)

Pansy’s below story comes to us courtesy of Nancy Benton.

* * * * *

The Marias des Cygne Massacre

Linn County Kansas near Trading Post

by Pansy Noyes Bryant

My great grandfather Hiram Atwell had a sister Olive (born Mar. 21, 1808) who married a man named Clarke Fiske of Eden VT. They had a daughter Caroline Fiske who married Austin Wilbur Hall of Trading Post, Kansas. Caroline Fiske and my grandmother Caroline Atwell Noyes were cousins. They visited each other when they came to Kansas and Missouri to live.

Carolin Fiske Hall once brought my grandmother a gift of a paisley shawl. At my grandmother’s death this shawl was given to my aunt Viola Noyes Harmon and she in turn passed it on to her adopted son and also nephew Robert Harmon.

Austin and Amos Hall came from Eden VT. in 1857 to West point Landing. They were without money and walked to Trading Post Kansas that looked much more promising than Kansas City did at that time.

The bright sun and glare on the tall prairie grass caused Austin to develop a very severe case of sore eyes and he was unable to see any distance.

During the next winter the border warfare over slavery grew very bitter. Most of those on the Kansas side were “Free Staters” and ruffians from the Mo side kept stirring up trouble.

On May 19 1858 a man named Hamilton with 32 men came over near Trading Post and gathered eleven men and took them to a ravine east of town and had the 32 men standing on each side of the slope and shoot the eleven men down like dogs. Amos and Austin Hall were among the 11 men. Austin was driving a team of oxen from the forge and could have gotten away except the sore eyes kept him from seeing the enemy as they came toward him.

Most of the men were killed instantly, but Austin Hall did not get hurt at all. He feigned death and dropped with the man in front of him. The ruffians came down and kicked the victims to be sure they were dead. Austin Hall stayed perfectly still and was declared dead.

As soon as they left Austin went for help. He met a woman who had seen the men led away and had hitched up a ox team to a wagon filled with bedding and water.

Soon after this massacre Austin Hall went back to Eden VT. to have treatment for his eyes. He was very slow recovering his sight and did not return to Kansas until April 14, 1865.

He married Carolin Fiske Nov. 28, 1869 and to this union were born Amos Homer, Carlton Fisk and John Austin Hall. All live fairly close to their old home and are very prosperous.

Austin W. Hall and Caroline Hall are buried in the same cemetery where a monument is erected to the Marais des Cygne Massacre.

* * * * *

In 1982, the Ft. Scott Tribune reported on May 28:


The death today of John A. Hall of Pleasanton serves to bring attention the part the Hall family has played in Linn County history. Austin W. Hall, father of the Pleasanton attorney, came to Kansas in 1857 and established his home two miles east of Trading Post. At that time Kansas was the center of border warfare and Austin Hall, together with his brother, Amos C. Hall, was one of the settlers captured by Charles Hamilton, the notorious perpetrator of the Marais des Cygne massacre on May 19, 1859. The Hamilton gang gathered up eleven settlers around Trading Post, lined them up and shot them. By a miracle, Austin Hall escaped unscathed when the volley was fired, but quick thinking induced him to fall to the ground and feign death. He was left unmolested. His brother was severely injured by recovered from his wounds.

The massacre was memorialized by the poet, John Greenleaf Whittier:

“Le Marais du Cygne”
By John Greenleaf Whittier

A BLUSH as of roses
Where rose never grew!
Great drops on the bunch-grass,
But not of the dew!
A taint in the sweet air
For wild bees to shun!
A stain that shall never
Bleach out in the sun!

Back, steed of the prairies!
Sweet song-bird, fly back!
Wheel hither, bald vulture!
Gray wolf, call thy pack!
The foul human vultures
Have feasted and fled;
The wolves of the Border
Have crept from the dead

Not in vain on the dial
The shade moves along
To point the great contrasts
Of right and wrong;
Free homes and free altars
And fields of ripe food;
The reeds of the Swan’s Marsh,
Whose bloom is of blood.

On the lintels of Kansas
That blood shall not dry;
Henceforth the Bad Angel
Shall harmless go by;
Henceforth to the sunset,
Unchecked on her way,
Shall Liberty follow
The march of the day.

Controversial abolitionist, John Brown, toward the end of June built a small, two-story log fort a couple of hundred yards from the massacre, the intention being to aid in the defense of free-soil citizens against such violence.

The massacre prompted the following, written by John Brown on January 13, 1859.

John Brown’s “Parallels”
Lawrence Republican, January 13, 1859

Trading Post, Kansas, Jan., 1859

Gents:–You will greatly oblige a humble friend, by allowing the use of your columns, while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: Wm. Robertson, Wm. Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thos. Stilwell, Wm. Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B.L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed forced (sic) under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into a line, and all but one shot–five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free-State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, the 19th of December, a Negro man called Jim, came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another Negro man were to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We however learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we freed five more slaves, took some property, and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man (the master) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred, from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative Free-State and doughface men , and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully Yours,

John Brown

John Brown would be dead within the year. In October he led the Harpers Ferry Armory raid in which he and his eighteen men had been hopeful of freeing the slaves of that Virginia town and progressing then South, freeing other slaves along the way. The effort ending in failure, they were promptly brought to trial at the end of October. Brown was hung on December 2nd.

Victor Hugo had pleaded for a pardon for John Brown, writing,

“[…] Politically speaking, the murder of John Brown would be an uncorrectable sin. It would create in the Union a latent fissure that would in the long run dislocate it. Brown’s agony might perhaps consolidate slavery in Virginia, but it would certainly shake the whole American democracy. You save your shame, but you kill your glory. Morally speaking, it seems a part of the human light would put itself out, that the very notion of justice and injustice would hide itself in darkness, on that day where one would see the assassination of Emancipation by Liberty itself. […]

Let America know and ponder on this: there is something more frightening than Cain killing Abel, and that is Washington killing Spartacus.”

If I note this, it’s because James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell Noyes named their first son, born 1865, Victor Hugo. This has no connection with Austin Hall story. What it does show is the high regard held by the French free-thinker Hugo among American free-thinkers of the time.

If one clicks on the bottom blue dot twice, one will be given directions to Marais Des Cygnes.

View Wooded Hills Region in a larger map

Images of Spook Hall

The below images are of “Spook Hall” in Liberal, Missouri, which served the spiritualists of the community, thus its name.

Exterior showing gable end, from the Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

Detail of gable end showing entrance, from the Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

Nancy Benton provided the below image of Spook Hall in winter, noting, “The building still stands today. During WW II it was used as a canning center. People could go there and preserve their food in tin cans. When I was in high school, it was the Vocational Agriculture building.”

Spook Hall in winter

J. P. Moore instead writes in his book on Liberal that the building, which had been built in 1890 by the Spiritual Science Association, and stood at the northeast corner of Yale and Paine Streets, was torn down in the spring of 1962.

With the waning of spiritualism, the building was sold to the Belks on January 21, 1903, then on July 24, 1930 was purchased by the Liberal school district.

There were some who felt Spook Hall should be preserved as so much of the town’s history was associated with it, and the school board offered to give the building for purposes of preservation, as long as it was removed to another place, but in the end there were no takers, the building was sold and “the buyer tore it down for the material”.


Spiritualism became quite popular in the mid to late 19th century. Interestingly enough, and not surprisingly, some of those who had been interested in the utopian movements were attracted to spiritualism. For example, James Allen Noyes, after the failure of the Alphadelphia Association, eventually moved to Liberal, Missouri, a town founded for free thinkers. Spiritualism proved to be popular there and the family was deeply involved. Meanwhile, back in Michigan, Spiritualism was popular with some others who had been involved in the Alphadelphia Association.

Barbara Triphahn, a descendant of one of the Alphadelphia Association families who lived in Michigan, sends the below copy of the National Spiritualist Association Declaration of Principles 1914-1918.

I’m posting the images as I’ve not done a transcription.

* * * * *


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 Noyes went after the collapse of the Alphadelphia Association–as well did H. R. Schetterly, the founder of the Alphadelphia Association.

* * * * *

John Humphrey Noyes by the artist Robert Preston

John Humphrey Noyes by the artist Robert Preston


by John Humphrey Noyes



(My note: In the following is mentioned what appears to be the Alphadelphia Association, under the name of the “Washtenaw Phalanx”, also the community in Lagrange County, Indiana to which James NOYES went after the failure of the Alphadelphia Association.)

THE exposition of Fourierism in this country commenced with the publication of the “Social Destiny of Man,” by Albert Brisbane, in 1840. It is very probable that the excitement propagated by this book, turned the thoughts of Dr. Channing and the Transcendentalists toward Association, and led to the Massachusetts experiments which we have reported. Other influences prepared the way. Religious Liberalism and Anti-slavery were revolutionizing the world of thought, and predisposing all lively minds to the boldest innovations. But it is evident that the positive scheme of reconstructing society came from France through Brisbane. Brook Farm, Hopedale, the Northampton Community and the Skaneateles Community struck out, each on an independent theory of social architecture; but they all obeyed a common impulse; and that impulse, so far as it came by literature, is traceable to Brisbane’s importation and translation of the writings of Charles Fourier. The second notable movement, preparatory to the great Fourier revival of 1 843, was the opening of the New York Tribune to the teachings of Brisbane and the Socialists. That paper was in its first volume, but already popular and ascending towards its zenith of rivalry with the Herald, when one morning in the spring of 1842, it appeared with the following caption at the top of one of its columns:


“This column has been purchased by the Advocates of Association, in order to lay their principles before the public. Its editorship is entirely distinct from that of the Tribune.”

By this contrivance, which might be called a paper within a paper, Brisbane became the independent editor of a small daily, with all the Tribunes subscribers for his readers; and yet that journal could not be held responsible for his inculcations. It was known, however, that Horace Greeley, the editor-in-chief, was much in sympathy with Fourierism; so that Brisbane had the help of his popularity; though the stock-company of the Tribune was not implicated. Whether the Tribune lifted Fourierism or Fourierism lifted the Tribune, may be a matter of doubt; but we are inclined to think the paper had the best of the bargain: as it grew steadily afterward to its present dimensions, and all the more merrily for the Herald’s long peristence in calling, it “our Fourierite contemporary;” while Fourierism after a year or two of glory, waned and disappeared.

Brisbane edited his column with ability for more than a year. Our file (which is defective), extends from March 28, 1842, to May 28, 1843. At first the socialistic articles appeared twice a week; after August 1842, three times a week; and during the latter part of the series, every day. This was Brisbane’s great opportunity, and he improved it. All the popularities of Fourierism – “Attractive Industry,” Compound Economies,” “Democracy of Association,” “Equilibrium of the Passions” – were set before the Tribune’s vast public from day to day, with the art and zest of a young lawyer pleading before a court already in his favor. Interspersed with these topics were notices of socialistic meetings, reports of Fourier festivals, toasts and speeches at celebrations of Fourier’s birthday, and all the usual stimulants of a growing popular cause. The rich were enticed; the poor were encouraged; the laboring classes were aroused; objections were answered; prejudices were annihilated; scoffing papers were silenced; the religious foundations of Fourierism were triumphantly exhibited. To show how gloriously things were going, it would be announced on one day that ” Mr. Bennett has promised us the insertion of an article in this day’s Herald, in vindication of our doctrines;” on the next, that “The Democratic and Boston, Quarterly Rev iews, are publishing a series of articles on the system from the pen of A. Brisbane;” on the next, that ‘we have obtained a large Hall, seventy-seven feet deep by twenty-five feet wide, in Broadway, for the purpose of holding meetings and delivering lectures.”

Perhaps the reader would like to see a specimen of Brisbane’s expositions. The following is the substance of one of his articles in the Tribune dated March, 1842; subject – “Means of making a Practical Trial:”

“Before answering the question, How can Association be realized? we will remark that we do not propose any sudden transformation of the present system of society, but only a regular and gradual substitution of a new order by local changes or replacement. One Association must be started, and others will follow, without over throwing any true institutions in state or church, such as universal suffrage or religious worship.

“If a few rich could be interested in the subject, a stock company could be formed among them with a capital of four or five hundred thousand dollars, which would be sufficient. Their money would be safe: for the lands, edifices, flocks, &c., of the Association, would be mortgaged to secure it. The sum which is required to build a small railroad, a steamship, to start an insurance company or a bank, would establish an Association. Could not such a sum be raised?

“A practical trial of Association might be made by appropriation from a State Legislature. Millions are now spent in constructing canals and railroads that scarcely pay for repairs. Would it endanger the constitution, injure the cause of democracy, or shock the consciences of politicians, if a legislature were to advance for an Association, half a million of dollars secured by mortgage on its lands and personal estate? We fear very much that it might, and therefore not much is to be hoped from that source.

“The truth of Association and attractive industry could also be proved by children. A little Association or an industrial or agricultural institution might be established with four hundred children from the ages of five to fifteen. Various lighter branches of agriculture and the mechanical arts, with little tools and implements adapted to different ages, which are the delight of children, could be prosecuted These useful occupations could, if organized according to a system which we shall later explain, be rendered more pleasing and attractive than are their plays at present. Such an Association would prove the possibility of attractive industry, and that children could support themselves by their own labor, and obtain at the same time a superior industrial and scientific education. The Smithsonian bequest might be applied to such a purpose, as could have been Girard’s noble donation, which has been so shamefully mismanaged.

“The most easy plan, perhaps, for starting an Association would be to induce four hundred persons to unite, and take each $1,000 worth of stock, which would form a capital of $400,000. With this sum, an Association could be established, which could be made to guarantee to every person a comfortable room in it and board for life, as interest upon the investment of $1,000; so that whatever reverses might happen to those forming the Association, they would always be certain of having two great essentials of existence – a dwelling to cover them, and a table at which to sit. Let us explain how this could be effected.

“The stockholders would receive one-quarter of the total product or profits of the Association; or if they preferred, they would receive a fixed interest of eight per cent. At the time of a general division of profits at the end of the year, the stockholders would first receive their interest, and the balance would be paid over to those who performed the labor. A slight deviation would in this respect take place from the general law of Association, which is to give one-quarter of the profits to capital, whatever they may be; but additional inducements of security should be held out to those who organize the first Association.

“The investment of $1,000 would yield $80 annual interest. With this sum the Association must guarantee a person a dwelling and living; and this could be done. The edifice could be built for $150,000, the interest upon which, at 10 per cent, would be $15,000. Divide this sum by 400, which is the number of persons, and we have $37.50 per annum, for each person as rent. Some of the apartments would consist of several rooms, and rent for $100, others for $90, others for $80, and so on in a descending ratio so that about one-half of the rooms could be rented at $20 per annum. A person wishing to live at the cheapest rates would have after paying his rent, $60 left. As the Association would raise all its fruit, grain, vegetables, cattle &c., and as it would economize immensely in fuel, number of cooks, and every thing else, it could furnish the cheapest priced board at $60 per annum, the second at $100, and the third at $150. Thus a person who invested $1,000 would be certain of a comfortable room and board for his interest, if he lived economically, and would have whatever he might produce by his labor in addition. He would live, besides, in an elegant edifice surrounded by beautiful fields and gardens.

“If one-half of the persons taking stock did not wish to enter the Association at first, but to continue their business in the world, reserving the chance of so doing later, they could do so. Experienced and intelligent agriculturists and mechanics would be found to take their places; the buildings would be gradually enlarged, and those who remained out, could enter later as they wished. They would receive, however, in the mean time their interest in cash upon their capital. A family with two or three children could enter upon taking from $2,000 to $2,500 worth of stock.

“We have not space to enter into full details, but we can say that the advantages and economies of combination and Association are so immense, that if four hundred persons would unite, with a capital of $1,000 each, they could establish an Association in which they could produce, by means of economical machinery and other facilities, four times as much by their labor as people do at present, and live far cheaper and better than they now can; or which, in age or in case of misfortune, would always secure them a comfortable home.

“There are multitudes of persons who could easily withdraw $1,000 from their business and invest it in an establishment of this kind, and secure themselves against any reverses which may later overtake them. In our societies, with their constantly recurring revulsions and ruin, would they not be wise in so doing?”

With this specimen, we trust the imagination of the reader will be able to make out an adequate picture of Brisbane’s long work in the Tribune. That work immediately preceded the rush of Young America into the Fourier experiments. He was beating the drum from March 1842 till May 1843; and in the summer of ’43, Phalanxes by the dozen were on the march for the new world of wealth and harmony. On the fifth of October 1843, Brisbane entered upon his third advance-movement by establishing in New York City, an independent paper called THE PHALANX, devoted to the doctrines of Fourier, and edited by himself and Osborne Macdaniel. It professed to be a monthly, but was published irregularly the latter part of its time. The volume we have consists of twenty-three numbers, the first of which is dated October 5, 1843, and the last May 28, 1845. In the first number Brisbane gives the following condensed statement of practical experiments then existing or contemplated which may be considered the results of his previous labors, and especially of his fourteen months reveillle in the Tribune:

“In Massachusetts, already there are three small Associations, viz.. the Roxbury Community near Boston, founded by the Rev. George Ripley; the Hopedale Community, founded by the Rev. Adin Ballou: and the Northampton Community, founded by Prof. Adam and others. These Associations or Communities as they are called, differ in many respects from the system of Fourier, but they accept some of his fundamental practical principles, such as joint-stock property in real and movable estate, unity of interests, and united domestic arrangements, instead of living in separate houses with separate interests. None of them have community of property. They have been founded within the last three years, and two of them at least under the inspiration of Fourier’s doctrine.

“In the state of New York there are two established on a larger scale than those in Massachusetts: the Jefferson County Industrial Association, at Watertown, founded by A. M. Watson, Esq.; and another in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties (on the line) called the Moorhouse Union and founded by Mr. Moorhouse. A larger Association to be called the Ontario Phalanx, is now organizing at Rochester, Monroe County.

“In Pennsylvania there are several: the principal one is the Sylvania in Pike County, which has been formed by warm friends of the cause from the cities of New York and Albany; Thomas W. Whitley, President, and Horace Greeley, Treasurer. In the same county there is another small Association, called the Social Unity, formed principally of mechanics from New York and Brooklyn. There is a large Association of Germans in McKean County, Pennsylvania, commenced by the Rev. George Ginal of Philadelphia. They own a very extensive tract of land, over 30,000 acres we are informed, and are progressing prosperously: the shares, which were originally $100, have been sold and are now held at $200 or more. At Pittsburg steps are taking to establish another.

“A small Association has been commenced in Bureau County, Illinois, and preparations are making to establish another in Lagrange County, Indiana, which will probably be done this fall, upon quite an extensive scale, as many of the most influential and worthy inhabitants of that section are deeply interested in the cause.

“In Michigan the doctrine has spread quite widely. An excellent little paper called The Future, devoted exclusively to the cause, published monthly, has been established at Ann Arbor, where an Association is projected to be called the Washtenaw Phalanx.

‘In New Jersey an Association, projected upon a larger scale than any yet started, has just been commenced in Monmouth County: it is to be called the North American Phalanx, and has been undertaken by a company of enterprising gentlemen of the city of Albany.

“Quite a large number of practical trials are talked of in various sections of the United States, and it is probable that in the course of the next year, numbers will spring into existence. These trials are upon so small a scale, and are commenced with such limited means, that they exhibit but a few of the features of the system. They are, however, very important commencements, and are small beginnings of a reform in some of the most important arrangements of the present social order; particularly its system of isolated households or separate families, its conflicts of interest and its uncombined and incoherent system of labor.”

The most important result of Brisbane’s eighteen month’s labor in the Phalanx was the conversion of Brook Farm to Fourierism. William H. Channing’s magazine, the Present, which commenced nearly at the same time with the Phalanx, closed its career at the end of seven months, and its subscription list was transferred to Brisbane. In the course of a year after this Brook Farm confessed Fourierism, changed its constitution, assumed the title of the Brook Farm Phalanx, and on the 14th of June1845 commenced publishing the Harbinger, as the successor of the Phalanx and the heir of its subscription list. So that Brisbane’s fourth advance was the transfer of the literary responsibilities of his cause to Brook Farm. This was a great move. A more brilliant attorney could not have been found. The concentrated genius of Unitarianism and Transcendentalism was at Brook Farm. It was the school that trained most of the writers who have created the newspaper and magazine literature of the present time. Their work on the Harbinger was their first drill. Fourierism was their first case in court. The Harbinger was published weekly, and extended to seven and a half semi-annual volumes, five of which were edited and printed at Brook Farm, and the last two and a half at New York, but by Brook Farm men. Its issues at Brook Farm extend from June 14, 1845, to October 30, 1847; and at New York from November 6, 1847 to February 10, 1849. The Phalanx and Harbinger together cover a period of more than five years. Other periodicals of a more provincial character, and of course a great variety of hooks and pamphlets, were among the issues of the Fourier movement; but the main vertebrae of its literature were the publications of which we have given account – Brisbane’s Social Destiny of Man, his daily column in the Tribune, the monthly Phalanx, and the weekly Harbinger.


The Alphadelphian experiment having failed in 1848, and James Allen NOYES’ father, James NOYES, having remarried to Susan WATERS, James Allen NOYES is given as having traveled to Berlin Heights, Ohio where another experiment in socialistic living was being undertaken. This experiment, initially launched by Dr. NICHOLS, was about 1856, and failed very shortly.

I’m aware of at least another family, aside from the Noyes, who had been at Berlin Heights and later went to Liberal, and there were probably more.

The following is from the book “John Humphrey Noyes, The Putnam Community” compiled and edited by George Wallingford Noyes.

* * * * *


Chapter 19


SWEDENBORG was not alone in his hostility to marriage. The socialistic innovators, whose experiments we have reviewed, attacked not merely the economic hilt also the sexual foundations of modern society.

The religious colonies that came early from Europe felt instinctively that marriage was antagonistic to communism. Partly for this reason and partly in the interest of a supposedly higher religious life the Shakers adopted celibacy as a cardinal principle. The Rappites too were originally celibate. Even after marriage was allowed in order that they might “raise their own members,” sexual commerce beyond the requirements of reproduction was prohibited, and virginity was held to be more commendable than marriage. The Ephratists, the Zoarites and the Amana Society tolerated marriage, but looked upon it with disfavor.

Robert Owen did not attempt the immediate displacement of marriage. But he included marriage with irrational religion and private property as one of the “awful trinity” of man’s oppressors, and contemplated its ultimate destruction. His son, Robert Dale Owen, was outspoken in his enmity to marriage, and became a leading advocate of free divorce. Both father and son were enthusiastic disciples of Modern Spiritualism, a religious cult of which Free Love was believed by many the social complement.

Certain groups of “antinomian Perfectionists” renounced marriage and mated by spiritual affinity. [1] Noyes and the Putney Perfectionists, as we have seen, held aloof from these groups, believing that marriage was ordained by God as the law of the apostasy and was not to be set aside until salvation from sin and the resurrection of the body had been attained.

The Mormons in 1843 adopted polygamy, which Noyes called a dilution of marriage.

Like Robert Owen, American Fourierists were cautious of im-

1 Religious Experience of John Humphrey Noyes Chap. XIX.


mediate changes in the law of marriage. But Henry J. Raymond showed in his public debate with Horace Greeley that as a system Fourierism permitted “higher degrees of amorous freedom” after the human race had become regenerated by socialistic institutions.

The socialistic reformer whose teachings were the most highly subversive of marriage was Josiah Warren, inventor of the term “Individual Sovereignty.” At Modern Times, Long Island, his final socialistic experiment, each member was supposed to know his or her best interests in the sexual relation as in everything else, and no questions were asked. It was here that Warren in 1851 enlisted Stephen Pearl Andrews to popularize the doctrine of Individual Sovereignty by a series of lectures and by a pamphlet distributed gratuitously. Among the converts were Dr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Nichols, water-cure specialists of New York City. They were publicity adepts and prepared themselves at Modern Times to broadcast the principle of Free Love based on Individual Sovereignty and Modern Spiritualism.

The essential connection between Free Love and Spiritualism is thus stated by C. M. Overton, editor of The Social Revolutionist, a Free Love journal: “Free Love is a doctrine of Spiritualism. I say of Spiritualism, not of Spiritualists. Many recognize the facts of Spiritualism who know little of its philosophy. But will any intelligent Spiritualist deny that the concurrent testimony of the spheres proves that their inhabitants are controlled in their love relations not by arbitrary outside authority but by the law of attraction, affinity or Free Love? Is it not a conceded fact that the angels do not have to be hauled up before a magistrate to legalize their marriages? How supremely ridiculous the idea that the men and women of Paradise live together on the cat and dog principle because it wouldn’t be respectable to separate! They are not so generous there as to sacrifice their individual happiness for the good of the community. They are not so senseless there as to stay together and scratch and pull hair from a sense of duty to their children or other members of the community, when these other members are doing the same thing from the same laudable motive! The fact that they break up false relations there and form new ones is as well established and is just as much a part of the Spiritual or Harmonic Philosophy as the doctrine of Endless Progression.”

In 1852 the Nicholses joined with Andrews in establishing at Port Chester, New York, a Free Love School under the guise of a water-cure and vegetarian Medical College. It was suppressed by the authorities. Dr. Nichols then put forth a flowery prospectus


of “The Institute of Desarrollo.” This was to be based frankly on Individual Sovereignty, and was expected to garner all the results that had been vainly looked for in the Fourieristic Associations. A site was selected near Modern Times, the cellar dug, the foundation wall partly laid, when the plan was abandoned. Dr. Nichols explained that a campaign of education should precede practical attempts. To this be now addressed himself.

His first move was the establishment of a magazine called Nichols’ Journal, in which Spiritualism, health and social relations were discussed.

Next he published a book of five htindred pages entitled Esoteric Anthropology. This, he prefaced, was “no book for the center-table, the library shelf, or the counter of a bookstore.” It was a private treatise on physiology and health, written “not to get consultations but to prevent their necessity, not to attract patients but to keep them away.” Free Love, though hinted, was not directly advocated. During 1853 and 1854 twenty-six thousand copies were sold.

To this great audience Dr. Nichols in 1854 introduced his second book entitled Marriage, in which he openly presented his threefold creed, Individual Sovereignty, Spiritualism, and Free Love. Marriage ran through three large editions during its first year. By the fall of 1854 Dr. Nichols’ writings were circulating actively in every State of the Union, especially in the west.

So widespread was the popularity of these new doctrines that Dr. Nichols ventured upon overt acts in the full glare of publicity. With his former partner, Stephen Pearl Andrews, he instituted a series of “Sociables” in New York City, which were broken up by the police.

Dr. Nichols now found himself accepted as the prophet of a new age by scattered thousands eager to share in its benefits. How could he make his followers known to each other and commence the realization of their dream? The “spirits,” by whose illumination he says he had written his books, came again to his aid. They directed the formation of a “Protective Union.” A Central Bureau was established in New York City with Dr. Nichols as Secretary. All who wished to associate were enrolled as members and received a printed list of names and addresses. Thus a tempting opportunity was offered to affinity-hunters.

Early in 1856 Dr. Nichols began to see signs of a hurricane arising from the zephyr be had sown. Sensational charges were made in the newspapers and he found it necessary to issue a statement in his own defense. Hitherto no oath of secrecy had been exacted


from members, but now a circular was sent out prescribing a Declaration of Principles and secrecy of the most guarded kind. The Central Bureau was removed to Cincinnati away from the hostile press of the east and nearer the main body of its constituents. Dr. Nichols began to hint in the Journal that sexual commerce should be limited to propagation. In May 1856 he launched a “Harmonic Home” called Memnonia at Yellow Springs, Ohio. But he gave notice in the Social Revolutionist, that Memnonia would be “provisionally and necessarily a despotism,” as wise and benevolent as circumstances would permit.

But the western disciples of Dr. Nichols, trained by him in Individual Sovereignty, could brook no control. They turned their backs on Memnonia, and found a gathering-point at Berlin Heights, a small town near Cleveland, Ohio, where Individual Sovereignty, Spiritualism and Free Love were smoldering and could easily be fanned into flame.

Memnonia was Dr. Nichols’ last attempt at social reconstruction. After its failure, which was complete, Dr. and Mrs. Nichols recanted their errors to Archbishop Purcelle of Cincinnati and were received into the Catholic Church.

With the exit of Dr. Nichols the “Nicolaitan doctrine,” as it was called by Noyes in allusion to the doctrine which according to Revelation 2: 15 Christ “hated,” entered upon its fin~ phase. The Rising Star Association of Darke County, Ohio, believing that a large organization necessarily infringed the rights of the individual, had striven since August 1853 to realize Individual Sovereignty in a small group with the hope that later a federation of small groups could safely be effected. In the spring of 1857 this Association removed from Darke County to Berlin Heights, and its press, The Social Revolutionist, having taken over the subscription list of Nichols’ Monthly, became the organ of fierce Spiritualistic Free Lovers eager for advance on a large scale. A convention was held at Berlin Heights in the fall of 1856, another in the fall of 1857. The next year thirty householders pledged themselves to dispose of their property and remove to Berlin Heights as soon as practicable. But the public had become aroused. The Social Revolutionist for November 1857 was seized and burnt by a mob, and the number for January 1858 was the last. After this, though many Spiritualistic Free Lovers continued to live at Berlin Heights, the Free Love movement which had centered there fell into complete disorganization.

Reviewing the fruits of Berlin Heights Free Love a prominent convert asserted that among less than one hundred persons there


were several suicides; that one man was in prison charged with murdering his wife’s sister, with whom he had been intimate; that three-quarters of the married couples had been separated and their families broken up; that many children born in Free Love had been forsaken; and that venereal disease had become alarmingly prevalent.

Alphadelphia Society Constitution

I’ve not yet transcribed the constitution into text. The following are links to gif files which are rather hefty in order to ensure legibility. The links open up the gifs in their own browser window. To continue, close browser window and return to this page.

Many thanks to Barbara Triphahn who generously sent a beautiful xerox of the constitution so it could be scanned and placed on the internet.

Page 1 — Title Page
Page 2
Page 3 — History and Description of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 4 — History and Description of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 5 — History and Description of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 6 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 7 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 8 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 9 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 10 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 11 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 12 — Constitution of the Alphadelphia Association
Page 13 — Concluding Remarks
Page 14 — Concluding Remarks
Page 15 — Concluding Remarks
Page 16 — Concluding Remarks

Paper Gives Details of Old Society

Thanks to Nancy Benton who supplied the article. I did the transcription.

* * * * *

Paper Gives Details of Old Society

Kalamazoo Gazette, 1962

GALESBURG, Mich – The presentation to the Galesburg Memorial Library recently of old Galesburg newspapers, some over 70 years old, revealed deatils of the short-lived socialistic society formed here over 100 years ago–the Alphadelphian Society.

Among the gifts, from an anonymous donor, was a copy of the Primitive Expounder dated June 12, 1845, published by the Alphadelphia Association at Alphadelphia, Mich., which was located near here.

The newspaper reports that the association was organized on Dec. 14, 1843, by 56 members for Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Genessee, Jackson, Eaton, Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties at a Jackson County meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was “To organize and found a domestic and industrial institution.” The site selected was the southeast quarter of section 23 in Comstock Township, near the Kalamazoo River.

Officers elected were Dr. H. R. Schetterly of Ann Arbor, president; A. Darrow of Bellevue, vice president; E. S. Camp of Marshall, secretary; and John Curtis of Jackson County, treasurer.

The newspaper described Dr. Schetterly as the controlling spirit of the association. It said he was small, slender, and had dark hair and dark eyes.

His picture of Alphadelphia was that of Arcadian healthfulness and enjoyment, of Spartan fidelity and frugality, and a life in which the selfish “mine and thine” would be absorbed by a harmonious “ours.”

Comstock members resided in their own homes and other members in whatever they could find until a two-story mansion was constructed in the fall of 1844.

The constitution told members “The religious and politican opinions of the members are to be unmolested and inviolate and no member shall be compelled to support any religious worship.

“All resident members whose stock is insufficient to support them in case of sickness or any other causes will be supported by the group.”

By may of 1845, the group’s membership was 188 and total assets were $43, 897.

The association lasted from March 21, 1844 until April 30, 1848. The last to stay with the association was Hannibal A. Taylor, who turned the property over to Kalamazoo County, which purchased it for a county house and farm.

Reasons that have been given for the association’s failure are:

1. Too many large, poor and hungry families who could do no work or were incapable of supporting themselves, and

2. The incompatibility of such a system with Yankee ambition, independence and individual enterprise.

The library plans to use the newspapers, most of which are Smiley’s Kalamazoo County Enterprise, as an aid to assemble a history of Galesburg, according to librarian Mrs. Lowell Titus.


Thanks to Barbara Triphahn, the source of the article.

* * * * *


Problem of Workers and Shirkers Rock on Which Experiment Failed
Kalamazoo Gazette, Sunday Jan 24 1937

Most of the leaders of the Alphadelphia Association were of the Universalist faith and the preaching was largely by pastors of that denomination, although pastors of all denominations were welcomed. The pastors most active there were the Rev.Thornton, J. Billings and E. Wheeler.

Constitution of the Society declared, “The religious and political opinions of the members are to be unmolested and inviolate; and no member shall be compelled to support, in any way, any religious worship.”

Membership Requirements

It was the rule of the association that any person of good moral character of 21 years could be admitted to membership upon a two-thirds vote of the members present, provided the applicant has six month’s provisions for the future or the means to furnish it.

The association was to reward operatives in proportion to the skill or labor bestowed and they were to equalize the labor and skill of males and females. Women could become members upon reaching 18 years.

When organization was perfected the property, personal and real, of each member was appraised by competent judges appointed for that purpose and the accounts were entered upon the books as a credit to each member for stock at $50 a share.

List 188 Residents

In May 1845, the number of male and female residents on the domain was listed as 188 with probably a total of 300 resident and non-resident members. On March 9, 1846, Lyman Tubbs and E. M. Clapp placed the value of the association’s real estate at $43,897.21.

The first death on the domain was that of S. M. Vinton, in 1844. The first marriage united P. H. Whitford and Miss Emeline A. T. Wheelock in October 1845, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Asa Bushnell. C. H. Bradford, the Alphadelphian poet, wrote a sonnet about this wedding, published in The Primitive Expounder, and entitled, “Socialist’s Bride.”

Fell Short of Goal

The plan was started as a cooperative venture in which each was to carry his share in making the community one in which members could live in harmony and enjoy the benefits of each other’s society and the fruits of their own labors.

The idea seemed like a good one, at the time.

But rifts soon appeared in the harmony. Jealousies crept in. Inequalities were charged in the division of the work, many feeling and getting the least of the returns. Members began to drop away and soon it became evident that disaster was inevitable.

Affairs of the society dribbled along with efforts made to divide up the property as fairly as possible, until the last entry on the books…April 30, 1848.

Kalamazoo’s adventure in communism collapsed in total failure.