The Phalanx, article on the formation of the Alphadelphia Association, March 1, 1844

THE PHALANX, or JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
“Our Evils are Social, Not Political, and a Social Reform only can eradicate them.”

Two Dollars a year. Payable in Advance.

Volume 1. New York, Friday, March 1, 1844. Number 6. Charles Fourier

THE ALPHADELPHIA ASSOCIATION

We have received the constitution of this Association, a notice of the formation of which was continued in our last. In most respects the constitution is similar to that of the North American Phalanx. It will be seen by the description of the domain selected, which we publish below, that the location is extremely favorable. The establishment of this Association in Michigan is but a pioneer movement, which we have no doubt will soon by followed by the formation of many others. Our friends are already numerous in that State, and the interest in Association is rapidly growing there, as it is throughout the West generally. The West we think will soon become the grand theater of action, and ere long Associations will spring up so rapidly, that we shall scarcely be able to chronicle them. The people, the farmers, and mechanics particularly, have only to understand the leading principles of our doctrines to admire and approve of them; and it would therefore be no matter of surprise to see, in a short time, their general and simultaneous adoption. Indeed, the social transformation from a state of isolation with all its poverty and miseries, to a state of Association with its immense advantages and prosperity, may be much neare and proceed more rapidly than we now imagine. The signs were many and cheering.

HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE ALPHADELPHIA ASSOCIATION

In consequence of a call of a convention published in the Primitive Expounder, fifty-six persons assembled in the School House at the head of Clark’s lake on the fourteenth day of December last, from the counties of Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee, Jackson, Eaton, Calhoun, and Kalamazoo, in the state of Michigan; and after a laborious session of three days, from morning to midnight, adopted the skeleton of a Constitution, which was referred to a Committee of three, composed of Doctor H. R. Schetterly, Rev. James Billings and Franklin Pierce Esq. for revision and amendment. A committee consisting of Doct. H. R. Schetterly, John Curtis, and William Grant, was also elected to view three places, designated by the Convention possessing the requisite qualifications for a domain. The Convention then adjourned to meet again at Bellevue, Eaton Co. on the third day of Jan., ultimo, to recive the reports of said Committees, to choose a domain from those reported on by the Committee on location, and to revise, perfect and adopt said Constition. The adjourned Convention met on the day appointed–selected a location in the town of Comstock, Kalamazoo Co. (being the South East quarter of town two South of Range ten West, in the state of Michigan) whose advantages are described by the Committee on location in the following terms (abridged).

The Kalamzaoo river is a large and beautiful stream, nine rods wide, and five feet deep in the middle, flowing at the rate of about four miles per hour; and with eight feet fall, which can be obtained without flowing any land worth mentioning, by digging a race one mile and a half in length, will propel one hundred run of mill stones, in the dryest season. The digging is easy, and may be nearly all done with scrapers and teams.

The mansion and manufactories will stand on a beautiful plain, descending gradually towards the bank of the river; which is about twelve feet high. The plain is always dry, and from fifty to sixty rods wide, being skirted on the south by a range of hillocks about twenty feet high, and running parallel with the river. These hillocks occupy a space of from ten to thirty rods in width, and then terminate in a gentle undulating plain, extending east, sough and westward for miles, being covered with the most thrifty timber your committee ever beheld, consisting of whitewood, white, black and blue ash, white and red oak, two kinds of beach and hard maple in large quantity and of the best quality–the trees being from two to three and a half feet in diameter, and some of the black walnut are fourteen fet in circumference.

There is a spring, pouringout about a barrel of pure water per minute, half a mile from the place where the mansion and manufactories will stand; the water of which, being brought in pipes, your committee found by levelling, will rise to the height of more than fifty feet.

Cobble stone more than sufficient for foundations and building a dam, and easily accessible, are found on the domain; and sand and clay, of which excellent brick have been made, are also abundant. Iron ore is known to exist both on the domain, and in its vicinity; but its extent has not yet been ascertained.

The Central Rail Road runs along the northern border, a mile and a quater from the mansion, and the state Commissioners have concluded to build a depot within a quater of a mile from the nearest place to it, and may be induced, it is thought, to place it in the very spot where it will best accomodate our Association.

Your Committee paid particular attention to the sources and causes of febrile diseases, and must say they could discover none (there being no wet marshes on the domain, nor timber in the river.) The soil of the Domain is exceedingly fertile, and of great variety , consisting of prairie, oak openings and timbered and bottom land along the river. About three thousand acres of it have been tendered to our Association, as stock to be appraised at the cash value, nine hundred of which are under cultivation, fit for the plough; and nearly all the remainder has been offered in exchange for other improved lands belonging to members at a distance, who wish to invest their property in our Association.

The Object and Plans of the Alphadelphia Association, 1844

A very interesting bit of reading here on the beliefs and hopes of the Alphadelphia Association.

* * * * *

DOCUMENTS OF THE SENATE AND OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AT THE ANNUAL SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE OF 1844

Report of the Committee on Incorporations.

The committee on banks and incorporations to whom was referred sundry petitions of citizens of the county of Oakland and other counties, praying for the incorporation of the Alphadelphia association have had the same under consideration, and in answer to the prayer of the petitioners prepared the accompanying bill which they now ask leave to introduce. The plans and objects of such an association were fully staled by the president of the association to your committee, and to enable the association to carry out those plans, your committee believe an act of incorporation necessary, and for the reasons why the bill should receive the favorable consideration of the legislature, the committee would respectfully refer to the reasons set forth in the following letter, addressed to your committee by Doct. Henry R. Schetterly, president of the association.

WILLIAM W. MURPHY, Chairman.

To the Hon. W. W. Murphy, Esq., Chairman of the Committee on Banks and Incorporations.

Sir—At the request of your honorable committee, I embrace this opportunity of presenting to you the object and plans of the Alphadelphia association, and a few of the reasons why the honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives, ought to grant to it an act of incorporation.

The plan of organizing joint stock industrial associations is new, and but little understood in this country. The theory was discovered by Charles Fourier, a Frenchman, whose name is spread on the pages of many of the journals of the arts and sciences to which he contributed, in almost every part of Europe, having been a member of many learned societies on the eastern continent. He died in 1837, without seeing a single association organized on his darling plan, to the investigation of which he had devoted the last twenty years of his active life.

The first joint stock association was organized in France, in 1839, by a nobleman who purchased and stocked a farm, on which he employed three hundred poor laborers, and realized 4 and 1/2 per cent on his investments, besides nearly forty dollars clear gain to every laborer, after all expenses for repairs, boarding and clothing had been deducted; and in 1842 seven per cent on the capital, and seventy-nine dollars to each laborer was realized, clear of all expense. But this is merely an agricultural association, and the dividends can evidently never equal those of an association, in which every pursuit is carried on, at the same time, and the income runs together from many different sources into one great reservoir.

In 1841 Mr. Brisbane, one of Fourier’s pupils, returned from France and soon published his social system; and the editor of the Tribune, (published in the city of New York,) has, during the last eighteen months, admitted essays on this subject into its columns, weekly.— There are now published in Paris and London, daily papers devoted exclusively to this subject; and a large monthly periodical, soon to be made a weekly, called the Phalanx, has been lately issued from the press in Now York.

There are now ten or twelve joint stock associations in the United States, and the two oldest, which have each had one annual settlement, have declared more than twenty per cent. dividend on their stock. Nor is this strange, when it is considered that nil the unconsumed labor, consisting of improvements made on the domain, as well as money or property received for products,’sold out of the association, constitutes the dividend ; and that economy, unrivaled in the present organization of society, must necessarily ensure a large income.

But the doctrine of association still meets with much opposition, on account, probably, of the vagaries of Fanny Wright and company, with which the public mind has become, and, with great propriety, disgusted. This inference is drawn from the fact, that such insinuations have been insultingly cast in the writer’s face. But in the Alphadelphia association, every thing will be done to protect innocence and virtue, that the legislature of Michigan can permit. Families will reside in separate suits of apartments, and virtue and truth inculcated into the minds of all, in early childhood, by able, moral and experienced teachers, who are members already. The system promulgated by Charles Fourier, has no connection with the obscene theory just mentioned.

By the provisions of the constitution of our association, which has been laid on the tables of all the honorable gentlemen of both Houses, the right of individual property is supposed to be perfectly secured to every member of the association, in the most available shape it can be put, to be readily transferable; and the bill, which you have drawn up, makes further provision on the subject. No restraint is put upon the employment of any person’s civil liberty, except upon the liberty of doing wrong, and injuring his neighbor ; and the slavery to circumstances is greatly mitigated, by giving every one the choice of his employment, which may be changed every day, at pleasure ; and by securing to all constant employment, and the means to labor with, to the greatest possible advantage. The number of non-producers, and the waste of time for want of suitable conveniences to labor with, as well as in doing by hand what could be done by machinery in. a tenth or twentieth part of the time, will be. indefinitely..diminished.;, and those who can riot now find profitable employment, or who are, necessarily engaged in unproductive industry, will be set free from the slavery of circumstances, and become prosperous, and consequently independent, virtuous and happy. Who can doubt, for a moment, that associations are pre-eminently calculated to diminish crime and consequent misery? There are already, in the Alphadelphia association, men of science, and more such stand ready to join it, so soon as the Honorable legislature will suffer it to go into active operation. And there can be no doubt that, with its extensive means, it will be able to bring the arts of agriculture and manufactures to a state of perfection hitherto unknown in Michigan. Surely the honorable members of the Senate, and of the House, cannot be indifferent to an object so noble and cheering to every philanthropic mind, cherishing, as they are known to do, the desire of elevating our adopted and beautiful peninsula to the highest pitch of prosperity, happiness and independence.

In associations man deals no longer with man ; but every member sells the product of his labor to the association, and the association supplies him with the necessaries, comforts and luxuries of life at cost. The temptation to fraud is consequently done away: for no one can make any thing by it, because the whole income, from all sources, goes into the common treasury, to be distributed annually to all the members, and stockholders, in proportion to each ones labor and stock; and every ones income, being proportional to the income of the whole, no one can injure or diminish the income of his neighbor, without injuring himself. Thus a unity of interest is established, and almost all the real causes of strife and contention, are forever, and effectually removed, Every civil officer, who has tried the experiment, knows that nine tenths of all petty quarrels can be settled amicably, if people only try to do it ; and it is the intention of the Alphadelphia association, to try this method effectually, ”to overcome evil with good;” and, if any of its members should creep in, notwithstanding all their diligence to prevent, who are determined to set the law of kindness at defiance, it is necessary that it should have the power of expelling, provided it do not injure them. And though others may doubt, the members

The Alphadelphia Association

Pioneer Collections, Volume 5
By Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan

Lansing Mich
W. S. George & Co. State Printers & Binders
1884


THE ALPHADELPHIA ASSOCIATION.

ITS HISTORY IN COMSTOCK, KALAMAZOO COUNTY

BY A. D. P. VAN BUREN.

The theory of holding property in common was advanced by Pythagoras, and was fully advocated and given to the world by the great Plato in his “Republic.” The idea of man’s living in common with his fellows is essentially primitive. It is certain that man early sought, not only the “elixir of life” and the “philosopher’s stone,” but the “golden mean of life,” where labor bestowed her rewards on the true principle of merit; and health, virtue, honor, and happiness followed in her train. The earliest efforts of industry have been to eliminate the evils that beset her path, and to get rid of the ruinous efforts of competition, that evil genius of society, by the substitution of a healthy emulation, that labor should ever be honored, and that wealth or capital which she creates, should ever be subservient to her. Philosophers have ever striven to find the mode of life that would endow man with the most health and happiness. The poet has sung—

“He that holds fast the golden mean,
And lives contentedly between
The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man’s door,
Embittering all his state.”

From Abraham on the plains of Mamre, to the shepherds tending the flocks among the Judean hills, long before “they hung their harps on the willows and sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept,” all through those periods of history, we find a tendency to pastoral communism. Coming down to the middle ages we find the monks occasionally trying communistic life. And reaching our own time, we shall have Louis Blanc, Saint Simon, and Charles Fourier in France, Robert Owen in Scotland, and his son, Robert Dale, in America, giving to the world the theory and practice of what is commonly known as socialism in Germany, communism in France, and Fourierism in America. From these, which essentially are one, .communists, Alphadelphians, and the late cociperationists, with various other theories and theorists.

ORIGIN OF ALPHADELPHIA ASSOCIATION IN COMSTOCK.

On the 14th day of December, 1843, pursuant to a call for a convention published in the Primitive Expounder at Ann Arbor, 56 persons from the counties of Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Genesce, Jackson, Eaton, Calhoun, and Kalamazoo, assembled in the school-house at the head of Clark’s lake in Columbia, Jackson county. The object of the convention was to organize and found a domestic and industrial institution. These 56 men after a laborious session of three days, each session extending from morning to midnight, adopted the outline of a constitution which was referred to a committee of three composed of Dr. H. R. Schetterly, James Billings, and Franklin Pierce, for revision and amendment. A committee consisting of Dr. H. R. Schetterly, John Curtis, and Wm. Grant was also appointed to view three places designated by the convention as suitable for a domain. The convention then adjourned to meet at Bellevue, Eaton county, on the 3d day of January, 1844. when they would receive the reports of said committee on location, and revise, perfect and adopt their constitution. The committee on location went forth like those men of old, “to spy out the land,” to select a goodly region suitable for a domain. The adjourned convention met on the day appointed and after listening to the reports of the committee on location, they chose the southeast quarter of the township of Comstock, county of Kalamazoo, as a permanent home, whose advantages the committee set forth in the following terms:

“The Kalamazoo river is a large and beautiful stream, nine rods wide and five feet deep in the middle, flowing at the rate of about four miles per hour; and with eight feet fall, which can be obtained, without flowing any land worth mentioning, by digging a race one mile and a half in length, it will propel 100 run of stone in the dryest season. The digging is easy and may be nearly all done with scrapers and teams.” They then speak of “the place where the mansion and the manufactories will stand;” on a beautiful plain descending gradually toward the river, a plain 50 to 60 rods wide, skirted on the south by a range of hillocks about twenty feet high and running parallel with the river. Beyond these, some 10 or .’l0 rods, is a gentle, undulating plain, extending south, east, and west for miles, and being covered with the most thrifty timber your committee ever beheld, consisting of whitewood, black, white and blue ash, white and red oak, two kinds of beech, and two cf elm, black walnut, soft maple, some cherry and especially hard maple in large quantity and the best quality. “There is a spring, pouring out a barrel of water per minute, one-half a mile from where the mansion and manufactories will stand.” They say cobble stones for buildings and dams are plenty on the domain; and sand and clay for making brick, in abundance. “Iron ore is known to exist on the domain, but its extent is not yet found out. The Michigan Central railroad will run l| miles north of the proposed site of the mansion. They found no cause for fever here; there were only two out of 150, in seven years, who died of fever. “The soil of the domain is exceedingly fertile and of great variety, consisting of prairie, oak opening, timbered and bottom land along the river, and about 3,000 acres of it have been tendered to our association as stock to be appraised at the cash value. Nine hundred acres of this land has been cultivated and nearly all the rest has been offered in exchange for other improved lands owned by members living at a distance.

The convention there perfected, engrossed, and adopted their constitution, which was signed by 51 members, nearly all fathers of families and respectable and thrifty farmers, mechanics, and manufacturers. This number might easily have been doubled in Bellevue and vicinity, but the convention thought proper to restrict the membership, for the present, to those who had taken an’ active part in the enterprise. The following is a list of the officers elected at this Bellevue convention: President, Dr. H. R. Schetterly of Ann Arbor; vice-president, A. Darrow of Bellevue; secretary, E. S. Camp, of Marshall; treasurer, John Curtis, of Norville, Jackson county; directors, G. S. Avery and Alanson Meech, Bellevue; Harvey Keith, Wm. Earl, and Dr. Ezra Stetson, Galesburg; Wm. Grant, Sandstone; Amos Picket, Anson Delamatter, and C. W. Vining, Columbia, Jackson county; Charles Mason and H. B. Teed, Battle Creek.

We pass on in our history and find the next scene laid in the township of Comstock, Kalamazoo county. The beginning of the history here consisted of the visit of the committee on location, of whom we have spoken. At that time the pioneers of this part of the county had enlarged their clearings into good farms. They were getting out of the woods and began to enjoy the fruits of their hard toil in making their improvements. It was at this time, December 23, 1843, that this committee came among them. Dr. H. R. Schetterly was the controlling spirit of this party, as well as of the association. He was a ‘German, and had imbided the views of Charles Fourier. He was a small, slender man, with dark hair and eyes and complexion; was a man of talent and an enthusiast on his special theme of Fourierism. With a Burrlike persuasiveness he soon won his way into the confidence, the homes, and the hearts of the old pioneers of Comstock. In the public meetings he held here, he pictured to their imaginations a life as picturesque as a Cooper could draw—a life of Arcadian healthfulness and enjoyment; of Spartan fidelity and frugality; a life in whose calendar the selfish “mine” and “thine” would not exist, for all would be absorbed in the more humane and harmonious “ours.” He was an able and effective speaker, and could use the philosophy, the learning and logic of Fourier and! Owen with most convincing effect upon his hearers. We can imagine the glowing picture he drew of the pastoral and happy life there was in store for his adherents, in their future mansion-home on the banks of the beautiful Kalamazoo. Here, surrounded by his wife and dear ones, the pioneer would realize the truth of the poet:

“Here on the fertile, fair domain,
Unvexed with all the cares of gain,
In summer’s heat, and winter’s cold,
He fed his flock, and penned his fold;
His hours In cheerful labor flew,
Nor strife, nor hate, nor envy knew.”

From the first appearance of this disciple of Fourier among them, the settlers were unusually interested in his new theory of living; and before he had been here three days, many of them were enthusiastic Fourierites, and anxious to join the association. Viewing the matter in the sober, calm reflection of to-day, we would as soon think of trying to cheat old Prof. Playfair, by inserting passages of a “Fourth of July oration” into the demonstration of a proposition of Euclid, as that this little black-haired German socialist should make Fourierites of such sturdy old pioneers as Lyman Tubbs, Amos Wilson, E. M. Clapp, Harvey Keith, David Ford, Joseph Flanders, Dr. Ezra Stetson, Wm. Earl, Roswell Ransom, James Noyes, Hannibal Taylor, C. L. Keith, P. H. Whitford, and scores of other early settlers who, like them, were noted for their practical hard sense, and shrewd discernment of men and things. But the truth is, the Fourierites came among them just at the right time, for the common hardships and suffering, which all alike had passed through, had established a genuine brotherhood among the old settlers. Their property, although not held in common, caused no envy, and created no distinctions. Their conditions and surroundings were such as to foster a feeling of brotherhood. They helped each other not only at raisings, but in clearing off their kinds, in husking their corn, and through all troubles, and over all difficulties. Wherever their aid or kindness could be of any avail, it was cheerfully given. If they were not all poor alike, there was no wealthy class, no special strife or rivalry, but they lived together, in the same community, as harmonious and happy as if they were members of one family; so that when Dr. Schetterly came here to found his domestic and industrial association, which was now called “Alphadelphia,” he found many of the settlers, if not altogether, almost Alphadelphians to begin with; and hence his work here was comparatively easy in his school of reform. As evidence of this, we quote the first part of the report of Dr. Schetterly concerning the success of his labors, as one of the committee on location, in Comstock. Jt is as follows:

“Galesburgh, Kalamazoo Co., Dec. 27, 1843.

“To the Fourier Convention to be held at Bellevue: Your committee arrived here on Saturday evening the 23d ult., and rejoice to say that an ardor now exists among the people in this place for entering into association which never can be cooled until their wishes shall have been realized. Two meetings have been held, of three hours’ duration each, by your committee, and attended by crowded audiences, and more information is still solicited.” Further on he quotes David Ford as saying; “No man must oppose a project so fraught with principles calculated to promote the bes^ interests of mankind.”

Under such favorable auspices the work of founding an association in Comstock was soon effected. It was first intended to build the mansion on the south side of the river; but the other side was afterwards selected for this purpose. The domain was intended to include the southeast quarter of the township of Comstock. The first year of the organization the association had possession of nearly all of section 23, the west half of 24, and a large part of the north halves of sections 25 and 26. The first meeting on the domain was held in the house of Harvey Keith, at 8 o’clock A. M., March 21, 1844. The directors were Spencer Mitchell, Anson Delamatter, John Curtis, H. G. Pierce, John White, Henry H. Reading, James Weeks, Wm. S. Mead, Albert Whitccmb, H. R. Schetterly, David Ford, and Benjamin Wright. The name of the association was to be “Alphadelphia, or First Brotherhood;” its officers, a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and twelve directors. At this f.rst meeting the above directors chose for president, Anson Delamatter; secretary, Henry H. Reading; and the association went to work. I cannot find the treasurer’s name, nor the vice-president’s. The meetings were held in the house of the resident members until the mansion was built. The Comstock members lived in their own houses, and those who came from abroad were accommodated with such homes as they could get, until a long shanty was built on the north side of the river, which was occupied as a general “tabernacle” by the new members until the mansion was erected in the fall of 1844. This building was originally some 20 by 200 feet, and two stories high.

The first school was taught by James Allen Knight, in a log building on the south side of the river. The pupils lived on the other side of the stream and crossed it in a boat used for that purpose. Afterwards Mr. Avery, the Shaker, taught school on the north side and was succeeded by Miss Nancy A. Tuttle, who married Levi S. Blakesly, the printer. Miss M. Hanchett also taught school there. They had no lawyer; they settled their difficulties by arbitration, and saved money and much trouble. Philander H. Bowman, of Jackson, was the physician; James Hoxie, of Bellevue, was the leading carpenter, Leonard Luscomb was the tailor, G. O. Ball and John Wetherbec, the shoemakers, Nelson Tubbs, the blacksmith, and C. L. Keith, the wagon-maker. The editors were Dr. Schetterly and Rev. Richard Thornton; the printers, Levi S. BlakesLy and C. W. Sawyer. The paper was called the Alphadelphia Tocsin. Mr. Thornton also published here the Primitive Expounder, which he had formerly published at Ann Arbor. This was a staunch Universalist journal. Most of the leaders of this movement wore Universalists, and the preaching at Alphadelphia was mostly from ministers of that denomination. Revs. R. Thornton, J. Billings, and E. Wheeler officiating in that capacity generally. They also had preaching from ministers of other denominations. Their constitution says: “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.” It furthermore provides for “the support of all resident members whose stock is insufficient to support them, in case of sickness or any other cause.”

The constitution was explicit and ample on the subject of education, general health, and moral reforms. Any person of good moral character, of 21 years of age, could be admitted to membership by a two-thirds vote of the members present, provided he had six months’ provision for the future, or the means to furnish it. They were to reward operatives in proportion to the labor or skill bestowed, and they were to equalize the labor and skill of males and females. The latter could become members at the age of 18, by the requisite vote of the members.

The organization having been thoroughly effected, the mansion built, the property, both personal and real, of every member, having been appraised by competent judges appointed for that purpose, and the amounts entered upon the books of the association as credit to each member for so much stock, at fifty dollars a share, Alphadelphianism was then ready to drive its teama-field and turn its first furrow. Then tl»e busy hive of Alphadelphians could go forth to work, each in his or her special vocation; some as farmers, some as housewives, others as doctors, teachers, editors, and printers; some as mechanics, teamsters, tailors, brickmakers, men of all work, till all the professions, trades, callings, talents, skill, and labor of the association that could be made available, was turned into its proper Held of usefulness. This was the great object for which the organization was effected, to live and work together in harmony and enjoy the benefits of each other’s society and the fniits of their own labor, like a united, happy family. How far they succeeded in accomplishing this, their four years’ trial, that ended in a total failure, plainly tells.

From the old census list taken by C. L. Keith, in May, 1845, I find the number of male and female residents on the domain to be 188. There must have been at this time, counting resident and non-resident members, over 300 in all. The total value of the association’s real estate, as appraised March 9, 1846, by Lyman Tubbs and E. M. Clapp, of the general council, was $43,- • 897.21. The first death on the domain was that of the son of S. W. Vinton in 1844. The first marriage was in October, 1845, when Rev. Asa Bushnell made one for life, our old pioneer friend P. H. Whitford and Miss Emeline A. T. Wheelock. The Alphadelphia poet, C. H. Bradford, sonnetized the happy pair in the columns of the Primitive Expounder, where you will find a poem on the occasion of their marriage called the “Socialist’s Bride.” We have heard Mr. Whitford remark that he “went into the association with a yoke of oxen and came out with a wife and a buggy.” We don’t know how valuable the buggy was, but every one of his old friends will say that he left the Alphadelphia domain with a great prize—his estimable wife.

A large number put their farms into the association; others put in various kinds of property; James Noyes put in his saw-mill, which was valuable in furnishing lumber to the society. That some of them lost much of what they put in; and that others sacrificed a great deal to get their farms back, or in taking “what they could get,” as an equivalent for the property they had brought there; and that some lost all they put in; and that some went away richer than they came: I believe one and all of these to be true.

From their first meeting on the domain, March 21, 1844, till the last entry on the journal of the association, April 30, 1848, the presidents were Anson Delamatter, Benjamin Wright, Harvey Keith, Lyman Tubbs, and James Noyes. The first entry on the day book is—

ALPHADELPHIA.

1844. July 23. Sold to H. G. Pierce.

Two pair of hose at 2s 6el 0.63

One spool stand at Is 6d 19

Two spools of thread Us 3d 03

The last entry is—

ALPHADELPHIA.

1848. April 30. David Ford, Dr.

To use of Rogers’ farm and pasturage $40.00

The last family on the domain was Hannibal A. Taylor’s; when the county purchased the property in the spring of 1848, Mr. Taylor delivered it over to. the purchasers as a “county house and farm.” Dr. H. R. Schetterly, the guiding genius of the association, left with his family (just before Mr. Taylor did) and went to an institution of like character, called the “La Grange Phalanx,” in Indiana. From La Grange he went to another society of the game nature in Wisconsin, called the. “Wisconsin Phalanx.” From Wisconsin. he came to Michigan to take charge of the government light-house at Grand Traverse. Here he was some few years ago, and this is the last trace we have of Dr. H. R. Schetterly, the founder of the Alphadelphia association, in 1844, in Comstock, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Most of the information contained in this history, I have received from C. L. Keith and Hannibal A. Taylor (old Alphadelphians) and from the books and papers of the association which they have in their possession.

That this system lacked the elements of success is as clear now to the minds of the old members as that effect follows cause. In trying to get information from some of the old pupils in this Alphadelphia school, they would shake their heads and reply, “Better let that be, we don’t tell tales out of school.” Others would say, “We can’t tell you anything about it. When we left we banished every memory of the old domain from our minds and have not wished to recall them.” Another would answer: “Too many large families, poor and hungry, who could do no work, or were incapable of supporting themselves, got among us and were a continual expense—a hole in the meal bag from first to last, to the association.” The incompatibility of such a system with Yankee ambition, independence, and individual enterprise ever has caused and ever will cause its failure.

We have space for but few incidents. “Uncle” Lyman Tubbs was regarded as the patriarchal Abraham, of the brotherhood. Wise in council, clear in his views, able in speech, he was of great value to the organization. And if in denouncing chicanery, he called it “tri-kany,” or in telling them they were passing through a crisis, he said through a “cri-pus,” he conveyed all the full sense and meaning of the words if he did not pronounce them according to the Websterian style. At one time the brotherhood lived a good while on buckwheat cakes. This gave the poet, Bradford, an occasion to court his muse. Here is a verse that still lingered in the mind of an old member:

“And If perchance a luckless wight
Should from his dinner bilk.
His supper then was sure to be
Cold buckwheat cakes and milk.”

The school teacher, James Allen Knight, was passionately fond of taking down “the fiddle and the bow,” and regaling his leisure hours with the sweet Cremonan strains that he knew how to make from the sensitive strings. Hut into the adjoining room of his friend Avery, the Shaker, these strains did not come in such sweet measure. What was pleasure to the fiddler was becoming torture to him who was compelled to listen to the fiddling. We give a verse of a poem that appeared in the Tocsin at this time, entitled

THE FIDDLER’S LAMENT.

“Oh Allen, oh Allen, how you do torture me,
Surely you’ll kill me dead as a stone;
All the while sawing, and rasping, and scraping me,
Surely you’ll scrape all the flesh from my bones.”

It is no discredit to any of the Alphadelphia association that they belonged to it and helped to carry out its contemplated reforms. Their object was the noble and beneficent one of aiding their brothers in other parts of the country to

“Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in the good for all mankind.”

“The Primitive Expounder” published out of Alphadelphia by R. Thornton and J. Billins

Universalist Companion
with an
ALMANAC AND REGISTER
containing the
STATISTICS OF THE DENOMINATION
for
1846

A. B. Grosh, Editor and Proprietor

Periodical—The Primitive Expounder” is published every other Thursday, in Alphadelphia, on a medium sheet, octavo form, at $1.00 per annum in advance, by Revs. R. Thornton, and J. Billings, Editors.

New Society.—Convis, 24 ms., 1. Total, 27.

New Meeting Houses.—Jackson, Pontiac, 2. Total, 4.

Preachers – – P. O. Address
Adam, H…..Ann Arbor
Billings, J…..Jackson
Curtis, S S…..Wolfcreek
Gage, J, 2nd…..Wayne
Gage, W…..Grand Blanc
Goss, H A…..Kensington
Hard W…..Plymouth
Lockwood, J…..Jonesville
Miles, S…..Ann Arbor
Miner, J N…..Camden
Orton, J…..Groveland
Orton, Amos…..Groveland
Ravlin, D H…..Ann Arbor
Sanford, J H…..Detroit
Shephard, J…..Fentonville
Stebbins, J…..Detroit
Thornton, R…..Alphadelphia
West, C P…..Otsego
Wheeler, T…..Alphadelphia
New preacher, 1. Total, 19.

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.

COLONY LISTED 188 RESIDENTS IN MAY OF 1845

Thanks to Barbara Triphahn, the source of the article.

* * * * *

COLONY LISTED 188 RESIDENTS IN MAY OF 1845

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.

SOCIETY PLANNED PUBLIC LIBRARY AND A SEMINARY

Thanks to Barbara Triphahn, the source of the article.

* * * * *

SOCIETY PLANNED PUBLIC LIBRARY AND A SEMINARY

Site of Colony Obtained for Poor Farm After Long Controversy
Kalamazoo Gazette, Sunday Jan 24 1937

The Alphadelphia Association was not a local affair, but comprised several hundred members throughout the state. Headquarters were on the present site of the County Farm west of Galesburg…a spot selected for its beauty, natural advantages and its central location. The project was called the “domain,” where the members built a large tenement house called the “mansion.”

Permission was sought to dam the river at the site of the domain, but this was never granted either. A mill race was dug, however, and a sawmill and flour mill placed in operation. A general store was opened and a school and church operated. The members also had a printing office and issued papers.

The association planned to build a seminary and to establish a public library. The ifrst meeting of record on the domain was at the home of Harvey Keith, March 2, 1844. This session was adjourned from day to day during which time a constitution was drafted, applications for membership accepted and property inventoried and appraised.

The labor code provided that all members should work in common to produce wealth; that one-fourth of net income should be devoted to improvements and three-fourths to the payment of labor, whatever its form. Time records were kept by the treasurer. The net income proved to be small and the pro-rated wages correspondingly low. One store clerk was rated at nine shillings a week. But all held high hopes.

For four years, they labored faithfully. Then hope began to wane and the serpent entered the garden. Chiselers and shirkers appeared. A few absconded with unearned increment. The more farsighted began to withdraw, taking land for their stock, which several developed and became wealthy. After a few years more of struggle and discouragement, a final meeting was held to dissolve the association. Re-distribution of assets was promiscuous…some were gainers, others losers and many received little or nothing.

After years of controversy on the part of the board of supervisors, the present main building was erected at a cost of $2500 and was later enlarged to its present size.

That is perhaps the extent of the article, a double line at the bottom indicating the end.

DEATH OF E. B. KEITH IN 1934 REVEALS SOCIETY’S RECORDS

Source of article, Barbara Triphahn

* * * * *

DEATH OF E. B. KEITH IN 1934 REVEALS SOCIETY’S RECORDS

Complete Data Obtained from Survivor of Communistic Association’s Last Chief Executive
Kalamazoo Gazette, Sunday Jan 24 1937

Note: The following reminiscences concerning the Alphadelphia Association formed near Galesburg in 1844, are written by Smith H. Carlton, surviving Civil War Veteran, of 1120 March Street. Carlton was born May 3, 1847 in Wyoming County, New York, and Came to Kalamazoo with his parents in 1849 at the age of 2 and 1/2 years. At the age of 17, he enlisted during the last year of the Civil war with the 28th Michigan Infantry and participated in several major engagements near the close of the rebellion. His regiment remained in North Carolina on reconstruction duty until February 1866.

By SMITH H. CARLTON
Corporal 28th Michigan

Ethan B. Keith died at 83 years, Aug. 28, 1934, at his home near Galesburg on a farm southwest of that community which had been entered from the government by his grandfather in 1834.

Among Keith’s effects were the constitution, by-laws and papers of the old Alphadelphia Association, consisting of many leatherbound volumes and including bills, receipts, contracts, reports and correspondence, which show all the activities and the transactions of the association. Luke C. Keith, Ethan’s father, was the last president of the association and he had retained the records intact.

Carlton Knew Members

Having in my younger days been acquainted with many former members of the association, and having heard much of the story by word of mouth, I was interested in reviewing the records. I also know many of the descendants of these old members and am sure that a brief summary from the original records will be of interest.

That is the extent of the article(?), a double line at the bottom indicating the end.

WHY GALESBURG WAS MADE ALPHADELPHIA SOCIETY HOME

Source of article was Barbara Triphahn. Transcribed by me.

* * * * *

WHY GALESBURG WAS MADE ALPHADELPHIA SOCIETY HOME

Villagers’ Enthusiasm Determined by Dr. H. R. Schetterly and Association to Locate There
Kalamazoo Gazette, Sunday Jan 14 1937

The Alphadelphia Society which located its community enterprise in Kalamazoo County in 1844 had its start on Dec. 14, 1843 when 56 persons met in a schoolhouse at the head of Clark’s Lake in Jackson County.

Sessions continued from morning until midnight for three days, while the group mapped plans for orgnization of a domestic and industrial institution. Men were present from Kalamazoo, Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Genesee, Jackson, Eaton and Calhoun Counties. A constitution was drawn up.

No place for locating the commmunity had been determined and a committee of three was named to view three sites which had been under consideration. This committee comprised Dr. H. R. Schetterly, dominant figure in the organization, then of Ann Arbor, John Curtis of Norville, Jackson County, and William Grant of Sandstone

Adjourn to Bellevue

Approximately three weeks later…on Jan. 3 1844…a second conference was held in Bellevue. This meeting was called for the purpose of hearing the report of the committee on location, revising the constitution and electing officers. The constitution was there signed by 51 members, nearly all of them the heads of families and consisting of farmers, mechanics and manufacturers. Officers were elected as follows:

President, Dr. H. R. Schetterly, Ann Arbor; vice president, A. Darrow, Bellevue; secretary, E. S. CAMP, Marshall;treasurer, John Curtis, Norville. Directors named were G. S. Avery and Alanson Meech, Bellevue; Harvey Keith, William Earl and Dr. Ezra Stetson, Galesburg; William Grant, Sandstone; Amos Picket, Alson Delamatter and C. W. Vining, Jackson County; Charles Mason and H. B. Teed, Battle Creek.

Report of Committee

The committee to view porposed locations for settlement of the community, reported very enthusiastically upon the site in Comstock township, which is now occupied by the County Farm. It was this site which the Bellevue convention determined upon for its permanent home.

Dr. Schetterly and his committee had arrived in Galesburg Dec. 23 1843. He found there “an ardor among the people for entering into association which can never be cooled until their whishes shall have been realized.” Big crowds attended the prelimmary (sic) meetings and the reception accorded the committee at Galesburg was so enthusiastic that it settled almost at once that this would be the site decided upon. One enthusiast at Galesburg declared that “no man must oppose a project so fraught with principles calculated to promote the best interests of mankind.”

Official Description

“The Kalamazoo river is a large and beautiful strem, nine rods wide and five feet deep in the middle, flowing at the rate of about four miles an hour,” said the committee report which was given to the association group. “An eight-foot fall can be obtained without flowing any land worth mentioning, and by digging a race one mile and a half in length, it will propel 100 rum of stone in the dryest season. The digging is easy and may done with scrapers and teams.”

The committee mentioned “the place where the mansion and the manufactories will stand,” as being a plain 50 to 60 rods wide, descending gradually toward the river, skirted on the south by a range of hillocks about 20 feet high and running parallel with the river.

“Beyond these,” the report continues, “some 10 to 30 rods, is a gentle, undulating plain extending south, east and west for miles, and being covered with the most thrifty timber your committee ever beheld, consisting of white-wood; black, white and blue ash; white and red oak; two kinds of beedh; two kinds of elm, black walnut; soft maple, some cherry and hard maple in large quantity and the best quality.

Other Advantages

“There is a spring, pouring out a barrel of water per minute, one half mile from where the mansion and manufactories will stand. They say cobble stones for buildings and dams are plenty on the domain, and sand and clay for making brick, in abundance. Iron ore is known to exist on the domain but its extent is not yet found out.

“The Michigan Central railroad will run 1 and 1/2 miles north of the proposed site of the domain. There is no cause for fever here, there being two out of 150 in seven years who have died of fever.

“The soil of the domain is exceedingly fertile and of great variety, consisting of prairie, oak openings, timbered and bottom lands along the river. About 3,000 acres of it have been tendered to our association as stock to be appraised at its cash value. Nine hundred acres of this land have been cultivated and nearly all the rest has been offered in exchange for other improved lands owned by members living at a distance.”

Name New Directors

With actual establishment of the colony on the domain near Galesburg, organization meetings wer begun at the home of Harvey Keith, March 21 1844. At this time the directors were Spencer Mitchell, Anson Delamatter, John Curtis, H. G. Pierce, John White, Henry H. Reading, James Weeks, William S. Mead, Albert Whitcomb, Dr. H. R. Schetterly, David Ford and Benjamin Wright.

The name Alphadelphia was adopted…”first brotherhood.” Delamatter was elected as president and Henry Reading secretary.

Comstock members lived in their own houses and those who had come from other places were quartered temporarily in a log shanty on the north side of the river. The mansion or common dwelling place, was first planned for the south bank of the river but the site finally selected was on the north side. The building was completed in the fall of 1844. During its first year of organization, the society had possession of nearly all of Section 23; the west half of Section 24, and a large part of the north halves of Sections 25 and 26.

Work was Divided

All members of the association were assigned specific duties. Many were specialized for definite activity.

The first school of the society was taught by James Allen Knight in a log building on the south side of the river. Most of the members lived on the north side of the river and pupils were ferried back and forth across the stream in a boat. The community had no lawyer, differences being settled by arbitration.

Some of the “specialists” who were members of the community were as follows:

Physician, Philander H. Bowman
Head carpenter, James Hoxie
Tailor, Leonard Luscomb
Shoemakers, G. O. Ball and John Wetherbee.
Blacksmith, Nelson Tubbs
Wagonmaker, Luke Keith.
Editors, Dr. H. R. Schetterly and Rev. Richard Thornton.
Printers, Levi S. Blakeslee and C. W. Sawyer

Article clipped at this point
Source: Barbara Triphahn