Archive for November, 2011

The King, the Wife, the Dream

November 23, 2011

King Tuck’s Proclamation.

Thanksgiving! and with spirits blue,
Headless I’ve come to call on you;
Attend to what I have to say,
‘N let your appetite delay,
Knowing you’ve murder done most fowl,
Should my uneasy spirit prowl,
Greet not my shade with cruel sneers
If hollow the poor shell appears,
Void of all dressing, empty, thin,
It may in dreams come stalking in.
Now thankful for a speedy roast,
Good-by, I’m yours, sincerely most.


Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Nov 23, 1895

A Thanksgiving Trill.

For all the joys of living
A long and sweet Thanksgiving!
For this old world, with roses rife,
For mother, friend, and sweetheart — wife!
For every soft wind blowing;
For fields where Love is sowing
The seed to blossom in the years —
For woman’s love and woman’s tears
That sweeten earthly living —
The heart’s divine Thanksgiving!

Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Nov 23, 1895


M’ wife, she wants a winter coat,
And so do I.
An’ that’ll spoil a good-sized note,
(Though clothes ain’t high).
Then both the boys are wantin’ pants,
An’ I am, too.
An ordinary circumstance
The hull year through.

Kitty an’ Emmy want new shoes,
M’ wife the same.
Lord! it does give me the blues,
To set and name
The things ‘t I hev to go an’ buy
Day after day;
Don’t make no diff’rence how I try,
There ain’t no way

To keep from spendin’ all I git,
Or pretty nigh.
— I hev saved up a little bit
An’ laid it by —
An’ come to think, now, I dunno
‘S I oughter be
A setirh’ here a talkin’ so,

Considerin’ the dreams I hed
The other night;
My young ones an’ my wife had fled
Out o’ my sight,
An’ Satan says: “Old man,” says he,
“you want ’em back?
Jump in that stream along with me,
It’s deep an’ black.”

“An’ you’ll hev to swim a hundred years.”
An’ with a yell
He dove into the stream o’ tears
An’ swam for — well,
I jumped in, too, or thought I hed,
But struck the floor
An’ found I’d jest jumpted out o’ bed
An’ nothin’ more.

I s’pose ‘t was eatin’ hot mince pie
That made me dream.
But still, there ain’t no doubt that I
Felt how ‘t would seem
To have no folks; and here I’ve sot —
Well, I’m no saint.
But I’ll offer thanks for what I’ve got;
That beats complaint.

— Smith, Gray & Co.’s Monthly.

Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Nov 23, 1895

Catchin’ Time

November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving in Old Virginia.

Old black mammy has a ‘possum on to bake
With sweet potatoes, sweeter than a maple-sugar cake.
And her pickaninny’s gone, by the light of the moon,
With his yellow-haired puppy to free a fat coon.

The coon lies a-grinning in the hollow of a gum
That the yellow-hammer uses for his morning drum;
While the gray squirrel chuckles, in high old glee,
At the hickorynuts a-raining from the hickorynut tree.
The gray owl shivers on a dead oak limb
And blinks in the sunshine, mellow and dim;
While molly-cotton rabbit gives a half a dozen hops,
And hears her heart beating, of a sudden, and stops.

The air is so fine and soft and clear,
That the fence seems far and mountains seem near;
Till the partridges fly to the fences and ‘light,
And call out a song about “Old Bob White!”

“Old Bob White, are your crops all right?
Is there wheat beneath the barn for the first cold night?
The guinea-hens and turkeys find its shelter mighty warm;
We’ll gather in among ’em when there comes a storm.”

The wild turkey’s calling from the far hillside;
The foxhounds are baying on the long divide;
There’s a fat pig squealing, for his life is sweet —
But not much sweeter than his sausage meat!

— John Paul Bocock.

Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Nov 23, 1895


Rabbit time, trappin’ time
Dat’s de time fo’ me.
Set mah trap
So hit snap,
Hide bein’ a tree.

Froo de snow, dar he go.
Rabbit jumpin’ past,
Gits de trail,
Wags his tail,
Crawls in — dat’s de last.

Wif a clap down hit dtap,
Rabbit caught fo’ sho’ —
In de jail,
Wif’ out bail,
Can’t git out no mo’.

Den a pie, rabbit pie,
Decked in gran’ array;
Jus’ fo’ two,
Me an’ you,
On Thanksgibbin’ Day.

Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Nov 23, 1895


November 22, 2011


Off we go to the market early!
“Get up, Lazy, it’s canning time!”
Looking for onions small and pearly,
Stopping to buy nutmeg and thyme.
There’s the recipe Grandma gave us —
It’s the luckiest one of all!
Let’s cut through! Here’s a path to save us!
We’ll have need of our strength this fall!

We must look for some small cucumbers,
And a big bunch of celery.
Well, they say there is luck in numbers!
Market’s crowded as you can see!
We are earlier than the farmers!
All the wagons have not come yet.
Some of those younger girls are charmers,
They’ll be married real soon, I’ll bet!

Now don’t bargain too much! The prices
Can’t be cut very much below
Last year’s market .  .  .  By fruits and spices
Merchants must live and die, you know!
.  .  .  Ask him to take a trifle less, Dear!
Add the basket for one more dime?

Appleton Post Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Sep 10, 1938

Bloody Accident in Butte

November 22, 2011

Image from the fOREST iNFO website


August Fisher Seriously and Probably Fatally Injured.

Yesterday afternoon about four o’clock, as Messrs. Chastine Humphreys and Charles Swan were returning to Butte from the scene of the new gold find on the Boulder, and when about three or four hundred yards above Davis’s arastra, on the Park Canon road, their attention was attracted by some one’s calling to them, saying that a man was lying near by, all smashed and bleeding. Mr. Humphrey immediately started for the spot indicated, leaving Mr. Swan in charge of the team they were driving, and upon reaching the scene of the accident, which was about one hundred yards to the left of the Park road, he came upon a horrible sight indeed.

The injured man was found to be Mr. August Fisher, employed as a teamster by Messrs. Schmidt & Gamer. The unfortunate man was conscious, but terribly mangled, being scarcely able to speak from the loss of blood and the extent of the injuries sustained. He was lying near the wagon from which he had been thrown, surrounded by portions of the cord wood with which the wagon was loaded. None of the wood was upon him when found, and the persons finding him were unable to tell just how the accident happened. The wagon was upright and the rough-lock in place and perfectly secure, but the rack was partially on the ground. It is supposed some portion of the harness must have given way, letting the pole of the wagon drop down, when of course the driver lost all control over the team and wagon, and in some manner was thrown off and the wood or wood rack falling upon him. The horses were found a few hundred rods farther down the road.

Other assistance coming up, preparations were at once made for getting the injured man into town, and Mr. Humphrey fortunately having blankets with him, a litter was quickly constructed and the man conveyed to Mr. H’s. wagon, and hurried into town and to Dr. Whitford’s hospital. At the time of the writer’s visit the physician and attendants were preparing to dress the wounds, the full extent of which had hardly yet been determined. The left leg was broken and badly mashed below the knee, the head severely cut and bruised, and the left ear gone. Besides this it was evident that he had received a serious contusion about the head, as he was quite deaf, and the doctor feared his skull had been fractured. The injured leg will most likely have to come off should he survive his other injuries.

The Daily Miner (Butte, Montana) Oct 26, 1879

Death of August Fischer.

Mr. August Fischer, an account of whose injuries was given in the MINER of Sunday, died at Dr. Whitford’s hospital at ten minutes to two o’clock a.m. He remained perfectly conscious up to the time of his death, which was very sudden, after he commenced to show signs of dissolution. About midnight Mr. Fischer asked his attendants what the hour was, if it was not most two o’clock? On being told that it was only twelve, and in answer to the question why he wished to know the hour, he said that he should die at two o’clock. He was then asked if he had any communications to make, and he said he had not, and, at just ten minutes to the hour named, his spirit took its flight to the unknown world.

Mr. Fischer was a native of Streson, Germany, and was born on the 8th of October, 1842. He had been married and has a daughter living in Ashforth, Wisconsin.

The Daily Miner (Butte, Montana) Oct 28, 1879

Icaria: A Lost Paradise

November 21, 2011

Image from Gustave Doré Illustrations to Paradise Lost on the Artsy Craftsy website



It Is the Forlorn Remnant of What Years Ago Promised to Be an Ideal Co-operative Settlement — Their Old Fashioned Dress and Queer Ways.

Metropolitan Magazine: Tucked away in the southwest corner of Iowa, remote from the good and evil influence of civilization, the surged and clatter of affairs unheeded because unknown, lives a collection of humans as peculiar in manner and custom as the ancient Phoenicians, as egotistic as Caesar. These people are white in color with the fire of Gaelic ancestors in their blood and the timidity of hermits in their breasts. They think old-fashionedly; they reason with the limping logic of children; they garb in long discarded styles, and they are hugely self-satisfied. They are a small but curious company and their hearthstones are in a town they are pleased to call Icaria.

If you were to scan a hundred maps you might not find the habitant of these latter-day ancients, so securely imbedded in the amber of the progressive west-world, so stubbornly reserved, amusing and so interesting. Within the borders of America there is no community more beautifully out of touch with the times, none so little in sympathy with the world at large as these isolated Icarians. Theirs is a romantic history, and this is the best chapter of it and the least familiar.

Founded on an ideal system of communism, the government of Icaria grew prosperously, waxed dangerous, and finally died of natural causes. The place and people, once well-to-do, are today existing, but profoundly asleep. A desolate dozen of wooden houses cluster around a large wooden structure, like frightened sheep huddled around the legs of a shepherd, some rudely built sheds and barns, a trembling hay rick or two and several anything but picturesque cattle yards — and there you have the bare frame of what was once the seat and cradle of a great social and political movement which numbered its adherents by the thousands, a quarter of a century back. It is a melancholy settlement in the wilderness, is this present day Icaria.

Born in the fanciful brain of one Etienne Cabet, a Frenchman, with something of the adventurer and something of the martyr in his make-up, Icaria was planned to be a communistic Utopia, the new world center of social and political perfection with improvements upon Sir Thomas More’s pretty fiction. As a place of dwelling, Icaria was to be irresistible; as a matter of fact, it proved a humbug. Cabet had a bit of talent as a writer and some success at home as a politician, but he also had a bad habit of day-dreaming and gave himself over to the idea that men and women could live perfect lives on cut-and-dried rules of conduct, if properly formulated and forcibly insisted upon. Cabet squandered sixteen years of his life in an endeavor to realize and perpetuate his dream, and found some others who believed in his airy projects. To know the truth of the Icarian movement and to understand its genesis and its transient success, it is needful to know something about the man back of it.

To this end, then, let it be known that Etienne Cabet came into the world at Dijon, France, in 1788. His school days over, he plunged into law and from his legal tomes, learned how to avoid punishment for the sins of state and society. From law to lawlessness he found was an easy transition. He became a leader of the Carbonari, got his name noised about as social fire-brand, and one day found himself a member of the French legislature. For a time he was content to remain respectable, but in an evil hour he took to his quills and ink pot and wrote a substantial history of the French revolution which students still read and praise. Finally he shamelessly established a newspaper. He was the original “yellow” journalist, it would seem, for after a few issues of his paper were put forth he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for printing a libelous article, and, with characteristic yellow journal enterprise, he evaded the penalty by escaping to England. He returned to France in 1839, and a year later he published his famous book, called “A Voyage Into Icaria.”

A Famous Book.

As for the book, the general plan and literary form were unquestionably inspired by More’s “Utopia.” But Cabet depreciated any allusion to the similarity of the two books, and declared himself a very practical person with no sympathy for the theorists and chimerical dreamers. To his lasting credit be it recorded, he had some gift for organization. To this quality of mind there were added in the personality of Cabet a cheerful disposition and a stubborn will. His “Voyage” is written in the form of a romance, undisguisedly fiction, and purports to be the diary of a young and adventurous English lord, to whose ears had come the news of an ideal community in a remote part of earth and known as Icaria. This place is minutely described as offering to its inhabitants a life perfect to the point of impossibility. His tender lordship sets out upon the quest of this remarkable country, and his journey, which terminates successfully, gives the narrative its title. After writing this volume, Cabet, in all seriousness, framed a constitution for the government or a real Icaria, and having raised ,by various means, sufficient money for his enterprise, shipped from Harve in the fore part of 1848, a company of sixty-nine persons, bound for the Red river country in Texas. Every soil of the land was hot for the establishment of Cabet’s “new terrestrial paradise.” Icaria the First Cabet remained behind. The ship Rome bore the Icarian prisoners across seas to New Orleans. Approaching this city on the 27th of March, 1848, they were surprised by the booming of many cannon on shore. But the salute was not, as the advance guards of perfection believed, intended as an honorary greeting for them; it was given by the Frenchmen of the Crescent City in celebration of the downfall of Louis Philippe and the establishment of the second republic of France.

Within a few months of their settlement in the Red river country, yellow fever broke out in the camp of Cabet’s disciples. Plague-stricken, penniless, their fervor in the social scheme they had fed upon waning to indifference, they suffered in body and mind as only men fever-racked and drunk of disappointment can suffer. Early in 1849 Cabet left France, with short funds and drooping spirits, to join his American colony. Arriving in New Orleans, he learned that his advance guard had already disorganized. He learned, too, that the Mormons, whose stronghold was in Nauvoo, Ill., had been driving from that place and had left behind them all that makes a small city habitable — tilled lands, comfortable houses, paved streets and other benefits of civilization. Cabet and his later recruits turned their steps toward Nauvoo, and there established themselves in May, 1850. Had the Icarians been a religious body they might have believed that their new home site was providentially prepared for them. Here was the foundation for an ideal community ready for them — homes awaiting occupancy, lands well cultivated with crops begging to be gathered. It was like a fairy story come true. Joseph Smith and his fellow Mormon followers had taken possession of Nauvoo in 1840, and in less than five years had turned the place from an obscure hamlet into one of the most prosperous towns of Illinois, Chicago at this time had but 4,500 inhabitants, while the number of Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo was 15,000. Fortune assuredly had smiled on the enterprise of Etienne Cabet and his people, and they were not slow to seize their golden opportunity. Icaria indeed was a realization, so far as establishment was concerned. The Cabetites lived to a mode of government all their own; they ate their meals in one great common dining hall; they lived in accord with the communal system — absolute equality, free love, free thought, free speech.

Despite the prosperity which fell to the delightful Icarians while at Nauvoo, Cabet and his leaders seemed to look upon the place as a rendezvous for later converts to their cause, it was to the higher Cabetites a simple way station on the road to the real Icaria, as yet undetermined. The evident intention of Cabet at this time was to draft recruits from the most devout of his Nauvoo followers for final settlement in a part of Iowa he had secretly prospected. The truth known, Cabet feared from the first day of his Nauvoo settlement to be driven from the spot as his predecessors, the Mormons, had been driven. With the passing of the days the numbers of the Icarians were largely augmented by immigrants of a more susceptible nature just out of France. At one time there were more than 5,000 Icarians enthusiasts in the colony. Had Cabet possessed greater business capacity than was given him, had he been more provisioned and thoughtful as a leader his power would have spread in time over the length and breadth of the state in which he was ensconsed. The Icarians proved themselves an industrious body of men and women; they tilled unceasingly, wrought at trades of various sorts, and Cabet himself set up a printing shop and published a number of books and pamphlets in French and German.

One of these pamphlets — now a literary curiousity much sought after by bibliophiles — numbered twelve pages and bore the title, “If I Had Half a Million Dollars.” It is dated at Nauvoo, 1854 and presents Cabet’s new plans and aspirations. With a fine flow of phrases he tells how with the possession of half a million dollars he would establish his commune upon a broad and generous scale. He drew some pretty word pictures of comfortable homesteads equipped with every modern convenience; of fertile farms and flourishing factories; of well arranged educational institutions, theaters, play grounds. His vision was charming, but none the less a vision, for no one came forward to proffer the needful half million. The forlorn, poverty-pinched patch of earth which marks the present day Icaria presents a dreamy, bitter contrast to the glowing description put forth by its founder of what might have been.

Image from John Martin’s Paradise Lost mezzotints on the Spaightwood Galleries website

It is a matter of history that Cabet displayed a spirit of dictatorial arrogance after a few years’ residence in Nauvoo, was finally the cause of much dissension in the society, the end being a scene of open hostility to their chief on the part of a majority of his erst-while adherents and the sudden flight of Cabet with a few sympathizers to St. Louis. The arch-Icarian, fanciful and enthusiastic to the end, died in the latter place on November 8, 1856, at the age of 69.

Meanwhile a company of Icarians betook themselves to the southwest of Iowa and the place indicated by Cabet in this last writings. The few sullen and rebellious spirits who were left in Nauvoo after the departure first of Cabet and then of his dissenters, went back to France, their illusions fled and their idol shattered. The property of the Icarians in and near Nauvoo was equally divided and sold as quickly as might be, and the one-time prosperous settlement in Illinois passed into history, much to the relief of those who lived in neighboring towns. About sixty persons settled in the Iowa tract of land and started in anew, loaded down with debt and dispirited by the ugly future. At first these martyrs to a phantom lived perforce in low mud hovels, and when they could afford to build themselves homes of logs and boards they were proud of their comparative prosperity. They lived little better than their lean cattle; they were past-masters in economy. All counted, there are sixty-five persons and eleven families in the present settlement of Icaria. About 350 acres are under cultivation but the colony has in its own right some 1,963 acres. A saw mill, a grist mill, a school house and several small stores and shops comprise what may be lightly termed the public institutions of Icaria. Six years ago the last of the original log cabins gave way to the newest frame structure. The exact location of the Icarian commune is four miles from Corning, a station on the Burlington & Missouri River railroad in Iowa.

For the most part the Icarians are French. German is known to a few of the more scholarly. The communists indulge themselves in no religious observances, though Sunday is a day of rest from toil, and with the younger element of the community is given over to amusements of various kinds. It is the maxim of each Icarian that he or she must seek pleasure, without interference in his or her own peculiar way. Marriage in now compulsory, and the family maintained in its integrity. The children are sent to the commune’s own school until they reach the age of 16. The Icarian constitution is decidedly complex and stands as it was elaborated by Cabet. Their code of ethics demands perfect equality for all. They will tolerate no kind of servitude or servants. Preponderance of opinion rules in all their forms. A president is elected in the commune every year. His powers go no further than compliance with the desires and orders of the settlement. One a week — on Saturday evenings — a meeting is held when the affairs of the community are discussed by both men and women. Besides the president, there are four directors, appointed every month. These are designated as the director of agriculture, director of general industry, director of building and director of clothing.

Such in brief is the story of the rise and fall of Icaria. In the history of remarkable communistic colonies it deserves a place apart from its fellows.

Davenport Weekly Leader (Davenport, Iowa) Oct 26, 1900

Boilermaker’s Brawl

November 20, 2011


Fierce Fight Between Union and Non-Union Boilermakers at St. Louis — Several Seriously Injured.

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 8. — The rotunda of the St. James, one of the principal hotels of the city, was a scene of riot and bloodshed last evening, in which forty men were engaged. The contestants were union and non-union boilermakers. Twenty-five brawny union emn marched to the front of the hotel and immediately opened battle on the sixteen non-union workmen quartered there. It was give and take on the hot fashion with fists until the sixteen were forced to retreat to the rotunda. Here the battle was renewed with chairs and cuspidors. Knives and pistols were at last drawn. Clerks, guests and bystanders beat a retreat and pandemonium reigned.

Image from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers website

At this juncture the arrival of a squad of police put most union men to flight and the struggle ended. Six arrests were made. Of the forty men engaged fully one-half were injured, some of them seriously. One month ago 1,000 boiler makers demanded ten hours pay for nine hours time and went on strike. The John OBrien Company secured sixteen non-union men and they were put to work Friday. Overtures from the union to the new men were unsuccessful and the appeal to force followed.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Aug 9, 1893

Keep a Stiff Upper Lip

November 19, 2011

Image from the T-Cozy blog

Keep a Stiff Upper Lip.


There has something gone wrong,
My brave boy, it appears,
For I see your proud struggle
To keep back the tears.
That is right. When you cannot
Give trouble the slip,
Then bear it, still keeping
“A stiff upper lip.”

Though you cannot escape
Disappointment and care,
The next best thing to do
Is to learn how to bear.
If when for life’s prizes
You ‘re running, you trip,
Get up, start again —
“Keep a stiff upper lip!”

‘Let your hands and your conscience
Be honest and clean; m
Scorn to touch or to think of
The thing that is mean;
But hold on to the pure
And the right with firm grip,
And though hard be the task,
“Keep a stiff upper lip!”

Through childhood, through manhood,
Through life to the end,
Struggle bravely and stand
By your colors, my friend.
Only yield when you must;
Never “give up the ship,”
But fight on to the last
“With a stiff upper lip.”

The Weekly Citizen (Centerville, Iowa) May 27, 1871

End of Icaria – Individualism Outshines Communism

November 18, 2011


Judge Towner Signs the Decree Which Closes Its History.


The Adams County Community the Last of the Icarian Settlements — Some Interesting History as to Origin of the Colony.

The most long-lived and undoubtedly the most nearly successful of all the experiments ever made in the western hemisphere with pure communism, came to an end when, late Saturday afternoon, Judge H. M. Towner, in the district court, entered an order discharging the receiver of the New Icarian community, and formally declared the community and its affairs ended.

Etienne Cabet, scholar, historian, sociologist and philanthropist; who two generations ago was stirring all France with his socialistic and communistic writings, and who contributed much toward inciting the revolution of 1818, of which he was afterwards the historian; Etienne Cabet, contemporary and co worker of Proudhon in behalf of the poor and oppressed of France; agitator, essayist, historian, scientist, and finally, exile from his native country — was founder of the community which after an existence of almost half a century came to an end Saturday. In its palmy days, twenty years ago, American students of sociology used to come many of hundreds of miles to study the workings of what was said to be the most successful communistic community in the world.

Cabet tried to found his first experimental colony in France, but the government of Louis Phillipe was bitterly opposed to such experiments and its opposition forced the Icarians, as the adherents of the new communistic doctrines were called, to go to the new world. The movement had become almost a national one in France; Cabet’s Icaria, and Proudhon‘s “Bank of the People,” had set all France by the ears, and the established order of things was in serious danger of being overturned. Driven from the own country for their first experiment in communism, the Icarians went first to Texas, where they were offered as area as large as a good sized French department, for their experiment. Their emissaries after looking over the country decided against it, and went to New Orleans. Here they were joined by others and at last, when the Mormons left their seat at Nauvoo, Ill., the Icarians, who had brought considerable money, bought the old Mormon holdings in Illinois, and secured from the legislature of Illinois a charter granting them certain special privileges and immunities. About 2,000 French enthusiasts joined them here, Cabet at their head. He was practically dictator to the community; for years no question was raised as to his absolute authority in all things relating to the conduct of the community, and so long as he was left in charge all went well. The community grew and prospered and there was peace and plenty.

But the country round about settled up by people who saw no charm in the communistic idea; shrewd Yankees, who, instead of believing that the community ought to own everything, considered themselves called to secure individual control of the largest possible part of the community, pressed about the little settlement of communists. The new generation of Icarians was, brought up constantly confronted by the striking contrasts between their own simple, plain, frugal living and the comparative luxury and independence of the better classes of people around them. Of course they always make the comparison with the more well-to do of their neighbors; human nature could not have been expected to be more discriminating; and their conclusions were too often to the disadvantage of their own style of living. Dissensions arose, Cabet had given up his dictatorial powers, and granted a charter under which the community by ballot chose annually a sort of directorate. After experience with this plan he found it a failure; individualism was everywhere creeping in. He demanded that the elected directorate be abolished, and that he be vested with power to appoint directors. But he was defeated; the rising tide of individualistic ideas beat ever harder and more fiercely upon the little islet of communism; every year the instinct of human selfishness more and more overcame the sentiment of devotion to pure principle that had characterized the patriarchs of Icarianism. At last a schism came; Cabet and his minority of followers withdrew and established another colony at Sheltenham, Mo., a few miles from St. Louis. It lasted only a few years and dissolved.

Two or three years before this schism, Cabet, realizing that his social order could never be maintained in the midst of a great community inspired only by what he considered the selfishness of individualism, had concluded that he must transplant his communistic seed to some new region far beyond the frontiers of civilization; and fondly believing that civilization would not penetrate far beyond the Mississippi for generations to come, he sent agents out to western Iowa to seek a location. They came to Adams county and found the ideal tract of 4,000 acres of rich land, in a county almost utterly uninhabited. Cabet came out, examined the prospect, and ordered the land preempted and purchased. This was in 1853. The first case on the court docket of Adams county is a record of certain matters concerning the Icarian community, made in 1853. The new community grew fast, and prospered; after the division of the Nauvoo community it grew still more rapidly. But the troubles of the Nauvoo society involved the Iowa branch; a mortgage was given on the entire 4,000 acres in Adams county, to William Shepherd of St. Louis. In time this was foreclosed. Shepherd was friendly to the colonists, and suffered them to occupy his lands; and in 1859 an arrangement was made whereby the community bought back 2,000 acres from him. Before doing this, there had been a strong movement in favor of removal to California. The wise old men of the colony viewed with despair the advance of American civilization, with its distracting individualistic notions, and foresaw that the experience of Nauvoo would be repeated. They wanted to move to the heart of the unknown west, as the Mormons had done; but already the younger element was in control. By a majority of one vote in the great council of the colony the proposition to remove to California was rejected. The community enjoyed several years of comparative prosperity and growth after this decision. The people were devoted to agriculture. They introduced the French methods of grape culture, and the wonderful success in grape growing in southwest Iowa to this day is traced in large part to their influence. They lived in true communistic style. Like the Spartans of old, they dined from a common table; the community was charged with the general responsibility for education and raising of children; all property was owned by the community and partitioned in accordance with the requirements of the individuals, the community always reserving a store for the common safety. At this period of its history the colony seemed destined to success; indeed, it may be fairly said that it was a success; if not in a material way, at least in the respect of promoting the happiness of its people, safeguarding them against poverty, assuring the young fair education, and removing much of the temptation to selfishness and injustice. “Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you.” the golden rule was the fundamental of Etienne Cabet’s theory of life, and it was applied so far as possible in the rule of the community.

But once more the delicate plant that must draw its nourishment from such intangible sources as a belief in the abstraction of human equality,; or a deep seated conviction that one’s neighbor is as good as one’s self; found its roots crowded and starved in the soil of selfishness and ambition and individualism. The younger Icarians looked around them, and saw that while they had but an indefinite and indivisible stake in their community, there were men among their neighbors who, with seemingly less work and toil and effort than they were required to put forth, in a few years came to own lands as extensive as all the estate of Icaria. They longed for the freedom of competition and individual effort and individual merit. Each was jealous of the other, for each felt that he was contributing a larger share of labor than was compensated by the proportion of the whole product which came to him. And so, in 1886, there was another division; the lands were divided and the community partitioned off. After this there was the Old Icarian community and the New Icarian community. The members of the New community had desired to admit all who might apply, to the advantages of membership in the community. Failing to carry their point, they brought action at law to annul the charter which the legislature had granted the community. In this they succeeded; their success led to the schism. The New community did not incorporate, for the experience with charters had not been satisfactory. After a year or two the Old community disbanded and divided its property among its surviving members. The New Icaria flourished a number of years yet, but it could not withstand the disintegrating influences from without. Troubles arose, disagreements that could not be settled. The younger and more capable members withdrew, and at last, on February 16, 1895, application was made for the appointment of a receiver, Eugene F. Bettannier was named, and to him was turned over about 1,000 acres of land and other property aggregating about $36,000 in value. Since that time he has disposed of the property, divided the proceeds in accordance with orders of the court, and finally, a month ago, filed his statement showing the disposition of everything. Mr. Bettannier was himself a member of the community. Still a comparatively young man, he remembers seeing Etienne Cabet and still regards him with a sentiment of reverence and affection. “It was not a failure,” declares Mr. Bettannier; “it is right in principle, and it will one day be recognized as the only right social order.”

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Oct 27, 1898

Image from the French Icarian Colony Foundation website


On another page will be found a brief historical sketch of the famed Icarian community of Adams county, which, after an existence of almost half a century, had finally had its affairs wound up by the courts. Last Saturday Judge Towner issued an order for the discharge of Receiver Bettannier, and the organization of the communistic society as no more. Probably the Icarian community has attracted more attention in this part of Iowa than any other one thing. Students have come from distant parts of the world to see the communistic idea in practical application. They have reached widely divergent conclusions as to its practicality, but the end seems to justify the conclusion that communism cannot compete with individualism. The experience of the communists proved that individual effort and ambition were diminished under their system; everybody’s business was nobody’s business, and there was too much disposition to rely on the community as a whole for the discharge of responsibilities that under a different order would have been duties of the individual. So long as the communistic society could be isolated from individualistic society it flourished and attained a reasonable measure of success; but surrounded by and in competition with vigorous, aggressive, pushing devotees of individualism, it lacked the element of personal enthusiasm without which success was impossible.

While the lesson seems to teach the impracticality of the communistic tenure of property, yet it must be remembered that a little company of at most a few hundreds souls, devoted to the single occupation of agriculture, without diversity of interests and produced means, and surrounded on every side by the institutions of an older, established, and organized society entirely different in its scheme, could not but make a poor showing. Let us assume that the world was organized on a communistic basis, and that a little company of individualists should make the effort to establish themselves and their peculiar notions in the midst of the older society — would not the result be the same?

Despite all insistence to the contrary, the thought of the world trends today toward communistic things. The trust, by which competing concerns in a given line seek to eliminate competition; the great corporate organization, by which the available capital of the many is gathered into great amounts for the purposes of handling great enterprises; the tendency toward public control of natural monopolies — all these things obviously lead toward the socialistic consummation. glasgow, owning its own water works, gas works, street railways, public baths, public lodging houses, public laundries, public eating establishments and scores of like institutions, conducted for the benefit of the public and not for the profit; is the most striking example of the communistic tendency of the day. In America the movement toward municipal ownership of public utilities; the universally accepted principle of society’s right to control the transportation facilities, fix their rates, and regulate their methods of operation; the public control of the mails, and many other fixed theories of society, are evidences of the same communistic tendency. True, all this is a long way from the communism of Bellamy or Cabet; it may be sneered at and called “anarchy,” or “socialism,” or “nonsense,” by the unthinking; but the fact remains that the ever sharper competition, the ever decreasing share of product which is allotted to the hand and brain that actually earn the living of society — all these things are surely prodding society in the direction of a reversal of the fixed order of things. It may never reach us; but none the less, society is now moving in that direction.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Oct 27, 1898

Lake Park News (Lake Park, Iowa) Jan 31, 1957


Touches of romance have been given to the history of Iowa by the story of various little groups of idealists who from time to time found asylum within the borders of the State. Especially is this true of the people called the Icarians, who in the early fifties established a colony near Corning in Adams County. These people believed in and practiced communism — all property was held in common — and they were inspired by the ideal of restoring the principles of primitive Christianity. Persecuted in France, under the direction of their leader, Etienne Cabet they crossed the sea and settled in the wilds of Texas. But being an industrial people they found it too difficult to maintain existence so far from civilization, and so they journeyed up the Mississippi and took up the land and quarters at Nauvoo which had recently been deserted by the Mormons. Then about 1853 the colony in Iowas was established, and still later California became the home of the rapidly dwindling numbers of those who still held to the ideals of the founders.

In the April number of “The Iowa Journal of History and Politics” published by the State Historical Society, there is a translation of a history of the Icarian Community, written by Cabet himself about 1855.

The basic principles of the Community, according to the founder were “Brotherhood, Equality, Solidarity, the suppression of poverty and individual property, in a word Communism.”

The Iowa City Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa) May 2, 1917

Janesville Morning Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Mar 17, 1857

Two and a half miles east of Corning, Iowa, is the Icarian community, with A.A. Marchand, an intelligent Frenchman, at its head. In this community are 75 person, living in 20 or 25 houses, and using a common dining hall 24×60 feet. The community own about 2,000 acres of land, with 600 acres under improvement. A fair share is good timberland. A steam grist mill and saw mill are on their lands, together with several barns.

The Perry Chief (Perry, Iowa) Jul 17, 1875

Will Divide the Property.

Corning. Feb 23. — Members of the Icarian Community founded in France before the revolution, coming to this country and living at various points in the south and at Nauvoo, Ill., finally settling here in 1856, have agreed to a division of the property and the dissolution of the society. The interests of the heirs and other legal obstacles have rendered it advisable to appoint a receiver to put the matter in the hands of the court.

The Perry Daily Chief (Perry, Iowa) Feb 24, 1895


Former President of the Icarian Community Passes Away in Georgia.

In Columbus, Ga., May 4, A.A. Marchand, one of the founders of the new extinct Icarian Community, was found dead in his bed, at the home of his daughter Mrs. William Ross, with whom he had lived since leaving Corning three years ago. the supposition is he died of heart disease, as he had not been sick and was apparently in fair health. Mr. Marchand had led an eventful life and died at the ripe age of 81 years. He was born in Rene, Bretagne, France.

In 1818 he became an enthusiastic follower of Etienne Cabet, the communist, who led a colony of some 5000 French to Texas where they purchased a tract in the Red river country. Misfortunes and disease overtook them and one half the colony died of yellow fever. A large number drifted back to France. A smaller number, Mr. Marchand among them, journeyed to Nauvoo, Ill., where they purchased the old mormon town site and farming lands, then being abandoned by the mormons in their exodus to Salt Lake. This colony flourished a few years, then succumbed. More than 100 of the colonists journeyed to Adams county where they purchased 20,000 acres of land about 1854. The colony thrived for many years. Then came dark days and disruption, the formation of a new colony which lived until 1895 when it was dissolved by petition to the court and a receiver appointed. The mother colony had expired several years before. Mr. Marchand was several years president of the colony. He was a man of rare refinement and education, and taught the Icarian children for many years.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) May 12, 1898

Fulton’s First Ferry – Pilot Dead

November 18, 2011

Image from the Greater Astoria Historical Society website

Death of the Pilot of Robert Fulton’s First Ferry-Boat.

Peter Coffee, the venerable pilot, who ran the Nassau, the first ferry boat built by Robert Fulton, is dead. He expired at the residence of his son, No. 76 Lafayette avenue, on Wednesday. The old pilot was born in Peekskill, in this State, in the year 1777, and was 98 years of age at the time of his death. His father was murdered by robbers while he was carrying the United States mail.

Peter Coffee came to New York in boyhood, and entered the merchant service as a sailor. He served in the United States war vessels Little Adams and York during the threatened war with France, in the early part of the present century. On May 10, 1814, he was made pilot of the Nassau, the first steamboat at Fulton Ferry, of which a model is now in a niche in the front of the Fulton Ferry house in Brooklyn, with a statue of Robert Fulton.

Image from The Project Gutenberg‘s Stories of Great Inventors

He was employed as a ferry pilot until about thirty-five years ago, after which he had charge of the repair department, and, as he became more decrepit, he was given a position as a watchman. He left the service of the ferry company about nine years ago, and has since been living with his son.

Brooklyn Argus.

The Perry Chief (Perry, Iowa) Jul 17, 1875

Destruction of the Nauvoo Temple

November 17, 2011

Image from the Utah-rchitecture blog


A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, who subscribes himself, “P. Bourg, secretary of the Icarian community,” sends that paper the following account of the complete destruction of the Nauvoo Temple, by a storm, on the 27th of May last:

“The Temple of Nauvoo, erected by the Mormons, finished in 1845, partially burnt in October, 1848, having but its four walls left — all its timber works having been consumed by the flames — was destroyed by a hurricane on the 27th ult.

On arriving at Nauvoo, in March, 1849, the Icarian community bought this temple with a view to refit it for schools, its studying and meeting halls, for a refectory capable of containing about 1000 persons, &c.

Many preparations were already made. An agent had been sent to the pine forests of the north to buy timbers of dimensions necessary for re-establishing the roof and floors. Some other pieces of wood were ready; a steam mill was purchased to fit up a saw mill; the saw mill was nearly finished; a vast shed was raising near the temple to shelter the carpenters; the masons were laying in the interior the bases of the pillars when, on the 27th of May, a frightful hurricane, the most terrible experienced in the country in many years, burst suddenly on the hill of Nauvoo, where lightnings, thunder, wind, hail and rain, seemed united to assail the building.

The storm burst forth so quickly, and with such violence, that the masons, overtaken unawares in the temple, had not time enough to flee before the northern wall, sixty feet high, bent down over their heads, threatening to crush them and bury them up.

“Friends,” cried out the foreman, “we are all lost!” and indeed their loss appeared to be certain, for the southern and eastern walls, which had always been looked upon as the weakest, now shaken by the fall of the former seemed on the point of tumbling on them. But the running rubbish of the northern wall stopped at their feet. Now rushing out of the ruins, in the midst of a cloud of dust, hail and rain wrapped up in lightnings, thunder, and a furious blast of wind, expecting every moment to hear the two walls give way upon them, they succeeded in getting out, astonished at seeing those walls still standing, and frightened at the danger from which they had just emerged.

The same blast that overthrew the wall of the temple, and sensibly dislocated and inclined the two others, took up and carried off the roof of the old school, when the walls, falling on the floor beneath, broke down the beams, and threatened injury to six Icarian women, who were working below.

The creek, on the bank of which the wash-house of the community is situated, was so quickly transformed into an impetuous torrent, that the house was almost instantaneously filled with water, and fifteen Icarian women, then washing there were compelled to get through the windows in order to save themselves. They took refuge at the farm, whence they were soon after brought back in one of the wagons of the community.

All the neighboring fields were ravaged, the fences overturned, and the windows broken. — One of the members of the Gerency got on horseback, and repaired to every place at which men were working out of doors, and soon bro’t back tidings that no personal accidents had happened.
The same evening the masons, reunited and consulted by the Gerency, acknowledged and declared that the southern and eastern walls would soon fall down, and that, to avoid any serious accident, it was better to destroy them.

The next morning the general assembly, having been convoked by the Gerency, met on the Temple Square, and unanimously resolved; first, that the demolition was urgent, for the safety both of the members of the colony themselves, and of the inhabitants and foreigners whom curiosity might bring to the spot. Second, that by unfixing the walls, stone by stone, they might preserve some good ones. But as this operation would take up much time, occasion much work, and expose them to many fatigues and dangers, and considering the lives of men as much more valuable than money, they decided to use some other means.

Those means having been discussed and agree upon, they set to work immediately, and the walls were pulled down.

The destruction of the temple is a misfortune and a great inconvenience to the Icarian community; as they are thus obliged to modify their former projects and plans; but, persevering and courageous, strong in their union, and with the aid of their additional brethren, they will begin again on the place of the temple, provisional and urgent constructions that will serve until they build another large and fine edifice.

The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jun 25, 1850