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John Humphrey Noyes had engaged the loyalty of many of his followers during the religious revivals and social experiments of the 1830's. Long-time readers of his publications had found in them what they felt to be a superior logic and spirituality and welcomed the opportunity to join forces at Oneida in 1848 in the effort to attain Bible Communism. Since the Community's religion was founded on Bible study, the traditional basis of their New England faith, it was not unnatural that by the end of the Putney period the Perfectionists looked for and seemed to find "miracles." During the first hard years at Oneida, "miracles" continued to strengthen their faith, and a series taken to be notable were the reduction of the debts due to the State by special legislative action, the escape from cholera which was raging when J. H. Noyes' party reached Brooklyn in 1849, and the escape from yellow fever after their return. Later the miraculous element was allowed to fade into the faith in 'special providences" of which we hear in "Mv Father's House" as the very stuff of Community life.
Nowhere does the continuity of the past with the present seem clearer than on the "south terrace" where children have continued to play winter and summer through the very different circumstances of the "Children's House" and "Joint Stock." But once the south slope was largely hidden by a tall, sprawling, wooden building which was a center of adult activity. The Old Mansion House was built against the hill and faced south towards the "Indian saw mill." The wooden Children's House, which stood just to the north, was moved across the road to become a school building in 1869 (it is now The Elms), and in 1870, upon the completion of the south wing and South Tower of the new brick Mansion, it was reluctantly decided to tear down the Old Mansion House. It stood only 10 or 15 feet from the new South Tower, and with its wooden extensions to the west the fire hazard was considerable.
As evidenced by the construction of the new Community dwelling, prosperity had arrived by the time these memories were being written. This was tile result of a marked success in business, particularly in the manufacture and sale of traps. Around 1870 money became easier, outside labor was hired and business management and selling increased in importance. In the fall of 1869 the Midland Railway (now the New York, Ontario & Western) was finished and soon began running excursions of hundreds of summer visitors, putting the Community on display, as it were.
The advent of the railroad was hailed by the editors of the CIRCULAR, who wrote "The Midland has hit the mark, giving us a depot within a stone's throw of our printing office; which will be handy for a daily paper when the time comes. . . Since the lightning has taken charge of the news, it makes little difference where a press is stationed if it has a telegraph office at hand." The CIRCULAR, of which Harriet Worden became editor in 1873, called itself "A weekly journal of home, science and general intelligence." "Writing for the paper" was a cherished ambition and joy participated in by a surprising proportion of the members. Harriet Worden's articles give evidence of the wide cultural interests of the Community. They had an eager desire for self-improvement, and classes in languages, literature, mathematics and history were attended by members of all ages. Natural history was a prime pursuit and a subject for delightful articles. In 1874 it was remarked that two perennial topics in the CIRCULAR had been
Harriet Worden was brought to the Community from Manlius, N.Y., by her father in June, 1819, as a motherless girl of almost nine, with two younger sisters. She received the whole of her education within the Community. Although people were rotated in their jobs frequently, Harriet Worden probably spent more time in the CIRCULAR printing office than most of the women because of her competence first, no doubt, as a typesetter and proofreader, but later as a reporter and writer and finally as editor.
In her chapters on the musical affairs of the Community, the author is modest respecting her part in promoting and participating in them. Here are her own words in a general family discussion of the subject in 1874: 'I sang simply because I loved to sing. It was the greatest pleasure I knew. I was full of enthusiasm to study music and sought every opportunity to improve myself." She was an enthusiastic supporter of all sorts of entertainments in the Hall for young and old, musical, instrumental and vocal, as well as dancing and games. in the '80's there were frequent dances in the Hall, from 8 to 10 in the evening, and the lively and adequate orchestra usually consisted of Harriet Worden at the piano and Henry Filley from Turkey Street on the violin. There were squares, waltzes, schottisches and always the "Spanish Dance" and a Virginia Reel.
She was a warm-hearted, vital person, a friend to all, and especially fond of young people. Her "Memories" of the early years in the Old Mansion House show the same perceptiveness and the same deep affection for the Community 'family" that we find in Pierrepont B. Noyes' recollections of his own Oneida childhood in "My Father's House."
And now it may be interesting to revert to the time when the site upon which the Oneida Community dwellings now stand, was so rough and uncultivated as to be passed by unnoticed. One lonely cottage stood on the hillside; a barn across the road; a butternut-tree, which has since been famous in the annals of the Community, the only suggestion of romance or beauty in the vicinity. Neighboring buildings were few and scattering. Nearly a quarter of a mile from the cottage alluded to, long known as the "White House," were three farm houses, together with a saw-mill. These buildings were owned by Mr. Jonathan Burt. He and his family, joined by Mr. Daniel P. Nash and Joseph C. Ackley, formed the nucleus which at length grew into the Oneida Community. We may form some idea of the course of events at this early period by a perusal of the following extract from the First Annual Report of the Oneida Community, published early in the year 1849:
"J. H. Noyes left Putney on the 26th of November, and was soon followed by George Cragin and most of those members of the Com-
munity who had come in from abroad. They had no thought at that time of re-gathering at Oneida; but they afterwards perceived that the very day of the dissolution at Putney (Nov.26), was the day of the first union at Oneida between Burt and Ackley. The subsequent course of events proved that the apparent overthrow of the Community in Vermont was only a kindly transplantation of it to a more sheltered spot in New York.
"On leaving Putney, J. H. Noyes with Cragin and his wife took lodgings in New York city, and waited for the opening of a new course. In the latter part of January following, Burt and his associates invited J. H. Noyes by letter to visit Oneida. The invitation was accepted, and the result of the negotiations which ensued was, that on the 1st of February, the present Community was commenced by a full union between J. H. Noyes and J. Burt, and a transfer of $500 of U.S. stock by J. H. Noyes to the stock of the new union.
"Purchase of lands was immediately commenced and the whole of the present domain was soon secured, having on it two comfortable houses besides Burt's. On the 1st of March, Cragin and his wife from New York, and the wife of J. H. Noyes, with the children of both families from Putney, met at Oneida, and found a quiet home. In the course of the spring and summer all the refugees from Putney, and a part of those who had remained in the village in all seventeen of the members of the original Community, with their children, were reunited at Oneida."
Thus (BIBLE) Communism found a home.
Like the Pilgrim Fathers, they left the world behind them, in the hope of gaining freedom to worship God. They knew full well that many sacrifices were yet to be made, many trials to be borne; but they trusted in God. And, certainly, a great Providence seemed to overrule every event. Mr. Noyes was unexpectedly directed to a desirable location, where he, with the Putney family. found hearts and hands ready to assist the cause in every way possible. Things seemed to match perfectly. Sure of God's approbation, there was no faltering. It is needless to say that no doubters formed the company, for Mr. N.'s followers entertained perfect confidence in his leadership, believing him to be a man of God. This handful of men and women were the pioneers of a great movement how great, they themselves had as yet formed but little conception. Forsaken by their nearest relatives,
It would be interesting to trace the history of each member belonging to the O.C., at that time: in coming chapters the career of different persons may be touched upon; however, it is not my intention to give the history of individuals, but rather of the most conspicuous events connected with the twenty-two years' residence in our old house.
It is easy to believe that the original accommodations of the Community (which we remember consisted of two ordinary dwelling-houses, and two smaller ones), were put to full occupation in the course of the first year. Besides the consolidation of the Putney Community at Oneida, new members were added occasionally from Northern Vermont, Massachusetts, and from the central counties of New York. Very soon was felt the need for a larger and more commodious abode. The houses were crowded. Believers were already applying for membership. Something must be done. So a full consultation was held, and it was decided to build a mansion suitable to the requirements of a large Community. Ready funds they had not; but they felt an assurance, that if God was pleased with the enterprise he would furnish the means to carry it on.
Accordingly the work of preparation commenced at once; Mr. Noyes and Mr. E. H. Hamilton selected the site, and on one beautiful moonlight night, with the aid of the North Star, staked out the ground for the foundation walls. The business of collecting materials was promptly attended to, while the work of excavating the cellar was going forward. Under the superintendence of Mr. Hamilton, an experienced architect, the Community under took to build the new Man-
The building of a home was the first enterprise that enlisted the whole Community; and it was one in which all were equally interested. All labored; the women no less than the men. Mrs. Cragin and Mrs. Noyes lead off in zeal and enthusiasm; and it is related, that when the house was far enough advanced to allow of it, and even before the sideboards were on, planks were placed across the joists, and the women commenced lathing; and the greater portion of the job was done by them.
The building, though not wholly finished, was ready for occupation before the advent of winter. The following paragraph from the First Annual Report will give a correct idea of many do tails in regard to it:
"A brief description of the house will not be out of place in this Report. It stands on an elevated part of the domain, commanding a very extensive view of the surrounding country. It is sixty feet long, thirty-five feet wide, three stories high, and is surmounted by a cupola. The lower story or basement, is divided by partitions across the whole width into three apartments of equal size, viz., thirty-five foot by twenty. The first of those apartments runs back into a rise of ground on which the house abuts, and is a collar. The second or middle apartment is the kitchen. The third or front apartment is the dining-room. The second story comprises a parlor over the dining-room, and is of the same size (i.e., thirty-five by twenty), a reception-room, a school room and a printing office. The third story is devoted to sleeping apartments for married pairs and for females. The garret, extending over the whole house, and without partitions, is the dormitory of the unmarried men and boys. This edifice now gives comfortable quarters to about sixty persons, and might easily accommodate one hundred."
A glimpse at the state of finances during this era may not be uninteresting. Mr. Cragin, who had been appointed financier, had pledged himself to see the building expenses defrayed, and for this end worked
Burt's Mill $2,500.00
Wood Lot 950.00
Crane Farm 1,000.00
Francis Farm 3,600.00
Personal Property 1.350.00
The new house (the material for which is all on the ground, and the frame ready to put up), will, when finished, be worth $3,000.00.
"We are at present nearly out of funds. I expect to collect, for lumber sold and a note held by Mr. B., about seventy-five dollars, to be applied toward taking up a note that falls due the 20th inst. We shall require for the purchase of sash, glass, paint, brick, etc., five hundred dollars, besides five hundred more for current expenses this fall, and the payment of interest due the State. We are expecting about $1,600 from Northern Vermont, with which the notes on the Francis place can be met. Yours in the good cause, C. Cragin."
What a showing! Nine thousand dollars the entire property of the Community! No money on hand a house to build, a printing office to support, and one hundred persons to feed and clothe! When we consider all this, and remember that the Community was without any lucrative business, it seems almost incredible that they should have undertaken so much; and we must ever ascribe their success to simple faith in God.
Suspended upon wires, the curtains could be drawn. and in a moment the whole space thrown into one large room; and it could again as quickly be restored to separate enclosures, perfectly distinct, and private enough, for persons of sound morality.
The dedication of the new Tent-Room took place on Christmas eve, 1848. The room had been fitted up as above described, and the different families moved in the day previously; there were E. H. Hamilton and wife, H. W. Burnham and wife, A. Kinsley and wife, E. L. Hatch and wife, L. H. Bradley and wife, J. L. Baker and wife, 0. H. Miller and wife, J. Abbott and wife, L. W. Worden and wife, D. P. Nash and wife, S. W. Nash and wife and H. W. Thayer and wife. Each couple occupied a tent. Nothing could exceed the delight with which they entered their new apartments. They admired the new room for its novelty and simplicity, and no one was tempted to wish for larger quarters. The innocence and purity of their hearts were sufficient protection from unseemly behavior. They felt it meet to commemorate the event, and for this the tents were tastily trimmed with evergreens and other necessary preparations made. At candle-light the whole family were present, including the children. In the midst of 'green festoons," they celebrated the occasion with music and sentiment; the occupants sitting in the doors of their respective tents, each man with the wife of his youth beside him, while Mr. J. H. Noyes took the Bible and read the account given by Moses of the institution of the Feast of Tabernacles, and also the account of its celebration in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The Community had now fairly taken possession of the new domicile, incomplete as it was. The basement story was ready for use; and while the details of the parlor were finishing, the family held their meetings in the dining-room. The sleeping accommodations were ample. Besides the large Tent-Room, there were two smaller tent-rooms; three bed-rooms and a large attic, divided into the north and south garret. Hardly a room in the house possessed a door, but instead were hung thick woolen sheets or bed-spreads. The furniture of the house was very plain, but corresponded well with the circumstances
Nearly a year after the dress reform was started another innovation was made. As a matter of taste, it was discovered that short dresses and long hair looked incongruous. Then the usual practice of letting the hair grow indefinitely, often taking an hour to comb and arrange it properly, is incompatible with true simplicity in dress. Several of the women declared it was becoming distasteful and burdensome. The idea of wearing the hair short often occurred, but Paul’s theory of the natural propriety of long hair for women seemed to stand in the way. But after a careful examination of the subject, it was found that Paul’s language expressly points out the object for which women should wear long hair; and that was not for ornament, but "for a covering." The popular fashion of combing and coiling the hair upward oil the top of the head made it anything but a covering. The simple style of little girls, with short hair, falling round the neck, answered to Paul’s advice a great deal better. The argument was conclusive. Some of the braver women set the example of cutting their ‘shining locks;" and in a short time a wonderful change had taken place. Short hair altered the looks of the women still more than the short dress. These reforms not only bad the effect to make the women appear younger but proved very beneficial to their health. T doubt if there are any among us who could be persuaded to go back to the old style of long hair, especially in these days of chignon and folly. For the reason that the short dress and short hair make a women appear youthful, visitors often mistake our middle-aged women for girls, and our young women for children.
The evening meeting is the oldest of Community ordinances. At the outset, when the family numbered scarcely a dozen persons, the plan was formed of holding meetings for an hour or two each evening. The object of them was to talk over business arrangements, relate experience, and also to discover new truths for the profit of all. The first of these gatherings was held at the old Log House. In the absence of chairs, persons sat on the bed, the stairs, the trunk, the cradle, or whatever else they could find. Afterward, as more members were added, they came together in an old shanty standing back of the saw-mill, which also served as a dwelling-house. Every Sunday meetings were held in the large and somewhat commodious barn, at which our neighbors were often present. As soon as the basement of the new Mansion would admit of it, the meetings were held in the kitchen and dining-room, persons sitting on boards until benches could he made. The family assembled in the parlor as soon as it was lathed. Not long after, January 6th, 1849, the question of the best manner of spending the long winter evenings, came before the family. After some deliberation, the following plan for the evening meetings was decided upon: At six o'clock, the Community were brought together by the ringing of a bell; an alphabetical roll of all the members called, for the purpose of
We have few records left of those early times, and can hardly tell when the change was made; but many of the older members vouch, that as the weather grew warmer the parlor was plastered, and the meetings in the meantime adjourned; and when they again commenced the hell called the family together at eight o'clock instead of six; and from that time until the present the meeting hour has been at eight.
And here, perhaps, is the most fitting place to mention the parlor; for of the many rooms in the old house it was the pleasantest by far. Originally its size was twenty feet by thirty-two. In after years twelve feet were added, which made a square room of it. It was well lighted, with three windows each on the east and west sides, and three glass-doors on the south, which opened on a verandah. On the remaining side was a large book-case, (made of butternut), which contained nearly the whole library of the O.C. The room was pleasantly situated, and commanded fine views of the surrounding country in nearly every direction. The furniture was far from elegant indeed was somewhat rude. But what if the seats were pine benches without any backs, the floor uncarpeted, the walls unpapered and the windows uncurtained? We were none the less happy for all that. The walls were smooth and white, and the floors neatly oiled; with the large book-case on the
Another said he felt "as though he had been washed; felt clean through the advice and criticism given. I would call the truth the soap; the critics the scrubbers; Christ's spirit the water."
Another testified, "The effect of the late season of criticism upon me has been to strengthen my general confidence in God, and confirm my belief that he favors this method of educating us.
Another: "However painful, we have seen it yielding the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them who have been exercised thereby. I am persuaded that the spirit of wisdom and of judgment has been given of God for this work, and also that it has been performed in the spirit of love. The secrets of many hearts have thus been revealed. Self-examination has been produced among believers, and godly sorrow for faults has wrought a clearing of themselves from those things that were offensive. I am confident, moreover, that instead of producing enmity and grudging, the criticisms that have been performed have increased the love and confidence of the members toward each other."
One of the members of the committee sent in the following: "The study of character has been a looking-glass to the committee, by which they have received considerable criticism gratis; and at the same time they have been edified and comforted by the faith and goodness abundantly manifest. They have prized their position more particularly for the opportunity it gave them to improve their acquaintance with all the members. If they have speculated on the outside with the eye of criticism, heart has met heart within. There were three particulars suggested to us in the beginning, that we should bear in mind as prominent faults of the Community. 1. Want of repose -restlessness. 2. The spirit of levity - want of earnestness. 3. Individualism. We found that one or other of these faults is constitutional in almost every member - it has been observable in the manner of receiving criticism. Some appeared to have over-anxiety for criticism -a little impatience of the tide of improvement. In others there was a slight disposition to lightness and unprofitable talk about the subject. Our conversation with some seemed to open the door for the spirit of judgment from God, while the active presence of this spirit in others forestalled much criticism. We think the spirit of judgment is fast superseding the use of external discipline. A surprising change is observable in respect to sensitiveness, since the system of criticism was first commenced. The benefits resulting from the communication between the committee and the Community have been highly reciprocal."
A young woman writing home to her friends in Northern Vermont, expressed the spirit of earnestness that permeated the whole Community at that time:
In an antiquated bundle of manuscripts the following item was found. It bears date of May 13, 1849:
"Our meeting last evening winds up a protracted session of one hundred and sixty-five evening meetings. It was thought there was a fullness in the minds of all, and that a change affording time for reflection and digestion would be healthy; and in view of the approaching short evenings we concluded to postpone indefinitely our regular meetings, excepting those of Sunday."
Up to this time nothing had occurred to interrupt the evening gatherings. They had been full of interest. Their suspension was only for a few weeks; but short as was the interim it marked an interesting era of Community history.
As we have given an account of the origin of free criticism in the Community, it may be interesting to introduce in this connection one or two bona-fide specimens of character-dissection as performed in our "cliniques." The first is copied from the old Family Register, and dated April, 1849:
"Critic No.1 - I think Mr. - has a true appreciation of our principles, and gives them a large place in his mind and heart. He needs the cultivation and refinement that Communism will give. He might be compared to a tree, striking its roots out in all directions, and promising eventually to have a large top and become a glory among trees. His earnestness, energy and strength of character, make him very valuable.
"Critic No.2 - Mr. - has all the solid qualities firmness, uprightness and sincerity; he intends to deal justly with every one.
"Critic No. 3 He is warm-hearted, and a man of tender, delicate feelings. I think be is governed by the Spirit of Truth more than most men; but his mind and manners do not fairly represent his heart.
"Critic No. 4 - He is an unselfish man; free from envy and jealousy. He needs outward refinement. The inward beauty of his character is working out, and will eventually overcome all external defects.
"Critic No. 5 - He is a philosopher - a man that thinks and reasons deeply; but he lacks simplicity in the expression of his thoughts.
"Critic No.6 - The interior of his character is excellent; but the exterior is faulty. In order to do him the good we wish to by this exercise, a severe criticism ought to be aimed at his faults. I do not believe in neglecting criticisms of the external character because the internal is good. I should advise him, instead of being contented with inward beauty, to think it of a great deal of importance to have a beautiful manifestation of it. We know that, except at times when his spirit is unusually free, his utterance is labored, tedious and awkward. lie is aware of all this, and I hope he will not account it a small affair, but determine to qualify himself unto all pleasing, and not limit his ambition to being merely a good man. At present he does not do justice to himself. I believe be has in him the soul of music - he feels the glorious emotions of which music is an expression, but he is no singer. Again, in regard to his business character, he has the reputation of
"Critic No.1 - He has large hope, and often promises more than he fulfills; disappoints folks. I think his business habits are quite bad his financial accounts are always at 'loose ends.' He needs to carry his conscientiousness into business affairs.
"Critic No. 7 - I like that. It is true that he does not fulfill his promises. He is what I should call an outline character; he makes excellent plans, but is careless in executing details.
"Critic No.6 - He should cultivate more simplicity and playfulness of manner.
"Critic No.8 - He is not as neat in his personal habits as good taste requires; be needs to pay more attention to outward adornment.
"Critic No.6 - The principle of polishing the outside is the principle of democracy. I am in favor of free democratic principles in regard to the different faculties of our nature. Every member of our system has its rights; the external senses have their rights as well as the mind; and because they are subordinate in the body politic, are they to be trampled under foot ~ Let us carry out democracy and assert that all the senses and susceptibilities, even those most inferior, have their rights, and show them a wise and generous attention. We should not devote all the wealth that God has given us to a certain part of our nature, but let every part have its rights."
The following criticism was given some years later: - - is a young man of good promise. One feels confidence in his purpose to serve God. When under the sway of appetite or passion be may appear selfish; still one can always rely upon the warmth and generosity of his heart.
"His generic faults - those which include all others, are, superficiality and love of excitement. He contents himself with what he can see at a glance and with what he can do at a stroke. He is smart -has a good deal of what may be called genius - still he has not yet shown much talent for patient and persistent labor. The plodders out-strip him. He has a good mind, but be does not read enough to strengthen it. He skims things; the cream of most things lies at the bottom. His talent excites expectations of noble achievement; but he dissatisfies you, because he lets his fields lie fallow.
" - - is much more gentle and lovable than a first glance at his manners would lead one to think. One says of him that be is not quiet and reflective enough to be first-rate company. Then, too, he is inquisitive, and much given to looking and prying. People naturally dislike to be the subjects of curious scrutiny. It is thought he could improve in refinement.
"He suffers from loss of self-respect. The tendency of this has been to lead him into descending fellowship. The Committee would exhort him to take no counsel from condemnation. If a man loses self-respect he is exposed to all manner of wicked spirits. – should persevere, and struggle with all his might to keep his self-respect. He should be hard in earnest to secure the help of God. Of late he has grown manly and sober. Many of his old faults have disappeared, and there are good reports of his quiet industry. He has had experiences in the overcoming faith that are bright and very encouraging.’
"First - a report from a committee consisting of S. W. Nash, H. M. Waters and S. A. Burnham, who were appointed some time since to inquire into the character and condition of the boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen.
"Second - a report from another committee, consisting of J. Burt, F. H. Hamilton Mrs. M F. Cragin, and Mrs. H. H. Skinner, who had been appointed to introduce to the Community through their report the newly-arrived members.
"Third - a report of arrangements from Mr. Cragin, in which he gave a general history of the Community to the present time. His report of our financial affairs abundantly shows God's care over us.
"Fourth - a report of arrangements that have grown out of our late discussions on the subject of organization. Several new appointments were made, which relieved Mr. J. H. Noyes from his special oversight of the family, spiritual and temporal. The general superintendance of household affairs, exercised thus far by Mrs. M. F. Cragin and Mrs. H. A. Noyes, was transferred to Mrs. H. H. Skinner. Mr. Hamilton was relieved from his responsibilities in the building department by Mr. F. L. Hatch. H. W. Burnham and S. L. Skinner were appointed to execute Mr. Cragin's offices as financier and general agent for the Community.
"After these appointments were made Mr. Noyes remarked that he and others would now be free to leave Oneida when circumstances should require, expressing at the same time a conviction that the nucleus of a Community would soon be formed in New York City."
The boys alluded to in the first report were, as a class, independent, lawless and pleasure-seeking. They came to the Community because their parents desired it, not from any desire of their own. They were a great annoyance, and the necessity of placing them under the con-
The fourth report, concerning the new organization, etc., was but preliminary to the formation of a new Commune. During the spring the Community had come into possession of a house in the city of Brooklyn, L. 1. The report was presented on the 13th of May, and on the 16th Mr. and Mrs. Cragin, accompanied by Mrs. H. A. Noyes left for Brooklyn. On the 18th, Mr. S. H. Noyes and Mr. F. H. Hamilton left for the same destination. This was the beginning of the Brooklyn Commune. For the succeeding five years there was constant interchange between the two Communes. Although Brooklyn was only a branch society, it was yet a post of central interest, for the reason that Mr. Noyes for the most part of the time made it his headquarters.
The suspension of the evening meetings was short, but, as we have shown, events crowded closely upon each other. Before the first of June the meetings were resumed with renewed interest on the part of all.
A year or two later a wood-shed, sixty feet long, was attached to the wing, making the entire south front one hundred and forty feet long. The second story of the shed was a large, unplastered chamber, which was primarily used for hanging up clothes. After the removal of the washing department it was often used as a dancing hall; sub-
The frequency with which the Community have made alterations in their buildings, and moved them from place to place, has given rise to many jokes. One of our workmen was heard to say, "The Community folks should hang their partitions on hinges, and set their buildings upon castors, they change so often;" and our own people have expressed themselves similarly from time to time. However, when all things are considered, the readiness to change, exemplified in these alterations and removals, should elicit admiration rather than jeers; for it shows the disposition of the Community as a whole to adapt themselves to their circumstances. Many times a change in arrangements was necessary, that would conflict with some private interest, but in every instance this was willingly sacrificed for the public convenience. Indeed. temporary changes were but the "twistings and turnings" to which the Community resorted, to save the greater expense of building.
Several other wooden structures were put up during the same year, which, though not belonging to the Old Mansion house, are very much connected by association. This was especially true of the "Children's House;" standing within thirty-six feet of the Mansion House, and connected with it by an under-ground passage-way, the two buildings are almost inseparable in our recollections. Previous to its erection, the children had continued to occupy the old "White House," until it was nearly over-crowded, and the necessity of having larger quarters was almost absolute. With the addition of adult members, there has been a proportionate increase in the children's department. in consideration of these facts, a large frame house, twenty-five by forty-three feet, two stories high, with an attic, was erected in the months of June and July; into which the whole family of children moved before the first of September.
Improvements were introduced slowly. After the first wing was erected, (as related in the last chapter), the washing occupied the western end of the "back-room." A large cistern was built, a copper boiler purchased, and two long wooden boxes made, at each of which twelve persons could work at a time. More than all this, our friend Mr. G. W. Robinson of Baldwinsville, presented the Community with a small washing-machine, which completed the number of improve-
"In 1863, the Community having become easier in its finances, and the mechanics all very confident in what they could do, and every one tired of going on in the old way, it was decided to build a washhouse and laundry, 'with all the modern improvements.' The 'Ton-tine,' a brick building seventy-two feet long, thirty-six feet wide and three stories high, was accordingly put up, and one-half devoted to the washing department. A steam-engine and boiler were introduced; 'Shaker' and 'Nonpareil' washing-machines; pipes for hot and cold water; an iron centrifugal wringer; a complete system of drainage; an ironing-room and a mangle. and a dry-room with fixtures for bad weather. This was a great victory over dirt, and relieved us all. It continued in operation until the requirements of silk-making made it necessary to move the washing to the 'Mill.' A one-story brick building, seventy feet Iong and thirty feet in width, with a small boilerhouse attached, had been fitted up previous to the removal. The building had been successively used as a forging-shop, wood-shop,
In addition to these changes, hired help was introduced, as our own people were required in various increasing businesses. Since that time, with the exception of those who have charge of the department, the family generally have been discharged from washing, though "bees" for ironing are becoming fashionable again this season.
Still the memory of those Sunday mornings is always fresh. We do not forget the lively times we enjoyed converting the drudgery of washing into a pastime. The traditional 'washing day," upon which the anxious housewife has often been said to.
Ah! our old washing-days the whole scene comes up before me as I write. The room is brightly lighted, the tubs filled with water, and every preparation made for the morning's event. An odor of soapsuds, emanating from two large caldrons of boiling clothes, fills the atmosphere. One by one the washers come in, some looking rather sleepy', others wide-awake for the work. Finally, the wash-boxes are surrounded, the partners standing vis-a-vis. In a few moments all are busily washing a pleasant hum of voices can he heard, despite the thumping of the one washing-machine in the corner. A few of the men are discussing the latest political news; another group are absorbed in topics nearer home; others are rehearsing, with comments of their own, the play enacted the previous Saturday evening. Anon, the
But, alack! Progress and improvements have taken from us this interesting ordinance, and our children seem destined to grow up in total ignorance of the wash-tub. However, we feel reconciled, for notwithstanding the pleasantness of the bees, we were glad, when the release came and gave us a chance to devote ourselves to education and industries more profitable and better adapted to our tastes.
Kitchen work in the Old Mansion House was conducted somewhat differently from what it is at present, though steam was introduced seven or eight years ago. Before the advent of steam and machinery, a great deal of frying, boiling and stewing, a great deal of heavy lifting, a great many hurried steps were required to get through a day's work.
Certain persons were appointed to the work, as we have shown, but the whole family were ready to help as occasion required.
There are few of us who do not remember with pleasure the hours spent preparing meals for the family when we lived in the Old Mansion. There was the long cellar, not too well lighted by six small windows, where we made our plans and came together to execute them. Here the kitchen group were wont to form a merry circle around the table, while they pared apples or potatoes; looked over greens or trimmed asparagus picked up cod-fish or hulled strawberries, according to the day's bill-of-fare.
After all the vegetables were prepared, the job of putting things to rights was next in order; not only in the cellar, but the kitchen also, a large room adjoining, which contained, besides a good cooking-range (not to mention the steam fixtures afterwards added), tables and various conveniences for cooking the food for the family. Both rooms swept and mopped, and it was time to put the various articles over to cook for dinner. The work went along quietly until the last quarter of an hour before dinner then what a scene did that old kitchen present! At either end of the room were gathered the men, who had just returned from their work; while in the center where stood the range, were concentrated the whole kitchen company; a table filled with empty plates, bowls, and nappies, was drawn in front of the smoking viands; one of the "mothers" stood by dipping the food into the various dishes designed for it, while the other was rapidly organizing the rest of the group, who amid all the din and excitement were to see that each dish was deposited in its proper place on the tables in the dining-room adjoining. The last dish put on - the bell rung - the room emptied of people, the kitchen group once more breathed freely. Good luck generally attended these occasions, though sometimes things were troublesome; the over-heated cooks were anxious because the potatoes were not baked, or the tomatoes were burned, or the gravy was spilled, or the dinner was late. The generous lookers-on generally rendered their services in those dilemmas, and things came out straight finally. But such occasions were rare - the dinner generally came on to the table promptly and in order.
Before the Community gave up the use of meat, tea, and coffee, the table was set in the usual way, seldom varying from a certain form. But when, for reasons we shall relate in a future chapter, these com-
In the fall of the year it was common for the kitchen department to call an apple-paring bee, which generally was held in the kitchen and took the place of an evening meeting. After some pleasant confusion in getting seats, numerous little circles forming all over the room, and filling it so as to make a complete labyrinth for the attendants, the company were furnished with knives and pans, and fruit, and a brisk business was carried on for an hour or more, amid the reading of correspondence, the singing of songs, and the pleasant flow of conversation, never more lively than on such occasions.
Possessing in common with other civilized people a natural tendency for party-making and general hospitality, one of the first thoughts of the Community was to get up a strawberry feast, and invite our neighbors to share with us our berries. We find in the following letter, written to Brooklyn by Mr. G. W. Noyes, a full account of this ever memorable occasion:
'About eighty families of our neighbors and of citizens in Vernon, Oneida Castle, and Oneida Depot, had been invited to partake of strawberries and cream. Feeling that God had dealt bountifully with us, in our 'basket and our store,' it was the hearty, spontaneous desire of the Community to share the blessings of the season with others and according to a suggestion of Mr. Noyes to offer the first-fruits of our garden to the great Community spirit which is hastening to encircle all mankind.
"Soon after 3 o'clock our friends began to arrive: and though most of them were strangers to a majority of the Community they were none the less welcome. The house was thrown open, and those who pleased were attended in a stroll through the gardens, or were invited to amuse themselves in their own way. The company however soon took their way to the arbor, where an abundance of strawberries, cream and sugar, were awaiting their acceptance. Parties continued to arrive for about two hours, and there were said to be three hundred guests. Though they were drawn from all the different ranks of society, there was perfect order, harmony and good behavior, throughout. Not a jar occurred to disturb the pleasure of the occasion, and the Community were gratefully sensible of the fact.
"During the gathering at the Community booth, the attendance and singing of the Community children were apparently gratifying to our visitors. The company interested themselves in the house and in the grounds, with picking strawberries and conversation, till about
"The Indians have been our very good neighbors from the commencement of the Community here, and we are glad to show our appreciation of it, as well as to pay our respects to the remnant of a once powerful race. We inhabit the home of their fathers; the Community domain but a few years since was their common ancestral inheritance. We believe it was never deeded as the property of any individual white man, but passed from the community of nature to the community of civilization and grace. We felt it to be appropriate to celebrate thee idea of human fraternity with these descendants of the red men, on ground thus doubly devoted to the common interest. We commissioned their minister, the Rev. Thomas Cornelius, to invite the whole resident nation (about 150 persons), to meet in the Community grounds. Several Indians from the Green Bay colony, now on a visit to their Oneida brethren, were also among our guests. About seventy sat down under our arbor, to partake of strawberries and cream. Among them were several members of the Indian Minstrel Company who lately gave concerts in New York, and who favored us with several hymns in their own tongue. Their singing was really delightful accurate in execution, and yet possessing a certain wildness of tone, reminding one of the notes of the wood-robin, and the ringing echoes of the forest. We answered them with a song or two - the Community children also sang; after which they adjourned to the garden and strawberry beds, and then took their way home. The Community enjoyed this kindly meeting with the Indians exceedingly, and look upon it as a representative affair."
As we have stated, these were the first experiences of the O.C. in entertaining
company on so great a scale, but none the less enjoyable. Several neighboring
papers gave glowing accounts of the festivities of
But one of the most remarkable years in the annals of Community history was that of 1851 our store and printing-office were burned; Mrs. Cragin and Miss Allen were drowned; the publishing business was removed to Brooklyn; the evil-eye of our neighbors was upon us. We can never forget the occasion of the first disaster. It was a warm summer 5 evening, and everything out-of-doors seemed unusually quiet and serene; the family were all in meeting, when the sudden announcement, "The store is on fire," sent a thrill and shudder through everyone. For a moment all sat motionless; then, as one man, we rose to our feet, and in another instant were on the spot. To us, the loss of the store was nothing, in comparison with the printing-office - that we would fain have saved. One glance told us the building was inevitably doomed, so we contended ourselves with rescuing from the flames whatever we could. We succeeded in saving all the goods from the store, the type from the office, benches and tools from the shoe-shop, and many of the windows and doors of the building.
This unaccountable calamity seemed to be only the precursor of another,
and far sadder one, occurring but three weeks later. Preparations were
making for removing the publishing business to Brooklyn (as had been suggested
immediately after the destruction of the store), and it was expected to
commence the next volume of the paper there. Mrs. Cragin was actively interested
in the change, and was herself to be editress. So that we were wholly unprepared
for the startling intel-
The gloom attending these accidents had hardly been effaced from our minds, when there followed a tumultuous out-cry from the immediate neighborhood against us. Some of the more excitable of the population talked loudly of using mob-violence to exterminate us from the land. Every fancied wrong was magnified by tongue and pen until we were nearly ready to leave the State. However, when we offered to do so, and asked the public to say the word, friendly voices in high places were raised in our behalf; these affirmed that we were peaceable citizens, and expressed a desire to have us remain here. Thus assured, we settled down again, and soon out4ived the prejudices of our neighbors.
As previously planned, the paper was removed to Brooklyn, and as early as November the first number printed. By this change Brooklyn became the central home. Whatever was received from the Brooklyn family was highly valued by us at Oneida. For the subsequent three years, a great portion of every evening meeting was occupied by the reading of letters and reports received from there. The first-fruits of everything at Oneida was joyfully sent to Brooklyn. Although often embarrassed in money-matters, Mr. J. Rt. Miller, who had charge of the finances during this remarkable year, could always spare for the benefit of the paper and family there. In one of his letters written to Brooklyn, he said: "I fully believe that God blesses me in proportion as I am ready to share his blessings with you, in a prompt. cheerful spirit. In sending money to you the sincere feelings of my heart are, that it increases rather than diminishes our funds here." This was ever his attitude toward the interests of the paper; and his influence and example gave tone to the whole family here at Oneida.
But a short experience in the Community during the existence of this filthy habit was enough to make all wish for a change. It certainly was a great drawback to the attractiveness of home. Even the men were conscious of this fact, hut had not the strength to break away from their servility to the tyrannical principality. The women were very much annoyed with the uncleanness of the habit, but were for-hearing, remembering that 'charity covereth a multitude of sins." Still they could not ignore the fact that at the best, tobacco is a dirty, nasty weed, not only scenting everything with which it comes in con-tact, but when used in the mouth particularly offensive, as it produces the desire to expectorate often, which is in itself revolting. Spittoons were in requisition, not only in all the public rooms, but in many of the bed-chambers besides; and these nuisances had to be emptied and washed every day by the women - and oh with such feelings of disgust! Many and many a time was the wish expressed, "that the men would give up tobacco it would be so much better." Still no one expected such a change would actually be realized during the present generation.
Matters continued in this way for four or five years, when one day,
in the month of March, 1853, there came from Brooklyn, a long Home-Talk
by J.H.N., entitled 'Tobacco Reform." It was a startling title, and produced
no little sensation among the tobacco-lovers here at Oneida. However, the
Home-Talk was not only received with favor, but after reflection all were
ready to carry out the spirit of it. After
"I would propose that the Community contemplate as the hope of their calling the entire breaking up of this bondage. I am in no hurry about measures, but let us take this as our ‘stint,’ so that by faith we can see to the end. If we have a faith that sees to the end, we shall be ‘warping up’ to it. In one way or another I am confident that the tobacco-devil, instead of leading us captive, is going to be itself led captive.
"To come to something practical, I would recommend that those who are free from tobacco should not contemplate using it, but keep their freedom. And I would recommend to those who can drop the use of it, without quarreling with themselves, to do so at once. While to those who are thoroughly imprisoned in the use of tobacco, I would recommend the experiment of a fast; say, for instance, next Sunday. Let us quit it for one day, and give up our minds to reflection and attention to the Lord’s mind about such matters."
The proposal to keep a fast of one day from tobacco was readily acceded to, and Sunday, April 3, 1853, was appointed as the time. Although one day may seem a very limited suspension, it is true that a number of our good brothers underwent a severe struggle in denying themselves their favorite solace for even so short a time. A member writing to Brooklyn about it afterward, said:
"There was an interesting fact connected with our tobacco fast, which I will report. Nearly all the men who had been in the habit of using tobacco were affected with dizziness – making them feel very much as a person who had drunk too much wine. It was also interesting that many, both men and women, who had never used tobacco, were affected in the same way; but had no suspicion of the cause, till
Thus warned, the Community were armed, and the miraculous, magical change was effected almost without an effort. The mood was on for crushing the tyrant forever. Four days after the fast, one reported to Brooklyn, "There is but very little tobacco used here now. Several have left off entirely, and others use it only temperately. We keep the matter open to the light, by telling our experience in the meetings every evening."
There was no condemnation brought upon those who, from time to time, chose to use it, but the prevailing feeling seemed to be, that it was better to abstain from it, as far as possible without legality. In fact, it was a grand, inspired move, entered into by the whole family; and from this very fact destined to succeed. Over thirty of the men left off the use of tobacco simultaneously, and found strength to resist temptation about it afterward; there were others who were weak in temptation, but who finally found strength, in their union with those who were victorious, to abandon it altogether. Gradually tobacco became unpopular, and many who had for years been slaves found themselves free; and before the end of the year tobacco was not used in the Community, and from that time to this (now eighteen years) has found no place among us. We think with thankfulness, what a blessed freedom! What a salvation it has been for the young men growing up in our midst; not one of whom is addicted to this degrading practice.
A few years since some of our people wrote out their 'tobacco experience," from which I will extract a few paragraphs. After relating the story of his tobacco-service, which Tasted twelve or fifteen years, Mr. G.W.N. winds up with:
"Good-bye Anderson, Lorrillard and Lillienthal. Your companionship, cosy as it is brings with it a bad smell. Good-bye, Mrs. G. B. Miller. Your charming influence does not render a man very acceptable to others of your sex. Thank God, the reign of yellow drizzle, spittoons, stale scents and 'old-soldiers,' is over! Thank God, the most vile, absurd, unclean, slave-driving tyranny that ever cursed humanity is hereabouts broken, and the insurrection is spreading!"
Mr. William H. Woolworth contributes the following:
"I should no doubt have been in tobacco bonds to this day, but for the combined Community rising and revolt against narcotic tyranny, which carried all irresistibly before it. I did not seem to get free at once, however, from the tobacco principality; but for years after my emancipation from all voluntary bondage, I would be subject to imposition in my sleeping hours, and compelled to imaginary chewing in my dreams. But for the last two years I have rejoiced in complete deliverance from imaginary as well as real narcotic servitude; thanks to the combined movement."
Mr. J. Burt finishes his story with the following paragraph:
"My bondage to the habit of chewing continued without intermission till I was forty-six years old, when Communism finally set me free. It was on this wise: The Community men after due deliberation decided by unanimous vote to expel tobacco from their circle. The rout was complete. More than thirty of us broke from its use simultaneously, and the Community as a body has remained undefiled by it for fifteen years. A few days sufficed to clear me from all hankering for it, and I have been a healthier and happier man in consequence
One of the women thus appropriately spoke the mind of her sex:
"A woman's love must be strong indeed that can surmount tobacco, and her sense of the poetical must suffer when she views the accom-
"For myself the antipathy to tobacco grew stronger and stronger, arising partly from disgust and partly from a conviction that its use was injurious to the body and enslaving to the mind. Thus there commenced a series of domestic skirmishes, usually ending in the cheerful surrender of the tobacco-box to my safe-keeping for days together; and as the disbursement of its contents was left entirely to my generosity, it is needless to say that the box was empty at the close of every campaign.
"This state of things continued: dislike on one side, and slavery on the other. until that blessed era in Community history when the men, with the love of truth for their guide and that ;tern heroism which goes to battle but to conquer threw aside their tobacco, and declared themselves freemen. That was no less a glorious day for the women. They have no longer a rival in tobacco, but are united with their brothers in abolishing slavery in all its forms. For this and a thousand other deliverances the women of the O.C. have to thank (BIBLE) Communism."
All agreed in saying of tobacco, 'Good riddance;" and whether brought about through an influence exerted by the women, or through some deeper influence, we are sure the CURE IS EFFECTUAL.
These words seem almost prophetic, when we connect them with the events that followed. During the summer of 1855, while the united
During the first winter after the Brooklyn arrivals, business at the shops did not demand the attention and time of the men, so much as now. We were able to carry out such a programme as the following, without inconvenience: after breakfast, the whole family attended Bible-game for half an hour, after which they went to their various employments for the forenoon. Dinner at twelve. From one till two all bands joined a bee for sewing on carpet-bags (then our most lively business) or braiding palm-leaf hats, as the case might be. At two all separated to their various occupations until the supper hour at six o clock. At a quarter to seven the bell rang for classes in grammar, spelling, geography, arithmetic, philosophy, etc. These generally lasted until a quarter to eight. Once a week, in place of the classes, a lecture was given in the parlor on some subject of interest, as physiology, geology, grammar or the like. Sunday afternoon a meeting was held from two to three. These were continued until some time in the month of March.
As we have mentioned the Bible-game as one of the Community ordinances, we will endeavor to give an account of its history among us. The game started at Wallingford Community, whence it soon circulated in the other Communities, and as early as the Spring of 1854, was in the "full tide of successful experiment." The object of it was to familiarize persons with the Bible, and, as someone said, "enable them to invariably tell the book, chapter and verse when any passage is read." The game, when first introduced, was conducted in the following manner:
"We arranged ourselves in a circle, forming a class as in school. Two
or three of the best readers were appointed to take turns in the office
of master. The master opened the Testament at random with the point of
a knife, and reading the first verse that met his eye, called on the head
of the class to tell what book it was in. If the answer was
correct, the master said, 'Right,' and opened again, and put a new verse
to the next in the class. If the answer was not right, he said, 'The
next,' and 'The next,' and so on until the answer was correct.
Then he went on as
A writer after describing the game, added "If competition and penalties are wanted to give piquancy to the sport, the various methods usual in schools or parties may be employed. You may have a head and foot to the class, and the one that answers right may 'go above' those that answer wrong. Or you may 'choose up' as they used to do in the old-fashioned spelling schools. Or you may appoint judges, and when one answers wrong let him be judged according to the custom in parties. Or you may invent new methods. Our fashion sometimes has been to give out two or three corns or counters to each person in the circle, and have it for the rule that as often as one misses an answer, he shall put a counter in a box in the midst of the party. When the questioning is finished (which in this case should go round only so many times as there are counters given to each), those who have lost are to draw from a box containing the names of all in the party, as many critics as they have lost counters. The persons drawn are to criticise the drawers, or 'judge' them in any fashion old or new. Some of these methods may be used occasionally, to give variety, and make amusement for the children. But I am inclined to think that, in general, competition and penalties will not be needed to make this exercise attractive."
Another variation of the game is thus described by a member of the Wallingford Community:
After our usual Bible-game this morning, we had another exercise which
This game possessed many advantages it not only familiarized all with the Bible in a new and interesting way, but afforded an opportunity for old and young to mingle together in its study. While all
The Bible-game continued popular for several years, but was discontinued
for other studies, and although the Bible has since been studied, that
particular method has not been pursued. We are not yet without hope, that
it may sometime be revived.
"I am free to confess that the practice of frequently changing dress, so common and fashionable in the world, is entirely contrary to my ideas of true taste. When I see a person in new attire, different from his or her ordinary dress, it makes me feel as though I had lost some-thing. A certain amount of strangeness seems to have been put upon that person, that makes him or her appear unnatural to me. In meeting a person in a new dress. especially one that seems to court attention, and is gay and flaunting, I feel myself introduced to the dress, and not to the person. The real object of every modest person, either man or woman, should be to dress so as not to attract attention at all. Persons may attract attention by being slovenly and disorderly in their dress, as well as by being dandyish. But a truly modest person is one who does not attract attention to his dress either for its good or bad qualities. If we dress to suit other folks' eyes, we should dress to
One evening the conversation turned on improvement of time. It was thought that this was an important subject, and the suggestion was made that every member should keep a log-hook or a daily account of how every hour and minute of the day was spent. This suggestion was carried out conscientiously by all for a time, and the custom of having these journals or "logs," as they are called, read at the evening gathering became quite popular. The following is a pretty good specimen of the usual style in which these "logs" were written:
"Read our Bible-lesson, and chatted some with the agents who were about to start on their trips, till Bible-game. in which I took part as reader. Was some amused by the replies of Job to his three friends. 'Oh that ye would altogether hold your peace; and it should be your wisdom.' - If your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you; and shake mine head at you.' I judge that these three friends, were more full of talk and worldly wisdom than sincerity; and Job's sorrows and afflictions were so great that he could not patiently listen to their superficial treatment of his case, and he replies to them with sarcastic words. But when he faces around toward the Lord, his expressions of trust and submission are most notable. Spent the forenoon at work on the hoes. After dinner returned to tile shop and finished the job. With some help from the women have put the blades on to seven hundred hoes. Appreciate the presence of the women in the shop very much; I have been led to notice the mechanical judgment and skill some of them display. Let them have good opportunities, and they will become very efficient. At four I had a pleasant ramble after flowers with S.C.H. and S.F.J. Found some specimens, but flowers are not very plenty yet. Played ball a few minutes with the children before supper was edified by the spirit that prevailed at the table enjoy meeting persons there, and desire to cooperate in making our meals true Lord's Suppers. Held a meeting with the children from seven to eight. Felt like trusting the Lord to make me edifying, and was conscious that He met my faith and put words in my mouth. After meeting tried to analyze some of our wild flowers with two of the sisters. Succeeded partially, but found it somewhat difficult. Went to bed at ten."
As spring advanced, business discussions were in order. Work on
Severe criticism fell one evening on the spirit that indulges antipathies. Some had given expression to the idea that likes and dislikes are involuntary and uncontrollable. When this spirit was really brought to the light it proved to be very weak. One person in criticism it emphasized the fact, that if a person were really delivered over to an irrational antipathy he would be delivered over to perdition. "For," said he, "whoso hateth his brother is a murderer; and no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." Suffice it to say, such sincerity proved availing in dispelling this evil, and many years ago it was found that where antipathies had existed they soon gave place to genuine attraction, proving that they were entirely without reason.
About a year after the concentration, the question was brought before the Community, "Shall we entirely discontinue the use of pork?" The result was an hour's lively discussion on the subject; many testified to a growing distaste for it, and the family as a whole saw many good reasons for urging its abandonment; and a vote was taken to abolish that article of food from our table, and as fast and as far as possible to discontinue the use of lard in cooking. This was the 7th of December, 1855 since which time no pork has been used in our family.
"As the kitchen group were making out their day's programme this morning, and had concluded to have coffee for dinner, one of them said that sometime. for a special treat, he wished we could have some doughnuts fried in butter; and albeit we were just meditating retrenchment in this precious article, the idea took so well that all said, 'Let's try it we shall have the benefit of the experiment, if we waste the butter!' So about twenty pounds of butter were weighed out, and put in a dripper on the range to melt. Meanwhile the dough for the nuts was mixed. Presently the butter began to boil quite furiously, and a cake was dropped into it, but was taken out a poor, drowned thing, all water-soaked and briny. We must wait, it appeared. till the butter could be reduced to oil. Then there were grave speculations and consultations over the case; how long would it take for this to be effected? Some thought the process would carry us beyond the dinner hour; which put us in a quandary; and when by and by the foaming mass began to rise in the dripper and threaten most imminently to all go over, we thought our 'fat was in the fire' sure enough. However, by being judiciously elevated from the stove, and blowed at by several concurrent cooks, it subsided, and after a little while presented a state of calm, which showed that the water had boiled away, and the oil was pure. Then we put in another cake, and this reappeared quickly with all the signs of a lively doughnut, soon putting on a 'lovely brown,' and saying to us, "You may begin to fry in earnest now." We fried twenty-two times twenty in about an hour and a half, all with the utmost satisfaction; and weighing the butter that was left we found but just ten pounds had been consumed by the process, which was very little more than we use for a bread-and-butter supper."
We might add to the above, that after experimenting awhile with butter, equal parts of suet and butter were used successfully; and at length we discovered that suet itself makes a very good substitute for lard, which is now alone used in the frying of doughnuts.
Aside from the orchestra. however, very little attention was given to entertainments; but as a large class of boys and girls were about graduating from the Children's House, the necessity of introducing some pleasant pastime, in which old and young might take part, seemed to be increased.
The 'bag-bees" were already made attractive by the introduction of attractive reading, and were well attended. The taste for novel-reading, so common to young people, was gratified, and yet no had effects followed from it; on the contrary we found this course prevented a great deal of isolated "poring over novels," which is so pernicious. One of the advantages of this public disposal of novel-reading was the chance afforded for selection; "yellow-covered literature" was entirely ignored; we confined ourselves mostly to Walter Scott's novels, though now and then a novel from the pen of 13ulwer, Dickens. Charlotte Bronte, or Charles ilcade, seemed to give new interest to the "bag-bees." Occasionally the reading was interrupted by some apt criticism (by the reader or one of the auditors) of the plot, style, or perhaps of an erroneous sentiment expressed, so that the reading proved to he of benefit to the young in learning to discriminate right principles from wrong.
When we speak of our young people graduating from the Children's
During the autumn of 1855. a dancing-class (the first ever arranged
by the O.C.) was formed, consisting mostly of young people, who met every
evening to learn the steps. Mr. G. W. Noyes Mrs. H A. Noyes and Mrs. M.
F. Newhouse took charge of the class, and taught the figures. As soon as
the first class became familiar with the steps, other classes were formed,
and the members of the first class assisted in teaching the rest. In this
way, more than half the Community were soon able to go through a contra-dance
without difficulty. The first of November, 1855. is memorable as the occasion
of the first Community dance in which old and young took a part. In place
of our usual classes after supper, the hours from six until eight were
spent in a general dance. For a hall, the old "wood-shed chamber" was arranged
for the occasion, and a space cleared that would allow forty couples to
dance at once. It was lighted by hanging lanterns, and withal looked cheerful
and unique, the laughing children perched upon up-piled boxes, and the
musicians seated in a rude alcove reserved on one side. Floormasters were
appointed, who knew how to dance, and we formed ourselves, to begin with,
in two rows across the length of the floor, displaying a greater variety
in heights and ages than perhaps ever met for the same purpose before.
The first lesson was how to make a how, and as the courtesy loses its grace
and fitness in the short dress, both sides were instructed in the same
action. Next we practiced the ten
"Some years ago, a youth, just at the age most susceptible to outward attractions, wished very much to attend dancing-school, and pleaded with his mother for her approval. She was a woman who feared the Lord, and sought to bring up her children in the ways of godliness, and she did not like to have him go. She did not think evil of dancing; she sympathized with his attraction for it, and contrary to the common religious sentiment, regarded it as an innocent and dignified amusement, and as an appropriate expression of sacred joy. But with its associations in the world, she feared it would be a snare to her son, and she advised him to deny himself for Christ's sake, and trust Christ for the gratification of his passion in the right way. The boy yielded to his mother's advice, and they sat down with the family to hear some reading in the Bible. By a happy coincidence, the chapter to which the reader opened was the 31st of Jeremiah, in which among other promises to repenting Israel. it is said, 'Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together.' 'That,' said the mother, 'we will take as a prophecy!' She did not dream then of Community, but she believed that sometime - if not here, at least in the New Jerusalem - dancing would be an enjoyment of the good. That son, now grown up to be a man, loves the sport as well as ever, and is the leader in the present movement - the mother also seeing with pleasure the realization of a favorite idea in the introduction of dancing into the home circle, as an ordinance of health, social improvement and unity."
Dancing now became an adopted ordinance, the members all taking part
in it. General dancing occurred as often as once a fortnight. Although
all were hearty and enthusiastic in their enjoyment of the
Nearly two years from date of the little play of Ruth, the following announcement for the early evening entertainment, printed in conspicuous letters, appeared on the bulletin:
Four weeks later, another announcement appeared on the bulletin, of which the following is a copy:
Following this was a series of dramatic entertainments, occurring as often as once in two or three weeks, and lasting during the winter months; these were sometimes varied with songs by the quartette club, dialogues, recitations, etc. Occasionally these exercises were diversified by dancing, or, as happened on two or three occasions, a
The Community appetite continued good for dramatic entertainment for the next six years, in which time the following plays were rendered with at least a moderate amount of success: "Taming the Shrew' '-"Lady of Lyons"-"The Stranger' '-"Family Jars' '-"Speed the Plow"-' 'A 11's Fair in Love"-"Much Ado About Nothing"-"Rob Roy"-' Still Waters Run Deep' '-"The Honey Moon"-' 'Pizarro' '-"Damon and Pythias' '-' Merry Wives of Windsor' '-"School for Scandal"- besides several extracts from "Pickwick," and Mrs. H. B. Stowe's world-wide novels, etc.
Our theatricals were always amateur rather than professional in character. In fact, our drama was in little danger of ever becoming a professional affair, as a different cast of characters was selected for every new play. We regarded the stage as a school for all-not an institution separate from the general family. The drill in memorizing, and opportunity offered for gaining our freedom, were valued by all who took active part in the plays. It was really surprising to see dramatic talent spring up in unexpected places, as it frequently did. Persons often astonished themselves as well as their audience.
It must not be inferred from what we have said, that the whole time and attention of the O.C. was absorbed in theatricals. Although all felt highly entertained by them, and great faithfulness was required by the chosen actors of each play, still there was a balance of interest going in other directions that preserved a happy state of equilibrium. Business was active; the schools and classes were attended with unabated zeal; vocal as well as instrumental music received a fair share of attention; while the evening meetings absorbed the greatest portion of the family interest, and the spirit of unity grew stronger and the confession of Christ bolder.
And now I must mention an event which led to surprising results. One
autumn afternoon, in the year 1858, a dozen of our most "reliable singers,"
were invited to take supper in the woods. The afternoon was fine and everything
conducive to enjoyment. The viands were spread temptingly on a rude table,
constructed for the occasion. The company were in fine spirits, and partook
of the meal with a hearty relish - all the more enjoyable, perhaps, for
the floating rumor that there was a particular object for the gathering,
which none of us could guess. Supper over, the party sat chatting merrily
around the table, and wondering what surprise was in store, when Mr. H.
W. Burnham, who had arranged the party, remarked in a serio-comic voice,
After recovering from the first surprise, all promised to take hold of the matter and do their best. A copy of the "Cantata" was passed around, for all to pronounce upon. With no professional teacher, and no professional singers among us, the idea of attempting to represent a drama in song looked like a stupendous enterprise. Still we resolved to undertake it, and submit to all the criticism and drill necessary to accomplish the desired result. Before returning to the house, the cast of characters was made out, and nearly all the arrangements, as to the time of practice, number of singers on the choruses, etc., decided upon. We set about our task without delay, and for the succeeding six weeks practiced assiduously. Nearly every evening found us gathered in "No. 9," in the old "Avenue," from six until eight o'clock, rehearsing over and over again our parts. We can never forget the patience of the bassos in learning the passage .
The arrangement required them to repeat "in God is our trust"
several times, and they persisted in running the I on to the i, so
that "Tin God" became very prominent. They finally overcame the
difficulty, much to the satisfaction of all concerned. There were twenty
of us who assisted as vocalists, besides three or four young men who played
the instrumental accompaniment. At length we succeeded in committing the
first part of the Cantata, and on the 9th of December gave a public presentation
on the stage. We did not consider this presentation as anything final at
all, but regarded it as an experiment; however, the family were very much
pleased with it, and encouraged us to go on and learn the whole drama.
So we plodded on two months longer; and on the evening of the 13th of February,
1859, we presented the
"The first scene discloses the Hebrew captives, singing, sad and mournful, by the rivers of Babylon, yet with unshaken faith in the God of their fathers. In the 5th scene a herald announces the royal edict for all people and nations to fall down and worship the golden image. 'Worship, and live; disobey, and perish'- he proclaims. In the seventh scene the 'hateful cornet' is heard to sound, as the signal for worshiping the golden image; and a band of Israelites are seen encouraging one another to trust in God. In scene 8th the King demands, 'Bring forth those stubborn princes'- and to our astonishment they are brought forth and apparently thrust into a burning fiery furnace, whose bright light and leaping flames are suddenly reflected upon the audience from behind a screen. The song of triumph is heard from the furnace; and in the midst of the scene the King in consternation discerns four men unharmed in the midst of the fire, and he tremblingly calls to the servants of the Most High God to come forth. In the last scene of Part I, both Assyrians and Israelites join in full chorus in magnifying the Lord of heaven; which is done with fine effect.
"Part II consists of ten scenes. Darius the Mede reigns in Babylon,
and Daniel is his first officer. The Persian princes, envying Daniel and
seeking to destroy him, ensnare the King into making a decree that consigns
Daniel to the lion's den. Daniel prays, is saved, and again exalted; and
another triumphant chorus of Persians and Israelites, honoring the God
of heaven, follows. The scene in which the Persian princes detect Daniel
in the act of prayer, and sing in chorus-
King - I labored hard till set of sun
To shield him from that dreadful doom,
Yet all was vain; 'tis done! 'tis done!
My soul is filled with deepest gloom!
Both - Yet fear we not; if God indeed
In triumph rules the earth and sky,
The prayer of Daniel he will heed,
Nor let his faithful servant die.
Also we should mention Mr. Burnham's solo:
Hear the voice of my cry, O my God.
For unto thee will I pray, etc., (Daniel’s prayer)
And the beautiful strain which commences –
come! Let us fall down and worship!
Let us humble ourselves before the Lord;
For our sins bath he laid waste the holy city!"
A year later a petition was sent into one of our evening meetings to have the Cantata once more repeated. The general voice was in favor of the petition, and the singers in accordance with this expressed wish, refreshed their memories by frequent rehearsals, and on the 3rd day of March, 1860, presented the whole drama for the last time.
BUT I must not dwell longer on the subject of amusements, when there are so many other topics of interest awaiting my pen. I will picture, if possible, something of the internal workings of the Community, especially during the period after the older children were invited over to the "Mansion House" to live. Immediately after the admission of this class to the society of adults, they were placed under the particular care of individuals selected by the Community. They were at the same time distributed round to the various departments of business: the boys finding employment in the shops, on the farm, and in the garden; the girls in the kitchen, laundry and printing-office. Most of the boys continued their attendance at the school while the girls pursued their studies under special instructors, or attended the various evening classes. All were instructed to join the family at eight o clock in attending the meeting. Once a week a special meeting was generally held, for the benefit of the young, at which criticism was often solicited, or heart experience related. Matters went along quietly enough for some time, nothing occurring to interrupt the peaceable relations between old and young. Occasionally disrespect and insubordination showed themselves, but they were faults easily dispelled by criticism. Frivolity and superficiality were often criticised, and with good results. The manners of the young at the table, as well as in general, was a subject of frequent reprobation While the girls were most susceptible to worldly influences in matters of dress, music and the like, a fertile source of trial and temptation with the boys arose from their alimentiveness. And here I should state, that coincident with the transfer of the young people to the Mansion House, the state of our finances necessitated the most scrupulous economy on the part of all. Consequently our meals became exceedingly frugal; bean porridge, potatoes and milk gravy, brown bread and milk, formed our most usual bill-of-fare. Butter came on the table but seldom, and wheat bread was unfrequently made. Pie and cake were luxuries rarely indulged in, and then with restrictions. Preserves were dainties we could not afford. The older people found genuine enjoyment in this kind of living, as a means of grace; but what can be said of that ever
"While the workmen were dismantling the upper story of the Old Mansion House, one of the young men found a pack of cards, soiled and moldy. They were not ordinary playing cards, but were lettered as follows: "Pie, One," "Eggs, Two," "Apples, One," "Apples, Two," 'Biscuit, Two," "Cake, One," "Cake, Two," etc. The older inhabitants recognized these cards. As I gazed upon them, memory carried me back twelve or more years, to the palmy days of the old building when we all lived in it, packed away closely in its tent-rooms and attics, as well as in its better apartments.
"The results of the frugal management in our kitchen at that time will long he remembered by the boys who were then growing from two to four inches in stature per annum, and who were in consequence always hungry. It was found that many of the younger members, and a few of the older ones, were liable to appropriate, under stress of appetite, more than their share of the delicacies the table did not groan tinder. To correct the matter and improve the moral nerve, the managers produced the set of cards described above. These cards were placed on the table beside the dishes containing the kinds of food named, and denoted that each individual was to limit himself to the number on the card. For instance, "Eggs, Two" forbade any one to eat more than two eggs. "Biscuit, One" confined him to one miniature loaf, and so on. These hints were very generally observed, because it was understood that if one overran the indicated numbers he began to eat some other one's allowance. The total amount of food was not limited, there being always plenty of the coarser kinds. Finding the boys inclined to dodge the notice "Pie, One" by selecting the large pieces, some one put a stop to the little game by inventing a pie
gauge, which marked off all the pieces into the same size. This same individual also brought out what he has since styled "butter-but-tons," or little pats of butter about the diameter of a silver dollar, which aided materially in effecting an equal distribution of that much prized article, until abundance made restriction unnecessary.
"As I have said, the boys were growing rapidly, and had keen appetites. I am sorry to add that their relish for good things led them into some questionable practices. At one time one of the boys ran fearful risks to secure a pocketful of warm crackers, which he discovered on one of the hanging shelves in the kitchen-cellar. Judge of his consternation and chagrin when, after having successfully bagged a lot of them and made good his escape, he took a bite from one and found they were Yeast Cakes! To avoid detection he was compelled to run the same risks again to restore them to the platter. Still another memorable affair was that in which two of the more unskillful of the boys made an attempt on a barrel of newly-made crackers which stood in the "archway" and gave off a delicious odor from tinder an enormous wooden bread-tray inverted over them. One of the boys was tall, the other short. The tall one could reach the crackers by lifting a corner of the tray and thrusting an arm into the barrel, and he thus secured a supply; but the short boy was compelled to wedge the bread-tray up between the barrel and the wall, and then hang with his head and shoulders in the barrel while he filled his pockets, his legs meanwhile dangling outside. While the short boy was thus engaged the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps was heard. The other boy immediately gave the alarm, but the unfortunate lad, in trying to extricate himself from the barrel, jarred the bread-tray so that it fell down pinning him securely with nothing but his frantic legs visible, being thus most literally be-trayed, as our venerable punster remarked on hearing the story. At that instant Mr. Ackley entered, and holding his candle aloft, gazed in evident perplexity at the oscillating members of the imprisoned one. All this was observed by the tall youth from the entrance to the potato-bin in a distant cellar, to which lie had retreated in the greatest confusion. But in point of sang froid one of X.Y.'s earlier operations far outdid either of these. Tie was in the pantry, in the act of helping himself, contrary to instructions, to a large piece of desirable custard pie. As he was about to elevate it to his lips someone approached. Thereupon he deliberately placed the
"This state of things could not long continue in the Community. The whole family became aroused, and the most direct criticism was brought to bear. At the same time the boys themselves came under conviction in regard to the matter, and thus it came about that such practices entirely disappeared. Furthermore the circumstances of the Community soon began to improve, so that all were more liberally fed, and the temptation to pilfer disappeared with the practice.
"It is cause for profoundest gratitude that the Community children of the present time know nothing of such things. Their every want supplied, and their spiritual education more carefully looked after, there is every reason to hope that they will grow up ignorant of many bad habits of thought and action which some of the earlier classes contracted or brought into the Community from outside society."
It is indeed true that these barbarous practices long ago disappeared from among us. The effect of the Community spirit and discipline has been to subdue mere animal instincts, and insure in their place a moral and spiritual development. The class of boys now growing up in the O.C. listen to the tales of their predecessors with surprise and incredulity, so foreign are such operations to their desires. We thank God for the triumph of good over evil.
the end of that time. There was Irving Sedgwick, who remained with us nearly a year. There was Miss Delia Wright, who lived with us eight or nine years; and Rebecca Smith, who lived here two or three years. There were Mr. Perryman, Joshua Smith, George Vail senior, Mr. W. V. Seighman, Mr. J. S. Hull, two sons of our Mr. DeLatre, Ira Hutchins, George Hatch, Leonard Burt, young Miss B., John Hutchins senior, young S. Hutchins, James Prindle, which we believe complete the number of those who left us while we sojourned in the Old Mansion House. We say nothing of the twenty or thirty who left us after we took possession of our new house in 1862.
What an array of names! Cannot the reader picture to himself something of the trials the Community have been through? Imagine these persons outside, supplicating and humble, asking to be admitted to the Community; very sure they are prepared to come, and unwilling to take no for an answer. After a long correspondence, and perhaps a short personal acquaintance, they are kindly received; think of the labors of love bestowed upon them the confidence extended toward them - the privileges they enjoyed; and then think of their gradual alienation and final separation! Of all recollections of the past twenty years these events are among the saddest. Connections made in apparent candor and sincerity were vital, and could not be severed without affecting the whole body painfully. Is it strange that after twenty years of such experience the O.C. should listen to applications for membership with less indulgence? The Community heart is as large and benevolent as it ever was its desire for the salvation of the world as strong; its appreciation of Communism as a means of grace as great; its wish that the worthy may enjoy its advantages and blessings as earnest; and its conviction that true Christian Communities are to multiply and flourish still unshaken; but our experiences have been such as to induce the deepest study and the most careful inquiry as to the indication of God's providences respecting the admission of new members and the formation of new Communities; and the result is that our true policy for the immediate present seems plain to us, namely, to concentrate attention on our own improvement, and labor for that progress in general society that must precede any great extension of Communism. Meanwhile we shall do all we can to encourage unity of heart and purpose between all earnest believers in the principles that have made the Oneida Community a successful experi-
"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Rom. 14:7 - 9.
In seeking consolation and rest for our hearts in view of death's doings, the great thing that we need to realize is, that the same Lord, the same Jesus that we trust in here, and that cares for us here, is also Lord of the dead. This is the idea contained in the passage I have read: he "is Lord both of the dead and living."
The world of the dead is a region that is unknown; it is to us a mystery - a place of darkness, in one sense. But if we have confidence that the same Lord that we know here, and believe in here, and in whom we find salvation, life, and eternal rest, is Lord of the dead, then we feel at rest and safe.
What proof have we then of the fact that Christ is "Lord of the dead
and living?" In looking back through the history of Christ, we see that
when he was on earth, he first proved himself stronger than death, in all
its forms - curing all manner of diseases, and raising the dead. And then,
as though it were not enough to resist death, Christ claimed the
power to conquer it, after submitting to it and letting it do its
worst, by still rising victorious and immortal over the principality of
death. His crucifiers mocked him, saying, "He saved others, himself he
cannot save." But he might have asked, Which is the greater miracle - to
be kept from the fiery furnace, or to go into it as Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego did, and come out unscathed? It was far the greater miracle to
enter thus into the very portals of
If we look into the history of the Primitive Church, we shall see plenty of evidence that "he is the Lord of the dead and living." For instance, Stephen was stoned; and "looking up steadfastly into heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." He saw his master in death. Again, Paul was stoned, and stoned, so far as we know, as thoroughly as Stephen; was left for dead; and yet when his enemies had left him, he rose up alive, and departed. Here again, Christ is Lord of the dead and living. He gave power to the stones to kill Stephen, and denied that power to the same stones to destroy Paul.
So then, we know that Jesus Christ is the master of death; "that he
through death destroyed him that had the power of death." He has
Let us then accept Christ now, as "the Lord of the dead and living," and believe in him as the resurrection power, both on this and the other side of the veil. This world and Hades are but two mansions in the same house, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the master of the house.
The practical inferences to be drawn from what I have said are, first, that it is our duty not to mourn for our friends: and secondly, that we ought not to be afraid to die.
The successful management of our finances, and the toleration gained for our movement in this State at an early period in our history, we ever ascribe, in a great degree, to the wise and energetic action of Mr. J. H. Miller. Mr. Miller was remarkable for great hope he never was disheartened; be was a man of faith always prompt to act in emergencies no doubter; and his moves were attended with success. So long as a penny remained in our treasury he was cheerful, and did not despair of paying off a pending debt. By his strenuous efforts, as well as personal address, which was naturally very pleasing, he succeeded in bringing about most peaceable relations between the O.C. and the authorities of Madison county, as early as the year 1851. He was prized not only for his endowments as financier and business agent, but greatly beloved as a brother and faithful adherent of our cause.
The formation of our Brooklyn Community, and its life of a few years, are always associated with the remembrance of some persons not with us now. There were Mrs. Cragin, Mr. Daniel P. Nash, Philander Abbott, the two Mrs. Hamiltons, Herbert DeLatre and Sarah E. Burt, who were among those who formed the family at Brooklyn.
And the Putney Community, which existed for six or seven years, we cannot think of separately from those valued members who helped to make it a pleasant home. Mr. James Baker, Mr. Hial Waters and Mr. Daniel Hall, three brothers who were among the earliest converts to our faith and always ready to serve in any station, were prominent members of the Putney family.
In our domestic arrangements, to which I have already referred, the
names of Mother Hamilton (as we familiarly called her), Mother
In calling to mind our entertainments, musical as well as theatrical, dancing and other amusements once so popular among us, we see again the smiling faces of many an absent one.
We well remember the time when we all gathered under the butternut-tree, at the call of fife and beat of drum, with the enthusiasm and eagerness of little children, to attend a bee for planting or cutting corn - (those were the days when outdoor work was popular with the women) - for building fence or leveling a spot of ground.
As plainly as if it were but yesterday, come before us the "bag-bees," held so regularly for many years. Sitting in a semicircle, or round a large table, busily at work, but with an ear to the story always read on these occasions, were our sisters, Mrs. Howes, Junia Higgins, Maria Bailey, Mrs. Seymour, Mother Hamilton, Mother Burnham, S. C. Hamilton, S. E. Burt, Mrs. M. Kinsley, Mrs. Lynde, Jane Seymour. as well as many persons who are still with us. Indeed, the hour spent thus together was one of particular interest, and we never can think of it apart from those who were the most constant workers on the bags.
We seldom take a stroll down to the old "Mill," so long the abode of
our central industries, without remembering the time when we all, women
as well as men, found plenty of attractive labor to call us together at
the trap-shop. The busy hum of machinery in the carpenter-shop falls familiarly
on the ear and reminds us of those days when we "typos" were at work in
the printing-office just above. As we listen to the sound once more, our
thoughts go back to many a scene of interest to all of us, and recall the
face of many a person who enacted a part in it. In the printing-office,
there was Mr. George Noyes editing or writing, and who also had the job
of packing traps; Herbert DeLatre, writer, chief of the "typos," as well
as one of our principal phonographic reporters; Mrs. Susan Hamilton, who
was not only ready with her pen, but who served efficiently for several
years in the lighter work of the trap-shop; Sarah Burt and Florilla Nash,
always faithful compositors and pleasant companions; Hial Waters, who worked
in the grist-mill, but who also possessed considerable literary taste and
ability, and occasionally contributed an article for the paper; and Mr.
Ransom Reid, capable mechanic, who worked in the
trap-shop, and was generally consulted in all important operations about
the trap-shop. Many others formed the busy corps of workers, whose beaming
faces and laughing voices come vividly to mind when wandering over this
old building; among whom were Mr. James Conant, Henry and Arthur Clark,
Mr. Mallory, Samuel Hutchins, Edmond Knowles, and our brother Joel Higgins,
whose death was noticed in last week's paper.
Beloved by all, and associated with the childhood of many a young man and woman now grown up in the Community, is the remembrance of Mrs. P. Noyes, or "Grandmother Noyes," as we always loved to call her. She drew to herself the love of the young folks, because she was always so interested in them. She was youthful unto the age of eighty, and enjoyed youthful sports to the last. She was a powerful advocate of the Bible, and 1 think it is true that she had much to do in stimulating the young people to love it. 1 have myself known her to spend hours with children, patiently listening to their reading many a chapter in the Bible, she in the meantime explaining.
The establishing of a children's department separate from the general
family was an important event, and I cannot write of it without remembering
the labors of love performed by such persons as Mrs. Cragin, Mrs. S. D.
Worden, and Mrs. L. F. Knowles; they, assisted by members who still form
our number, were the first to carry out the new plan. Mrs. Cragin was a
great lover of children, and while she was severe on obvious evils, and
labored untiringly to eradicate faults in character, no one took more delight
in pleasing children than she. As I was one of the juveniles at the time
of which 1 am writing, 1 can testify to the truth of this assertion She
not only labored assiduously herself, but enlisted all in whom she discovered
a natural tact for caring for and amusing children. She introduced Mrs.
W. into the department, as she was not only one of the motherly kind of
women, but really possessed a fund of genuine mirthfulness, and was able
to devise many forms of amusement. And Mrs. Knowles, ever careful and saving,
was appropriately selected to take charge of the mending and sewing for
the children. Mrs. Cragin interested herself in all our affairs, from the
appointing of our attendants and school-teachers to the details of our
meals and amusements. She frequently held earnest meetings with us before
school, in which she would call our attention to the Bible, occasionally
giving us a chapter to commit to memory.
More might be said of Mrs. Cragin's dealings with the children, but perhaps the above is sufficient to show her usual interest in them. It is hardly necessary to add that she won the affections of the whole little flock, and her precepts made a lasting impression on the minds of many of the boys and girls belonging to it.
There are other names, which though not mentioned personally, are as
often thought and spoken of in the home circle as any already
named. Our past history is all the more sacred from the fact, that in all our experience, whether in battles with temptations, or in our greatest prosperity, they were with us, taking active part, recipients of our affection, and contributing their share to the happiness of all. But we are still one, and we can think of them only as a part of our great unit.
"On the removal of the Brooklyn family to Oneida in 1854, the scattered streams of minstrelsy began to converge and form the nucleus of what became afterwards the Community Orchestra. The hour of half-past twelve on alternate days saw a half-dozen or more musicians coming together in the parlor of the Mansion House; and for the next fifteen minutes the tuning of fiddles and bass viol, and the endeavor to harmonize a couple of indifferent flutes, made a most 'mellifluous' confusion, followed by about an equal time of performance out of the two or three well-worn collections of music which we happened to have. After a while, to accommodate the increasing number of instrumentalists who joined the circle, a four-sided stand was made on which to place the books. The front row of performers were seated, and others from behind looked over their heads."
This pictures well the scene, and brings vividly to mind the company
of anxious, would-be musicians, all huddled around a square blue box, and
earnestly endeavoring to get a glimpse of the music from one or two books
placed thereon. We were all the merest tyros in instrumental music, but
nevertheless very ambitious. We had no system -- some of our music was
arranged in one, some in two, and some in three parts; and we contented
ourselves with being able to read it through with tolerable accuracy. As
someone expressed it, "we had no leader; every man did what seemed good
in his own eyes;" or sometimes we were leaders in turn, which office consisted
in selecting the tunes and giving word to the rest in a commanding tone,
"All ready, play." But as "all" were very seldom ready at a time
some very questionable music often resulted. Still there were no critics
to discourage our rude attempts, and we pressed on. Certainly, the enthusiasm
and ambition of each member merited the praise that time ultimately awarded.
"At that time (1855) I commenced going into the trap-shop and nibbling
around, to see if 1 could not learn to make traps. Mr. Newhouse allowed
me to do some of the very minor portions of the business. I soon began
to push a little further; and J. TI. Barron, Mr. Newhouse's assistant,
gave me the help I needed. The band was just then starting, and we were
both interested in music. We would drill away at the music day after day,
and then go down to the trap-shop and talk it over." And it is a curious
fact that we can hardly think of musical gatherings in the old parlor after
dinner, without calling to mind the days when we all found labor at the
old mill"- and all our experience among the traps, in the printing-office,
etc., are as intimately associated with the growth of the orchestra. But
to proceed. The progress we made in musical matters was slow; "in the spring
of 1856, the orchestra consisted of the following pieces: a piccolo, two
flutes, six violins, a violoncello and ophicleide. To supply instruments
of percussion, J. F. Sears went to work and made a small and large drum.
The tinkling of a triangle occasionally added to the concord of sweet sounds.
In May of this year, C. S. Joslyn arranged Blockley's air of "Love Not"
in eight parts for the orchestra, which was its first advance beyond the
three-part tunes of the common instruction books. The effect of a more
complicated harmony was wonderfully stimulating."
C. S. Joslyn, our leader, was allowed a certain portion of each day for the study of music and composition. Consequently our noon practice was occasionally enlivened with an original composition from himself or a new arrangement of some old, familiar air. Among the first of these were the following from Dodworth's "Brass Band School," which he arranged in a manner adapted to our orchestra: "Gift Polka," 'Rover Quickstep," "Marseillaise Hymn," and the "German Andante." These additions, comparatively elaborate to anything we had previously had, inspired the performers with unwonted zeal, and, under the systematic leadership of Mr. Joslyn, they made unmistakable progress.
In the summer of 1857 our music began to attract the notice of tran-
"In the winter of 1860 Mr. Joslyn, by appointment of the Community, spent several weeks in New York for the purpose of improving his acquaintance with standard music, and studying orchestral organizations and effects. On his return, he brought with him the piano copies of several musical works, among which were the overture to 'Le Calif de Bagdad" by Boildien, an andante from the "Sicilian Vespers" by Verdi, and Auber's overture to "Fra Diavolo" (No.90).
"At about this time, some of the young men, being dissatisfied with their self-taught methods of execution on the violin, purchased Hill's edition of Sphor, and went back to the foundation, under that noted instructor, and by conscientious drilling on his system became respectable soloists. Another young man obtained a hundred dollars by what he considered over-work, and purchased with it a fine silver Boehm flute, but by advice of others exchanged it afterwards for two
When we were so closely crowded in the old house, one of the great questions that frequently arose was, "Where shall we go to practice?" Someone, who doubtless had experienced the inconvenience of our snug arrangements, thus depicts the state of things:
"Innumerable are the perplexities of an Association so full of conceits as this, with so little room! Where shall we rehearse our play or our song, so that everybody will not know it by heart before we are prepared to bring it out ~. Where shall we go to scrape our first lesson on the fiddle, or to bolt our first brayings on the horn? Where shall our committee on such a subject meet? Where can we gather for this or that? The school-room is one good place. The desks can be piled at one end and leave a respectable hall for whatever exercise you please. The dining-room will answer your purpose for a dancing lesson, if you will help hurry up the chores and be at some trouble to move the central table. The printing-office is an occasional resort out of hearing. If we have any proper Academy of Music it is the dairy-house! Quartette clubs and amateur violinists find a retreat there, and our parlor performances are often importations from that quarter. Some chilly dormitory will do on a pinch. Where there is a will there is a way, and we contrive after all, by dint of accommodation and organization and the stratagems of necessity, to find places for all improving pursuits."
In the summer of 1860, Mr. Felix Schelling, a Swiss music-teacher, came here with his family, and resided nearly a year. His specialty was vocal music, the guitar and piano-forte; but it is only justice to say, that he did much in raising the musical standard in the Community; he gave considerable attention to correctness of intonation, general artistic effect and other niceties, hitherto somewhat neglected. From this time the proficiency of the orchestra was noticeable -- rapid progress was made in the character of the musical selections and in their execution.
"It is true that still the bass-drum would occasionally come in with
a resounding thump at the wrong place, spoiling a delicate cadenza, or
the clarionet would get something in its throat, and emit a suppressed
squeak like a distressed duck. The flutes were sometimes refractory, and
refused to come into perfect tune with the other instruments; the violins
would get a habit of breaking a string in the
During the year 1861 the orchestra reached its maximum of numbers and
efficiency. From an impromptu gathering of four or five self-taught performers,
it had grown to number twenty-eight passably well-drilled amateurs. The
names of the instruments and performers were as follows:
Here is what G. W. Noyes says of this entertainment:
"Many of the audience had never heard an overture, and the execution
of this piece was consequently a revelation, opening a new door to their
conceptions of musical art. They could read in its variety, its symmetry,
its sustained interest and its magnificent finale, the dramatic or story-telling
power of which music is capable. The light, bounding movement in six-eight
time with which it commences is a perfect musical idealization of a dancing-girl.
The notes themselves dance and frolic with bewitching abandonment and grace.
Then follows the grave remonstrance of a guardian or lover, who seeks to
tame this wild beauty; then her repentance is heard in a wail of anguish
and remorse, which gradually diminishes to a complete pause, sounding like
a child sobbing itself to sleep. After further escapades of the still unsubdued
bayadere, and a varied dialogue in which the sober spirit of the lover
steadily prevails, the twain finally blend into a rapid movement, each
borrowing some traits of the other, and closing in a superb climax of harmony.
Such, as we remember it, was the story suggested to our ears, by this beautiful
THE chapter of "Old Mansion House Memories," in which is a somewhat detailed account of the experience of the Community with "seceders," has been the occasion of remark by some readers of the CIRCULAR. As I feel anxious to do entire justice, I have thought best to devote another chapter to this subject before proceeding further with my reminiscences. As an appropriate introduction to the matter in hand, I will subjoin an extract from a letter lately received:
"I regard those two months at the Community as the natal season of a new life. the period of my theological course of studies, and the Community as my Alma Mater. The truths there learned are still dearly cherished, and the spirit there imbibed, is a 'well of water springing up into everlasting life,' and the suffering there endured has doubtless saved me years of trouble by the lessons learned.
"It seems to me your experiments, open to intelligent inspection and abridging the private rights of none, should secure toleration for their scientific value, in view of your conceded honest and intelligent investigation. For if you find great truths they are freely given to the
world, and your own faults and errors are rescinded, as discovered,
because of your single-eyed devotion to Christ and the truth.
There have been instances of persons leaving the Community, who after a season applied again for membership, and returned to be numbered among our most valued brothers and sisters; while others have left us after a second trial, only regretting that they could not more easily conform to the customs of our new form of society.
Some correspondent, in referring to our chapter on seceders expressed
a desire to know more of the causes that induced so many
I have already mentioned the disuse of pork, which took place in 1855. But the family continued to use beef, veal and mutton, freely; while they drank their cup of coffee at breakfast, and tea for supper as a matter of course. As early as 1850, several attempts were made to change our practice in this respect, hut as the general appetite was strongly in favor of a hot, stimulating drink, matters went on as before. A few years later the experiment was tried of bringing these drinks on to the table only as luxuries; this worked nicely for awhile; but then it was so cozy to sit round the festive board, with the steaming decoctions of tea and coffee before us, sending up odors most delicious to our olfactories, that we easily relapsed into our former habit.
After awhile another attempt at reform was made; this time the plan was proposed to wholly give up the use of these beverages for a certain length of time; but either from a lack of downright earnestness, or unity of purpose, or for some other reason, tea and coffee again came into popular favor, and soon were used as much as ever. Thus we vacillated between a struggle for freedom from bondage and a desire to gratify natural appetites, for several years. At length a public move was made, and the following compromise proposed: we were to abstain from the use of tea and coffee except at certain stated times, which it was decided should be every Tuesday and Friday noon thereafter and whatever went beyond this should be regarded entirely as luxury. This worked the best of any plan we had yet hit upon. But there were drawbacks still. As time went on, and this routine was established, the "tea-and-coffee-days" became real seasons of conviviality, and those who had not learned self-control were apt to indulge in too large draughts on these occasions, which in turn brought unpleasant reaction and general unsatisfactory experience. Then so long as tea and coffee remained in the house, they were more or less of a temptation.
It was at this time that the popular practice of getting up "parties,"
at which, among other dainties, it was expected coffee and tea would
About this time, February, 1860, the steward announced that there had lately been an unusual consumption of tea and coffee. He referred to a resolution the family had taken the year previous, that they would have these drinks but once a week, as well as the more recent attempts to confine their use to twice a week, and showed how matters stood at that time. He invited the expression of the family on the subject. As a result of the conversation which followed, it was thought that our backward move in this respect was greatly owing to the fact that we had had one rule for our visitors and another for ourselves. We prepared tea and coffee for our visitors as a mark of courtesy (almost impossible to omit), and as we had visitors constantly, the tempting fumes of one or other of these drinks were in our dining-room every morning and evening, and very naturally a temptation to many. It was thought we should either have to alter our arrangements for visitors, or furnish meals for them in a separate room. The matter was left open for thought and future remark.
A few weeks later, the subject was again alluded to; it was thought
that using so much tea and coffee had something to do with our having those
that were "weak and sickly" among us. Although circumscribed at the family
meal, in all cases of indisposition they were freely
After one or two evenings more had been devoted to a pretty free discussion of the uses and abuses of narcotics in general, the family were prepared to vote for the final banishment of tea and coffee from our table. Not a dissenting voice was heard. This occurred on the evening of March 1, 1860. A few evenings later the whole family testified to satisfactory experience since the change, and never from that time has Java coffee, or black or green tea been prepared for family use. And though for several years we have furnished these drinks freely to our visitors, they are no longer temptations to us.
old number of the CIRCULAR, published several years since, an article entitled "American Tea," from which I cull the following:
"The majority of our Community members never thought of strawberry-tea, until, a few years ago, some of their number, once particularly fond of the Chinese beverage, started the practice of gathering strawberry leaves for this purpose. At first the new enterprise received little favor; but as 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating,' so the proof of the tea was in the drinking; and, as few of the incredulous withstood this practical test, the new candidate for table honors rapidly gained in general esteem. More strawberry leaves were gathered by individuals and groups the second year than the first; and the third year the tea-leaf harvest became a regular and recognized business. Both Communities now lay by an annual supply of strawberry leaves, sufficient to afford a tri-weekly cup of tea to all who like it; from which number scarcely one wishes to be reckoned out. Many old tea-drinkers say it compares favorably with the oriental product. Visitors often mistake it for "Bohea" and "Suchong." Only a few days since a friend from a distance could hardly credit the statement that the tea he drank was simply an infusion from strawberry leaves. He had always been very particular to purchase the best quality of black tea, and thought he had been drinking a cup of tea prepared from a first-rate article. The Communities long since discarded common tea and coffee as ordinary daily drinks, deeming them injurious to health of mind and body, and because they chose to assert their independence of the spiritual bondage usually engendered by the use of all such stimulating articles. The new or American tea (as I have christened it), is far less stimulating than the foreign article, and, so far as we have been able to ascertain, if used with common moderation, is not injurious to health of mind or body. Other considerations might be named in favor of its general cultivation and use.
"In gathering the leaves, it is only necessary to select those which
are free from rust and which are vigorous; also avoid stems and runners.
The oldest are said to make the strongest tea, while that made from new
leaves has the superior flavor. The leaves are dried in the shade, by being
thinly spread on shelves or tables. Occasionally examine and turn them
over, till they are dry enough to pack away; and in packing, endeavor to
exclude the air and so prevent the aroma from escaping. In preparing the
table decoction, steep the leaves as
Notwithstanding all the good things that may be said of "strawberry-tea," "cocoa," and other harmless beverages in themselves, we as a Community have found ourselves more and more indifferent to them; our attachment to hot drinks is lessening yearly, and at the present time we can say, We are not in bondage to any.
As for meat, the Community long ago abandoned the practice of bringing
it on to the table every noon. Pork we never use. The use of other kinds
of meat, as beef, mutton, venison, poultry, etc., is entirely optional
with us sometimes abstaining from it for months, and again using it in
some form as often as once a week. While we feel free to use meat or let
it alone, and while it forms a pleasing variety, whether baked, fried,
in a soup, as hash or otherwise, still I think it would cause very little
disturbance if it were entirely withdrawn from our bill-of-fare.
"You see," said he, "labor is natural; hard labor, real hard; and it was ordained by the Lord, too. Don't you remember what he said to Adam? 'Thou shalt earn thy bread by the sweat of thy brow, and on thy belly shall thou go all the days of thy life.'"
Of another occasion the matter of diet was debated:
"A promising speaker, whose eloquence was not always sufficiently ballasted with accurate statements, in urging the superior claims of fruit and farinaceous substances for food, referred to the offerings of Cain and Abel, representing the former as making a meat-offering which the Lord indignantly rejected, and the latter as presenting the fruits of the ground, which were accepted with blessing. Scarcely had he indicated his intention of resting his oratorical powers, when X--was designated by the chairman as having a right to the floor. Rising exultingly, his height of seventy-two inches apparently increased by three or four more, with his long arm extended, and bony finger pointed, and with a voice well adapted to his manner, he said: 'Mr. Speaker! I tremble for the destiny of that man's soul. He evidently has not read the Scriptures since an extreme youth. What are the facts about Cain and Abel? It was Cain who brought of the first-fruits of the ground apples, turnips, beets, onions and the like -and the Lord would none of them! But Abel brought the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof; and the Lord was pleased with his offering; the incense thereof was pleasant to his nostrils.' Then turning to the record, he slowly read the account, strongly emphasizing certain portions. It is hardly necessary to add, that the question was decided against the side whose opener had so fatally blundered in his Scriptural argument."
The Young Men's Speaking Club was a very interesting part of the winter's course of education; it not only assisted those who took a part in getting freedom to express themselves before others, but it certainly aided each one to think and reason independently on the various subjects brought before the Club for debate. And these debating-clubs not only benefited those who belonged to them, but created an ambition for intellectual improvement in those who came within
Before separating we settled one question which had previously been before the club - a closely contested question, which after long and animated debate had been decided in the affirmative by weight of argument - namely: "Do the sorrows of this life exceed the joys thereof?" now by weight of actual facts, by a unanimous "No." Thus ended "Sociable" No. 1. "Sociable" No. 2 occurred nine months later, and I believe terminated the existence of the Y.M.S.C.
As I daily pass the site of the Old Mansion, my thoughts involuntarily revert to the time when we all were snugly housed in the old building, and many a scene dances before my mind which has long lain buried in the past. I see again those companions whom I so early learned to love; I see the kind guardians and parents who so anxiously watched over our every interest; I recall the dreams of childhood, the fond hopes and aspirations of youth, the deeper affections and binding friendships of maturer years and I live once more in the past. The hours of buoyancy incident to youth, with the care, and sadness even, of riper years, are the same to me now equally sacred. The dances, the songs, the dramas, the games, are all curiously associated and intermixed with an undercurrent of stern experience, in which mind and heart were chastened and character deepened and molded. Yon butternut tree, still standing, is the one relic left of the early days when we lived together in that homely Old Mansion House, and is to us a reminder of what has gone before. Often of a summer's evening we were wont to convene under its sheltering limbs to take a rustic supper, or listen to music, or hear the words of some eloquent speaker. Ah! the old butternut tree has been a silent witness all these years, and it stands today as a memorial of times past; a connecting-link between the old and new the past and present. But I must on with my story, and tell how we came to build a new home
In the autumn of 1856, after the concentration of the four Communes, we were a good deal crowded, and it took pretty skillful management to get along smoothly. By dint of good calculation, said to belong to that "mother of invention," necessity, we packed our goods and chattels into unused corners, and ourselves into attics and out-of-the-way places, and were thankful. But the fact of our crowded condition could not well be ignored, and the question was at length forced upon us, what should be done? In the first place, was it probable that we should always stay in this neighborhood? If so, was it not time to make arrangements for the better accommodation of our increasing numbers? At any rate, there was no harm in agitating the subject peradventure, something might come of it, notwithstanding the low state of finances at the time. The enthusiasm of the family,
was soon aroused, and there followed a series of plans and diagrams, some of which were amusingly elaborate. Now, after the lapse of a dozen years or more, since the house is all made of brick and mortar, we cannot but laugh at the various and extravagant notions of some, who in all gravity propounded most intricately drawn plans for our consideration. The first which I remember was like this: an octagonal building one hundred and fifty feet in diameter and two stories high, having an octagonal room in the center of ninety feet diameter, extending in height to the top of the building, and surmounted by a dome of the same diameter with the central room; the dome to be covered with ground glass; the rooms around the central room on the first floor above the basement to be occupied by various departments of business; and the division of the second story to be made into tent-rooms for sleeping apartments these all to open into a balcony which was to surround the central room; this latter was to be the Community parlor, and place for general meetings. The basement to be used for a cellar, kitchen, dining-room, etc. Mr. J. improved on this plan by suggesting wooden partitions instead of cloth for the bed-rooms.
This plan was further elaborated by some imaginative body, who proposed that the entire structure should be fire-proof the framework of iron, the covering of glass, the floors of marble, and so on. Indeed this one would have made us a veritable palace.
Another gentleman modified the form of the previous plan, and suggested the shape of the Greek Cross, a circular room in the center to be covered by a splendid dome; and everything to be arranged in the magnificent style
Mr. Y., of a more practical turn, drew a plan distinct from either of the others, and stated his objections to those previously proposed, especially the octagonal form. He thought there would be many inconvenient angles. Then followed several very simple diagrams, but objectionable as being old-fashioned, and too circumscribed for a Community dwelling. Mr. G. then made remarks on all the plans already exhibited, but expressed his preference for the octagon. At this time the state of our finances prohibited the idea of taking any practical measures, and the discussions were postponed to some future time. Thus matters remained for two or three years more, until we were urged by necessity to decide upon something. Our business had
been prosperous, and we had now the means to do with. So through the winter of 1859-60 plans were again in favor and invention active. After due consideration of the good points in each presentation, Mr. E. H. Hamilton, assisted by Mr. J. H. Noyes, and authorized by the family, drew the final plan! This matter was then settled. Then came an important item for discussion, viz., location. It was not very easy to decide this point, there being so many minds about it. But the majority favored the present site; so that when the question was put to vote, a ready decision was given
As soon as the spring of 1861 opened the work commenced, and in the month of April the corner-stone was laid. In February, 1862, the wing of the house was ready for occupation. On the 26th of June, the large Hall was completed, and was opened with appropriate exercises. Songs, instrumental music, with speeches and toasts, characterized this memorable occasion. Thus we left the old house for the new. We continued to use the former as a dormitory, and until within two years it contained our kitchen and dining-room; but it was never home after we built the brick house. The "old parlor" was no longer the scene of our evening gatherings, but was subsequently partitioned off into six large bed-rooms.
Two years ago, when the new wing was completed, which amply accommodated men, women and children, we began to consider the danger of having a wooden building so near us; the old house was then condemned to destruction. On Tuesday, the 24th of November, 1870, we took our farewell dinner within its walls. "Tables were arranged in the old dining-room and kitchen, so that both the Oneida and Willow-Place Communities were able to discuss at the same time the nice oysters provided by our generous steward."
When the day of doom was announced for the old edifice it was emptied of its valuables; the contents of closets and cupboards were dragged to light to be reclaimed or rejected forever. Someone remarked, "There was truck enough in the bowels of the old structure to supply a small village." One by one every article was removed; the doors and window-casings were taken out, partitions, floors and every board of value saved, leaving only the skeleton of a house; on Saturday afternoon, the 27th of November, the last bent went down with a crash, and the Old Mansion House was NO MORE!
Thus I have traced an outline of our history during the memorable
years of our residence in the Old Mansion. I have endeavored to faithfully delineate our varied experience within its walls, and when my memory has failed to serve me, I have had recourse to the past published reports and journals of the Community. There are still many details yet untold, and many interesting sayings not reported indeed, volumes might be written of the heart experience of individuals; but I leave them to other pens. My story is done I will say farewell to the reader, make my curtsy, and retire.