Being A Mother in the Oneida Community

Charlotte Miller Leornard

Charlotte Miller Leonard gave birth to John Humphrey Noyes II on November 18, 1869, the 44th child born in the Community and the 2nd eugenics child.  Charlotte Leonard was 23.  The father was John Humphrey Noyes, who was 58.

Charlotte and Her Son

On October 1, 1870, Charlotte started making entries in a diary.  She recorded her experiences as a new mother of a Community child fairly regularly throughout the remainder of 1870, and continued writing in her diary off and on until the end of 1877.

At first, her diary entries focused almost exclusively about her struggles over living within the principles of raising children communally.  But over the years, as she adjusted to the separation from Humphrey, as she called her son, she wrote about the critical events and issues in life in the Community, and she even wrote about the election of John Humphrey Noyes’ cousin, Rutherford Hayes, as President of the United States.

She began her diary with the following entry:

“October 1, 1870 ~ Myron (Kinsley) got this little book for me at Utica yesterday.  Hope I shall make good use of it.  It is long since I have recorded any of my experience and I have not cared to do so.  God knows what experience I have been through the past year and though it has been the most trying part of my life, I thank God for it all.”

The following entries are typical expressions of her feelings about giving Humphrey up to be raised in the new Children’s Wing of the Mansion House.”

“I thank Him (God) for a good little boy as Humphrey is.  And I pray that he may always be a Community boy.  I wish to give myself to him anew to God and the Community.  I believe the Community is the best mother a child can have, and I confess my confidence in it.”

“October 3 ~ Went to the Children’s House today.  Miss Pomeroy is to continue taking care of Humphrey for the present.  Cannot tell what may happen, perhaps I shall not have him anymore to take care of at all.  But if it be God’s will that I should be so, I know that He will not only make me reconciled but thankful.  I wish to enter into my work at the Children’s House with a new purpose to serve the Community and give my child to the Lord… He will care for him.”

Charlotte Leonard

But within a couple of weeks, the situation had changed, and we can see from the following passages the swings in moods that Charlotte experienced, brought on by her desire to take care of her child and at the same time her belief in God and the principles of the John Humphrey Noyes.

“October 20 ~ Commenced to-day taking care of Humphrey again.  The Lord is good to me — very.  Father Noyes is so kind and good to me too.  After returning last evening from a ride to Mr. Leet’s with the children, Mother (Harriet) Skinner said that she had some good news to tell me, and that was that Father Noyes proposed to have me take the baby again.”

“This was indeed good news, and I could not keep back the tears.  I felt so thankful, and it seemed to me I did not deserve it.  She said Father Noyes had been talking about weaned love, and about Abraham’s having a weaned love for Isaac after he offered him for sacrifice.  He thought that weaned love was healthy and good, and he did not care how much we loved our children if we loved them with weaned love.  He thought that I had a weaned love for Humphrey now, and he thought I was ready to take him back again.”

“I feel like taking care of Humphrey as one of God’s little children, and not as though he was mine.  I do not feel at all like claiming him for he belongs to God and the Community, and I am appointed to take care of him for them.”

A week later, Humphrey is ill, and Charlotte fears for his life, but she is comforted by Noyes.

“October 27 ~ Father Noyes said to me a day or two ago, in speaking of Humphrey, that, ‘We must consider that he lives by faith — remember that.  Just as you do — you thought he was going to die, and now you live by faith.  He lives by our faith.  He is God’s boy.  Let us set a good example to the rest by having faith about our child, and giving him to God.  I pray that God will keep you from idolatry and give you wisdom in taking care of him.  These things I guess will bring you and me together.  Every now and then you have your trials about the baby and about your health and about his.  But you come off victorious every time, don’t you?’  I answered that I did.  ‘Well, you must have that same faith now about him.  You must take a strong function here (putting his hand on his heart) with Christ and with me and you will help him in that way.”

By the time of Humphrey’s first birthday, her son has recovered his health.

“November 18 ~ Little Humphrey just one year old today.  It hardly seems possible that I have a little boy a year old.  Mrs. Sears and I got up a little party for him, first for the fun of it, and as he is so fond of baked apples and milk, we had them for the main dish.  Father Noyes and Aunt Harriet were among the company, with several others.  Father Noyes seemed to enjoy it real well.  Humphrey enjoyed it mightily, sitting in a high chair between his father and me and eating his bread and milk from a tin basin.”

Charlotte Leonard

Such a touching family scene that would seem familiar to us today, except for the simple nature of the party, and the fact that this was no ordinary family.

Charlotte ends her entry for Humphrey’s birthday by thanking God and praying for wisdom and desiring “to be watchful and earnest, and keep in the spirit of ‘weaned love.’”

The Oneida Community had begun its eugenics program the year before, determined to show the world that they could selectively breed superior children, both physically and spiritually.  Charlotte’s next entry describes “a baby shower.”

“November 21 ~ First, all the mothers were seated on the stage with their babies, also all the expectant mothers.  Then the curtain rose, and John Lord proceeded to weigh each baby, beginning with the oldest.  Humphrey’s weight was twenty pounds four ounces — same as Blanche.  Richard’s weight was twenty-one pounds fifteen ounces.  Rutherford’s nineteen pounds two ounces, etc.  This was quite an interesting performance, and the babies appeared to enjoy it as well as the audience.  Humphrey was constantly creeping to the edge of the stage and throwing his rattlebox down to the band, which sat first under the edge of the stage.  After the weighing, Richard and Humphrey were undressed and placed on the stage.  The little fellows hardly knew what to make of it, and Humphrey was so frightened we had to take him off the stage.”

By early January 1871, Charlotte seems to have come to terms with giving Humphrey over to the “Mother and Father” of the Children’s House.

Oneida Community Children

“January 18, 1871 ~ Humphrey has finally entered the Children’s House.  We put him in Monday the sixteenth.  I have moved into another room, smaller but very pleasant, and am to keep on sleeping with him for the present.  He seems to take to the change very well, and will, I expect, get along nicely there.  Of course I miss him some.  But I find my experience in giving him up last summer was very good for me, and is quite a help tom me now.  It is quite a comfort to sleep with him still. “

“I guess Aunt Harriet misses him full as much as I do, as she has been with him more or less ever since he was born.  But by being away from him so last summer makes it comparatively easy for me.  I confess faith about him under all circumstances, and confess my trust in God, and shall expect that he will do well and be a good boy.”

Charlotte with Stephen and Humphrey

Charlotte Leonard had one more child, Stephen Rose Leonard, on November 18, 1872.  She worked as a silk-spooler and later as a bookkeeper.  She had a good voice and performed a prominent role in the Community’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore at the Mansion House in July 1880.  She is described as having a quick mind and unusual memory, and was self-taught in mathematics and French.  She worked in the business office of Oneida Community Limited after the break-up.  She died in Kenwood September 29, 1928.

Charlotte’s son, Humphrey, would grow up to become John Humphrey Noyes II.  He would join his cousin, Pierrepont Noyes, in transforming the joint stock company ~ Oneida Community Limited, which was created in 1880 at the dissolution of the Community, into the world’s largest manufacturer of silverware. Humphrey would become the secretary of Oneida Ltd.  He would marry Dr. Hilda Herrick, the daughter of Tirzah Miller and James Herrick, and build a house in Kenwood, near the Mansion House among other former Community members in what was once the Community apple orchard.  Humphrey died in Kenwood on May 3. 1940.


Eugenics and Special Love

Oneida Community Children

In Harriet Worden’s February 27, 1869 entry in her journal (Harriet’s Posts ~ 1869), she reported news about “stirpiculture” ~ what John Humphrey Noyes called the eugenics program.

Harriet Worden wrote, “The most notable event of today is no event but simply the astonishing proposal of Mr. Noyes that John Homer Barron & Ann Eliza Van Velzer should have a child.  It was proposed for the purpose of helping Ann Eliza & John Cragin to clear themselves of special love ~ Mr. N. thinks it will be an effectual cure.”

Special love was defined as an exclusive, possessive emotional or sexual relationship that was considered by Noyes to be a source of sin.  Individuals who were unable to avoid special attachments, including with their children, were subjected to formal criticisms sometimes before the entire Community.  If the special love continued, the members were separated.  They would be banned from contact with each other at Oneida, or if that did not “cure” the problem, one of the special lovers or “sticky” parents would be sent to the colony at Wallingford Connecticut, sometimes for years.  Tirzah Miller was exiled to Wallingford in 1864 to end a special love, possibly with Frank Wayland-Smith.  She returned to Oneida in 1868, when it was decided to move production of the Community paper, The Circular, from Wallingford to Oneida.

The three members mentioned by Harriet Worden in her journal ~ Homer Barron, Ann Eliza Van Velzer and John Cragin ~ were members of the “Second Generation.”  They were in their twenties and mid-thirties.  It was this generation that was the focus of much hope as well as concern by Noyes and the elder leaders.  They would be the ones to carry the Community forward.

Ellen Nash & George Miller in the Quadrangle

The Second Generation grew up in the Community, but had not been inspired by the fervor of the religious revivals of the 1830s that influenced so many of their parents and prepared them to accept Noyes’ ideas of creating a “Heaven on Earth” in Oneida, New York.

Many of the young men of this generation were educated outside the Community and were thus exposed to new ideas.  But it was the tendency of the young to desire sexual relationships among their own age group that threatened to undermine to principles of the Community.  The Oneida Community demanded of its members that everyone be included in the sexual life of the Community. Ascending relationships were encouraged, whereby the young would benefit from having sexual relationships with older, more spiritually advanced members.

Noyes’ initiation of the eugenics program was an opportunity for the Community to grow its membership from within.  It was also a way of overcoming emotional attachments between special lovers by substituting another partner to conceive a child for the Community’s purpose not for personal love .  As Noyes told Tirzah Miller:  “What is salvation from sin?  Why, it is being saved from our passions, and amativeness is the king passion.”  And it was amativeness that John Cragin and Ann Eliza could not discipline, so Noyes decided to intervene.

This is the second entry in Harriet Worden’s journal in February referring to a proposal by Noyes to initiate the pairing of couples to produce superior children by the “scientific” selection of parents.  On February 10, 1869, a vote was taken at the evening meeting about who would be the mother of a child with John Lord.  Georgina Sears was voted to be the “perfect” candidate.

The conduct of the eugenics program in the first years seemed rather ad hoc.  Later a formal committee was formed to select the best matches ~ physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But even when the committee was carrying out its responsibilities, John Humphrey Noyes could still “suggest” an inspired pairing for other than scientific purposes.  In 1873, he paired his niece, Tirzah Miller, with Edward Inslee to keep him from leaving the Community.  It was a decision that would backfire on Noyes after Tirzah and Edward fell in love, creating years of emotional drama for the entire Community.

Harriet Worden tells us that Noyes’ proposal caused “Homer Barron some severe trial at first; also Mrs. Barron (Homer’s mother).  Homer is going to have a good spirit about it now.”

Ann Eliza Van Velzer

Ruth Barron was born to Homer Barron and Ann Eliza Van Velzer on June 15, 1870, over a year after Noyes’ proposal.  She was the 48th child born in the Community and the 6th child born during the eugenics program.

Ruth Barron was Ann Eliza Van Velzer’s second Community child.  Ann also gave birth to Wilfred Sears in 1861, fathered by John Sears.  She never married and died at the age of 63 in 1899.

John Holton Cragin

John Cragin may have had one Community child, Katie Howard, but her parentage is unclear.  He had two children with Lily Hobart ~ John Hobart Cragin and Carlotta Cragin (Kinsley).  He married Lily Hobart just before the break-up of the Community.  He died in 1899 at the age of 54.

John Homer Barron

Homer Barron fathered another eugenics child in 1878, Benjamin Barron, with a daughter of John Humphrey Noyes, Constance Bradley.  He struggled with his own special love for Tirzah Miller in the 1870s.  For a year Tirzah and Homer unsuccessfully attempted to conceive a eugenics child.  Homer was highly critical of Tirzah’s love for Edward Inslee.  At the break-up, Homer married Helen Miller, Tirzah’s sister.  He adopted her daughter, Miriam Trowbridge Noyes, another daughter of John Humphrey Noyes.  He and Helen had another daughter, Norma, in 1882.  Homer died in 1924 at the age of 89.

The Children of John Humphrey Noyes

John Humphrey Noyes (In White Coat) 1868

George Bernard Shaw wrote about the goals of the Oneida Community’s eugenics experiment in the Revolutionist’s Handbook, a supplement to his play, Man and Superman ~ “the question of what sort of men they should strive to breed being settled once and for all by the obvious desirability of breeding another Noyes.” Noyes fathered nine of the fifty-eight children born during the experiment.

Who were the children of John Humphrey Noyes?  Who were their mothers?  What role did they play in the history of the Oneida Community, and the development of the joint stock corporation that became the legacy of the utopian ideas of the John Humphrey Noyes and the Community?  Were they as Tirzah Miller, Noyes’ niece, described “the aristocracy” of the Oneida Community?

While living here in the Mansion House, it certainly is apparent to us that being a direct descendant of John Humphrey Noyes is a source of pride and distinction for many descendants.

This post will provide a list of the 13 children of John Humphrey Noyes – four from before the eugenics program and nine during.  I am indebted to Walt Lang for his work on the genealogy of the Oneida Community “Family” that is essential for identifying the progeny of Noyes, and to Anthony Wonderley, the curator of the Oneida Community Mansion House, who provided Walt Lang’s lists of children born in the Oneida Community.  Future posts will present more in-depth portraits of the Noyes’ children.

Theodore Richards Noyes

Born ~ July 26, 1841 in the Putney Community, Vermont

Mother ~ Harriet Holton Noyes, age 33

John Humphrey Noyes was 30.

Theodore was Noyes’ first child with his only legally married wife.  Theodore was educated at Yale as a doctor.  He briefly held the leadership of the Community (May 1877-January 1878).  He influenced the development of Oneida Community Limited.  He had three children during the eugenics experiment: Richard Worden Noyes (later Wayland Smith), Rhoda Hero Noyes (Dunn) and Cora Chadwick Noyes.  He also had a child after the Break-up: G. Raymond Noyes.

He died June 6, 1903 at age 61.

Victor Cragin Noyes

Born ~ September 6, 1847 in the Putney Community

Mother ~ Mary Cragin, age 37 – who died from drowning less than three years later

John Humphrey Noyes was 36.

Victor Cragin Noyes was Noyes’ second son.  His twin sister, Victoria, died three days after her birth.  Victor suffered from mental illness in his youth and was put in an asylum by his father.  He recovered and worked in the Community as a horticulturalist and a salesman.  He had one child during the eugenics experiment, Corinna Ackley (Noyes), who later married another son of John Humphrey Noyes, Pierrepont.

He died April 8, 1905 at age 78.

Constance Bradley Noyes

Born ~ February 15, 1857, the 7th child born in the Oneida Community

Mother ~ Sarah Ann Summers, age 30.  She was adopted by George and Mary Cragin before they joined John Humphrey Noyes in Putney, Vermont.

John Humphrey Noyes was 46.

Constance, sometimes called Consuelo, was Noyes’ first daughter, but towards the end of the Community she refused to admit that Noyes was her father.  She worked as a bookkeeper.  She had two children during the eugenics program: Karl Hatch and Benjamin W. Barron, one child after the Break-up, Hugh Stanley Reeve.

She died June 4, 1917 at age 67.

Jessie Catherine Baker (Kinsley)

Born ~ March 26, 1858, the 18th child born in the Community

Mother ~ Catherine E. Baker, age 43

John Humphrey Noyes was 47.

Jessie was Noyes’ second daughter.  She grew up in the Children’s House in Oneida, and taught children at the Wallingford Community, the satellite colony in Connecticut.  She had no Community children.  At the Break-up, she married Myron Kinsley and they had three children: Edith Maria Kindley, Albert Kinsley and Jessie Janet Kinsley (Rich).  She became an artist at the age of 50, and created a new art form ~ tapestries made from silk braidings.  She wrote a memoir of her childhood in the Community, A Lasting Spring.

She died February 10, 1938 at age 79.

John Humphrey Noyes II

Born ~ November 18, 1869, the 44th child born in the Community and the 2nd eugenics child

Mother ~ Charlotte Miller Leonard, age 23

John Humphrey Noyes was 58.

John (called Humphrey as a child) was Noyes’ third son.  He was educated in the Children’s House and began working for the Oneida Community Limited at age 19 in the Fruit Department, later the Silk Department.  He became a silk representative in New York for the Company in 1903, and then became an assistant to his brother, Pierrepont, when Pierrepont became general manager.  John became the Secretary of Oneida Limited.  He married the daughter of Tirzah Miller and James Herrick, Hilda Herrick, and they had six children: Adele Charlotte Noyes (Mines, Davies), David Herrick Noyes, Tirzah Miller Noyes (Rothschild, Orton) , Julia Hayes Noyes (Burnham), John H. Noyes III, and Silvia Winifred Noyes (Paquette).

He died May 3, 1940 at 70.

Pierrepont Burt Noyes

Born ~ August 18, 1870, the 49th child born in the Community and the 7th eugenics child

Mother ~ Harriet Worden, age 30

John Humphrey Noyes was 59.

Pierrepont (called Pip as a child) was Noyes’ fourth son.  He was educated in the Children’s House, but spent a year at Colgate University.  He went into business with his brother Holton Noyes, before working for the Oneida Community Limited in Niagara Falls.  At the age of 25, he effectively took over the Company and directed it for twenty years, leading Oneida Ltd to international success.  He married his cousin, Corinna Ackley, Victor Noyes’ daughter, and they had three children: Constance P. Noyes (Robertson), Barbara Worden Noyes (Smith) and Pierrepont Trowbridge Noyes (“Pete”).  He wrote a moving account of growing up in the Community, My Father’s House.

He died April 15, 1959, at 88

Holton Van Velzer Noyes

Born ~ March 7, 1871, the 55th child born in the Community and the 13th eugenics child

Mother ~ Mary Elizabeth Van Velzer, age 23

John Humphrey Noyes was 60.

Holton (“HV”) was Noyes’ fifth son.  Holton moved with his siblings to Niagara Falls to live with his father, John Humphrey Noyes, after Noyes fled Oneida in 1879.  He joined Pierrepont in running Oneida Community Limited, becoming a Director.  He wrote a history of the Company with his cousin, another eugenics child, Stephen Rose Leonard, son of Charlotte Leonard.  He married another eugenics child of the Community, Josephine Kinsley, and they had three children: Howard Holton Noyes, Helen Dorothy Noyes (Wood) and Albert Kinsley Noyes.

He died March 17, 1953, at 82.

Gertrude Hayes Noyes

Born ~ December 29, 1871, the 58th child born in the Community and the 16th eugenics child

Mother ~ Harriet Olds, age 22

John Humphrey Noyes was 60.

Gertrude was Noyes’ third daughter was raised in the Children’s House.  She married the son to one of John Humphrey Noyes’ brothers, who did not join the Community.   They had four children: John Rutherford Noyes, Richard Woodman Noyes, Margaret Stacey Noyes (Goldsmith) and Charles Hayes Noyes.

She died April 25, 1951, at 79

Irene Campbell Newhouse Noyes

Born ~ June 5, 1873, the 65th child born in the Community and the 23rd eugenics child

Mother ~ Arabelle Campbell Woolworth, age 23

John Humphrey Noyes was 62.

Irene was Noyes’ fourth daughter.  She was adopted by Milford Newhouse, when her mother married him at the Break-up.  She began her education in the Mansion House, but later went to Cornell University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.  She taught school for four years.  She married Tirzah Miller’s son, George Wallingford Noyes, her cousin, and they had three children: Imogen Campbell Noyes (Stone), Charlotte MacCallum Noyes (Sewall) and Janet Woolworth Noyes.

She died May 9, 1956, at 83.

Godfrey Noyes

Godfrey Barron Noyes

Born ~ August 22, 1876, the 68th child born in the Community and the 26th eugenics child

Mother ~ Maria Fanny Barron, age 31

John Humphrey Noyes was 65.

Godfrey was Noyes’ sixth son.  His mother never married at the Break-up.  Little is known about Godfrey.

He died February 2, 1893, at 19

Dorothy Hendee Noyes

Born ~ August 22, 1876, the 86th child born in the Community and the 44th eugenics child

Mother ~ Beulah Foster Hendee, age 29

John Humphrey Noyes was 65.

Dorothy was Noyes’ fifth daughter.  She was named Jenny after a Dickens character, “Jenny Wren”, but was soon renamed Dorothy.  Her mother married Alfred Barron at the Break-up.  She married Stephen Rose Leonard, Charlotte Leonard’ son.  They had three children:  Mary Irene Leonard (Beagle), Catherine “Kate” Leonard (O’Halloran) and Stephen Jr.  She became a poet.  A collection of her poems, Buttressed by Moonlight was acclaimed in The New Yorker.  Many of her poems are about the Community and the surrounding area.  She was a founding member of the Oneida Community Historical Committee.

She died June 3, 1965, at 87

Miriam Trowbridge Noyes

Born ~ August 19, 1877, the 91st child born in the Community and the 49th eugenics child

Mother ~ Helen Campbell Miller (Barron), age 30, the sister of Tirzah Miller and John Humphrey Noyes’ niece

John Humphrey Noyes was 66.

Miriam was Noyes’ sixth daughter.  She was adopted by Homer Barron when her mother married him at the Break-up.  She married Wilber Earl who was not a descendant. They had three children: Virginia Earl (Brown), Joan Earl (Held) and Wilber Jr.  She chronicled the take over of the Oneida Community Limited by Pierrepont and his generation and Theodore Noyes’ influence on their efforts.

She died May 6, 1965, at age 87

Guy Hatch Noyes

Born ~ April 23, 1879, the 100th child born in the Community and the 58th eugenics child

Mother ~ Lenora Hatch, age 21

John Humphrey Noyes was 68.

Guy was also known as George Langstaff Noyes and was Noyes’ last son, the seventh.  He was adopted by his cousin, Horatio T. Noyes, when his mother married him at the Break-up.  He was a poet, who became addicted to laudanum, exhibiting erratic behavior including jumping off the North Tower of the Mansion House into a snowdrift.  He wrote character sketches of Community members.  He never married.

He died April 13, 1910,  age 39

Stirpicults 1887

This Week in the Oneida Community ~ February 7-13, 1869

Mansion House Big Hall 1875

Harriet Worden’s journal for 1869 is a remarkable window into a critical time in the history of the Oneida Community.  We have been posting daily entries from her journal in 1869 corresponding to the same date in 2011.  You can read these accounts of daily life in the Community by searching the pages section of the blog for Harriet Worden’s Journal ~ Harriet’s Posts 1869.

The past week, February 7-13, 1869, as reported in Harriet’s journal was full of events that give us a sense of the vitality of the Community and reveal decisions that were made in this period that would have a major impact on the viability of the Oneida Community.  Here are few snapshots of this particular week in the winter of 1869, but we urge you to read the entries themselves.

Frank Wayland Smith

On February 7, Harriet reported on what she called a “pleasant entertainment.”  At 7PM every night the members of the Oneida Community would gather in the Big Hall in the Mansion Hall.  They rarely missed this opportunity to gather together as a family.  This evening featured a violin performance by Frank Wayland-Smith of Paganini’s “Carnival of Venice.”  Frank Wayland-Smith is one of our cast of characters in the OC Media project.  The audience loved it so much that he played it again.  Here is what Frank Wayland-Smith played, and you can hear why it was such a favorite.  The Carnival of Venice.

The music was followed by the recitation of an amusing elocution exercise called “The Frenchman and the Rats” performed by James B. Herrick, the former minister and future husband Tirzah Miller after the Break-up of the Community.  Harriet wrote that he entered into it “like a true Frenchman, and amused us all exceedingly.”  Another member, Henry W. Burnham,  sang “Man the Life Boat.”   But it was the next performance, introduced by George Cragin,  that was the hit of the evening.  We won’t spoil it for you except to say that the performance sounded to us like a 19th Century mix of Samuel Beckett, vaudeville, strip tease and Cirque du Soleil.

John Humphrey Noyes

February 8, Harriet Worden recorded a talk by the Community’s leader, John Humphrey Noyes, about the responsibility of America’s manufacturers to encourage the propagation of moral children to counter the threat of being overrun by the Irish.  The skit the night before featuring two Irish workers that were working on the railroad line passing through Community property must have been fresh in the Community’s minds.  And, as a major manufacturer of animal traps in the U.S., Noyes must have thought of the eugenics program that he was just launching as an example to other manufacturers.

February 10, the subject of the nightly meeting was the selective breeding of superior children.  But it was not just the subject of the a lecture, but the selection of the parents was put to a vote of all assembled!

February 11, Harriet reported that happy news that Elizabeth Mallory, one of the Community women that was participating in the eugenics program, was thought to be pregnant.  We know from a letter written by Tirzah Miller later in the month to her uncle, George Washington Noyes, that the father was thought to be Erastus Hamilton, a senior leader of the Community.

Tirzah Miller 1873

Tirzah wrote to her uncle of her great relief.  She said that Erastus Hamilton signified his desire to John Humphrey Noyes several years ago to have a child by me, so there has been a sort of engagement of that kind between us of somewhat long standing.  I had felt so delighted with the idea of holding ourselves completely at the disposal of God and the Community about such matters,  that I took my release from that engagement as a great and unexpected gift from God.

Now I am free for anything Mr. Noyes wants.  He has asked me several times of late “who I am going to have for the father of my child — who I want,”&c.  But I tell him, I don’t expect to choose for myself.” The answer to Noyes’ question would be a constant dilemma not only for Tirzah and Noyes, but for the entire Community in the years ahead.

February 12’s journal entry was full of news of reports by Noyes’ son, Theodore, on doubts he had about Elizabeth Mallory’s pregnancy (he proved correct) and his recent trip to buy new equipment  “for furthering the silk trade” for the Community, as well as a report on a lecture by James Herrick on Darwinism.

Theodore Noyes

Harriet also reported on Noyes’ chronic throat pain, which would be one of the reasons he would withdraw from direct leadership of the Community years later in favor of his son Theodore.  It was a decision that would create a deep divide in the Community and serve as a major cause of the Break-up.

February 13 Harriet reported this eventful week ending on a sunny day that “spoiled the sledding.”

The evening meeting saw some of the children engaged in mutual criticism, including Harriet Worden’s six-year old son, Ormond.

These were just some of the events and personalities recorded by Harriet in her remarkable journal for a week in February 1869.

OC Children 1866