Music in the Big Hall

The Big Hall

Twice a year, in spring and fall, the Oneida Community Mansion House presents a lecture series, as part of the educational mission of the OCMH.  It is called the Adult Enrichment Series.

The topics of these lectures usually explore the history of the utopian and religious movements in the 19th Century.  The lectures are held in the Big Hall, the  theater space where the Oneida Community held its nightly meetings, entertainments and lectures.  It was part of the philosophy of the OC that each member would strive to improve his/her self, and education was held in high esteem as a means for self-improvement.  So the tradition of the modern lectures is a legacy of the Community’s winter lectures; discussions on history, languages, and science, led my one of the members.

The 2011 spring lectures were a departure from past series.  Rather than a lecture on the material culture of the Oneida Community or a comparison between the Shakers and the OC, the OCMH curator, Tony Wonderley, presented a set of four musical performances ranging from Shaker songs, jazz, blues and light opera.  The series was called, “If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On.”

The Jim O'Mahony Trio

Vicki and I attended three out of the four performances.  We had our first experience of the acoustics in the Big Hall when we heard the second in the series, “Changing Standards: A Showcase of New Music”, which featured the music of a jazz trio led by Jim O’Mahony on piano.  The trio of piano, bass and drums was playing together for the first time, but from the swaying heads in the auditorium, no one seemed to notice.

O’Mahony’s intent was to play music composed in the last fifteen years rather than the jazz standards of the 1930-60s.  This choice is a legacy of legendary piano trios led by Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau.

Little Brother  ~ This is a mp3 from O’Mahony’s trio performing a song from the Brooklyn band, Grizzly Bear, entitled “Little Brother” in the Big Hall.

Hearing music that our 20-something children listen to,  interpreted by this talented jazz trio in a 19th Century communitarian meeting hall was truly a time shifting experience for us.

What a delight it was to hear good music in this wonderful hall.  The acoustics were amazing.  We understood why the Community developed such a rich musical tradition ~ they had such a fine theater to perform for themselves and for thousands of tourists who came to the Community to sample vegetarian meals and lively musical performances.  The Community performed overtures and choruses from operas, danced waltzes from Strauss and the “Oneida Quickstep” created by Community member, Charles Joslyn.  The climax to the OC’s musical career was the performance of H.M.S Pinafore in the winter of 1879-80, just before they transformed themselves from a Bible Communist Community into a Joint Stock Corporation.

Tony Wonderley introduced each performance with a story about the place of music in the Oneida Community.  Tony recounted the conflicted feelings that members of the Community felt about music.  He recounted a mutual criticism session devoted to exposing the selfish nature of musical competition among the young female singers.  Harriet Worden was one of the singers who confessed to the group:

Harriet Worden with Guitar

My first feeling of jealousy was toward Ann Eliza.  We both sang; but at that time, she was admitted into Mr. Burnham’s quartette club; I was not honored.  I considered this as a personal slight and resented it accordingly.  One day I deliberately hid one of the books from which the club had practiced.  I not only wanted to sing well, but I aspired to become the best singer, and the most ready at reading music.  Much of the time I was in an agony of jealousy lest some other would eclipse me.” 

He also told the audience that John Humphrey Noyes was especially hard with those among his followers who he decided were becoming too fixated on their musical skills.  At one point, Noyes made Frank Wayland-Smith ~ who was considered the best violinist in the Community ~ give up his violin.  He also made the same request of his niece, the talented pianist, Tirzah Miller.  Tirzah recorded her reactions in her diary on March 16, 1873.

Tirzah Miller 1873

“Left music for writing.  Father Noyes said that I might consider that I had made a good career in music, and now call it ended, and put the energy I had expended in music into writing.  It is like the death of a cherished friend.” 

When a visitor to the Community complained that the Community “offered no opportunity for genius or special talent to develop.”  Noyes took the criticism as a compliment.  He said, “We never expected or desired to produce a Byron, a Napoleon or a Michelangelo.  A system that would foster such abnormal or excessive development in the individual, do so at the expense of the mass whose interests must be paramount.”

As I sat listening to jazz interpretations of current pop and rock songs, I could not help but be transported to the days when this same hall was filled floor to balcony listening as we were to visiting musicians playing music of the day to a very appreciative audience.

As we know from Harriet Worden’s daily journal, which is presented in this blog, the evening meetings were a celebration of the genius of the community.  The spirit of inventiveness, humor and play were in evidence nightly, as members of all ages and stations in the Community would perform music and act in skits.   I have written about moments from these nightly performances in previous blogs:  Fighting Irish and Woman’s Bottoms and Evening Entertainment.  But Harriet Worden reported on one of my favorite entertainments from the evening meeting of February 7, 1869:

Entertainment in the Big Hall

“George Miller, Edwin Burnham and John Lord entered dressed like “paddies”.  They began swaggering about the stage remarking to each other that they were tired of working all day in the dirt for a living and they were not going to touch a shovel again, if the old Midland Railroad never got built.  After lounging about for some time, it occurred to one that they had to do something or starve.  “That’s so,” said another.  “I shouldn’t like to starve.  Another says, “I will start a show!”  “You know we have got considerable musical talent”; and each began to brag what he could do.  They pretended to be rehearsing and in a few moments, they began undressing on stage, all the time looking anxiously round as if fearful of being seen.  Their coats all off and their pants!  The audience fairly screamed.  They all stood in their nightgowns, but upon dropping these off, behold the transformation!  From coarse, rough Irishmen, we saw a few moments before we now saw them handsomely arranged in the tight-fitting dress of the gymnast.  George was dressed in blue, John in Orange & red trimming, and Edwin in crimson.  Their gymnastic performances were fine indeed.  John represented a clown, though his bows were exceedingly graceful.  George & Edwin were exceedingly lithe.”

As we try to imagine the life of the people who lived where Vicki and I live now, there is no better place to enter into their world than by thinking about and listening to music in the big hall then and now.


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.

Tirzah’s 1869 Diary

Tirzah Miller In Her Room

Tirzah’s back.

She started writing again in her 1869 diary on March 6, after an absence of two months (Tirzah’s Posts ~ 1869)

Tirzah returned to the Oneida Community in the spring of 1868 to work on The Circular (the Community’s periodical) in the rooms that we now occupy in the Tontine.  She edited it for a short time.  Her latest diary entry begins like many from this period in her life ~ “Last night I slept with J.H.N., and he talked with me for more than an hour.”  J.H.N. is her uncle, John Humphrey Noyes.  She would often record in her diary about their sexual encounters, not with lurid details, but recounting what Noyes had to say to her, to teach her as she navigated the complexities of life in the Oneida Community.

John Humphry Noyes 1860s

In her entry for March 6, 1869, Noyes was agitated about German and Boston writers who were infecting literature with “German atheism,” unlike the English authors who had an “honest intention to entertain people.”  Noyes cited Shakespeare as an example.  Noyes was determined that Tirzah and his sister, Harriet Skinner, “read magazines, and find out all (they) could about the leading novel literature, with analysis and criticism in view.”  He wanted Tirzah and Harriet to become literary critics and attack “these Boston and German writers (who) try to influence their readers with their atheism and hatred of revivals”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

He predicted that Tirzah would become a better critic than Margaret Fuller, the American journalist, critic, and women’s rights advocate who was friends with one of the “Boston writers” Ralph Waldo Emerson, and edited his journal, The Dial.  Emerson was a severe critic of utopian experiments like the Oneida Community.  He once wrote ~ “What a fertility of projects for the salvation of the world!  Not a reading man but has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket.  One apostle thought all men should go to farming and another that no man should buy or sell; another that the mischief was in his diet, that we eat and drink damnation.  Others attacked the system of agriculture, the use of animal manure in farming, and the tyranny of man over brute nature.  Others attacked the institution of marriage as the fountain of social evils.”  It was to combat the influence of such writers as Emerson that Noyes instructed Tirzah to become a literary critic.

But for Tirzah to become Noyes’ agent in the literary wars he imagined instigating, she would have to put off becoming a mother in the eugenics program.  Tirzah’s response was typical of her loyalty to her belief in Noyes ~ “I told him I was in no hurry to have a child, and had had a kind of impression that I should not for two years.  He said he thought that was probable.”

Charlotte Noyes Miller

Despite what she predicted, Tirzah would have a child the following year, December 13, 1870.  She would give birth to George Wallingford Noyes.  The father was another uncle, George Washington Noyes, John’s younger brother.  The pregnancy caused some problems for Tirzah within the Community, since it was not sanctioned.  Her mother, Charlotte Noyes Miller, would write to her brother ~ “Dear John, I am tempted to criticize and blame George about the affair with Tirzah.  When I first heard of it, I asked, ‘Does John like it?’  I saw that he had not consulted with you or really with anyone.  I have felt bad that in such a serious move he did not consult my wishes and feelings.”

George would refer to her pregnancy as “free stirpiculture” and write to Tirzah ~ “I will say that I hold myself amenable to any censure from Mr. Noyes or others at O.C.  I desire nothing but the fullest light.  I told mother Noyes about it some weeks ago.  Please show this, if you think best, to Mr. Noyes.  I would write to him the whole story if he wishes it.”

George Washington Noyes had had a major influence on Tirzah while she lived in the Wallingford Connecticut community between 1864-68.  It was under his guidance that Tirzah began to work on the Community’s periodical, and as she wrote upon returning to Oneida in 1868 ~ “I owe to my acquaintance with Uncle George during the past three years a thousand blessings.  From him I learned that it is truly the glory of a woman to love and be receptive to good men; he taught me that pride is despicable; he led me to the knowledge and love of God.”

George Washington Noyes

George Washington Noyes would not live to see the birth of his son, George.  He died from malaria on July 23, 1870 at the age of 47, five months before the birth.

Tirzah’s diary is an intimate portrait of life in the Oneida Community from the perspective of a woman who was sexually active and was at the center of the major events in the history of the Community.  It is a window into the price that individuals, especially women paid to live up to the principles of her uncle, John Humphrey Noyes.

For Tirzah, it came down to a struggle between desire and duty, as she said later in her diary ~ “I sometimes wish I could be less under the scrutiny of Mr. Noyes’s almost omniscient eye, but when, after trying to hide myself, he reaches out for me, and hunts me up, my heart goes toward him with that passionate devotion, inspired not only by his being the one man on earth whom I absolutely trust, but also by the fact that he is the only father I have known since childhood.”

She would write in her diary almost continually up to the Break-up of the Community in 1880.

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