Harriet Worden’s Journal

Harriet Worden

During the years 1862-63, I kept a public journal of all events transpiring, that being an improving exercise to myself and useful as a reference since, it has occurred to me that I would again take up my pen and recount the present flitting days.

In the lapse of time, from 1863 till 1868, the Community has passed through a great revolution.  The spring of 1864, the paper was removed to Wallingford; four volumes were printed there, and March 1868, the types and press were packed up and sent back to Oneida again; this time occupying the Tontine ~  Miss Tirzah Miller, editress.

Charles Guiteau, (the future assassin of President Garfield) after leaving us and coming back several times, finally got extra anger and left in good earnest some two years since, and has never applied for admission nor in any way signified his desire to return.  But on the contrary, he has tried all manner of ways to extort money from the Community — getting as mad as a hornet, and making quite a big noise in New York — engaging a lawyer, until finally Mr. Noyes published a series of “Black Mail” articles, which made a greater sensation than Charles had been able to create, and silence has since reigned in that quarter.  For further information, consult Circular published at W.C. (Wallingford Community) 1868.

The Children’s House, which had not been thoroughly a Community arrangement, underwent a revolution.  Miss Harriet Allen and Mr. Edwin S. Burnham were put in as father and mother.  Then it was proposed that instead of each mother sewing and caring for her own child, the sewing should be done at the Children’s House, and entirely under the control and management of that department.  So the day was appointed and the mothers carried all the garments into the Children’s House.  Not only the garments but the little toys and playthings were carried in.  The little garments were all put in drawers and closets, and the toys and playthings put together for all, not for one.  The children at once caught the enthusiasm and wanted everything surrendered.  Many a little one implored their reluctant mothers to bring over their toys for all the children.  They were now Community children indeed, and they felt it, and were happy as birds.  But the mothers passed through some trial of spirit before they could honestly and heartily give up their little ones.  The change took place in May.  The mothers are all on the right side now.  The little ones were never so healthy, nor so happy as they been all summer, and for my part, (and I think I speak the mind of the mothers) I think it is the true way to bring up Community children.  Now Mr. Noyes has proposed the right wing be put on the New House, and given to the children.

The Midland Railroad cuts right across the western portion of our farm, very near our clothes yard.  Two weeks since, we found it necessary to move all the graves to a new graveyard, as the Midland was to cut across the old one.  The paddys (Irish workers) are busy building culverts and leveling.  Next year I expect we shall see great results.

During the last three or four years, the Community has become the center of much attention from great men:  Dixon, Lord and Lady Amberly, foreign editors, and editors of our own country.

Our three principal businesses are, trap making, silk business and fruit business.  But it is decided that we will drop the fruit business, and not put up fruit except for our own use.

2 Comments

  1. March 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    It’s interesting to see this point of view. I can’t say fore sure if I agree or not, but it is something I will think about now.

  2. December 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    It seemed like a nice place to live, until you probe a little beneath the surface. Mothers giving up their children to be raised by the community, no marriage (that is, no love permitted between two specific individuals). Reading about this sect long ago helped me to understand better the way the society I was in worked. Basically one had to give up attachments to other individuals and look only to the leader(s) of the group. In our case that meant no relationships, marriage or children (the children that would have been born if couples had been permitted to form and then move on to engagement and marriage). Sure a lot of the terms and conditions regarding Oneida and the Church of Bible Understanding (my group) are different, but many underlying patterns are the same. This is why I like reading about Oneida. I’ve read several books about them.


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