Chapter 9 (translation): Iowa's Colonies
In 1848, ’49 and ’50, there was a general agitation for the founding of colonies based on socialism and communism in the larger cities of this country, just like in Europe. The doctrines and ideas of Fourrier, Proudhon, and Cabot had put down their roots in Iowa. In New York and Cincinnati, people were enthused by the ideas of common property and equal use of all produce. "Get rid of the monarchy, all princes, and lords!" From now on, they wanted to work and eat together like a large family, like brothers and sisters and enjoy life. Free like birds in the air and without sorrow or worries.
In the above mentioned years, Iowa was, due to its fertile soil, already one of the most sought-after states in the Union for immigrants and so some colony founders were interested in going there. Three of such colonies were founded in Clayton County alone.
The first was the Clydesdale Colony, which had been organized in Scotland on April 4, 1849, and whose members settled in Monona Township, Clayton County, three miles southwest of the small city of Monona in the winter of 1850/51. Their president was John Craig, a highly educated man. The names of the other members were John Jack, James Love, John McAndrews, James Shanks, James Gardner, Robertson Sinclair, John Davis, and John Campbell. The assets of the society were set at $20,000 and divided into 800 shares each worth $25.00.
The leadership was in the hands of a directorial council made up of three men, consisting of a president, a secretary, and a treasurer. Any member owning four shares was to be eligible for a house and four acres of land for himself and his family, as well as for a set annual income paid in produce etc. Five percent of the share capital and a quarter of the profits were to be put into the company’s fund, the rest of the profits was supposed to go to the members, proportional to the period during which they had worked for the company. Everything happened very fast in the beginning. Houses, schools etc. were built and one was led to believe that the wonderful dreams of cooperative life had come true. But that did not last long, jealousy, quarrels, and fights started and became more frequent from day to day, which led to the dissolving of the colony on March 29, 1852.
The lands were sold to satisfy the outstanding debts in the fall of the same year.
The second colony, which was founded in Clayton County in 1850, was the Communia Colony, which was led by Heinrich Koch. During his time, Mr. Koch, whose writings are mentioned in a different chapter, was generally known as an 'Anti-Pfaff' (enemy of the clerics). He was a good, smart man, with utopian ideals, who was lacking – just like many others that are do-gooders – a knack for practicality. He did not stay in the colony for a long time. The uniform life on Iowa’s virgin grounds, surrounded by primeval forests in the valleys of the Turkey and Volga Rivers, was not very appealing to him. He soon returned to Dubuque, where he would live as a clockmaker and producer of a patented medicine for many years to come. He produced an emetic/laxative, which was highly appreciated and that cleaned the bowels as well as his quill criticized his opponents.
The Colony was founded in July of the mentioned year by the following members: Joseph Venus, Johann Endereß, F. Weiß, H. Pape, F. Nagel, H. Kopp, Jacob Ponsar, Louis Weinel, Johann Taffy, Michael Baumann, Joseph Gremser, and W. Krisinger. The property of the colony consisted of 480 acres of land, which was located five
miles south of Elkader, worth $ 1,800, and cattle and farm equipment worth $ 1,200 – a total of $ 3,000.
According to the Constitution of the Colony, there could not be a division of property, unless all the members unanimously agreed to this. Every member was entitled to support and if one died, the society was required to support the widow and take care of the children's education. If the widows and the children wanted to leave the society, they were allowed to and they were allowed to take their husbands’ or fathers’ share of the common assets. In case an unmarried and childless member died, his share went to the society. New members were accepted after they had completed three months' probation in the colony and if three quarters of the members were in favor of accepting them. If they were not accepted, they were not allowed to claim wages. Members were also able to leave and have the property they had put into the community initially returned. One third would be given to them immediately, the rest within one and two years. Members could be excluded due to violations of community rules and immoral behavior, in which case their property was returned to them, just like it was to other members. The leadership was placed in the hands of a president, a secretary, and a treasurer, who needed the agreement of a majority of members for any purchase or sale exceeding $ 25,00.
That part of Clayton County was almost in untouched condition at the time. There was not a single house to be found between the colony and Elkader (the current seat of the county court) – a distance of almost six miles – and further south was thick primeval forest, in which wild cats and wolves, yes even panthers lived. The settlers that arrived during this time were poor and could barely make a living. Therefore, the colonists lived miserable lives and had an anxious outlook on the future, even though they worked hard. The land they had acquired from the government was of low value. Some members had fought in the Mexican War
and had put their claims on 160 acres of land each with the bounty-land warrants they had received. That made up almost the whole capital of the colony. The members worked under very dire circumstances for almost two years and as the diligent and hardworking people they were, they would have been successful had it not been for the disputes that built up due to an election of officials, which made the dissolving of the colony likely.
Precisely during these unrests and disputes in the colony (in 1852), Wilhelm Weitling came to the colony. He was the founder and the leader of the Workers’ League of America, which had local branches in all the big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis Louisville, and all the way to Houston, Texas. There were even local branches in Brazil and all these spread communist ideas. The League had about 1,200 to 1,500 members at that time; most of them were workers, craftsmen, and small tradesmen. Each of them had to pay an admission fee of $ 10 as well as a monthly contribution of $ 1.00. It was easy to see that the league had between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 at its disposal at all times. Weitling found the colonists in a highly distressed situation, ready to accept anything that could improve it. They were willing to mortgage all their property for a contribution of several thousand dollars from the League, which was represented by Mr. Weitling. They were even willing to make the League a co-owner of the colony’s lands.
This is how the “Communia Colony” was renamed to “Communia Workers’ League" in July 1853, and the property consisting of 1,440 acres of land with an estimated worth of $ 6,725 and cattle, machinery, and building materials worth $ 5,296, a total of $ 12,021 – an astonishing increase of $ 9,000 in just three years - was transferred to the new corporation. The members and stockholders at this time were: M. Baumann, Geo. Nehser, R. G. Reiß, John Taffy, Ph. Arno, G. Forst, Carl Schoch, J.M. Weick, H. Kopp, H. Pape, J. Klopfer, J. Venus,
Anton Weiß, John G. Dolzer, John G. Smith, H. Krieg, G. Ponsar, G. Marxer, Ludwig Stehms, Geo. J. Weick, W. Weitling, and C. Arnold.
The Workers’ League was now obliged to do its best in order to help the colony by sending hard-working, physically strong members and transferring the required funds to lead the business of the colony successfully. The constitution was thoroughly modified. Administrative costs were to be calculated and paid in relation to the time spent on the work and in a way that no official would be receiving higher wages than the other diligent members who were doing hard physical work, or than the shareholders. The means of exchange were limited to orders directed to the colony's store and those who had their own house had to get their basic commodities from this store. The goods and products that were bought by the cooperation were charged at the purchase price and an extra 10 percent to cover administration costs and patient care. All members were required to send their children to school. If someone wanted to join the colony, he had to specify in writing and ahead of time what branch of work he wanted to partake in, what work he could do best and how much he would charge for his work, should he not be accepted or later be expelled.
Furthermore, a new system for the workers and the executive branches was introduced, which said that all the generous members of the League who were willing to give an amount of at least $ 100 for ten years without interest to the colony would be appointed trustees and would be given a vote in all important matters, such as the election of officials and the use of funds. Those trustees living in faraway cities were allowed to vote through substitutes.
There was a high influx to the promised land of the West in the fall of 1853. Members of the League in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities gave up their business and social relations and united their fates with the fate of this new
colonial corporation. About 25 members arrived to build a flour mill and, in case this seemed useful, some factories. The enthusiasm of these newcomers was endless; they hoped to build a new Eldorado. Among the new colonists were Wm. Ohse and Schill of Baltimore, Taffy of Louisville, L. Arnold and Maginn of St. Louis and Trumboldt, Hagen, and Walzer of Cincinnati. H.C. Grotewohl and Louis Reuther, who were representatives of trustees, came from Philadelphia and became appreciated citizens of Elkader later on. Mister Reuther represented his county in the state legislature for two years.
In the November after the arrival of these new members, Wilhelm Weitling was elected president. He was a tailor by profession, but an agitator and a highly unpractical person, although he invented an instrument for the production of buttonholes later on, for which the sewing machine fabricator Singer paid him $20,000.
During the first months of the new regiment, the colony’s complicated machinery did well, but as the excessive enthusiasm ebbed, new troubles became apparent, which increased in quantity and which the president could not eliminate. He was not suitable for the position, and before two months had gone by, the disturbances and disputes had become so severe that, one fine morning, he left and headed east. It is said that he talked badly about the colonists’ efforts in every place he stopped, and that is why the money transfer was stopped. By then, 60 people lived in the colony, who were threatened to die of starvation now.
During the following spring and summer, many of the colonists left. Forst, Walzer, Reuther, and Grotewohl moved to Dubuque and the others were spread in all directions. Around this time, new members from the east arrived in the colony. Amongst them were Adolph and Fred Peick, Frank Hofer, and the Rufs – father and son. These men, who came straight from the exciting reunions of the agitators, had imperturbable
faith in communism. They believed that the reason for the disturbances in the colony was that it had not been led by the right men and that the colony could still become a success.
After not even a year though, strife arose again, became even worse and made life in the colony almost unbearable. This cured some of the newcomers of their communist ideas and propelled them to other destinations. Quite a few of them went to Dubuque, some to St. Louis, and others went wherever fate took them.
Near Littleport on the Volga River, the ruins of a milldam and the foundation of a mill, which the colonists had started to build in 1853, but stopped when the disputes between the colonists and the Workers’ League began, could still be seen twenty years ago. The construction work had already cost between $7,000 and $8,000. Their work was later destroyed by the floods of the Volga River and now there is no trace left of it.
Since the colony had no state charter, it was not difficult to find the rightful owners and distribute the property in a way that those who had worked for years to make the estates profitable reaped the benefit of their years of work. The land was sold to the remaining colonists by the county treasurer in 1859. Those remaining have most likely all been called to their fathers by now, but their children are still living on the land, that is located in one of the most beautiful areas in this state.
Liberty Colony was founded in Clayton County, as well, on May 20, 1851. It was organized by Christian Wullweber Sr. from Dubuque. The union’s constitution was similar to the constitution of the Communia Colony. Mister Wullweber was elected president, Friedrich Koch was elected treasurer and Friedrich Uffel was elected secretary. The other members were: Geo. Koch, Chas. Schecker, Christian Krackow, Hein. Wuenzburg, and Christian
Paetow. The colony owned about 1,200 acres of land. Like all the Propagandists of their time, Mr. Wullweber and his comrades were fully convinced that their enterprises would be a success. They dreamed of the magnificence of the growth of the colony they had founded. Just like all the other experiments of this time, however, this was a failure, mainly due to the fact that the members did not act as one. There were too many heads and too many opinions and no one was willing to give in. On April 20, 1852, barely a year after the founding of the colony, it was given up and the land, houses, and equipment, all heavily indebted, went to C. Thompson Jr. for $ 1,575.
History of the Amana Colony in Iowa County
After what the reader has learned in the text so far about the different attempts to establish colonial communities or rather communist societies in this state, a depiction of a larger and more successful approach shall follow now. It will probably be read with interest, especially by those who have never had the chance to inform themselves about it. This attempt, which on longer is one but has persisted for half a century and has become true, realizing the wildest dreams of the earlier communists, is the Amana colony in Iowa County in this state. It is called "Amana Society" of Amana, or "The True Inspirationists”, as the members call themselves. Amana is located at two railways lines – at the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific as well as the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroads and consists of seven villages. The villages at the first line are located about 20 miles west of Iowa City and only 11 miles east of Marengo, the court seat of Iowa County. The total population of the colony currently amounts to almost 2,000, although many of the younger population moved to Iowa City, Morengo, Des Moines, and other cities in the last couple of years. They would rather fight
for their existence in the outside world, than remain in their quiet, old home, where people do not have to worry about food and, if they do not have other needs or ambitions, live a satisfying life. For satisfaction is the manifestation of happiness, which everyone pursues.
The curious success of the Amana Society can, at first glance, lead to the conviction that Cabot, Fourier etc. were right with their sanguine declarations about the feasibility of communist life. But since the Propagandists were not successful in sustaining their colonial experiments, one needs to look at something other than their teachings to find the reason for the growth and progress of the Amanites. The Inspirationists were, except for their leaders, not very educated. Most of them were simple, but diligent workers and, under the pressure of the earlier years in Europe, had acquired thrift, modesty, and endurance on top of their German diligence; their qualities were indeed inherent – but that could generally be said about the Communia and the Liberty Colony as well. The reason why the Amanites stick together more than any other colony is, nevertheless, their religion. It is the Word of God, as they had been taught by their forefathers in the Palatinate and other regions of Germany, and as it is still drilled into them by their superiors and teachers, that keeps them together like a large family, like brothers and sisters. Their faith makes them blessed, they have no needs which cannot be satisfied by the colony: they have – at least the Elders – no desire for a profane life with all its expenditure and folderol. They dress simple, but well and warm, their food is what they desire, and their working hours are significantly shorter than they would be if they worked independently and in competition with others.
It was in the early years of the 18th century, in 1707, when Eberhard Ludwig Gruber and Johann Friedrich Rock, two very pious Inspirationists who had acquired their teachings from the mystics,
i.e. the three brothers Pott of Hanau, the founders of the cult of the Anabaptists, and improved their teachings together with the Pott brothers, Gottfried Neumann and Johanna Melchior, they established the cult of the Inspirationists in 1714, which the Amanites, with certain additions and changes, still believe in. The spread of the new faith to Saxony, Bavaria, and Wuerttemberg to Alsace, Holland and other countries happened under the severe persecution by the existing old churches and forced the small flocks of mystics, pietists, Moravian Brethren, Dunkers, Moravians, and other religious reformists to leave their fatherlands and focus on America. Even though the first settlers arrived in Philadelphia in 1719, it was not until 1842 that more Inspirationists came here. During those tumultuous times, after Napoleon I had suffered his last defeat by the hands of British and German troops under Blücher and Wellington near Waterloo, and during the stormy periods in France and Germany, where whole regions in the old fatherlands were raided by troops and everyone who was able to carry a rifle was drafted, the Inspirationists came together to keep their homes, families, rights, and faith. Among these were the following who would later be recognized in this country’s history, namely: Johannes Heinemann, Wilhelm Mörschell, Barbara Heinemann, M. Kraussert, Abraham Noe, Christian Metz, Peter Mook, Martin Bender, Wilhelm Nordmann, Jacob Mörschell, Philip Beck, Peter Hammerschmidt, Gottlieb Ackermann, Friedrich Müller, Philip Mörschell, and Philip Sommer.
On October 26, 1842, four of the aforementioned arrived in New York as delegates of the Inspirationists, with the task of finding an area where their persecuted people could settle. Those four were Christian Metz, G.A. Weber, Wilhelm Noe, and Gottlieb Ackermann, who eventually purchased 5,000 acres of land six miles outside of Buffalo for $ 10,50 per acre, and founded a colony there in May 1843, which they named Eben Ezer. “Eben” is a kind of stone and “Ezer” means help, so the meaning is “stone of help”. Immediately huts were erected, furthermore
a large church and a school house were built that same year, and the colony had more than 800 inhabitants by June 1844. The property became too small for all of them and an additional 4,000 acres were purchased. In addition, two sawmills, two cloth factories, and other industrial mills were started, but the most enlightened among them saw that it would be better for the society if they went further west where land was cheaper and where they would not be located as close to a big city. They believed their children could be drawn to city life and abandon the community. Thus, the gentlemen. C.M. Winzenried, John Beyer, Jacob Wittmer, and Friedrich Heinemann were entrusted with the task to travel west and find a site for a new colony in 1855, which resulted in them going from Chicago to Davenport and Muscatine and then up the Iowa River in a steamboat all the way to Iowa City, where they were enchanted by the beauty of the area in Johnson and Iowa Counties and decided to buy a strip of land near today's Homestead, one of the colony’s villages. They bought 18,000 acres at a price between $ 1.25 and $ 2.50 per acre. A couple of settlers sold out their land to them at $ 3.50-$ 4.00 per acre. All this was followed by the resettlement of the Ebenezer congregation at the new large homestead. That same summer, a small city was founded , close to a small lake at the foot of a hill about a mile north of the Iowa River. The diligent Inspirationists went to work eagerly: they cleared the forest, cultivated the prairie, and built their houses. Those were solid, stable, and durable homes, because many of them still exist today, after more than 40 years - just as solid as they were back then. The name they gave that first settlement is Amana. It means “stay faithful”. Later on, West Amana was founded five miles west of the old Amana and in 1856, South Amana was built about 6 miles south-west of Amana, High Amana in 1857, East Amana in 1860, Homestead in 1861, Middle Amana followed in 1862 and in 1883 a new South Amana was founded about half a mile south of the old settlement at the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroad. Homestead had been planned as a post office
and town when the colonists purchased the land. It took ten years for all members of the Ebenezer colony to sell their properties and come to Iowa.
In 1857, as already mentioned elsewhere, the third constitutional convention was held in Iowa City. The new constitution stated that “No corporation shall be created by special laws; but that legislature may, by general laws, provide for the organization of all corporations to be created hereafter”. In accordance with these new constitutional regulations, Amana was incorporated in 1859. The incorporation document was signed by the following thirteen trustees: Wilhelm Mörschell, Christian Wilhelm, Theobald Heimburger, Jacob Wittmer, Samuel Scheuner, Georg Walz, Charles Winzenried, Christian Metz, John Beyer, Jacob Schnetzler, Joseph Elzer, Jacob Winzenried, and Peter Holdy.
Many of the previously mentioned facts were taken from the “History of the Amana Society”, written by the professors William Rufus Perkins, A.M. and Barthinius L. Wirk in English and published by the State University in Iowa City in 1899. The following details about the progress of the colony stem from this source as well.
When two large flour mills, one in Old Amana, the other in West Amana, were built, there were no other mills closer than in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and within at least 50 miles to the west there were none so that the mills were of very high value for the farmers in the area. Every village had its own sawmills, machine works, and stores. All these were very important for the area. Among the many reputable pioneers of Iowa, who suffered and sacrificed much for the younger generation, we can find the members of the Amana colony, according to the above mentioned historians. They suffered the hardships of frontier life, they worked hard and helped make the state what it is today – one of the first in the Union. They were the first to build factories and while others did the same later and failed, the noises of the machines
can still be heard in Amana and the Amana goods are sold all over the United States.
The gingham factory was built in Old-Amana. It produces 3,000 to 4,000 cubits of gingham per day. Furthermore, two cloth factories were established, one in Old Amana the other in Middle Amana, in which about 3,000 cubits of woolen goods are made every day. These enjoy an excellent reputation because they are slowly and carefully made instead of being produced in task work and in a hurry. Everything that comes from the colony is always recognized as the best. In addition to the flour mills, the Amanites have soap and starch factories and until the unfortunate prohibition was set in place, they also had their own beer breweries, which they closed and did not reopen after the law came into effect, in order to not get in conflict with it. Nonetheless, they grow their own wine and it is as good as it can be in this state.
Pepsin, a well-known and excellent antacid, is produced here by Mr. Conrad Schadt, an educated chemist who is the first to produce it west of Chicago.
The people in the colony are generally healthy and strong, but still, three well- schooled doctors watch over their health, Dr. Winzenried in Old Amana, Dr. Hermann in Middle Amana and Dr. Mörschell in Homestead.
The presidents of the society since they moved to Iowa were: E.M. Winzenried (1855 – 1881), J.Beyer (1881 – 1883), Friedrich Mörschell (1883 – 1889), Jacob Wittmer (1889 – 1891) and P. Trautmann (since 1891).
The thirteen trustees are elected annually by the authorized inhabitants; the trustees then elect the president, the vice-president and the secretary from their ranks. The society has 80 Elders who are responsible for the mental health of the community and who alternately lead the services which are being held on Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as prayer assemblies which are being held every night.
During the Civil War, the society asked Congress for an exemption from the draft. As a result, Congress adopted a law in 1863 saying that a man could be exempted from his military duties in exchange for a payment of $ 300. The members made use of the law and the government received a nice sum of money due to this practice.
In 1867, Christian Metz, the pioneer and main leader of the society since 1817, died, and in 1883, Barbara Heinemann passed away in her 88th year of age. These two were the only ones who had been “inspired” during the society’s existence in America. Nobody has been inspired since, as the superiors assert; the writings, which were left by them, are, however, read from time to time at assemblies for motivation and comfort.
The Faith of the Inspirationists
The Amanites believe in the divine Inspiration of the Bible and base their belief on it, searching for a life according to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.
They believe that God has through all times revealed what was hidden through visions, dreams, and epiphanies.
They believe in Inspiration and claim that it currently still happens as frequently as it used to. Inspiration, according to their definition, is a supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the human mind by which people are enabled to teach godly truths. Someone who receives Inspiration “has to have a pure heart, a free soul without prejudices, be gentle, and obey God's will."
They believe that there are untrue as well as true Inspirations and that prophecies did not stop with the Apostles.
They believe that preaching the Holy Scriptures depends on Inspiration and that it is not reserved to a certain class or gender. Therefore, all members have the same right to talk during
public assemblies, to preach, and to admonish. They believe that if a person is not led by the right spirit, no system of theological education can enable him to interpret the Holy Scriptures. They “search for the Holy Spirit fron the inside and not from the outside”.
They believe in prayer in assemblies, as well as in their little chambers. It is the “involuntary expression of the soul that should not be limited by defined or given phrases”.
They do not believe in the Holy Trinity as three different beings but faithfully believe in the idea of three in one.
They believe neither in purgatory, nor in the millennial reign of Christ, nor in predestination.
They believe in resurrection as a reward for good people and in punishment for evil people.
They do not use water for baptisms because they believe that baptism should be solely spiritual.
They give and attend Holy Communion, but only as a symbol of an internal meal and internal drink with the Lord. It is not taken at a certain time or at a set place, but after severe trials and accidents to strengthen the younger members and to remember the suffering of Christ. Those who want to partake in it need to pray for a couple of days in advance.
They practice the washing of feet and Love feasts like they were held by the first Christians.
They believe that war contradicts Christian teachings, i.e. the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.
Oaths are not allowed to them since they were forbidden by Christ himself.
They use stimulants but are against "frivolous" games for entertainment,
which turn the spirit away from God.
Singing is allowed at assemblies and at home, musical instruments, however, are forbidden.
Their clothing is plain and simple.
Their funerals are simple, without the splendor and expense many other religions devote to them. They do not use expensive tombstones, but only small white-painted boards stating the name and the age of the deceased.
They do not believe in praying for the dead or in public declarations of grief; the memory of the deceased members is, however, kept with childlike love in the hearts of their friends – which is worth more than the displayed grief, of hired mourners or all the splendor.
Communism in the Amana Society
Communism in the Amana Society should not be confused with the communist ideas of those who claim that nobody should have more than the others and that it is basically a crime to own property. Their communism is more rooted in the teachings of Christ and his Apostles and therefore they believe that religion is the only link that can bind people together in true brotherhood. They believe that as long as this is the basic rule of a communist community, it will prevail, that if communism is attempted by those who scorn God or do not want to know about his existence and his interest in human matters, they must fail, and that reason alone, without religious or moral obligations, cannot bind people into a community that is to be permanently harmonious and beneficial. The religious link might therefore be the most effective reason for the curious success of the Amana Colony.
The communism of the Amana Society is based on more practical ideas than was the case with the attempts of other communist agitators. It did not burden the people with impossible tasks and did not make promises it could not keep. The society has attracted respectable, diligent, and ambitious people and does not see them as angels, but as humans – they do not expect too much of them. Other communist attempts failed because they were too impractical and wanted to impose too many theories and illusive views.
And precisely because the initiators wanted to grant their fellow believers as many freedom and rights as possible, their enterprise collapsed like a house of cards. The Inspired took a more practical approach. Firstly, they based their communism on the bible, and they were able to achieve much more with the power of the word of God than the others with their pretty speeches. Secondly, the Inspired got rid of the democratic idea of a government in their community, probably in accordance with the saying: "many minds, many senses", and installed a kind of oligarchy in which only a few had control. Reprehensible as this principle may seem in general for a worldly government, it is still what most benefitted the community of the Amana Colony, and since the inner workings of the colony were of no concern to anybody else, there is no need to get aggravated about it. The time will come, because everything in this world is transitory, that even the colony or its assets will be passed on to other hands and controlled by others. So far, they have been disconnected from the world. The growth of the population, as well as the growth of the settlements, however, is bound to leave a lasting impression on the colonists over time, and although they are limited by their religion and the strict control of the Elders, there will be changes from time to time in accordance with changing times and progress.
German is the language of the Amana colonists and it contributed a lot to the cohesion of the community because not only clubs but even families are being contaminated and torn apart by the mixing of languages.
The individual communist rules and traditions of the Amana colonists have been assembled by the English speaking historians of the university as follows:
Women and men have equal rights when it comes to religious matters. When officers are elected, all male colonists who signed the constitution and all female colonists who are over the age of 30 years and not represented by male members, have a vote.
New members are rarely accepted; the society should, if possible, solely grow through natural population increase.
If a member joins the society, his property is given to the trustees of the society for safekeeping. The value is noted in the books. Should he decide to leave the society, the money is returned to him without interest. In case of his death, it goes to his heirs.
Marriage is permitted, but a life without marriage is seen as ideal.
There is competition between the members. Each wishes to surpass the other. At the end of the year, those that did more than was expected of them receive special orders and are promoted to higher positions. Every person receives between $ 25.00 and $ 75.00 per year. This amount is solely for luxury goods and those receiving it spend it in different ways, but it is seen as a great merit if they put the money into the public fund for safekeeping.
Each family has its own home and they have the greatest liberties when it comes to their private matters. The children are raised strictly and religiously. The houses have almost the same size so that no family enjoys privileges when it comes to comfort. Every house has a garden that may be tended by the families. In these gardens they grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables and all owners may sell as much of their produce as they like. These spots are the only ones the families may call their own and here, just like in the factories, everyone tries to surpass their neighbors.
During the summer months, almost 300 workers from the outside are hired. The members do not like this practice since they fear the exposure of their kids to foreign influences, and yet, they are forced to hire outside labor because they are unable to do all the work by themselves. The hired people are treated just as friendly
as the members and the workers appreciate this treatment, working for the society for about $ 5.00 less a month than they would earn if they did the same kind of work for one of the farmers in the area. Considering that the colonists eat 5 times a day it is not surprising that there are 16 kitchens in Amana, 10 in Homestead and similar mounts in the other villages, and that they have the best meals and drinks. Each village has its laundry and bakery, a butcher shop, a butter and cheese factory and these offer daily delivery to the homes, just like in the modern cities.
The Amana colonists are proud of their school system and are not tight with money when it comes to the education of their children. They are well aware of the fact that those will eventually take over the business as well as the spiritual tasks. School attendance is obligatory and kids aged 7 to 14 attend school all year round. Those between the age of 14 and 20 are required to attend evening school in winter. School takes place from 8 until noon. The afternoon is reserved for physical activities. It is incredible how much work the children under the age of 16 - there are about 500 - are able to complete in just a couple of hours. Some learn to garden, others are taught how to operate machinery and how to manufacture it. They focus on what a child enjoys doing or shows a talent for to find the right occupation for him/her. For example, those who are good at math become bookkeepers and others run workshops and factories. German and English are taught in the schools, but obviously, German is spoken during class. Great care is taken regarding the selection of their teachers. The colony is divided into independent school districts and the schools raise and manage their own school fees.
Life at Home
The colonists live a very simple life. What they call luxury would be seen as a necessity by many others
But their meals are healthy and hearty and deliciously prepared. Their tables are laid with the best bread, the best meat, and the best vegetables.
Their gardens are cultivated in a particularly careful way, and every stranger who sees them is delighted. Their houses are kept very clean; most of them were built of stone 40 years ago and are still as good as new. The plywood houses are not painted and look old. A new coat of paint would not be bad, nor would it harm the inhabitants’ simple lifestyle. The assembly halls, which also serve the colonists as places for church services and community meetings, are long, narrow buildings; inside everything is kept very simple – no pictures, no wallpaper, no altars with golden chandeliers, and no cushioned seats. The long, unpainted benches have turned white due to all the washing and scrubbing. If one takes a look around during their assemblies, one will not be able to spot women in silky gowns or with hats decorated with feathers or flowers, or any other sign of one trying to trump another in her social standing. The believers walk to their seats in silence, the men on one, the women on the other side, and they sit in their seats quietly and respectfully until mass starts. They are divided into three groups.
- The Elders and the “Spiritually Inclined”;
- The middle-aged people and those less “spiritually inclined”;
- The children and those that have made little progress in their faith.
Following this classification, the Elders sit in the front, facing the congregation, the children are in the first rows and the others (2) are behind them. The service starts with a silent prayer, where everyone communicates with their Maker. For the unknowing, this seems to be a heavy, ceremonial silence during which one might think nobody is breathing. The silence is finally broken by one of the Elders who announces a song, which is sung without instrumental accompaniment.
The whole audience sings harmoniously and very joyfully, almost like a bird that has been kept in the dark for a long time and is suddenly brought out into the bright daylight and makes its delight known by singing. After the singing, someone reads a chapter of the Bible, which is then discussed by one of those present. What follows is an extract from an "inspired" sermon, which has been kept safe since the creation of the society. Another song is sung and the service ends.
The clothes of the colonists are the same as those that the German farmers wore 200 years ago, with small changes for comfort. In a country like America, their clothes obviously attract attention and they most likely do not fulfil the aesthetic ideals of people from the cities, but the women of the colony look good in their pure white bonnets and black caps, and modest colors like black and blue give the men a dignified appearance. They used to make their own clothes, but now that they have gotten so cheap, they have given it up.
Their religion does not allow them to turn away anyone in need. Vagabonds are therefore likely to accept their charity more than once. During the winter, they move from village to village and always claim "not to have eaten anything in days". If the same people return they are, however, not invited into a house kept for this purpose and fed well, like the first time, but turned out of town instead.
They address one another as “brother” and “sister”. Other ways of addressing do not exist. Although when it comes to their way of talking they are simple – just like in all other matters – they are still eager to help and courteous, this goes for strangers just as much as for other members of the colony. “Much is being said”, the English historians write about the colony, about the extraordinarily strict piety of the colonists. Those that live among them, however, will not notice much of it. They are down-to-earth and self-confident, they have their innocent entertainments like others and those with a more lively temper are not thought of
less for it. When you pass by their laundries and kitchens, where the women work, one frequently hears innocent, happy laughter, often accompanied by harmonic singing. The men in their mills and factories can frequently be heard singing songs they were taught by their mothers. In their faces, a certain spiritual satisfaction can be observed, and a stranger might think they all look the same. This is most likely in part due to the fact that the members of the society have been marrying one another for more than a century and are more or less closely related to one another. If one adds to that that they all think and work in the same way, that all their joys and worries are shared like in a family, and that they are all dressed in the same tradition, it is easy to understand why they are all very much alike.
The above-mentioned historians conclude: "They have been living in a religious community for 200 years. They have been practicing communism and prospered under it for nearly 50 years. They are the only communist community in the United States which has seen constant growth in membership and prosperity. The sparks of enthusiasm that were lit by Christian Metz and Barbara Heinemann kept on burning on this side of the ocean. It seems as if the teachings of Spencer, Gruber, and Rock had to take root in a different place, just like the theories of many others, to bear fruit. Ever since the founding of the society, its members have been people of strict morals and untainted character, who have clung to their faith with the enthusiasm of true confidence, and they have always longed for a heavenly ideal, convinced of the truth of their teachings.”
The Amana Colony currently counts about 1,800 members. The officers of the colony are: president, Dr. J.F. Winzenried. vice-president, Chas. Mörschell; secretary, Abraham Noe; doctors: J. F. Winzenried, Ch. Hermann, Wm. Mörschell, and Abraham Noe; pharmacists: C. Schadt and A. Koch.
The Icaria Colony
The history of the Icaria Colony in America is very eventful but exceeds the limits of this book. It is based on the communist ideas of the Frenchman Etienne Cabot, who arrived in the U.S. in 1849, accompanied by 400 colonists, who bought a million acres of land in Texas and purchased large properties in different areas of the Union. That is how they also came in possession of a property in Nauvoo, Ill., worth $ 65,000, which the Mormons had abandoned when they moved to Utah. Furthermore, they purchased more than 3,000 acres of land in Adams County in 1852, which they did not take possession of until 1854. Soon after the arrival of the colonists in Philadelphia, disputes started to arise and repeated themselves in all their colonies. More than half of the colonists returned to France within a couple of months, disappointed about the promised land, but even more so about the impossibility of working together, as is typical for the French. They did not just want freedom, but also equality, and almost everyone wanted to take the lead. So they split further and further apart. One colony after the other was dissolved and that is what happened to the colony in Adams County as well. The director of the first colonists, who arrived in 1854, was called Chrisinger and the first president, when the remaining colonists from Nauvoo came to Iowa in 1860, was A. A. Marchand. The society existed until 1879 and was then transformed into a cooperative under the name “The New Icarian Community”, which existed until 1895 and was dissolved by mutual agreement. The last society was a financial success. Mr. E. F. Fettanier settled the affairs and all members were happy with the outcome, but the Icaria colony was ultimately a fleeting dream.