(AV09044) Iowa TV Schooltime: Landmarks in Iowa History- Corning


it’s TV school-time double-wide TV an
association with Iowa State Teachers College presents another program in the
eye of our TVs full time series landmarks in Iowa history
today’s topic is corny your teachers are fake and the leland sage of Iowa State
Teachers College hello boys and girls have you ever seen a building like this
of course you have that’s a country school there are thousands of buildings
like this all over Iowa this one has been brought it up it’s no longer being
used just as there are other rural schools country schools which are
boarded up now but in appearance this is very much
like thousands of other country schools all over the state there is one
important difference though this school at one time was used by children of
Communists assert the parents of these children were communists they didn’t
call themselves communists they were called icarians and they weren’t the
kind of communists that live in Russia today but they were communists in the
true sense of the word and we’re going to hear the story of the icarians who
had this colony near Corning and I’m sure you’ll find the story very
interesting the story about how I Karia was formed how the icarian colony was
settled and how the I carry an idea got started in the first place is going to
be told by my good friend dr. Leland sage who the professor of history at the
Iowa State Teachers College and who has learned a great deal about the I carry
in his studies and he has talked about the icarians in his classes well he’s
going to tell you how the icarians started and how they came to this
country and why they came to Iowa would you do that dr. sage hey gladly Icaria
existed or rather originated in the mind of a French author very interesting
French philosopher named Asian or we would say Stephen today’s c a.b ET who
way back in the 1800 40s was very much concerned over the problem of making a
living and the distribution of property and who felt that the economic system
that was then in existence which had been brought in pretty much by the
Industrial Revolution was very unfair and that it worked hardships on a very
large number of people and kebaya was only one man back at that time who
thought a great deal about this problem many of them wrote different books on
the subject today is one of the most famous of these men his book was called
voyage on ekari or travels to a carrier a purely imaginary land in which a sort
of idealistic economic and social system was imagined by cab a and this was a
system in which the state would control everything every man would work
according to his ability and goods would be distributed according to need this
meant that the state had to give all the orders somebody would have to and then
in this plan the state would give the orders the state in this case was
represented by a dictator named a car who gave the orders to the icarians now
strange as it may seem a great many Frenchmen read this book and they
decided that they would like to carry out an experiment they would like to
prove that people could live according to this plan and that life would be
better under such a plan they were looking for
a utopia very much of the sort that Sir Thomas Moore had written about back in
the 16th century and which Plato wrote about in the 4th century BC so these
people calling themselves icarians then raised some money came over from France
to America hoping to find some isolated place in which they would be free to
start from scratch and work out this this experiment in communal or
communistic living in which all property was held in common and they came first
all the way across the Atlantic all the ways to New Orleans and from New Orleans
they came up the red river first in the cipa course then the red river to
Shreveport then from there they disembarked and came by ox wagons
Hawkstone wagons out here about three hundred miles in the northeast Texas and
there they lived for nearly a year trying to plow the land so and cultivate
crops and building houses and in general trying to make this experiment work out
there were so many things against them though the weather the diseases of this
area the climate was really ferocious from their point of view and after some
10 or 11 months of this they gave up and came back 3/4 and back down to New
Orleans and there they were joined by the
founder of this experiment this the originator cab a himself who had come
across from France and now they came all the way up to Mississippi to Nauvoo
Illinois remember this is 1848 that we’re talking
about and this was just two years after the Mormons had vacated Nauru and had
come across into Ireland on across Nebraska and out to Utah well these
people live at Norview for a while and on this new map now we’ll call this
point Nauru just a little above chiesa across the river though and then they
came across the Mississippi and across southern Iowa out here to Corning Iowa
and here they arranged to get they thought about 3,000 acres of land
actually turned out to be a thousand acres which they later increased to
1,700 and here they were undertook to carry out this experiment again the same
one they had tried and which had failed in Texas and so for something like well
this was a 1860 when they came here actually and although they’re advanced
agents had come in 1853 in 54 and so that’s something of the story mr. hate
as to how these people got here thank you dr. sage let’s remove this map
and I want to show you something of the arrangement of the colony which was
established here near Corning as dr. sage told you these people
believed in owning everything in common they believed in having common property
no individual could have money of his own when he joined the icarians he had
to give up all his possessions and he had to wear a special uniform in the
case of the women that was blue calico dresses the case of the man that was
blue jeans and perhaps that’s how the idea of blue jeans got started in Iowa
but all of the personal possessions had to be turned in to the treasurer of the
Icarian colony and then they had their meals together and this treasurer would
buy the food and the members of the colony had no personal possessions at
all they owned everything in company and in
the first colony the central building was a long log structure which was
divided into eight room three four five six seven eight and of course each one
of these had its own door this and room here was the laundry and the women did
all the washing the next room was the bakery and the men did all of the baking
and cooking because you remember these were French and the French have always
prided themselves on their skill in cookery and men have usually been better
cooks in France than women so when the icarians came to the new world and set
up their own colony the men did the cooking the next room here was reserved
for the water supply there was a big tank in there in which the water was
stored next room was the kitchen and the men also took turns working in the
kitchen the next room was a common dining room
and all the icarians ate in this one room families would have their own
tables but all the members of the colony ate their meals in this one big dining
room this next room was a place for provisions groceries but this was not a
grocery store and as the members of the community could not go to this room and
buy groceries because they have no money the groceries were just stored in this
room and the treasurer paid for them and then when the men in the kitchen needed
something for preparing the meals they would go to this room and check out
whatever food they needed that was then the grocery room the next one was used
for drugs medicines were kept there in case people got sick and this last room
was the library the icarians were all serious students and they had over a
thousand books that they kept in this library because they had a regular
reading program for the improvement of their minds up here in this corner there
was a combination shawl and flour mill they made their lumber and their flour
in the same place not with the same machinery of course but I imagine some
sawdust got into the flour once in a while and there was another building up
here for the chickens chickens still live in a state of communism all over
the state of Iowa here was the horse barn and then the road ran past the
colony in this direction and on the other side of the road there was a shed
for sheep another one for cows and another one for geese around here there
was the shop where wooden shoes were made because the early settlers in
Icaria wore wooden shoes and here was the blacksmith shop and
here was a sewing shop where the women did all the sewing of the uniforms for
the members of the colony and then there were a smaller houses like this in which
the families lived they could be fairly small because they didn’t have to have a
kitchen or a dining room these were the homes for the families and then there
was an orchard in here well this worked fine and dandy for a time and then the
younger members of the community said look we’re getting a little bit away
from the ideas of cafe you older folks all have gardens beside your home and
the vegetables that you grow in these gardens are not being put in the common
Treasury you’re using those for yourself and the younger people said that isn’t
right those vegetables should all go into the common Treasury shouldn’t be
used by the individual families and the older people said well long ago when we
lived in France we had our own little gardens where we raised our flowers and
we raised some vegetables and they were for our own use but the younger people
said no you can’t do that all these things should go together but the older
people would not give up their little gardens and so the younger people
decided they would set up their own colony and some of the houses were moved
a short distance away to another place and that became the new Icarian colony
the older people still stayed in the place where they had originally settled
but the newer people set up a new colony and the new colony was arranged a little
bit differently than the was the road the main building was a big dining hall
which had the colony printshop on the top this was the kitchen there was the
dining hall and then writing back to the dining hall there was a planting of
trees and this was a kind of a recreation park and right in the center of this
recreation park they had a tall flagpole with an American flag on it because the
icarians were very patriotic citizens and then the houses for the individual
families were built on the sides of this park and in line with the front of the
dining hall and some of these smaller buildings were used for blacksmith shops
and harness shops and there was a horse barn back here and the cemetery was over
in this direction off that way and there was a vegetable garden over here and
these younger icarians believed in planting a vegetable garden and then all
the vegetables would go into a common fund the schoolhouse in front of which
we’re standing today was located right here now let me show you how the two
colonies look when we put them together you see the the old colony was toward
the northwest and there was a bend in the road and the schoolhouse was almost
halfway between the two colonies and the new colony was toward the southeast
that’s the way they were arranged well of course there is no icarian colony
here in the corning area anymore and I think it would be interesting if dr.
sage told you why the Icarian community is no longer here what happened to it
and why it was discontinued did you do that dr. sage yes this colony went
through a great deal of difficulty life is never as easy as it would seem under
these arrangements because there’s always dispute as to what belongs to
whom and and so on well finally members of one of these colonies the old colony
broke away entirely and decided to move out to California
where they soon abandoned the entire experiment the other group stayed on
here at Corning until 1895 at that time they had simply come to the end of the
of their faith and the end of their belief rather in this whole idea and
they decided to break it up and to go into the plan of individual ownership so
they went to court they had a receiver appointed and the court ordered the
dissolution of this whole colony and all the property was surveyed and each
person in the colony received his proportionate share of the land and of
the rest of the property and so from 1895 on the survivors simply lived there
and live like any other ordinary American people well how did I carry out
compared with Amana well a manner which was begun in Iowa at about the same time
survived a full generation after the icarian dissolution the amount of colony
did not privately incorporate until 1932 and at that time it was a rather
interesting thing though the the young people in the amount of colony were the
ones who wanted to break up they called me in the Icarian community that we’ve
just been talking about it was a young people who wanted to go back to the pure
idealism of the founder well the amount of colony went through the same
experience exactly they had a receiver appointed that the court ordered the
dissolution of the colony of the amount of colony and all of their property was
surveyed and each individual received his share but why did a man who last
longer than I well we think that this was because the amount of people had
a different motivation from the very first there there’s was a purely
religious motivation they were they thought pleasing God by living according
to this plan of common ownership where’s the icarians were simply a more
self-centered and materialistic people who had had simply abandoned capitalism
in favor of this form of communism simply as a means of getting better
distribution of property they had no thought about whether this please God or
anybody else just so long as it gave them a better standard of living they
thought through a better distribution of property and so we think that this
illustrates the difference between the people who live by faith and those who
simply live by a man-made philosophy all right thank you dr. page Oh
last summer I took some pictures of the landmarks of Icaria that still remain in
this area near Corning this old barn here is the only thing that is left of
the old colony of Icaria this was at one time the dining hall and the only
surviving member of the icarian colony who is still living near Corning told me
that he could remember when they used to have dancers in this building in the
evenings and on Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays this would be a recreation
hall and he said one Saturday night they might have a dance there and the
following Saturday night they would have the performance of an opera and I said
you mean a real opera with singers and orchestra and he said yes sir remember
we all spoke French and we brought to this country the things that we enjoyed
in the old country and so there were performances of such operas as mental
and house and other French operas right here in this old barn
of course it’s fallen into into decay now it’s not as sturdy a
building as it was in the old days but this is all that is left of old Icaria
here is another view of the schoolhouse near which we are standing today I took
this with a little greater distance because at the time I took this picture
last summer there were a lot of bees around this schoolhouse I suppose they
thought that sensitive children weren’t using anymore they’d go to school here
and be unmolested and when I came a little close they objected so I stayed
way off this is the old schoolhouse and this is an interesting landmark because
in this building there was the first electric telephone in the state of Iowa
the teacher in this school had one telephone in here and the other one was
in his house some distance away and I suppose the bee stayed in school grading
papers a little longer than he should his wife could call him on the telephone
and say why aren’t you home suppers getting cold and he’d say all right
there I’ll come right home and he would that’s the value of the California suit
so the first electric telephone in Iowa was installed in this old Icarian
schoolhouse here is the only building that is left of the new colony this was
the dining hall two-story building this part here on the first floor was the
dining hall the kitchen was here and upstairs here there was the colony print
shop where the newspaper was printed this house is now occupied by mr. and
mrs. Townsend and their family a thoroughly up-to-date and progressive
farmer and he’s remodeled this house so it is suitable as a home and here is the
old cemetery where the pioneers of Icaria lie buried there is no road to
this cemetery I haven’t drive across a wheat field to get there and after I got
there the bottom of the station wagon was covered with wheat straw and it was
such a thick mat of it that I had to pull it out when I got back to the
highway and the weeds here are quite tall and
the man who showed me where the cemetery was is the only living member of the
Icarian community who is still living in Iowa
this is mr. Jules gentry or as it would be pronounced in French Jew John three
he was the last director of agriculture for the new
Icarian colony that is he told all the men what they would do in the way of
farming how the vegetables would be raised how many beans would be planted
how many potatoes and then he supervised Dahl this he was the last director of
agriculture in the icarian colony and we broke down a lot of the weeds so that I
could take this picture and here is a tombstone one of the pioneers in the
icarian colony now dr. sage told you about the general plan of life in Icaria
that all property was to be owned in common
and that everyone would benefit according to his need that meant that no
individual could go out and make some money on his own in case he decided he
needed a new suit he couldn’t earn the money for it
he would just tell the head of the society the Icarian community my suit is
getting thin I need a new suit and so the women of Icaria would prepare a new
set of blue jeans for him and in a way that was very handy you never had to
worry about clothes you never had to worry about food but of course you could
save no money for yourself all your needs were met by the community at large
you own nothing and you shared in common with everyone else and so the money all
the resources on the community were put together in a commonly Treasury and I suppose we
could let that represent the common Treasury a big bag of money as new
converts came into Icaria they turned over their money their jewels their fine
clothes if they had any any property they might have turned it all in to the
head of the community and then they were given a costume just like every other
costume it’s almost like going into a monastery when you enter a monastery you
must give up all your worldly possessions and then you get a role just
like all the other monks have and you live a life of poverty well of course
your needs are met you get their food you get your clothing and all of your
physical needs are met by the society as a whole by the community in this case it
was the icarian community but you remember also the dr. Sayed said that
the community did not last very long because it was based only upon this
political theory of sharing everything in common and the matter of religion was
not very seriously considered by the members of the icarian community and
religion as in the case of the people in amana was a very important thing to
ensure stability and the continuing of the community and the tradition in which
it had been founded so because the people in Icaria did not
have religion to hold them together the community failed and finally it was
dissolved and so we may think of the people of Icaria as people who were very
sad they were disappointed because their great dream had not been fulfilled and
we think of them as growing old and feeling a great deal of
disappointment because the plan of cab a which seemed so fine had come to no final good so here is the old man a
survivor of a wonderful dream which cab a had described in his book next week we
are going to Guttenberg a German community on the Mississippi River which
took its name from the inventor of movable type Guttenberg and the people
who settled the community thought they were giving it that name but somebody
misspelled it and it became dutt EMD ERG and it is known as Guttenberg that’s a
very interesting story and I hope you will be with me next week when we visit
Guttenberg until then goodbye your teachers have been her bake and Leyland
Said’s of Iowa State Teachers College landmarks in Iowa history is produced
for Iowa TV school time by w4y TV on Association level the State Teachers
College TV school time is presented daily Monday through Friday at 1:30 p.m.
by the eye of a joint committee for Educational Television you

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