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LAMOILLE — A retired Walnut High School teacher is seeking some help in a search for more details about a utopian society that was envisioned, he believes, in the LaMoille area prior to 1840.
Bob Glaser, who taught history and government at Walnut High School 1961-1993, is seeking information about an ill-fated Bureau County utopian dream.
“Information on it is very difficult to come by,” said Glaser, who also researches the 1833 Galena Trail Coach Road along with Les Cavada of Tiskilwa.
He wrote in a press release, which was a call for assistance:
“A dream that is now some 170 years old can be an illusive thing to track down, much less to fully understand.
“There was this dream of creating a utopian community in early Illinois only 25 years after we had become a state. Americans have a long history of experiments with trying to devise better communities through intentional planning. The central focus or motivation for such experiments usually centered on improving social welfare, economic, philosophical or religious themes. Such a proposal was utilized in an attempt to establish a utopian social community near LaMoille.
“The state legislator chartered the LaMoille Agricultural and Mechanical Association on March 6, 1843. The association was to have three directors, all of whom had immigrated to the LaMoille area from New England. The planned community, aka the Bureau County Phalanx, was to be based on an adherence to the social and mathematical concepts and theories of the French philosopher, Charles Fourier.
“This was intended to be no small dream. The state charter provided for a potential for as many as 2,000 shareholders who could control some 160,000 acres of land.
“The LaMoille effort, unfortunately, seems never to have progressed much beyond the initial planning stage.
“Over the course of our nation’s history, hundreds of similar social, economic, or religious communal experiments have been attempted. Almost none of the experiments have produced lasting results and have subsequently, after a year or two, drifted into obscurity. As historian William Hinds has noted; ‘The financial losses in such cases may have been the least; for the “the setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun; the brightness of our life is gone.’”
His research suggests the group had involvement in the Perkins Grove church, and some of the names he has found include Timothy Edwards, Samuel Edwards, John Kendall, Justin H. Olds and Elisha Fassett.