Socialist Colony of Glennis Washington
Directions: Two different resources have different locations for this one. Trying Home by Justin Wadland says that it’s location was twenty seven miles outside of Tacoma in the Cascade foothills. The Harbor History Museum Blog has a more exact location, “located on 160 acres near Clear Lake on the Eatonville Road, 17 miles south of Tacoma, Washington.” This would put the location somewhere in the vicinity of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
Glennis was inspired by the book Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by journalist Edward Bellamy. The book describes a utopia society in the year 2000 where the Government has taken over all industry. Everyone receives an education before serving in the “Industrial Army.” Workers received the same amount regardless of work and all comforts were provided for equally.
In its day the book was highly influential among the upper-middle class. Over two hundred thousand copies were sold by the end of 1889. It sparked the Nationalism Movement that swept the US. In 1891 one hundred and sixty five Nationalist clubs were formed to discuss the book and it’s ideals.
The Glennis Coorperation Industrial Company was founded on May 5, 1894 to “own and operate manufactories, to acquire land, to build houses for it’s employees; to insure the employees against want, or the fear of want; and to maintain harmonious social relationships on the basis of cooperation.” William Reed and Oliver Verity donated 160 acres (a quarter section of a land claim,) to fill the acquire land portion of that mission statement. Membership quickly grew from eight to thirty adults who cleared the land, planted gardens and built the communities buildings. Each adult member paid fifty dollars to join the experimental community.
Unfortunately problems arose in the second year. The community is about 1000 feet above sea level and spring came late in 1895. This caused typical farm problems that look to have blown up into larger issues. Some members wanted to make bylaws restricting others in their private matters. Town meetings became noisy and people on both sides lost interest. Many workers were lazy and did not contribute their share of the work.
In addition, William Reed used his influence as Superintendent of Agriculture to have the plot of land he donated to be improved by the work crews. Once they had done so, he used the arguments in the meetings as a pretext to demand the land back. The community leaders decided to do so to save on legal fees.
This in turn led other members of the community to demand their money back. The remaining portion of land was sold to pay those debts, leaving a single twenty dollar gold piece shared between Oliver Verity, George Allen and Frank Odell. They took that money and used it as a down payment on land for another experimental community called Home.