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The Home Welcome Sign
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Home is a census-designated place in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The 2010 Census placed the population at 1,377. The community lies on the Key Peninsula and borders the waters of Carr Inlet, an extension of Puget Sound. Home is now primarily a town of beach homes, although around the turn of the twentieth century, it was considered a model, utopian community of anarchists.
After the failure of the industrial cooperative colony Glennis located east of Eatonville, three former Glennisites — George H. Allen, Oliver A. Verity, and B. F. O'Dell — set out in the summer of 1895 into Puget Sound on a rowboat they built themselves to find an isolated location for a new community. Home was one of about two hundred similar communities that sprung up in America in the late 1800's.
They decided upon Von Geldern Cove (also known as Joe's Bay) as the site for their new Home Colony, which would be an intentional community based on anarchist philosophy. The founders purchased 26 acres (110,000 m2) there at $7 an acre, working odd jobs to pay for it. By 1896, their families had joined them and cabins were constructed.
By 1898 a land buying corporation was set up called the Mutual Home Association, whose Articles of Incorporation and Agreement stated their purpose as "to assist its members in obtaining and building homes for themselves and to aid in establishing better social and moral conditions." Land was apportioned to those who became members of the Association, agreeing to its anarchist ideals and to pay for their lot. The title to each member's land would stay with the Association; however this was changed in 1909. The Association also held title to a meeting hall, called Liberty Hall, and a trading post.
When Home was plotted in 1901 it had increased in size to 217 acres (0.88 km2) and had become home to anarchists, communists, food faddists, freethinkers, nudists, and others who did not fit in with mainstream society. Elbert Hubbard, anarchist Emma Goldman, and national communist leader William Z. Foster visited and gave lectures.
Some high profile anarchists and free thinkers lived, raised families and wrote about the free thinking anarchist movement in Home. Such individuals brought their share of scandal and intrigue to the community. One such figure was Gertie Vose, who once lived in Portland and contributed to The Firebrand (alongside other notable anarchists like Jay Fox and Emma Goldman). Her move to the Home colony was thought to be motivated by her son, Donald Vose. He was said to be a shy, lonely kid and Gertie thought a move to the anarchist friendly area would improve his social skills and make him more comfortable with her beliefs. Gertie quickly established her place in this community by contributing to one of Home's newspapers, The Discontent, and by organizing meetings and entertaining visitors. Gertie Vose also became good friends with fellow anarchist and writer, Emma Goldman. They kept in touch for many years and Goldman wrote about her friendship with Gertie and her less amiable relationship with Donald. Donald Vose was a less harmonious addition to the community which contrasted with his mother's flourishing role in the colony. He was described as "irresponsible, lazy and bumblingly inept at everything he tried." His ineptitude later turned into treachery in 1910. The 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing implicated two anarchists David Caplan and Matthew Schmidt with transporting dynamite used in the explosion. Both men were friends with Home colony members. Because of their ties to Home, FBI were said to have come into Home, disguised as surveyors, to look for clues on men's whereabouts. They went so far as to trail Jay Fox in an attempt to tie him to the bombing. In the end, the agents found Donald Vose and used him to find Caplan and Schmidt. Through the anarchist networks, and using his mother's standing Vose was able to locate both Caplan (who living as a secluded chicken farmer on Bainbridge Island under the alias Frank Moller) and Schmidt. When the community found out about Vose's involvement in the exposure of Caplan and Schmidt there was immediate anger and disgust. Friends of Caplan and Schmidt followed Vose, planning on kidnapping him and preventing him from testifying against the two men. Emma Goldman, one of Gertie's friends and the women who housed Donald on the East Coast during his search for Schmidt, was appalled to have been used in Vose's betrayal and wrote in Mother Board, "You will roam the earth accursed, shunned and hated; a burden unto yourself, with the shadow of M.A. Schmidt and David Caplan ever at your heels unto the last." Donald Vose returned to Home, Washington after the conviction of Caplan and Schmidt. David Caplan had received 10 years in prison for his involvement while Schmidt was sentenced to life imprisonment. Donald's return was met with derision by his neighbors, although his mother allowed him back in her house. At the same time as Vose's return, Home was showing signs of splintering as people with differing views and ideology began to separate and disperse.
Following the assassination of President McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in 1901, the community came under scrutiny from outsiders, especially newspapers in nearby Tacoma. Inflammatory articles led to threats being made by a vigilante committee called the Loyal League formed by members of the Grand Army of the Republic, who planned to invade the colony by steamboat and "put it to the torch." They were stopped when the steamboat owner refused to take them.
In 1902, after charges of violation of the Comstock Act resulting from an article advocating free-love published in the local anarchist newspaper Discontent: Mother of Progress, Home's post office was closed by postal inspectors and moved two miles (3 km) to the smaller town of Lakebay. The people of Home were labeled "vicious" by officials, and thus people like the citizens of Tacoma, Washington believed the community was detrimental to moral values.
The radical feminist Lois Waisbrooker was a resident of Home during a later phase of her controversial career (1901 to 1904), and was involved in the prosecution that led to the closing of the Home post office. Emma Goldman was also a radical ideologue who studied the works of people like Walt Whitman and thus deceminated the idea of "sexual intermedicy". Waisbrooker and Goldman and other women like them exeplified feminist ideology that fit into the larger anarchist canon that had developed in 20th century America.
The Association became divided into disagreeing factions called "nudes" and "prudes." The two factions were coined in a series of editorials in the Home newspaper The Agitator in which editor Jay Fox defended Homeites arrested in 1911 for nude swimming — and nude swimming in general — against those in Home who had reported them to county authorities. This division between conservative and more liberal factions of the colony contributed greatly to the colony in 1919. Because of these editorials, Fox was charged with the misdemeanor of encouraging or advocating disrespect for law or for any court or courts of justice and jailed for two months. Not only was the colony fracturing from within but public opinion outside of Home was less than favorable. Many people saw the disagreement totally arbitrary seeing as it was discussing people being nude in public and that was socially unacceptable outside of the community. The Agitator ran stories that dealt with things like the Hay Market riot in Chicago and other instances of injustice against the anarchist movement. When Jay Fox moved from Home, WA to Chicago he took his paper with him and renamed it The Syndicalist.
The debate over Home's clothing-optional policies was a common theme in communities like this across the country. In most cases the free-love lifestyle that anarchists strived for came into conflict with the strict cultural norms of the mainstream. These communities "withered as a result of public hostility as well as internal disagreement over ideology and practice."
As people in the colony became more divided on their views of anarchism the colony began to fracture. The "nudes and prudes" debate made it clear that the colony was not living in a totally cohesive utopia, but rather a complicated collection of similar people who could not fully reconcile their differing interpretations of anarchism. In 1919 the Association was dissolved and the anarchist community, as it was, dissolved as well.
- Charles Pierce LeWarne, Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885–1915, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1975; pp. 168-226.
- J. W. Gaskine, "The Anarchists at Home, Washington," The Independent, Vol. 78, pp. 914-22.
- LeWarne, Charles P. (Summer 1972). "The Anarchist Colony at Home, Washington 1901-1902". Journal of the Southwest. 14: 155–168.
- LeWarne, pp. 168-71.
- LeWarne, pp. 171-3.
- LeWarne, pp. 175-6, 199.
- Balzer, Anitra. "Donald Vose: Home-grown Traitor". Communal Societies. 8.
- Balzer, Anitra. "Donald Vose: Home-grown Traitor". Communal Societies. 8.
- LeWarne, pp. 177-82.
- LeWarne, pp. 183-4.
- Robbins, Timothy (Spring 2015). "Emma Goldman Reading Walt Whitman: Aesthetics, Agitation, and the Anarchist Ideal". Texas Studies in Literature & Language. 57: 80–105.
- Wadland, Justin (2014). Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound. Oregon State University Press.
- Hoffman, Brian (2015). Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism. NYU Press.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Home.|
- Fortnightly Club of Redlands: Home Colony, Its Philosophy & Beginnings*Seattle PI: No Place Like Home — this is very likely (but not certainly) the article quoted at length, perhaps in full, at http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo/message/730
- Labor Press Project: Discontent: Mother of Progress: Information on the anarchist newspaper published from Home between 1898 and 1902. Contains excerpt from the "Articles of Incorporation and Agreement of the Mutual Home Association".
- Labor Press Project: The Agitator: Information on the anarchist newspaper published from Home between 1910 and 1912. Contains excerpts from "The Nude and the Prudes" and other articles.
- Stamping Out Indecency The Postal Way: Home's legal troubles with the Comstock Act.
- The Anarchist Encyclopedia: Home Colony, Washington
- "A Nest of Vipers in This Country": An article about the vilification of Home Colony and its leaders by the Tacoma press.
- The Anarchists of Home: An episode of Northwest Now on KBTC-TV that features Home and authors Wadland and LeWarne.