About Me

My wife and I moved next door to the Oneida Community Mansion House (OCMH) in 1993, on the site of the Oneida & Western Railroad Station.  In 1998  I started volunteering to work on the Mansion House lawns and gardens.  During the summer of 1999, I reworked the entire 7/10  mile of pathways.  As visitors would walk around, they asked me  questions about the Community.  Soon I started shadowing tour guides to learn more about the history of the Community.  Eventually, the director asked me to be a guide.  As of Oct 30, 2016, I have given 771 tours to 4,741 people.  As a member of the OCMH Speakers Bureau, I have also spoken to many organizations.

As my interest piqued, the family genealogy challenged me.  I had experienced researching family trees and computerizing the results.  So, it was a natural for me to do the same with the Oneida Community Family.  My beginning data was based on  “The Oneida Family”  published by John Teeple.  Following this I interviewed many descendants in person or through the mail and read many Community publications, as well as, over 50 books concerning Community life.

I started computerizing the genealogy of the Oneida Community in 2000. In 2005 I printed the Community family tree on bar graph paper. It was a laminated chart 560 feet long,  and on display during  “Home Coming  2005”.  (See Photo.)  I also have  printed off  the information in 85 separate family books that are housed in the OCMH.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steve Hanken
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 14:51:01

    My interest in your site is purely in one man, Lorenzo Bolles Jr. From local history in Iowa, Reverend Bolles, then a Methodist minister, was responsible for an “Exodus Society” that encouraged its members to come to Iowa and settle in its own community. apparently Bolles had discovered the village of Sand Spring in Delaware county Iowa was about to have the railroad come to its location and he acquired land from the Bowen Brothers to start this community. He also had the Bowen’s build a sort of hotel for the first settlers to live in while they cultivated their land and eventually established themselves on that land. From the records of these early county histories it mentioned that a former Governor Claflin of Massachusetts had taken control of the “colony house” after the community fell apart. Claflin was known as a reformer in many different venues, but in this instance I have not found the connection between this colony and Claflin. One of my reasons for chasing this down is a possible western Under Ground Railroad route to Canada for slaves seeking freedom. I am hoping something remains of the history (not included in the local Iowa histories) there in Oneida, since Bolles joined the movement after sun stroke caused his discharge from the Army and eventually put him into an asylum where he died. I am hoping what was intended but never fulfilled was a sort of Galesburg, Illinois in Iowa. Galesburg became a harbor for run away slaves, no slave catcher ever took a run away slave from that community, ever. The story of the Sand Spring Community ends with a financial depression that kept people from coming to Iowa because of short money. The first people to come stayed and can still be found in the area, the rest never materialized and the community ended. Any help you could give me would be much appreciated! Sincerely, Steve Hanken


    • waltsmusings
      Jan 01, 2014 @ 21:18:02


      We are currently in Florida and will return mid Jan. Will do some more research on Bolles when I get back.
      Happy New Year.

      Walt Lang


  2. Steve Hanken
    Jan 01, 2014 @ 22:15:31

    Thanks Walt, I appreciate all that you are doing for me on this one. I have about 16 years of off and on research on an underground railroad line and so far have three confirmed conductors and working on leads for others. 160 years after the fact and what happened then was secret makes it tougher than most research! What makes it worse, are the historians who fail to look in places they think nothing happened, Dubuque, Iowa being the main source of my consternation. I will plug along looking for haystacks and digging for needles so long as I can find the hay stacks! Thanks again! Steve


    • waltsmusings
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 11:21:00

      I have found material on Lorenzo Bolles, Jr that might interest you. Could you please send me your mailing address to: Walt.Lang@gmail.com.
      Mighty cold here in central New York as it is in your area.



      • Steve Hanken
        Jan 25, 2014 @ 15:03:48

        1508 Fifth Avenue S.E., Cedar rapids, Iowa 52403

    • Bill Warden
      May 11, 2016 @ 20:45:41

      Steve, I have pix of “Ren” who was my grandmother’s 1/2 brother, I believe. He died as a young man. I believe his father was Robert Bolles, who was also father of Rachel Bolles Griffith, my great aunt, who ran the mansion house for many years. Does any of this jive with what Walt related? Bill


      • Steve Hanken
        Jun 06, 2016 @ 18:27:29

        Since Bolles left Iowa and went back to New York, I had hoped he might have said something about what had happened previously in Iowa, if anything. His sun stroke probably didn’t help his memory and eventually ending up in an asylum, suggested he probably was a few bricks short of a full load by the time he arrived at Oneida. It is a shame, for the man appeared to give it his all in Iowa for his community, he seemed to be responsible for near everything at that time, maybe that is what put him over the edge? Iowa was home to many separatist religious organizations, for all intent and purpose, the community at Sand Springs could have been that and nothing more, but grabbing at strings is what you have to do to make sure.

  3. Steve hanken
    Feb 01, 2014 @ 11:02:21

    Got your mail today, thanks so much for the information. Fully, I realize the difficulty in finding what I am looking for, but on the other hand, having contacts like you, make my job so much more interesting! It also helps eliminate having to look in places where there is little to gain. When I don’t know what is out there, it costs me time and energy finding ways to get to what information there is or isn’t, better spent at other things. I’ll be sending you some money to cover your expenses for mailing. Again, Thank you so much for giving me of your time!


  4. Steve Hanken
    Sep 25, 2016 @ 17:34:01

    My mailing address has changed to 823 South Main Street, Monticello, Iowa 52310


  5. walt lang
    Sep 25, 2016 @ 18:28:46

    Thanks Steve


  6. Jason Meaux
    May 20, 2017 @ 13:45:27

    Hello Walt!

    My fiancé and I are currently staying at Oneida Mansion in the John Humphrey Noyes room. Would you be available to give a private tour sometime this afternoon? My fiancé is an English graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill speicializing in the 19th c. and she is interested in the history of Oneida. We are leaving early tomorrow morning.

    Thank you and Kindest Regards,


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