ASCENDING FELLOWSHIP   Bringing young female or male virgins into the practice of Complex Marriage was accomplished through ascending fellowship.  Older, godly members belonging to The Central Members would chose a virgin and be spiritually responsible for them.  The virgins were usually about fourteen years old.

BEREAN   Noyes published a book, The Berean, based on Paul’s writings in the New Testament.

BURNED OVER DISTRICT   In the North Eastern United States, in particular between Rochester and Schenectady, New York during the years 1825 – 1835, there were over 1,300 revivals usually lasting four days each. As a result of all this religious activity there were over 100 different religions that started up, some lasting only a few months. The Mormons began in Palmyra, NY in 1840. The Millerites, which was one of the main revival groups, faded out and its members became the Seventh Day Adventists.  The religious fervor was at a fever pitch.

CENTRAL MEMBERS   They were men and women who, generally speaking, were among the older members, often those who had been among the original founders.

CONFESSION   The members of the community, according to Noyes, were sinless after conversion, so no confession would be needed.

COMPLEX MARRIAGE    This was started in 1846 and disbanded in August 1879. Every man and every woman were married to each other. They could engage in sexual intercourse, but could not be attached to each other.  John Humphrey and Harriet along with George and Mary Cragin in the Putney Community started this. Thus every male was married to every female. This was all to be a measure of a person’s spirituality. Exclusive sexual relationships were discouraged. To help prevent a “special love” from forming, each Community member had his or her own bedroom. Couples who came to the Community already married were each given an individual room after joining.  A married couple entering the Community was not required or even encouraged to legally dissolve their marriage, but encouraged to be involved in complex marriage.  Female Community members averaged three sexual encounters, or “interviews”, a week.

DESCENDING FELLOWSHIP   The extreme of this would be when an adult took a special interest in the welfare of a child.  Any tendency for special love would call for the separation of the two.

EQUALITY OF THE SEXES    The Oneida Community believed in equality of the sexes.  Women were treated equal to men engaging in the same jobs. Jobs usually were changed around every 30 days.

FOUNDERS 1848 – 1853  There were 134 adults who joined the Oneida Community during the first five years.  The vast majority of them came as families, or single parents with children.  Over half of them were under 30 years old, and over two thirds were under 40.  One of every three of these founders lived to be an octogenarian.

HIGH TIDE OF THE SPIRIT   On February 24, 1834, at The New Haven, Congregational Church during his sermon, John Humphrey Noyes declared himself sinless.  This was the only holiday celebrated in the Oneida Community.

HOME TALKS    These were messages usually by Noyes in the Family Hall after the daily business meeting.  He started using the Bible as his basis, then to the Berean and then finally various topics that he chose to address.

HORIZONTAL RELATIONSHIP    A term to describe whenever a male and a female of the same age would want to engage in sexual interview.  This was discouraged because Noyes looked on the physical union as spiritual in nature,  one of the two would have to be more spiritual and that would usually be the man, with the exception of older women with young boys.

JOINERS 1854 – 1879  There were 98 people in this group.  One out of five of these joiners were widows without children.  Joiners had nearly the same longevity as the founders.  All were free to leave.  The rate of withdrawal from the Community was 27% for Joiners and 11% for Founders.

MALE CONTINENCE   A form of birth control during sexual intercourse; the man would not ejaculate.

MILLENNIAL KINGDOM   The Millennial Kingdom had been attributed to A.D. 70 at which time Noyes thought Christ had made His Second Coming in a spiritual form.

MUTUAL CRITICISM   Each member of the community who was being reprimanded was taken in front of either a committee or sometimes the whole community.   It provided social control and was meant to help strengthen relationships in the community. It kept secrets and negative thoughts from brewing.

PANATALETTES   They were like a pair of slacks with a dress over them. It made it much easier for women to be engaged in industry.  Bloomers, which were baggier, were developed around the same time in other areas of the country.

PROPERTY REGISTER   When anyone joined the Oneida Community, they registered whatever property they had with them and turned it all over to The Community.  The property of each individual then belonged to the group. A record of the estimated amount was kept, and when the member left, The Community would refund the property or an equivalent amount.  Those who brought no property into the Community, if they left honorably, were given a good outfit of clothing and a sum of money not exceeding one hundred dollars.

REGENERATION   Christ’s death was not for the sins of man, but was the first blow to Satan. By believing in the death of Christ, one was released from sin, because Christ destroyed the central cause of sin. By believing then, one is regenerated.

REVELATION    Noyes never said that he received special revelation, though he did have his own interpretations. Noyes once wrote an article in “The Berean,” emphasizing the credibility of scripture and denouncing those who denied the validity and relevance of scripture.

 SELF-WAIT TABLE    A dining room table six foot six inches across was divided into three sections.  The outer edge was 18′ wide, the middle section rotated by spinning (this was the first use of a “Lazy Susan”). This section held the dishes of food that could be spun to a person sitting anywhere around the table.  The center of the table was permanent and 13 inches across to hold additional tumblers, plates, etc.  Each table would seat 10 people.

STEROSCOPE   The Community was into stereography and would sell views of the Community, and especially of John Humphrey Noyes, to visitors.

STIRPICULTURE   (today we would say eugenics) Noyes established this program in 1869.  It was a breeding program to generate more perfect children.  Over 100 people volunteered to participate and a special committee matched parenting pairs based on the most spiritual and robust qualities.  Out of this program there were 58 children born known as “Stirpicults”.

TOWNERITES   James W. Towner along with W.A. Hinds & H. W. Burnham tried to take control from Noyes.  James Towner was a Captain in the Civil War, an ordained minister and a licensed Lawyer who had been a member of the New Berlin Free Love Society in Ohio.

VEGETARIANS    Meals were vegetarian with milk productions (butter, cheese).  They did occasionally eat fish and some seafood. About twice a year they had beef and or mutton.


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