OC Men

Following is a list of some interesting and key men during and after the Oneida Community that were part of the OC which later became Oneida Community Limited:

Born:  May 2, 1806      Died:

June 6, 1886 Johnathan owned the land on which he invited John Humphrey Noyes to bring his followers and build here.  He was a man of action and was the key figure in getting first buildings erected.

Born:  Nov 6, 1821    Died:  Sept 2, 1894

Erastus attended college in Syracuse, NY.  After joining the Community he oversaw the building of the first Mansion House.  He was one of the substitutes for JHN during the evening meetings.  He was elected the 1st president of Oneida Community Limited.

Burnham, HenryBURNHAM, HENRY W.
Born:  June 30, 1820   Died:  1897

Henry was training to become a minister under the Millerites and had a partial license to preach when he embraced the doctrines of perfectionism.    He joined the Putney Association.  Henry was the leading vocalist in the Community and was in charge of leading much of the singing of the members.  He was a very successful peddler.

When the Community ended he was on the board of directors for a short time and was involved in mission work.  He got involved in the ministry of Rev. A. B. Simpson who has started the Gospel Mission in New York City.  The group would later become the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  Henry was the first treasurer.

He was an uncle of Theodora Campbell, a member of the community, who built the Kenwood Heights Alliance Church and parsonage.

Born:  Feb 11, 1803    Died:  Nov 25, 1889

John was JHN’s brother-in-law having married his sister Harriet.  John was first a Restorationist and then a Quaker.  Then he heard about JHN and perfectionism.   He  joined the Putney Community.   He was very involved in printing The Witness, as editor, writer and publishing.  He was considered one of the leading spiritual leaders of the Community and it’s press.

Kinsley, AlbertKINSLEY, ALBERT
Born:  April 18, 1801   Died:  Sept 22, 1882

Albert was the one person in the Community that had excellent relationship with the area farmers and was recognized as such by the outside community.  He and his son built “The Tontine”, the current dining room, in 1874.<br class=”para”

Born: Oct 5, 1829 Died: 1905

Leonard was trained in metal working by William R. Inslee. He had a keen insight in metal work by revolutionizing the trap-spring manufacture. He later invented a chain-making machine with a special oven to work the metal.

Born:  Sept 20, 1806   Died:  Dec 27, 1888

Sewell was an innovator in making improvements to animal traps.  He joined the OC and was making traps by himself.   When an order for “500” traps came in something had to be done so that they could get that many traps made.  William Inslee was a great help in developing a process whereby they could make many traps.  Within a few years they were making in excess of 275,000 traps per year.  The trap business was sold to William Woolworth and the manufacture was moved to Lititz, PA.

An interesting note on Sewell is that when the Community was voting to become a joint stock company he was the only negative vote 199-1.


Born:  1800         Died:

Abraham was a Methodist minister before he became a perfectionist.  He owned the property in Brooklyn where the Community publications were published and also owned the Rebecca Ford that the Community used to haul cargo from Kingston to New York City.  Abraham was the captain of the ship the day it capsized with Mary Cragin and Eliza Allen drowning.

Joslyn, CharlesJOSLYN, CHARLES S.
Born:  Oct 21, 1832   Died:  Jan 1, 1906

Charles was one of the real characters of the Oneida Community.  Prior to joining the OC he had made plans to go to West Point.  Charles was the tallest person in the OC standing at 6’ 2”.  He was involved in many activites of the community.  He was 17 when he joined.  Charles was sent to Yale where he received his law degree in three years.  He then attended Columbia University for a year to secure an advanced law degree so that he could present cases at the US Supreme Court.  He practiced law representing the OC.  His real interest was in music.  Many times he would go to NYC or anywhere and hear a piece of music played and would come back to the OC and was able to rewrite it for each musical instrument.  He taught Harley Hamilton to conduct bands and orchestra.

He had a child with Harriet Allen and when the community ended he married her.

After the community ended he was on the Board of Directors for a few times.   His wife was superintendent of the Silk Manufacture and he went to NYC to head up the sales.  Turns out he became a broker and over a period of a few years made considerable money.  Finally the Oneida Community Limited in Oneida went to check out what was going on as the business had increased.  Charles was buying direct from the company and he was selling to other companies and keeping the profit.  There was a big to-do and Charles was fired.

The next ten years Charles spent travelling the world twice.  Having his quarterly dividend checks mailed to a place that he would be going.  He seldom came back to Oneida.

When his daughter Mabel died he set up a trust fund in her memory.  When he died his will was one paragraph leaving everything to his wife Harriet with instructions for her to leave all her possessions to the Joslyn Fund.   This was done and when Harriet died she left her brother Henry, Nephew Grosvenor and Niece Hope as executors.

This fund paid for 1/3 of the Plymouth Congregational Church built in 1921, paid for the Organ in the Church, money for first library in Sherrill, bought property for Citadel for the Salvation Army in Oneida on Farrier Ave., plus other area religious interest.  The fund still goes on in 2014 under the name of the Hope Allen Fund, which gives a monthly payment of $2,000 towards the salary of the Plymouth Alliance Church (the former Plymouth Congregational).

Born:  Dec 16, 1813   Died:  June 16, 1854

John was the chief financial officer of the Putney association.  It was his ability that brought the Putney Association into the forming of the Oneida Community to become successful.  He was the one who put out the early charges against the community and let it become successful.  He was very high strung and died at the age of 40.

Born:  Feb 2, 1833     Died:

William was a very intelligent man having the ability to play multiple chess games at a time.  William was sent to Yale and received his law degree in three years.  He was a reporter, stenographer and worked with community publications.

He was elected to the board of Directors and served as secretary, treasurer and eventually became president of Oneida Community Limited.  He wrote a book “American Communities”.

Woolworth, William c1880WOOLWORTH, WILLIAM H.
Born:  May 26, 1824     Died:  Dec 5, 1904

William was appointed “father of the Community” in the absence of JHN.  A committee of four was appointed to hold the property:  John Humphrey Noyes; Charles O. Kellog; William Woolworth and Erastus Hamilton.His son Felix, by his wife Carrie Macknet, bought the Oneida Community Limited Trap Business and moved it to Lititz, PA.

Bristol, BirdseyeBRISTOL, BIRDSEYE
Born:  March 6, 1919    Died:  1897

Birdseye had a farm that adjoined the Allen farm.  When the Allen family turned their farm over to Jesus Christ with John Humphrey Noyes as the administrator he did likewise.    The two properties consolidated and  became known as the Wallingford Community.

Henry Allen, Sr., young, Original Joiners with Children, p. 1ALLEN, HENRY SR.
Born:  May 30, 1804       Died:  May 6, 1871

Henry was a self taught “backward Scholar” who owned a farm and was a teacher in Connecticut.  He came under the influence of JHN preaching perfectionism at Yale and after reading The Perfectionist confessed him free from sin.  He and his family turned over their farm to Jesus Christ with John Humphrey Noyes as the administrator.  His wife and 4 teenage children also joined.

Born:  June 1, 1838

Arthur seceded a little over a year after joining due to the no smoking agreement.

Inslee, WilliamINSLEE, WILLIAM R.
Born:  Aug 16, 1809    Died:  Sept 12, 1895

William was an expert machinist who had a shop in Newark, NJ.   The OC sent men there to be trained by him.  He later joined the OC and made many improvements in the production of traps and set up machinery for silk production.  He was an expert violinist and one that he made is today displayed in the history room.

Born:  Jan 11, 1839   Died:  Feb 9, 1828

Dexter graduated from Madison University (now Colgate).  Before joining the Community, he worked with Negro freedmen in the South teaching.   Dexter was a master of a new art called photography.  It is because of what he did that we have so many photos of people and activities in the OC.

Towner, JamesTOWNER, JAMES W.
Born:  1823       Died:  September 23, 1913

James studied theology and was a Universalist minister.  He studied law and was admitted to the bar in Iowa in 1859.  He enlisted in the Civil War as a Captain.  James joined the New Berlin Free Love group in Ohio after the war.

He joined the OC with several members of the defunct New Berlin group.  He had issues with Noyes over his control of complex Marriage.  With William Hinds, Henry W. Burnham, he tried to gain control from Noyes as a third party.

After the break-up he left with some 40 plus members for Santa Anna, CA.  He laid out Orange County, and became a federal judge.  There is a federal buildiong, bridge and road named after him.   He was a very well respected individual in Santa Anna.

Born:  Aug 7, 1833       Died:  July 7, 1920

Henry was eldest son of Henry, Sr. and was 17 when he joined the OC.  He became instrumental in the bag business and in 1866 the silk thread business, which later his sister Harriet would head up.

In 1854, along with Erastus Hamilton and Daniel Nash, Henry went to the North American Phalanx to study fruit bottling and preservation process.  P.B. Noyes asked him to be president when William Hinds died. His son,  Grosvenor,  instead persuaded P. B. to become president.  When Henry died in 1920 he was the last of the original members of the OC on the Board.

Bloom , ClarenceBLOOM, CLARENCE E.
Born:  April 21, 1856    Died:  Oct 16, 1918

Clarence worked with Theodora Campbell in establishing a Sunday School.  Later he would start the O & F Organization, Obedient and Faithful (a group for boys similar to Boy Scouts).

Cragin, CharlesCRAGIN, CHARLES A.
Born: Sept 8, 1841 Died: Jan 2, 1878

Charles was one of the three sent to Willamatic, CT to learn the silk manufacturing business. Convinced T. R. Noyes in 1877 to manufacture iron spoons (known as silverware). Myron Kinsley was appointed first superintendent of the manufacturing plant. After the breakup the business was moved to Niagara Falls and then later to Sherrill.

Cragin, Dr. GeorgeCRAGIN, GEORGE E.
Born:  Jan 7, 1840    Died:  Sept 9, 1915

He was sent to Yale along with Theodore Noyes to study medicine.  Received his degree in 1867 and never practiced medicine.  He was instrumental along with Hilda Herrick Noyes in starting Community genealogical data cards.

Born:  Sept 30, 1839   Died:  July 23, 1901

He worked as a trap maker.  One of the traps was known as the “Hawley-Norton Trap”.

Born:  Dec 21, 1835    Died:  June 18, 1921

In 1873 he invented a malleable link which greatly improved the chain making process.

Inslee, EdwardINSLEE, EDWARD P.
Born:  Feb 24, 1845     Died:  Dec 25, 1929

Edward seceded from the community in 1875. He married Harriet Brooks and moved to California where Edward played in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He played lead clarinet, cornet, viola and alto horn.

Kinsley, MartinKINSLEY, MARTIN E.
Born:  Aug 6, 1834    Died:  Apr 20, 1908

Martin was a natural leader working first as a farmer and then as superintendent. He spent 27 years with the Community and was a director of Oneida Community Limited from 1881 until his death. In 1874, Martin and his father planned the upper story addition to the Tontine.

Kinsley, MyronKINSLEY, MYRON H.
Born:  July 3, 1836       Died:  Nov 10, 1907

Myron worked as a shoemaker, peddler, and a farmer in the Community. When the silverware (iron spoon) business was started he was chosen to be superintendent at Wallingford. Myron was instrumental in getting John H. Noyes to leave for Niagara Falls and served as his emissary.   J. H. N. called him, his “right hand man”.

Born:  Oct 30, 1835     Died:  June 2, 1900

John worked as a trap maker for 15 years and the “Hawley and Norton” trap was named after him.

Born:  July 26, 1841    Died:  June 6, 1903

Theodore was John Humphrey Noyes son born before the community started. He was one of the young men the community sent to Yale where he received a medical degree in 1867 and later interned George E. Cragin, at Bellevue in New York City. Theodore seceded from the community for a two-week period in 1873 because of pressure to assume control of the community. Theodore and Frank Wayland-Smith were instrumental in developing and seeing through to success the “third party” position at the breakup. In later community years he was one of the leaders of the spiritualist group.


Born:  April 7, 1836    Died:  May 19, 1921

John learned the machine trade under the direction of William R. Inslee.  John invented the gang punch in the 1860’s,  improving production in the trap shop, later he devised a way to use scrap from the tableware department for chain links.

Born:  Jan 13, 1842     Died:  Nov 12, 1919

John was one of the young men sent to Yale by the Community where he majored in civil engineering.  He received his degree from the Sheffield scientific school in 1869, and return later for a Ph. D. He was on the mathematics and engineering faculty at Yale and at MIT where he was a gifted, popular teacher.  He was fluent in Italian and a accomplished violinist.

Tuttle, FrankTUTTLE, FRANK
Born:   May 3, 1851    Died:  Jan 12, 1931

Frank worked as a printer in the community. After the breakup he joined The George H. Burnham Company in New York City with T. R. Noyes and Edwin Burnham.

Wayland-Smith, FrankWAYLAND-SMITH, FRANK
Born:  Sept 18, 1841   Died:  Jan 28, 1911

Frank was one of the young men sent to Yale University for study. Frank was a professional quality musician and published a long series of articles in both the Circular and the American Socialist. At the breakup, Frank Smith legally changed his name to Frank Wayland-Smith, after the president of an American Baptist College, Francis Wayland. The American Baptist College became what we know today as Brown University.


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