OC Women

When one considers the 1850’s thru the early 1900’s, the position of women in society was very limited.  The Oneida Community treated women equal to men. They gave women the freedom to excel and do whatever motivated them.  Following is a partial list that I have compiled of exceptional women in the OC.


Born:  Oct 1, 1836      Died:  July 7, 1915

Harriet Elizabeth Allen, age 14,  was one of the four children of Henry and Emily Allen from Wallingford, Connecticut, who joined the Oneida community on April 1, 1851.  Harriet was bright, original minded, outspoken, and free in her manners.   She had an ambition to excel and a sense of religious purpose.

During the community years Harriet sometimes taught school, was in charge of the children’s house, and was considered “large intellectually” by many.  Harriet was a very petite woman standing at just five feet and weighing 130 pounds.

Harriet had a daughter with Charles S. Joslyn on May 14, 1859 named Mabel.  Harriet and Charles Joslyn were married December 19, 1879 on community principals.  She was 43 years old.

On February 15, 1866 Harriet,  along with Charles A. Cragin, and Elizabeth Hutchins went to the C. L. Bottom silk factory at Willimantic, Connecticut, to apprentice as silk manufacturers.  During the OC after 1866 she was in charge of the silk department.  The silk department grew to over 300 women workers. She was very involved from the beginning of the silk thread business.   On January 6, 1880 she was confirmed to the office as superintendent of the silk department and was to select her own board of management.

Harriet was well known for her evenhandedness in controversies. In the closing months of the Oneida Community three groups, T. R. Noyes & Francis Wayland-Smith, “Townerites”, and the “Noyesites” were each trying to take control of the new organization.  She was very influential in getting people to see the position of the other sides.

Harriet was known as an expert horsewoman.  She also owned the first automobile in Kenwood, a Pierce Arrow.

In 1895 Pierpont Noyes and his associates gained control of the company. Harriet was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors, the only woman in the company’s history to have held that position.

Harriet’s husband Charles died in 1906. He had become a very wealthy man from his investments.  His will consisted of one paragraph and hers consisted of 17 pages.  In Charles’ will he turned everything over to his wife and, left Harriet, her brother Henry, nephew Grosvenor and niece Hope Allen to administer the Joslyn fund.

She continued being a proficient strict businesswoman until her death on July 7, 1915.

When Harriet died she left a considerable donation of Oneida Community Limited stock for the purpose of developing a public library incorporated and this was the first Sherrill library. She also left money to the Salvation Army of Oneida to build the citadel that sits on Farrier Avenue in Oneida.  The Joslyn Fund was responsible for over 1/3 of the original cost of the building of the Plymouth Church on Kinsley Street in Sherrill.  The fund still remains in 2014 and $2,000 in interest is paid monthly to the Plymouth Alliance Church toward the salary of the pastor.

Worden, CharoletteCHARLOTTE M. WORDEN

Born:   June 18, 1854       Died:  November 11, 1930

OC 13th Child

Charlotte grew up in the OC as a compositor.  After the Community ended she married Lorenzo Bolles, III.  She was      active in founding the Oneida Free Methodist Church.


Born:  March 26, 1858    Died:  February 10, 1938

OC 18th Child

Jessie grew up in the Oneida Community and was very religious.  In her early 50’s  she began taking art lessons with Kenneth Miller.  She began artistic braidings that are an original art form.  She made 80 braidings of various sizes that are at the Mansion House on display.   Many people come to the Mansion House especially to see these braidings.

Theodora Campbell, middle-aged, Children Born in Community, pTHEODORA H. CAMPBELL

Born:   July 30, 1961    Died:  November 16, 1904

OC 30th Child

Theodora’s parents were married the day they joined the OC. The records indicate that Theodora was a very well behaved child and that when she asked to do something  special she was never refused because of her behavior.  At the conclusion of the OC she went to NYC for missionary training with the Christian Alliance.  She came back to Kenwood and started a Sunday school that continued to grow and eventually built the church on the corner of Chapel and Cramer.  She built the parsonage and church with her own funds.  She sold the church and parsonage to the congregation in 1895 and went to China as a missionary under the Christian & Missionary Alliance.  She died in Wochow, China during the Boxer Rebellion.


Born:  Jan 1, 1871    Died:  Oct 9, 1948

OC 53rd Child    11th Stirpicult

Eleanor graduated from Wellesley College in 1894. Eleanor was an official of Oneida Limited, being associated in the credit and treasury department of the company until her retirement. Before her marriage she taught school in Norwich. Eleanor was prominent in county and Oneida City affairs. She had been a supervisor of the first Ward 24 years and had served on all the board’s important committees. She had been chairman of the welfare committee for more than 15 years. Eleanor also was a member of the Madison County Republican committee. She was the first woman elected supervisor in Madison County.

Noyes, Irene Campbell NewhouseIRENE CAMPBELL NEWHOUSE

Born:  June 5, 1873      Died:  1976

OC 65th Child        23rd Stirpicult

Irene was brought up in Oneida Community with Portia Underhill as her teacher.  Later she went to Cornell where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  She and her husband, George Wallingford Noyes, ran a Sunday school in Kenwood in the early 1900’s.


Born:  March 10, 1875     Died:  July 21, 1952

OC 77th Child     35th Stirpicult

Christine was born in the Oneida community and was educated at Miss Urban’s School in Niagara Falls. She received her college AB degree from Mt. Holyoke at the age of 22.  In 1897 she was a social worker and studied childhood education at North Bonnet School in 1902 in Boston. She married Grosvenor Allen on November 23, 1905.

She was active in social causes, both local and national. She was an influential member of the League of Women Voters. A life long Democrat, Mrs. Allen was alternate at large to the Democratic Convention in Houston, Texas in 1928 and campaigned actively for the party in 1928, 1932, 1934, and 1936.  She assisted Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in organizing the Democratic women in New York State and was a personal friend of the Roosevelt family.  She was long an active worker for the polio fund campaigns since their inception by the late President Roosevelt and was a frequent visitor at the White House.  A friend of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, she and her husband were visiting in the White House the day Pres. Roosevelt died.

She was very involved in Democratic state politics, though she never chose to hold office; she preferred to be in the background; making the wheels go around instead of blowing the whistle. She was chairman of the Madison County suffrage club, and a delegate to the Centennial Woman’s Congress.

In a 1952 obituary in the Oneida Daily Dispatch, it is learned just to what extent Christine Hamilton Allen remained “in the political background”:

During the Woman Suffrage movement, she was one of its most active promoters.  She was chairman of the Madison County Suffrage Club and a delegate to the Centennial Women’s Congress; Chairman of the Madison County League of Women Voters and a member of its State Board; Consumers’ League, from 1920 for a long period of years; a member of the New York TERA (Temporary Emergency Relief Administration) Advisory Council, 1931-1932; a member of the special committee of four to clothe all people on relief in New York State, 1922-23; and was one of the three members of the Welfare Board under TERA handling all relief in the City of Oneida, 1933-36.

Mrs. Allen was also administrator of State Relief for needy Oneida Indians;

A member of the National Board of the Travelers’ Aid and Transient Service;

A member of the New York State Minimum Wage Board (for) Laundry Industry, 1927-38, under appointment by Governor Herbert Lehman; a member of the Woman’s Trade Union League, State Charities Aid Association (Board of) Visitors for Marcy State Hospital, under appointment in 1939; a member of the New York State Committee for Progressive Social Action, 1936; member of the Madison County Advisory Committee, National Youth Administration; member of the Madison County Dependent Children’s Committee; former member of the Madison County Tuberculosis and Public Health Association; former vice-chairman and chairman of the Madison County Chapter, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis; member of the State War Council Committee on Discrimination in Employment, 1941-42 under appointment by Governor Lehman; member of the Governing Board of the C. A. C. (Community Associated Clubs) almost continuously since its inception in 1920 and chairman of its education committee; member of the Finance Committee of the Women’s Division, State Democratic Committee; member of the New York State Conference on Social Work and was associate chairman of the Madison County Democratic Committee.

Mrs. Allen has also served on the boards of the A.A.U.W., and the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association.

She was also a recipient of the Oneida Rotary Club’s “Roses to the Living” citation.

Christine H. Allen was described in the Oneida Democratic union this way:

A human dynamo of energy, gifted in many ways, a woman of culture and refinement, a natural born leader, she combined an active career with that of a homemaker in perfect accord.

She married Grosvenor Noyes Allen Nov 23, 1905.  He was born Jan 13, 1874  (72nd child and 30th Stirpicult).   They built a home behind the Mansion House that they called “Lowbrow”.  The had the following children:

Harriet Allen born Oct 31, 1906

Hamilton Allen, born April 16, 1908

Henry Grosvenor Allen, born Sept 11, 1914

Christine Hamilton Allen stood at 6 feet, and her progeny take after her in height.


Born:  Jan 26, 1878       Died:  April 8, 1963

OC 97th Child        97th Stirpicult

Stella moved with her husband, Deming Smith, in 1912 to Berkley, CA. She was president of a Choral Club, taught music, and established local arts council in Berkley.


Born:   July 8, 1878        Died:  Feb 15, 1955

OC 98th Child     56th Stirpicult

Hilda was the 98th child born in the Oneida Community. Hilda first attended the Kenwood Academy.  She graduated from Women’s Medical College in NYC & Syracuse University Medical College where she received her M.D. degree at the age of 23.  Hilda was the first woman doctor in central New York.  She was one of the key people who helped organize the community genealogy records.

She worked at the Broad Street hospital in Oneida specializing in care of infants and children. When she retired she became the unofficial Kenwood medical advisor.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca Hope
    Jul 28, 2016 @ 01:16:36

    I am interested in Theodora H. Campbell. Do you know if she had a diary or a memoir? How could I get more info on her?


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