The L.F.D.B.A. Celebrates Its Centennial;
Anarchy At Home
by Kenneth O. Ghormley M.D.
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
Kenneth Owen Ghorrnley, born August 16, 1921 in Tacoma,
Washington, received his primary and secondary schooling in Seattle. Undergraduate studies
were completed at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, and at Harvard College,
From 1943 he attended Harvard Medical School in Boston, graduating in 1946. Internship
at Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, was followed by two year's active duty with the
U.S. Navy. He first served at Philadelphia Naval Hospital, followed by sea duty aboard the
U.S.S. Mount Olympus A.G.C.8. Here he was known as "Physician to the Gods" as
well as chief rodent exterminator!
Specialty training in urology was completed in 1952 at the Mayo Clinic. For one year he
practiced his specialty at the Gundersen Clinic, La Crosse, Wisconsin. In January 1954, he
associated with the Beaver Medical Clinic of Redlands, California. He engaged in the
active practice of urology for 31 years until his retirement in 1985.
Delano Beach summer vacations were mostly enjoyed from 1925 to 1936. Summer jobs in
Seattle precluded long beach holidays after the age of 15.
The L.F.D.B.A. Celebrates Its Centennial: Anarchy at Home.
Having exceeded the normal male life span, it seems proper and prudent to document some
family lore and memories of one's youth.
My mother was a Longstreth, an old Quaker family from Philadelphia. Shortly after
moving to Tacoma, Washington, my maternal grandparents purchased a summer home at Delano
Beach, Washington. This remote, idyllic property on Puget Sound has become a favorite
retreat of family members for the past century.
Close by are the communities of Home and Lakebay. Founded as a colony of anarchists,
Home became one of the most famous and notorious of the many utopias established in the
West near the turn of the century. The scandals and anarchists of Home were considered a
dangerous threat by the federal government. The colony was punished by removing its post
office, awarding this service to smaller Lakebay. Like all utopias, Home Colony failed but
has never been forgiven for past indiscretions..
The L.F.D.B.A. Celebrates Its
Centennial: Anarchy at Home.
In an attempt to describe anarchy at Home and the
L.F.D.B.A. I uncovered a convoluted web involving history, genealogy, geology, geography
as well as a little autobiography.
My mother was a Longstreth whose family had humble beginnings as Saxon farmers in
Yorkshire, England. Though they were peaceful farmers, their forebears were fierce
warriors who left the rain swept, marshy shores of the North Sea to invade the choice
farmlands of Britain and find a better life. They fought the Britains with dagger-like
short swords called seax or scramasax, and, as a result, earned the name of Saxons. These
events occurred at the time the Roman Empire was crumbling with Rome's complete withdrawal
from Britain in 410 A.D. The family name might have remained Smith or Jones but for a
fortunate circumstance. They protected and hid their Saxon king in the late years of the
King Alfred the Great was their sovereign. He was beset at this time by hoards of
blood-thirsty Vikings, invading Britain, conquering large areas and imposing Danish rule.
A large portion of northeastern England was called Danelaw where Danish law reigned
It was during one of these forays that King Alfred was
retreating from the Danish invaders. According to family legend, the king fled to a small
farm manned by my Longstreth ancestor. "Hide me," Alfred begged, "and I
will reward you when I get back my throne."
King Alfred was safely hidden from the Vikings and went on to regain his kingdom.
Reminded of his early desperate promise, the good king rewarded his subject with title
to rich river bottom farmland in Yorkshire, and a long valley called "Langstroth" in Old English. Thus my ancestor's hailed from Langstrothdale where
they successfully farmed the land for centuries.
Eventually they assigned the name of their property, "Langstroth" becoming
For centuries these peaceful yeomen tended their
Yorkshire farmland but in the mid 17th century they joined George Fox and his Society of
In 1681 William Penn was given a large tract of land in
America. King James II awarded Penn this land in payment of a royal debt owed to William
Bartholomew Longstreth who was a bachelor in his late 20's was a friend of William
Penn. He was one of many Quakers urged by Penn to emigrate from England to settle his vast
American holdings. The first shipload of settlers arrived in 1681 aboard the "Welcome". Bartholomew Longstreth sailed with the second group of colonists a
year later. They were brought to Penn's colony at Bristol, just up the Delaware River from
what is now Philadelphia.
William Penn had paid Bartholomew to make the trip across the Atlantic to become one of
his early colonists. Though young and eager, the unpleasant climate and a grilling, bone
chilling winter convinced Bartholomew that he had made a bad mistake in leaving the
salubrious climate and less rigorous seasons of his home in Yorkshire. Begging Penn to
send him back, he was advised that his contract provided only one way transportation -- he
would have to pay his own way if he returned to England.
Being a parsimonious Quaker and without funds, Bartholomew stayed in the Philadelphia
area, establishing a farm in what is now suburban Bucks County. And in the Philadelphia
area his descendants remained, all except my grandfather who moved to Tacoma, Washington
Succeeding generations of Longstreths were successful and included a prosperous wool
merchant and the founder and owner of a steel mill, later becoming Phoenix Steel.
The Longstreths as devout Quakers were abolitionists. Mary Anna Longstreth ran the
Underground Railway in the years before the Civil War. In the mid 1850's she was placed on
a "black list" which included a dozen abolitionists. A pro-slavery mob seized
her and dragged her in a cart to Rittenhouse Square, planning to lynch her when the other
abolitionists had been captured. She was saved by the state militia who arrived before the
lynchings took place.
In recent generations, the most successful was my great-grandfather, William Collins
Longstreth. He was a 19th century Philadelphia Quaker, a graduate of Haverford (as were
most Longstreth men). He was a principal in founding two major Quaker businesses, both of
which are still flourishing. Provident Bark of Philadelphia and Provident Mutual Life
Insurance Co. were two of his enterprises.. Active in Philadelphia politics he became a
City Councilman. My great grandmother, Abby Longstreth, survived her husband to an
improvident old age, dissipating his considerable fortune. The banking and life insurance
interests had to be sold to settle her large debts. Because of this, a great fortune was
lost to those of us in the generations that followed.
William Collins Longstreth had 9 children, all of whom remained in the Philadelphia
region except for Henry, my grandfather. He was sent by his father to the Pacific
Northwest to handle mortgage lending in the west for the Provident Mutual Life Insurance
Company. Tacoma, Washington, terminus of the newly completed Northern Pacific Railroad,
was expected to become the most important city in the Pacific Northwest in 1892. It was in
that year he traveled from Philadelphia to Tacoma bringing his young family on the train.
My mother who was only 6 weeks old traveled in a basket.
My grandparents were staunch Quakers who had been married in a Quaker wedding ceremony,
performing their own service. After several years in Tacoma, Quakers in Philadelphia
learned that my grandparents had a Mason and Hamlin reed organ and on Sunday sang hymns in
their home! This would not do! As there were no Quaker Meetings in Tacoma, it was
suggested that they might better consider leaving the Friends, joining a church where
music was more acceptable. With that grandfather joined the Presbyterian church, sang
hymns freely and became a prominent participant in the Presbyterian activities of Tacoma,
My grandparents loved the climate of the Northwest. A search was
soon begun to find the perfect spot for a summer home on the shores at Puget Sound.
Grandfather fancied real estate as the smartest investment. Regrettably, most of his many
properties were lost in the Depression which he did not live to see. At one time he owned
one mile of shoreline on Vashon Island.
At the current price of $2,000 a foot for beach-front, Monte Vista with its spectacular
view of Mount Rainier would become a valuable property, unfortunately lost to taxes. The
perfect site was soon discovered when my grandparents found Delano Beach, an idyllic spot
on Carr Inlet, 3 hours by coastal steamer from Tacoma.
THE PUGET TROUGH AND ITS SOUND
The beauty and diversity of the Puget Sound region has been a product of its geologic
past. The Puget trough is an intermontane lowland, west of the Middle and Northern Cascade
Mountain ranges and east of the Olympic Mountains and the Oregon Coast range. Much of the
trough is submerged beneath water. The geologic history of the region is complicated. The
trough was filled with ice during two different advances of the continental ice sheets.
Between ice ages the trough was approximately 1,000 feet higher than its present level.
When the land was depressed the river valleys draining the mountain glaciers were drowned,
continuing as 600-900 foot deep channels. The coastline of Puget Sound is spectacular with
numerous channels, peninsulas and islands. The many large rivers flowing into the sound
include the Nisqually, Puyallup, White, Cedar, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Snohomish,
Stillaguamish and the Skagit. These add to the diversity and complexity of this serene
tidal paradise. Because of this trough depression, the Sound waters extend more than 100
miles to the south in the State of Washington.. The Puget Trough itself stretches north
between British Columbia and its islands and south to the end of the Willamette Valley and
the mountains just south of Eugene, Oregon.
CAPTAIN DELANO'S ROCKY YEAR
Maine sea captain George Delano, the skipper and part owner of the three-masted bark, "Austria", had a bad year in 1887. In late January his vessel loaded with
supplies from San Francisco and destined for Tacoma, was caught in a raging Pacific storm.
The ship was grounded on the shore of Cape Alava, the westernmost promontory of the
Washington coast. He wrote his wife who was resting with their daughter after a strenuous
trip around the "Horn":
"It was one chance in a thousand that anyone was saved; but we succeeded in
getting on shore all safe, no one hurt, although the sea was running mountains high and
breaking all over the rocks. The next day it moderated some and we went on board and got
our stores and clothing. It was intensely cold and had it not been for the Ozette Indians
on the beach, we would have frozen to death. They gave us a house to live in so we managed
Captain Delano hiked 30 miles through forest and rough terrain to Neah Bay on the
Strait of Juan de Fuca. The revenue cutter, "Wolcott", brought him back to Cape
Alava. The "Austria" proved to be a total loss and only a portion of the cargo
could be salvaged and sold at public auction in Tacoma. 20 years ago all that remained of
the wreck was a rusted anchor and its chain buried in the sand. Facing bankruptcy he wrote
his father-in-law in Maine, 'Y don't know what I will do now, but I guess I'll have to go
Many seafaring men dreamed of farming though few had any knowledge to prepare them for
this occupation. Their farms usually failed. Captain Delano explored all parts of Puget
Sound, traveling on a coastal steamer. Finding a large bay on Carr Inlet with gently
sloping land to the shore and long tide flats, he knew he had found his perfect "farm". Land was cheap in those days, selling for $5.00 an acre in this region.
He was able to purchase 200 acres from the government, planning to not only cultivate the
land but also build a dry-dock. Ships could be floated in at high tide with repairs and
barnacle stripping done when the tide was low. But the land was not suitable for
successful farming and a nearby dry-dock made another unnecessary.
His enterprising wife decided they should instead build a hotel which she would manage
while he returned to sea. It was not long before the hotel was a flourishing reality. The
beautiful grounds with tennis and croquet courts, a large wooden Victorian hotel and
scattered cabins became a popular summer resort attracting guests from all over the state,
particularly from the hot dry country east of the Cascade Mountains. Guests dined well in
an open air dining room with a magnificent view of the bay.
A small steamer would stop in the morning on its way
to Tacoma, returning in the evening with guests and supplies from the city. These would be
unloaded at first on a series of floats with a long dock constructed later to handle
increased traffic. The high point of each day would be in the evening with hotel guests
promenading on the dock to see whom and what the steamer might bring from the big city.
This fashionable and popular resort was situated less than a quarter of a mile from what
would become my grandparents home.
100 YEARS OF THE LONGSTRETH FAMILY
DELANO BEACH ASSOCIATION
Our property was purchased in 1897. Grandmother Longstreth had received an inheritance
and was said to have paid for the home with gold coins. The buildings included a two story
white frame house with a large room on the second floor serving as a dormitory for the
children. A log cabin near a fresh, bubbling spring served as a kitchen and maids room
Later this was replaced with a larger cabin serving as kitchen and dining room with maids
quarters on the second floor. Grandfather named their summer home "Inglenook" a
reminder of his parents estate called "Ingleside" in West Philadelphia.
With the arrival of more children and transportation difficulties, Inglenook was
replaced by a new "Inglenook" closer to Tacoma. No mention was made of the
scandalous behavior of the residents in the nearby community of Home. For 10 years Delano
was enjoyed but abandoned in 1908 for the new summer home. The houses deteriorated and the
lumber and bricks were cannibalized by an enterprising neighbor.
DELANO, A NEW BEGINNING
My aunt claims it was 1922 but I suspect that it was 1925 or 6 when my father built his
cabin on the Delano property. All traces of the old home had disappeared except for ivy
and the magnificent old maple trees. The woods with Douglas fir, cedar, trillium, sword
fern, Indian Pipe, and Solomon's Seal were dark, cool and inviting. The brook continued to
run fresh, clear and cold. The tide flats produced a bounty of clams, geoducks and
oysters. When the tide came in, salmon trout could be hooked though there always seemed to
be more dogfish. Wild blackberries and huckleberries were abundant in the summer and early
My father tended to be a little gloomy and at times morose. For him, Delano was a mood
elevating tonic and he loved all it had to offer. The summer he built the cabin required a
sabbatical leave from his legal practice. When completed, the place was primitive but
satisfying. There was no electricity, gas, telephone, radio or plumbing. Only the fresh
stream was available for water. Peace and quiet prevailed and the only noise at night was
an occasional squawk from owls and blue herons fishing along the shoreline. Tent frames
with army cots provided sleeping quarters for the children. An extra tent frame was
erected for grandmother Longstreth who had always loved her old property. The cabin
incorporated wood and bricks from the original Inglenook. Boards marked with heights of
her children were discovered and removed from the abandoned cabin on the adjacent
It was only a few years before my mother's two brothers and sister discovered the
beauty of the Delano location Each built similar cabins with tents on the property. When
grandmother Longstreth died in 1940, the land was left undivided, in equal shares to her 4
surviving children. Thus was born the L.F.D.B.A., the Longstreth Family Delano Beach
Association. Delano is still primitive with no electricity, telephone, running water or
plumbing. On July 1 9th, 1997 the family gathered to celebrate a centennial. Ownership is
complicated by the number of children in each generation. My 3 shares are now divided
between my two sons.
A DELANO MEMOIR
My years spent at Delano have produced bountiful memories. I can remember so well
Grandmother Longstreth sitting in a rocking chair on our front porch.
She was encouraging her grandchildren that the rain might soon stop and sunshine
return."I can see enough blue to make a pair of Dutchman's britches." It was one
of those wet summers so there was much rocking on the porch. Her encouraging phrase was
It was grandmother who shamed the adults and children with her daily "swim"
in the cold water of Puget Sound. She was never stopped by the weather, no matter how cold
or dreary. She didn't actually swim. I don't recall her ever swimming a stroke. By jumping
up and down and splashing, she took a vigorous bath. Her less courageous descendants
cheered her from the shore.
Dad's hobby was picking wild blackberries. This he would do day after day, bringing
home his loot to our long suffering mother to clean and can. Some summers she had to
prepare 30 quarts or so of his berries. As youngsters we were expected to help gather
Dad's favorite fruit. What an unpleasant task it was to clamber over piles of brush in the
hot sun, encountering snakes, brambles and nettles. It was no fun for any of us but a
pleasure for Dad.
Recently I learned that young brother Hugh, after years of obedience, advised his
father that he did not choose to pick blackberries with him that day. In so doing, Hugh
threw down the gauntlet and, maturing rapidly, came of age!
THE DAY OF THE WHALE
There was much work for everyone at Delano. Each evening we would row out into the
middle of the bay, well beyond the low tide line and dump and sink the day's accumulated
garbage. Another job was to hike or row to the cove, then on to a skid road used in
ancient days by loggers. The trail led through the woods at the base of South Head,
finally reaching a farm where the daily supply of raw milk was obtained for the family.
The milk was unpasteurized and I wonder now whether the cows were ever tested for
brucellosis or tuberculosis. It tasted good and we remained healthy. Other duties included
splitting wood and kindling for use in our wood stove. Water from the spring was carried
to the house, poured into a large galvanized milk can from which a pipe and gravity
conducted it to the kitchen. Drinking water was also obtained from the spring and kept in
a bucket on the kitchen sink counter. The water was delicious but seldom tested for a
bacterial count. As a reward for hard work, I was permitted to take our row boat and its
new Bendix low horsepower trolling motor for a fishing trip.
The bay was a clear blue. The sun shone hot and bright on an early August morning. It
was a perfect day for trout fishing at Minter Creek, one of the few sizeable streams
flowing from the Olympic Peninsula into Henderson Bay, a southern extension of Puget
Sound. I was about 12 years old at the time and a young cousin joined me for a grand
fishing expedition. We were well provided with fishing poles and tackle, angle worms and
salmon eggs. There was ample gas for the long trip, sandwiches and fruit for lunch, with
plenty of water for the hot summer day.
Our boat moved slowly, crossing the wide bay. Mount Rainier loomed majestically in the
cloudless sky. Not a breeze rippled the mirror-like surface of Puget Sound. Far away a
large black object rose from the water, silhouetted against the bright background. Perhaps
it was a stump or a strange black sail floating in the tide. Moving closer it appeared
more and more to be a sail. Whatever it was, closer inspection seemed essential. Deciding
to investigate we steered the boat toward this strange object, floating so motionlessly on
the tranquil bay. As we approached, the black sail slowly turned, aiming for our small
boat. Extending upward five or six feet from the water, it began to move in our direction.
As it sliced through the water I imagined that I could see some turbulence jarring the
glassy water's surface fifteen feet or so behind the sail.
At this point we were scared and fear overcame all curiosity. Increasing the speed of
the outboard motor to its maximum, we turned toward the shore. Could it be the black fin
of a giant fish? The fin followed us closely and, moving faster, its leading edge was
beginning to create a small wake. Whatever it was, the animal was interested in us, in our
small boat and its under-powered motor. It was definitely following now and gaining! Could
it be the black dorsal fin of a shark? Even in my wildest dreams, I knew a shark's fin
could not be this size. Whoever heard of sharks so large in Puget Sound?
As the giant fin approached our boat, still following us, it gradually submerged,
finally disappearing. Nothing but the unruffled, shining blue surface remained. The fear
of, pursuit was supplanted by uncertainty. Where was it? Was it still interested in us?
Would it resurface and capsize our puny boat?
We got to Minter Creek and did our fishing. There is no recollection of whether or not
the outing was successful but the huge black fin will never be forgotten. Our boat
returned home much closer to the shore. There were no further encounters with the giant,
inquisitive inhabitant of the bay.
Periods of poor fishing were always blamed on "seals", "black
fish", or "porpoises". It was many years later that I learned killer whales
or orcas could be found in Puget Sound. The black fin was undoubtedly a male killer whale.
We had caught him asleep in the warm sun. The noisy motor had interrupted his nap.
Investigation revealed the young fishermen in their rowboat with its tiny motor were no
serious threat. Confrontation was unnecessary. We both went our separate ways in peace.
THE NIGHT OF THE OCTOPUS
One of the most memorable bonfires which I recall at Delano occurred after a successful
field trip across the tide flats and onto South Head. For several years I had collected
sea life, preserving the creatures in alcohol or formaldehyde. Each year's collection was
submitted to the Hobby Fair of the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup. For my
trouble I would be awarded a blue ribbon and a cheque for $10.00. This was big money in
the Depression and first prize was a certainty as there were no similar collections
Tide pools were created in the sand by geoduck diggers whose excavations resulted in
large depressions filled with salt water and teaming a variety of small animals. As
geoducks were only found at extremely low tides, my trips coincided with the minus tides.
I would sweep through each pool with a home-made net, recovering many small fish, crabs,
shrimp, pipefish and other animals trapped by the tide.
South Head was even more fascinating. Under large rocks could be found purple, croaking
midshipmen. Also known as California toadfish, their white abdomens had lines of
iridescent silvery buttons, hence the name midshipmen. The adults were protecting their
eggs, adherent to the underside of the rocks. The maturing infants were attached to their
egg sacs and made a fine collection of developing midshipmen.
Unusual starfish were also present at the Point. On this day I found a mass of reddish
purple flesh, stranded on seaweed and baking in the sun. Careful inspection proved it to
be an octopus, abandoned by the tide. This exciting find recuperated rapidly in a pail of
fresh seawater and I carried my prize home.
As it was late in the day and I had not yet mixed up my supply of formalin, the octopus
was led in the pail and the top carefully covered so that it would not escape becoming a
part of my current sea-life collection. A small opening was left to provide air for the
That night we had our usual bonfire. Marshmallows were roasted and songs were sung.
Cousin Nancy may even have sung a chorus of "Johnny Roebeck", the mean fellow
who processed all the neighbor's cats and dogs in his sausage machine. I took pride in
Nancy's talent as I had been paid 25 cents by Aunt Geraldine to teach her a song, any
song! Perhaps she was tone deaf. Eventually she came through with a recognizable rendition
of one or our favorite tunes.
The cousins, parents, aunts and uncles were happily engaged with bonfire activities.
Suddenly there was a blood curling scream One of the girls, (was it Barbara or Marion?.)
found a moist, slithering octopus crossing her leg. The tentacles and suckers made it
difficult to pull off from my terrified cousin. We learned then how small a hole might be
to serve as an escape route for an octopus hell-bent on returning to the sea.
The octopus was replaced in its pail, the top tightly covered. In the morning the
formalin made it an important part of my current summer sea-life collection. Again I won
another blue ribbon and ten dollars for my efforts.
GEODUCK: A BIRD AUDUBON FORGOT
In his outstanding book "The Birds of America", John James Audubon failed to
mention the geoduck. This is not surprising as it is not a duck at all but a giant clam,
the largest burrowing intertidal bivalve in the world. The Samish Indians of Puget Sound
called it geoduck with the "eo" pronounced as "oi". Living deep in the
muck of the tideflats, it is often called "gooeyduck". After spending much time
with the aid of two other men trying to dig one out, a noted conchologist pronounced it
with feeling as "a truly noble bivalve."
And what a
splendid clam it is. Its body lies in a semi-permanent burrow 3 feet below the surface
sand. A geoduck may weigh up to 12 pounds. Its estimated life span is 120 to 130 years,
though few of us will live long enough to verify the longevity of this elegant mollusk.
The neck equipped with two giant siphons extends to the surface and is so large it cannot
be retracted into its shell. The portly body bulges out between the two large shells which
can never close.
One of the choice items on Mrs. Delano's hotel menu was geoduck chowder, made from the
minced meat of the large neck. The meat of the body cleaned of its digestive tract, was
called "breast meat" at home. Fried in butter, it is an unforgettable taste
treat. The geoduck's habitat is limited to the waters of Puget Sound and British Columbia,
extending down the Pacific Coast of Washington, Oregon, and even Northern California.
Delano Beach was fortunate to house a large number of these desirable clams. With time and
many diggers the number of geoducks available at very low tides was reduced.
Diving equipment and the wealth of the Far East has changed the equation. Large beds of
geoducks were found at depths of 60 feet, never exposed by the tides. Blowing away sand
with compressed air and using sophisticated diving equipment, huge amounts of geoducks are
now harvested and shipped alive to the Orient.
Wealthy diners in Hong Kong and Shanghai will pay
as much as $100.00 for one of these giant delicacies.
The Japanese were the first to appreciate this exotic
treat but have been priced out of the market by frenzied bidding with geoducks retailing
for $20.00 a pound in Asia.
Beneficiaries of this boom are the Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In 1994 they
won a bitter court battle allotting them half of the state's shellfish reserves. The
Suquamish tribe of Puget Sound now earns more money from the geoduck fishery than it does
from salmon or its fancy and newly built gambling casino.
Poaching has become a problem as a skilled diver can easily harvest $2000.00 worth of
clams in a single night. As long as Chinese gourmet machismo suggests that the bigger the
clam, the bigger the man, the frantic search for this venerable mollusk will continue.
HOME COLONY, ITS PHILOSOPHY & BEGINNINGS
With no electricity, the only light at night was provided by kerosene lamps and Colman
lanterns. The relatives usually gathered around the campfire when darkness arrived. As a
boy I found the adult conversation stimulating and revealing. References to the Home
Colony and its notorious history always proved to be fascinating. It was at Home's
cooperative general store that our mother shopped for groceries and we children searched
for bottle caps to add to our important collections. Home seemed to be a sleepy little
village with nothing to suggest its scandalous past. Situated only 3 miles from Delano, it
must have created a sensation in its heyday. Perhaps its notoriety played a role in my
grandparent's decision to abandon their beloved summer home and move to a more tranquil
and peaceful area. A staid Quaker family could not help but be shocked by the goings on at
In 1896, following the failure of a socialist community called Glennis, three
discouraged members sought for a new haven in which to establish an anarchist's paradise.
Glennis situated near Tacoma, had proven attractive to lazy parasites who always found
"cooperative commonwealths" most agreeable.
This disillusioned trio felt they must find a spot where they could work out their
anarchist philosophy, free from all interference. Building a boat with their own hands,
they cruised the backwaters of Puget Sound to find the perfect location. The three
included George Allen, University of Toronto, class of 1885, O.A. Verity, an Oberlin
graduate, and F.F. Odell.
Stewart Holbrook wrote in 1946: "One of the great-glories of the Puget Sound -
country is the serene tide-washed community of Home. This community is fading now with a
graceful nostalgic air, but it still retains many of the spiritual vestiges of what was
once American's sole anarchist colony -- in its heyday one of the most celebrated or
notorious spots in the United States. Home is never mentioned by the booster
organizations, and even the evangelical churches have given it up as a Sodom fit only for
the fires of The Pit."
The three anarchists found their ideal location on the shores of Joe's Bay, an arm of
Carr Inlet. It was a peaceful, primeval property with tall Douglas firs growing down to
the beach, flocks of ducks dotting the surface of the placid bay and with an abundance of
clams nestling in the mud of the tide flats below. The land was available and arrangements
were made to purchase 26 acres for $7.00 an acre with a $20.00 down payment and $20.00 due
every two months until $182.00 had been paid.
Joe's Bay may have been named for Joe Faulkner, the first permanent settler who arrived
in the early 80s. Many believed it was so named following the death of a drunken fisherman
remembered only as "Joe". Joe fell from his boat and drowned while fishing in
As the founders had no funds, Allen taught school near Tacoma to raise money. Verity
and Odell cut timber on the property, selling it as cordwood to the skipper of the local
steamer, "Typhoon". With this and other odd jobs they were able to purchase the
land. The Odell and Verity families arrived in February 1896 and the Allen's came later
following completion of the school year. Cabins were promptly constructed until more
permanent frame houses could be built.
The trio formed "The Compact" calling it the "Mutual Home Colony
Association". Its purpose was to promote pure anarchism as far as the laws of the
land would permit. A perfect society was envisioned, a society so decent and honest that
no laws were necessary to regulate its members.
One acre with a maximum of 2 acres was to be allotted to each new member of the
Association. The colonist was required to pay for the cost of his land ($7.00 - $14.00).
The land would remain as property of the Association but could be occupied indefinitely by
the member as long as he paid the county taxes. As the colony grew, further land purchases
were made. By 1901 the Mutual Home Association plotted Home which contained 217 acres and
included most of the waterfront at the head of Joe's Bay.
To publicize the Association and spread the good word, Mr. Verity bought a portable
press for $5.00 and published a newspaper, "The New Era". A subscription was
only $1.00 but many copies were mailed free to interested parties. Verity wrote,
"Liberty we have, so far as we are concerned, but the laws of the state are the great
barriers to the realization of Liberty. Now one may at Home keep within the pale of the
law or totally ignore it, just as he pleases. Most of us prefer the latter course and
teach others to do the same." With few paid subscribers, the paper failed within a
A new newspaper appeared, fast upon the heels of the failed 'New Era".
"Discontent: Mother of Progress" was its appealing title. This paper was more
successful and was published by new colonists, Charles Govan, a professional printer and
his friend James F. Morton, Jr.. Morton was the son of a Baptist minister, grandson of the
author of the song "America" and a true intellectual. He had graduated from
Harvard with honors and held both A.B. and A.M. degrees. The issue of sex, first discussed
in the "New Era" became an important subject. This attracted Henry Addis and
Abner Pope with Addis writing columns about sex and Pope covering anarchy in great detail.
They both came from the Portland, Oregon area. Both had been associated with a paper
called "Firebrand", a newspaper banned from the U.S. mails because of claims of
obscenity after publishing an allegedly obscene poem of Walt Whitman. "Discontent -
Mother of Progress" took a liberal view on sexual matters. "Do women have the
same rights of men in sexual relations' "Is sin forgivable' To both questions the
answer was "Yes!".
By 1900 the paper had a circulation of 1.200 with subscribers in every state of the
Union. One of these was Emma Goldman, a notorious anarchist who had achieved a national
reputation. Miss Goldman permitted "Discontent" to publish articles of hers on
free love. She blamed organized religion for prostitution and espoused other equally
upsetting opinions. She found Home appealing and made several visits, lecturing the
colonists in their nightly meetings in "Liberty Hall". All malcontents and
eccentrics, now attracted to Home in large numbers, were welcomed and given a thoughtful
and fair hearing at their lectures in "Liberty Hall".
Elbert Hubbard, the famous publisher and author of "A Message to Garcia",
visited and lectured at Home and even considered becoming a colonist. He described his
visit as a "day with the most peculiar community I ever saw -- Anarchists." He
noted they were peaceful anarchists; even the ducks on the shore were tame, knowing that
these people would not harm or kill. "In this town of over a hundred people I saw
neither a church, a preacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a pauper, a gambler, a prostitute, a
drunkard, a justice of the peace nor a constable."
It was the assassination by a Polish anarchist of President William McKinley on
September 6, 1901 that triggered sustained attacks by the press, civic leaders and
veterans' groups of Tacoma and the nation On September 7th the Tacoma Daily Ledger urged
"Exterminate the Anarchist." "Freedom of Speech has run mad."
"Each anarchist should be killed as a wild beast, a mad dog.... eliminated, tooth and
branch." A Presbyterian minister berated "filthy dreamers of every land [who]
flocked to our shores". A Catholic priest declared "religion must work with the
law makers of the nation to wipe out anarchism." Tacomans were informed by the Ledger
that an anarchist was "a type of pervert. He has degenerated to a point at which
conscience, the perception of right and wrong has vanished He is alien, supremely selfish,
unspeakably brutal; apart from the decency around him. He is sullen and vicious. He has no
faculty of reason. His course is directly the evil prompting of a nature foul and cruel.
He has his own literature, such as it is, his own speakers, such as they are."
2 days later, it was the Tacoma Evening News that called attention to Home with the
headline, "Shall Anarchy and Free Love Live in Pierce County?" Quotations from
Discontent: Mother of Progress fanned the flames with the Evening News congratulating
itself for its role in arousing the people of Pierce County "almost to a pitch of
desperation" with its "sensational expose."
With the president's death on September 14th, the Ledger's black bordered edition
editorialized: "Close to Tacoma is the settlement of Home....whose residents are a
collection of outlaws"....who defied the decencies of life, flouted virtue, railed at
government, and sympathized with the assassin. "Is this a nest of vipers, this
unclean den of infamy, to remain undisturbed'
The frenzy whipped up by the press had a prompt effect: a vigilante committee formed by
members of the Grand Army of the Republic, the so called "Loyal League", vowed
to charter a steamboat, collect firearms and incendiary material and sail, 300 strong, to
Home. The object was to invade the colony 'put it to the torch' with murder and mayhem at
Home a distinct possibility.
Two brave heroes emerged from this confrontation. Captain Edward Lorenz, owner and
skipper of the steamer that carried mail; freight, and passengers between Tacoma and Home,
refused to charter his steamboat to the mob. He defended the colony as a community of
good, sober, and peaceable people and eloquently defended the colonists with the mobs
leaders. He also warned the residents of Home of this danger they faced. A colonist who
was a Civil War veteran went to Tacoma in an attempt to dissuade the excited members of
the G.A.R. "Loyal League."
One of the few willing to go to Home colony and personally investigate its depravity,
was the Reverend John F. Doescher, pastor of the German Evangelical Church in Tacoma. He
was the only clergyman to visit the colony before condemning it. Reverend Doescher
returned from his visit, reporting to the press and the religious community. He advised
his flock not to "become anarchists ourselves in our zeal against anarchism.... It is
certainly not becoming for Christians and Christian ministers to cry out and say,
'Exterminate these vipers; send them back to the dust from which they came."' He
pointed out that the Christian duty was to love anarchists "as well as others who are
in error, to pray for then and to seek their conversion and salvation." The residents
of the Colony met and voted to not confront the raiders and if they came, to greet them
with a handshake.
At this critical juncture, cooler heads prevailed. No invasion occurred. But opponents
of the colony were not to be thwarted. The nation and federal government had been alerted
to this dangerous community on the shores of Joe's Bay. Legal action against the publisher
and editors of its radical newspaper would become the next target. Under the Comstock Act
of 1873, they had violated obscenity laws, mailing "lewd and obscene" material.
Well armed, a United State's marshal was dispatched to Home to arrest the editor and
writers of "Discontent: The Mother of Progress." Hearing that the Law was on its
way, the colonists met the marshal on the wharf with flower girls, took him out to a
delicious anarchist supper (ice cream for dessert) and honored him at a dance in Liberty
Hall. Astonished by such attention, the marshal enjoyed his visit and remained overnight.
But the following day he returned to Tacoma with his prisoners. He did admit he had
never had a better time nor met more agreeable people than the anarchists of Home. The
arrested newsmen were released on $1,000 bail and later went on trial. The Tacoma
"Daily Ledger" rejoiced. The arrests would surely finish the colony, scattering
far and wide its "anarchists, free lovers and other moral mongrels." But the
press was again disappointed. The accused were acquitted by the understanding judge. He
found "Discontent" radical but not obscene nor likely to lead to licentious
But the colonist's victory was short lived and more trouble brewed. Two colony woman
were indicted by a grand jury for obscenity and using the mails for their obscene
material. Lois Waisbrooker, California author of a book entitled "Century Plant"
had revealed in this strange tome how to free the world from "the disease of
sex". She liked the Home community and in 1901 took up residence with Mattie
Penhallow, postmistress of Home and a noted radical. Together they published a sheet
called "Clothed with the Sun". This has been described as "a humdinger,
even for anarchists" reporting the facts of life in blunt and forthright terms. In
the trial Miss Waisbrooker was convicted and fined $100.00. Mattie, the postmistress, was
acquitted. A federal grand jury agreed with a postal inspector that the Home post office
should be closed. The jury labeled Home "a settlement of avowed anarchists and free
lovers, the members of which society on numerous instances, with the apparent sanction of
the entire community, have abused the privileges of the post office establishment and
department". They concluded that: "the post office at Home be abolished and the
privilege which members of this society have so long abused be taken from them."
In April 1902, Home was punished by losing its post office and a month later,
"Discontent: Mother of Progress" was banned from the mail. The ladies
publication "Clothed with the Sun" was also banned. Both papers, though closed
down, reappeared promptly with different names but similar mastheads and policies.
Since 1902 Home has been without its post office. Lakebay, a much smaller community and
two miles away has handled their mail. The residents had to take turns walking the two
miles on a rugged trail in all weather to pick up their mail. Since the mail arrived by
steamer at night; this was fitting punishment for "anarchists and free lovers."
Albert Sorenson -- First Lakebay mail
And did the punishment ever stop? It has not. The federal
post office department has a long memory. In 1958 the Lakebay past office was moved to a
new and larger quarters situated in the community of Home!
In spite of vigorous protest, it retains its old name, Lakebay Post Office. Though the
anarchists are gone, their memory lingers on.
The publicity engendered by these exciting events only served to increase Home's appeal
to eccentrics of all stripes. If the National Enquirer had been published in the early
1900's, it would undoubtedly have opened a branch office in Home. Communists, Wobblies,
spiritualists, food faddists, pantheists, monists, even Mormon missionaries were given a
fair hearing in "Liberty Hall". Dr. Hazzard an eloquent female food authority
lectured so persuasively that Home's Swiss butcher, John Buchi, exclaimed "A Got damn
on all der wegitarians." Meat purchases fluctuated widely depending on food
preferences of the current lecturers.
The banned "Discontent" had been quickly replaced by the
"Demonstrator", a newspaper as uninhibited as its predecessor. Though the colony
had never taken a position on free love, it was not afraid to explore the concept. It was
common knowledge that the domestic arrangements of certain families did not have the
blessing of either church or state.
A number of Russian Jewish farming families had settled in Home. As in Russia, they
enjoyed nude bathing in the warm waters of Joe's Bay. They had done so for 10 years
without creating any scandal. When it was pointed out to county authorities that men and
women were bathing in the nude, a new furor erupted. One man and three women were arrested
and convicted for indecent exposure.
Jay Fox, a radical from Chicago and involved in the Haymarket bombing, settled in
Home and edited a new newspaper, the "Agitator". The bathing issue was taken up
as a "cause celebre" in his editorials, describing it as "The Nudes and the
Prudes". The arrested man claimed he "wore a pair of white trunks or breeches,
made of a flour sack instead of a more perpetual garb donated by nature." In a
similar trial Justice Frank Graham concluded that while another male defendant may have
worn the "little much-abbreviated trunks he testified he wore, they did not amply
supply the needs for which they had been intended." The defendant was fined $100.00
plus costs or sixty-four days in jail. Jay Fox pointed out that one of the liberties
enjoyed by Homeites was the privilege to bathe in evening dress or with the clothes
provided by nature, just as they chose. Fox was briefly jailed on a misdemeanor charge for
encouraging and advocating disrespect for the law and courts of justice.
Tacoma newspapers failed to take the strident and critical stance of former years on
this subject. One paper noted that Home was "being well advertised as a community in
which people frequently take baths." The Tacoma "News" pointed out
"that between bathing in the nude and wearing a tight skirt we are inclined to
believe the former more modest." This uproar divided and had a negative impact upon
Home colony. The members became identified as nudes, prudes and one faction called skunks.
The demise of the newspapers, "Demonstrator" in 1908 and "Agitator" in
1912 with internecine warfare of colonists in The Mutual Home Association resulted in the
dissolution of this anarchist community. "Liberty Hall" was sold for lumber,
only to burn before it could be torn down. But even as late as 1918, Federal authorities
were investigating Home. They were no longer worried about obscenity but concerned about
alien and immigration violations. An investigator from the Bureau of Immigration concluded
in his report that: "They are a quarrelsome people, always taking each other into
court, and at the same time opposing the law. They will lie, cheat, steal, practice
sabotage, and promote disloyalty if the opportunity presents."
There is little doubt in my mind that my grandparents were all too well aware of the
danger posed by such a community. It might prove contagious! When they abandoned their
summer home for another part of Puget Sound, this very popular 19th century song struck a
Mid pleasures and palaces, Though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, There's no place like Home.
Home, Home, Sweet, sweet Home.
THE POSTMASTER'S MANSION; FACT OR FICTION?
Talk was cheap but always interesting around the campfire at Delano Beach The Lakeboy
post office was not much larger or more impressive than a 2 car garage. The postmaster's
new home was erected when I was a boy. The contrast was startling. Unlike the shabby
houses, chicken coops, and run down farms of the Lakebay community, a veritable palace
appeared. This grand home was fronted by a large lily pond and was, in startling contrast
to the modest post office at its side.
Perhaps the rumor was started by a disgruntled resident, jealous of their postmaster
and his government position.
Home, a mansion in Lakebay
Could postal funds have been diverted to
build this splendid home?
This was probably not the case as the postmaster served for 29 years. He was an important
and respected citizen in the community
both before and after his dream house was constructed.
It remains today, the most impressive
building in the small town of shacks and run down dwellings.
With the marriage of my mother, descendant of Saxons who hid King Alfred and my father,
allegedly from a family line founded by Old Gorm, King of Denmark, two warring tribes were
united though it took a thousand years. It was Old Gorm's grandson and great grandson who
invaded and conquered Saxon England. Grandson Sweyn (Forkbeard) led his Vikings to English
victory in 1013. Sweyn's son, Canute the Great, ruled England wisely, developing a great
Anglo-Scandinavian kingdom between 1016 and his death in 1035.