Home Colony – the promised land…. If the success or failure of a social experiment depended solely upon either the esthetic or homely setting of its environs, Home Colony would have had a fair chance of healthy survival right from the outset, admirably situated as it is on one of the myriad emerald inlets of Puget Sound where the roots of stately virgin firs almost dip into the sea as it wends it way on sandy beaches and retreats to complete its rhythmic tidal cycle. Above the shore, luxuriant plant growth, laden with foliage of variegated hues, gracefully spill over its sloping banks in charming confusion.
Then, to the East, a new vista is disclosed. Clearly outlined against a limpid blue sky, bathed in the sun, stand the lofty Cascades, with majestic Mt. Rainier towering above them all in its roseate grandeur. The alchemy of nature was unusually lavish when it produced this unforgettable panorama of rugged scenic beauty.
It is toward the primeval yet lovely spot that the first settlers1 directed their steps2, seeking a haven remote from the exactions of state and capitalist authority. The prospect of an existence in the raw, with its attendant hard hips and discomfort dismayed them not. For them it represented a testing ground for a new and fuller concept of life, wherein each settler could satisfy his needs and aspirations without necessarily crushing another fellow being down. They meant to shape their own destiny, and to them difficulties were only challenge – not a barrier.
Thus Home Colony was founded. Twenty-six acres of uncleared land, with a waterfront along Joe’s Bay was purchased for a song.3 These pioneers wisely avoided the pitfalls inherent to most centralized cooperative enterprises wherein individual and social effort is ultimately destroyed by autocratic, inept and parasitical leaders infesting the body politic. Their aim was to associate for the purpose of obtaining land and to promote better social, economic and moral conditions for the individual. Accordingly, the land was parceled out in two acre tracts per member, any improvement made thereon to be considered personal property, but the land title itself was vested within the scope of the Association.
Experimental cooperative colonies, of more or less socialistic tinge, were not new ventures in the southern hinterland of the Olympic Peninsula, but after a short and checkered career, the folded up, leaving much bitterness and disillusionment in their wake. Strange to relate, it was a goodly number of thee disappointed wayfarers, attracted by the promise of a broader conception of personal freedom, who joined the new enterprise and became its most ardent supporters. The interest aroused by this unique experiment had already gone far afield.
In the course of time, the population reached over 100, and the village, sprawling over the hills, began to assume the semblance of a budding civilization. Timber being plentiful, the construction problem was easily and conveniently resolved. Though skill was lacking, and tools primitive, guided solely by trial and error, these neo-artisans made up these deficiencies by ample doses of will power and genuine good fellowship. They built for comfort and utility rather than for beauty’s sake. Nature filled the void; the sylvan setting of their surrounding lent a pleasing rustic appearance to their humble retreats.
As the food problem was of paramount importance, intensive cultivation of land was undertaken with a will and reaped a generous reward. Later, in addition to vegetables, yielding fruit trees and berry bushes began to supplement their food requirements. Fish from streams and bay, [geoducks] – that delectable and sizable clam, that gastronomical delight of the Siwash Indian epicure – graced each table. Then, add an occasional domestic fowl, a plump quail or partridge, or a deer unwittingly flitting in and out the clearing – and not a damned game warden in sight!
The colonists, in their personal lives, observed no moral restrictions. They did what they jolly well pleased. In theory, they might live with one woman, two women, or a harem, – or with none at all – and most of them did just that! As one settler facetiously remarked: “Bachelors are of two kinds, those who do not know women and those who know them all too well!” Home Colony, in love matters, lived its own life – without the ifs and buts of prudent morality. Like truth, it stood there in the light, naked and unashamed.
1 George Allen, Oliver A. Verity, Frank F. Odell and families.
2 In 1897.
3 At $2.50 an acre.