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Madness Monday: Edward B. Payne, Utopia, and Altruria

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Star Trek on a family history blog?

Madness? No- it really does make sense, and it is good to connect our current world with that of the past. Studies have shown that children who have a sense of family and their family history have more resilience- and that is always good in this crazy world.

“Altruism” is a fairly recent word in our language- it comes from a French word in the 1850s. Most know that this word means an unselfish, caring devotion concerning the welfare of others. It is even used in a biological sense with animals, when their behavior does not contribute to their reproduction or longevity, but does help genes from a close relative get passed on. In popular culture, of course, the 1982 film, The Wrath of Khan (see 3:15 in clip), has Spock and Capt. Kirk finishing each other’s sentences: “It was logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.” This epitomizes altruism.

“Cooperation” rather than “competition” is a way that altruism is put into practice. Edward B. Payne believed strongly in cooperation over the rampant competition of the late 19th century, with railroad magnates and big business making men rich while the middle classes and poor struggled. In 1893, the year that started a mostly-forgotten serious depression in America, William Dean Howells published A Traveller from Altruria. The book was a Utopian science fiction/fantasy, in which a traveller described his own home, where altruism flourished. The novel was a huge hit, and small societies of “Altrurians” sprang up, including in the San Francisco and Berkeley, California area. Edward B. Payne was a charter member of one of these groups in Berkeley. The groups discussed social reform, but the Berkeley group took it a step further- they wanted to put their altruistic ideals into practice by forming a colony in the Santa Rosa, California area. Rev. Edward B. Payne wrote and published a newsletter, The Altrurian, funds began coming in, land was purchased, and members of the group began to move to “Altruria” in October of 1894.

There were some management problems, and definitely financial problems- after all, the venture was started during an economic depression that would stun the nation for years. The project was abandoned in 1896, but Payne called it a “glorious failure.” The small cooperatives that had been selling produce from Altruria out in the community continued, and similar cooperatives continue today.

“Altruria” in Santa Rosa has been mentioned in many books, articles, and even dissertations in the years since. (See notes.) A 2009 book, The Utopian Novel in America, 1886-1896: The Politics of Form, by Jean Pfaelzer, discusses Howell’s two Utopian novels and states:

A Traveller from Altruria and Through the Eye of the Needle launched no programs, newspapers, imitators, or clubs, although they did inspire a certain Edward B. Payne to found a short-lived community named Altruria.”

Madness? A wild idea? A lone voice acting on a hopeless idea? Maybe, and some of the newspapers at the time also suggested that the formation of the Altruria colony was madness and would not survive. But Payne was not a lone voice- there were many who wanted to follow an altruistic lifestyle then, and many continue to do that today, although most do not live in colonies devoted to cooperation.

Even though the above book quote is not entirely true- there actually were Altrurian clubs and newspapers across the United States- Edward B. Payne would most likely be very pleased that his own cooperative efforts are still noticed, and still a part of the conversation in our society.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1.  Edward Bellamy’s 1888 Utopian novel, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 was likely also inspiration for the Altruria colony.
  2. McMurray, Pamela M. To the friends of cooperation…” The Quest for Cooperation and Edward B. Payne.” Russian River Recorder, Issue 124, Spring 2014, pp. 4-7. Healdsburg, California: Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society.
  3. Pfaelzer, Jean. The Utopian Novel in America, 1886-1896: The Politics of Form. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, 75.
  4. Hine, Robert V. (1953). California’s Utopian Colonies. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library. pp. 101–113
  5. O’Connor, Peter Shaun (2001). On the Road to Utopia: The Social History and Spirituality of Altruria, and Intentional Religious Community in Sonoma County, California, 1894-1896. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services.
  6. LeBaron, Gaye, Dee Blackman, Joann Mitchell, and Harvey Hansen. Santa Rosa: A Nineteenth Century Town. Santa Rosa, CA: Historia, Ltd, 1985, 113.
  7. Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.
  8. Goal, Iain, Janferie StoneMichael WattsCal Winslow. West of Eden-communes and utopia in northern California. PM Press2012, pp. 4-5.
  9. “Altruria” article on Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruria,_California

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Tombstone Tuesday: Harvey Deming & John Deming

Harvey Deming headstone, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop.
Harvey Deming headstone, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop. (Click to enlarge.)

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Family historians are often stricken with BSO- Bright Shiny Object syndrome. Basically, that means we are working on one thing, find an interesting tidbit that makes us do a few extra online clicks, then a few more just to check one fact, then another, and then it is 3am…

That happened when writing the post for Monday, 25 July, about the birthdate of Edward Byron Payne (affectionately known as EBP in our household). Somehow- I actually know how, but won’t bore you, dear reader, with the details- I ended up on Find A Grave (FAG), looking at the memorial for Harvey Deming. Gazing at the headstone photo for Edward B. Payne’s maternal grandfather, the date of death jumped out– 26 July 1847. That was the day after Edward, called Biron in his first census (1850), was born! (And today is the 169th anniversary of his death.) So poor dear Nancy S. (Deming) Payne, age 34, was ‘lying in’ (giving birth) as her father was dying. Truly the circle of life… and sad that Nancy would not have her father for more years to watch his grandchildren grow, and EBP would never know his maternal grandfather.

So many take for granted the wonderful folks who take photos and create memorials for our ancestors on FAG. Today was a good reminder about how useful they can be in helping us to tell our stories. Noticing that the day after EBP was born, his grandfather died, makes our family history a story, rather than dry dates and ‘begats.’

But now, look closely at the additional photo that FAG Volunteer Alan Lathrop also posted on Harvey’s FAG memorial:

Harvey Deming & John Deming headstones, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop.
Harvey Deming & John Deming headstones, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop. (Click to enlarge.)

A close look shows that the headstone on the left is for John Deming, the father of Harvey, and grandfather of Nancy S. (Deming) Payne, EBP’s mother.

Nothing terribly special about that, as family members are often buried close to each other. But look closer at another of Alan’s photos:

John Deming headstone, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop.
John Deming headstone, Salisbury Village Cemetery, Salisbury, Addison Co., Vermont. Used with kind permission of the FAG photographer, Alan Lathrop.

And note the date of death for John Deming: 26 July 1815.

He died on the same day as his son, but 32 years earlier! Nancy was only about 2 years old, so she likely did not remember her paternal grandfather.

John had died in Crown Point, New York per FAG (but cannot find the source of that information), and Harvey in Middlebury, Vermont, about 45 miles from where his daughter Nancy had given birth to Biron (EBP), in Middletown, Vermont. John and Harvey were both buried in Salisbury, Vermont, about 10 miles from where the Payne family was living in 1846-7.

One more BSO-type Heritage Rambling… Family researchers believe that Janna Deming was the father of John Deming. But get this- he died on 24 July 1796- the day before EBP’s birthday (and 51 years earlier). This cluster of late July deaths in the Deming family is very interesting. Definitely a BSO.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Vermont Vital Records for 1720-1908 on Ancestry.com indicate the death of Harvey Deming as 6 July 1847 on one card, and 26 July 1847 on another. John’s card has the 26 July 1815 date; these cards were completed in 1919.
  2. The place of death of John Deming needs to be verified. Crown Point, NY is about 30 miles from Salisbury, VT, so it would be possible for them to move the body that far, though it would have been challenging in July of 1815.
  3. Find A Grave memorials– http://www.findagrave.com
    John Deming: Find A Grave Memorial# 103144340
    Harvey Deming: Find A Grave Memorial# 103143906

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Mystery Monday: The Birth of Edward B. Payne

Edward B. Payne, circa 1874. Image courtesy of Second Congregational Church, Wakeman, Ohio.
Edward B. Payne, circa 1874. Image courtesy of Second Congregational Church, Wakeman, Ohio. This is the youngest image we have of Edward- he would have been about 27 years old. (We apologize for the reflection from the glass.)

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

One hundred sixty-nine years ago, on 25 July 1847, a son was the third (known) child born to Nancy S. Deming (1813-1893) and Joseph Hitchcock Payne (1810-1884). They named him Edward Biron/Byron Payne.

We do not know of any ancestors named “Edward” that he might have been named after, but we have not yet extended those lines as far back as we would like to have completed. His middle name, however, was likely after Nancy’s brother Byron Deming (1826-1920). Perhaps his middle name was also in homage to the poet Lord Byron, who many know today for his short poem, “She Walks in Beauty.” Byron wrote much more than just that one lyric, though, and was quite famous in his own time as one of the Romantic era poets. “J. H.,” as Edward’s father was known, was an educated man. He had read the classics as he completed his education, which included seminary training; he would have read Byron and many other poets and writers. Nancy’s father (Harvey Deming, 1785-1847) had been Town Clerk so she likely was educated to some degree as well, or maybe could read and/or write- we don’t know for sure, since there is so little in the records for women. J.H. and Nancy may have had dreams that their son would become a poet, and that he did as well in life as his Uncle Byron- but we are getting ahead of the story, and today’s Mystery Monday.

We cannot find a birth record for EBP (as he is lovingly known in our home since I am so obsessed with learning more about his life). Most information about his birth states he was born in Middletown, Vermont, including a card he filled out in 1918, when he was 71 years old:

CA State Library Biographical Card- front, cropped
CA State Library Biographical Card- front, cropped

Of course, when someone gives their birth information, it is always secondary evidence, since, although they were there at their birth, they probably were not aware of what day or year it was! A person only knows the day of their birth by what others tell them, such as their parents, or when they see a vital record.

The vital record here is the mystery this Monday- where is a record of EBP’s birth?

The 1900 US Federal Census noted that EBP was born in Vermont in July of 1847, but it also included that his father was born in England and his mother in Germany- both places are decidedly untrue, as the family has deep roots in early America. (Perhaps someone else gave the census taker the information?)

EBP’s second wife, Ninetta (Wiley) [Eames] Payne [Springer] was the informant for his death certificate in 1923, and she stated his birth as 25 July 1847 in Vermont.

Everything else we have found states EBP was born in Vermont, but where? And is there proof of when, since some sources noted his birth year as 1845 instead of 1847?

Starting with the information given by EBP on the California Author Card, we found that Middletown is in Rutland County, Vermont. The name was changed to Middletown Springs in the late 1800s, but he may not have known that, or else just preferred the name of the town as it was at his birth. Middletown is not a very populous town- only about 750 residents even today, with not many more in the past.

Vermont Vital Records are now available from FamilySearch and Ancestry.com, and a search box search on both websites was unsuccessful. So I looked through the records, page by page (virtually), in Rutland County for the years 1844-1848. No EBP. No mention of his parents. No mention of his sisters, but they were born in Ohio so would not be included in the Middletown or Rutland, VT birth records.

In The History of Middletown, Vermont, in Three Discourses… by Barnes Frisbee, published in 1867, we learn that Joseph H. Payne, EBP’s father, moved to Middletown in December of 1846, and preached there in the Congregational Church for about a year. That tidbit helps us to pinpoint his birth year as 1847 (vs. 1845), as EBP stated it was.

So, no success finding proof of Edward Biron Payne’s birth online despite many, many hours, but we do have a ‘preponderance of evidence.’ Happily, FamilySearch has a number of microfilms that include Middletown/Rutland land records, town records, etc., so those will be the next resource to peruse. We might be able to learn a bit more about the family’s short year in Middletown, as well.

Anyone out there have proof?

Surprise party for Edward B. Payne on 27 July 1893. Morning Call (San Francisco), page 3, column 2, Chronicling America via doc.gov.
Surprise party for Edward B. Payne on Tuesday, 25 July 1893. Morning Call (San Francisco), Thursday, 27 July 1893, Volume LXXIV, No. 57, Page 3, Column 2, ‘Chronicling America’ via loc.gov.

For now, we will continue to use 25 July 1847 as EBP’s birth, and we did raise a glass in his honor today. He was an incredible man, who put his faith into practice and worked unflaggingly to better the condition of all men and women. He once commented that he believed there was a door between the two worlds, our world of the living and the world of those who have moved on to the next phase, whatever that may be. I hope that today the door opened just a bit, and he saw how we lovingly honored him on his ‘natal day.’

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Image from Leominster Massachusetts Historical and Picturesque, by William A. Emerson, Lithotype Publishing Co., Gardner, Mass. 1888, page 55. Accessed 25 July 2016 at https://archive.org/stream/leominstermassac00emer#page/54/mode/2up.
  2. Edward B. Payne census information–Year: 1900; Census Place: Berkeley Ward 2, Alameda, California; Roll: T623 83; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 397, via Ancestry.com. The 1900 US Federal Census for Edward B. Payne, indexed incorrectly in the home of Samuel Wakeman despite EBP having a different house number- he was actually single since his wife had died, and boarding at 2147 Parker St., as was Charmian Kittredge, who is listed on the same page. They were living in the home of Roscoe Eames and his wife Ninetta (Wiley) Eames. Charmian was the niece of Ninetta, and would later become the wife of the writer Jack London. Roscoe and Ninetta divorced, and she later married Edward. But that is all another story or two… or twenty.
  3. The History of Middletown, Vermont, in Three Discourses… by Barnes Frisbee, Tuttle & Company, Printers, Rutland, Vermont, 1867, page 95, via archive.org.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1- Edward Byron Payne

Edward Byron Payne, c 1920?
Edward Byron Payne, c 1920?

Most people have at least one beloved ancestor that they feel close to even once that person is gone. I have a stoic grandmother proud of her family history, who always said that we come “from strong pioneer stock, and can do anything we set our minds to do;” a sweet grandmother and grandfather that let me ride with them in their convertible on a trip to the lake; a smart aunt who inspired me to attend college and always keep educating myself; and a great-grandmother who always insisted we eat some of her potato salad that, as a picky eater, I loathed, but I did anyway, because she was my dear great-grandmother and it was a privilege to know her. Genealogists usually have even more of those beloved relatives, but they are often ones who passed away long before the family historian was born, even many, many years before.

Edward Byron Payne is one of my beloved ancestors that I never got to meet. He died the year before his great-grandson, my father, was born, so the connection seems ever more distant. My dad’s parents and grandparents knew him well, and shared some of their stories, though it was never enough for me. I have been researching this man since I was about 15, and it just seems that the more I learn about him, the more questions I have about him.

 

Edward B. Payne, fondly known as EB or EBP in my household, was the third (known) child of Joseph Hitchcock (“J.H.”) Payne and Nancy S. Deming. J.H. Payne was an ordained Congregational minister, living and serving in Ohio when their daughters were born- Cornelia in 1837, and Ruby D., in 1839. There was a long break before another known child was born- perhaps there were others who did not survive, a sad reality in those days. The Rev. Payne was farming and preaching in Middletown, Vermont, in 1846-47, when Edward was born, although I have been unable to find any record of EBP’s birth in the town vital records.

Interestingly, Edward was born 25 Jul 1847, just 19 days after his maternal grandfather, Harvey Deming, died in Middlebury, VT. (The circle of life…) “Edward” has been a family name now used for at least four generations, starting with (Dr.) E.A. McMurray, in honor of Edward B. Payne. (Dr. McMurray was EBP’s grandson.)  I can only find one earlier Edward: Stephen Edward Payne (1821-1883), the brother of EBP’s father. The “Byron” part of EB’s name probably was in honor of his mother’s brother, Byron Deming (1826-1920), as well as the poet in this educated, literate, family.

In 1850 EBP was just 3 years old and living in Fremont, Lake County, Illinois, along with his sisters Cornelia and Ruby D., their parents, and Nancy’s mother, Ruby (Sturtevant) Deming. His father is listed as a farmer, with $1000. in real estate value; he also was serving as a minister per other records. The 1850 US Federal Census was taken on 7 Dec 1850. Little Ruby, named after her maternal grandmother and just 10 years old as listed in that census, died sometime later that month. (Her death record has not yet been found, nor her grave.) Although the holidays were not celebrated in a grand way back then as they are now, it must have been a somber Christmas, instead of what would normally be one of the most joyous times of year for a minister.

Finding the family ten years later in the 1860 census has been a challenge, with no success as yet. They were in Salem (or Liberty) and Wilmot, Wisconsin 1858-1865 per Rev. Payne’s Necrology. Apparently they were just one step ahead of the census taker…

More to come about Edward B. Payne.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Photo of a photo of Edward B. Payne that hung in my grandparent’s home.

2) 1850 US Federal Census, Joseph H. Payne, head of household: Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Fremont, Lake, Illinois; Roll: M432_114; Page: 79A; Image: 163. Ancestry.com, accessed 3/31/14. JH Payne was listed as a farmer with $1000 in real estate value, and born in New York. His wife was born in Vermont, and mother-in-law Ruby (Sturtevant) Deming born in Massachusetts.

3) Joseph Hitchcock Payne- Necrology, Congregational Yearbook, 1886, Congregational Churches in the United States National Council, Volume 1886. Published by Congregational publishing society, 1886. Page 30.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.