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At my recent talk at the Cape Girardeau Public Library, members of the audience were surprised to hear that a utopian commune existed in their part of the state in the 1880s (specifically, in the Bollinger County village of Glen Allen), and even more surprised to hear that this group had published a newspaper.

Here’s proof:


Oops, sorry about the tilt.

The community was led by Alcander Longley, one of the most interesting of Missouri’s utopian leaders. He was a lifelong socialist, raised in a Fourierist phalanx as a child, an early American adherent of the Icarians, and a serial community-organizer. The list of his attempted socialist colonies is long, and includes efforts in several counties around the state. He published a newspaper wherever he went, and they always had optimistic names and slogans — just like the communities themselves, which went by names such as Friendship, Reunion, and Mutual Aid (the Bollinger County name). Here’s the flag of the newspaper he published in a community he founded near Higbee, Missouri, of which almost nothing is known except that it didn’t last long.

Altruist masthead