Update on my current manuscript, Seeing the Past; Lessons from a Yankee Millright
The Wallingford Perfectionists
I've been spending a bit of time lately writing about the Wallingford Branch of the Onieda Community that existed from 1851 until 1878 where the Masonic Home and Hospital is now in that town. A communalistic, utopian, and religious society dedicated to trying to create God's Heaven on Earth, the community known as Perfectionists was highly successful fixture in town for almost three decades before selling their property to the Masons and consolidating themselves with a larger community in Onieda, New York.
Controversial for their communistic views on property and their system of complex marriage, they were also known for their high ethical standards and overall work ethic and economic success and thus welcomed in the town as good citizens. Among the industries they developed at the Wallingford community were a printing business, silk manufacturing, and a flatware factory that was moved to Onieda and became the world famous company of that name. They also farmed the land that consisted of over 300 acres and helped to create the pond known as Community Lake that existed until the dam was destroyed in flooding during the 1980's.
As a boy growing up in Wallingford, my brother and our friends spent long, magical hours in the woods and fields that had once been their farm including a hill they had named Mount Tom. There was always something spiritually magnetic about those woods, and our trips through them always brought us eventually to a massive pine that towered over the woods, we called it Big Tree. Now as I think back on those boyhood adventures I realized that that tree was there when the Community was there, that even then it must have been a tree of considerable size and certainly noticed by the members of the family, as they called themselves, as they too walked the woods that were part of their home.
I'm sure the tree is long gone now, no doubt a victim of the Mason's expansive development of the property over the last 30 years. But maybe, just maybe, it escaped and still stands, a silent sentinel to time and place, linking the laughter of children with the voices and prayers of the Perfectionists. A living link with the past and a monument to memory.