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Personal Notes On The Equality Colony

From Recollections of
Catherine Savage Pulsipher

    "Our association with the Equality Colony began (quoting from my father's diary) when "hearing of a pecular colony in the north end of the country, I went out of curiousity to investigate and in the end made a bargin to run the Portable Mill for the colony." The aim of the colony was to prove people could live well without money and they worked for a payment known as "scrip" which was used as cash and for dealings with the supply department. They wished also to prove that people could live together in a harmonious group by their own labor and cooperation. Father was not a member of the Colony but he did move there with the intention of becoming one. He desired to see how well the theory would work out before he became a true member. Because he did not join the group, he was known as one of the "hatchery Folk," or one who was being processed for membership or "hatched out," as it were. The Colony began breaking up before he formally joined and we moved to Bay View.

    I have been told that my memory of the Colonists living in large apartment houses is not in accordance with the literature of the Colony which states that families had homes of their own. My memories are of big apartment houses. Some were for families and others for the bachelor working men. The aim of the Equality group was for people to own individual homes and small tracts of land as payment for putting all their possessions into the project. However, at the time we withdrew from the Colony, few, if any, had the homes they had been promised. It is possible that some members did when the Colony dissolved. Mr. Henry Halladay, the president, and father-in-law of Bert Deyo Savage (my brother), did own his home and lived and died there. If a person was given property and did not continue to live in the Colony, he lost it as it could not be sold.

    Members were assigned to whatever task they could do best. Father, a surveyor and mill wright, brought his mill to the tract. His diary states: "We ran the Portable Mill for 6 mo. and 3 wks. It was a good job and I liked it fine." He and my older brothers cut the timber for the buildings. The stump land was turned into a productive farm center by hard labor.

    Mill Buildings

    Colonists who arrived in wagons turned their teams over to the community effort. Farm work was done by these teams and the community owned equipment. Much grain was raised and made into a dry cereal similar to today's "Wheaties" and "Corn Flakes," but without added sweetening. An expert from a large New York State factory headed this enterprise. Members objected to eating this "dry fodder" and were permitted to use sugar on it. A group of Swiss tended the dairy herd and made the cheese and butter. A fishing fleet to which my younger brother Harry was assigned brought in food from the Puget Sound. All surplus food was sold outside. Garden seeds and flower bulbs were also raised and sold outside. There was a tailor shop where garment workers kept busy and a dress shop where the ladies did sewing of all kinds. A central laundry and ironing room was operated by women who liked that type of work. My mother, Georgetta Adelia Savage, worked in the assembly kitchen and dining room while I was put into a community school and nursery.

    School was taught by those best qualified. One of the teachers was the daughter of the Colony leader, Miss Kate Halladay. She became the bride of my brother Bert and our families celebrated the first wedding held in the Colony on November 24, 1898. Quoting from my father's diary about this marriage: "We were all pleased and benefited by this adventure." Miss Kate was my first teacher. My last school teacher was a well-educated young man from Europe. He had been lamed in a sword duel and could not do heavy labor. I became part of the school group he taught and my memories of him are most pleasant. He was kindly, devoted to his pupils and took us on many interesting trips (known today as "field trips") to break the monotony of study.....

    Any grownup or child with talent was urged to appear at entertainments and because of my long, black curls and precocious manner I was often asked to recite. The president of the Colony, Mr. Halladay, was fond of me and called me "Cricket." He said back in western Kansas, his home state, there were many crickets and they all had the same energetic bounce I had.

    The Colony had its own doctors and medical care but no hospital at the time. Instead they had what was known as a "pest camp" for infectious diseases. When a diphtheria epidemic swept the Colony, all infected were taken to the "camp" and many luckless guests never survived. They were confined in tents and had little actual medical care. Many of the children died and Colony members aroused by this loss sought improvements and better care of the ill.

    The Equality people were not Anarchists, but that was the type of people who invaded the Colony and led to the downfall of the project. Leader Halladay had the Colonists' interests at heart and fought to keep them together but discord and fear were spread by the late joiners and in the end this caused the dissolvement of the Colonists' attempts at self-support. Many rumors came to us after we left the colony of the vicious means used to break up the group by the "Reds" or "Bomski Boys," as they were known. They were hoodlums who came into the Colony for the purpose of driving off the original settlers and claiming their land by right of settlement. The young teacher mentioned prior was beaten to death by these hoodlums when he attempted to persuade the orginal colonists to vote this element out of the group. My father was not a member of the Socialist Party, but he did affiliate with a left-wing group known as the People's Party. One group came to the colony who were known as "Free Lovers." Nudism was practiced by this organization but they argreed not to indulge while Colony members. But as "Free Love" was frowned upon by the Equality members these folks were voted out, and in a short while they moved to a Puget Sound Island."


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