Guide to the Kneeland Family Papers, 1820-1961

Processed by Hülya Reshad; machine-readable finding aid created by James Lake
Sanoian Special Collections Library
California State University, Fresno
5200 North Barton Avenue M/S ML 34
Fresno, California 93740-8014
Phone: (559) 278-2595
Fax: (559) 278-6952
Email: specialc@listserv.csufresno.edu
URL: http://www.lib.csufresno.edu/SubjectResources/SpecialCollections
© 1998
California State University, Fresno. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Kneeland Family Papers, 1820-1961

Sanoian Special Collections Library



Henry Madden Library

Fresno, California

Contact Information:

  • Sanoian Special Collections Library
  • California State University, Fresno
  • 5200 North Barton Avenue M/S ML 34
  • Fresno, California 93740-8014
  • Phone: (559) 278-2595
  • Fax: (559) 278-6952
  • Email: specialc@listserv.csufresno.edu
  • URL: http://www.lib.csufresno.edu/SubjectResources/SpecialCollections
Processed by:
Hülya Reshad
Date Completed:
1998
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 1998 California State University, Fresno. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Kneeland Family Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1820-1961
Creator: Kneeland family
Extent: 7.75 linear feet
Photographs: In boxes 2 and 9.
Repository: Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).

Sanoian Special Collections Library.
Fresno, California
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Acquisition

The papers were donated by the Viola Gabriel Estate in 1987.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has been transferred to California State University, Fresno.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kneeland Family Papers, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.

History

George and Mary Kneeland lived with their first two children, Ira and Althea, in Vermont in the mid-nineteenth century. They were a poor family who dreamt of a utopian life. After the Civil War, they moved to Kansas where their two younger children, Flora and Clarissa, were born. During Clarissa's early childhood, the family moved to Colorado. There her father and brother discovered some literature on a cooperative colony being established in Topolobampo, Mexico. Ira became the colony photographer and the rest of the family gradually moved to the colony.
Much of Clarissa Kneeland's youth was spent in Topolobampo, however in 1913, disagreements among the colonists led to the collapse of the colony and the subsequent scattering of its settlers. While in Mexico, Clarissa Kneeland made a promise which set the course of her future. Her brother, Ira Kneeland, was virtually deaf by the age of twenty-five and she assured her mother that she would take care of him.
Clarissa Kneeland's sisters, both of whom married men from the colony, moved to California. Her father went to California to attend a Civil War veterans' reunion and was unable to return to Mexico due to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. This left Ira, Clarissa and their mother in Mexico and although they were neutral in the conflict, they feared for their safety. The entire family settled in the Prather area in northern Fresno County, California, with Clarissa and Ira claiming land on Black Mountain, where they spent the rest of thier lives.
In October 1913, shortly after returning to the United States, Clarissa joined the Socialist Party and remained an active member for nineteen years. She broke with the Socialist Party in 1932, the year the party called for the repeal of the Prohibition Act. Although her conviction in core Socialist ideals had not changed, she saw liquor as a curse to the nation and felt that children were safe under Prohibition.
Clarissa Kneeland believed in the equality of all living things. She refused to have her dog vaccinated, a decision which led to her being put into jail for fifteen days. In particular, Clarissa harbored a special affinity for birds. She kept copious notes on birds she sighted on Black Mountain and also saved pictures and articles on this topic and pasted them into various notebooks. Clarissa Kneeland dreamt of a sanctuary on Black Mountain, a place where man and beast could live together in harmony. This dream never became a reality nor did her ambition to become a successful author. Her works, both fiction and nonfiction, reflected her ideals or dealt with nature or people she knew.
Ira Duane Kneeland shared his sister's strong socialist convictions and also wrote a few short works on this subject. He also devoted much time to inventions, in particular to the design of a helicopter. He later withdrew this invention from a company which offered to fund the building of his helicopter because he thought it would be used for military gain.
Ira Kneeland contracted pneumonia in 1950; Clarissa nursed him with her own organic medicine. She became ill herself and they died a day apart in 1950.

Scope and Content

The Kneeland Family papers measure 7.75 linear feet and date from 1820 to 1961. The papers predominantly cover the life and interests of Clarissa Kneeland and her brother, Ira Kneeland and are arranged in four series: Clarissa Abia Kneeland, Ira Duane Kneeland, Socialism and Other family members.
The Clarissa Abia Kneeland series (1892-1949) predominantly comprises Clarissa's life after she left the Topolobampo Colony in 1913 and settled on Black Mountian with her brother. Her interest in nature can be seen by the numerous notebooks she filled with notes and clippings about the weather, plants and birds. There are also numerous manuscripts and short works which she wrote over the years as well as letters from various publishers about the ones which were to be published.
The Ira Duane Kneeland series (1868-1947) contains sketches of his inventions and ideas on how they might be put in to practice. There is also correspondence from the various firms to which he sent details of his inventions. Like his sister, Ira wrote various short works, although unlike Clarissa, his are all on the subject of socialism.
Although much of the Socialism series (1894-1957) consists of the collection of articles, journals and newspapers which Ira and Clarissa Kneeland collected after their return from the Topolobampo Colony, other family members also contributed to this collection.
The newspaper clippings are in various scrapbooks and are predominatly about the socialist viewpoint. There are certain articles on womens' rights and prominent women socialists, for example, Mother Jones and Mary Ellen Lease. There are also articles written by Ira Kneeland which outline his socialist beliefs.
The Kneeland family collected much information about prominent socialists during their lifetime. Eugene V. Debs, a founder of and spokesman for the United States Socialist Party, ran fives times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, receiving 6% of the popular vote in 1920. During World War I, Debs, a pacifist, spoke out against prosecutions under the Espionage Act of 1917. This stand cost him his citizenship and three years in prison. The folder contains details of Debs's trial and a copy of his speech to the jurors declaring his innocence. Also included is a pamphlet about his life and a letter from his brother Theodore Debs to Clarissa, thanking her for her support in proclaiming his innocence. There is also a photograph in box 9 with two Kneeland women on the top floor of a new adobe store with a poster of Debs and his running mate, Stedman, showing their support for Debs's candidacy.
The folder on the O'Hara Family contains issues of The American Vanguard, the newsletter they founded. Subscribers to the newsletter were informed of the work of the O'Haras and were encouraged to contribute, with both money and time to certain causes. For example, the O'Haras helped to organize the Children's Crusade in 1921 when socialist believers sent their children to Washington D.C. to speak to the President Harding in the hope of bringing amnesty to all political prisoners. In 1920, Kate O'Hara became a political prisoner for fourteen months in a Missouri prison. During her imprisonment, her husband Frank O'Hara sent weekly bulletins to society members with details of his wife's trial. There are also letters from O'Hara to her husband and members describing the conditions of her imprisonment.
The Thomas Mooney folder contains pamphlets describing his trial. He had been sentenced to death for his alleged role in a bombing at the Preparedness Day Parade on July 22, 1916, in San Francisco. This bomb killed ten people and seriously injured forty others. There is a letter to Flora Kneeland during Mooney's imprisonment from his sister, Anna Mooney and also a letter to Clarissa Kneeland from Thomas Mooney after his release. Both letters thank the sisters for their support during Mooney's imprisonment.
Upton Sinclair the novelist, was as famous for his interest in social issues as for his novels. He temporarily abandoned writing in 1934 and ran as the Democratic candidate for governor of California. Narrowly defeated, he relaunched his writng career. This folder contains a pamphlet outlining his views on socialism and two letters which he sent to Clarissa Kneeland.
The folder on the literature of the Socialist Party contains a leaflet promoting its causes. There are also two programs in Spanish outlining the views of the party.
There are a few Other family members (1820, 1852-1961) whose relationship to Ira and Clarissa Kneeland are indicated. They play a minor role in the collection and their material consists predominantly of correspondence between family members.
The photographs of Page Hollow illustrate in great detail the dwellings of Althea and Clarence Page and also include various family members.
A genealogical chart spanning three generations is at the end of the finding aid. There is little information on many of these other family members.

Related Collections

  • Title: Topolobampo Collection (ca. 34 linear feet)


    This collection contains materials about the Kneeland Family's experience at Topolobampo, a socialist, utopian colony founded by Albert Kimset Owen at Topolobampo Bay and Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. The collection is unprocessed but is available for research.

Container List

 

Kneeland, Clarissa Abia

Box Box 1

Biography, undated

 

Black Mountain

 

Accounts (5 folders) 1904, 1908-1949 and undated

 

Cookbook, 1916-1917

 

Electrification, 1944, 1945, 1949, and undated

 

Fire control, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1944-1949

 

Garden notes, 1932-1933

 

Guest book, 1928-1930, 1933-1939

 

Land papers and leasing arrangements 1915, 1922, 1924, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1945 (2 folders)

 

Maps and plans, 1918 and undated

Box Box 2

News notes from Black Mountain, 1932, 1937

 

Newspaper clippings and writings on birds, undated

 

Picnickers, 1934-1948

 

Plants, 1922-1949

 

Sanctuary for People, 1935-1949 and undated

 

Weather summaries, 1915-1949

 

Photographs, 1920-1940 and undated

 

Correspondence

 

Overseas, 1930, 1947-1949

 

Personal, undated

 

Political, 1917, 1924, 1933, 1934, 1940, 1942-1947 and undated

 

Publishers, 1923-1925, 1927, 1929-1932 (2 folders)

Box Box 3

Diaries, 1892, 1895, 1898-1901, 1925-1946, 1949 (4 folders)

 

Jail sentence, 1934

 

Manuscripts, undated

 

Aleck Barton

 

Arco Iris

 

Babe of Muleignhiui

 

Bridge House

 

Grandma's Wedding Dress

 

La Casa Alta

 

Letters from Gwendolin

 

Letters to Beth

 

Named for Wild Jassamine

Box Box 4

Quail Mountain

 

Correspondence, 1939

 

Smuggler's Island

 

Correspondence

 

Review and comments

 

Statements and records

 

Surpang

 

The Stronghold of Ripsnorter

 

Triple S

Box Box 5

Vic and I

 

Will of Dan Roman

 

Short works and poetry, undated (2 folders)

 

Sketches, undated

 

Topolobampo notebook, 1899-1932

 

Kneeland, Ira Duane

Box Box 5

Account books, 1884, 1892, 1896-1898, 1913, 1941 (2 folders)

 

Correspondence, 1868 and undated

 

Diaries, 1891 and undated

 

Inventions

 

Correspondence, 1910-1912, 1927-1929, 1933, 1941, 1947

 

Reports, undated

 

Sketches (includes 1 postcard), 1932 and undated

 

Land deeds, 1908

 

Short essays (political), 1908

 

Socialism

Box Box 5

Colonies

 

Commonwealth Community College, Arkansas, undated

 

Cosme Co-operation, Paraguay (includes correspondence), 1894, 1900, 1931

 

Darewell, 1946, 1947 and undated

 

Kuzbas, New York, 1922, 1923

 

Llano Cooperative Colony, Louisiana (includes correspondence), 1931, 1932, 1935-1937, 1944-1947

 

Southern Oregon Altruistic Cooperative Association, 1930

 

Texas Coast Co-operative Company, undated

 

Unity annex, undated

 

Correspondence

 

Kneeland, Clarissa, 1937, 1943, 1947

 

Kneeland, Ira, 1928 and undated

 

Journals

 

American Foundation for Abundance, 1940

 

League for Industrial Democracies, 1924-1928, 1933

 

The Epic News, 1935, 1936, 1941-1947

 

The United Cooperative Industries, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1945, 1951-1957

 

The World Press

 

Correspondence, 1923, 1925, 1930

 

Certificates, 1923, 1931

Box Box 6

Workers Defense Bulletin, 1941-1948

 

Newspaper clippings, undated (2 folders)

 

Ira Kneeland, 1914-1916, 1924, 1928-1935

 

Pacifism

 

Articles, 1917, 1925, 1946, 1956

 

Correspondence, 1918, 1930, 1945, 1947, 1954-1956

 

Journals, 1914, 1917, 1924, 1927, 1933, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1956 and undated

 

Pamphlets, 1914, 1916-1919, 1929, 1943, 1947, 1953 (2 folders)

 

Prominent socialists

 

Debs, Eugene V., 1918 and undated

 

Mooney, Thomas, 1917, 1932, 1940 and undated

 

The O'Haras, 1920-1923

 

Sinclair, Upton, 1920 and undated

 

Question of money (includes correspondence and newspaper clippings) 1925-1927, 1929-1932, 1934, 1936, 1941, 1946 and undated

 

Question of religion (includes correspondence) 1906, 1922, 1931, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1943-1946

 

Slides of sheet music, 1933

 

Socialist Party

 

Literature, 1908, 1930 and undated

 

Membership card, 1929, 1931

 

Workers unions

 

The Co-operative Industrial Association of Virginia, 1928

 

The Progress Builders of America, 1900 and undated

 

Vermont and Sinaloa Industrial Association, 1900 and undated

 

Other family members

Box Box 6

Stoddard, Simeon (grandfather)

 

Correspondence, 1820, 1861-1862

 

Kneeland, George (father)

 

Account book 1874-1897, 1908-1911 (2 folders)

 

Biographical sketch, 1863

 

Civil War souvenirs, 1862, 1865 and undated

 

Correspondence, 1880-1914 and undated

Box Box 7

Diaries, 1861-1888, 1893-1895, 1919-1922 (4 folders)

 

Land deeds, 1922

 

Receipts, 1872

 

Kneeland, Mary Stoddard (mother)

 

Account books, 1857-1860, 1899-1902

 

Correspondence, 1890-1922 and undated (2 folders)

 

Diaries, 1896-1929 (4 folders)

 

Writings, 1852, 1853, 1855, 1858 and undated

 

Campbell, Abia Lucelia Stoddard (Dudley) (aunt)

 

Diary, 1915

 

Short works, undated

 

Dudley, Diantha M. (uncle)

 

Correspondence, 1912

Box Box 8

Kneeland, Abel (uncle)

 

Correspondence, 1908, 1909

 

Kneeland, Althea Maria (sister)

 

Correspondence, 1875-1914 and undated

 

Heliot, Armand Elmer (Flora's husband)

 

Account book, 1899-1907

 

Correspondence, undated

 

Death certificate, 1942

 

Heliot, Flora Isabelle Kneeland (sister)

 

Correspondence, 1898-1912 and undated

 

Diaries, 1889-1891, 1895-1901

 

Land deeds, 1932, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1949, 1954, 1956, 1958

 

Will and funeral expenses, 1961

 

Kneeland, Alice Lincoln (cousin)

 

Correspondence, 1888

 

Kneeland, Clara Serena (cousin)

 

Correspondence, undated

 

Kneeland, Dorrie Abel (cousin)

 

Correspondence, 1902, 1907

 

Gabriel, Daisy Viola Belle Heliot

 

Correspondence, 1962

 

Land deeds, 1962

 

Kneeland, D. A. (relationship unknown)

 

Correspondence, 1887

 

Sort works and poetry, undated

 

Kneeland, Stillman F. (relationship unknown)

 

Biographical sketch, 1886

 

Kneeland, Willis (relationship unknown)

 

Graduation announcement, 1928

 

Moat, Edlington (relationship unknown)

 

Correspondence, 1932-1950

Box Box 9

Smith, Mabel Page (Clarence Page's daughter from prior marriage)

 

Correspondence, 1903-1911 and undated

 

Stoddard, D.S. (Relationship unknown)

 

Correspondence, 1884

 

Miscellaneous family correspondence, 1820-1927, undated

 

Photographs, 1918, 1920 and undated

 

Gabriel, Daisy Viola Belle Heliot (niece)

 

Kneeland, Ira and Clarissa

 

Kneeland, George and Mary (parents)

 

Kneeland home

 

Nature on Black Mountain

 

Page Hollow

 

Miscellaneous family photographs

 

Contact prints (duplicates)

 

Oversize (duplicates) [shelved in map case A, drawer 10]