|Oviatt Digital Library Collections |
|San Jose Mercury News|
20 Jul 1916 pg 4
William E. Smythe, a socialist Utopian from New England, was one such visitor. He had slowly moved west, settling in Nebraska and Idaho for a time before reaching California where he found that land with water rights was at a premium, which made it difficult for small farms to thrive. By 1909 he had started a colony near San Diego on 120 acres where families settled on patches of land that they could work without hired help. This colony of "Little Landers" thrived an in 1916 Charles Weeks joined the movement.
|San Francisco Chronicle - 28 May 1916 pg 65|
|"The Model Acre" from One Acre and Independence (Jul 1922)|
By 1923, Weeks had left Palo Alto to establish a new colony in Ownsmouth in the San Fernando Valley. Although successful, both colonies were affected by the Great Depression and many of the farms faced bankruptcy. In the 1930s some of the farms were turned into flower nurseries by Chinese, Italian and Japanese immigrants who were looking for inexpensive Bay Area land.
Weeks, himself, lost nearly everything when the colonies failed. He relocated to Florida where he died in 1964.
Today little remains of this agricultural use of the land. Alan Michaelson and Katherine Solomonson explore the establishment and disestablishment of Week's Poultry Colony in Remnants of a Failed Utopia: Reconstructing Runnymede's Agricultural Landscape (Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture v.6 Shaping Communities - p3-20) which includes pictures both historic and current.
|East Palo Alto Historical Map|
City of East Palo Alto
Charles Weeks Collection - Oviatt Library - CSU Northridge
One Acre & Independence - Happy Quail Farms good history here
California Utopian Communities by Robert V. Hine