Utopia

Utopia

Known mostly for the allegedly haunted ‘Underground Church’, there’s really not much to Utopia. It’s a small, unincorporated town along the Ohio River in Clermont County. Anyway, the underground ruins are all anyone reading this cares about, so that’s what I’ll talk about.

The story I remember hearing about this place had to do with a cult and an underground church too close to the river. There was a flood and everyone drowned. It appears, from what I’ve read recently, that that’s partially true. There was a church too close to the river, but it doesn’t sound like it was the underground structure we are talking about here. Seems like that is just the basement of some long gone building.

So here’s a history of the little town of Utopia, stolen from Wikipedia, because, well, why not. But there’s also some pictures too, and those weren’t stolen, so I’ve got that going for me.

Utopia was founded in 1844 by the followers of Charles Fourier, after the failure of an earlier Fourierist phalanstère called the Clermont Phalanx. Fourier’s writings inspired his readers to create their own utopian society — hence the name “Utopia.”

Within three years, the community broke up. It was soon reorganized by Josiah Warren, who founded the town as a means of a small cooperative community that could still carry out functions like the outside world. For instance, the town existed with a market economy and the belief in owning private property.

First settlers:
The sect believed that the world would enter a 35,000-year-long period of peace, and that in order to achieve enlightenment, they must live in communes with one another. Fourier’s followers had attracted several families to live in Utopia for the fee of $25 a year, and in turn each family would receive a wooden house on a small parcel of land.

Second settlers:

The land that was owned by the sect was then sold to John O. Wattles, the leader of another group of Spiritualists. Despite the warnings of the locals, Wattles and the Spiritualists moved the dining hall/town hall brick by brick to the river’s edge. The move was completed in December 1847 mere days before one of the biggest floods of the 19th century.

Flood of 1847:
On the night of December 13, the Ohio River had flooded its banks dramatically and was getting dangerously close to the town hall. However, people were still seeking shelter in the hall because their houses were becoming flooded. During a party that was being held at the hall that evening, the river, many feet above flood stage, washed out the south wall of the building, sweeping out a large number of Spiritualists. Some who were swept away did survive, but most drowned or were overcome by hypothermia in the icy river.

The Second settlement:

The settlement was reorganized in 1847 as an individualist anarchist colony by Josiah Warren and associates. Personal invitation from the first settlers was required for admission to the community, with Warren reasoning that the most valuable individual liberty was “the liberty to choose our associates at all times.” Land was not owned communally, but individually, with lots being bought and sold at cost, as required by contractual arrangement. The economy of the community was a system based upon private property and a market economy where labor was the basis of exchange value (see mutualism). Goods and services were traded by the medium of labor notes. By the mid-1850s, the community eventually came to contain approximately forty buildings — about half of which were of an industrial nature. Also present were two time stores.

The impact of the Civil War, the rising prices of surrounding land that made expansion difficult, and the requirement of being invited by the original settlers are said to have led to the eventual dissolution of the project. However, as late as 1875, several of the original occupants remained, and some business in the area was still being conducted by labor notes. By that time, the area had come to be known as Smith’s Landing.

Warren left Utopia a year after its inception to lecture and assist in setting up other colonies. The most significant of these was Modern Times. However, he did return to visit occasionally. After his last visit in the winter of 1855-1856, he remarked:

My visit to that little germ of Equitable society, now eight and a half years old, has given me higher hopes and expectations than I had before dared to entertain. It is not the display that the little group of buildings makes to the eye… but knowing the means by which these… have been acquired, and seeing that there the subject of Equity has had eight years and six months deep study and practical trial, and that from the beginning… the subject had lost nothing with those who first took hold of it… but had gained… from year to year in their highest judgement and affectionate regard.

I guess it’s the ghosts of those drowned settlers that are supposed to be haunting the area. Last I heard, you could go check it out yourself on occasion, for a small donation. Google that and go have a look.

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6 thoughts on “Utopia

  1. I graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School in 1965 and had the honor of being in the last class that actually used the old building. the stories that circulated were about an underground series of tunnels that were used by civil war soldiers and slaves seeking freedom during the civil war using it tunnels as part of the Underground Railroad. When I was in college I chose the story about mount Notre Dame as my English Exit exam. I was helped by a kind nun that was historian. They have a rich library to access I’m sure they would live to tell you about the ghostly residents that still reside there

  2. Also intrested in where Utopia is. . .or once was❢
    But very good story! Interesting material, nicely sighted resources, eye catching REAL & UNCOPIED photographs, & left the reader with ways to get more info❢
    Looking forward to browse the rest of your site❢ Thank You❢ Good Luck in the future ❢

    1. I did a quick Google seach on the name Linda Dyer and this is what i was able to find.

      Linda Dyer was a 15-year-old girl from Cincinnati who joined her friends at a party in Montfort Heights on August 24, 1976. Earlier that night, Dyer had left her jacket at a local bar and wanted to find a way back there to recover it. She asked her friends but they refused to leave the party to drive her to the bar. Dyer and her friends got into a huge fight, yelling at one another until Dyer, frustrated, decided that she was going to hitchhike her way back to the bar to get her jacket.

      She hitchhiked outside the party near North Bend Road until a car finally stopped to pick her up. Two men pulled up in an orange 1975 Volkswagen. Dyer asked them if they could drive her back to the bar where she has left her jacket. They agreed, and she jumped into their car. She was never seen alive again.
      (Morris and Morris )
      Morris, Jeff and Michael A Morris . Haunted Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio. Charleston: Ardacia Publishing, 2009.

      The story of Linda ends with her body being found on the bridge at the end of Lick Rd. that is said to be where Amy resides. Linda’s story ends like Amy’s does – rape and murder. The tragic events surrounding her death may have taken place off Kemper and her body dumped at the end of Lick Rd, or everything could have been done right there. It’s hard to say.

      It interests me the similarities between Amy and Linda. Perhaps the story was Linda all along and somewhere along the road the name was changed (probably due to the sign on Kemper warning of the sharp curve approaching with the name “Amy” sprayed across it). It’s also possible that at some point there was a girl named Amy murdered at the end of Lick Rd.

      It’s not likely that I will ever know for sure why the ghost that haunts the end of Lick Rd. is called Amy if the death was a woman girl named Linda. It’s not likely that I ever know exactly who was killed. I do know one thing though – something grizzly happened at the end of that road, and there is a spirit down there that is upset…

      1. I snagged this from a news paper dated 1976 it states Linda Dyer’s name in it clearly. Please read it all as the typing out of it was due to how the paper had it in print.

        ) from Ohio and Kentucky were meeting today to look for a common in the murders of 11 young women since 1975. Jack Leach, chief investigator for Hamilton County Coroner Frank Cleveland, who arranged the meeting, confirmed that a May 1976 seizure of a boat containing tons of marijuana in Mississippi might be a possible link. “One of our purposes is to see if this could be, in fact, a common Leach said. But Leach said the primary purpose of the meeting is to share investigation material on all the slayings to determine if there are common threads that might link them together. All the bodies were found in rural areas, most were nude or partially nude. Leach said the original estimate of 16 was reduced to 11 when five were eliminated through being solved or having no apparent similarity. Cleveland’s office con- ducted all the autopsies, on a cooperative basis. Cleveland said two of the U have been solved but were included in the probe because of similarities to the other nine cases. Kentucky State police, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Cincinnati police homicide squad were invited. Other authorities and the numbers of killings under investigation in their districts are: Hamilton County, three; Clermont County, two; and one each in Butler, Warren and Clinton counties. Leach said he would neither confirm nor deny the list of the victims published Wednesday. The list included: Hamilton County: Mary Ruth Hopkins, 21, Cincinnati, June 30, 1976; Linda Dyer, 15, Cincinnati, Aug. 24, 1976; Dorothy Sullivan, 18, Cincinnati, Aug. 28. Earl Elder, Cincinnati, was convicted in the Sullivan case and sentenced to 25 years. Kentucky: Susan Gorman, 19, Cincinnati, Dec. 3, 1975. Carol Sue Klaber, 16, Fort Wright, June 5, 1976 and an unidentified woman found April 17, 1976 in Grant County. John Boyd, 49, Middletown, a mental patient, was convicted for the Gorman slaying. Clermont County: Linda Kay Harmon, 17, Forestville, Sept. 2, 1975; Nancy Grigsby, 23, Wi- tamsville. Mav 9. 1976. Clermont County: Cora Ellen Durham, also known as Tamya Ellen King, 27, Cincinnati, June 20. Butler County: Victoria Hincher, 24, Cincinnati, Oct. 31, 1976. Clinton County: Elaina Bear, 15, Cincinnati, Feb. 28, 1977. Leach said Montgomery County authorities asked to attend the meeting as observers.

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