Briefly, the North American Phalanx was a non-sectarian experimental cooperative community located on a site about four miles west of Red Bank, New Jersey. The term “Phalanx” was derived from the Greek language and suggested firmness of union. The community was established about 1843 and lasted approximately twelve years until 1855-1856. It was based on the scholastic theories of the Frenchman, Francois Marie Charles Fourier (1772-1837) who sought social harmony through cooperation which would allow the fullest development of human nature. To achieve his cooperative society, he believed the world must be radically reformed. He proposed phalanges, each with 1,620 persons inhabiting a common building, a hotel-like phalanstery. Each phalange was to cultivate 5000 acres. Food was to be prepared and served in common. Services within the phalange were to be performed by those specialized in the particular service. Fourier accepted the concept of private property; however each family was to have its own quarters.
The Phalanx movement, which occured in several countries, was an interesting social experiment. Other information about the Phalanx can be found at The History of Colts Neck, New Jersey.
John Bucklin (1807-1896) was the agricultural chief of the Phalanx. Bucklin continued a cannery operation there until his death, and his descendants retained ownership of a portion of the property which included the phalanstery until 1944.
Red Bank Register, June 19, 1895, Red Bank, NJ. Obituaries
“John Bucklin of the Phalanx died last Sunday morning of old age. For the past three years Mr. Bucklin had been failing in health but he was able to be about and was without ailments except several slight attacks of vertigo. Two days before his death he was attacked with indigestion.
Mr. Bucklin was 88 years old last Wednesday. He was a native of Massachusetts, and was one of the most prominent of the organizers of the North American Phalanx community. He was president of the company for a long time, and when the association was dissolved he remained at the Phalanx, having bought a large tract of land from the company. He started a canning business, and for a number of years past the product of his factory had been of such excellence that it has commanded a higher price than any other canned goods on the market. His son, Wm. S. Bucklin, had been associated with him in the canning business. His other son, Charles S. Bucklin, has been a prominent manufacturer of canned goods, and also been interested in the manufacture of canners’ machinery. Besides these two sons Mr. Bucklin leaves two daughters, Mrs. Frances Wolcott of Kansas City and Mrs. Julia Giles. He also leaves a widow.
The funeral was private and was held yesterday afternoon. Rev. Robert MacKellar conducted the services.”
Red Bank Register, July 25, 1900, Red Bank, NJ. Obituaries
William T. Giles died at the Phalanx on Thursday of last week, aged 64 years. Death was caused by heart trouble, following an attack of pneumonia. The funeral was held at the house on Saturday. Rev. Robert MacKellar of Red Bank conducted the service. The body was buried at Fair View cemetery.
Mr. Giles was a member of the association known as the North American Phalanx until that association ceased to exist. His father, Edward Giles, attended the organization of the association in 1843 and was one of the earliest subscribers of stock of the association and one of its most loyal supporters. William Giles was born at New York, but his father moved to the Phalanx when he was very young. In 1851 Mr. Giles accompanied his father to California. At the time of the unsettled condition of San Francisco William Giles became a member of the vigilance committee formed for the protection of the people of the city.
Mr. Giles returned to the Phalanx in 1858 and married Miss Julia Bucklin, daughter of John Bucklin, who for many years was president of the Phalanx association. IN 1861 he became connected with the New Jersey southern railroad and had an office at Red Bank. He served that company in an official capacity until the time of its reorganization. Later he went to New Mexico and for several years acted as quartermaster’s agent for General Miles. For the past eleven years he had been in charge of the bureau of letters connected with the gas improvement company in Philadelphia.
A wife and two daughters survive Mr. Giles. The daughters are Mrs. George Bartle of Red Bank and Miss Frances J. Giles, who lives at the Phalanx. He leaves also two sisters, Mrs. Charles Bucklin and Miss Lena Giles of the Phalanx.”
Red Bank Register, April 16, 1902, Red Bank, NJ. Obituaries
“Mrs. L. Eliza (Sears) Bucklin, widow of John Bucklin, died on Monday at the Phalanx, aged 84 years. She had been confined to her bed for a number of years with locomotor ataxia, but her mind was clear almost to the last.
Mrs. Bucklin was the last of the original settlers of the North American Phalanx. She was born in New York state in 1817. In 1843 she and her husband went to the Phalanx with the Albany colony. Mrs. Bucklin was a Sears before her marriage and her mother, a brother and a sister went to the Phalanx with her. Her husband was once president of the association and her brother, Charles Sears, also held that position for a time.
Mrs. Bucklin entered the association with great enthusiasm and she took a very active part in the hard work of the pioneer days. During the closing years of her life she looked back on the work of these early days without regret, feeling sure that the good work begun under such difficulties was not lost. She had enduring faith in the belief that cooperative living is the only way to solve the problems of society in its present stage.
Mrs. Bucklin was a remarkable woman in many respects. She was cultured to a marked degree and the guiding principle of her life was to do good to others. Four children survive Mrs. Bucklin. They are Mrs. Julia Giles, Charles S. Bucklin, Frances Woolcott and W. S. Bucklin. The funeral will be private and the body will be buried in Fair View cemetery.”