THE KINGDOM OF THE HAPPY LAND
This is a map of the "Kingdom of the Happy Land" taken from Sadie Smathers Patton's 18-page pamphlet, "The Kingdom of the Happy Land" published in 1957.
Well, I think I am off on a research bender that may go on for years. Who can resist finding the story of a utopian community that once existed in Henderson County (1864-1900) that was inhabited by freedmen (former slaves) who migrated to a "promised land of milk and honey."
According to Sadie Smathers Patton, the original "pilgrims" who settled the Kingdom of the Happy Land began their journey in Mississippi in 1864. Uncertain of their destination, the group's leader assured his followers that their "earthly paradise" was somewhere in the East. More followers joined the group in Alabama and Kentucky and by the time that they reached the great road that ran north and south near North Carolina, the group had grown to 400.
Here, they heard stories of a ravaged plantation and a widowed landowner who would exchange
shelter for labor. She struck a bargain with the group's leader and thus began the Kingdon of the Happy Land. It flourished for 40 years and was ruled by a king and queen.
I've always been fascinated by utopias - somebody's idea of an "earthly paradise" that always seems to turn into a "dystopia" when someone attempts to make it a reality. Apparently, that didn't happen with "The Happy Land." It worked, and when it stopped working, it was because of factors beyond the control of the inhabitants - railroads and "progress."