Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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."


  1. Additional(Christine Jones Pace): on Nov. 19, 2013
    The KING was Robert and his Queen was Louella. The Kingdom was located in Tuxedo, NC.
    Christine's grandfather PHILLIP JACKSON JONES was born in Zirconia(right next to Tuxedo)in 1891. His mother had many children but only Phillip and his sister Sarah lived to be adults, and Sarah never married or had children. Grandpa Phillip lived to age 96 and told this story to me many times:

    Rebecca Bane Jones(grandpa Phillip's mother) died young(age 33)and I remember my grandfather(Phillip)telling me of a black lady in the Kingdon of the Happy Land, who would wash the clothes for his mom Rebecca as she was ill often. He(Phillip)said he would go to the creek with this black lady from the Happy Land and watch her scrub Rebecca's family clothes on a rock. He told of how very black this helpful lady was, but said the palms of her hands were bright pink, and he told her: "I bet if you scrubbed all over like that you would be pink all over!".