Owen 's Ties

Book Advertising Topolobampo's Commercial Value

Entrace to Topolobampo Harbor

Letter from Albert K Owen to the Governor of Sonora, Mexico

Owen's Utopian Claims

In this correspondence, Albert Owen claims to have 410 people living in the Credit Foncier Settlement of Sinaloa, Mexico as of March 1, 1887. Of these individuals, the majority are unmarried men. The number of unmarried men is 165, and this number vastly outnumbers the number of unmarried females in the colony. According to Cat’s Paw Utopia, Owen’s utopia would embrace the rule that “early marriage would be encouraged, free love frowned upon, and celibates regarded with suspicion, perhaps taxed” (Reynolds, 19). A majority of unmarried bachelors in the colony would not be able to find a partner within Topolobampo due to the overwhelming majority of males over females. Because Owen does not believe in the Fourier style of utopia that embraces communal, free love, many men would become involuntarily celibate if the numbers were to stay the same. This is direct opposition to Owen’s suspicion of celibate people and his belief that people should marry early within the colony. Secondly, the colony’s married couples would find difficulty in producing offspring to maintain a sizeable population at the settlement. Due to Owen’s rules,  unmarried individuals could not assist in adding to the settlement’s population. Therefore to maintain the population, the colony would need to import settlers.

Additionally, Owen makes sure to describe his settlement in the best light possible. He claims that “everyone eats three meals a day”. He also claims that there is fish, clean drinking water, a farm of three hundred acres, a garden of three and a half acres with vegetables, and a nursery of trees and vines from California. Owen then claims the colony has a customs house, and it will gain a post office. Owen’s description of the colony would mirror a land of Cockaigne. According to Sargent in Utopianism, a Land of Cockaigne is “the world turned upside down . . . which temporarily (places) the poor and oppressed in positions of power and their supposed superiors under them for a day or a week. It tends to be created anew and re-emerge in suppressed groups or in times of hardship” (12). The Land of Cockaigne is a land of plenty for those without, and Owen’s description of the colony depicts that to anyone outside of Sinaloa Mexico. However, utopian life could not come to fruition for many men in Owen’s colony in regards to marriage--when linking Owen’s description of a land of plenty to the reality of the situation, many may find that men went both without food as they did brides.

A letter from Creel to A H Paget regarding the establishment of the railroad to Topolobampo A Letter from Jose Ortiz to Albert Owen concerning the railroad

Railroad Ties

Contained in this page are two letters of correspondence concerning the establishment of a railroad from the United States to Topolobampo Mexico. The first four pages of the collection are from Enrique Creel to Albert Owen and concern the particulars about an establishment of a railroad to Owen's colony in Topolobampo. The last, single page in the exhibit contains a letter from Jose Ortiz to Owen and is much less exuberant than the first set of correspondences.

The first letter from Creel talks about Albert Owen, and describes Owen’s ambition by stating “Mr. Owen claims to have good people to back him in this enterprise and as he has spent so much of his life in this project, he is very much interested in carrying it through successfully.” Creel’s description of Owen’s ambition matches correspondence from Owen describing his passion for the colony as well as how well the colony is producing. Owen proves himself as convincing in gathering people to support his colony.

The second letter reveals more of what Owen’s business acumen is outside of talk about how great his colony is. Jose Ortiz writes Owen telling him how Creel was “somewhat disgusted because you (Owen) left for London without saying a word”. It appears that a letter sent by Owen never reached Creel, and that caused this dissatisfaction for Owen’s leaving to England without conducting the business he and Creel agreed upon. Jose Ortiz “Requested Mr. Creel to kindly wait until you (Owen) would return from London to make the payment agreed upon and I hope to make him keep his contract if you would comply with the terms very soon.” This exchange exposes Owen’s lack of foresight when dealing with business ventures and foreshadows the misfortune Owen will have in building the railroad. Owen started the business venture off on the wrong foot, and as his destiny would have it, the railroad would never be built by him.