In the past I've discussed various Utopian or otherwise non-traditional communities, and I'm going to continue that theme today. The Irish Settlement in south central Missouri on the border of Oregon and Ripley counties was not founded on Utopian principles as some of the others I've previously discussed were, but, still, it was unusual in that it involved a sort of communal living.
The Irish Settlement was founded in the late 1850s by a St. Louis priest, the Rev. John Hogan, as a relief effort for poor Irish Catholics, many of whom were former railroad workers who had been laid off because of the financial panic of 1857. The Rev. James Fox of Old Mines, Missouri, bought a tract of land in southern Missouri for the settlement, and the Rev. Hogan moved there in the fall of 1858. By the spring of 1859, about forty families had arrived. A log cabin, forty feet square, was erected and partitioned off. One section was used as a chapel and the other section as a private residence for the priest. Meanwhile, the families settled on farms carved from the large tract of land and sold at twelve and a half cents per acre or else on already existing farms nearby.
During the Civil War, nearly all the residents of the Irish Settlement were either killed or run off, and the buildings were destroyed by roving bands. After the war, the place was never rebuilt. It was soon overgrown with brush and became known as the Irish Wilderness. A small community in northeast Oregon County called Wilderness, founded in the early 1880s about two miles northwest of where the priest's cabin and field had been located, is about the only surviving reminder of the Irish Settlement.