On February 6, 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Angry packed up their seven children and what possessions they could fit into a truck and fled north. Their destination: Neshanic Station, New Jersey. The African-American family was one of ten white and black families who lived and worked together communally on Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia. The 1,100-acre commune was founded peacefully in 1943 but by 1957 they faced increasing racism, and were subject to, in the words of founder Rev. Clarence Jordan, "a reign of terror."
|6 April 1957 Courier News|
In the past year, shots were fired at the buildings of the compound, the roadside produce stand was dynamited, a cross was burned on the property, and farm products were boycotted locally - all because group membership had no racial barriers. If that wasn't enough, a grand jury in Sumter County was busy hearing testimony that the group was a Communist Party front and that the violence might have been perpetrated from the inside in order to gain sympathy!
|24 July 1957 Courier News|
|21 August 1957 New York Times|
|26 May 1958 Home News|
It wasn't long before the group ran into trouble - not of the racial kind, but of the Jersey kind - zoning. In order to make a go of the colony, Koinonia Farms sought a special use permit from Branchburg Township to process and package peanuts and pecans that would be shipped from the operation in Georgia. The application was denied in September. Families drifted away from the farm over the next several months until by the spring only the Angrys were left. By May 1958 Hidden Springs Farm was sold to a neighboring landowner, and the Koinonia commune experiment in Neshanic was officially ended on June 28, 1958.