The Wonder Seekers of Foutaingrove
Written with co-author Gaye LeBaron, this is the strange story of The Brotherhood of the New Life, a community founded by self-proclaimed prophet Thomas Lake Harris in 1861 to await the Second Coming of Christ and the angels.
Harris promised his disciples that the celestial visitors would arrive soon. In addition, he revealed the divine plan was for them all to rule the world while living together in splendor with the brotherhood at the Fountaingrove winery in Santa Rosa, which was the group's headquarters from 1875 to 1934.
Unlike other cults and utopian communities of the time, Harris and his earthly followers were stupendously successful in business, operating one of the largest and finest wineries in California, and shipping their vintages across the United States as well as to Europe and Asia. As a result, there was no shortage of funds to keep the enterprise afloat.
After the prophet's death just before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, management of the brotherhood passed to Kanaye Nagasawa, a Japanese samurai who was one of the first of his countrymen to come to America, arriving as a young teenager in 1865, and somehow ending up as a member of Thomas Lake Harris's tribe. Nagasawa carried on steadfastly, and even managed to keep the winery's business solvent during Prohibition, emerging at its repeal with the brotherhood's vineyards intact.
This unlikely yet true saga is presented in a beautiful dustjacketed hardcover book of 200 pages, with an additional sixteen pages of photos and illustrations.