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February 8, 2024 11 mins

Some folks have to travel around for a while before they do something curious, like this pair of stories.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to Aaron Manke's Cabinet of Curiosities, a production of
iHeartRadio and Grimm and Mild. Our world is full of
the unexplainable, and if history is an open book, all
of these amazing tales are right there on display, just
waiting for us to explore. Welcome to the Cabinet of Curiosities.

An untested hypothesis remains just that a hypothesis. In order
to be proven right or wrong, it must be subjected
to experimentation. Scientists test their hypotheses all the time. It's
how we make advancements in things like medicine, physics, and
other scientific disciplines. But sometimes the people looking to advance
civilization aren't scientists at all. They're just regular people seeking

a better life, and all they want is to see
if their theories are true, that such a life is
out there somewhere, even if they have to build it
for themselves. It all started with one man, at Tienne Kabe,
a French legal scholar born in seventeen eighty eight. But
despite his education in law, Kabe had little regard for
its strict black and white rhetoric. He took a keen

interest in politics and eventually moved to Paris, seeking out
secret revolutionary organizations looking to upset the status quo. His
day finally came with the Revolution of eighteen thirty, which
saw the removal of conservative King Charles the Tenth and
the appointment of the more liberal Louis Philippe to the throne.
Cabey's efforts during this time also earn him a swanky

government job as Attorney General for the island of Corsica,
but this didn't stop him from voicing his displeasure toward
other conservative branch as a French government. After enough complaining,
he was not only removed from his position, but also
exiled to England. Still, he didn't let this setback stop him.
While he resided in Britain, Kabe focused much of his

work on political and economic study, which he channeled into
a new novel. It was titled Voyage on Icare and
told the story of a fictional communal town called Ikorea.
In this place, everyone was equal. There was no monarchy,
no feudal system, and no one persecuted anyone else for
standing up for what they believed in Korea was a utopia.

After his five years in exile, Kabe returned to France
and had his story published. Much to his surprise, it
became a huge success, and not just as a bestseller.
Readers of Voyage on icare really connected with its message.
It was a message that promised everyone's needs would be
met and provided for despite their current status. People wanted

a real Ikorea where they could speak their minds without
consequence and live truly free lives. Kabe hadn't just written
an allegorical novel criticizing the current French government. He had
crafted a blue print for a utopian society, and readers
wanted to live there. By eighteen forty three, the author
claimed that there were at least fifty thousand French citizens

who believed in the promise of Ikorea. Four years later,
he published an article titled let Us Go to Ikorea
with instructions on how to colonize a portion of America.
For that exact purpose, Kabey soon found the perfect spot
to build his utopian vision. It resided across the Pond
in America, a place full of promise and possibility, the

state of Texas. He secured a million acres of land there,
and on February third of eighteen forty three, almost seventy
French citizens left home to start new lives in what
would eventually become the Ikorea of their dreams. They finally
arrived in Texas in late March. Kabey had promised them
a huge swath of land that was close to the

Red River and fertile ground for growing crops, but once
they got there, the early Koreans found that they had
been duped. The land was actually twenty five miles away
from the Red River and measured nowhere near one million acres.
They had only three thousand acres on which to build
their homesteads, all of it broken up into smaller tracks

with plots owned by the state of Texas in between. Honestly,
a map of the place looked kind of like a chessboard,
where the black squares were the Ikorean owned land and
the white squares were not. More people continued to come over, though,
but they soon realized that they just weren't cut out
for utopian living. Kebey lost a number of followers who
eventually returned to France, but some stuck it out, looking

to make a go of it despite the odds against them,
and their leader even managed to push the odds in
their favor. He was in New Orleans when he came
across a group of individuals who had fled their original
home in Navu, Illinois, due to threats of violence from
the surrounding communities. This fledgling organization happened to be the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, also known

as Mormons, and they were only too happy to sell
their old land to Kobey for a paltry price. So
he and his followers eventually left Texas and moved north
to Illinois, where there were already homes built and waiting
for them thanks to the former Mormon owners. Unfortunately, Koreans
still had a huge problem. Despite being a communist utopia,

Ikorea required money to survive in an otherwise capitalist society.
Tools and materials from outside had to be paid for.
The struggle to survive as a communal enclave surrounded by
a diametrically opposed economic ideology caused tension among the people.
They began voicing their complaints out loud, to the point
where Kabai became the very thing that he hated. A dictator.

He forbade speaking ill of his efforts or of the
community as a whole, He also outlawed things like tobacco
and alcohol. Between the growing discord among his people and
the fraud charges he was facing back home from former Ikoreans,
it wasn't long before his utopian experiment collapsed. He was
ousted from his role as head of the colony in

eighteen fifty and decided to set out on his own
with a small group of loyal Ikoreans in tow. He
died of a stroke a month later, but other members
splintered off and settled down in Corning, Iowa, where they
tried to build their ideal city of the future from
the ground up. And they got close, but an increasingly
younger demographic challenged the older established community members who didn't

want to see certain changes, such as women getting the
right to vote. By eighteen eighty six, all traces of
Korea and its various factions had all but disappeared. To
quote Nathaniel Hawthorne, eager souls, mystics, and revolutionaries may propose
to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams, but

evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the
secret places of the heart, utopia is only the shadow
of a dream we all have that one friend or relative,

the one who lingers a bit too long at holidays
and gatherings, who consistently makes themselves the center of the drama.
They're always around, and they're a bit more high maintenance
than everyone else. Harriet was a lot like that. She
was born around eighteen thirty on the island of Santa Cruz,
but quickly made her way to the nearby island of
Santa Maria, off the coast of South America. She lived

there for some time until a visitor from England arrived
in eighteen thirty five aboard a research vessel named HMS Beagle.
His name was Charles Darwin. You've probably heard of him.
He had left England in eighteen thirty one on board
the Beagle to study various flora and fauna throughout his travels,
and he did all of that. Darwin was a naturalist

after all. He cataloged and studied a number of different
species of plants and animals during that voyage. But then
there was Harriet. Darwin met her on his first trip
to the Galapagos Islands. She, along with two others, joined
him on board the Beagle. Unfortunately, caring for Harriet and
her two siblings became a bit too much, and they
were eventually adopted by John Clemens Wickham. Wickham had been

the first lieutenant on the Beagle, serving under Fitzroy while
Darwin was a board. Wickham then became captain for a
short time before retiring to Australia with Harriet and her
two brothers, Tom and Dick. She resided with him in
Brisbane at a place called Newstead House for the next
nineteen years. Then in eighteen sixty Wickham departed Australia to

spend his final years in France. Tom, Dick and Harriet,
on the other hand, left Newstead House for the Botanic Gardens.
Now it's important to understand that paperwork concerning the movement
of all the involved parties is pretty scarce. It's believed
by some that Wickham could not have adopted Tom, Dick
and Harriet because he wasn't in England in eighteen forty
one to collect them. Others argue that he actually was

there to get them and then he took them to Australia.
And Darwin's involvement has also been disputed, since he never
actually set foot on the island where Harriet was born.
But even though she was not native to any of
the islands he visited. It's widely believed that he was
in the right place at the right time. Harriet had
found her way there and she was chosen to accompany

him on his journey. Either way. She lived at the
Botanical Gardens until nineteen fifty two, seventy years after the
death of Charles Darwin, and during that time she was
mistaken for a boy and called Harry, named for Harry Oakman,
the groundskeeper there at the Botanical Gardens. It wasn't until
she moved to the Gold Coast when it was discovered
that Harry was actually a female. From then on she

was called Harriet. By now she was over one hundred
and twenty years old and as I'm sure you can guess,
she was not a person. Harriet, along with Tom and Dick,
were tortoises, and the Gold Coast of Australia was home
to Flay's Fauna Sanctuary, which would become her residence for
the next thirty five years. She made one last move

in nineteen eighty seven to the Dtrolia Zoo's Queenland Reptile Park.
This zoo was quite special, as its founders, Bob and
Lynn Erwin had a son who loved all kinds of animals.
He grew up to be a voice for wildlife conservancy
and education. Along with his wife Terry. Steve Irwin became
known by his nickname the Crocodile Hunter, and among the

many creatures under his care at the zoo was Harriet.
Harriet had a good life there, according to the Australia
Zoo's website. She ate a regular diet of fresh vegetables
and hibiscus flowers, and the Irwins considered her an honorary grandmother.
She was beloved by both staff and visitors alike. Sadly,
Harriet passed away on June twenty third of two thousand

and six of heart failure, but she lived to the
ripe old age of one hundred and seventy six, and
her legacy was just as wild as her. She was
the only creature on Earth that had been roommates with
both Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin. And to that, I say,
kriike I hope you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the

Cabinet of Curiosities. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, or
learn more about the show by visiting curiosities podcast dot com.
The show was created by me Aaron Mankey in partnership
with how Stuff Works. I make another award winning show
called Lore, which is a podcast, book series, and television
show and you can learn all about it over at

the Worldoflore dot com. And until next time, stay curious.

Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities News

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