There’s little doubt that Alfred W. Lawson’s development of Lawsonomy–and later, Lawsonian Religion–was influenced by his exposure to Wilbur Glenn Voliva’s insular community at Zion, Illinois. In 1918-1919, one of Lawson’s enthusiastic supporters was Zion resident Edgar Croft; and there’s evidence that Lawson stayed in Zion while his Milwaukee airplane factory was operating.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Lawson’s Des Moines University of Lawsonomy was run as much as a commune as it was a school. At Lawson’s death in late 1954, it was rumored that he was seeking a spot to locate a Lawsonian community.
However, Alfred Lawson’s inclination to found his own settlement may have been inspired more directly by his brother, George H. Lawson. The following article appeared in the February 3, 1923 edition of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Evening News:
A short while after these plans were publicized, George received a letter from F. C. Blair, of the Canadian Department of Immigration and Colonization, that effectively squashed Lawson’s dream. However, it appears that thirty years later, George’s brother Alfred was pursuing the same goal.