Utopia was founded in 1844 by followers of French philosopher Charles Fourier (1772-1837). Fourierism, based on utopian socialism and the idea of equal sharing of investments in money and labor, reached peak popularity in the United States about 1824 until 1846. The experimental community of Utopia dissolved in 1846 due to lack of financial success and disenchantment with Fourierism. John O. Wattles, leader of a society of spiritualists, purchased the land and brought his followers to Utopia in 1847. The spiritualists, who sought secluded areas to practice their religion, built a two-story brick house on the shore of the Ohio River. A flash flood on December 13, 1847, killed most of Wattles' people. The majority of the few survivors left the area. Thus, the idea of the perfect society, or utopia, died. Henry Jernegan of Amelia, laid out the present village in 1847.