Ohio History Journal

MOBBING THE <span style="color:#cc0000;font-weight:bold">SHAKERS</span> OF UNION VILLAGE




It may be affirmed that of all the Christian sects of America,

not one is less aggressive or lives more within itself than that

known as The SHAKERS, or more properly speaking The Millen-

nial Church. It is true that in its early history it possessed a

little missionary zeal, but this was not of the offensive kind.

In common with all the sects it placed its own doctrines to the

front, proclaiming them to be the true representative ideas of

Jesus Christ. It cannot be denied that the SHAKERS indulged in

extravagant expressions of religious emotions, and were ex-

cessively strict in their discipline; but this was all within them-

selves, for they did not encroach upon their neighbors. Towards

the strangers and co-religionists they were harmless, kind and


It is worthy of remark in this age of endowments or special

benefactions, the SHAKERS have never received any donations or

gifts save those which have come from within their own com-

munion.  In proportion to the number and wealth, no sect

has been so generous. In all probability no sect has lived so

closely to the Christ ideal as that under consideration.

When it is considered that a sect free from trespass, given

to good works, benevolent and devout, refraining from the tur-

moils of political strife and the carnage and inhumanity of war,

should be subject to the passions of a mob, it behooves one,

having optimistic views, to inquire into the source or controlling

motive that led to the public violence. It is the history of every

Shaker community to experience rough treatment even at the

hands of those who should have been respecters of law and order.




Religious hate and rancor have been the source of untold

misery. Even in the light and discoveries of this age, only a

small portion of the enlightened have been brought to the realiz-

ing sense that every man must be supreme within himself re-


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specting his tenets. It does not require wide observation to

note the fact that even those claiming to be most liberal, and

really having broad views, are too often the most illiberal.

Numerous instances can be produced to prove that many liberals

are even more illiberal than the dogmatist and the bigot. Such

may be shown to be the case in the persecution of the Shakers of

Union Village, Ohio.

The origin of the various communities of Shakers of Ohio

and Kentucky may be directly traced to the "Great Kentucky

Revival" of 1800, 1801. This was the greatest religious upheaval

ever known in America; and the conditions were such as to

make it impossible to have the same ever repeated. The causes

that led to the commotion and insured its success were mani-

fold. The cry for a broader basis, or more toleration, was

not among the least. While the exictement lasted there was a

display of emotions, an extravagance of expression or manners,

that beggars all description. Among the leaders there were really

able men; who during the revel were unfortunately overcome

by the pressure and gave countenance to transactions that, in

their cooler moments, would meet with their condemnation. The

outbreak began in Logan and Christian counties, Kentucky, on

the waters of the Gasper and Red Rivers. The first meeting

was held at Cabin Creek, May 22, 1800, and continued four days

and three nights. "The scene was awful beyond description;

the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting,

etc., exhibited such new, and striking evidences of a super-

natural power, that few, if any, could escape without being

affected. Such as tried to run from it were frequently struck

on the way, or impelled, by some alarming signal to return."

Among the prime movers were such men as Malcolm Worley,

John Dunlavy, Richard McNemar, Robert Marshall, John Thomp-

son, David Purviance, Barton W. Stone, etc. Before the year

1805 the Schismatics had regular societies in Ohio at Turtle

Creek, Eagle Creek, Springfield, Orangedale, Salem, Beaver

Creek, Clear Creek, etc. In Kentucky at Cabin Creek, Flem-

ingsburgh, Concord, Caneridge, Indian Creek, Bethel, Paint

Creek, Shawny Run, etc., besides an innumerable multitude scat-

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tered throughout Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and the

western parts of Pennsylvania. These Schismatics were known

then, and are still called by the name of New Lights, but among

themselves they take the name of Christians. Their recognized

leader was Barton W. Stone.

The news of the Revival spread all over the country and

in due time aroused the interest of the Shaker Ministry at New

Lebanon, New York, who dispatched John Meacham, Issachar

Bates and Benjamin Seth Youngs to the scene of the commo-

tion. These missionaries set out on foot on January 1st, 1805,

and arrived at Turtle Creek Church (Union Village) on March

22nd, as a propaganda. The first convert from the Turtle Creek

Church was Malcolm Worley, on March 27, a wealthy and in-

fluential man, but somewhat eccentric. The next was Anna

Middleton (colored), March 29, and on the 31st, Cornelius

Campbell. Richard McNemar and his wife Jenny joined on

April 24. In the year 1805, or soon after, the families or heads

of families that joined the Shakers, besides those already

mentioned, were Francis Bedle, Samuel Sering, Samuel Hollo-

way, Elijah Davis, Jonathan Davis, Stephen Spining, David

Spining, John Dennis, Abner Bonnell, Stephen Williams, Ben-

jamin Howard, Amos Valentine, John Miller, Joseph Stout,

James Bedell, David Hill, Calvin Morrell, Joseph Patterson, John

Wallace, John Able, Samuel Rollins, Thomas Hunt, Charles West,

Allen Woodruff, Moses Easton, David Corey, Daniel Boyd,

Lorenzo Belcher, John Gee, David Johnson, John Sharp, Mat-

thew Houston, Andrew Brown, John Naylor, John Carson,

Belteshazzar Draggoo, John Houston, Robert Baxter, James

Dickson, Joseph Irwin, Nathan Pegg, John Woods, James

Smith, Garner McNemar, William Davis, Sr., Abigail Kitchell,

Malinda Watts, Jenny Byrne, Rachel Seward, Betsy Anderson,

Reuben Morris, Jacob Holloway, Caleb Pegg, John Slater, Jon-

athan Gaudy, Joseph Lockwood, Thomas N. Naylor, William

Runyon, and some others. To these there must be added about

thirty unmarried.

It is safe to assume that the greater percentage of these,

as well as those who soon after followed (numbering in all

prior to 1812, 370 souls) was converted from the New Lights.

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Add to this the fact that Shaker missionaries were sent among

the New Light Churches, and, in the vicinity of some, Shaker

communities were being established, it may easily be seen that

all the venom of religious hate would be stirred up among the

New Lights, however much they may have called for more

freedom. The heart of Barton Stone was stirred within him,

and he with some of his coadjutors set about to put down Shak-


It is not intended here to have it inferred that Barton Stone

desired violent means against the Shakers. His intentions may

have been of the more peaceful order. However that may be he

certainly paved the way that the thoughtless and violent might

pass over.

The leaders of the Schismatics must be judged in the light

in which they taught. Revolting against dogmatism they be-

came dogmatists; proclaiming religious liberty they became per-

secutors, and decrying a written creed they became advocates

of "a system of theology." The first words against the Shakers

did not come from any of the members of the Turtle Creek

Church, but from Springfield, and under date of April 5, 1805:

"It matters not to me who they are, who are devil's tools,

whether men or angels, good men or bad. In the strength of

God I mean not to spare. I used lenity once to the devil, be-

cause he came in a good man (viz.) Worley. But my God

respects no man's person. I would they were even cut off who

trouble you. I mean in the name and strength of God to lift his

rod of Almighty truth against the viper," etc. Thompson fol-

lowed the Shakers to a campmeeting held at Turtle Creek, and

in a loud voice proclaimed, "They are liars! They are liars!

They are liars! According to the fable, 'A liar is not to be be-

lieved, even when he speaks the truth.' " Another Christian

followed Issachar Bates, crying out, "Go to hell," and another

pursued John Meacham from place to place, spitting in his face,

and crying aloud to make a great fire, and burn these false

prophets, while others laughed and encouraged him. Stone

having invited McNemar to attend a general meeting at Concord

in August, 1805, forbade him to speak or even come in the

house. At the same time silence was imposed on John Dun-

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lavy, Benjamin Youngs and Malcolm Worley, while John Thomp-

son, Robert Marshall, Barton W. Stone, David Purviance, J.

Stockwell and A. Brannon, alternately delivered addresses against

the Shakers, in which some of them were named out, pronounced

liars, defamed by many slanderous reports, which they could

have proven false if opportunity had been given. The only

reply given was, "I am sorry to see you abusing your own

light." In the introduction to his "Letters on Atonement" Stone

observes that the arguments used by his opponents are "Bold,

inscriptural assertions - hard names - delusion - error -

doctrines of devils - Arminianism -  Socinianism - Deism,

etc. Such arguments have no effect on a candid mind, but they

powerfully influence dupes and bigots. The candid look for

truth and plain, unequivocal arguments." In the postscript of

his reply to Campbell's strictures, he says: "You have heard no

doubt before this time, of the lamentable departure of two of our

preachers, and a few of their hearers from the true gospel, into

wild enthusiasm, or Shakerism. They have made shipwreck of

faith, and turned aside to an old woman's fables, who broached

them in New England, about twenty-five years ago. These wolves

in sheep's clothing, have smelt us from afar, and have come to

tear, rend and devour," etc. It was currently reported among

the New Lights "that the Shakers castrated all their males, and

consequently exposed their necks to the gallows; or divested of

all modesty, stripped and danced naked in their night meet-

ings, blew out the candles, and went into a promiscuous de-

bauch. And what was still more shocking--the fruits of their

unlawful embraces they concealed by the horrid crime of mur-

der." It was charged that "these men say that each one of

them is a Christ, and we must throw our Bibles away and

follow them; they forbid to marry, and attach criminality to

that for which we have the express command of God; they

encourage men to beat and abuse their wives, and turn them

away; they are a set of worldly-minded, cunning deceivers, whose

religion is earthly, sensual, and devilish (see Stone's Letter, July

1806); these men have testified they would never die." Even

the grave was robbed of its sanctity, and the word went forth

that Prudence Farrington had recanted Shakerism on her death

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bed. She arrived at Union Village May 31, 1806, and died

April 11, 1807, in the 31st year of her age, a loving sister, a

blessed virgin, a holy woman. Among her last words she uttered:

"Strengthen the brethren."


"Her holy examples of infinite price:

Brought up in the gospel, a stranger to vice;

Her cross from the first she did faithfully bear,

And finish'd her course in her thirty-first year:

Her heaven-born spirit, to angels akin,

(Not stain'd with the flesh nor polluted with sin)

Has now got releas'd from the sorrows of earth,

And shares the full joys of her heavenly birth."


There is another factor too important to overlook. Every

community has a few restless spirits ever ready to take up with

the latest fad or doctrine. Such an upheavel as the Kentucky

Revival would throw all sorts of humanity to the surface, many

of whom would be left stranded on the shoals of uncertainty.

Many of these would be taken with Shakerism, but only to leave

and then vilify those who had trusted them. They would circu-

late reports having no foundation, but tending to excite the law-

less or vicious. Taking all things into consideration, it is not

surprising that a mob might be incited.




The first mob that assembled at Union Village was on Mon-

day, August 27, 1810. The mob consisted of a body of five

hundred armed men, led by officers in military array, pre-

ceded and followed by a large concourse of spectators of all de-

scriptions of people, estimated at nearly two thousand in num-

ber, whose object was to witness a conflict between the military

and a few harmless and defenceless Shakers. Among this great

concourse were many who were friendly to the Society, and

whose only wish was to prevent mischief and preserve peace;

but the far greater number was either entire strangers or de-

cided enemies, who came to support the military in case of ne-

cessity. Many of these were armed in mob array, some with

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guns and swords, some with bayonets fixed on poles or sticks of

various lengths, and other with staves, hatchets, knives and clubs.

These formed a motley multitude of every description, from

ragged boys to hoary-headed men, exhibiting altogether a hideous

and grotesque appearance. This ruthless assemblage, gathered

for the purpose of infringing on the rights of conscience, and

in the public press of the day was called "An expedition against

the Shakers."

This extraordinary proceeding first began to be agitated prin-

cipally through the instrumentality of one John Davis, John and

Robert Wilson and John Bedle, apostates, who had become bold

in wickedness and false accusations against their former co-

religionists, whereby those who had long waited for false wit-

nesses to accuse the Shakers of something criminal seized the

opportunity to accomplish their purpose.

Accordingly, about the first of June, Col. James Smith in-

serted in the public press a declaration that he had been informed

by the aforesaid apostates that the education of children among

the Shakers was chiefly a pretense; that they whip their under-

lings severely, and also their children; that they count it no

sin to have carnal knowledge of their own women; that all sur-

plus money and property are given up to Elder David Darrow;

that he keeps the whole treasury of the Society in his own hands;

that he, like the pope, exercises unlimited authority over all under

his control; and that he, with his council, live sumptuously on

the labors of others; with many other things of a like nature, all

of which were made to exasperate the public mind with indig-

nation against the Believers.

What seemed intended to be the weightiest charges in the

publication were certain things therein alleged against James

Smith, Jr., who was a Believer, and for which there was a plaus-

ible pretense. James' wife, Polly, having deserted him on ac-

count of his faith, and he refusing to give up his children to

her, furnished the old man with many charges of oppression.

The advertisement of Col. Smith did not go unchallenged,

but was answered publicly in a spirited manner by Richard Mc-

Nemar, who not only exposed its falsity, but also cited its author

to prove what he had alleged, or else bear the character of a

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slanderer. The answer was little regarded, and it appears that

Smith and his associates had no intention of prosecuting the mat-

ter in a lawful manner.

During the month of July the Shakers were secretly informed

that a subscription was being circulated for the purpose of rais-

ing a mob and that John Davis and the two Wilsons were active

agents. Having been publicly accused of the matter they denied

that there was any such thing in agitation. On August 23, an

intimation was given that Col. Smith, with a number of men

from Kentucky, were over and engaged in collecting others to

assist in carrying off his grandchildren. On the next day, Fri-

day, it was learned from credible authority that five hundred men

were to assemble on the following Monday at Capt. Kilbreath's,

distant about three miles, and intended to come as a mob and

take off the Smith children and enact other outrages. The next

day the news became more definite, and in the afternoon Wade

Loofbourrow, a young man living near Hamilton, informed them

that he had seen the written instrument which the designing party

had signed, but did not read it; that it was in the hands of Major

J. Potter at Hamilton Court the day before; that the mob was

a subject of common conversation on that occasion; that he heard

Major Potter say that five hundred were subscribed; also, that

Rev. Matthew G. Wallace was forward and active in the busi-

ness; that Major Potter would be second in command; that the

Springfield Light-Horse would be on the ground and many more

of the baser sort from Springfield, the Big Hill, from around

Hamilton and from the vicinity northwest of the village; that

the party would appear on Monday; and that he came purposely

to inform them and desired to tarry that he might witness the

result. The same evening information came in from every quar-

ter of their preparations and threats of abuse; that they meant

to tar and feather Richard McNemar and drive the old Shakers

out of the country and restore the rest to their former faith and

method of living.

The following Sunday (August 26) some of the party at-

tended the religious services, especially Captain Robinson, who

avowed that they would be on the ground the next day for the

purpose of violence.

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The State's Attorney, J. Collet, and the Sheriff of the county,

T. McCray, both of Lebanon, went to the place of rendezvous

and warned the party of the unlawfulness of their intentions.

Attending the Sunday services were Dr. Budd and Dr. Bladgley,

of New Jersey; Colonel Stanley, from Cincinnati, and D. Corneal,

a noted young man from Kentucky. They determined to re-

turn the next day and witness the event.

Early Monday morning, August 27, all the Shakers of Union

Village might have been seen at their usual avocations, just as

though no note of warning had been received. About 8 o'clock

strangers began to come in from different quarters. Early on

the ground was Francis Dunlavy, first Circuit Judge of the State,

intending that the peace and dignity of the law should be up-

held. Dr. Bladgley, with some company who had rode out to

meet the mob, returned at noon with the information that the

troops would arrive in less than an hour. About 1 o'clock the

troops appeared, entering by the Dayton road from the north,

marching in order and finally halted in front of the Meeting

House. A number of the officers were in uniform and the troops

armed and generally equipped in regimental order.

The peace-loving men were active with the troops and the

undisciplined multitude. It is more than probable that through

their intercession the expedient was reached of choosing a com-

mittee to state to the Shakers their proposals and to receive and

return answers. A committee came forward and faced the

dwelling house of the old Believers. They requested three of

the original men (meaning John Meacham, Benjamin S. Youngs

and Issachar Bates) to come forward in order to confer with

them on the occasion of the people's assembling, observing that

a committee was chosen for that purpose, consisting of twelve

men then present, among whom was one chief speaker. As only

Benjamin S. Youngs of the three called was present, assent was

given that two others might be called. Standing in the yard

at that time were Judge Dunlavy, General William Schenck and

J. Corwin. As the mob's committee contained twelve persons

the Shakers desired that these three gentlemen might be per-

mitted to act with them, but this request was denied. Judge

Dunlavy then asked, "Have you any objections to by-standers?"

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They answered, "Yes." It was insisted that the three Shakers

should go alone with them to the woods. Unreasonable as the

demands were the Shakers consented. Benjamin S. Youngs,

Peter Pease and Matthew Houston withdrew with the committee

to a woodland lying about sixty rods south of the dwelling house

and half a mile south of the Meeting House.

The leading characters of the committee were Matthew G.

Wallace, a noted Presbyterian preacher, chief speaker; Doctor

Squire Little, a Newlight; Captain John Clark, and John Fisher.

The names of the others have not been preserved. Wallace be-

gan in the name of the people to state their grievances, observ-

ing that the Shaker principles and practices had caused great

disturbances in the minds of the people and led to the extinction

of civil and religious society, which they are determined to up-

hold; that their system was a pecuniary one and led mankind into

bondage and oppression; and that the people were determined

to bear it no longer. The committee insinuated that they were

in a capacity to prevent evil being done and perhaps prevent much

blood being shed, because as the people were fully resolved on a

redress, provided the terms were complied with, that were pro-

posed. After speaking in extenso, in this matter for some time,

the following conditions were the only ones that would be ac-

cepted, and which would prevent forcing a compliance by violent


I. The children of the late James Watts should be given

up to their grandfather; it being alleged that the said James

Watts, at his decease, gave his children to his father. It was

hoped that the propriety of this would readily be seen.

To this the Shakers answered: "We had not seen the pro-

priety hitherto, as we supposed the mother, under whose care

the children now were, had the greatest right to them; and

asked them if it was recorded, that the said James gave his chil-

dren to their grandfather? They answered that it was not. We

told them that we could not give up that which was not in our

possession. The children were with their mother, and under

her care, and we exercised no authority over them. We were

sure that the mother and children might be seen by any two or

three civil men, and if the parent was willing, and the children

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wished to go, it was not our wish to have them retained; nor if

any demanded them, and chose to force them away, would any

violence be used to prevent them."

2. That old William Bedle be permitted to see his grand-

child, a son of Elijah Davis, alleging that the said child came

away (from his father) and was forcibly brought back contrary

to his inclination.

To this it was replied: "That the child was under the care

of his own parents; that we had not any control over him; that

we did not usurp the parents' rights over their children, but we

doubted not that the child might be seen," etc., etc.

3. That the children of James Smith should be given up.

To this the observation was offered that the Shakers were doubt-

less well acquainted with the circumstances relative to these chil-


To this the information was offered: "That the children were

under the care of their father; that they were now in the hands

of the authority, and that a suit in court had commenced respect-

ing them."

4. In presenting the next demand the speaker observed that

it probably might seem hard, and then declared that the weightiest

proposition was, that the Shakers must cease publicly to inculcate

their principles, and their practices must cease; that no dancing

on the Sabbath or any other day should be permitted; or else

all should depart from the country by the first Monday in De-

cember next.

This demand was tantamount to a renunciation of faith and

practice, mode of worship, preaching and manner of living.

These terms were a declaration that if acceded to all would

be well; and if not they should be enforced by violence. It was

requested that these propositions should be reduced to writing,

but Wallace stated that what had been proposed was short and

could easily be remembered without writing. The reply was

made that as the proposals were short they could readily be com-

mitted to writing, but the point was abruptly refused.

It is worthy of mention that although the committee had

solemnly agreed not to admit or suffer any of the party near

them while they conferred together, yet during the conference

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there was present a number of false witnesses and accusers stand-

ing by, particularly the apostate John Davis, who brought false

accusations. Again and again the Shakers asked the committee

if their replies were understood, and every time the answer came

in the affirmative; but still the Shakers were urged to comply,

for it was impossible for them to resist a thousand men.

At 2 o'clock the conference adjourned for one hour, that

the Shakers might in that time give a positive answer. All the

elder brethren and sisters there present were assembled together

in an upper room of the residence near the Meeting House.

Judge Dunlavy, General Schenck and Squire Corwin were invited

to take part in the consultation. In their presence the committee

of Shakers stated the proposals and demands and the answers

agreed upon, with the observation that the requirements were

unreasonable and unjust, particularly because no person was al-

lowed to be present at the conference who might serve as a wit-

ness against the unlawfulness or injustice of their demands; and

also of the unreasonableness of grandfathers demanding to be

given up to them their grandchildren who were under the care

of their own parents. The three invited guests took no part in

the meeting, but appeared to be much affected and feelingly in-

terested in the cause of justice. When the meeting ended Judge

Dunlavy and General Schenck went out and found Dr. Little,

one of the committee, in the yard before the house, and talked

to him in an affecting manner on the illegality and consequences

of the concourse of people.

The hour having expired Benjamin S. Youngs informed Dr.

Little that they were ready to meet them, and accordingly both

committees retired to the same place in the woods, and there

delivered the following answer:

"1. Respecting the children demanded to be given up, we

observed, that we had already stated what we had to say on

that subject; adding, that all adults among us were free, and that

it was contrary to our principles and our practice to oppress any,

or hold them in bondage.

2. Respecting our faith which we held in the gospel, we

esteemed it dearer than our lives, and therefore meant to main-

tain it, whatever we might suffer as the consequence. And as

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to our leaving the country, we were on our own possessions which

we had purchased with money obtained by our own honest in-

dustry. It was our endeavor not to owe any man anything; we

had not a cent of any man's money; we enjoyed our own peace-

able possessions in a free country, and were entitled to those lib-

erties (including the liberty of our consciences) which the laws

of our country granted us."

In the course of the first sitting of the committee the Sha-

kers observed that things were misrepresented and wrongly re-

ported concerning them; that there was no evidence of the ex-

istence of those things of which they were accused, and that

the reports came from prejudiced persons; that there was no need

of all this concourse of people; if wrong had been done in any

matter the laws of the country made ample provision for a

redress of grievances. To all this Wallace replied that the means

required too lengthy a process, and that the people would not wait

the issue of such measures. It was necessary to rehearse some

of these facts during the sitting of the second conference.

While these proceedings were transpiring, about the Meeting

House, the school house, the children's family, and the first family

of young Believers, there was a vast and promiscuous concourse

of armed men and spectators, some disputing, some inquiring,

others railing out against and endeavoring to scatter falsehood,

and urging the propriety of banishing the Shakers out of the coun-

try by violence. Women of the baser sort, who were in fellow-

ship with the riot, had placed themselves within sight of the

buildings, on the edge of the woods, waiting to see the Shakers

destroyed; others, of the same cast, were taking an active part

in urging on parties of the mob to take away, by force, children

of their connections, and other such like acts of violence. In the

meantime there were men of talents and good principles who

engaged in contesting those violent measures agitated by the mob

party, urging the Shakers' right of citizenship from their peace-

able deportment, and the unconstitutionality of infringing upon

their right, which had never been forfeited by any misconduct.

About three o'clock, a public speaker of the party, standing

in the street before the door of the Meeting House, proclaimed

liberty, that all who had any charges against the Shakers might

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come forward and enter them. A number of charges were pro-

duced; but none however that was regularly entered and taken

up, except a charge of murder against Amos Valentine, upon

the assertion of John and Robert Wilson, two of the before

mentioned apostates, who deposed, that when they lived among

the Shakers, the said Amos had a boy afflicted with fits; that

he whipped said boy unmercifully; also, that the said boy was

whipped by Daniel Moseley, and that the said Amos and Daniel

both wished that he was dead; that the boy for some time past

had been missing, and the said witnesses believed that the said

boy was murdered, and put out of the way. A habeas corpus

was immediately served on Amos and he was put under arrest

until the the said boy should be produced. The boy was im-

mediately sent for, being at Moses Easton's, about two miles

off. About this period of the transaction, the committee was hold-

ing its second session, with the three Shakers before mentioned.

Judge Dunlavy, who understood the proceedings of the com-

mittee before, followed them to the edge of the woods, and

there sat down upon a log, about five rods distant from where

the committee was sitting, and there waited to see the issue.

Immediately after the Shakers withdrew from the committee,

he mounted his horse, in the midst of the assembly, and, with

a loud voice, delivered a solemn injunction, that no one violate the

laws of Ohio, and required all civil officers present to take cog-

nizance of the conduct of any who should violate them. Soon

after this, the aforesaid boy arrived, very corpulent and hearty.

This was about four o'clock. Judge Dunlavy, understanding

the case, gave public information of the boy's arrival, and the

satisfaction which was given of the innocence of the party ac-

cused, ordered the prisoner to be released, and the people to

disperse, as nothing remained for investigation. Nevertheless

Capt. Kilbreath refused to comply with the judge's order to

release the prisoner, alledging that he was just as high an officer

as Dunlavy. Upon this Judge Dunlavy ordered him to be ap-

prehended, and put in prison; but Kilbreath being armed with

a sword and pistol, and refusing to be taken, the matter there

rested. The prisoner, however, was released; but some of the

mob treated the judge with great contempt, and uttered the

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most bitter invectives against him for his interference. At this

stage of the proceedings, the committee having returned and

mingled among the multitude; Judge Dunlavy having given his

orders, the mob was thus irritated and thrown into confusion.

But the word of command being given, and the party mounted,

they moved down the street in a violent career, amid clouds

of dust, and halted in a vast crowd facing the dwelling house

of the Elders; and after a little pause, Major Robinson, with a

loud voice, demanded of those in the house whether they would

comply with the proposals of the committee, Yea, or Nay. This

was repeated a number of times, crying aloud, "Give us an answer,

Yea, or Nay!" but no one answered a word. Then all the

people in the house, men and women, young and old, were

commanded to come out of the house, and place themselves in a

circle on the green before them. But none offered to move.

Then Major Robinson continued his harangue to the fol-

lowing effect: that the Shakers must comply immediately with

the proposals of the committee, and accede to remove out of

the country by the first of December next, to suffer the conse-

quences; and then cried, "Is not this the voice of the people?"

which was immediately answered by the mob with uplifted hands,

and a general loud and hideous yell, in the most exasperated

manner. But as none appeared or answered, they ordered the

gates to be thrown open, which, after considerable hesitation,

some of the concourse ventured to perform. The doors of the

house were now instantly shut and fastened, as hitherto they

had been left open. After the gates were thrown open, the

house was immediately surrounded by a promiscuous multitude

of armed men and spectators, but the main body of the corps

remained on their horses in the street. After some consulta-

tion among the mob, they proposed a committee from among

them, whom they wished to enter and search every apartment

of the house, to see whether there were not some held in bon-

dage, and such other like instances of cruelty and injustice as

were reported. This committee consisted of Major William Rob-

inson, Captain John Robinson, Captain John Clark, Captain Cor-

nelius Thomas, and one or two others. They entered upon con-

ditions of behaving civily, and began their search and exam-

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nation with the young sisters, and asked them, one by one, if

they desired to leave the Shakers.

To the question of the mob committee Betsey Seward re-

plied, that she was satisfied with the people, and her present

place of abode; that she liked it better than among her natural

relations; because they treated her more kindly than ever her

own relations had done, and that she did not wish to see any

of them again, while they remained so wicked. The committee

then said, "Let her stay." Prudence Morrell being interrogated,

replied, that all the world would be no inducement to her to

leave; that she preferred to place her head on the floor and

be decapitated than to be taken away from the Believers. Caty

Rubart also made a firm reply, in substance as above; and so

did Jenny McNemar, and all the rest,-all declaring that they

were free to go away, if they chose, at any time, and that

nothing bound them but their faith and love. All others, whether

brethren or sisters, made the similar replies.

After searching every apartment of the house the com-

mittee expressed their satisfaction. Captain Thomas, more up-

right than the others, said he saw a "decent house with decent

people in it." Then they drank copiously of cold coffee, went

out, and reported themselves as "well satisfied." After this,

they returned to their former ground at the Meeting House,

and the same committee proceeded to examine the family of

the young Believers. All who were interrogated, made firm

replies, that they were free, and might go away whenever they

chose, but would not; some said they would rather die, than

abandon their faith, or forsake the people of God. By this

time the committee was under great mortification, and their zeal

began to abate, having been disappointed in all their researches,

and some persuasion had to be used in order to get them into

the school house. Matthew Houston being present at their exam-

inations, desired them to go, especially, as they had it reported

that the Shakers would not suffer their children and youth to

read the Bible. When they went into the school they found

Testaments in abundance. Elder Houston observed they might

see at least one lie had been told them. They looked at the chil-

dren's penmanship, which they acknowledged surpassed their

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expectations. Houston next requested them to ask the chil-

dren questions, whether they had enough to eat, etc., observ-

ing, that he had children among them, and had long been

absent, and knew not at present how it might be with them.

When they asked, First: "Have you enough to eat?" they

answered, "Yea! yea! yea! as much as we want," which ran all

through the school. Second: "Are you punished more than

you deserve?"   They answered, "Nay! nay! nay," and some

replied, "We are never whipped." Third: "Do you want to

leave these people? If you do, fear not, we will protect you."

"Nay! nay! nay! sounded through the school. Next the com-

mittee was invited to hear the children read, but this was de-

clined, declaring they were fully satisfied. Next they were re-

quested to go to John Wood's, in order to find that enslaved

woman, of whom they had spoken, and about whom there was

so much agitation (for it was reported that a certain woman

was enslaved by the Shakers; those in search had not yet found

her, for another select party had searched the Meeting House

for her a little while before, and the Children's Order at John

Wood's had also been searched and examined.) But the com-

mittee refused to investigate farther, declaring that all of them

were fully satisfied.

No ground of accusation being found or reported to the

party, and the generality being wearied and perplexed with

the same, and under a mortifying disappointment, were dis-

missed; the last of them disappeared as the darkness of night

began to creep over the horizon, without leaving behind them any

visible marks of cruelty.

Through this whole transaction no visible disturbance or

confusion appeared among the Shakers. The greater number

kept busy at their usual employments; took dinner in the usual

manner, and entertained such as they could with convenience.

They answered those mildly who spoke to them, whether peace-

ably or in a taunt. Such as wished to enter the rooms from

the noise and clamor, did so, and spent their time in conversation.

That no evil or cruelty was transacted after such formid-

able preparations of design, can only be accounted for by the

stand taken by Judge Dunlavy, assisted by the persuasive powers

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of those who came with good intentions, and their love of justice

and right.

The foregoing account of the transactions of the mob is

taken from the narrative of Benjamin Seth Youngs, written

August 31, 1810. When I visited Union Village May 10, 1901,

Miss Susan Liddell was sent for. She is among the oldest Shakers,

in point of service, in the village, and the best acquainted with its

history. She gave me the additional information which she re-

ceived from Shakers who were living at the time of the mob;

Judge Dunlavy was a cousin of Richard McNemar; George Har-

lan had a sister who was then a Believer and came to assist

and protect the Shakers; Richard McNemar found it neces-

sary to go among the younger members and insist on non-

resistance, for there was an indication among them to act in self-

defence, and some of the Shakers were struck with whips and

knocked down. This was particularly true in the instance of

Calvin Morrell, a physician, who had become a convert.

Book A, of the Records, for Dec. 29, 181O, notes that again

the Shakers were threatened by mob violence, which would in-

dicate that nothing was done with the ringleaders of the mob of

August 27.

MOBS OF 1813.

The records of the mobs of 1813 are exceedingly brief. They

must have been of small moment or else an interested chronicler

would have preserved the details. The first was on May 12, and

the following is the sole entry: "Mob at the West Section;

trying to take a woman away against her will."

For December 16th we have the following minute: "A vio-

lent mob came to the Center House today, in the employ of

James Bedle, who had previously left the Society and bound his

children to Peter Pease. His present aim is to take the children

away by force. The house doors being closed and barred, they

took a battering ram and broke a door in two; they then rushed

in and committed considerable violence and abuse; but failed in

getting the children. After a shameful day's riot, they dispersed

for the night."

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For December 29th the subject is continued. "Another mob

appears to be collecting at Bedell's; meanwhile they are trying to

prove before referees that the children have been abused by the

Society; in this Bedle failed. The referees then recommended

to Peter Pease to give up the Indentures, for the sake of peace,

which was accordingly agreed upon; and the mob dispersed."

The next day James Bedle came in the "morning and dragged

off his 2 youngest children, much against their wills. They went

off screaming and hollowing. The mother and the 2 oldest chil-

dren have fled to some other quarter to avoid violence and enjoy

their own faith."

MOB OF 1817.

The year 1817 was fruitful in disturbances at Union Village.

The Church Record is very brief on this subject, although nam-

ing some of the parties participating in the riots. The Hamp-

ton MS. is more complete, and in the main, will here be followed.

The riotous proceedings commenced as early as January 12,

when Patty Rude, an apostate woman, came to church, with a

party of ruffians, to take her daughter Sarah (a young woman)

away, by force.

On July 31, under pretence of law, a scene of mobbing and

rioting was perpetrated. The object was to get a youth (Jona-

than Davis, Jr.) away, who had left the society some time previ-

ously. Being under age his father authorized some of the breth-

ren to go and bring him home, which was done. John Davis,

an outsider and cousin, by whom he was harbored, raised a

company in Lebanon, who came out in great indignation and

threatened to burn the village to ashes, if the youth was not given

over to them. Thirty or forty men came with a constable and

arrested the brethren who brought the boy home; and had them

bound over to court. They were indicted before the grand jury,

but nothing came of it.

On December 3rd, Richard McNemar and Calvin Morrell

went to Columbus to present a remonstrance to the Legislature

against Van Vleet and Cameron, editors of the Western Star,

and others on account of persecutions. These persecutions grad-

ually died away, and in a few years ceased altogether.

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As there was some little after-litigation on account of the

John Davis affair, and as at the time of these troubles, the prose-

cutors had their say in the Western Star, added to which there

was placed in circulation a book derogatory to the Shakers,

it may be well here to note the facts as they occurred.

The following is a narrative of William Davis, a near relative

of the said John and Jonathan Davis: "This is to certify that I,

William Davis, of the County of Warren, and State of Ohio,

being one of the party included in the deposition of John Davis

for committing a riot etc., on the bodies of the said John Davis

and Jonathan Davis, which deposition hath been published to the

world: in consequence of all being indicted who were present

at the transaction, we have never had a suitable opportunity to

open the matter as it really was. I now feel it my duty to give

the public a statement of the facts which were as follows:

Some time in the month of July 1817 my youngest brother

Jonathan Davis ran away from the school where my father Elijah

had placed him and went to the town of Lebanon, to the said

John Davis, his cousin. My Father and I went after the boy, but

John Davis, Eli Truitt, and others forbade us to have anything

to do with the boy; stating that they would protect him from

his father, to the shedding of the last drop of their blood. -I

went several times, to see if by any means I could get them

to give him up to his father; but to no effect. My Father and

Mother went, but could effect nothing. Some time after, John

Wallace was informed by a friend, where John Davis and the

boy were at work, some distance from the town. My father,

anxious to obtain the boy, and insisting on having him brought

home, myself and four others went to the place where they were

at work; I went forward and took my brother by the arm and told

him he must go home with me; John Davis rose up with a large

drawing-knife in his hand and told me if I did not let him go,

he would cut off my arm; -at this time John Wallace came

forward and said to John Davis, 'Be civil we want nothing to do

with you;- we only wish to take Jonathan to his father;'- the

said Davis then left me and turned to Wallace with his knife

drawn, in a position to strike. At this time, it is said, that Wallace

showed a spear to Davis and bade him stand off. - I then took

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the boy some distance, when John Davis called to the boy and

said, 'You have got my hat.' We then threw the hat back to

Davis. When we had gotten about 50 yards with the boy, John

Davis passed us with the knife in one hand and a club in the

other, stating that he would soon have help, and take the boy from

us. After passing us a little, he turned back and came to where

we were, and drew the knife as if to strike; one of us then

stopped the knife with a stick--he drew it again and it was

stopped in like manner, which ended the attempts at striking.

We frequently requested him to withdraw peaceably, for we

wanted nothing to do with him; nevertheless he continued to

follow us for sixty or seventy rods, threatening us with violence.

- He then returned to the town of Lebanon, and made oath that

violence was committed by us and obtained a warrant for us all;

which was executed without resistance. - He also, on the same

day, collected a mob who came to take the boy; -they sur-

rounded the house where the boy was, with clubs, loaded whips

etc. -but the boy made his escape through the midst of the

crowd, and went to the woods and secreted himself from them. -

I do further testify, that we had no intentions of injuring the

said John Davis, nor any other person or persons;-our only

object was to bring the boy to his father and mother. This I

am willing to testify to, when legally called upon.


MOB OF 1819.

On the 7th of August, while the Shakers were quietly attend-

ing to their respective duties, suddenly a mob of horsemen, from

about Middletown, between thirty and forty in number, entered

the village from the North, passed the Meeting-House, and

moved on swiftly, till they reached the South House; where they

stopped, hitched their horses, and with great agility entered the

yard, rushed to the door, but finding it barred, commenced strik-

ing it with their feet, to burst it open. There being none but

women in the house at their arrival, a number of the Brethren

collected to see the cause of the uproar, and their business was

demanded. The reply was that they had heard that one Phoebe

Johnson, a member of the Society, wanted to leave, but was forc-

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ibly restrained. Miss Johnson, at that time, was in the orchard,

and could have kept out of the way, but refrained from so

doing. It was agreed that members of the mob should con-

verse with her, conditioned however that she should not be

abused in any manner whatsoever. The young woman then

came to the opposite door and conversed with them through

the window, and informed them that she had no desire to leave

the Society, and if she had there was no one to hinder her from

going whenever she chose; that she was of lawful age to choose

and act for herself, and especially would scorn to go in such com-

pany as those men assembled. They persisted however, as if they

meant to force her away, surrounded the house to prevent her

from escaping,and grew insolent and daringly wicked with railing

and cursing.  Attempts were made to enter the house, which

were successfully frustrated, and the intruders were ordered off

the premises, but without effect. They mocked at the mention

of the law, and answered every suggestion of reason with curses.

In this manner they went on until late in the afternoon, when

they withdrew after being convinced that the lady had effected

her escape from the house.

On the Monday (August 9th) following, early in the day,

the mob again appeared with a formidable reinforcement of

horse and foot, amounting in all to about two hundred. They

passed through the village in the same manner as before, and

towards the same place, but with greater fury and less appearance

of order or government. Their abuse was perpetrated on all

such as they could sieze on the road till they reached the South

House, where they hitched their horses and then paraded towards

the gate, where they were met by the Deacons, and by the author-

ity of the laws of the State, were forbidden to enter the yard;

but with savage shrieks they leaped the fence in swarms, bearing

down all who stood in their way. Calvin Morrell was knocked

down and beaten almost to death, though he had uttered no word

nor made any interruption. They rushed on towards the house

-the Shakers standing in crowds to obstruct the passage; but

with fists, clubs and loaded whips, the mob forced its way to the

door which they commenced beating. Captain Spencer, who had

some authority over the mob, now commanded the rioters to

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desist; but on every side the outrage continued, crying out in false

terms, and seeking every occasion to vent their lawless fury with

hard blows on both men and women, for no distinction was made.

Thus, in one continued uproar of violence, they continued until

2 o'clock in the afternoon, when Squire Welton appeared, and

by the laws of the State commanded them to disperse; that, if

there was any duty to be performed, it belonged to the civil

officers; that only resistence to the constituted authority could

the military be called out, etc. To this some mocked, and others

stated the magistrate should be tarred and feathered. However,

the civil authorities were strong enough to disperse the mob.

This mob had been incited by the "Western Star," published

at Lebanon, under the pretence of liberating the children of David

and Anna Johnson, who had been with the Shakers for thirteen

years, and that with the consent of the parents. Their mother,

who had there deceased, a member of the Society, left it as her

last and special request, that her children might be brought up

under the care of the Shakers. The father, who was not a mem-

ber had given his consent that they should remain. Indeed he

appeared in the midst of the mob and disapproved of their pro-

ceedings, but they heeded him not. The Shakers did not prohibit

the mob from taking the children, provided they could be found,

because their lawful protection was in their father; and they

would not be justified in giving them up, contrary to their own

feelings, and the will of both parents. Some of the children fled

and hid themselves. Ithamar, who was nearly of age, was over-

powered and dragged off to Lebanon and there put under keepers,

under a pretence of a precept for debt; but obtaining his dis-

mission, he returned home the next morning. David, the father,

collected his children and encouraged them to persevere, promis-

ing to protect them to the utmost of his ability. The good offices

of the Shakers supplemented the efforts of the father.



MOB OF 1824.

The last recorded acts of a mob I have been able to find in

the Journal is that of September 7, 1824. It is mentioned as fol-

lows: "This evening at 8 o'clock, a small mob of about 16 men,

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Mobbing the Shakers of Union Village.       131


came to the East house with one Francis Drake, to take away his

daughter, Harriet R. D., a young woman, who did not choose

to go. After making some disturbance in the family; the chh.

heard the alarm. The Brethren immediately repaired thither and

took 10 of them prisoners without any harsh means, and brought

them to the office - fed and lodged them comfortably till morn-

ing.-Sept. 8. This morning we discharged our prisoners, on

their giving us their 'Word and honor!!' that they would do better



From the statements already made it may be assumed that

the Shakers did not rest quietly under persecutions. At times

they were compelled to take a bold stand. The attitude of the

"Western Star" was so flagrant and bitter towards the Shakers

as to cause hatred towards the Society by the people of the vil-

lage of Lebanon. Just why this hostility was displayed men-

tion is not given. In order to resent the bitter course of the

denizens of Lebanon the Shakers employed drastic measures.

Under date of June 15, 1818, the Journal state that, "Elder Peter

(Pease?) and Nathan S. (Sharp) went to Lebanon and settled

all accounts, intending to trade no more with them at present,

in consequence of their inveterate prejudice and persecuting

spirit." When trade was again resumed the Journal does not

state. In all probability this condition did not last long, for the

people of Lebanon could not afford to suffer the stand thus taken,

and concluded to mend their manners.

For Sunday, August 5, 1829, the following notice occurs:

"The execrable John Wallace dared to come here today, and set

his feet within our Meeting House door." Nothing more is

added. This is too frequently the case throughout the entire

Journal. The Shakers had every reason to feel resentment to-

wards John Wallace. My Mother, then a girl of thirteen, was

present on the occasion above referred to. I have often heard

her tell the story. On that day a large crowd attended the Sha-

ker meeting. John Wallace entered and quietly took a seat and

behaved with decorum. One of the Shakers arose and said:

"The children of God cannot worship so long as the devil was

in their midst," and then commanded Wallace to leave the Sanc-