Ohio History Journal

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.       251









Located three miles west of Lebanon, Ohio, is the seat of the

bishopric of the Shaker communities west of the Allegheny

Mountains. The tract of land possessed by them is irregular in its

boundaries, and embraces 4,500 acres of as rich soil as may be

found in the state. Its location meets the approval of the most

critical eye. The postoffice is known as Union Village, but to the

surrounding country it is known as Shakertown. The people who

own this tract of territory are honored and respected by their

neighbors. The land has been brought under a high state of cul-

tivation, and the buildings are commodious, well constructed with

all modern improvements. The Shakers number about forty-five

souls, who take life quietly, and enjoy all the luxuries they desire.

The office, where resides the ministry, is one of the finest executive

buildings in America, and furnished more luxuriously than any

business office in the state. Notwithstanding the fact that here

we may find nearly every desire that an upright mind might de-

mand, yet the community is growing less, and apparently its days

are numbered.

On Monday, May 20, 1901, I called upon Dr. Joseph R. Slin-

gerland, first in the ministry, who has both special and general

charge of all the western communities of Shakers, for the purpose

of obtaining all the facts relative to the transactions of the mob of

181O, and further to see if I could secure the privilege of examin-

ing the archives of the recently extinct community at Watervliet,

near Dayton. During the conversation I was informed that there

was a MS. history of the Union Village community. Requesting

the loan of the MS., it was placed in my hands, with liberty to

make such use of its contents as I might deem advisable.

252 Ohio Arch

252      Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.




The MS. history of the Shaker community of Union Village is

type-written and covers 221 pages of foolscap, and the product of

one who was a member for eighty years. It is entitled, "A history

of the principal events of the Society of Believers, at Union Vil-

lage, commencing in the month of March, 1805, containing a toler-

ably explicit account of most of the scenes of the said society on-

ward. Compiled both from memory and the several journals kept

in the society from the beginning. By 0. C. Hampton, who was

a member of said society since 1822." The MS. can hardly be

said to be a history. It is simply an epitome of each year's trans-

actions as viewed by the com-

piler, Oliver C. Hampton,

born April 2, 1817, died

March 29, 19O1, becoming a

Shaker through the conver-

sion of his father in 1822,

having held important posi-

tions ever since his early life,

not the least of which was

that of schoolmaster, and sec-

ond in the ministry until a

short time before his decease,

possessed all the information

relating to the community he

loved so well. However, he

did not possess the ordinary

instincts so essential in an

historian. His MS. is disap-

pointing in many respects.

The manners, customs, cos-

tumes, etc., we only learn when said expressions were ordered

discontinued. Besides this, there is often a want of clearness

which not only confuses the reader, but leaves the account so

broken as to make it unintelligible to the uninformed reader.

The account that follows is based on the Hampton MS.

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.           253




The wild carnival of religion of 1800, 1801, but better known

as the "Great Kentucky Revival," thoroughly shook and even

prostrated the Presbyterian and Methodist churches that came un-

der its influence. The effect was felt in the valley of the Great

Miami; and although one hundred years have elapsed, still the

Presbyterian church within the last named region has not recov-

ered from the stroke. After the revival had spent its force we

find the Rev. Richard McNemar, who had been a prominent figure

in the movement, preaching at Turtle Creek church, at Bedle's

Station, now Union Village. The noise of the revival reached

the SHAKERS at New Lebanon, New York, who, in consequence of

which, sent three missionaries-John Meacham, Benjamin S.

Youngs and Issachar Bates-to the southwest as a propaganda.

On March 22, 1805, having traveled the whole distance on foot,

they reached the Turtle Creek church, and first went to the house

of Malcolm Worley, a wealthy and influential man, and on the fol-

lowing day visited Rev. Richard McNemar. The first convert

was Malcolm Worley and Richard McNemar soon after.

On the ensuing Sunday, after the arrival of the missionaries,

Benjamin S. Young and Issachar Bates attended the public meet-

ing of the Revivalists, or Newlights, as they were later called, and

by permission read the following letter:

"The Church of Christ unto a people in Kentucky and the adjacent

states, sendeth greeting: We have heard of a work of God among you;

Who worketh in divers operations of His power, for which we feel

thankful, as we have an ardent desire that God would carry on His

work according to His own purpose. We know that God's work as

it respects the salvation and redemption of souls, is a strange work

which He hath promised to bring to pass in the latter days. We also

know that the servants of God have been under sackcloth and darkness

since the falling away of the Apostolic Order which from the time of

Christ's ministry continued about four hundred years; since that time

Anti-Christ has had power to reign in Christ's stead, and hath 'set up

the abomination that maketh desolate,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet,

and which, according to the Scriptures, Christ was to consume with

the spirit of His mouth, and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

But not to tarry on those things we will come to matters in the present

day. The time being nearly finished, according to the Scriptures, that

Anti-Christ should reign, and time fully come for Christ to make His

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second appearance, God, out of His everlasting goodness and mercy

to His creatures, in the fulness of His promises, raised up to Himself

witnesses and gave unto them the same gifts of the Holy Spirit that were

given to the Apostles in the day of Christ's first appearing. The light

and power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were so convincing, especially

in the First Pillar, attended with the word of prophecy in so marvelous

a manner, that every heart was searched and every rein of those that

heard was tried. The loss of man and the way and work of salvation by

Christ in the present witnesses appearing so unspeakably great, that

although we had been a people that were greatly wrought upon by the

spirit of God, and were looking for the coming of Christ, yet the light

manifested in the witnesses showed us that we were unspeakably short

of salvation, and had never travelled one step in the Regeneration

towards the New Birth. For it showed us that it was impossible for

those who lived in the works of natural generation, copulating in the

works of the flesh, to travel in the great work of regeneration and the

new birth.  And as these witnesses had received the revelation in this

last display of grace of God to a lost world they taught and opened unto

us the way of God which is a way out of all sin in the manner following:

First. To believe in the manifestations of Christ in this display of the

grace of God to a lost world. Secondly. To confess all our sins; and

thirdly, to take up our cross against the flesh, the world, and all evil;

which (counsel) we, by receiving and obeying, from the heart, have

received the gift of God which has separated us from the course of

this world and all sin in our knowledge, for twenty years past and


We, therefore, as servants of Christ and children of the resur-

rection, testify to all people that Christ hath made his second appearing

here on earth, and the poor lost children of men know it not. We

know there are many among the wise and prudent of this generation

who are looking for the coming of Christ in this latter day, who entirely

overlook the work of God as the ancient Jews did, in the day of Christ's

first appearing; for Christ has come and it is hid from their eyes and

we marvel not at it, for Christ said, 'I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of

heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and

prudent, and revealed them unto babes.' But as the work of God which

has wrought mightily in us to purify us from the nature of sin, has

been progressive from step to step, as we were able to hear, from

one degree to another, we cannot write particularly in this letter. We

hope and trust you will be so far informed as will be necessary for your

salvation. We feel union with the work of God that is among you

as we have heard, and have a desire to communicate something to you

that will be for your good. The light of God in the Gospel has taught

us the straight and narrow way that leadeth to life, and not only so,

but has given us to see the devices of Satan that from ages past down

to this day when God hath given His Holy Spirit to enlighten and con-

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.          255


vert the children of men, of sin, Satan would also work to heal their

wounds slightly and to lead them into by and forbidden paths, if possible,

to dishonor and destroy the work of God, even in them that God had

enlightened and called to be his witnesses. We have had a great desire

that some of you might have visited us before now, and we have been

waiting for some time to know the mind of God in relation to you.

We now, out of duty to God and our fellow creatures, have sent three

of our brethren unto you, viz., John Meacham, Benjamin S. Youngs,

and Issachar Bates, who, we trust, will be able to declare things more

particularly, and to open unto you the way of life which is a way out

of all sin - a way that the vulture's eye never saw and the fierce lion

never passel. Receive them, therefor, as messengers of Christ and

friends to your salvation.

Written in the church at New Lebanon, in the Township of Canaan,

County of Columbia, and State of New York, December 30, 1804.

Signed in behalf of the Church,




The second convert was Anna Middleton, a slave, who was

received just as cordially as though she had been white and free.

Richard McNemar, wife and children were received on the 24th of

the following April. On May 23 the first meeting of the Believ-

ers was held on the farm of David Hill, about a mile southwest of

Union Village. During the year 1805, or shortly thereafter about

sixty families had united, together with many unmarried persons

of both sexes and all ages, making a total of about 370 persons.

On June 29, Elder David Darrow, Daniel Mosely and Solo-

mon King arrived at the home of Malcolm Worley, the first

named having been ordained and sent by the leading authority of

the parent church at New Lebanon, to take charge of the newly

forming communities in the West.



The history of the Shakers of Union Village is essentially the

history of the one who was first in the ministry, which office is

practically that of a bishop. The selection of the ministry has al-

ways been made by the ministry of New Lebanon, and afterwards

confirmed by vote at Union Village.

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For a period of 20 years David Darrow was the head of the

western ministry, and most faithfully bore the burdens of his call-

ing, with an upright and conscientious integrity.  He possessed

that desirable combination of qualities of firmness, justice, and

unswerving righteousness, blended with charity and tenderness,

which added to his wisdom or foresight, made him just such a

leader as the infant colony required. The success or failure of

the entire movement rested upon the shoulders of this man. He

became a father to his people, and in his hands were placed their

temporal, spiritual, moral and intellectual welfare. The people

had been brought out of the Calvinism of Knox, and now entered

into a different faith, and different manners and customs. Elder

Darrow must direct the new ship amidst breakers and other dan-

gers until he safely brings it into a haven of stability. The coun-

try was comparatively new, the people lived in log houses, and the

state of society was somewhat primitive. The herculean task was

undertaken, and the work fully accomplished. While it was nec-

essary for Elder David to begin at the very foundation and build

carefully and substantially, yet it was absolutely necessary that

his hands should be strengthened. To this fact the New Lebanon

ministry was fully alive.  To his assistance they sent Eldress

Ruth Farrington, Prudence Farrington, Lucy Smith, Martha San-

ford, Molly Goodrich, Ruth Darrow (David's daughter), Peter

Pease, Samuel Turner; Constant Mosely and John Wright, all of

whom arrived at the residence of Malcolm Worley on May 31,

1806. All of these remained in the West except John Wright,

who returned in the following August. Eldress Ruth Farring-

ton, before leaving New Lebanon, was appointed as the First in

care on the Sisters' side and to stand in the lot with Elder Dar-

row. On the 5th of the following June all the brethren and sis-

ters who had come from the East, removed from Worley's house,

which had been the headquarters, to their own premises, which

they had purchased of Timothy Sewell, which had some log cabins

on it. This now was called the Elders' Family. However, they

soon erected a frame building and moved into it at what was

termed the South House. On December 6 following Peter Pease,

Issachar Bates and others purchased a farm owned by Abraham

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.       257

La Rue, which was afterwards turned over to the Trustees of the


It would be difficult to picture the trials endured by the early

Shakers, and the constancy of their leader. Many heavy sacrifices

had to be made, and much physical as we'll as mental and moral

trials were endured. But little of their land was cleared and the

living poor, and some years must elapse before the comforts of life

could be secured. The church cheerfully faced all these trials,

economized what they had and patiently endured privations in

victuals and clothing,-too often exposed to severe and inclement

weather. Everything of a mechanical nature was scarce, and in

many instances must be created on the ground. Even these must

be postponed until mills could be built in order that machinery

could be constructed for the manufacture of many things of im-

mediate necessity. All this took time, patience and hard labor, as

well as suffering. Through this formative period their zeal in

their faith did not abate nor their love towards one another grow

cold. Under the guidance of David Darrow, within a few years,

they were in advance of the neighboring vicinity, and from the

superiority of their productions they received the highest prices

in the markets. Any article manufactured by the Shakers was to

be relied on. The prestige thus gained carried a ready sale to

them for anything from a basket to a fine carriage. Their up-

rightness in this temporal line, in time, forced a due regard for

their religious convictions. All this cannot be ascribed to their

own unaided zeal, for there was more or less of an influx from

the mother church. It is related that "on August 15, 1807, Elder

Constant Mosely returned from Wheeling whither he had gone

to meet the following persons from the East, viz: Nathan Ken-

dal, Archibald Meacham, Anna Cole, Lucy Bacon, and Rachel

Johnson." Joseph Allen, a good mechanic, arrived on December

4, from Tyringham, Mass. "On May 26, 1809, Constant Mosely

returned from New Lebanon, and with him Hortense Goodrich,

Comstock Betts, Mercy Picket and Hopewell Curtis."

The genius and inspiration of David Darrow and his coadju-

tors may in part be realized, when it is considered that the colony

passed through rapid changes in many ways. From log huts to

Vol. X-17

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258       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


frame buildings, and thence to substantial brick buildings for

dwellings, with all other necessary improvements. A minute of

the gigantic undertaking shows a saw mill in 1807, and a new

one in 1808; a new church in 1809, with its successor in 1818;

the West frame dwelling in 1813; the East house in 1816; the

large brick dwelling, a few rods north of the church, in 1820. In

short, all the families, East, West, North, South and Center were

established under Elder Darrow. In 1819 the population had in-

creased to about 600 souls, among whom were blacksmiths, ma-

sons, stone-cutters, carpenters, tanners, fullers, clothiers, cabinet-

makers, tailors, weavers, carders, spinners, etc., etc., all of whom

were employed in their favorite vocation.  All the clothing,

boots, shoes, etc., used by the community were made by its own

members. Besides all this, their land produced nearly all their

living, animal, vegetable and fruits. Tea and coffee were not

then used, and the beverages consisted of spice brush, sassafras

root, sage, etc., all grown on their lands. The sugar was pro-

duced from the maple tree, and some years 5,000 pounds were

manufactured. The fields produced large crops of corn, flax,

wheat, rye, etc.  Such was the organization that the society

may be said to have lived within itself.

Upon first view it might be inferred that a people so peace-

able, and who lived so much within themselves, would be left to

work out their own destiny. But it was not so. Religious rancor

and hatred are the most intolerable. Although persecution was

bitter enough, but not carried to the same extent as experienced by

the eastern communities. Mobs assembled at Union Village in

1810, 1812, 1813, and 1817; but as these will form a special pa-

per, this reference must here suffice. The saintly Eldress Ruth

Farrington and Eldress Martha Sanford received blows fom a

cowhide in the hands of one John Davis.

Discouragements arose from various sources, among which

were the accidental burning of buildings containing crops, the work

of incendiaries, and the perfidy of members. The most notable in-

stance of the last was the case of John Wallace, one of the trus-

tees, who in 1818 left home avowedly going to Columbus, under

pretext of a business engagement, but turned his course to Cincin-

nati, borrowed $3,000 of the United States bank, signed the note

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.       259


"Wallace and Sharp," leaving the society to pay the debt,-a large

burden for that period. Wallace annoyed the community as late

as 1832, for in that year, with a company of his fellow apostates,

he took possession of the grist mill, but was dislodged, and then

tried to have the brethren indicted by the grand jury.

One of the misfortunes that the Shakers have been heir to,

during the period of their whole history, is that of lawsuits, al-

though they have ever tried to avoid the same. As early as 1811,

one Robert Wilson, an apostate, commenced suit against Elder

Darrow for $250, which was decided in favor of the latter by the

Supreme Court. In 1816 a case in Chancery was brought by one

Jonathan Davis, which was decided in favor of the Shakers.

Lawsuits also grew out of the mob of 1817.

The Shakers have always been opposed to war, but notwith-

standing have been forced to suffer. About the 8th of September,

1813, Elder Samuel Rollins, Elder David Spinning, Robert Bax-

ter, William Davis, Jr., Adam Gallaher and Samuel McClelland

(the last two from Busrow), were drafted into the army, -the

country then being at war with England. They were required to

join the detachment under Major Frye at Lebanon, but on the

11th were furlowed. On the 18th they were marched under guard

to Dayton. On the 22nd they returned home, but on October 1

they were taken to Lebanon under pretense of having deserted,

and on the 3rd were marched to Xenia; thence to Franklinton,

and then to Sandusky. No amount of authority or coercion could

force them to shoulder arms, so on November 24 they were dis-

charged, and returned home where they were received with great


While the worldly interests of the community were looked

after with consummate care, yet the special feature announced

and looked after was the moral and spiritual. The church was

the sole object of the organization. It was not until 1812 that at-

tention towards gathering the Society into "Church Order," ac-

cording to the pattern of the mother church at New Lebanon, was

carefully considered, and acted upon. We find that in this year,

the ministry, consisting of David Darrow, Solomon King, Ruth

Farrington and Hortense Goodrich, occupied the upper part of

the church building, and on the 15th of January the first covenant

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260       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.

of the church was signed by all the members who were considered

eligible to such a privilege. In brief, this covenant required every

signer to surrender totally, together with all possessions, and an

absolute consecration to the church, in obedience to the ministry

and deacons of the Society, and to practice strict celibacy. Then

arose the Children's Order, the Youths' Order, and the Gathering

Order, as well as the church proper. Among the rules early

adopted was, that, just before Christmas, in every year, all hard

feelings and all disunion must be put away and reconciliation com-

pletely established. Then, thus united, Christmas was celebrated

by singing, dancing, feasting and giving of presents.

The missionary spirit was fully exercised, but appears to have

practically died out on the demise of Elder Darrow. All move-

ments are most energetic in their infancy, but appear to crystal-

lize on gaining a firm foothold. As early as 1807 a report reached

the Believers that a religious revival had broken out among the

Shawnee Indians, located at Greenville. Immediately (March 17),

Elder David Darrow, Benjamin S. Youngs and Richard McNemar

set out to visit the tribe, and endeavor to persuade them to receive

the testimony. During the following month of August the tribe

was visited by Issachar Bates and Richard McNemar. During

the two visits the Shakers gave the Indians $10 in money, and

loaded 20 horses with the necessaries of life which they delivered.

But no Indians were gathered. Missionary work was prosecuted

during 1807, wherever an opening was offered. In 1808 the mis-

sions extended to Straight Creek, Ohio, into Kentucky and In-

diana, where Societies were formed-the last named having ?

great trial, especially from the soldiers and Indians.  North

Union near Cleveland, was established in 1822, in Watervliet,

near Dayton, in 1810, and Whitewater, near Harrison, in 1824.

The Societies at Straight Creek, and Eagle Creek, were short-

lived. In 1824, a mission was sent to Zoar, in order to interest

that colony, who then practiced celibacy.

The Shakers were subjected to experiences of revivals. Dur-

ing the month of February, 1815, an extraordinary revival per-

vaded the church. It received the name of "War-time."  The

worship was attended with many displays of muscular exercise,

such as stamping, shaking, vociferating and shouting, besides the

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.     261


usual exercises of dancing, marching, singing, etc. It continued

for many months, and was ascribed to the manifestation of war

between Michael and his angels, and the Dragon and his angels,

spoken of in Revelations. On May 9, 1824, a very large con-

course marched along the principal street singing and praising

God and manifesting great joy and thanksgiving. On the 12th

of the following September there was another joyful march and


The first school for the education of the youth was opened

November 10, 1808, with John Woods for instructor of the boys,

and Malinda Watts for the girls. The teaching of the sexes sep-

arately was thought to be more in keeping their mode of life and

discipline, but after many years this plan was abandoned. But

very few books were in their possession, and in 1816 those in use

were the New Testament, Webster's spelling book, and the

branches taught were the elementary principles of grammar, arith-

metic, spelling, reading and writing.

On June 15, 1808, John McLean, of Lebanon, Ohio, com-

menced, for the Shakers, a book, entitled "Christ's Second Ap-

pearing." The object of this book was to inform the public, as

well as novitiates, of the faith, doctrines and discipline of the

church. In 1823 this book was republished at Union Village.

The Hampton MS. makes no mention of the fact that in 1819,

there was published a 16 mo. of 175 pages, a book entitled "The

Other Side of the Question. A Vindication of the Mother and

the Elders. By order of the United Society at Union Village,

Ohio." It is possible that forgotten tracts were also published.

Under date "Miami Country, State of Ohio, August 31, 1810,"

Benjamin Seth Youngs published his "Transactions of the Ohio

Mob, called in the public papers 'an expedition against the Shak-

ers.' " This also escaped Elder Hampton's attention. He must

have been aware of the fact that Richard McNemar, in 1807, at

Union Village, then called Turtle Creek, wrote his history of "The

Kentucky Revival," a work of unusual interest, even to those who

do not espouse the Shaker faith.

On October 28, 1821, the Society sustained a great loss in the

death of Ruth Farrington. As first in the ministry on the sisters'

lot, she had so won the hearts of the people that they called her by

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the endearing name of Mother. She died of dropsy, which caused

her great suffering, but was borne with patience and Christian


Rachel Johnson, who was standing second in the ministry,

was elevated to the place made vacant by the demise of Eldress

Ruth, and on October 30 Eunice Serring was promoted to the sec-

ond place.

David Darrow had won the confidence and esteem of his peo-

ple, who called him, even to this day, "Father David." His faith-

ful years of labor told upon his frame. After failing in health

for some time, he departed this life June 27, 1825, aged 75 years

and 6 days. His loss was irreparable. His funeral was largely

attended on the 28th, and was a very solemn and weighty occasion.

Richard McNemar composed a poem of fifty-six lines in com-


INTERREGNUM 1825-1829.

Experience has taught governments that an interregnum is a

period of uncertainty if not of danger. It proved both to the So-

ciety of United Believers. The death of Father David left a

membership of about 500 souls. His arm had been strong and

his heart warm with love. He had kept the believers in subjec-

tion. His presence no longer felt, the smouldering embers burst

forth into a flame. There was both a revolt and a dangerous

schism which marked the period.

Among the first Shakers were men of education, but these

were few in number. The intellectual status of the church was

not of a high discriminating order. Consequently there was a

pronounced antagonism to every kind of literary, scientific or

other intellectual attainment.  The first members generally

brought in their families. The children on reaching maturity,

although able to read and write, now demanded greater attain-

ments than had been allowed. The number of books and period-

icals permitted by the Trustees was extremely limited. But few

books, outside their own publications, could be found among

them, and only one or two periodicals, for the entire community.

A demand not only for greater facilities, but also for a paper pub-

lished among them for the use and entertainment of the Society at

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.       263


large. The newspaper was allowed and issued in manuscript.

The revolt of the younger members, also culminated in the with-

drawal from the Society of many an ambitious person. Many of

the children of the pioneers sought homes among strangers. This

has been followed more or less ever since, and defections came to

be looked upon as a probable occurrence.

The history of the Christian church has demonstrated that

schism is the most disastrous of all the dangers that lurk within

her folds. The first schism at Union Village broke out in 1828,

which was projected by Abijah Alley. Having become unrecon-

ciled to the condition of things as administered, he openly opposed

the existing authority. He was borne with, and attempts made

to reconcile him, but all efforts failing, he was suspended. He

persisted in his efforts and persuaded quite a large number to take

sides with him. With some of his followers he withdrew and

attempted to found a similar institution with broader views. Not

having the means nor the capacity for such an undertaking his

enterprise collapsed.

The Shakers have been prone to prophecies and revelations.

In 1827 there came among them from Canada Daniel Merton and

Jason Shepherd. The former, in that year, after fasting for three

days, made the following prediction: "At the present time the

church is in great peace and prosperity, and it seems as if nothing

could arise to disturb her tranquility. But a change will come

over her, and many will prove unfaithful and drop out from her

ranks. Sorrow and adversity will visit her and desolation and

defection will be such that even the most faithful and devoted

among you will begin to forbode the entire annihilation of the

church. But this destruction will not take place, but after she has

reached the lowest level of her adversity, she will arise and move

to a higher culmination of glory than at any previous period, and

to the highest reachable in that day."

In 1827 the Society at West Union, Indiana, was broken up,

owing to the malarious district in which it was located. The

members were distributed - as each one elected - among the

societies at Union Village, Watervliet, Whitewater, in Ohio, and

South Union and Pleasant Hill in Kentucky.

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Owing to the prevalent idea that changes in residence should

be effected, the order went forth in 1828 that the South Family

should break up and be dispersed among the other families of the

church, and their building to be occupied by the West Frame Fam-

ily, which in turn was to be occupied by a family selected from

among the younger Believers. The East Family, or Gathering

Order, to be removed to the North Lot building, and from there

many to be removed to the West Frame. The East Family to be

occupied mostly by children, but furnished with a regular elders'

order and care-takers.

The monotony of Shaker life was relieved on July 16, 1825,

by a visit from Henry Clay, which was repeated on the 18th by

another visit, accompanied by a number of persons from Lebanon.

On the 22nd a visit was made by Gov. Geo. Clinton, of New York;

Gov. Morrow, of Ohio; General Harrison and others, who had

been attending the celebration of the opening of the Miami Canal

at Middletown. On May 2, 1826, the Duke of Saxony paid a

visit with his retinue.


On the 3rd of November, 1829, the ministry and elders held

a meeting to fill the vacancies caused by the death of Elder David

Darrow and the removal of Eldress Eunice Serring to White-

water. It was decided to appoint Joseph Worley to live in second

care, with Elder Solomon King, and Nancy McNemar to fill the

second place in the ministry with Eldress Rachel Johnson. The

announcement was made to the full church a few days later, and

was fully endorsed by said church.

In 1830 the order of the ministry, elders, trustees, and family

deacons was as follows:

Ministry-Solomon King, Joshua Worley, Rachel Johnson,

Nancy McNemar.

Elders-CENTER HOUSE: Daniel Serring, Andrew C. Hous-

ton, Eliza Sharp, Molly Kitchel.

Elders-BRICK HOUSE: William Sharp, James McNemar,

Anna Boyd, Caty Rubert.

Elders-NORTH HousE: Abner Bedelle, Joseph C. Worley,

Charlotte Morrell, Betsy Duhlavy.

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.        265


Elders-SOUTH HousE: Stephen Spinning, Daniel Davis,

Elizabeth Sharp, Nancy Milligan.

Elders-WEST BBICK HOUSE: Eli Houston, John Gee, Jr.,

Caty Boyd, Charity Slater.

Elders-SQUARE HOUSE: Nathaniel Taylor, Clark Valen-

tine, Malinda Watts, Martha Houston.

Elders-EAST HOUSE: James Smith, Jacob Holloway, Anna

Bromfield, Peggy Knox.

Trustees, or Office Deacons: Nathan Sharp, Henry Valen-

tine, Ithamar Johnson, Polly Thomas, Betsy Dickson.

Family Deacons: Thomas Hunt, William Davis, Amos Val-

entine, Daniel Miller, William Runyon, Samuel Holloway, Jesse

Legier, Betsy Wait, Betsy Patterson, Rachel Duncan, Susannah

Miller, Jenny Slater, Janna Woodruff, Esther Davis.

The above arrangement has reference only to the church

proper. At that time there were three other families, viz: the

North Lot, the West Lot, and the Grist Mill. The last named,

although belonging to the church proper, was not supplied with a

regular order of elders, but were under the spiritual care of the

Center House elders. Also a family formerly lived on the south

side of the Lebanon road, about a quarter of a mile from the cross

road. It was a school or children's order, and broken up in 1828.

The population at this time (1830) consisted of 238 males (two

of which were colored), and 264 females (six being colored).

The beginning of the year 1831 showed the Society composed of

11 families, named as follows: Center, Brick, North, South, East

House, West Brick, West Frame, West Lot, North Lot, Square

House, and Grist Mill. The first four of these was considered

the church proper; but the two Mill families-Square House and

Grist Mill-were under the care of the church, and worshipped

with them. The three next may be termed, intermediate fami-

lies, although they were under the temporal care and control of

the Trustees. The North Lot and West Lot were novitiates, or

as called in that day, Gathering Orders. Additions, from time to

time, were being made, but it was observed that they were not of

the same substantial material as the older stock. The year 1831

saw a greater decimation of numbers than heretofore experienced,

the causes being assigned as follows: First, the gradual wearing

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off of former inspiring testimony of the Word; second, the re-

ception of unsteady characters.

Most of the houses of the Society were now built, and many

of the conveniences known in that day, for a pleasant and easy

life, were enjoyed by the community, even to many of its luxuries.

Yet all this worldly inducement was insufficient to attract adher-

ents to the fold.

The church had always been a temperance institution. In

1820 Richard McNemar composed a poem on the question. In

1832, in order to save medicinal expense, the younger members of

the Society proposed to use their peppermint and other oil mills

for the purpose of distilling apple brandy. The older and more

experienced of the members looked with serious apprehension

upon the matter. It was abandoned. Cider was a common bev-

erage, but afterwards was rejected.

On June 30, 1835, Nathan Sharp, the principal trustee, with-

drew from the Society, taking with him a valuable horse and

equipage; also an unknown amount of money, papers, etc. This

defection was a heavy shock to many of the novitiates and younger

portion of the community, producing more or less of a want of

confidence in the stability of the institution. On the 14th of Sep-

tember, the ministry and elders being convened in council, for

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.               267


the purpose of inquiring into the affairs of the office, relative to

Nathan Sharp, who had absconded, united in declaring that he

was divested of all his power, and that all his transactions, after

his departure, relating to transactions concerning the Society or

its property are unauthorized and void, and that William Runyon

has been placed in the office of trustee of the temporalities of the


The Hampton MS. practically leaves the reader in the dark

relative to the method of conducting the affairs of faith and the

constitution of the church, until the year 1829, when the full text

is submitted. A history of the Shakers is of no special value

without a sample of their logic and the transcript of their constitu-

tion. A circular letter with a new edition of their constitution,

from the ministry of New Lebanon, was read on the 27th of De-

cember, 1829, and submitted to the consideration of the church,

and on the 31st the church covenant was signed by the church

members. The whole is here transcribed:

" The Covenant or Constitution of the United Society of Believers

commonly called Shakers * * * 'Come let us join ourselves to the

Lord in a perpetual Covenant that shall not be forgotten.' Jeremiah."

A brief illustration of the principles on which the Covenant of the

United Society is founded. When man by transgression lost his primi-

tive rectitude, he then lost the unity of his true interest both to God and

his fellow creatures. Hence he became selfish and partial in all his views

and pursuits. Instead of feeling it his interest and happiness to honor

and build up the cause of God, and benefit his fellow creatures, his

feelings were turned to exalt and build up himself at the expense of

the happiness and peace of his own species, and the loss of his union to

his Creator. The object and design of the Covenanted interest of the

Church and the covenant relation of this institution by which it is main-

tained; are, to regain the unity of that relation to God and that social

order and connection with each other which mankind lost at the begin-

ning; and to place it upon that solid foundation which cannot be over-

thrown; so that its blessings, and effects may be felt and enjoyed by all

who are willing to build on that foundation as an ever-living Institution.

It is a matter of importance that those who are admitted into this Insti-

tution, should not be ignorant of the nature of such an understanding;

-that they should know for themselves the principles and practice of the

Institution, and learn by their own experience what are the requirements

of the Gospel. In a Church relation founded on true Christian principles,

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one faith must govern all the members. Their interests must be one, and

all their plans and pursuits must be regulated by one head or leading

influence, and tend to one general end and purpose, according to that

unity of faith manifested in their written covenant. For as a body with-

out a head possesses neither life nor power; so a Church without a head

or leading power, cannot support its existence, much less maintain the

life and power of the Gospel. In the first associations of Believers, in

America, their first object was to locate themselves near together, for the

benefit of religious worship and protection. And having determined to

submit to the government of Christ, according to His revealed will to

them, and to devote themselves to the service of God, and the mutual

benefit of each other, they found it most convenient for their purpose,

and more conformable to the example of the primitive Christians, to

bring their property together and unite it in one consecrated interest for

the mutual benefit of the Institution.

Agreeably to this plan, the idea of a united interest was introduced,

and the property was entrusted to managers in whom they had full con-

fidence, and who were considered faithful, capable and trusty. A Gos-

pel government in things spiritual and temporal was then established

upon its proper foundation. It is proper to remark here, that the founda-

tion of the real estate of the Church was laid, and a large portion of it

was made upon property which was devoted and consecrated by persons

who have since left the world. And it was the special object and desire

of these persons, as expressed in their last wills and testaments that it

should forever remain a consecrated interest, devoted to the sacred pur-

poses for which it was given, and which are expressed in the covenant.

Another portion of this united interest has been made up of the conse-

crated property and labors of those who are still living and faithful in

the sacred cause. Hence it is obvious that the Society can never appro-

priate this consecrated property to any other uses without violating the

sacred wills and defeating the pious interest of the consecrators.

The government of Christ in His Church is a Divine government,

and all who justly expect to be benefitted by it, must come within the

bounds of its protection, acknowledge its authority and approve and yield

obedience to its requirements; for it is a truth confirmed by the experi-

ence of all ages, that a government whether human or Divine, cannot

be beneficial to those who will not acknowledge its authority and come

under its protection. Every Divine Institution emanating from God, who

is the God of Order, is necessarily formed according to some consistent

principle. The Church of Christ must therefore be established upon a

foundation which cannot admit of a precarious or uncertain tenure. Di-

vine Providence for wise purposes, has permitted all earthly governments,

in some way or manner, to emanate from the people:-but whenever

Infinite Wisdom has seen fit to establish a spiritual or religious govern-

ment for the benefit of His covenant people, it has necessarily originated

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.             269


from Divine appointment; and its continuance has been signally blessed

by an overruling Providence. This is clear from the records of the Script-

ure. God appointed Moses, and established him a leader of the tribe

of Israel, and by Divine Revelation Moses appointed Joshua to succeed

him. Altho' these things were done under the law, they evidently pointed

to a Gospel government, which was more clearly manifested under the

ministration of Jesus Christ, and confirmed by His Word and works.

'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you. As

my Father has sent me, so send I you.' Jesus Christ appointed His

Apostles as the visible head and leaders of His Church; and the Apostles

appointed their successors, 'and ordained Elders in every Church.' And

while the government of the Church was kept on this foundation its

purity was preserved; but when thro' the influence of human wisdom,

the rulers of the Church come to be elected by vote then were produced

those unhappy diversions by which the true union of the Church was

broken, its orders destroyed 'and the power of the Holy people scat-

tered.' But when the second manifestation of the Spirit of Christ came

forth in the revival of the true faith and precepts of the Gospel for the

restoration and establishment of the true nature and order of the Church,

then the same Divine Order of spiritual government was again revised.

Hence the Ministerial Institution must be considered as originating from

Divine authority:--Of course the appointment of the Ministry is, in

reality, a Divine appointment, given through the preceding Ministry and

confirmed and established in the Society by the general union and appro-

bation of the Church; and when duly established, the first visible author-

ity, together with the necessary powers of government are confided to

them. Hence to this authority, all final appeals must be submitted for

decision. As regulation and good order are the strength and support of

every Institution, so they are essentially in all concerns of the Society.

Hence arises the necessity of Elders, Deacons and Trustees, to conduct

the various concerns of the Church and Society, which fall under their

respective jurisdiction.

It is the province of the Elders to assist in the spiritual administra-

tion and government of their respective families or departments. The

Superintending Deacons or Acting Trustees, are the constitutional dep-

positories of the temporal property which forms the united and conse-

crated interest of the Church, and the official agents for the transaction of

temporal business with those without. And as the governing power is

vested in the Ministry, and supported by the general union of the So-

ciety, it is therefore very important that the Elders, Deacons and Trus-

tees in all their concerns should maintain a proper union and understand-

ing with the Ministry and with each other. The present Order of the

Church was first established at New Lebanon in the year 1792, under the

ministration of Joseph Meacham and Lucy Wright, who were considered

as the founders and spiritual leaders of Church Order in this day of

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Christ's Second Appearing. Under their ministration Ministers and Elders

were appointed, to whom were entrusted the more immediate charge and

protection of Believers in the different Societies. Deacons were also ap-

pointed to officiate as acting Trustees of the temporal concerns of the Be-

lievers who were then collecting into families, and getting into the order

of the Gospel. In this appointment David Meacham and Jonathan Walker

were the first in temporal trust and took the charge of superintending

and regulating the consecrated interest and property of the Church; and

by their labors and union, its temporal affairs were brought into order.

As a preliminary to the establishment of Gospel order in the Church,

the members thereof entered into a solemn Covenant with each other to

stand as a Community, and keep the way of God, in Church relation

for the mutual support and protection of each other, in their Christian

travel, both in things spiritual and temporal. In this Covenant they freely

gave themselves and services, together with all their temporal interest to

the service of God, for the support and benefit of each other and for such

other pious and charitable uses as the Gospel might require. As the light

of the Gospel increased, in the Church, and the necessity of further im-

provements opened to view, it was found expedient to renew the Cove-

nant, in order to renew its written form.

Though we consider the law of Christ planted in our souls, as more

valid and more binding upon us, than written laws, creeds or covenants

because on our obedience to this law, depend all our hopes and happiness

-here and hereafter;- yet while our temporal prosperity remains under

the influence of human laws, written instruments may serve to protect

it against all unjust and unlawful claims from those without, and against

any infringement from the lawless invaders of our just and equitable

rights and privileges. The written Covenant however, is but a transcript

of the internal principles and law of Christ which govern and protect

this Society.

It is worthy of remark that the first Covenant into which the mem-

bers of the Church unanimously entered, was verbal:--yet it was made

in good faith; and being considered by them as a sacred contract which

was religiously binding upon them, it was conscientiously kept. In 1795

it was committted to writing and signed by all the members. In 1801 it

was renewed with the addition of some amendments that were found by

experience to be essential. In March, 1814, it was again renewed with

further amendments, and its written form considerably improved. But

in all its amendments and improvements the original and main object

of the Covenant has always been kept in view, and the substance of it

preserved entire.

It is now more than sixteen years since the last Covenant was exe-

cuted. During this period the Church has passed through many trying

scenes, gained much valuable experience in things spiritual and temporal.

Hence some further amendments are found necessary, to make the written

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.            271


Covenant more complete in its provisions, and better calculated in its

form for a general Covenant applicable to all the branches of the Society,

where Gospel order is established: to protect the Church and its mem-

bers in their religious and consecrated rights and privileges, and to give

all concerned a more clear and explicit view of its nature and principles.

It is therefore agreed that the Covenant of 1814, be renewed, and

its written form revised and improved as in the following Articles.

NEW LEBANON, April 30, 1830."

"The undersigned, Ministry of the United Society at New Lebanon,

having duly examined the following Covenant which has been recom-

mended to the Society, and agreed to:-and regularly signed and sealed

by the members of the Church, do hereby approve of and recommend the

same as a general Constitution for the Church at New Lebanon and Wa-

tervliet, and also for the United Society in all its branches, wherever

and whenever they may be prepared to adopt it.

New Lebanon, April 30, 1830. Ebenezer Bishop, Rufus Bishop,

Mary A. Landon, Asenath Clark."





We, the Brethren and Sisters of the United Society of Believers

(called Shakers,) residing in the County of Warren, and State of Ohio,

being connected together as a religious and social Community, distin-

guished by the name and title of -The Church of the United Society at

Union Village, which for many years has been established, and in suc-

cessful operation under the charge and protection of the Ministry and

Eldership thereof: -feeling the importance of not only renewing and

confirming our spiritual covenant with God and each other, but also of

renewing and improving our social compact, and amending the written

form thereof:-do make, ordain and declare the following Articles of

agreement as a summary of the principles, rules and regulations estab-

lished in the Church of said United Society which are to be kept and main-

tained by us, both in our collective and individual capacities, as a Cove-

nant, or Constitution, which shall stand as a lawful testimony of our

religious Association before all men, and in all cases of question in law,

relating to the possession and improvement of our united and consecrated

interest, property and estate.



We solemnly declare to each other and to all whom it may con-

cern, that we have received, and do hereby acknowledge as the founda-

tion of our faith, Order and government, the testimony or Gospel of

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Christ, in His first and second appearing; and we do hereby solemnly

agree to support and maintain the same as administered by the Founders

of this Society, and kept and conveyed through a regular Order of Min-

istration down to the present day; And although (as a religious Society)

we are variously associated, with respect to the local situations of our

respective Communities; we are known and distinguished as a peculiar

people, and consider and acknowledge ourselves members of our general

Community, possessing one faith, and subject to the administration of

one united and parental government, which has been regularly supported

from the first foundation pillars of the Institution, and which continues

to operate for the support, protection and strength of every part of the



We further acknowledge and declare, that for the purpose of pro-

moting and maintaining union, order and harmony throughout the various

branches of this Community, the Primary authority of the Institution

has been settled in the first established Ministry at New Lebanon, there

to rest and remain as the general center of union by all who stand in

Gospel relation and communion with this society. The established order

of this Ministry includes four persons, two of each sex.



We further acknowledge and declare, that the aforesaid primary

authority has been, and is to be perpetuated as follows, namely, that

the first in that office and calling possess the right, by the sanction of

Divine Authority, given through the first Founder of the Society, to

appoint their successors, and to prescribe or direct any regulation or ap-

pointment which they may judge most proper and necessary respecting

the Ministry, or any other important matter which may concern the wel-

fare of the Church or Society subsequent to their decease.

But in case no such appointment or regulation be so prescribed or

directed, then the right to direct and authorize such appointment and

regulations devolves upon the surviving members of the Ministry in

Counsel with the Elders of the Church, and others, as the nature of

the case, in their judgment may require. Such appointments being offi-

cially communicated to all concerned, and receiving the general appro-

bation of the Church, are confirmed and supported in the Society.




We further acknowledge and declare, covenant and agree that the

Ministerial Office and authority in any Society or Community of our

faith, which has emanated or may emanate, in a regular line of order,

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.               273


from the center of union aforesaid, is, and shall be acknowledged, owned

and respected as the Spiritual and primary authority, of such Society or

Community, in all matters pertaining to the Ministerial Office. And

in case of the decease or removal of any individual of said Ministry, in

any such Society, his or her lot and place shall be filled by agreement

of the surviving Ministers, in counsel with the Elders of the Church and

others, as the nature of the case may require, together with the knowl-

edge and approbation of the Ministerial authority at New Lebanon afore-




We further acknowledge and declare, that the Ministry being ap-

pointed and established as aforesaid, are vested with the primary author-

ity of the Church and its various branches; hence it becomes their special

duty to guide and superintend the spiritual concerns of the Society, as

a body of people under their care and government; and in connection

with the Elders in their respective families and departments, who shall

act in union with them, to give and establish such orders, rules and regu-

lations as may be found necessary for the government and protection of

the Church and Society within the limits of their jurisdiction; and also

to correct, advise and judge in all matters of importance, whether spirit-

ual or temporal. The said Ministry are also invested with authority, in

connection with the Elders aforesaid, to nominate and appoint to office

Ministers, Elders, Trustees and Deacons, and to assign offices of care

and trust to such brethren and sisters, as they, the said Ministry and

Elders shall judge to be best qualified for the several offices to which they

may be appointed; - And we hereby covenant and agree that such

nominations and appointments being made and officially communicated

to those concerned, and receiving the general approbation of the Church

as aforesaid, or the families concerned, shall thenceforth be confirmed

and supported until altered or revoked by the authority aforesaid.






We further acknowledge and agree, that the great object, purpose

and design of our uniting together as a Church or body of people in

social and religious compact, is, faithfully and honestly to occupy and

improve the various gifts and talents, both of a spiritual and temporal

nature, with which Divine Wisdom has blest us, for the service of God,

for the honor of the Gospel, and for the mutual protection, support, and

happiness of each other, as Brethren and Sisters in the Gospel, and for

such other pious and charitable purposes as the Gospel may require.

Vol. X-18

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As the unity, purity and stability of the Church, essentially depend

on the character and qualifications of its members; and as it is a matter of

importance that it should not be encumbered with persons not duly quali-

fied for that distinguished relation:-therefore, we agree, that no mem-

ber of any company or association in business or civil concern; no co-

partner in trade; no person under any legal involvement or obligations

of service; no slave nor slave-holder, shall be deemed qualified for ad-

mission into the covenant relation and communion of the Church.



In order that Believers may be prepared for entering into the sacred

privilege of Church relation, it is of primary importance that sufficient

opportunity and privilege should be afforded under the ministry of the

Gospel, for them to acquire suitable instruction in the genuine principles

of righteousness, honesty, justice and holiness; and also that they should

prove their faith and Christian morality by their practical obedience to

the precept of the Gospel, according to their instructions. It is also in-

dispensably necessary for them to receive the uniting Spirit of Christ,

and to be so far of one heart and mind, that they are willing to sacrifice

all other relations for this sacred one. Another essential step is, to settle

all just and equitable claims of creditors and filial heirs; so that what-

ever property they possess may be justly their own. When this is done,

and they feel themselves sufficiently prepared to make a deliberate and

final choice to devote themselves wholly, to the service of God, without

reserve, and it shall be deemed proper by the leading authority of Church,

after examination and due consideration, to allow them to associate to-

gether in the capacity of a Church, or a branch thereof in Gospel order;

they may then consecrate themselves, and all they possess, to the service

of God forever and confirm the same by signing a written Covenant,

predicated upon the principles herein contained, and by fulfilling on their

part, all its obligations.



As the door must be kept open for the admission of new members

into the Church, when duly prepared, it is agreed that each and every

person who shall at any time after the date and execution of the Church

Covenant, in any branch of the Community, be admitted into the Church,

as a member thereof, shall previously have a first opportunity to

obtain a full, clear and explicit understanding of the object and

design of the Church Covenant, and of the obligations it enjoins

on its members. For this purpose he or she shall, in the presence

of two of the deacons, or acting Trustees of the Church, read said

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Covenant, or hear the same distinctly read; so as to be able, freely,

to acknowledge his full approbation and acceptance thereof, in all its

parts. Then he, she, or they, as the case may be, shall be at liberty to

sign the same, and having signed and sealed it, shall thenceforth be en-

titled to all the benefits and privileges thereof, and be subject to all the

obligations required of the original signers: And the signature or signa-

tures thus added, shall be certified by the said Deacons or Trustees,

with the date thereof.



Youth and children, being minors, cannot be received as members

of the Church, in its Covenant relation; yet it is agreed that they may

be received under the immediate care and government of the Church,

at the desire or consent of such person or persons as have a lawful right

to, or control of, such minors, together with their own desire or con-

sent but no minor under the care of the Church can be employed therein

for wages of any kind.





In the establishment of orders in the various branches of the Society,

it has been found necessary that superintending Deacons or agents should

be appointed and authorized to act as Trustees of the temporalities of

the Church. Deaconnesses are also associated with them to superintend

the concerns of the female department. They must be recommended by

their honesty and integrity, their fidelity and trust, and their capacity for

business. Of these qualifications the Ministry and Elders must be the

judges. These Trustees are generally known among us by the title of

Office Deacons, and being appointed by the authority aforesaid, and sup-

ported by the general approbation of the Church, they are vested with

power to take the general charge and oversight of all the property, estate,

and interest, dedicated, devolved, consecrated and given up for the bene-

fit of the Church; to hold, in trust, the fee of all lands belonging to the

Church; together with all the gifts, grants and donations, which have

been, or may be hereafter dedicated, devoted, consecrated and given up

as aforesaid; and the said property, estate, interest, gifts, grants and

donations, shall constitute the united and consecrated interest of the

Church shall be held in trust by said Deacons as acting Trustees-

in their official capacity, and by their successors in said office and trust


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It is and shall be the duty of the said Deacons or acting Trustees

to improve, use and appropriate the said united interest for the benefit

of the Church in all its departments, and for such other religious and

charitable purposes as the Gospel may require; and also to make all just

and equitable defence in law, for the protection and security of the con-

secrated and united interest, rights and privileges of the Church and

Society jointly and severally, as an associated Community, as far as

circumstances, and the nature of the case may require. Provided never-

theless, that all the transactions of the said Trustees; in the use, manage-

ment, protection, defence and disposal of the aforesaid interest, shall be

for the benefit and privilege, and in behalf of the Church or of the Society

as aforesaid, and not for any private interest, object, or purpose what-





It shall also be the duty of the said Trustees to give information to

the Ministry and Elders of the Church, concerning the general state of

the temporal concerns of the Church and Society committed to their

charge; and to report to said authority all losses sustained in the united

interest thereof, which shall come under their cognizance; and no dis-

posal of the real estate of the Church, nor any important interest, in-

volving the association in any manner, shall be made without the pre-

vious knowledge and approbation of the Ministry aforesaid; to whom the

said Deacons or Trustees are, and shall at all times be held responsible

in all their transactions.



It is, and shall be the duty of the said Trustees or Official Deacons

to keep, or cause to be kept, regular books of account, in which shall be

entered the debit and credit accounts of all mercantile operations and

business transactions between the Church and others; all receipts and ex-

penditures, bonds, notes, and bills of account, and all matters per-

taining to the united interest of the Church; so that its financial concerns

may be readily seen and known whenever called for by the proper au-

thority;-and also, a book or books of record, in which shall be re-

corded a true and correct copy of this Covenant; also all appointments, re-

movals and changes in office of Ministers, Elders, Deacons and Trustees;

all admissions, removals, decease and departure of members; together

with all other matters and transactions of a public nature which are neces-

sary to be recorded for the benefit of the Church, and for the preservation

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.            277


and security of the documents, papers and written instruments pertaining

to the united interest and concerns of the Church, committed to their

charge. And the said records shall, at all times, be open to the in-

spection of the leading authority of the Church, who shall appoint an

auditor or auditors to examine and correct any errors that may, at any

time be found in the accounts, and whose signature and date of inspection

shall be deemed sufficient authority for the correctness and validity of the

facts and matters therein recorded.



For the better security of the united and consecrated interest of

the Church to the proper uses and purposes stipulated in the Covenant,

it shall be the duty of the Trustees who may be vested with the law-

ful title or claim to the real estate of the Church, to make and execute

a Declaration of Trust, in due form of law, embracing all and singular,

the lands, tenements and hereditaments, with every matter of interest

pertaining to the Church, which, at the time being, may be vested in him

or them or that may in future come under his or their charge, during his

or their Trusteeship. The said Declaration shall state expressly, that such

Trustee or Trustees hold such lands, tenements, hereditaments and all

personal property of every description, belonging to the Church or So-

ciety, in Trust, for the uses and purposes expressed in, and subject to

the rules, regulations and conditions prescribed By the Covenant or Con-

stitution of the said Church, or any amendments thereto which may

hereafter be adopted by the general approbation of the Church, and in

conformity to the primitive facts and acknowledged principles of the So-

ciety; and the said declaration shall be in writing, duly executed under

the hand and seal of such Trustee or Trustees, and shall be recorded in

the Book of Records, provided for in the preceding section.




We further covenant and agree, that in case it should at any time

happen that the office of Trustee should become vacant, by the death or

defection of all of the Trustees in whom may be vested the fee of the lands

or real estate belonging to said Church or Society, then, and in that case,

a successor or successors shall be appointed by the constitutional authority

recognized in the covenant, according to the rules and regulations pre-

scribed by the same;--and the said appointment, being duly recorded

in the Book of Records provided for in this Article, shall be deemed,

and is hereby declared to vest in such successors, all the right, interest

and Authority of his or their predecessors in respect to all such lands,

property or estate belonging to the church or Society aforesaid.

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The united interests and objects of Believers established in Gospel

order, requires that Elders should be chosen and appointed for the spirit-

ual protection of families, who are to take the lead in their several de-

partments, in the care and government of the concerns of the Church,

and of the several families pertaining to the Society. Their number and

order should correspond with that of the Ministry. They are required to

be persons of good understanding, of approved faithfulness and integrity,

and gifted in spiritual administration. They must be selected and ap-

pointed by the Ministry, who are to judge of their qualifications.



As faithful Watchmen on the walls of Zion, it becomes the duty of

the Elders to watch over their respective families, to instruct the mem-

bers in their respective duties;-to counsel, encourage, admonish, ex-

hort and reprove, as occasion may require; to lead the worship; to be

examples to the members of obedience to the principles and orders of

the Gospel, and to see that orders, rules and regulations pertaining to

their respective families or departments are properly kept.



The office of family Deacons and Deaconesses has long been estab-

lished in the Church, and is essentially necessary for the care, manage-

ment and direction of the domestic concerns in each family, order or

branch of the Church. They are required to be persons of correct and

well grounded faith in the established principles of the Gospel; honest and

faithful in duty, closely united to their Elders, and of sufficient capacity

for business. Of these qualifications the Ministry and Elders, by whom

they are chosen and appointed are to be the judges. Their numbers in

each family is generally two of each sex, but may be more or less,

according to the size of the family and the extent of their various duties.



The Deacons and Deaconesses of families are entrusted with the

care and oversight of the domestic concerns of their respective families.

It is their duty to make proper arrangements in business; to maintain

good order; to watch over and counsel and direct the members in their

various occupations, as occasion may require; to make application to the

Office Deacons for whatever supplies are needed in the several departments

of the family; to maintain union, harmony and good understanding with

the said Office Deacons and Deaconesses; and to report to their Elders,

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.            279


the state of matters which fall under their cognizance and observation.

But their power is restricted to the domestic concerns of their respective

families or departments, and does not extend to any immediate or direct

correspondence or intercourse with those without the bounds of the

Church: They have no immediate concern with trade and commerce; it

is not their business to buy and sell, nor in any way to dispose of the

property under their care, except with the union and approbation of the






The united interest of the Church having been formed by the free-

will offerings and pious donations of the members respectively, for the

objects and purposes already stated, it cannot be considered either as a

joint tenancy or a tenancy in common, but a consecrated whole, designed

for, and devoted to the uses and purposes of the Gospel forever, agreeable

to the established principles of the Church;-

Therefore, it shall be held, possessed and enjoyed by the Church, in

this united capacity, as a sacred covenant right; that is to say, all, and

every member thereof, while standing in Gospel union, and maintaining

the principles of the Covenant, shall enjoy equal rights, benefits, and

privileges, in the use of all things pertaining to the Church, according to

their several needs and circumstances; and no difference shall be made

on account of what any one has contributed and devoted, or may hereafter

contribute and devote, to the support and benefit of the Institution.



It is nevertheless PROVIDED, STIPULATED AND AGREED, that in case

any one, having signed this Covenant, shall afterward forfeit his or her

claim to membership, by renouncing the principles of the Society, or by

wilfully and obstinately violating the rules and regulations thereof, then,

and in that case, his or her claims to all the aforesaid benefits, privileges

and enjoyments, shall be equally forfeited.



As subordination and obedience are the life and soul of every well

regulated community; so, our strength and protection, our happiness and

prosperity, in our capacity of Church members, must depend on our faith-

ful obedience to the rules and orders of the Church, and to the instruction,

counsel and advice of its leaders: Therefore, we do hereby covenant and

agree, that we will receive and acknowledge our Elders in the Gospel,

those members of the Church, who are, or shall be chosen and appointed

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for the time being, to that office and calling, by the authority aforesaid;

and also, that we will, as faithful Brethren and Sisters in Christ, conform

and subject to the known and established principles of our Community,

and to the counsel and direction of the Elders, who shall act in union as

aforesaid and also to all the orders, rules and regulations which, now are,

or which may be given and established in the Church, according to the

principles, and by the authority aforesaid.



The faithful improvement of our time and talents in doing good, is

a duty which God requires of mankind as rational and accountable beings,

and more especially as members of the Church of Christ--therefore

it is, and will be required of all and every member of this Institution,

unitedly and individually, to occupy and improve their time and talents

to support and maintain the interest of the same, to promote the objects

of this Covenant, and discharge their duty to God and each other, accord-

ing to their several abilities and callings, as members in union with one

common lead; so that the various gifts and talents of All may be improved

for the benefit of Each and all concerned.



As we esteem the mutual possession and enjoyment of the consecrated

interest and principles of the Church, a consideration fully adequate

to any amount of personal interest, labor or service, or any other contri-

bution made, devoted or consecrated by any individual;- so we consider

that no ground of action can lie, either in law or equity, for the recovery

of any property, or service, devoted, or consecrated as aforesaid. And

we further agree, that in case of the removal of any member or members

from one family, society or branch of the Church to another, his, her,

or their previous signature or signatures to the Church or family Covenant

from whence he, she, or they, shall have removed, shall forever bar all

claims which are incompatible with the true intent and meaning of this

Covenant, in the same manner as if such removal had not taken place; yet,

all who shall so remove in union, and with the approbation of their Elders

shall be entitled to all the benefits and privileges of the family or order

in which they shall be placed, as they shall conform to the rules and regu-

lations of the same.





According to the faith of the Gospel which we have received, and

agreeable to the uniform practice of the Church of Christ from its first es-

tablishment in the Society, WE COVENANT AND AGREE to dedicate, devote

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.              281


and consecrate and give up, and by this Covenant WE DO SOLEMNLY AND

CONSCIENTIOUSLY dedicate, devote, consecrate and give up ourselves and

our services, together with all our temporal interest, to the service of God

and the support and benefit of the Church of Christ in this Community,

and to such other pious and charitable purposes as the Gospel may require,

to be under the care and direction of the proper constituted authorities

of the said Church, according to the true meaning and intent of the Cove-

nant, and the established rules and practice of the Church.



Whereas, in pursuance of the requirements of the Gospel, and in the

full exercise of our faith, reason and understanding, we have freely and

voluntarily sacrificed all self-interest, and have devoted our persons, ser-

vices and our property as aforesaid, to the pious and benevolent purposes

of the Gospel;- Therefore, we do hereby solemnly, and conscientiously,

unitedly and individually, for ourselves, our heirs and assigns, release and

quit-claim to the Deacons, or those who, for the time being, are the act-

ing Trustees of the Church, for the uses and purposes aforesaid, ALL

our private personal right, title, interest, claim and demand, of, in and

to the estate, interest, property and appurtenances so consecrated, devoted,

and given up: And we hereby jointly and severally promise and declare,

in the presence of God and before witnesses that we will never hereafter,

neither directly nor indirectly, under any circumstances whatever, contrary

to the stipulations of this Covenant, make nor require any account of any

interest, property, labor or service, nor any division thereof, which is,

has been or may be devoted by us, or any of us, to the uses and purposes

aforesaid, nor bring any charge of debt or damage, nor hold any claim,

nor demand whatever, against the said Deacons or Trustees, nor against

the Church or Society, nor against any member thereof, on account of

any property or service given, rendered, devoted or consecrated to the

aforesaid sacred charitable purposes. And we also ratify and confirm

hereby, every act and deed which we, or any of us, have acted or done

agreeable to the true intent and meaning of the Covenant.

In confirmation of all the aforesaid statements, covenants, promises

and articles of agreement, we have hereunto subscribed our names and

affixed our seals, on and after this twenty-seventh day of April, in the

year of our Lord and Savior - one thousand eight hundred and forty-


The above Constitution was the result of experience, owing

to the fact that undesirable members had been added from time

to time and who had made trouble on the score of property rights.

This Constitution is practically the same as that adopted in 1829

and no material change has been made since.

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Agreeable to the Constitution of 1829, on March 18, 1830, all

the deeds and conveyances of land belonging to the Church (con-

taining at that time 3,642 acres), were collected for the purpose

of making out declarations of trust, which was accordingly done

and duly executed by all the Trustees.

The year 1830 was disastrous to both the Communities at

North Union and Whitewater, for a special record is made of

donations sent from Union Village. The year was marked by

some desertions from the ranks.

The years 1831 and 1832 were successful in the product of

corn, yielding 10,000 bushels for each year, but a disaster hap-

pened in the burning of the flax barn, the work of an incendiary.

The population in 1834 was 331. The year 1835 was one of

disaster and changes. Caterpillars denuded the forest trees of

every leaf and killed many. On the 9th of June the village was

visited by the most unparalleled freshet ever known. The water

fell to a depth of nine inches. All the mill-dams were swept away

or broken through. One-half the clothing, fulling and coloring

shops were swept away, and the oil mill shared a similar fate.

The tail-race of the great mill was filled with gravel and stones.

Much timber was carried off and the lands of the Big Bottom

were overflowed to a depth that would support a steamboat. The

leather in the tanyard floated out of the vats. The damage was

estimated at $25,000.

There were internal disorders that greatly afflicted the more

sedate and conservative.  There was a manifest tendency to

looseness of discipline and consequent disregard for good order

among the more giddy and thoughtless of the Society; and even

some of the officers were not exempt from serious dereliction in

this matter. For a time it appeared that a crisis was approaching.

Many changes took place among the officers, and on October

4th Elder Solomon King announced that he would return East

for a season and that he had appointed Elder David Meacham his

successor, and on the 13th of the same month, in company with

Eldress Rachel Johnson, Eliza Sharp and Luther Copley, set out

for New Lebanon.

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.         283



The reins of government were assumed by David Meacham

on the day that Elder King took his departure. The Ministry

living in the Meeting House now consisted of David Meacham

and Betsy Hastings, with Joshua Worley and Nancy McNemar

assistants. The advent of Elder Meacham and Eldress Betsy

gave great relief to the Society. While Elder King was a thor-

oughly good man, upright and pious, he did not possess the char-

acteristics so necessary for one in his position. The rebellious

and seditious met with a different reception with the new minis-

try, and were soon weeded out.

The heavy burden, which had grown to unbearable propor-

tions under Elder King-that of entertaining and receiving visi-

tors at the office-was done away with on October 7, 1835. It

also had an undesirable effect upon the younger and more

thoughtless members of the Society.

On November 30, Elder Meachem, accompanied by Elder

Matthew Houston set out for New Lebanon. On the 27th Stephen

Wells and David J. Hawkins arrived from the East, having been

sent to assist in regulating the temporal affairs of the Church.

After surveying the field, about the 1st of January, I836, it was

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decided to make certain radical changes. This matter was put

to the vote of the Church and carried. It was decided to consti-

tute two interests of temporalities in the Church; and to this end

it was proposed that the first family should occupy the Brick

House, South House and North House, the South House to be

denominated the Second Order of the First Family. The second

Family was to occupy the North Lot buildings. The young Be-

lievers were to move to the West Section, and the West Brick and

West Frame families were to be the Gathering Order of the So-

ciety. The West Lot Family was to break up and move into the

West Brick and West Frame buildings. The East House Family

was to be scattered among other families and their former home

vacated. Two whole families were broken up and their homes

abandoned. The change began January 12th and required many

days before the work was completed.

The officers now  stood  as follows:   Ministry-David

Meacham, Joshua Worley, Betsy Hastings and Nancy McNemar.

Elders, First Order-Stephen Spinning, Andrew C. Houston,

Lois Spinning and Mary Hopkins. Elders, Second Order-Jo-

seph Johnson, John Babbit, Elizabeth Sharp and Nancy Milli-

gan. Elders, Second Family--Eli Houston, James Darrow, Caty

Boyd and Sally Sharp. Trustees, First Family-Daniel Boyd

and Ithamar Johnson. Trustees, Second Family-William Run-

yon and David Parkhurst.

On the 14th of February, 1836, a letter was read from Elder

Solomon King, who was still at New Lebanon, resigning his posi-

tion in the Ministry. The same letter stated that the New Leba-

non Ministry had appointed Freegift Wells, of Watervliet (near

Albany, N. Y.), to be first in the Ministry at Union Village.

The number of members at this time was 330, in the Church

Order 256, and 74 in the Gathering Order.



Elder Freegift Wells arrived at Union Village April 27,

1836, and on the same day was installed as First Minister of the

Society. On the Sunday following he received a hearty wel-

come. On August 7, Elder Freegift "bore a powerful and scath-

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.        285


ing testimony against hidden iniquity and all manner of sin, con-

fessed or brought to light. Also the reading of newspapers on

the Sabbath." In 1842 the circulation of newspapers was inter-

dicted. On April 3, same year, "a very heavy restriction was laid

upon the Church, with regard to meats, drinks, medical and dom-

estic beverages, etc., under various degrees of limitation, accord-

ing to age and infirmity; the cause to commence on the 10th in-

stant. Under these restrictions (with the above modifications),

the use was forbidden of pork, store tea, coffee, tobacco and

strong drink." For fourteen years this was religiously kept,

when tea and coffee were re-introduced.

During this reign, for the first time it is noted by our chron-

icler that the men wore drab clothing, which, doubtless, had al-

ways been the custom. Every man made his own hat (until

1873), which was made of braided straw, and some of them were

so finely executed that they readily sold for $5 a piece. Fur hats

were purchased in the markets in 1837. It is also revealed that

there was a custom known as the "yearly sacrifice," which con-

sisted of a "general opening of the mind and confession of all

known sin, required of all in the Society."

The year 1837 "was one of the most remarkable periods in

our whole history, at least up to this time. A remarkable revival

of religious zeal was prevalent throughout nearly the whole year.

The peculiar inspiration of the revival was that of pure love to-

ward each other, and a sorrow for our shortcomings in regard to

hard speeches and feelings toward one another. On Sabbath,

February 5, the Ministry attended meeting with us, at the Center

House, it being too inclement to use the Meeting House. Elder

Freegift read a discourse delivered by Mother Lucy Wright in

the East some years since. It was very solemn and impressive

and well adapted to our situation. He also strongly urged the

necessity of our gaining the gift of repentance of all wrong, and

in humiliation of spirit to labor for a deeper inward work. Many

of the brethren and sisters were deeply affected and wrought in

their minds and strove to lay hold of the gift. And this meeting

may be reckoned as the beginning of a very remarkable reviva

and a time of peculiar refreshing in this place, together with the

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preparatory work that preceded it. On the 12th the Church meet-

ing was, according to a journal kept at that time, 'one of the most

extraordinary of the kind we ever witnessed at this place. It was

attended with many mortifying and humiliating gifts, calculated

to unsettle and to free souls and enable them to serve God in

spirit and in truth. Surely the spirit of the Lord is striving won-

derfully with this people! This remarkable revival, thus inaugu-

rated, continued for many weeks without cessation, seeming to

grow more intense with every meeting. I have seen many meet-

ings wherein there was scarcely a dry eye, so overwhelmed were

we, not with sorrow, but with the love of God and tender feel-

ings toward each other. It seemed as though we never wanted to

break up, but remain to bless one another with our tender feelings

and forgiving spirit. I have seen, over and over, many parties

kneeling and asking each other's forgiveness for unguarded

words that had passed between them. I have noticed many times

the floor of the meeting house wet all over with tears after the

members had retired."

It was during the reign of Elder Wells that Spiritualism

broke out among the Shakers and reached its highest tide. The

first notice of it occurred on March 25th, 1838, when two letters

from the East were read detailing the wonderful visions of Ann

Mariah Goff, a girl of Watervliet, N. Y. On August 26th, in

church meeting, Elder Wells remarked upon the wonderful works

going on in other places, and added that it would eventually break

out among them. Immediately "many were taken under the

mighty shaking power of the Spirit."

Oliver C. Hampton was a pronounced Spiritualist and

has much to say about the manifestations, and leaves us to infer

that astounding circumstances took place during the first seven

years of this phenomena; but for the facts, and the instances and

special work, he refers the reader to "the several books," the

" Records " and the " Annals." It is claimed that the revelations

were caused to be made by Mother Ann Lee, who continued

among them until her final departure for Heaven; that even

Jesus Christ silently and unseen made a special visit among

them, and bestowed upon them "faith, charity and wisdom."

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About the middle of May, 1839, "the Spirits of the Indians be-

gan to make their appearance to the Mediums, and this con-

tinued for many months."

Elder Hampton claimed that great good resulted from these

manifestations; and yet he tacitly admits there were many ex-

travagant features during the early period, for he remarks:

"In looking back over the whole ground covered by it, we

are able to see many things which happened during its advent that

were the consequences of a want of wisdom in the leaders of the

Society; yet when these untoward features are allowed their

full weight and measure, there still remains a precious residuum,

partly outweighing all the more eccentric, in some cases, unfor-

tunate feature of this great work amongst us." Again he adds:

"About the latter part of March, or beginning of April, of this

year (1839), the work thus far having been kept within the

limits of prudence and a Godly discretion, by the untiring efforts

of the good Ministry and Elders, now for a time took on a

phase, and was as it were pushed to an extreme, in several direc-

tions, which could not have been in unison with the Spirit of

our Blessed Mother; but which the Leaders from some cause,

seemed unable or unwilling to interfere with, and embarrassing

the mediums; who also seemed conscientious to convey noth-

ing that did not come from good and progressed spirits. But as

I am no pessimist, and have not one atom of faith in sending the.

chronicles of ignorance, susperstition, or failure, down to future

generations; and as recently, these indiscretions, were all finally

corrected, condoned and reconciled among all parties, I shall

draw the veil of oblivion over them, and let them rest in eternal


The Hampton MS. is so vague on the subject of this phe-

nomena, and the subject, owing to its peculiar features among the

Shakers, so important, that I design preparing a special paper

on the subject. Hence I dismiss the subject here without further


On the 19th of February, 1843, the Church was notified

that Elder Freegift Wells, with consent of the Eastern Ministry,

had resigned his office of First Minister of Union Village, in

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favor of John Martin, and would return to his former home at

Watervliet, New York. On June 25, Elder Wells nominated

Jesse Legier to the second place in the Ministry, and on July 9th

took his final leave of the Society at Union Village, and set out

on his journey the 13th.



According to the edict for the removal of John Martin, that

worthy stood in the Ministry since June 25, 1839. It was not a

quiet reign, nor was there anything but might have occurred in a

period of sixteen years in any similar community. During the

incumbency of Elder Wells the large Center House was projected.

It was finished January 13, 1846. This is the most imposing

building ever erected in Union Village. The walls contain 1,000,-

000 brick. The next day after its completion the First Family

consisting of 170 persons, 112 of whom occupied the building,

took supper in it. Although the brick was burned on the Shaker

property and the timbers from their woods, and the greater part

of the labor performed by the Community, yet the expense was so

great that retrenchment was made and economy strictly enforced

on the estate. During its erection a sad accident occurred, which

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.         289


resulted in the death of Elder Andrew C. Houston, who, on Octo-

ber 7, 1844, fell from the third story and died the same day. His

death was not only a shock but also a great loss to the Society,

and by his attainments was equal to any office created by the In-


Malcolm Worley, the first Shaker convert in the West, and

the recognized leader of the "Great Kentucky Revival" died,

August 3, 1844, aged 82 years. His children, who had renounced

Shakerism, consisting of Joseph, Joshua and Rebecca, commenced

legal proceedings to recover the lands he had deeded to the

Church in 1812. The claim was put forth that Malcolm was not

sane. This suit dragged along until 1848, when the Supreme

Court decided in favor of the Shakers. The suit cost the latter

$1,200, and had they lost the case it would have taken the land

on which the principal buildings stand.

In 1843 the use of meat on Sunday was interdicted. The

question was seriously agitated of abandoning the use of

flesh altogether, but was decided that every person must be their

own judge. In 1848 all the hogs were sold, but afterwards a

few were kept to eat up the offal. In 1843 the raising of turkeys

was abandoned as a matter of economy.

As inventions increased and the population of the Society

decreased, the various employments also changed. The stock

was now imported from abroad, and the Durham stock of cattle,

secured in England, gave the Shakers a great reputation for im-

proved brands.  A spirit of speculation seized some of the com-

munity, but was frowned down by the older members. Garden

seeds and brooms became a great source of revenue. Development

and growth intellectually, were more or less active; for the subject

of literature and the acquisition of books received more and more

attention, but resisted by the conservative leaders who held that

science was destructive to religion and dangerous to Christian


Out of the Miller excitement of 1846, when it was declared

that the time was at hand that all earthly things should end, there

was added 200 souls, whose minds had been swept by the delusion.

Vol. X-19

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These people found relief in Shakerism, and constituted the great-

est accession ever had at one time. They were mostly sent to

Whitewater, were faithful and active adherents, and possessed

of the missionary zeal.

It has ever been a cardinal principle of the Shaker faith to be

charitable and benevolent. They have been exceedingly gener-

ous to the various communities when in distress, and also to

individuals appealing for assistance. During the great famine in

Ireland in 1847, the Society contributed 1000 bushels of corn.

That Quakers should become persecutors was not dreamed of

in our philosophy. On April 11, 1847, a Quaker girl, whose

father had died a Shaker, " went to Lebanon to choose a guardian,

and persisted in choosing Elder Hervey L. Eads in spite of all out-

side persuasions to the contrary and could not be turned from her

purpose. The Court had previously agreed that if the girl should

choose the said Elder Hervey, they would sanction the choice, and

turn the said girl over to him. This however they did not do,

and so her outside relations forced her away. She was taken to a

place about 14 miles distant, but ran away in the night, and was

back to the West Brick the next morning, having traveled the

whole distance afoot and alone. But a few days after, the Quakers

came and took her away by physical force and violence. And to

make assurance doubly sure, they sent her to the state of Michi-

gan, there to remain till she was of age. The persecuting spirit of

enmity shown by these Quakers on this occasion was astonishing."

During September, 1850, a sensation was caused about two

girls who had been bound to the Society, and on a writ of Habeas

Corpus were taken to Lebanon. After a full hearing before the

Court they were remanded to the custody of the Shakers. In the

early part of the year mob violence had been threatened (on what

pretext the Hampton MS. does not state), and even some des-

peradoes gathered at the cross-roads in a threatening manner.

An incendiary burned the cow barn at the West Brick, on

December 12, 1854, with all its contents, consisting of 22 cows and

4 calves.

April 1, 1857, a tract of land, containing 1,500 acres, was pur-

chased in Clinton County, Ohio. The object was to start a

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The Shaker Community of Warren County.         291


colony, but as the enterprise proved a failure, some years later

the tract was sold for $30,000, - the purchase price having been


" Jehovah's Chosen Square " is first mentioned in the Hamp-

ton MS. for September 7, 1845, where the whole Society was

want to meet in the summer season, and there preached, announced

their faith, good resolutions, sang, marched, danced, etc., from

two to three hours, - then marched home singing most of the

way. This spot was an enclosed piece of ground of half an acre,

in the woods, about two-thirds of a mile from the Center Family,

to the North East.

During the reign of Elder Martin the population is given as

follows: In 1845 there were living at the Center House 107 per-

sons, 74 at the South and 76 at the North, or 257 in all; in 1849

there were belonging to the First Order 153 persons, and 74 to

the Second Order, or 227 in all; in December 1850 there were 164

belonging to the Center and 72 to the South Family; in May 1853,

there were 241 members, and in April 1857 the membership num-

bered 264. "Up to this time, we had little foreboding of the fear-

ful decimation we were destined to experience in later times."

Owing to pronounced eccentricities exhibited by Elder Mar-

tin, in 1859, the Eastern Ministry having been consulted, de-

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puted Daniel Boiler, second in the Ministry at New Lebanon,

to visit Union Village. On January 30, 1859, Elder Boller an-

nounced that Elder Martin was released from the first gift and

Elder Aaron Babbitt should succeed him, with Peter Boyd as

second in the Ministry and Elder William Reynolds was placed

in the First Order of Eldership. These appointments were rati-

fied and confirmed by unanimous vote of the Church, and Elder

Martin was directed to place his mantle upon Elder Babbitt.



Elder Aaron Babbitt, as First in the Ministry moved into the

Meeting House February 3rd, 1859. For the first time, in several

years, the Church Covenant was read, both to the First and Second

Orders, on the 27th.

Elder Babbitt was called to pilot the ship through the stormy

scenes of the Civil War. The war spirit, despite all efforts to the

contrary, seized possession of some of the younger members, who

enlisted. Others were drafted, and a fine imposed for not attend-

ing general muster. Through the machinations of Samuel J.

Tilden, the entire local conscription at New Lebanon, fell on the

Shakers. Secretary Stanton decided that the Shakers, as fast as

drafted should be furloughed, which was afterwards confirmed

by President Lincoln. Although the Shakers opposed war, re-

fused pensions and grants of lands for military services, observed

national proclamations for Thanksgiving or fasting and prayers,

yet they were not unmindful of the distress caused by such con-

flicts. To the Sanitary Fair, held in Cincinnati, in 1863, the

Shakers contributed the following: 1 barrels tomato catsup, 1

barrel sauer krout, 5 barrels dried apples, 1 barrel green apples,

4 bushels dried sweet corn, 8 dozen brooms, 5 boxes garden

seeds, 10 gallons gooseberry sauce, and 5 gallons apple preserves,

-the whole valued at $158.50. Their energies were somewhat

paralyzed by being called upon to relieve the distress of their

brethren at South Union, Kentucky, who suffered from the horrors

of war.

Occasionally the Shakers have received members who had

gained considerable notoriety. In 1859 Richard Realf became a

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.        293


member. He had been John Brown's secretary during the Kansas

troubles. He had undergone much suffering in establishing free-

dom in Kansas, and was often in the greatest of dangers. He

announced he was weary of the world and wanted rest. Being a

man of uncommon abilities, he was placed where he could rapidly

learn the thoughts of Shakerism. He soon became the greatest

preacher ever connected with Union Village, and was heard with

delight by both believers and unbelievers. His stay, however, was

brief. He soon longed for the ways of the world, became a

Major during the Civil War; afterwards was entangled by the

wiles of a woman and committed suicide.

In July 1859, an organized band of robbers, from Indiana,

made preparations to rob the community, but the design was ex-

posed by a member of the gang, and all necessary precautions

taken to thwart the purpose. About the first of March 1860 quite

a large amount of wheat and clothing were stolen, and shortly

after a great number of shirts were taken. The thieves proved to

be apostates.

On March 4th, 1865 the Society lost by fire the Old North

House with its contents, which contained a tin shop, broom shop,

carpenter shop, shoemaker shop and sarsaparilla laboratory. The

loss was about $10,000. This loss was aggravated by the fact that

the Society was now $12,000 in debt. Although the constitution

forbid indebtedness, and many members were opposed to incurring

such a burden, yet the leaders decided that such, at times, was


Knitting machines were introduced in 1861. Previously the

sisters and girls wrought goods by hand, and their work was

sought for in the markets, knitted mittens and gloves sold readily

at $6 per pair.

The industries consisted of raising garden seeds, preserving

and packing herbs, manufacturing woolen goods, brooms, flour,

oils, extracts of roots for medicine, sorghum and of cattle. In

1862 there was manufactured 2 barrels of grape wine, 30 gallons

of currant wine and 60 gallons of strawberry for medicinal


294 Ohio Arch

294       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


There were many things that agitated the colony during Elder

Babbitt's reign. The Shakers had taken great care of children,

but nearly all of them had left the community on arriving at lawful

age; so that the care-takers were now few in number, and some-

what enfeebled by age. It became a serious matter whether any

more should be received. The questions of insurance against fire

and a change in the mode of dress were seriously discussed. In

1867, owing to thedepleted condition of numbers,there were grave

fears expressed that the Colony might become extinct. In 1867

the Eastern Ministry reprimanded the Community for regarding

a proposition to have the Society incorporated. " Can it be pos-

sible," say the Ministry, " that either the leaders of people of

Union Village, have lost sight of the only true Order of the

Church of Christ, and now wish to recede from their loyalty to

Gospel Principles, and instead thereof, introduce a wordly form

of Government? We do not perceive that any temporal advantage

of importance would be derived from the introduction of laws gov-

erning corporate bodies, but we do see wherein it would sap the

foundation on which Christ's Church must stand. Should we

become a body politic, appointing our officers by ballot or vote,

we then should be left to drift with the worldly tide and the Pow-

ers of Earth and Hell would most surely prevail against us. But

while we stand firmly on the Rock of Revelation, and maintain a

Covenant- consecrated whole, our sacred inheritance will re-

main secure from the ravages of worldly influences. Never, while

reason remains with us, can we extend the least toleration as

union toward permitting any Society of Believers to become an

incorporated body."

The population of the Church on March 17, 1859 was 255;

on January 1st, 1865 it was 167, and 152 at the close of 1867.

On the 20th of July, 1868, the Eastern Ministry, then on a

visit at Union Village, divided the temporal interests heretofore

existing between the First and Second Orders of the Church,

and set off each Family to itself, as far as finances, lands and

houses were concerned. On the 26th, the same Ministry an-

nounced that Elders Aaron Babbitt and Cephas Halloway were

released from their gift in the Ministry, and should take the

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.       295


Eldership at the First Family; Elders Amos Parkhurst and Wil-

liam Reynolds should be the Ministry, and Elder Philip F. Antes

to be First in the Eldership of the Second Family.



The reign of Elder Amos Parkhurst commenced on July 27th,

1868. It was not marked by any special occurrence, although

questions of vital interest to the Society transpired. The question

of great importance was that of indebtedness, but the manner

in which it was contracted does not appear. The blame is laid

largely on the shoulders of Aaron Babbitt. There had been a

large purchase of land, which the Hampton MS. condemned,

owing to the paucity of their membership. Besides small tracts

there was purchased 257 acres, in 1864, at $70 per acre, and in

1869 another tract costing $9,000. In 1875 the indebtedness of the

Society amounted to $20,000, on which there was paid 8 and 9

per cent. interest. When the truth was revealed to the Society,

all were appalled. Changes were at once made in the trusteeship.

Money, at a reduced rate, was borrowed from other Communities

of Believers, and the entire products of a portion of the estate

was devoted to the payment of the debt. This was placed in

the charge of Elder William Reynolds, and the first year liquidated

$2,000 of the indebtedness. In 1869, the woolen factory was dis-

mantled, as it could not compete with similar mills, August 6,

1870 an incendiary burned the large grain and stock barn, the

loss about $25,000.

During the months of May and June, 1870, Durham cattle,

to the amount of $11,535 was sold.

Singing school and instrumental music were introduced in


In 1871, a committee attended the Spiritualistic Convention,

held in Cleveland, and participated in the proceedings. The

Shakers and Spiritualists, on different occasions held conferences;

but this was finally abandoned, for there was but little in common

between them.

The MS. first specially notices recreations in the memoranda

for 1871. During the whole period of their history the Elders

296 Ohio Arch

296       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


of the various Communities were given to visits. The general

members had their recreations in rides to neighboring towns,

picnics in the woods, and the Harvest ride was always celebrated.

The years 1873, 4 and 5 were marked by great agitation and

speculation about the revision of the Constitution. It was urged

that the leaders had two much and the lay members too little free-

dom, etc. It was left to Elder Hervey L. Eades of South Union,

to draw up a new Constitution. This production was so faulty

as to be rejected. During the depression in the money market,

in 1874, the Believers at Union Village gave away 4,300 meals of

victuals to the hungry poor.

On the 7th of July, 1875, Elder Giles B. Avery, second in

the Ministry at New Lebanon arrived at Union Village, and seven

days later the following changes took place: Eldress Sally Sharp,

who for many years had stood first in the Ministry was released,

and Eldress Naomi Ligier, was promoted from the Second to the

First place, and Eldress Adaline Wells, of Watervliet, Ohio, was

appointed Second in the Ministry. Elder Amos Parkhurst was

made Second and Elder William Reynolds First in the Ministry.



Elder William Reynolds became First in the Ministry on July

14th, 1875. This change appears to have been made owing to the

financial stress under which the Society was laboring. This dis-

tress was heightened by the failure of a bank in Lebanon, in 1877,

in which the Shakers had deposited the sum of $7,568, which was a

total loss.

This epoch notes three matters to the Shakers of much im-

portance, that came under discussion. From time to time much

commotion attended with acrimony, occurred between the pro-

gressive and conservative portion of the Society on the subject

of the wearing of beard. From the beginning it was the rule that

the beard should be shaved once a week, and oftener if the in-

dividual was so disposed. The Brethren of the progressives

thought to allow the beard to grow immunity would be secured

against throat and eye trouble. It was, after much labor and

discussion, permitted to those who plead health; then allowed to

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.       297


all within a certain prescribed mode; and, finally, the whole subject

was left optional. On January 1st, 1881, at a business meeting it

was decided that some of the property should be insured. This

policy has ever since been carried into effect. Lively dancing and

the square step exercise had been a part of the religious exercises

from the beginning. May 27, 1880, it was announced that these

exercises would cease, owing to the decrease in numbers and the

members being too aged.

The intellectual improvement had received quite an impetus.

In 1871 a Lyceum was established, which interested the younger

portion, and even some of the middle-aged. In it were taught,

grammar, composition, declamation, and correct language in ad-

dress. There were also rehearsals of comic and absurd pieces, as

well as recitations of serious, dictactic, poetic, and sententious

character. These proceedings were frowned upon by the Min-

istry, but in 1875, the Eastern Ministry being on a visit, after

witnessing an exhibition, gave it their approval.

The Shakers took advantage of the Ohio School laws, and

came under its provision, so that in 1879, there was a liberal

curriculum; a Shaker teacher employed, which returned to the

Society $450 per year, which was not a large sum owing to

the taxes they paid.

An incendiary, on January 2, 1876, burned the North cow

barn with 39 head of cattle. This was supposed to have grown

out of a law suit about a rented peach orchard, which the Second

Society gained in Court, from an outsider. It was discovered that

the employment of hired help was not conducive to the best in-

terests of the Society. However, in later years, they were forced

to it.

Our Chronicler for 1878, remarks: "We began to feel

seriously, during this year, the want of more members and

greater efficiency and talent among those who from time to

time come in among us. They seemed to belong to a class that

were not in possession of either talent, or strength of purpose,

such as was necessary to the well-being and perpetuity of the

Institution, but we had to do the best we could with them, think-

ing they might answer the purpose of tiding over our depressed

298 Ohio Arch

298       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


condition, until better times might reach and favor us with better

material." The middle of the year 1880, the entire Society num-

bered only 162 souls.

For the year 1877, the Hampton MS. speaks on the subject

of funerals. " Our funerals have not thus far been described.

They were, and are, devoid of all ostentation, and even the ground

in which we are interred, would never be suspected of being a

cemetery. It is leveled off and planted in forest trees, and the

spot where the remains of our dear friends lay, is not marked by

even a head or foot-stone. When one has deceased, the cadaver

is washed and wrapped in a shroud. At the proper time it is

placed in the coffin and allowed to be viewed by all who desire,

and especially at the close of the funeral. All who reasonably can,

are required to attend funerals, and if the weather is favorable,

also the burial. When the members are assembled, a solemn hymn

is sung, and then all are seated. The meeting is then addressed

by the Elder, or some one appointed to this gift. This is generally

followed by short and sententious discourse from any who feel

so disposed. In these expressions of sentiment, as well as that

of the chief speaker, an affectionate reference is had to the

merits and good qualities that were characteristic of the deceased;

and also to the necessity of living a life here, that shall recom-

mend us to the Heavenly Home and the happy scenes to be en-

joyed by those who faithfully live in obedience to their highest

consciousness of right, while passing through the shades and

shadows of this rudimental sphere. The funeral lasts sufficiently

long to give every one an opportunity to speak who desires it, and

a second hymn, and a last view of the corpse closes the cere-


Eldress Sally Sharp died April 7, 1879, at the age of 80.

Nearly her entire life had been spent in the Society. For 39

years she was one of the Ministry, during 35 of which she was

First in the Order. She was just, upright and sincere, extremely

sympathetic, and took upon herself the sorrows and tribulations

of others.

Elder William Reynolds departed this life May 13, 1881,

deeply regretted by all. His whole life, after joining the Shakers,

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.     299


was given to the upbuilding of the cause he had espoused. He

joined the Society in 1837, and died in his 67th year.



The Eastern Ministry arrived at Union Village on June 9th,

1881, and on the 15th appointed Matthew B. Carter and Oliver C.

Hampton to succeed William Reynolds and Amos Parkhurst.

The whole church, assembled for the purpose, sanctioned the ap-

pointment by the raising of hands.

The greatest event during the reign of Elder Carter, and

which distinctly marked the decline of Shakerism in the West

was the dissolution of the Colony at North Union, near Cleve-

land, after a career of 67 years. On May 23, 1889, the Union

Village and Eastern Ministry met the entire Society of North

Union, and then decided to break up the Colony and move the

members to Watervliet, near Dayton, 0., and Union Village.

The dissolution took place on the 15th of the following October,

the greater part of the members going to Watervliet. The fol-

lowing December the North Union property was sold for $316,-

ooo. Then followed a long law suit. A part of the North

Union property was consecrated by various members of the sur-

name of Russell. Certain heirs, not Shakers, brought suit to

recover the property. The court awarded the property to the

Shakers, after costing them $12,000.

Other disasters were encountered. On January 22, 1884,

the Elder at the West Frame Family, absconded with $500 be-

longing to that family, and probably appropriated still more.

On July 24, 1890, John Wilson, acting in the capacity of Farm

Deacon, took off and clandestinely sold $700 worth of stock and

left for parts unknown. In 1885, the Society commenced loaning

the Dayton Furnace Co. money, and all told $16,000. By 1890

they realized it was a case of misplaced confidence, and the work

of a shrewd lawyer. This loss was total. Added to all this there

must be mentioned a destructive cyclone that visited them on the

night of May 12, 1886. Several buildings were demolished, and

many chimneys of other buildings were blown down; hundreds

of acres of forest, ornamental and fruit trees were uprooted;

3O0 Ohio Arch

3O0      Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


miles of fences blown away, and some stock injured. So great

was the calamity that it required quite a period to recover from it.

Foes within did incalculable damage. April 12, 1890, the

woodshed at the South House with a two story building were

burned. On the 29th the dwelling, wash-house, with all the

laundry machinery, and several outhouses were consumed.

This calamity broke up the old South House Family, whose

members now became scattered among other families. This

was considered the most disastrous occurrence which ever

happened in the Community.    Believing that the fire was

the work of an incendiary, a detective was employed, who,

in a few days, caught the wretch in the very act of

trying to burn the West Frame Family dwelling. The vil-

lain was living among the Shakers. He confessed all and was

sent to the penitentiary for four years.

During February, 1884, a liberal donation was sent to the

sufferers made by the sudden rise of the Ohio River.

Elder Carter died suddenly July 24, 1890. Almost from

the beginning of his career among the Shakers he filled many

important places of care and responsibility. He was strictly hon-

est, modest and unassuming.



The Ministry from New Lebanon

and Union Village, on August 21, 1890,

announced the following changes: Elder

Joseph R. Slingerland to be First and

Oliver C. Hampton Second in the Min-

istry. The first mention of Elder Slin-

gerland, in the Hampton MS. is for the

year 1888, when he is on a visit from

New Lebanon to all the Western So-

cieties. The second reference is for

April 19, 1889, when he arrives at

Union Village to make that his home;

and on the 12th of the following May

was appointed Second in the Ministry.

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.      301


Elder Slingerland is 59 years of age and joined the Shakers

51 years ago. His life and philosophy is that of Shakerism in

which he believes implicitly.  He has a broad mind which

no ism could thoroughly circumscribe. He strikes out for him-

self and does his own thinking. He has read extensively and

keeps mentally abreast of the times. His mind is not only well

cultured, but his education excellent, besides having taken a

regular course in medicine. He is naturally reserved, but when

aroused or interested becomes animated and an excellent conver-

sationalist. His impulses are generous, but not blind to the fail-

ing of humanity. He is of the mental temperament, below the

average size, but not robust. With the exception of Elder Dar-

row, more has devolved on Elder Slingerland than any other

bishop of the Western Societies. With his sensitive nature he

has witnessed events which must have strained even his philoso-

phy. He was a principal factor in the management of the dis-

solution of the North Union and Watervliet Colonies; and the

greater part of the burden rested upon his shoulders. The man-

agement of the lawsuit over the North Union property rested

with him. During that litigation a singular circumstance took

place. It appeared that a vital point in the lawsuit was the

original covenant signed by the North Union members. Neither

this nor a copy could anywhere be secured. One night, in a

dream, he went to the now abandoned office of the North Union

Society, and in the northeastern room of that building he thrust

his arm to the pit in a pile of papers, and from the bottom drew

forth the desired document. The next morning he set out early

for North Union, so impressed was he by the dream. The train

arrived late in Cleveland. In the darkness he drove out to the

abandoned settlement, entered the building, felt around in the

darkness until he reached a pile of papers, thrust in his hand,

and pulled out a paper; called for a light, and to his great delight

saw the desired paper.

It was during the month of October, 1900, that the Water-

vliet Community was dissolved, and its members, including those

of North Union, who had settled there in 1889, removed to

Union Village, and now constitute the North Family.

302 Ohio Arch

302      Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


An effort was made in 1897 to start a colony near Brunswick,

Georgia, where previously, 7,000 acres had been secured. This

proved a failure. In 1898 the Society purchased over 40,000

acres in Camden County, Georgia, and placed on it a small colony,

mostly from Union Village.

The membership having not only greatly decreased (60 in

1897), but also in all the other Communities, and the majority

becoming old, the buildings began to show the effects of time

in so much so as to need repairs. Elder Slingerland supported by

the Eastern Ministry, although greatly opposed at home, in 1891,

set out repairs and improvements, on a gigantic scale. Modern

ideas and improvements now ruled the day. So extensive was

the plan that it required several years to consummate it. Not

onlywere the buildings looked after, but the same year ten miles of

hedge fence was contracted for, besides miles of wire fence placed

in order. The fields were now thrown into 100 acre lots. In

1893, pear, apple, cherry, peach and plum trees were set out to

the number of 1,900. In 1895, practically all the lands had been

rented, - the Society reserving the gardens and orchards.

A schism broke out in 1893, the nature of which is not

mentioned. It was finally amicably settled. The custom of

kneeling just before sitting down to dine, was abandoned in

1894. In 1895 the men were permitted to wear the hair in such

style as suited the individual. The wearing of caps by the sisters,

which had been rigidly enforced from the beginning, was aban-

doned in the same year.

The Hampton MS. ends with the year 1897. "At the com-

mencement of this year (1897), we had become so reduced, that

many serious thoughts were rife in the community as to the

continuance and perpetuity thereof; if no better success attended

our efforts in gathering in persons from the world, to fill the

places of the fast declining members." It now became impos-

sible to fill all the necessary offices with suitable persons.

The MS. evidently is left in an unfinished condition. But

in a journal kept by Mr. Hampton, the record is brought down

to May 8, 1900. In this record we are informed that on January

9, 1898, Oliver C. Hampton was released from his place as Sec-

The Shaker Community of Warren County

The Shaker Community of Warren County.  303

ond in the Ministry, but continued preaching

until his death.

The Ministry at Union Village, at this

date (September 28, 19O1,) is as follows:

First in the Ministry, Joseph R. Slingerland,

with second place vacant. First in the Min-

istry, on the Sisters side, Elizabeth Downing,

and Second, Mary Green Gass.

Elizabeth Downing, a direct descendant

of Oliver Cromwell, was born in Louisville,

Ky., in 1828, and has been a Shaker since

1840, living with the Community at Pleasant

Hill, Ky., until she was removed to Union Village in 1889, to suc-

ceed Louisa Farnham, as First in the Ministry, which occurred on

May 12th.

Mary Green Gass was born in England

in 1848, and from infancy has been a Shaker.

She was removed from Whitewater in 1897,

to become Second in the Ministry, having

been appointed February 21st.

To the present generation of Shakers the

name of Emily Robinson is sacred on account

of her many virtues. She became a Shaker at

the age of 8, and on May 12, 1889, was ap-

pointed Second in the Ministry and so con-

tinued until her death, January 17, 1897.

Thos who read my article on the Shakers

of North Union (Quarterly, July, 1900) may

be interested in the welfare of Clymena Miner,

who has been an Eldress since 1860. She

saw the North Union Society in all its power,

and numbering 200 souls. She now sees the

remnant with but seven in number. Eldress

Clymena Miner was born in Painesville,

Ohio, December 1, 1832; was taken to the

Shakers of North Union, by her mother, in

1839; removed to Watervliet, October 15,

1889, and on the dissolution of that Society,

304 Ohio Arch

304       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


removed to Union Village, October 11, 1900, and is now in full

charge of the North or Second Family. Eldress Clymena is a

bright, vivacious lady, and is as pleasant a person as one would

desire to meet. She is well informed and an excellent conversa-

tionalist. She is devoting the remainder of her life to the care

of the people under her charge.

One of the most interesting characters at Union Village is

James H. Fennessy, who was born in Cincinnati in 1854, and be-

came a Shaker in April, 1882; Farm-Deacon in 1887, and Trus-

tee in 1898. In his honesty and business capacity the Society

has unlimited confidence. They believe that he will extricate

them from the most serious financial distress into which the So-

ciety has ever fallen. It is to be sincerely hoped that their ex-

pectations will be fully realized.




As may be inferred the discipline of the Believers has been

greatly relaxed. Even assent to the Shaker faith is no longer

required. It is however demanded that the applicant for ad-

mission shall have a good moral character, and also to have a

healthy body and be under 50 years of age. Owing to the paucity

of their numbers, public meetings are no longer held and their

Meeting House is practically abandoned. Religious services are

now conducted in the chapel of the Center House. There appears

to be a general feeling among the Shakers of Union Village that

the days of their existence as a Community are drawing to a

close. The Shakers of the United States, from a membership

of 4,000 in 1823, have dwindled to less than 600 in 1901.

In closing I desire to state that I have received the utmost

courtesy, in the preparation of this article, from the Shakers of

Union Village. During its preparation I received a presentation

of a complete set of Shaker books, from the hands of Elder

Joseph R. Slingerland and Eldress Clymena Miner. By my so-

licitation, the former sent a selection of books to the Ohio State

Archaeological and Historical Society. May these kind Shakers,

and all others of their faith, continue long in the land.


FRANKLIN, OHIO, Sept. 28, 1901.