The Shakers of Union Village

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The History of Warren County, Ohio

The Shakers of Union Village



Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 26 May 2003

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part IV Township Histories
Turtle Creek Township
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
Related Links:
Union Village and the Shakers of Warren County, Ohio


The history of the introduction of Shakerism in the Turtle Creek Valley has been given in the general history of the county. Within two or three years after the arrival of the Shaker missionaries, in March, 1805, a society was collected of about one hundred and fifty persons, nearly all of whom were residents of the western part of Turtle Creek Township, and had been prepared for the new religion by the excitements of the religious revival through which they had passed. Many of the converts were land-owners and men of high standing in the community, some of them men of considerable intelligence, and all of them, perhaps, sincere and honest.

The advent of the Shakers caused great excitement, and awakened great opposition against them for a number of years. Great bitterness existed in some cases among those whose relatives joined the society. The Shaker writers claim that the members of the Christian, or New-Light, denomination – a branch of Christians which originated in the West in the great Kentucky revival, and from which nearly all the Shaker converts were derived – were the leaders of the opposition against them. Col. James Smith, who had been a prisoner among the Indians from 1756 to 1759, and was led out of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky by the great revival, and for awhile was a follower of Barton W. Stone, was a writer of bitter pamphlets against the Shakers. In 1810, he carried on, in the columns of the Western Star, a controversy with Richard McNemar, of Union Village, in which he exhibited great bitterness against the new communities. There was at that time much fear of Indian incursions, which continued until the battle of Tippecanoe, and Col. Smith, among other charges against the Shakers, accused them of endeavoring to incite the Indians against the whites by telling them that they had been unjustly deprived of their lands, and by other means – a charge which probably had its only foundation in the fact that large numbers of half-starving Indians had encamped at Union Village and been supplied with food by the Shakers. Many men living in the vicinity of Union Village believed that the leaders of the new sect were designing imposters, living in secret sins of the darkest dye, and were ready to wage a war of extermination against them, or drive them from the county. Reports, without any foundation, were freely circulated of their keeping women and children in the community against their consent, and holding them by force in bondage from which they were seeking to escape.

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This page created 26 May 2003 and last updated 17 January, 2005
© 2003-2004  Arne H Trelvik  All rights reserved