Shaker Annals
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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Shaker Annals

Dallas Bogan on 29 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer Writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Important Events in the History of Union Village.

Selections From the Manuscript Records and Journals Kept
by the Society From Its First Organization in Warren County and Now Printed by Permission of the
Church Officers.

February 27, 1908

The articles recently printed on the early history of the Shakers at Union Village were read with interest by the members of the society, and through the politeness of Mr. James H. Fennessy, trustee of the society, the Star has been given the temporary possession of the most valuable and interesting of the records of Union Village, with permission to make such use of them as may be deemed proper. These records are contained in a large manuscript volume of 490 pages. So highly prized is this volume that a promise was exacted that it should be locked in a fireproof safe every night that it was kept in Lebanon. The title of the volume is "Records of the Church at Union Village, Ohio: Being an accurate transcript from the original journals and records kept in the church in conformity with the provision in Article III, Section 4, of the Covenant of the Church: Commencing in the year 1805."
These records cover the period from the beginning of the society in 1805 up to April, 30, 1861, but those from 1805 to the close of 1842 were transcribed from the originals into this volume in 1842. While the transcript bears evidence that it is not literally copied from any journal or record, having explanatory observations that must have been added by later hand, no doubt can be entertained of the intention to make a truthful record both on the part of the original writers and the transcriber. Taken altogether, this volume, I think, is the most interesting and valuable manuscript record ever kept in Warren county.
I can here give only a few of the important events in the early history of Union Village. The record begins as follows:

Beginnings of Shakerism in West.

"The United Society of Believers (called Shakers) took its rise in the western country in the year 1805 under the ministration of John Meacham, Issachar Bates and Benjamin S. Youngs, who were commissioned and sent to the western states by the mother church at New Lebanon, New York. They set out on their mission to the west on January 1, 1805, and on Friday, the 22nd of March following, they arrived at this place now called Union Village. On the ensuing Sabbath, Issachar and Benjamin attended the public meeting of the Revivalists or New Lights, as they were called, and at the close of the meeting, read the following letter date of December 30, 1804."
The letter is too long to be here given. It began: "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," etc.
After the letter the record proceeds to give the dates of the first converts of the new faith at Union Village in March and April in 1805, as follows: Malcolm Worley, March 27; Ann Middleton, March 29; Cornelius Campbell, March 31, and about the same time Joseph Stout and soon after Francis and Polly Bedle, and on April 24, Richard and Jenny McNemar. On May 23 the first meeting of the believers was held at the house of David Hill, about a mile from Union Village, south by west.
On July 29, 1805, Elder David Darrow, Daniel Moseley and Solomon King arrived at M. Worley's. Elder David was ordained and sent by the leading authority of the parent church at New Lebanon to take the first spiritual charge of the forming churches in the west. Those with him came as assistants.
The following is a list of the families or heads of families that set out to obey the gospel in 1805 and soon after, though all did not then live in the immediate vicinity of the society: Francis Bedle, Samuel Sering, Samuel Holloway, Elijah Davis, Jonathon Davis, Stephen Spinning, David Spinning, John Dennis, Abner Bornell, Stephen Williams, Benjamin Howard, Amos Valentine, John Miller, Joseph Stout, James Bedle, Richard McNemar, Malcolm Worley, David Hill, Calvin Morrell, Joseph Patterson, John Wallace, John Able, Samuel Rollins, Thos. Junt, Charles West, Allen Woodruff, Moses Easton, David Corey, Daniel Boyd, Cornelius Campbell, Lorenzo Belcher, John Gee, David Johnson, Jno. Sharp, Matthew Houston, Andrew Brown, John Naylor, John Carson, Belteshazzar Draggoo, John Houston, Robert Baxter, James Dickson, Joseph Irwin, Nathan Pegg, John Woods, James Smith, Garner McNemar, William Davis, Sr., Abigail Kitchel, Malinda Watts, Jenny Byrne, Rachael Seward, Betsy Anderson, Reuben Morris, Jacob Holloway, Caleb Pegg, John Slater, Jonathon Gandy, Joseph Lockwood, Thomas N. Naylor, William Runyan, Anne Middleton and some others.
"Most of them, if not all, set out in what might be called the first opening of the gospel, a few families, however, named above were a few years later, but all gathered into the church at an early period. Besides many children in the families, there were, say 25 or 30 unmarried adults. (It is estimated that in what might be called the first gathering of this society, before its organization into a church order in 1812, there were, old and young, 370 souls.)"

First Years of the New Community.

1806--May 31, Eldress Ruth Farrington accompanied by nine brethren and sisters arrived from New Lebanon, N.Y. Before leaving New Lebanon, Eldress Ruth was appointed the first in care in the west on the sisters' side. Peter Pease, who was one of the party from New Lebanon, began this year to keep the journal of events at Union Village. On June 5, Elder David Darrow and all the brethren who had from time to time come from the east, removed from Malcolm Worley's house, which had been their headquarters, to their own premises they had purchased from Timothy Sewell, and which then had only small log cabins on it. This was afterward called the South House. On August 11, a log blacksmith shop was put up for David Mosely, and on September 1, a new frame house was raised. This year the farm of Abram LaRue was purchased for the Shakers.
1807--This year some of the elders made visits to the Shawnee Indians at Greenville to witness the reported revival of religion among them. On May 30 a party of 23 Indians visited Union Village and attended public worship on Sunday, drawing to the meeting a vast multitude of spectators. The Indians returned on June 4. Again on August 29, about 50 Indians visited the Shakers and remained a few days. The journal says:
"We are threatened with being put to the sword's point for showing charity to the poor Indians. This threat is from Samuel Tronsdale, a militia officer."
October 10, elders occupy the upper part of their new house. This is the first house of importance built by the believers at this place. November 6, sisters husk corn today; cold weather. November 8, Ashbel Kitchel at meeting today, and united in the worship (perhaps for the first time). November 29, the barn of the elders family took fire soon after dark and almost everything in it was consumed.
1808--January 23, Many young believers here from Eagle and Beaver Creeks, 16 in all. February 16. First sawmill, started. June 15, John McLean of Lebanon, O., commences printing the first edition of the book entitled "Christ's Second Appearing." October 9, A Baptist preacher by the name of Thompson held meeting today in the highway opposite our place of worship. There was a great gathering of the people supposed to be about 2,500. Soon after he commenced, our worship began and the multitude rushed to our meeting and left poor Mr. Thompson on a stump. He presently followed the crowd and mingled with the spectators. November 10, our first school commences; male teacher, John Woods; female teacher, Malinda Watts.
1809--January 8, hold meeting in the meeting house for the first time. August 20, great concourse of spectators at meeting today.
1810--January 23, hauling logs from a contemplated building near the meeting house. February 3, ten teams hauling cherry logs. April 23, a horse died today, supposed to have been poisoned yesterday. April 24, another horse died, supposed from the same cause as both were in the same stable. August 27, a great gathering of people here today for the avowed purpose of driving the "Old Shakers" out of the country. The number was supposed to be a thousand or more! 400 or 500 of whom were under arms. They found the society attending to their duties, neither dismayed, nor enraged. October 15 (Note--the continual concourse of visitors to and from this place to various points is almost incredible. Many of the distant trips are mentioned in this journal, but the still more frequent ad numerous visitors nearer home, such as to and from Eagle and Straight Creeks, Beaulah and Beaver Creek and Mad River, etc., are seldom noticed in this record).
1811--Two entries in the journal this year indicate that the Shakers early in the spring drove their cattle a great distance to graze during the summer and brought them back in the fall. If "the Whitewater country" mentioned was that on which the Whitewater Shaker Community in the northwest corner of Hamilton County was established years later, it was some 30 miles distant from Union Village. No entries of a similar character are found in any other year. They are as follows: April 15, Believers sent their cattle to the Whitewater country to range till the return of fall October 17, our cattle brought home from range. Troublesome plan.


In 1811 when the society was in its sixth year the building of mills was com-menced. On December 7, a fulling mill was started; on September 10, 1812, a clothier's shop commenced operating; in 1813 a carding house was put up and gearing for a carding machine constructed; in 1814 a grist mill was built, and on December 31 a pair of Laurel Hill mill stones were brought from Cincinnati for this mill, which was started on January 19, 1815; and in 1816 an oil mill was started.
1817--August 23, quit making cheese for the season; have made 3,310 pounds. September 1, five barrels of cider made, the first ever made on the premises.
On December 29, 1817, is this entry; 50 odd bushels of hickory nuts taken to Cincinnati and sold at 50 cents per bushel to help us along in our meeting house expenses, providing materials, etc.

In War Times.

The Shakers would neither volunteer as soldiers or go to war when drafted except by force. At the beginning of the war of 1812, Lebanon was a rendezvous for troops raised in four counties. The following entries are found in the record:
1812--June 1, Richard McNemar and Samuel Rollins go to Dayton to see the Governor concerning military matters that concern believers.
September 8--Soldiers march into Lebanon today. Wars and rumors.
1813--January 10, a number of officers and soldiers attending the meeting today--house crowded full.
January 17, great many spectators at meeting again today, mostly soldiers.
About September 7th and 8th we have military troubles. Seven of the brethren are drafted to join the Northwestern army, and were required to go to Lebanon and join the detachment of Major Frye.
September 11--Brethren furloughed until called upon to march.
September 18-- They are marched under guard to Dayton. September 22--Brethren return home from Dayton; arrive after night; much joy among the people.
October 1--Our drafted brethren are taken again to Lebanon under pretense of being deserters.
October 3--They are marched off from thence to Xenia, thence to Franklinton; thence to Sandusky, etc. It is supposed they will be kept in the army six months.
November 24--Our brethren arrive home from the military department, viz., Samuel Rollins, David Spinning, Robert Baxter, William Davis, Jr., Rufus E. Davis, Adam Gallaher and Samuel McClelland, the two latter Buseron Brethren. (Buseron was a Shaker community on the Wabash commenced about 1808.)

Flat Boating on the Great Miami.

1817--February 13, purchased about 1500 bushels of wheat for merchant work. Stop taking for want of room. February 25, brethren making flour barrels at the rate of 10 or 15 per day.
March 29, having purchased and loaded a boat on the Great Miami with flour it started down today about 10 o'clock for the Ohio. Went on pretty well until the boat ran afoul of a sawyer or log in what is called New River above Hamilton; by this she sprung a leak and had nearly sunk by the time she reached Hamilton.
March 30, news arrived from Hamilton that the boat has sunk and wet all the flour. The flour, however, was got out and repacked with moderate loss except the labor.
April 29, the brethren return home from Hamilton after the flour is packed and the boat and load to the mouth of the Great Miami and there disposed of it the best he could.

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