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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Cephas Holloway A Prominent Shaker Leader

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 261
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The Shakers of Union Village had amongst its longtime members a very prominent gentleman named Cephas Holloway. He was described as a "genial old man with a pleasing countenance." He spent most of his years of manhood in the Shaker denomination and held almost all the important offices of the Society. A history of the Society recorded that on July 26, 1868, Cephas Holloway was released from the ministry to take the Eldership of the First Family. In 1882, he was classed a Deacon.
He was but five years old when the first Shaker sermon was preached in the Turtlecreek Presbyterian Church on March 22, 1805. His father was a member of this church from which most of the members had been transformed to the Shaker faith after the great Kentucky Revival.
Cephas was baptized into the Presbyterian Church as a youth, although his father was amongst the first Shaker converts at Turtlecreek. His faith, however, was united with the Shakers ever since he was old enough to form his own opinions. Success of the Shakers formed them into their own independent community. In 1819, the population was given at 600. Among them were blacksmiths, masons, stonecutters, carpenters, tanners, carders, spinners, etc. All that were able found employment.
The former Presbyterian preacher, after his conversion to Shakerism, found employment in making chairs and spinning wheels. Cephas entertained the trade of shoemaking and for ten years operated a shop. Holloway took great pride in his part in the improvement of the many breeds of cattle, horses, hogs and sheep. The Shakers of Warren County, with their large land holdings, took the lead amongst other county farmers in these achievements. The Shakers are most noted for their development of the Poland China hog (created in 1816), which had originally been called the "Shaker Hog," and the "Warren County Hog."
He yearned to produce the finest breed of horses in the world. His ambition was to produce a horse of speed and ultimately asked for a "training track." His brethren because of the mere suggestion of a racetrack rejected him. He next asked for a "training road," but again was refused. His quest for a fine breeding horse was unsuccessful.
Cephas Holloway was born in Turtlecreek Township, December 29, 1800. He was the son of Jacob and Hannah Cory Holloway. Both were natives of Morris County, N.J. His parents were among the many families that emigrated from New Jersey to the new land called Symmes's Purchase. The family arrived before Wayne's Treaty of Peace with the Indians in 1795, first settling on a farm four miles from Duck Creek in Hamilton County.
The family in about 1799 moved to a farm about a mile and three-quarters northwest of the site of Lebanon. Cephas, being the first child born in the new home, said: "I was born in a thicket and had to chop my way out." The locality in which Cephas was born was an unbroken wilderness. His birth cabin was surrounded with thick spice-wood and underbrush. His cradle consisted of a sap trough, made out of timber about two feet long, split into halves and dug out into a trough for catching sugar water.
All the early schools were made of rough logs. The school that Cephas attended was no exception. It was made of buckeye logs, which, during the first summer of existence, grew green sprouts eighteen inches long. The schoolhouse consisted of only three study guides; a primer, Webster's spelling book, and the New Testament. Geography, grammar or arithmetic was not taught at the time. He taught himself the skill of arithmetic by gathering daily a bundle of hickory bark on his way home from school. As he would throw a piece in the fireplace at night he would count and calculate the pieces. The light from the fire would serve as a light for his study. It could be said that Cephas was self-taught. If not for his expertise and ability he would not have risen so far into the Shaker community.


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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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