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Union Village and the Shakers of Warren County, Ohio
Acknowledgements and Introduction
by
Katherine Lollar Rowland
Katherine Lollar Rowland has agreed to serve as the webmaster for the Shaker pages on the Warren County Ohio GenWeb.
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This article is a part of a series titled "The Last Fifty Years of Union Village Shakers" which are original stories and articles by Katherine Lollar Rowland about the last Ohio Shakers, their life, the way it was in the declining years of Union Village, and also of their contacts with the greater community of Warren County when they were no longer able to be self-sufficient. Other articles in the series will be added as they are completed.

Contact Katherine Lollar Rowland if you would like to comment about this article or other Shaker items.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

When the last three Shakers left Union Village in Ohio and went to New Hampshire to live at Canterbury Shaker Village, they took with them some records and journals pertaining to the last years of Union Village. Otterbein's Archives and Museum Committee felt it would be desirable to retrieve that information for Otterbein files. Also, it was known that at least one of the later Union Village journals was in the library at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, at New Gloucester, Maine.

So, on July 27, 2002, as a member of the Otterbein Archives Committee, I went to New England to gather whatever information I could about Union Village. I spent the next two weeks having my first look at large restored Shaker villages and their libraries, and received kind and gracious cooperation from curators and librarians:

Renee Fox, Librarian, Canterbury Shaker Village Library, Canterbury, NH
Christian Goodwillie, Curator of Collections, Hancock Village Library, Pittsfield, MA
Tina Agrin, Librarian, Shaker Library, Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester, ME

I also visited Mount Lebanon Shaker Village at New Lebanon, NY. They had no library, as such, but I found the beautiful site very interesting ,and the present-day activities of the Darrow School and the Suffi community going on in and around the old buildings made the early Shaker history come alive.

In Ohio, several sources have been most helpful in my project of providing information about the "Life of the Shakers of Union Village During the Last Fifty Years" - approximately 1870 to 1920.

Warren County Historical Society, Mary Payne, Director, Mary Klei, Curator
Warren County Genealogical Society, Diane Linkous, Chuck Griffen
www.rootsweb.com/~Ohwarren/Shaker/ Arne Trelvik, County Representative
Warren County Archives, Lebanon, Ohio

There is a much-repeated quotation from a member of one of the New England Shaker Villages which says, in effect, "I don't want to be remembered as a chair." My purpose in this effort seems parallel to this sentiment - to have the last Union Village residents be remembered - not simply, impersonally, as the stereotype of a "A Shaker," but rather as individuals, each striving to fill his or her own niche under the circumstances which happened to exist at the time. By doing this, I hope to honor the Shaker heritage from which all of us at Otterbein-Lebanon now benefit, as present day residents of the site of Union Village, in this 200th Anniversary Year of its founding. .

INTRODUCTION

In contemplating the last half century of the Shakers of Union Village,Warren Count,y Ohio, the names of several persons immediately come to mind. These include both the members of the Shaker community itself and also those of the surrounding communities in Ohio because by those years of, roughly 1870 to 1920, the Shakers were no longer self-sufficient but were closely involved with others they had formerly called “The World.”

First name on the list is that of ELDER JOSEPH R. SLINGERLAND, notorious for his ill-advised financial schemes which brought Union Village near to bankruptcy during the years he was First Minisstry from 1890 to 1920.

In sharp contrast to the record of Joseph Slingerland is that of JAMES H. FENNESSEY, who as Trustee of Union Village took over the finances after Slingerland left and brought the Community back to an even keel. However, by that time the whole Shaker movement was on a decline and Union Village was sold to the United Brethren church in 1912/1913 Feenessey stayed on in Warren County after others of the group scattered in 1920. When he died in 1928 he was the last of the Union Village Shakers to go.

Another respected Shaker was OLIVER C. HAMPTON, called the “Chronicler of Union Village,” for the many learned papers he wrote during his lifetime of positions of authority, including many years as a teacher. His service continued until the time of his death in 1901 while at the community at White Oak, Georgia, which Union Village was endeavoring to start.

Following the practices of the United Society of Believers in the Second Coming of Christ, better known as Shakers, men and women in the Ministry were of equal status. Hence, the names of several Eldresses come to mind, as well as the Elders. One of those, Clymena Miner, a life-long Shaker in various communities of the East, came to Union Village in 1900. , Her estate papers in the Warren County Archives in Lebanon reveal that when she died in 1916, at age 83, she left a total cash in bank accounts of over $6,500, thus presenting a mystery: How did someone who had lived in a communal society all her life come to have that much cash?

Another Eldress whose name stands out is that of Catherine Allen, who came to Union Village near its final days after many years in th Central Ministry in the East. She was part of a group at Mt. Lebanon who in 1905 sponsored a Peace Conference. While at the Eastern Shaker Communities she was active in national organizations as a social reformer, promoting progressive issues in compliance with Shaker religious beliefs.

These are a few of the members of the Shaker community at Union Village during the last half century. Coming later will be information about such prominent members of the larger Warren county commnity, such as JUDGE JAMES ALLEN RUNYAN, lawyer for Union Village for many years who was later appointed receiver for the community. And JOHN PATTERSON MacLEAN, founder of the Ohio Histoical Society who befriended the Shakers and wrote authoritatively about them concurrently with the closing of Union Village.


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This page created 27 January 2005 and last updated 22 May, 2008
© 2005 Katherine Lollar Rowland & Arne H Trelvik  All rights reserved