Kentucky: a road trip through the state - Part 46 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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The Pleasant Hill Shakers
We had heard that there was a Shaker village that was quite near our route to the Daniel Boone National forest so we decided that this would make a good place to stop on the journey as they offered accommodation as well.
We like most people had heard about Shakers but really had little information about them so decided to do a bit of investigation before the trip. The rest of this article is devoted to the history of the Shakers which explains some of their choices and what has become of them today. If this is not of interest then you should skip this and the next article and go straight to the part where we talk about the actual village as it is today.
The American part of the story begins in Liverpool on the 10th of May 1774. A ship that was barely seaworthy set sail from the port of Liverpool for what was then known as the New World. Three months later that ship, named the Mariah, dropped anchor in the New York City harbour. It disembarked nine people who were both poor and fervent members of a religious sect.
This sect was led by a stocky woman they called Mother Ann. They had all fled persecution in England to reach a land of religious freedom which would fulfil the vision of their leader. The official name of the sect was the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing but as we will see they became more commonly known as the Shakers.
Ann Lee had grown up in the industrial section of Manchester where she had been a child labourer in the textile mills. She was illiterate and had married young, she had soon given birth to four children, unfortunately all of them died before they were very old. It was maybe these things while she was still young that caused her to turn her life away from her surroundings toward searching for security after death.
She soon began to see visions and to say that she could hear Christ speaking to her. During these revelations she was convinced that the only true road to salvation was celibacy and confession of sin. Persecution of this group continued and many members including Ann were thrown into prison. Whilst she was there Ann claimed to have received a vision of Christ appearing to her in person. She told other members of her group that Christ had made his first appearance following his resurrection to a woman, which showed that his second coming would be as a woman.
This led to the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing being born and to Mother Ann becoming its leader. The sect worshiped by literally giving themselves to God and moved when they felt the spirit of God. These animated movements caused them to be known locally as the “Shaking Quakers”, and then just the “Shakers”. It was a name they ultimately decided to use themselves when they started their new lives in America.
The next section continues in part 47.
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