Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Shakers were established by “Mother Ann” Lee, who came to New York from England with seven followers in 1774. The small group made many converts, and by the 1840s, there were about 6,000 Shakers in 18 villages from Maine to Kentucky. The Shakers were Christians who believed in the equality of men and women and all races. All property was held in common. And they did not believe in marriage. Because they had no children, they had to attract converts to survive.
Shaker communities grew or made almost everything they needed. Their buildings furniture and household implements were simple but elegant. They also made improvements in farming, inventing many new tools. Beginning in the 1860s, the number of Shakers began to decline. Today, there are no Shaker communities. But some of the villages are museums, where the shaker’s spirit lives on in their unique architecture and handicrafts.
Shakers were the first to put garden seeds in envelopes and sell them across the country.