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Cohoon, Hannah Harrison (01 February 1788–07 January 1864), Shaker artist, was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the daughter of Noah B. Harrison, a revolutionary war veteran who died a year after her birth, and Huldah Bacon. She was raised in Williamstown and apparently was married there, to a man named Cohoon, but nothing is known of her husband, though she probably was widowed or abandoned. In 1817, with her five-year-old son, Harrison, and three-year-old daughter, Mariah, she entered the Hancock (Mass.) Shaker Village established twenty-six years earlier by members of the communitarian sect known formally as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing and more commonly as the Shakers. Cohoon remained at Hancock (just west of Pittsfield) until her death. Her son and daughter left around 1838, but the daughter, having married and presumably become widowed, returned later in life....

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Ferris, Benjamin (07 August 1780–09 November 1867), surveyor and Quaker leader, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Ziba Ferris, a cabinetmaker, and Edith Sharpless. Part of an active and influential Quaker family, Ferris was mostly self-taught. After being apprenticed to a clock maker in Philadelphia, he opened a business there in 1801 and prospered enough to wed Wilmingtonian Fanny Canby three years later and to invest $7,500 in a large lot in 1806. Of the couple’s ten children, three died in childhood. In the City of Brotherly Love, Ferris learned French, read widely—at one time his library housed more than eighty religious books by non-Quaker authors—cultivated cosmopolitan tastes, and made numerous contacts among fellow believers before returning in 1813 to Wilmington, his home for the rest of his life....

Article

Finster, Howard (02 December 1916–22 October 2001), preacher and folk artist, was one of thirteen children born in Valley Head, Alabama, to Samuel William Finster and Lula Henegar Finster, farmers. From the age of five he worked on the forty‐acre family farm. Though he described himself as a self‐taught artist and preacher, he was inspired by watching his mother paint, quilt, and make dioramas, which later influenced his own mixed‐media boxes and dioramas....

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McCoy, Isaac (13 June 1784–21 June 1846), Baptist missionary, surveyor, and U.S. Indian agent, was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of William McCoy, a clergyman. His mother’s name is unknown. When he was six years old, his family moved to Kentucky, where he attended public schools. At nineteen he married Christiana Polke, who had strong religious convictions and missionary spirit and became his dedicated partner throughout his life. They had thirteen children....

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Reason, Patrick Henry (1816–12 August 1898), printmaker, abolitionist, and fraternal order leader, was born in New York City, the son of Michel Reason (from St. Anne, Guadeloupe) and Elizabeth Melville (from Saint-Dominique). Reason was baptized as Patrick Rison in the Church of St. Peter on 17 April 1816. While it is not known why the spelling of his name changed, it may have been an homage to political leader ...

Article

Swan, Timothy (23 July 1758–23 July 1842), hat maker and composer, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of William Swan, a goldsmith, and Levina Keyes. By age eleven he was apprenticed to a merchant in nearby Marlborough then moved to Groton, Massachusetts, to assist his brother in the same business. There he attended a singing school for three weeks in 1774. This experience, some fife instruction during a brief army stint in Cambridge later that year, and an article on music that he read in the 1797 ...