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Allen, Catherine (1851-1922), Shaker eldress  

Stephen J. Paterwic

Allen, Catherine (03 September 1851–05 June 1922), Shaker eldress, was born Minnie Catherine Allen in Patriot, Indiana, the daughter of John Allen, a clergyman and reformer, and Ellen Lazarus, a reformer. Allen was born on property purchased by her mother in hopes of establishing another socialistic community like Brook Farm. When no one agreed to engage in this experiment, the family moved in 1857 to the Modern Times Colony in Brentwood, Long Island. At the request of her mother, Allen was brought as a boarder to the North Family of Shakers in Mount Lebanon, New York, on 2 February 1865. Her reception into the Shaker society was somewhat unique because the Shakers rarely accepted children if both parents were alive and neither of them planned to join the community. No doubt Allen was accepted because of her parents’ long association with communities such as Brook Farm and because they were sympathetic to the Shakers....

Article

Barker, Ruth Mildred (1897-1990), Shaker trustee  

Jane F. Crosthwaite

Barker, Ruth Mildred (03 February 1897–25 January 1990), Shaker trustee, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of James P. Barker and Ruth Jackson. Her father died in 1903, and that year, unable to care for Mildred, her mother took her to the Alfred, Maine, community of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, informally known as the Shakers. Barker, who came to be known as Sister Mildred, grew up within the Alfred community, signed the covenant, and worked primarily as a caretaker of young girls. She moved to Sabbathday Lake, southwest of Lewiston, Maine, in 1931 with the consolidation of the two communities....

Article

Brown, Olympia (1835-1926), Universalist minister and suffragist  

Sheryl A. Kujawa

Brown, Olympia (05 January 1835–23 October 1926), Universalist minister and suffragist, was born in Prairie Ronde, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, the daughter of Asa B. Brown and Lephia Olympia, farmers. Her parents were Universalists with a strong commitment to education for their children. She first attended school with her two younger sisters and brother in a building on her family’s farm and later in Schoolcraft, Michigan. In 1854 she went to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts. She disliked the stultifying rules and religious orthodoxy there and transferred in 1856 to the newly organized coeducational Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio....

Article

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910), founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, and of Christian Science as a method of healing  

Mary Farrell Bednarowski

Eddy, Mary Baker (16 July 1821–03 December 1910), founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, and of Christian Science as a method of healing, was born near Concord, New Hampshire, the daughter of Mark Baker and Abigail Ambrose. Historians are generally agreed that Eddy’s father was a volatile, ambitious, and theologically rigid Calvinist and that her mother was a self-effacing woman devoted to home, family, and a gentler form of religious piety. Eddy was admitted to membership in the Congregational church at Sanbornton Bridge, New Hampshire, in 1838 in spite of her rejection of predestination and her inability to pinpoint an experience of conversion. Her family’s devotional life emphasized prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, study of the Westminster Catechism, and intense theological discussion and provided her with a kind of informal theological education....

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Cover Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910)
Mary Baker Eddy. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100584).

Article

Haviland, Laura Smith (1808-1898), abolitionist and evangelist  

Effie K. Ambler

Haviland, Laura Smith (20 December 1808–20 April 1898), abolitionist and evangelist, was born in Leeds County, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Daniel Smith and Sene Blancher, farmers. She grew up in western New York State in a community of the Society of Friends and received several years of education in a Quaker school. In 1825 she married Charles Haviland, Jr.; they had eight children. In 1829 the young couple moved to Michigan Territory, where they joined her parents and siblings in establishing farms in the valley of the River Raisin (near present-day Adrian, Mich.) and living pious lives in a tightly knit extended family....

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Cover Haviland, Laura Smith (1808-1898)

Haviland, Laura Smith (1808-1898)  

In 

Laura Smith Haviland. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

Article

Jackson, Rebecca Cox (1795-1871), itinerant preacher, religious writer, and Shaker eldress  

Jean McMahon Humez

Jackson, Rebecca Cox (15 February 1795–24 May 1871), itinerant preacher, religious writer, and Shaker eldress, was born a free African American in Horntown, Pennsylvania. According to sketchy autobiographical information, she was the daughter of Jane (maiden name unknown) Cox. No reference is made in her writings to her father, who probably died shortly after her birth. Rebecca Cox lived with her grandmother (never named) until she was between three and four years old, but by age six she was again living with her mother, who had remarried and was now called Jane Wisson or Wilson. Her stepfather, a sailor, died at sea the next year. At age ten, she was in Philadelphia with her mother and a younger sister and infant brother, the offspring, it seems, of a third marriage of her mother. Responsibility for caring for her younger siblings seems to have deprived Rebecca of the schooling her mother was somehow able to provide for the other children. Her mother died when she was thirteen, whereupon she probably moved into the household of her older brother Joseph Cox (1778?–1843), a tanner and clergyman eighteen years her senior....

Article

James, Jane Manning (1820?–16 Apr. 1908), pioneer Black member  

Christine Caccipuoti

James, Jane Manning (1820?–16 Apr. 1908), pioneer Black member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), was born Jane Elizabeth Manning, likely in Wilton, Connecticut, around the year 1820. She was one of at least five children of Philes, a formerly enslaved woman, and Isaac Manning, of whom little is definitively known except that he was a free man possibly from Newton, Connecticut....

Article

King, Emma Belle (1873-1966), Shaker eldress  

Erika M. Butler

King, Emma Belle (05 June 1873–01 July 1966), Shaker eldress, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of Daniel Sylvester King, a carpenter and horsecar conductor, and Nancy Ellen Rowley. Emma and her sister Mary Ellen King were placed with the Shakers (United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing) in Canterbury, New Hampshire, in 1878. There is some indication that a brother, Daniel S. King, arrived several years later in 1881. Although there is little record of Emma’s parents or how she came to be placed in Canterbury, it is clear that her mother lodged with the Shakers at one point. Of her father’s whereabouts the records say nothing. King does refer, however, in a memorial written for Sister Lizzie Horton, to a period in her childhood in which she was “in grief over the demise of a much loved father.”...

Article

Lee, Ann (29 February 1736–08 September 1784), visionary, prophetess, and founder of the Shakers (later formally the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing)  

Stephen J. Stein

Lee, Ann (29 February 1736–08 September 1784), visionary, prophetess, and founder of the Shakers (later formally the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing), visionary, prophetess, and founder of the Shakers (later formally the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing), was born in Manchester, England, the daughter of John Lees, a blacksmith, and his wife, a “very pious woman.” Lee, one of eight children, was baptized in Christ Church on 1 June 1742. She received little, if any, formal education. Tradition has it that she worked in a cotton factory and also as a cutter of hatters’ fur. In 1762 she married Abraham Standerin (also identified as Stanley and Standley), a blacksmith. They both signed the register in the cathedral with only a mark. It is reported that she had four children, all of whom died in infancy or at an early age. The burial record of one daughter, Elizabeth, age six, does exist....

Article

Lindsay, Bertha (1897-1990), Shaker eldress  

Erika M. Butler

Lindsay, Bertha (28 July 1897–03 October 1990), Shaker eldress, was born Goldie Ina Ruby Lindsay in Braintree, Massachusetts, the daughter of Lloyd E. Lindsay, a mechanic, grocer, and photographer, and Abbie H. Smith. Goldie arrived at the Canterbury Shaker Village (United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing) in 1905, after the death of her parents. Her sister May, in her mid-twenties at the time, was about to marry and head west. The family, Baptists, had worshiped at the village; the Shakers were known to take in young children, and so they were asked to care for her. Years later, when she signed the covenant in 1918, Goldie took the name “Bertha” as a way of honoring Sister Bertha Lillian Phelps, in whose care she had been as a teenager and whom she considered her spiritual mother....

Article

Livermore, Harriet (1788-1868), evangelist and author  

David B. Eller

Livermore, Harriet (14 April 1788–30 March 1868), evangelist and author, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the daughter of Edward St. Loe Livermore, a judge and U.S. Congressman, and his first wife, Mehitable Harris. As an infant Harriet displayed a strong emotional temperament that became one of her hallmarks in later life. She was five when her mother died and at age eight young Harriet was sent to boarding schools, first at Haverhill, Massachusetts, and later to the Byfield Seminary in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Atkinson Academy in New Hampshire....

Article

McPherson, Aimee Semple (1890-1944), evangelist and founder of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel  

Kevin E. Stilley

McPherson, Aimee Semple (09 October 1890–27 September 1944), evangelist and founder of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, was born near Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of James Morgan Kennedy, a Methodist farmer and road engineer, and Mildred “Minnie” Pearce, a Salvation Army volunteer. Minnie believed that her own call to preach the gospel had been frustrated by her marriage and therefore promised God that she would dedicate to his service a daughter if he would only give her one. Believing Aimee to be an answer to this prayer, Minnie dedicated Aimee as an infant during a Salvation Army jubilee and nurtured her to fulfill this calling....

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Cover McPherson, Aimee Semple (1890-1944)
Aimee Semple McPherson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92329).

Article

Morgan, Mary Kimball (1861-1948), Christian Science educator and college president  

Marsha Mihok

Morgan, Mary Kimball (08 December 1861–13 October 1948), Christian Science educator and college president, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the daughter of Freeman Aaron Kimball, a Union officer in the Civil War and later a merchant, and Helen Maria Chapin. Mary was educated in the St. Louis, Missouri, public school system and later tutored at home. Poor health prevented her from attending college. In 1885 she married William Edgar Morgan; they had two children....

Article

Osborn, Sarah Haggar Wheaten (1714-1796), revival leader and educator  

Sheryl A. Kujawa

Osborn, Sarah Haggar Wheaten (22 February 1714–02 August 1796), revival leader and educator, was born in London, England, the daughter of Benjamin Haggar, a brazier, and Susanna Guyse. She came to New England in 1722 and by 1729 was settled in Newport, Rhode Island, where she lived for the rest of her life. In 1731, before she was eighteen, Sarah went against her parents’ wishes and married Samuel Wheaten, a sailor, who died at sea two years later. Left with an infant son to support, Sarah took over the direction of a small school and, despite chronic ill health, ran a school almost continuously until she reached her sixties....

Article

Palmer, Phoebe Worrall (1807-1874), Methodist lay revivalist and author  

Charles Edward White

Palmer, Phoebe Worrall (18 December 1807–02 November 1874), Methodist lay revivalist and author, was born in New York City, the daughter of Henry Worrall, an engineer, and Dorothea Wade. Converted in England under John Wesley’s preaching in 1785, her father set up a staunch Methodist home when he emigrated to America in 1792. Nothing is known of her education, but Phoebe embraced her parents’ Methodist faith as a child and adhered to it all her life. In 1827 she married Walter Clarke Palmer, a physician and a lay leader in the Methodist Episcopal Church; they had six children. Although based in New York City, she traveled extensively, holding meetings in places as widely separated as California, Louisiana, Quebec, and Scotland. Palmer began her career as a theologian by penning religious verse, then branched out to write articles and books. Filling in for her husband at a Methodist class-meeting launched her as a revivalist, and she eventually crossed the continent and the Atlantic to preach the good news. As a feminist, she first spoke at a women’s prayer meeting and later produced a full-scale defense of women’s ministries. As a humanitarian, she distributed tracts in poor neighborhoods and later established one of the nation’s first settlement houses. Her three surviving children all went into professional Christian service....

Article

Palmer, Sarah Worrall Lankford (1806-1896), Methodist laywoman  

Charles Edward White

Palmer, Sarah Worrall Lankford (23 April 1806–24 April 1896), Methodist laywoman, was born in New York City, the daughter of Henry Worrall, an engineer, and Dorothea Wade. Like her more famous younger sister, Phoebe Palmer, Sarah Palmer was a vigorous proponent of the doctrine of entire sanctification. There is no record of her education. In 1831 she married Thomas Lankford, a builder....

Article

Smith, Amanda Berry (1837-1915), evangelist, missionary, and reformer  

Mary De Jong

Smith, Amanda Berry (23 January 1837–24 February 1915), evangelist, missionary, and reformer, was born in Long Green, Maryland, the daughter of Samuel Berry and Mariam Matthews, slaves on neighboring farms. By laboring day and night, Samuel Berry earned enough to buy his freedom and that of his wife and children, including Amanda. By 1850 the family had moved to a farm in York County, Pennsylvania. Their home was a station on the Underground Railroad....