Partial View to North Family – Looking North-West, ca. 1880. Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, 1950.4014.1
This anonymously written poem notes and described the 36 members of the North Family at the beginning of 1848. Where some members are noted only by their first names their surnames have been supplied in brackets. The document is useful in its description of the employments of many of the family’s members. That information coupled with other manuscripts from the family for that year gives us a rich view of life in the family.
Verses composed in the North Family of Believers at New Lebanon, in which all the members of said family are briefly noticed who were residing therein March 12th 1848.
In describing the members of this family,
We’ll labor to exercise some charity.
And if by and by we should chance to espy,
Some very small mote in a brother’s eye,
We’ll seek to remove it as we have been shown,
By taking out firstly the beam from our own.
Impress’d with this maxim we’ll now pass along,
And notice each member in our little song.
Here kind Elder Richard [Bushnell] stands first on the list,
And kind Brother Frederick [Evans] stands next to assist,
Now both our kind Elders we love and revere,
And give them our blessing their spirits to cheer.
Our Elders so kind we are bound to obey,
They watch for our souls that we go not astray;
So we will be faithful and labor to bless,
Our kind loving Elders for their faithfulness.
Eldress Sarah [Smith], now stands at the feminine head,
By whose wise example good Sisters are led;
The same bright-example now daily is set,
By our loving sister we call Antoinette [Doolittle].
By both have a burden of labor and care
Their love for lost-souls makes them willing to bear
Our kind Elder Sisters deserve our best love.
They are striving to lead us to heaven above.
Charles Bushnell and Clawson [Middleton] good Deacons have been,
In supporting the gospel which saves us from sin;
In love and good works they do always abound,
And faithful and true they have ever been found.
Armeda [Sherman] and Anna [Crosman] are two faithful souls,
As ever existed between the two poles;
Their labors of love are extended to all,
The sick and the healthy the great and the small.
And now, Thomas Estes we’ll next call to mind
He’s faithful in labor, obliging and kind
John Shaw we’ll remember who makes all our shoes;
And by his example much strength does diffuse,
Now Amy [Bennet] kind Sister must not be forgot,
She’s patient in bearing what falls to her lot;
She’ll long be remember’d beloved and blest
For labors bestow’d on the sick and distress’d
We’ll also remember our good Phebe Ann [Jones],
Who daily is striving to do all she can,
She works at the Palm leaf and makes summer hats,
Likewise pretty fans and some table mats;
In all her employment, she’s cheerful and bright,
And her smiling countenance gives us delight.
Now, Anthony Roberts and George [Wickersham] we will name
They both are mechanicks of much skill and fame.
They are gifted in skill like the workmen of old
Who wrought for the temple wood, silver and gold
And as they in faith and good works do abound,
With pure love and union they both shall be crown’d
Let kind sister Sally [Bushnell] come next if you please,
And Patty [Bushnell] who make our good butter and cheese,
We know they are faithful in all their employ,
They cultivate good but the evil destroy.
Henry Cantrell and Chauncey [Sears] are worthy of praise,
Their labors are useful in various ways;
In the shop, at the mill on the farm with the team,
Their good deeds are flowing in one constant stream;
These brethren so faithful in all their employ.
We give them our blessing and wish them much joy;
And when all their labors are finishe’d and done,
We trust they will reign with the Daughter and Son.
Now Nancy [Lockwood] and Charlotte [Bowns] kind Sisters are they,
Both careful to walk in the strait narrow way;
In deep tribulation they always endure,
And march on their way with the humble and pure.
Of Levi [Shaw] and Daniel [Fraser] we’ll next-take a view,
We know they are faithful, kind, honest and true;
Their faith by their works they’ve both fully shown,
We love them sincerely we freely must own.
Now Phebe [Van Houten] we’ll notice like Dorcas of old,
She’s made many garments which we can behold.
And Catharine [Van Houten] also is true in her place,
While smiles of contentment enliven her face.
These two worthy sisters so loving and kind
Are belov’d by all for their pureness of mind.
Resembling each other as near as two pins,
They bring to the mind two young roes that are twins.
Here’s Andrew [Firkey] and Luther [Dunnels] quite faithful we find,
They’re both honest farmers to labor inclin’d;
The cause of the gospel they wish to promote,
Their time and their talents they freely devote;
These brethren obliging and kind are to all,
And while they are faithful they never will fall.
Jane Knight, loves employment she’s neat as a pin,
She gives wholesome counsel to those who come in;
In her conversation she’s meek and she’s mild,
And in her behavior a true gospel child.
And Harriet Bullard kind sister we love,
The spirit is pure as the innocent dove,
She is faithful in duty in every place,
And virtues bright image is stamp’d on her face.
John Brown is a brother quite clever and kind,
He’s taken some pains in improving his mind.
He’s faithful in duty takes care of the hens
He cultivates good bur the evil condemns
John Robe is a brother quite cheerful and free
In search of Mount Zion he sailed o’er the sea
And since he was faithful and did persevere
We give him our blessing and welcome him here
Now, Sarah Jane Epwell the gospel obeys
And kind Hannah Wilson is worthy of praise
They both do stand faithful and firm for the truth
They’ve given their strength to the Lord in their youth
For such there’s a blessing for greater we know
Than all the vain pleasures this world can bestow.
Our young brother Henry [Cantrell] does all that he can
To build up the gospel of good Mother Ann
And Timothy Rayson is striving to be
Attentive to labor obliging and free
We know if they’re giving their strength to the Lord
Now while in their youth they will have their reward
And if they are faithful to keep in the fold
They’ll gain greater riches than mountains of gold
Of Elizaette Sutton and Rhoda [Hollister] we’ll speak
They’re pure in their manners obliging and meek
The world they’ve forsaken with all its vain toys
To find more substantial and heavenly joys
Now, Moses [Clement] we’ll mention who’s set out to break
The ties of old nature for the gospel’s sake
And Solomon Goddard has also begun
The snares of the tempter henceforth for to shun
We love these young brethren we’re free to confess
We give them our blessing that they may progress
This poem was transcribed many years ago from a manuscript in the collection in one of the repositories holding Shaker materials, but the transcriber does not remember which repository. It is shared here both for your reading pleasure and for your help in locating its source. If you can identify the poem, please comment below.