Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Shaker Cemetery, Canterbury, New Hampshire

The Canterbury Shaker Village is located at 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury, New Hampshire.
The cemetery is right on the main road, next to the parking area. 

I was told by a docent that at one time there were individual gravestones to the deceased, 
but the community voted to remove them all and have one large stone simply engraved "SHAKERS".
This is symbolic of their life as a community, where they shared everything.

The Shakers were formed in England in the mid 1700s.  They were called the "United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing", more commonly known as the Shaking Quakers because they used dance as part of their worship services.  The Shakers established 19 communities in the United States. 

In 1792 some followers of Mother Ann Lee established the Shaker community at Canterbury, New Hampshire.  It lasted for more than 200 years.   In 1972 it opened as a museum and the few remaining Shaker sisters lived there until the last one died in 1992.  There are still living Shakers at the community in Sabbathday, Maine.  The Shakers were famous for celibacy, pacifism and a community lifestyle, but remembered for their labor saving inventions and simple furniture. 

At its height there were over 300 people at the Canterbury Shaker village living in over 100 buildings on 3,000 acres.  Because they lived as a celibate community, they took in many orphans and foundlings who were free to stay at age 21 or leave the community.  Hundreds of children were cared for and educated by the Canterbury Shakers, and these children have left thousands of descendants.  

The following members of my family tree are buried in Shaker burial grounds:

Thomas Hammond (1744 - 1824) and his wife, Sarah Winchester (1764 - 1848) joined the Shaker community at Harvard, Massachusetts on 10 January 1811.  Four of their six children also joined the Shakers:   Thomas Hammond (1791- 1880), Mary Ann Hammond (1795 - 1838), Lucy A. Hammond (1797 - 1881) and Benjamin Franklin Hammond (1803 - 1828).  Sarah Winchester Hammond was my 3rd cousin, 7 generations removed, cousins through the Jewett and Story families.  

Nathan Merrill (1743 - 1818) joined the Shakers at New Gloucester, Maine and was a deacon.  As a trained mason and bricklayer he built the Shaker Meeting House in 1794.  It is still open for tours at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. 

Anne Hovey (1720 - 1806) and her husband Elijah Wildes, converted to the Shaker religion and their estate in Groton, Massachusetts became a Shaker community.  Three of their seven children also joined the Shaker sect:  Elijah (1746 - 1829), Ivory (1751 - 1777), Phoebe (1761 - 1837).  

Elizabeth Dowtey ( 1711 - 1785) was the wife of my 1st cousin 8 generations removed Jonathan Southwick (1694 - 1745).  The Southwicks were Quakers from Salem, Massachusetts who removed to New Salem in Western Massachusetts.  As a widow Elizabeth joined the Shakers at Hancock, Massachusetts and died there.  [About Towne, Volume XIX, No. 4, December 1999 - the newsletter of the Towne Family Association] 


Isaiah Lord (1807 - 1882) lived with the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine for a while but did not stay there.  He followed some of their customs all his life.  He married Ruth Keay in 1838 and had seven children.  

Check the following book to see if your family members or distant relatives were Shakers:
A Concise History of the United Society of Believers called Shakers, by Charles Edson Robinson, East Canterbury, NH: 1893.   Available to read online at Archive.org, and searchable. 

A panoramic view of the Shaker cemetery

UPDATE 13 October 2016:
For a great post about the Canterbury Shaker cemetery and the infirmary (with a plot plan of the Shaker cemetery), see Barbara Poole'ls blog post at this link:

Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Shaker Cemetery, Canterbury, New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 16, 2015
( http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/06/tombstone-tuesday-shaker-cemetery.html : accessed [access date]).

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