This Day in History – March 29

On March 29th, 1923, Mary Carmichael Settles, the last surviving member of the Pleasant Hill Shaker Community, died in the Center Family House.

In 1805, three Shaker missionaries set out to find new converts among the pioneers that had headed westward via the Cumberland Gap and the Ohio River. By August of that they, they had gathered a small group of followers of the doctrine of Mother Ann Lee, many of whom had been influenced by the reawakening of religion because of the Cane Ridge Revival.

In December of 1806, 44 converts signed a document agreeing to mutual support and communal ownership of property. The community began living together on the farm of Elisha Thomas, which started out at 140 acres. Additional converts quickly joined the Shakers, and the property grew to 4,369 acres. In 1808, the Pleasant Hill Shaker community was permanently established. The Shakers were excellent farmers and were able to overcome hardships and adversity through their strong sense of commitment and will. The location of the community was ideal for agricultural and economic growth, and by 1816, the Shakers regularly traveled to larger cities to sell their wares, going as far away as New Orleans.

The Shaker society disbanded in 1910, and the Pleasant Hill property changed hands several times and was used for various purposes. Elderly Shakers continued to live on the property until Mary Carmichael Settles passed away in 1923.

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