We’re Shaker crazy here at Hammock. Not only does the May/June issue of American Spirit feature a cover story on the restoration of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in New Lebanon, N.Y., but Jamie recently paid a visit to the beautifully restored Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. (Read about her trek to Kentucky here.)
The Shakers came to America for the same reason as many other groups: to escape religious persecution. Beginning in 1774, founder Mother Ann Lee and her followers built pacifist communities of industrious, equality-minded folks dedicated to the simple life. Numbers declined by the late 1800s (their practice of celibacy obviously didn’t help membership numbers) and most communities were disbanded by the early 20th century. Still, the Shakers’ craftsmanship, work ethic and commitment to equality are still ripe subjects for study and contemplation. We’re happy to salute the work of preservationists working to restore the buildings at Mount Lebanon and bring the site of an influential Shaker community back to life.
The issue also features a story idea suggested by American Spirit Editor in Chief and DAR member Denise Doring VanBuren. Curious to track the growing trend of genetic testing and all the media attention focused on what DNA can reveal about a person’s history, she invited fellow members of the Melzingah Chapter, Beacon, N.Y., to join her in having their DNA tested. The seven participants discovered a new world of information about their ancestry in the process and eagerly shared the results. Coupled with commentary from a DAR genealogist and Family Tree DNA experts, the story helps readers decipher how certain genetic tests work and what they can reveal about family backgrounds.
One more plug, this time for female patriots! We spotlight the adventures of Deborah Sampson Gannett, that wild-n-crazy revolutionary who disguised herself in men’s clothing to join the Continental Army. She served for more than a year under a man’s name, and she kept up the ruse until she was wounded. (Didn’t they wonder why she never shaved?) It makes me wonder—were there other female fighters like Gannett who kept up a masquerade yet were never discovered—or celebrated?