A Shaker's Journey
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University Press of New England
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Title Page, Copyright
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The preparation of this work has taken me on a long and circuitous journey, similar in some ways to Issachar Bates’s own. I entered the world of Shaker scholarship at middle age, af_ter an abrupt career change took me into aca-demia. During graduate school in the Department of Geography, University of California at Los Angeles, I focused on issues of historical geography in the ...
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I am grateful to several institutions for their support of my research and writing, in the form of research fellowships and other f_inancial assistance: Special Collections Library at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (2007); Winterthur Museum and Library, Edward Deming An-drews Fellowship (2010); Hamilton College Communal Studies Collection ...
Introduction: “Now here's my faith I’ll speak it plain”
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The life of Issachar Bates is an extraordinary American story. It opens a win-dow onto the dynamic richness of a young and growing America, from its late colonial “signs and wonders” and the upheaval of Revolution to the religious turmoil of the Second Great Awakening and the expansion of the western frontier.one.k Issachar Bates both witnessed and participated in this rich drama. ...
1 | “Signs and Wonders”
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I was afraid that God would come up on me some day in Judgment because I was not good. This caused me to watch the heavens above rable events and experiences, he interpreted many of his youthful circum-stances as preparation for his later life as a Shaker. His family life was unsettled, forcing him to develop personal qualities of adaptability. He lived entirely in ...
2 | “Take the bloody track of war”
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Issachar Bates was a young teenager in Templeton, Massachusetts, some sixty miles west of Boston, when preparations began for war with En-gland. Af_ter the Boston Tea Party and the arrival of British troops in Boston, communities throughout Massachusetts began organizing militia units. Men and boys of all ages turned out to train on village greens, using the standard ...
3 | “I’m journeying with those who I love in the flesh”
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England for whom the Revolutionary War marked a turning point. Events in Issachar’s family life during the war years and its af_termath set him on an eventful path that would lead to new frontiers in a literal sense, as he sought to relocate himself and his growing family to the fringes of New England. For him, this period opened with the abrupt and def_initive end of his early life ...
4 | “A testimony as hot as flames”
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Issachar Bates’s solution to the restlessness, personal uncertainty, and spiritual despondency that had plagued him his entire adult life was to do the unthinkableu2014.dto turn to a marginal sect that was so deeply repudiated by mainstream Christians throughout the region that its very name conjured horrifying images of practices that no reasonable person would sanction. Ac-...
5 | “Like God's Hunters”
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We went about the work that we were sent into this new world to accomplish . . . which work we inured ourselves to like God’s hunters and went through this wild wooden world by day and by night, hunting up every soul that derness Road and across Kentucky, and their quest for receptive audiences for their message was leading them toward southwestern Ohio. They faced ...
6 | “Thorns and thistles did abound”
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Moved on at God’s command, Till they reached this western land, As 1eight.o06 began, Issachar Bates and the other eastern Shakers were optimistic about the prospects of Shakerism’s expansion into the western frontier of the new country. During worship with the “young believers”u2014.dthe term given to the new western convertsu2014.don Christmas Day, they had ...
7 | “What trials yet before us lay”
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...“Wh.noconnectat.alt trial.norights y.upet b.noconnectefor.upe us l.noconnectay”Each furnished with his staff and knapsack, And some provisions for the way We ventured on without conceiving, What trials yet before us lay. The summer of 1eight.o0eight.o found Issachar Bates and his “fellow travelers” venturing even further west to the very edge of white settlement in Indiana ...
8 | “And with much animation we lived at Busro”
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Now all the particulars that took place from 1814 to 1824 while I stayed at Busro, I shall leave for fireside talk . . . Only this much I can state, we went to work & made a comfortable living as to food & raiment, erected good buildings & mills & kept a good measure of faith & gospel order. And in a few years we had things in pretty good condition . . . Now after ...
9 | “Remnant of the tribe of Issachar”
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And now, last of all, but not the least, I must enclose my kind and best love . . . together with all the kind and good love of all the brethren and sisters in our family, and of the Elders brethren & sisters at the South House, and particularly of the Remnant of the tribe of Issachar, all in a lump. movement in the midst of a large assortment of family membersu2014.dspouse, ...
10 | “The Cockatrice still wants a place in Zion’s lovely regions”
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The time is now for all to bow, and find their true subjection; And take good heed unto their lead, for this is their protection. The lowly mind that’s truly join’d unto the true foundation, Issachar Bates’s f_inal decade in the West would be intense and demanding. The events that the Shaker pioneers had set into motion begin-...
11 | “Tribulation Worketh Patience”
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Perhaps you may have the brains beat out of your soul some day, and then you will know what heart-rending sorrow is and not till then. As 1eight.o32 opened, Issachar Bates found his position at Watervliet under scrutiny. He was to be removed from of_f_ice and the eldership trans-ferred to Richard McNemar, who had come to Watervliet ostensibly to sort ...
12 | “So I’ll relinquish all demands”
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So I’ll relinquish all demands For any good I’ve ever done; I’ll throw my soul into thy hands, And trust thy mercy, that alone. Shaker community in June 1eight.o35. It was relatively unfamiliar, but not entirely unknown, territory for him. For more than a generation, New Lebanon had been the center of the Shaker world, the largest concentration of Shakers any-...
Epilogue: “Elder Issachar seems to be continually at hand”
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This now ends the life and labors of Elder Issachar Bates . . . For he was a man raised up by the hand of God to do the work he has done . . . a man well calculated to be the pioneer of the gospel. The process of summing up the meaning of Issachar Bates’s com-plex contributions began soon af_ter his funeral. Isaac Newton Youngs, the ...
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Note on Sources
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Scholars of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or “Shakers,” are fortunate that f_ine collections of Shaker primary sources are held by numerous insti-tutions. Many of these collections include material spanning multiple categories of cor-respondence, journals, ledgers, hymnals, poetry, spiritual writings, and more. Some focus primarily on a specif_ic community or group of communities within the Shaker world, ...
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Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2013