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The Shaker religious society of Kentucky


The Shaker religious society of Kentucky

This is primarily for anyone interested in the Shakers at Pleasant Hill and South Union, KY. I am glad to share what I have researched and do lookups if you think you might have an ancestor that belonged to the Kentucky Shakers.

Members: 10
Latest Activity: Jun 29, 2011

Discussion Forum

Runyan Family

Started by Debbie Winchell (Loving Dove). Last reply by Barbara Whiteside Oct 17, 2009. 1 Reply

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Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 29, 2011 at 7:13am


Here are a couple of sites on the Banta family that might be of interest to you ........I will say the one by Elsa M. Banta does have errors but it is on my Montfort line and the family going to the Shakers may have caused some to misread the original journals or they weren't available to look at when she did the book.   That said......the history of the Banta family is quite good and you might be interested in reading it.  The other site tells about the Frisian background of the Banta being a northern most province in the Netherlands.......hope these will be of some use to you.  If you can google Judy Cassidy...she is an expert on the Lambert Dorland family and know she has posted info here and there online.....if you don't hear right away, she has a son who is ill and goes to help out when she can, but if you need anything on Lambert, she is the go to girl.  

Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 12, 2011 at 3:36pm

before I lose it....this is some from rootsweb on Lambert Darland/Banta...not familiar with this person, but his info is same as Ed Voorhees, who I do know and trust.   Its as I suspected, your Lambert Banta is closely related to my line and for something interesting to put in the pocket and later digest.....this Lambert is the son of son of Samuel and Dyna Dorland Banta and brother to  Vestus/Hendrick Banta, John Banta [my 4th great grandfather] and half brother to Charity Banta Montfort [my 4th great grandmother] book says Lambert did not join the Shakers with his parents and siblings.....and his father Samuel was party to a lawsuit after he left the Shakers in 1827....if your Napoleon is a descendant of Lambert...this may be why he knew of the Shakers at PH and maybe a reason he joined...he had family least till 1862 when one of the girls passed away.....Ann Banta...a sister to Lambert.


The Shakers had elders in each house who served as teachers to the boys...and an eldress who taught the woman.....they were trusted to stick to the Shaker faith when this says a lot about Napoleon.

Interesting note on the lunatic asylum...might a good question for Mrs. Curry.


The Shakers are fascinating to research....I have spent about 2 years trying to figure out why the first to join were except for one family...all from the Low Dutch Colony of KY.....think I have finally figured it out but need to get it in some order and send it to Mrs Curry for her thoughts........its not just one thing but several things that seemed to fit a need for those that particular time.


Keep me posted....your history is getting better by the minute......



The two census could be he was at one place when the census was taken and arrived at the other location before they had it taken he ended up in same census year at two different locations...I have found that before in one of my lines.

Comment by Trudy Lusk on May 11, 2011 at 9:41pm

Tandy's mother was Hester Kurtz, who divorced Napoleon and later married my husband's great-great-grandfather Milton Grow, she was not deseased (the Shaker records say she was "still in the world", I would guess to them that meant outside of the Shaker community)   I've seen records for a Napoleon at a veteran's hospital in Ohio and census records as well, I just didn't have anything tying the two together until now.


Mrs. Curry's info said Napoleon was the boys' teacher and Tandy was placed in his tather's care.   It's interesting that her records say he went to PH in Apr 1860, but the census still had him listed in Garrard, KY with son John and wife Hester.   Then Tandy joined PH in Oct 1867...  I would guess a custody battle, or Napoleon was waiting for Tandy to get old enough to leave his mother.   I'll need to go dig through the court records one of these days.   Back then I wouldn't think mothers had many rights like they do today, but there may be some court records. Milton and Hester married in 1871 after Tandy joined Napoleon.  Hester is living with her mother on the 1870 census.


Another interesting tidbit as I was entering this into a timeline for Napoleon - Jan 1866 he joined the Pleasant Hill North Family, then there's a note

"On Feb 9 1866 Napolean Brown, a young Believer of the North Family, was handed over to the civil authorities at Harrodsburg, to be placed in the Lunatic Asylum"   In oct 1866 there's a note that he left North Family and joined the Center Family...   guess they didn't get along in the North Family...

Nov 1867 the boys' classes commenced with Napoleon as the if he was a lunatic would they have let him teach or become an elder?   hmmm...

very interesting piece of history,



Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 11, 2011 at 7:55pm

not finding anything on the SQV so might want to check with Mrs Curry on that one.



Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 11, 2011 at 7:52pm

So glad you got in touch with her....she is fantastic and has helped me quite a bit and now gives my name to others working the apparently I have passed her  I can help on some of the abbreviations..NF, meant North of the group homes at Pleasant Hill...they had North Family, West Family [WF], East Family [EF], Center Family [CF]...those were the main ones and CF was the main one.  My own ancestors were mainly at EF and coincidentally was a carpenter for EF...well known I've been told and his name is recognized when I ask anyone there at Pleasant Hill.   I believe a journal kept at the Filson Historical Society in of the few original ones remaining....was kept by Francis Montfort, who was my 3rd great grandfather.  I'll have to check another source for the SQV....and the dates probably refer to the dates he was located at each of the families.  


The Shakers practiced celibacy...part of their creed......but most came to the Shakers as a family group and separated after the be a descendant, one of the Shakers either ran away, was kicked out ...more on that......or asked permission to leave and given a small sum of money to help them go back to the world.   Absconded is one term they used and it meant someone ran away...didn't tell anyone but just ran off......most of the early Shakers came to the society with very young children and as they neared the age of 21..most left rather than sign the Covenant...I liken that to a commit yourself to the a baptism commits you to a church out in the they would have phrased it.  In general they did not kick anyone out unless.....they committed the one thing they believed in...celibacy...and there are records of Shakers booted out because the woman couldn't hide a pregnancy any longer...had one in my own line that was booted out along with the girl he got pregnant....when I talked about divorce....his wife stayed as a Shaker and they got a divorce..his was granted based on her not wanting to leave the society....the KY law I talked about before.   Good his young lady had a baby about the time the divorce was granted [by the KY General Assembly in those days....1836-37]  and he was free to marry her.


Union Village was a Shaker village in Ohio...near or in Warren County...Kings Island amusement park is nearby...don't think anything remains of the village but a marker showing where it was located.   The Shakers at Pleasant HIll and Union Village visited back and forth as they did also with South Union near Bowling.Green, KY.


It mentions the arrival date of Tandy....wonder if his mother had passed away by that time???     Napoleon may have left the society or so it appears from the Ohio info....and may have married late in life and had a second family...hence the daughter.

An Elder was a position of authority...each of the family houses had an Elder and Eldress...a Deacon and Deaconess...who acted more like parents, making decisions for the whoe.


the Pennebakers were well thought of at Pleasant Hill Shaker village.....interesting stuff written in several books on the PH Shakers.


You might start digging now into Union records online for the Civil War...think I read recently some are on the internet...much easier then when I started tracking down ancestors.....way back in the mid 1960's.


It may be that Napoleon was a native of that would be a good place to start...seems to me there is something online that has a lot of info on Ohio genealogy info.......if I can find it again, will let you know how to get to it....its a freebie and I am good at


My 3rd grandfather was also a broom maker among other things........for the East House........was also a teacher of the boys at the East House too.


Interesting they placed Tandy in the Center Family under the care of his father...leads me to believe the mother may have died and he was having a hard time adjusting...normally the children would be put into other family groups.  

They did believe in educating the children...the basics....reading, writing and arithmetic....not much more but what they got they got it good...also taught trades..both boys and girls.  Many times a widower would arrive with young children.....leaving them if he was wanting to look for a wife.......knowing they would be cared for and educated....same with women who had children but a dead husband......sometimes the Shakers adopted children to give them a home.....they also bought slaves and freed them....quite an interesting group of people.



Let me know if you have any other questions....between Larrie and myself.....and I am nowhere up there in her category but better than most in the history of Pleasant Hill.


I am so glad you got in touch with her...she is just a fantastic historian.....trying to retire but its in her blood...she can't



Comment by Trudy Lusk on May 11, 2011 at 6:41pm



Your suggestion to send email to the Pleasant Hill website was awesome!  Mrs. Curry responded within 24 hours with some incredible information.  


In summary,

Napoleon D. Brown - b. 15 Sep 1838

his son Tandy Brown b. 6 Dec 1858 ("His mother remained in the world")

Believed 5 Oct 1865 (date he started attending Shaker services?)

Tandy arrived at PH 7 Oct 1867 (moved to Pleasant Hill) notes that he was admitted to CF under care of his father (dunno?)

Covenant 6 Oct 1868 (his baptism or such into the Church?)

May 1870 he visited Union Village in Ohio

17 Jul 1870 - his son Tandy Brown died.  He had leaped out of a wagon when lightning frightened the horses.   He died 4-5 days later due to a concussion.

6 Jan 1881 his mother Polly died (she was not a Shaker)

Napoleon became elder of Union Village in 1890 with Lizzie Downing (interesting - his ex-mother-in-law's maiden name was Josephine Downing.

Napoleon Died - Oct 1917 in Ohio at a veteran's home

He was an elder (at age 40), teacher and broom maker

1902 - Napoleon Brown and his little daughter of Dayton, Ohio were guests of Pennebaker Bros (daughter?   I thought the Shakers were celibate)

There's a note he fought for the Union.  He had 3 brothers, of the 4 boys in the family - 2 fought for the Union and 2 fought for the Confederacy.


I don't know what the acronyms NF, EF, SQV, or CF mean but there are dates and notes associated with them.  I'll have to send Mrs. Curry a question about those.


If anyone wants the documents Mrs. Curry sent, I'll be glad to forward them.




Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 11, 2011 at 12:03pm

yep.....there is a book on the Dorlands...if you can find it, I recommend it...called the Dorland Enigma..just came out about 2 years ago.....Judy Cassidy is a friend online and related...all the Dutch in KY seem to had a lot to do with the research on the book.  I am pretty sure the book has been donated to several libraries and might be a good place to begin on the Banta/Dorland connection.  If interested, and when ready, can put you in touch with Judy...she is very nice to talk to and think she would be a great deal of help to you.



Comment by Trudy Lusk on May 11, 2011 at 8:33am

Well looks like my in-laws and you are cousins... heya cuz!   I've seen Dorland mentioned as Lambert's middle name.   I've just begun researching my mother-in-law's line so am looking forward to a new branch of research.   She is a Waller, raised up in the Burgin, Kentucky and Loudon, Tennessee areas.  Her mother was Thelma Denny.   Some of the common surnames I've run across so far in the Denny line are Proctor, Grow, Kurtz, Bonta/Banta.    We'll see where it runs :)



Comment by Barbara Whiteside on May 11, 2011 at 7:09am

If you have a Bonta/Banta in your line, we are related..they ALL go back to Epke Jacobse who came here from Friesland in Northern Holland...he arrived with wife, Sitske and several sons in 1659.   I'll dig a bit and may have some places for you to look at.  Hendrick Banta 3rd brought the Low Dutch Colony to KY in 1780 with settlement in Jefferson County, KY and his brother in law, Samuel Durie, bringing another group into KY by way of the Cumberland Gap to Mercer County, KY.   The Lambert name seems to indicate a relationship to Lambert Dorland family that came in with the Low Dutch...this group of settlers used family names over and over...sometimes a curse, but often a blessing when hunting them down...if I see a Henry in the Montfort line, I automatically do a check as it indicates that they are closely related to me when the ancestors of the Montfort line married into the Banta..particularly this Hendrick  


I will be looking at google books later today,  would like to read what else they might well as your court was one of several.  One caused quite a rift in the society when one of the founding members left the society and tried to get his land back from the Shakers......he didn't.


Love your great grandmothers quote and its so true...and how lucky you were to know her as well..I never knew any of mine and I wish a lot, that I had known at least one of them.   I've always said ..when you stop learning, you start dying.  My other favorite I found out was similar to a quote of my 5th great uncle, Daniel Boone...I was never lost but was misplaced once, for three days.   I always said I was never lost just temporarily misplaced....then found his

Comment by Trudy Lusk on May 11, 2011 at 5:23am

I found the court transcript on  I commonly search that site for any references to family names or places, I've often been surprised what pops up.   There are hundreds of books online there.   Some don't have complete access, just teasers,   but many are complete downloadable books in pdf format that your browser can display.


If you search on Pleasant Hill Shakers (I added Napoleon) you'll find 3-4 books with info on this case.  Here's one of them:


I have a few Bonta/Banta surnames in the line I'm researching.   I haven't looked much yet but will be searching for Lambert Bonta/Banta (b. abt 1785) and two of his daughters Mary and Eliza J.    Eliza was one of my husband's great-grandmothers who married Walter Denny.  I've seen their name spelled both Bonta and Banta on census records.  All of these folks including Naploleon Brown and Hester Kurtz are all connected in his maternal side of the family.  When I research I search for all siblings and spouses, since many times they help define more of the history of the family. 

I like to know more than just dates and places, but the local history, their neighbors, how they lived, etc.   I can't tell you how often I've been shocked, after starting genealogy research, to find how horrible the history our schools is and many times completely skewed. hehe.  Here I thought we all decended from pilgrims lol...  or it seemed when I was in school.    Seems to me the Scotch Irish Protestants had them far outnumbered in those early years and they're never mentioned in traditional school books hehe.


Well thank you again, I'm always eager to learn more.   I spent quite a bit of time with my great-grandmother as I was growing thing she said is very true...   you're never old as long as you're still curious and learning.   Quite true, and at this rate I'll be around for a long time...  




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