Sunday, May 6, 2007

Section a. Mass. Line to Albany; 29.3 m.

Shaggy Mount Lebanon rises north of the point where US 20 crosses the Massachusetts Line, 0 m., 7.8 m. west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. As the highway winds down the mountainside it passes several barnlike houses (L), remnants of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Settlement, established here in 1785. The Shakers were one of the earliest religious cults to sprout along the east-west axis of the Empire State. Its distinguishing tenents were celibacy, community of property... The social unit was the large 'family' housed under one roof, but the men and women eating and lodging seperately. The physical paroxysms accompanying their religious exercises gave rise to the name 'Shaking Quakers,' later abbreviated to Shakers. (Pictured here, the Mount Lebanon Meeting House ca1933.)

In response to a revelation, Mother Ann led six men and two women converts to America from England in 1774. This group originally settled at Watervliet, but Mount Lebanon was the first formal Shaker Society...

A combination of communism, industry and inventiveness built a prosporous society during the 19th century... But the sects exclusive dependence on converts and the adoption of orphans to recruit its numbers has led to a slow disintigration until today there is only a handful of aged Shakers left.

1 comment:

Peony said...

Good for people to know.