With chickens in a yard

“Portrait of Jane Sutton with chickens in a yard between buildings”

Looks like it must be at the southwest corner of the Trustee's Office because that is the only large building with the back addition flush with the front (on its west side). This is the spot where visitors approach from the parking lot today.

The photo appeals to me for three reasons. First, it shows action - farm work in progress - rather than the typical "sit on the steps for your portrait" shot. Second, Jane is a Runyon descendant (granddaughter of Joseph and Jane/Ginny).

Third, it shows that Pleasant Hill was a working farm in the way that you might expect a Shaker farm to be... orderly but not perfect, not pristine, as a visit to the village today might suggest.


Off to Frankfort

One of the Shakertown journals in the Filson Historical Society Special Collections available digitized is this one, which includes nineteen pages of entries from the year 1816. Most are related to the weather conditions but starting with image 10, the subject matter turns to comings and goings and various projects at Pleasant Hill. Phineas, William, and Joseph Runyon are each mentioned, the latter two traveling to nearby towns - Lexington, Danville, Frankfort. Most of the trips seem to have taken 3 to 4 days.

Here is an entry for Joseph Runyon's excursion to Frankfort to sell carpets, Monday, February 19, 1816:

Aliens from the Sheepfold

I've often wondered what neighboring villages and farmers thought of the society of Shakers at Pleasant Hill. I found one reference while researching a different branch of the family who lived in Garrard County, southeast of Mercer County. It comes from "The song of Lancaster, Kentucky, To the statesmen, soldiers, and citizens of Garrard county," written by Eugenia Dunlap Potts in 1874.

Page 14 of The song of Lancaster, Kentucky, To the statesmen, soldiers, and citizens of Garrard county.
Eugenia Dunlap Potts, May, 1874.


LOC Resources

The Library of Congress is such a valuable resource for genealogists and so much of the collection is now online, including the D.G. Beers & Co. maps from the late nineteenth century.

Here is the D.G. Beers map for the Pleasant Hill portion of Mercer County. You can find the complete map online at Loc.gov.

Map of Boyle & Mercer counties, Kentucky
D.G. Beers & Co.
H.J. Toudy & Co.
Worley & Bracher.
Philadelphia : D.G. Beers & Co., 1876


Preservation Project

Harrodsburg, Ky. – Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has been awarded a $5.1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. in support of site’s Restoring the Spiritual Center project.

The project will preserve, protect and interpret the site’s two most iconic buildings, the 1824 Centre Family Dwelling and the 1820 Meeting House, which served as the spiritual epicenter of the Pleasant Hill Shaker community for nearly 100 years.

The management, care and public access to historic Shaker spaces, collections and archives will be targeted for improvement through the project. The two buildings are testaments to Kentucky Shaker craftsmanship, ingenuity and spirituality. The 24,000 square-foot Centre Family Dwelling was once the second largest structure in the state.

Read more at Shaker Village awarded $5.1M preservation grant


Picturesque Scenery - an 1847 description of Pleasant Hill

Historical sketches of Kentucky: 
embracing its history, antiquities, and natural curiosities, 
geographical, statistical, and geological descriptions 
by Lewis Collins, 1847.
Online here


Shaker Fashion

Although this photo is not identified as being taken at Pleasant Hill, it is nonetheless, a wonderful example of Shaker fashion in the 19th century.

Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection,
part of the 
Winterthur Digital Collections 

A Shaker Heritage Society posting from 2013 discusses Shaker fashion over the years:

As we examine Shaker fashion, it is important to consider the differences between individual Shakers and various Shaker communities, as well as the fact that everything changes over time – what may have been true in 1897 would have been unheard of in 1834.  Continue reading here ...