Casefile Clues

28 April 2014

Shakers Can Have Descendants

Ancestry.com recently released a set of databases concentrating on Quakers. Their marketing materials included an ad indicating that there were millions of Americans who descend from Quakers. While I can't verify the "millions" statement (no one really can), I have no reason to doubt it. As marketing material goes it's not as "out there" as some statements one sees in advertisements.

At this point in my research, I don't have any Quaker ancestors. But the ad got me to thinking. I do have a relative (Lucinda [Sargent] Fairman) who was a Shaker. The only reason I connect the two denominations is because their names rhyme. And in a moment of silliness, I hoped that Ancestry.com wouldn't include a similar ad for a collection of Shaker materials:


It's a joke and if you're not seeing it then there is something you don't know about the Shakers.

Shakers did not believe in reproducing, which is why they died out. It's difficult to keep a religion going when the adherents are not creating a new pool of potential members.

But there are individuals who have Shaker ancestors. My ancestor's sister was a Shaker and she has descendants. That's because she joined a Shaker community in New England after she and her husband had two children. The sister of my ancestor stayed in the Shaker community until her death. Her sons left upon reaching adulthood, married and had families of their own.

So Shakers can have descendants.

But probably not as many as Quakers.