At the end of my interview I asked Eldress
Bertha Lindsay to sing "Simple Gifts" for me.
While Sedgwick's story does not have a Shaker setting, her 1824 novel Redwood includes a Shaker subplot in which a Shaker eldress
recounts her rejection of her former lover when she joins the religious sect; he never recovers and is eventually found dead at the entrance of the Shaker community (roles that Hawthorne reverses).
She is the author of Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories (2003) and the editor of Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress
After Father Ephraim, the village patriarch, pronounces the two to be new elder and eldress
, Adam withdrew "his hand from hers, and folded his arms with a sense of satisfied ambition," while "paler and paler grew Martha by his side, till, like a corpse in its burial clothes, she sank down at the feet of her early lover; for, after many trials firmly borne, her heart could endure the weight of its desolate agony no longer." (8) Martha's life seems to end her with her separation from her betrothed, even though as a Shaker eldress
, a historical one at least, her life of authority and influence would just be beginning, a consideration never mentioned in Hawthorne's story.
Canterbury was home to the last remaining Shakers in New Hampshire--Eldress Bertha Lindsay and Sister Ethel Hudson--until Sister Ethel's death in 1992 (Eldress
Bertha died in 1990).
She was pre-deceased only shortly before by Eldress
Bertha Lindsay of Canterbury, and Eldress
Gertrude Soule, who had moved there from Sabbathday Lake.
I remember the late Shaker, Eldress
Bertha Lindsay, telling me that Mother Ann received a vision that she should take her followers to America for the sake of that land's religious tolerance.
It is suggestive that Zinzendorf used the example of Anna Nitschmann as a way to describe the work of the Holy Spirit.(42) Nitschmann had been elected an eldress
in 1730 when she was only fifteen and remained the leader of the single women of the Brudergemeine until her marriage to Zinzendorf in 1756.
But this review article, "Gifts of power: The writings of Rebecca Jackson" Review of Gifts of power: The writings of Rebecca Jackson (1795-1871), Black visionary Shaker Eldress
appeared in the November-December 1981 issue of the Black scholar nearly two years after Walker's use of the term womanist in the Laura Lederer anthology.
Humez's Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress
and Richard E.
At the opening of the Era of Manifestations, only two "old Believers" remained in the West--Archibald Meacham at White Water and Ministry Eldress
Anna Cole at Pleasant Hill.
JEAN HUMEZ is a professor in the Women's Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, co-editor with Gail Dines of Gender, Race and Class in Media (1995), and author of Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress
(1981) and Mother's First-Born Daughters: Early Shaker Writings on Women and Religion (1993).