Sister Nancy Rupe of the Shaker Community Died Saturday

Shakertown – or, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill – is one of the most peaceful places on earth.  The village has been restored and is about a ten minute drive from our home!  As often as possible we take advantage of the slower pace that envelopes you as soon as you drive on the grounds.  Many times we come just to walk the many pathways around the village.  We also love to eat in the Trustees Dining Room – wonderful Shaker meals of fresh food prepared lovingly!  Their Shaker Lemon Pie is to die for – made with paper-thin slices of whole lemons!

The day we visited the cemetery to find Sister Nancy Rupe’s grave was a hot one – over 100 degrees!  Unfortunately we found no stone for Sister Nancy – perhaps there were such few members in 1907, and aged at that, that there was no one to provide a gravestone for her.  The last Shaker, Sister Mary Settles, died in 1923.

We did fine this beautiful stone – the inscription is as follows:

Our brother, Francis M. Pennebaker, born January 16, 1837, died December 31, 1902

There are buildings to tour, farm animals and gardens, and a riverboat ride!  I encourage anyone close to Mercer County to spend a day – or weekend! – in this lovely place.  You will be refreshed in both mind and body!  And they will make you ‘most kindly welcome’!

from The Harrodsburg Herald, Thursday, November 21, 1907

Old Saint Gone

Sister Nancy Rupe Has Been Crowned in the Kingdom Above

Sister Nancy L. Rupe, one of the best known members of the Shaker community, died at Shakertown Saturday from the infirmities of age.  The funeral services were conducted there Sunday afternoon by Rev. Lon Robinson, of the Methodist church, and she was laid to rest in the burying ground on the hill-side where the greater number of her brother and sister Shakers lie.  In his remarks Mr. Robinson beautifully likened those that are left in the community to the autumn leaves, ready to fall at the slightest touch.  Sister Nancy was but one of these leaves, the summer of her life was gone, and gently, softly, she drifted away to join the many that have already fallen.  Nearly all her life was spent in the Shaker village.  She had seen it rise from a struggling band to a prosperous and wealthy colony, and then watched the decline with a sore heart when adversity overtook her people.  She was a native of Louisville, one of several motherless children, whose father was one of the early converts to the Shaker faith.  Louisville was but a little river town in those days, with few side-walks, and narrow unlighted streets.  A missionary from the newly established Shaker community up the Kentucky River, came down the stream to the larger settlement, preaching the idyllic life of his people, where each shared with the other as members of one family.  Many gave up the struggle in the frontier town, and cast their lot in with this brotherhood, among them the father of Sister Nancy Rupe with his half-orphaned family.  And so she came to Shakertown seventy-six years ago as a little child of ten and all her love and work has been given to the community.  She grew to be a woman of culture and literary attainments, and is lovingly known as “The Poetess of Shakertown”.  She has written many poems and sketches, most of them relative to her people.  She was also a great reader, and out of her wonderful memory could repeat verses and snatches of the works of world-renowned authors.  Several years ago when rural free delivery routes were established, many of the small post-offices were done away with, among them “Pleasant Hill,” the name of the Shaker village, and this called forth a heart-felt protest from Sister Nancy Rupe.  It was one of the last things she ever wrote, and now as she, too, has passed away, the poem takes on a deeper interest.

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2 responses to “Sister Nancy Rupe of the Shaker Community Died Saturday

  1. Wonderful blog. We particularly love going for the “Blessing of the Hounds.” Is Sister Nancy’s poem online?

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