This is the last book review from Mr. Walrath about his experience learning about Shakers. Thanks Mr. Walrath!
The last book that was assigned was titled Issachar Bates a Shaker's Journey by Carol Medlicott. Dr. Medlicott was also a guest lecturer at a few sessions I attended. This was my favorite of the three books. It is a biography of Issachar Bates, a Revolutionary War hero and future Shaker recruiter and preacher. Issachar played the fife during the Revolution and was involved in many bloody engagements. After the war he married and was one of the first settlers of Hartford, NY, Mr. B's hometown. He had a huge family of nine children and became an alcoholic. Maybe having that many children can drive a man to drink! In any event, he became disgruntled with his lack of spirituality and happened to hear Mother Ann Lee preach. That was all it took to convince him that salvation could be found with the Shakers. He and his entire family joined the community at New Lebanon, NY when he was 41 years old. I guess after having nine children his wife was happy to live the celibate life. However, the adventure doesn't end there. In 1805, after being a Shaker for about five years, the leader at the time, Mother Lucy Wright, decides that it's time to expand Shakerism in the West. She sends Issachar and two other Shakers in the middle of winter on a several hundred mile journey to preach the Shaker way and try to win converts in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. The story becomes one of danger and survival as the men face hunger, the elements, confrontations with Indians, and eventually danger from the British when the War of 1812 breaks out. I would recommend this book, but it is not a quick read.