Thanks to the generosity of Cathy Mathias, SUSV now has two more historic images in the library collection. Taken ca. 1910 by Corinne McCreary Barr, the great aunt of the donor, these South Union photographs were discovered in an album primarily made up of Bowling Green, Kentucky images. When Ms. Mathias began posting examples from the album on Facebook last spring, it was immediately apparent that these photos were made at South Union.
We are pleased to announce that our friends and neighbors, the Fathers of Mercy, have extended to us an invitation to purchase the 1854 Wash House.
Incorporating the Wash House into our village setting will enable us to further advance the SUSV mission of serving the public near and far through historic preservation and cultural heritage education. For the first time, we will have the opportunity to create dedicated areas for school programs, meeting rooms for adult education, additional gallery and exhibit space, and research areas for students and interns. The acquisition of this significant building will also enable us to highlight women’s history in a structure that was wholly dedicated to their efforts throughout the 19th century.
During the early part of the 19th century the South Union Shaker Village drew visitors from all parts of the country, either to attend public worship services on Sundays or to spend the night and dine at the village’s Trustees Office.
Betsy Smith was born October 5, 1813 and came to South Union with her father and five siblings in 1823. Initially Betsy was assigned to live in the East Family, but by 1827 was listed as a member of the Centre Family. As a young girl, Betsy witnessed the construction of the massive new Centre House, the foundation of which nearly complete when her family arrived. She also took part in the final stages of work on the building in 1834, recorded as being one of two women and one man who painted the shutters, “verdigris green.”
Eades, who at age three had come to South Union in 1807 with his parents, was raised in a culture that demonstrated equality of the sexes. Male and female leaders governed Shaker villages on both a spiritual and a temporal basis. His complimentary journal entry speaks to that acceptance at a time when women’s rights was still in its infancy and by no means widely accepted. Susan B. Anthony’s failed right-to-vote amendment had been proposed just five years earlier.