A Short Biography: Beulah Cooper, Harvard Shaker (11755-1837)
by Roben Campbell, Shaker researcher
Beulah Cooper’s parents had been followers of Shadrach Ireland for several decades before Mother Ann and the Elders arrived in 1781. Her contribution to our knowledge of the early Shakers is contained in the following testimony of uniting with the Shakers and recollection of Mother Ann’s character:
I was the daughter of Samuel Cooper, of the town of Harvard in Massachusetts…. In 1781, when I was about twenty five years of age, Mother Ann Lee & the Elders came to Harvard & took up their abode in the house where I lived. My labor & prayer to God, now was to know for a certainty whether they were the people of God or not. When I heard them preach the word of God, and became acquainted with them I found them to be such a people as I had never seen. They taught us that those who would find salvation, must confess and forsake all their sins – renounce forever all the vanities and allurements of the world, and take up a daily cross of self-denial against all their evil propensities. And I found by personal knowledge and observation, that they did not preach one thing & practice another; but really lived up to the principles which they taught. Being fully convinced of the truth of their doctrines I embraced them, and in obedience – thereto…. When I think of this good way of God that I have found, and which brings salvation to my soul, it causes me to rejoice with joy of his mercy and goodness to me.
As to Mother Ann’s moral character, I know it to be very different from what was represented by many in that day, as well as in this. She was very chaste & temperate in her manners & conversation; nothing licentious or obscure appeared in any of her words or actions. Had Mother or the Elders been guilty of any of those base corruptions of which they have been accused, I certainly should have known it; for I was intimately acquainted with them, and can therefore confidently declare these accusations to be false. I know they were a people who did in truth fear God and work righteousness. I would advise those who labor hard to prove their base charges, against Mother Ann, to look into their own state, and see what their real condition is, and whether their lives are justified in the sight of God. After all their labor in searching after evil in others, they will find the greatest body of it in themselves – But they cannot prove that which never was, until they can convert falsehood into truth, and change the word of God into lying vanities.
Harvard, July 14th: 1826
Living in the Square House in the early 1780’s Beulah also related a personal recollection of Father James Whittaker, one of the Elders who traveled with Mother Ann from England:
Beulah used to spin in the room where Father James wove at the Square House. He brought a web and wove it while there He used to talk with her about Daniel Wood,s followers and would laugh and be quite pleased at her relation of them. She knit a pair of long stockings for him. He told her he was not particular all he wanted was that they should exactly fit him
With her natural sister Deliverance or Dili, she signed the Harvard Charter in 1791. A year before she died, a day journal noted that she had ‘resigned her Office Mending in the 81st year of her age.’ A year later the same daybook noted her death:
Sister Beulah Cooper deceased at 1/2 past 1 oclock. She is one of our Blessed Mother Anns first born children, one of those that was with Mother when she was on earth. She has now gone to receive here glorious reward.
 July 14th: 1826, Harvard, in the Shaker Manuscript Collection at WRHS.VI.A.8.
 RG, WRHS.VI.B.9, unnumbered pages, sheet 29 Left side.
 May 3, 1836, Church Family Day Book, FM 4.2.
 Ibid., June 22, 1837.
All rights reserved. © Roben Campbell, 2016.