A Short Biography: Elizabeth Crouch, Harvard Shaker (1755-1832)
by Roben Campbell, Shaker researcher
When Elizabeth Skinner of Stow married Jonathan Crouch of Harvard, they took up domicile in Stow, to raise their three children. After Jonathan’s youngest sister, Patience, joined the Shakers in 1781, Jonathan and Elizabeth followed with the rest of the Crouch family. Only one of their children, Mehitabel, or Molly, stayed with the Shakers.
Making sense of the manuscript records can be difficult. The name Elizabeth Crouch is mentioned infrequently, and could refer either to Jonathan’s wife or sister also named Elizabeth. Four Crouch women, including an ‘Elizabeth’, contributed a total of twenty four years of “checkered cloth, except the weaving,” as an offering to the construction of the Meeting House. The ‘Elizabeth’ could be either Jonathan’s wife or sister. Further the phrase ‘except the weaving’ raises the question: Was the cloth to be woven at some future point in time? Or does ‘except the weaving’ have an obscure meaning. The nickname “Betty”, occasionally used, could refer to either. A ‘Betty’ Crouch came into the Church family in 1801 with the Widow Crouch, each bringing a cow, and in that year moved back and forth between the Square House and the Yellow house three times.
The death of Elizabeth Crouch, Jonathan’s wife, was noted in a letter from the Harvard ministry to the Lebanon ministry:
“Betty Crouch at the Square house [on] the 3 Instrument of Epidemic aged 78 being confined about 3 weeks.”
 Nourse, Henry, History of Harvard, p.151 and 543.
 1791, Harvard Shaker Manifest Journal, 1791-1806, from the Shaker Manuscript Collection at Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA 01451.
 Ibid., Ibid., March 30, and September 19, 1801, p.89.
 April 9, 1832, in Correspondence, WRHS.IV.A:f.21. Shaker Manuscript Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society.
All rights reserved. © Roben Campbell, 2016.