A Short Biography: Grove Blanchard, Harvard Shaker (1798-1880)
by Roben Campbell, Shaker researcher
The sketch of the life and ministry of Elder Grove B. Blanchard is taken from the ‘Shaker Manifesto‘. Elder Grove was associated with the ministry of Harvard and Shirley for more than fifty two years. Born as Babbit Blanchard, he was given his new name, Grove B. Blanchard, by the Shakers.
Babbit Blanchard was born in Petersham, Mass., Nov. 9th, 1798, from whence he moved to Harvard, Mass. May 25, 1812, with his mother, two older brothers and three sisters; another sister (married) came later. All embraced the faith of Christ’s Second Appearing; held important places of trust, and remained here till their decease, except Electa, the youngest, who moved to Lebanon, N. Y., and served as one of the trustee sisters many years.
Babbitt, though young, saw in the faith and principles of the society the means of salvation from the darkness and death of the prevailing systems of religion, and the sins of perverted nature, and directed all his firmness and will to live true to his conviction of right. He believed that reason and soul should dominate over the passions and appetites.
One single instance of his efforts at self-control might be put on record. He would “place an apple on the window in front of his shoe bench and resist his appetite for this, his favorite fruit, till he felt he was master of the situation. And so through life he went on conquering self.
“Footprints on the sands of time.”
Mother Lucy Wright being at Harvard when he was about twenty years of age, said she felt impressed to give him a “new name” Grove, to compliment the “white stone” of his integrity and purity.
November 9th, 1819, the day of his majority, he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the ministry—the associate of Elder John Warner. The wisdom of this selection has been confirmed by a long term of wise and judicious administration (the longest on record). June, 1828, he was appointed successor of Elder John (resigned), and received the unanimous confirmation of the societies of Harvard and Shirley, as first in the ministry, and has since borne the title and name Elder Grove.
In his official administration he was judge rather than an ex parte advocate; holding the even balance ‘til the case should stand upon its merits. He was wise in council, moderate in judgment, deliberate in decisions, deferential and considerate of the judgment, opinions and feelings of others.
Scrupulously loyal to principle, union was his motto; possessing largely the divine virtue of clarity. Hence he won the respect, love and confidence of all.
His interest in the welfare of Zion was neither selfish nor limited. His large heart ever beat in sympathy with those in affliction. When one of our sister churches was needy, he promptly acted upon the suggestion for relief, and through his influence, means were obtained.
He taught and practiced the precept of Mother Ann, “Hands to work and hearts to God.” Industry and prudence, and the living presence of God in the soul. At the age of seventy-three years, worn by incessant care and exceeding industry, in the ebb tide of life some of the strings of his earthly harp loosened; he was relieved from the public duties he had performed so long and so well, November, 1871.
His remaining years were like a candle burning in its socket, shedding a peaceful radiance to the end.
He departed this life for the next phase of human experience April 23rd, at 2 o’clock, P. M., 1880. A full ripe sheaf for the harvest—a benefactor, a father and friend.
His funeral was held in the Meeting House, Sunday, P. M., the 25th inst. Brethren and Sisters from Shirley came to pay their last respects to the departed worth. Some neighbors were also in attendance.
The funeral was of two hours duration; the time being well filled with testimonials of gratitude and respect.
When the following verse was repeated (being impressed by him), a clairvoyant saw him walking between the ranks, wafting his love and thanks to his people.
“I see my home, my happy home,
By angels bright surrounded;
Filled with celestial glory bright,
And happiness unbounded;
I see the mansion of my rest—
Most beautiful and glorious—
Where all may dwell who’re free from sin,
And over death victorious.”
 Article taken from the Shaker Manifesto, author unknown, 10:6, June 1880, p. 130-131.
 Elder Grove’s brothers were Seth (1784-1868), and Pliny (b. 1793, apostatized 1830 with Sally Orsment, who later returned with name Asenath Blanchard). Elder Grove’s sisters were Olive (1782-1863), Betsey, or Electa (b. 1801, and moved to Lebanon in 1813), and Hannah (1787-1872). [Red name indicates person is in Harvard Shaker cemetery.]
All rights reserved. © Roben Campbell, 2017.