Sarah Kendall

A Short Biography: Sarah Kendall, Harvard Shaker  (1759-1852)

by Roben Campbell, Shaker researcher


Sarah Kendall was the natural sister to Mother Hannah Kendall, one of the founding parents of the Harvard Shaker Village. The entire Kendall family from Woburn united with the Shaker faith, and hosted meetings for Mother Ann and the Elders in the early years.  Father William, Mother Ann’s natural brother ‘healed’ Sarah as an adolescent.[1] When the villages began to gather under the direction of Lebanon New York, Sarah was sent to Alfred, Maine where she served as the first Ministry eldress for many years. In 1830, Sarah made the decision to spend her last days in Harvard, where she had spent her first days with Mother Ann.[2]

The first selection is from Sarah’s testimony, which shows the profound humility she felt with the Shakers.

The first year after I set out to be a Believer The Church was at my Fathers house in Woburn I lived with them and I had such a sense of my loss from God and my depraved wicked nature that my tribulation of soul was greater then language could express I was afraid that Mother and the Elders would send me away to the world and I thought if they did I could not live that I should mourn myself to death and as to work in the kitchen and seeing to the affairs of the family When I could get a chance I used to go out into woods near by and fall on my knees and O how I did cry to God that I might have that power that would protect me so that I need not be left to that awful state. Not that Mother or the Elders gave me any reason to think any such thing for they never spoke a word of any such thing it was all in my own feelings the deep sense that I had of my own state. One night after I thought every body in the house was gone to bed I was under a very heavy weight of this sense when, Father James came into the room where I was He looked very pleasantly upon me and said Sarah will you be so kind as to wash my feet, This felt more to me than all the world had it been offerd to me for it felt like mercy and charity and showed that Father felt union with me I went to bed that night quite comfortable in spirit.[3]

The second selection is a testimony to the character of Mother Ann., and is the first selection in the collections of Eunice Bathrick, who personally cared for Sarah, and had ample time to record Sarah’s past.

Being one of that number (said Sarah) who was first called into the Gospel of Christ in his second advent under the immediate ministration of Mother Ann & the Elders who came with her from England, & personally acquainted with them [Mother Ann And the Elders) from the time of their opening the testimony ‘till the close of their labors on earth, I feel it a duty & privilege to add my mite … and also to give some statement of occurrences to which I was an eye and ear witness.

I can with confidence affirm that Mother was the most Godly woman ever beheld, and that she bore a perfect likeness to the holy Savior in her daily walk & conversation according to the record of his life in the Scripture. Her words were few; & well suited on all occasions to the Subject in question.

In gifts of reproof her spirit was quick and powerful, Sharper than a two-edged sword to separate Sin from the soul; & when she felt a gift of love, she would fill every one within the Sound of her voice with the same spirit to overflowing, & so powerful and penetrating was her word, that she often disarmed her most bold & daring persecutors.[4]









[1] Testimonies of Mother Ann and the Elders, Collected and transcribed by Eunice Bathrick, Copied November 14, 1869, at age 76, pp. 6, 7, and 8, WRHS.VI.B.10.

[2] October 12, 1830, Church Sisters Day Journal, FM 4.2, Shaker Manuscript Collection, Frutilands Museum,  Harvard, Mass.

[3] Pp. 110 and 111, WRHS.VI.B.8.


[4] Testimonies of Mother Ann and the Elders, Collected and transcribed by Eunice Bathrick, Copied November 14, 1869, at age 76, pp. 1-3, WRHS.VI.B.10.






All rights reserved. © Roben Campbell, 2016.