Russell's parents were attracted to the community of the Shakers when he was a youngster. The Shaker community, founded by Mother Ann Lee, was known for their unusual frantic dancing until the Holy Spirit came down! They lived in separate facilities that separated men and women, practiced celibacy and banned marriage. Maybe that was the attraction for Russell's mother: no more sex! She had given birth to 7 children by the time they joined up with the Shakers: Rocksena, Cynthia, Levi, Rozzel, Lucinda, Salome and Russell R.G.E. Chauncey, my great, great, great grandfather!
Young Russell was admitted to membership in the Shaker Society when he was 13. His father, Israel, and grandfather, Charles, had both died 2 years earlier while members of the Shaker's. Evidently the Holy Spirit came down on them!
Russell and Mable were the parents of fifteen children, but only eleven of them lived to become adults. First was a boy born on June 16, 1803 who died in infancy followed by John Andrew, who was born on June 10, 1804 and died 1832. Mable, who married William Mitchell, was born June 4, 1805 and died 1856. Her sister Elizabeth who married George Porter was born September 19, 1806. Two sons Levander, born March 3, 1808 and Russell, born October 2, 1809 died in infancy. Those names were used again when Russell Levander was born November 18,1810. Russell Levander married Aurelia Crane and died May 7,1893. Next were two daughters who also died in infancy, Flora Judith, born December 18, 1811 and Sarah Angeline born March 14, 1813. Alford Gaston who was born June 17, 1815 died in California on May 1, 1888. William Ross was born November 20, 1816, married MaryAnn Austin and died January 7, 1886. A son, Austin, was born on December 25, 1817. On April 24, 1820 my great, great grandmother, Sarah Angeline, was born. She married Hosea P. Scott and lived to be 101 years old when she died on May 21, 1921. Her brother Israel was born on April 27, 1821, married Charlotte Leadbetter and died in 1901. The last child was Edwin who was born on January 16, 1823. He married Christina Peck and died on December 30, 1877.
Russell and Mable lived out their old age with their son William R. Chauncey. They are buried in the Spencer Cemetery outside of Maryland, New York. My cousin Jane Dean visited there in 1994 and shared these photos with me.
So, thank you Grandpa Russell for leaving the Shaker Community and realizing that you wanted to be a family man! If not, I guess I wouldn't be here to tell your story.
- Family history of Cynthia Hughes Smith
- Cemetery photos courtesy of Jane Wodarski Dean, 1994
- Mount Lebanon Shaker Society. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/shaker/mou.htm
- Find A Grave Memorial #86496615, Russell Rawson Graham Estabrook Chauncey
- John M. Smith's History of the Town of Sunderland, Massachusetts, 1899 edition, Israel Chauncey married Elizabeth Petty, Feb. 16, 1763.
- "History of Northfield, Massachusetts", page 515, Elizabeth Petty born19 Nov 1744.