John E. Norton


On 30 March 1848, a Pleasant Hill Shaker family journal reported, “Two strangers professing to be ministers of the gospel arrived here from Illinois on a visit. They are from a society calling themselves Christians, but known by the world as the Sweedish [sic] Church of Johnsonites [sic], having come from Sweden about 18 months ago, and their leader or founder’s name being Johnson [sic] they withdrew from the Lutheran Church and fled from persecution in Sweeden [sic] to America, where they have formed themselves into a social community, having a united interest etc. Their number is about 600. They confess their sins [and] reject the flesh only in part.”

The two “strangers” were Janssonist apostles Anders Blomberg, who later became a Shaker elder, and Olof Stoneberg. Blomberg played a major role in relations between Pleasant Hill and Swedes on both sides of the Atlantic, while Stoneberg became a Bishop Hill colony leader. Their 1848 visit marked the beginning of a unique and sometimes troubled relationship between the Swedish Janssonist perfectionists of Bishop Hill, Illinois, the Shakers of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, and later groups of Swedish Shakers who emigrated from the Dalarna region of north central Sweden. This paper will explore how this relationship developed over time, and its impact on the Bishop Hill perfectionists.

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