In this presentation I shall try to explain how Eldress Anna's "girls" got to the South Family, Watervliet, what their life was like when they lived with the Shakers and how that experience shaped their lives after they joined “the world.” I’m telling the story based on my recollections and on family records pertaining to one girl and her two sisters, orphans who were brought up by the Shakers. The girl was Eleanor Brooks Fairs, and my name is Johanne Fairs Grewell. Eleanor was my mother, and I do so wish she were here to tell her story.
This is an anecdotal talk—not the usual scholarly presentation to which we are accustomed here at the Shaker Seminar. My mother shared her Shaker upbringing by giving talks to community groups, modeling Shaker values at home, and keeping letters, personal photos, and memorabilia regarding her time with the Shakers.