The enthusiasm of Edward Cummings for a Shaker life was a passing thing, but his decision to bring his family to Enfield, New Hampshire, in 1844 profoundly affected the character of the Enfield Shaker community for the next eighty years. From our vantage point, the contributions of his children John, Henry, Enoch, Rosetta and Ann cannot be fully measured. But their creativity, business acumen, and leadership abilities, their intellects and distinctive personalities shine brightly in the record of the community.
Though John Cummings had a period of doubt about having chosen a Shaker life, he and his sisters Rosetta and Ann remained faithful to the covenant that they made with the Enfield Shakers. Shaker life was not a lasting choice for other members of the family. This article explores the complex relationship that the parents and two of their sons, Enoch and Henry, had with Shakerism and with each other.