NEW GLOUCESTER — Sister Frances Carr, one of the last remaining members of a nearly extinct religious society called the Shakers, has died. She was 89.

Carr died Monday at her home in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake after a brief battle with cancer, said the group, which is down to two members.

“The end came swiftly and with dignity surrounded by the community and her nieces. We ask your prayers for her soul,” the Shakers said.

The Shakers, formally known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance, settled in 1783 at Sabbathday Lake, one of more than a dozen such communities established in the New World after the Christian society fled persecution in England. The communities practiced equality of the sexes, pacifism, communal ownership of property and celibacy.

It’s now the only such active community.

The Shakers’ numbers declined because members are celibate and the group stopped taking orphans like Carr, who arrived as a 10-year-old.


But Carr bristled at news reports that often described those in the village as the “last” Shakers. She remained hopeful that the group would grow.

Her death leaves two Shakers, Brother Arnold Hadd and Sister June Carpenter, who oversee an 1,800-acre property with 17 historic structures.

The group earned the derisive moniker “shaking Quakers” for their charismatic dance. The style of worship changed long ago, but the Shakers name stuck.

Shakers are credited with a number of inventions, including the flat-bottom broom, spring-loaded clothespin and circular saw.

Despite their old-fashioned farm life, the Sabbathday Lake Shakers don’t eschew modern technology. They have computers, internet access and a website. Carr’s death was announced on the Sabbathday Like Shaker Village website.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.