Dixie Huffman Retires

After 46 years of employment with Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Dixie Huffman is retiring. While that is a remarkable achievement by itself, Dixie’s connection to Pleasant Hill began almost literally since the day she was born. A lifelong resident of Mercer County, as a young girl in the 1930s, Dixie lived on land that was once owned by the Shakers, near the West Lot Dwelling. Her first memories of the Pleasant Hill buildings were from well before the restoration; at one time, she recalled, “it didn’t look like there was much life here.”

Dixie’s professional career at Pleasant Hill began in 1971, as an interpreter during her summer breaks from her full-time teaching career. Upon retiring from teaching, in the late 1970s, she became a full-time fixture of the Pleasant Hill interpretive team. As the years progressed, she began to work behind the scenes with the collection, helping the curatorial staff with very important tasks like cataloging, records management and research.

Dixie and her pencils from transcribing manuscripts.

In recent years, “Miss Dixie” has become best known among staff for her extensive transcription of the Shaker primarily sources. Sitting for hours in front of a microfilm machine, she diligently copied the original records onto legal pads that could easily be shared with staff and guests alike. It has often been said that she knows the Shakers personally, despite having never met them. If you’ve ever experienced her stories about Henry Daily, you know exactly what we mean.

There is no way to quantify the number of people she has shared the Shakers with over the years. But one thing is certain: each of these people had a warm, friendly and engaging experience. With her retirement, Shaker Village is losing one its institutions. We will all miss seeing her during her afternoon walks, her stories, her remarkable personality, her friendliness and her sense of humor. She has been a friend to all she encountered. In contrast to what she experienced in the days before the restoration, there is now life in the Village, and for 46 years, Dixie Huffman has been an integral part in making that happen.

Last week, staff, family and friends gathered with Dixie to celebrate and thank her for her work at Shaker Village.

For staff, having Dixie around meant great stories told from the journals she’d been transcribing on a given day, sweet conversations around the lunch table and the camaraderie of a great friend. She brought the Shakers to life for many, since she added her own fiery personality when retelling each one. She was well known for spending her breaks with the farm animals (of course, she was their favorite person to see, as she always brought a bag of apples with her). For us, it was more than difficult to choose a worthy gift for someone so special to not only the people here, but the place and the work Shaker Village strives to do. But we had to try.

The Dixie Huffman Scholarship will be rewarded to one junior or senior from Burgin High School or Mercer County Senior High School as a way to offset internship and/or college expenses. This area and education are two things near and dear to Dixie’s heart, so we chose to honor her legacy by paying forward to local school children her loyalty and dedication to this place. We will miss seeing Dixie daily “at the office,” but we know she’ll be visiting with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren often.

In the Words of Henry Daily…

The journals kept by the Shakers have a lot of information in them, and most of it is very basic and straightforward. However, one of the delights of reading these volumes is when the personality of the record-keeper shines through. It doesn’t happen in every journal, and it is more prevalent in some than others, but when it does happen you can almost imagine that you are sitting in the room and having a conversation with a very real person.

This is especially true in the journals kept by Henry Daily. He had a big personality—one that comes across as interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes mean and almost never dull. I would describe him as a curmudgeon. When he keeps these journals, he is an older member who remembered the golden years of Shaker life. He is unhappy with the changes and developments that had taken place in the later 19th century—and he doesn’t hesitate to convey that in the journals. I can’t help but wonder if he ever said any of these things out loud.

Henry Daily is also really good for a soundbite. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to him. I thought it would be fun to imagine if I actually did sit down across the table from him and interview him. How might he answer some of these questions? Probably in a similar way that he writes in his journals… so I used direct quotes from the journals in order to answer these questions. One thing you’ll notice: he often referred to himself in the third person, and this was pretty common in Shaker journals.

AG: Good evening, Henry. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. You really look tired… how has your day been?

HDH. Daily took a lot of our boarders to high Bridge to the 6 oclock & 10 minutes train then brought home a large load of freight. Then went back with a load of 48 boxes of Malt & brought home another large load of freight this was done A.M. he also took 480 lbs flour in the kitchen before the bell rang to rise this morning. After dinner H.D. filled up and hauled 1500 lbs to the office. John Smith let from 1500 to 2000 lbs flour spoil at the Office just from pure laziness because he did not keep it stirred. H. Daily took 150 lbs out of his flour houses. After this H.D. went to the threshing yard & filled up & hauled in 12 large sheets full of wheat chaff to pack malt in. Will this do for an old man’s day’s work or not. (7-18-1881)

 

AG: Wow, yes, it certainly will. On busy days like this, are you glad to have so many people around to help do the work?

HDWe are trying to harvest our wheat tho our machines do so poorly we get very little done. We have a few of the Brethren as hands tho it is mostly done by hirelings and we are getting in debt everyday worse and worse. Our business men do perhaps the best they know but the worst is they do not know. Our wheat is ripening quite fast will soon be ready to cut. We have a very strange elder in the C.F. He took our cart today and drove it through the middle of our wheat field & the grain is nearly ripe, namely Napoleon Brown we never saw the like before in our lives.  Napoleon Brown has had 4 pares of boots & 3 pares of shoes made for himself this year. Our shoe maker tells me this evening the boots were worth $41.00 the shoes were worth $16.00  This is $57.00 for Boots & shoes in one year the mending was worth $6.00  This is $63.00 for boots & shoes this year. If every member in the Center Family used up this amount they could not pay for their feet. There is 62 persons in the Center Family at this time. If all in the Family would consume as many boot & shoes as Napoleon Brown it would foot up $3906 the Family could not pay for their shoeing we think. This is awful extravagant indeed. (6-24-1881; 6-10-1881; 12-30-1887; 12-31-1887)

 

AG: I see… well, let me ask you about animals because everyone likes animals. I saw a dog running around… I didn’t realize that the Shakers kept pets. Do you have a pet?

HDThe Center Family has come to a desperate pass indeed.  They have Andrew Bloomberg a Swede for second Elder & he has a dog following him wherever he goes has him in the shop with him & has no use for him. This is not according to Shakerism but belong without… This dog will eat as much as a man or more. If we all had a dog we would all starve before spring since we have very little to live on & cannot afford a dog for each member in the Society. The dog is a perfect nuisance anyhow & them that keep them are no better certain. (9-20-1887)

 

AG: Ok. Well, I saw chickens on the farm, and they seem to be doing good right now… at least they are eating well, right?

HDFrederick Roth retook charge of C.F. chickens this morning has been doing other work a year. Susan Murry has been pretending to take care of them in his place. (2-8-1887)

 

AG: It sounds like you have disagreements or problems, just like all families do. Sometimes it’s good to get a little space… do you always stay here, or do you get to leave the village sometime?

HDAlexander Milligan & James Shain of the E.F. started to the Exposition in Cincinnati.  This is strange indeed when H. N. Daily had a free pass and could not get to go.  (10-6-1881)

 

AG: Henry, I have to be honest here. It doesn’t seem like you like anyone or anything. Is there anything you like to do?

HDH.N. Daily went out to the Fare which is now going on. Was there 5 hours. The President Adison Walden took him in to the side show which the Debenport Brothers are running by the slight of hand which beats anything we seen there it is marvelous indeed to see what man can do. The president then took HD in the judges stand and told him to go any where he chose. HD had the best day of his life as to pleasure. So much for this day. (8-3-1882)

 

AG: I know you’re very busy and probably still have a lot to do. Thank you for your time, Henry.

HDThis has been a very cold day. H.N. Daily cleaned out the ice house A.M. We may have ice this spell if so we are ready to get it. H.D. went this afternoon by himself and hauled a load of straw to the hen house to keep the chickens feet from freezing. He is now 73 years of age past who will do so at this age.  (12-29-1887)

 

In all seriousness, we are fortunate to have so many remarkable first-person accounts of Shaker life here at Pleasant Hill. It is a joy to get to know these Shakers through their own words—and their own handwriting—as stories of work and worship within the community come to life through their journals.


Aaron Genton is the collections manager…

Cocktail Recipe: Slowing Thyme

With just a few warm days around the Village, we’re quickly getting excited for spring. Spring means baby animals, goodies from the garden and fun, outdoor activities on The Preserve. Incorporating fresh garden ingredients into the menu goes farther than just the food. As often as possible, we try to use ingredients from the property in recipes for food and drinks served out of The Trustees’ Table and in onsite catering services. Here’s one recipe that you’ll find on our menu this spring:

 

Slowing Thyme Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Hendrick’s gin
  • .75 oz. St. Germaine liqueur
  • .5 oz. classic simple syrup
  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • 3 cucumber slices
  • 2 thyme sprigs

Process:

Muddle one thyme sprig with simple syrup and two cucumber slices.

Add to the rest of the ingredients and shake.

Serve in a highball or Collins glass.

Garnish with thyme and cucumber.

 

Music on the Lawn starts in May, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to enjoy the patio and garden views. Grab a drink and a place by the firepit anytime of the year!


A.J. Gaidzik, The Trustees’ Table

5 Things You Don’t Know About The Inn

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Shaker Village has been a warm beacon of hospitality for more than 200 years. The Shakers used to host travelers in the Village long before 1841, when The Trustees’ Office was built. The Trustees’ Office signaled open arms to guests with its one front door, instead of the well-known double Shaker entrance. It was a greeting place; the heart of the Village to outsiders, business partners, friends and family members of the Shaker community. Boarders, as they were called, were welcome to stay, dine and visit with the Shakers, as long as they followed their rules during their stay. Today, while we don’t insist that you follow a list of Shaker rules, we do insist that you sit back, relax and enjoy your time at Shaker Village!

Trustees' Office

The Trustees’ Office, circa 1842

Named as a top hidden travel destination by BBC News, The Inn is much more than a traditional hotel. Guest rooms, suites and private cottages—each offering distinct character—are located in 13 restored Shaker buildings. Rooms are comfortably appointed with Shaker reproduction furniture, original hardwood floors and spectacular countryside views.

Old Stone Shop 174.2

1. Each room is unique! Request your favorite room, or be ready for a different adventure each time you visit. Find a handwritten poem on the windowsill of room 174. Look for letters from past visiting guests in a floorboard under the bed of room 207 (and write your own letter to add to it). Enjoy a perfect view of The Preserve from room 160. See original pieces of the building on the second floor of East Family Dwelling. Open the tiny door in room 505 and ponder what it’s for. Watch the sunrise from your window in room 563. The list goes on and on. These buildings have real history, and each room tells a different story.

2. We’re sustainable! In true Shaker form, we try to be as sustainable as possible and use our resources to the best of their ability. From LED lightbulbs and green toiletry and cleaning products to our newest venture with waterless urinals, we strive to make differences that will impact the entire village for the better.Tens of thousands of guests visit the Village each year and are served by approximately 140 employees. Despite serving an increasing number of guests through meals, programs and events, staff have managed to decrease solid waste. This accomplishment took a coordinated effort across departments, and the recycling program continues to be improved and expanded. More than 432 cubic yards of plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard will be recycled by the end of the year. This volume of trash would fill 12 average-sized bedrooms from floor to ceiling and represents a savings of approximately $2,300 in trash service fees. We will continue to find ways to be more sustainable in The Inn and all areas of the Village this year and every year to pass on the legacies of the Shakers and to preserve this site for future generations.

3. We have pet-friendly rooms! No need to leave your fur baby at home when you plan your getaway to Shaker Village. Explore the grounds with your dog (on a leash, please) and then check out our pet-friendly hiking trails, as well as overnight rooms.

4. You get complimentary admission to the Village! Every day is filled with self-guided and staff-led tours, talks, exhibitions, hands-on activities and more throughout The Historic CentreThe Farm and The Preserve. Scheduled experiences change daily based on the seasons and VILLAGE@WORK projects. Enjoy outdoor fire pits or go stargazing. Hop on one of our bikes and take a ride. Go hiking or birdwatching. Enjoy the view from our tree swings and so much more. Visit our events calendar to see what else is happening around here.

5. By staying here, you contribute to making great things happen at Shaker Village. Your online and onsite purchases generate revenue to keep this site going. All operating proceeds benefit Shaker Village’s mission and are used to develop new programs and events, compensate employees, buy new linens, feed the farm animals, maintain the trails, keep the lights on and much more! Visit our website to learn more about how you can support Shaker Village.

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This Kentucky destination allows you to be as active or as restful as your heart desires. Come ready for a new adventure or a peaceful retreat. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, weekend getaway, business meeting, destination wedding or other special occasion, The Inn provides the perfect stage for your most memorable occasions. Start planning your getaway now!

Check out these promotions currently going on at The Inn:
Bee My Valentine Package
Cozy Winter Nights at The Inn 


Anthony Cardano is the inn manager and joined Shaker Village after cutting his teeth in the corporate hotel world…

Great things happen here.

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Our staff works hard every day to inspire you! You’ve likely met many of them—Dylan in the garden, Brad in the dining room, Aaron in the Centre Family Dwelling. But, there are countless others bustling behind the scenes to bring you experiences that spark discovery.

For instance, Robert is bringing the West Family Wash House back to life. Claudia is picking fresh herbs for a new recipe tonight. Richard is getting the Dixie Belle ready for tomorrow’s cruises. Merin is harvesting honey for you to taste. Sharon is tidying your room before you check in. Wally is keeping the turnpike neat and orderly. Rosemary is stocking the shelves with new merchandise. Laura is marking the trails so you can find your way. Randall is tuning the HVAC so you can take a break from the heat. Jenny is researching a new Shaker-modern program to share.

All across our 3,000 acres, farmers, chefs, naturalists, painters, archivists, craftsmen and storytellers are working hard to make great things happen. Shaker Village is not a window into the past only to be peered at from behind the ropes. It is a Village at work. Come see for yourself. Get your hands dirty, try something new, expand your imagination and explore Kentucky.

This is Shaker Village. We hope it inspires you to do great things.


Maynard Crossland is the president. You’ll hear his laughter before you see him. Maynard’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious, along with his contemporary approach to leading Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill [….]