Thursday, September 4, 2008


Geertje Banta Montfort, better known as Charity during her lifetime, did NOT die in Henry County, Kentucky but at the Shaker village at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County, Kentucky. She left her husband of some thirty seven years to join the Shaker religious society that began forming in Feb 1805. Her half brother John Banta, held the first organized meeting of the Shakers in his barn on the Henry/Shelby County [KY] line in Feb of 1805 and Charity and her husband Francis Montfort Sr were in attendance as were some 300 other men and women of that area, with another 200 meeting that same evening in the Banta barn. Charity made the decision to join and with her youngest child, Sarah/Sally, entered into the society of Shakers in August 1805. She lived there at Pleasant Hill till her death in December of 1828 and is buried in the Shaker Cemetery at Pleasant Hill. Her grave can be seen though identified by only her initials, research has shown this is her final resting place marked with a stone slab and her initials C.M.
Her husband was not happy about her leaving him and eventually sold off their original 200 acres of the Low Dutch Colony at Pleasureville and bought a smaller farm north of the first one. This farm passed to their son, John Calvin, in exchange for care of the father till his death in 1825. Charity is not mentioned in her husbands will though she outlived him by three years. There are likely two reasons for this....he was not happy that she left him and if he did leave her anything it would have immediately reverted to the Shaker society who had a communal style of living, all for one, one for all. He did however, name all nine of their children in the will even the four who followed their mother into the Shaker society, Rachel Voris, Sarah Montfort, Francis Jr and Jacob. They each received a share of his property in Indiana and it is likely the reasoning was that the Shakers could not get this land being that it was in Indiana, not in Kentucky.
Charity and Francis had nine children:
Rachel b 1768 in Conewago, York County, PA and named for her maternal grandmother Rachel Brower married John Voris and had 12 children when they joined the Shakers in 1810. Several of the children left the Shakers and have descendants.
Catherine b 1772 in Conewago, York County, PA and married to Francis Voris with many descendants
Charity b 1773 in Conewago, York County, PA and named for her mother married Cornelius Luyster
Marya b 1776 in Conewago, York County, PA married to Stephen Terhune with descendants living
John Calvin b 1778 in Conewago, York County, PA married twice, Nancy A, Mitchell and Ruth Gess with descendants through the first wife only.
Henry b 1781 in Conewago, York County, PA and married to his first cousin, Catherine Montfort daughter of Lawrence and Joanna Langstraat Monfort of Ohio where he moved after the marriage.
Francis Jr b 1784 in Conewago, York County, PA and married to his half first cousin, Maria/Polly Banta, daughter of John and Polly Riker Banta [John was half brother to Charity Banta Montfort] with descendants living today in spite of his joining the Shakers with his pregnant wife and two children in March of 1806. The third child, David, was born in December of that same year, considered a Shaker from birth and left the society in 1827. THIS IS MY LINE OF DESCENT THROUGH THE LAST BORN CHILD, DAVID.
Jacob b 1787 in Mercer County, KY and married to his half first cousin, Margaret/Peggy Banta, daughter of Cornelius [half brother to Charity Banta Montfort]. In 1836 after having been a member of the Shakers since 1809, he was expelled. He divorced Peggy in 1837 and married Nancy Lineback, also expelled from the Shakers with Jacob. His two sons by Peggy left the Shakers in the mid 1820's, a daughter born at Shakertown shortly after they arrived there stayed with the Shakers till her death as did Peggy Banta Montfort. He had 2 children by the second wife after leaving the Shakers but only one would have descendants down to 1900 when they have disappeared,
Sarah/Sallie b, 1789 Mercer County, KY never married and joined the Shakers with her mother in 1805. She died at Shakertown and is buried in the cemetery of the restored Shaker village at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County.
Charity joined the Shakers with three half brothers, Samuel, John and Hendrick [called Vestus by the Shakers] Banta and numerous nieces and nephews as well as her daughter and later another daughter and two sons.
Sources include the 33 original Shaker journals in the manuscript dept of the Filson Historical Society of Louisville, KY as well as the journals on microfilm from the Harrodsburg Historical Society of Harrodsburg, KY. I have also read all the transcripts of journals held in the collection at the offices of Shakertown at Pleasant Hill, KY as wells as microfilmed journals in the collection at Western Reserve Historical Socity in Cleveland, Ohio and at the U of KY, Lexington, KY. I own a microfilm of journals from South Union Shaker Society and kept in the archives of the library at Western KY University at Bowling Green, KY.
I have also used the genealogy collection at the Filson Historical Society, the Thomas D. Clark Library at the KY History Center [Frankfort, KY], the archives found in Frankfort, KY, the SAR National Library, Louisville, KY and the Louisville Free Public Library Kentucky Room collction. Other sources include the Indiana History Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library in New Albany, IN [where I worked for six years], the library at Madison, IN, and the Genealogy Library at Corydon, IN. Courthouses used for source material include the ones at Switzerland County, Jefferson County, Harrison County, all in Indiana and Jefferson, Henry, Mercer, Shelby, Frankfort Counties in Kentucky.
I have a blog started at with a picture of the grave of Charity Banta Montfort, confirmed by Mrs Larrie Curry at Shakertown at Pleasant Hill, Mercer County, KY.
Happy to share or answer questions on the Montfort family and the Shaker religious society in KY as well as the Low Dutch Colony of Shelby and Henry Counties in KY.
My research has been over the last fifty five years and most before the advent of the super highway of information made searching a bit easier. I appreciate credit for anything I post and invite you to find my rootsweb site at
Its work in progress but will list sources.
Thanks Barbara Whiteside
my line is from both of Hendrick Bantas two wives...
Charity Banta Montfort is from his first marriage to Rachel Brower.
Her half brother, John is from the marriage of Hendrick and Antie Demarest and would marry Polly Riker.
A son from Charity [Francis Jr.] and a daughter from John [Marya/Polly] would marry and I descend a son of this marriage, David W. Montfort.

The Family of Francis Montfort Sr

Francis was born in 1746 and moved to York County, PA about 1767. He married Geertje Banta, daughter of Hendrick Banta 3rd and his first wife Rachel Brower, before 1768 when their first child, Rachel, was born. Geertje was always known by the name Charity, and I will refer to her by that name in this journal.

He probably moved to Kentucky about 1785-86, in the spring, and seems to have first settled in Mercer County, Kentucky where his youngest two children, Jacob [1787] and Sarah [1789] were born. Several sources give the last two childrens birthplace as being in Mercer County, KY, including the original journals of the Shaker Society at Pleasant Hill, KY [Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY], as both Jacob and Sarah were members of the religious society.

Following his father in law to Henry/Shelby County, Kentucky, he was part of the Low Dutch Company that formed there by 1790 and received his 200 acre allotment as part of the company. This land sits next to the site of the current location of the Six Mile Meeting House just outside the town of Pleasureville in Henry County, KY. His name and signature appear in the "MINUTE BOOK 1790-1831 and ACCOUNT BOOK 1784-1813 OF THE LOW DUTCH COLONY OF SHELBY COUNTY, KENTUCKY" found in the Jayne Beers Collection of the Filson Historical Society archives MSS A B415.

He would eventually sell this 200 acres and purchase a smaller lot where he lived with his son John Calvin till Francis' death in the spring of 1825. In lieu of caring for his father, John Calvin would eventually inherit this piece of property.

In February while still on the original farm, Francis and Charity walked over to the farm of his wife's half brother, John Banta, to listen to the Shaker missionaries from Ohio talk about their society and encourage those attending to join with them. This ended up being the first organized Shaker meeting in the state of Kentucky with 300 in attendance in the afternoon gathering and another 200 attending the evening meeting in the Banta barn. Francis was not impressed. Perhaps he questioned turning over his property to the Shakers, perhaps it was the part about being celibate, who's to know? But he did not join and was very upset when his wife did.

Francis and Charity had been married about thirty eight [38] years when she left him to become a member of the Shakers. Along with her she took their youngest child, Sarah, who also joined the society at the age of 16. Besides Sarah, they had eight [8] other children, Rachel married by this time to John Voris and having numerous children; Catherine who had married Francis Voris; Marya the wife of Stephen Terhune; Charity wife of Cornelius Luyster; Henry who had married his cousin Catherine Montfort and moved to Ohio; John Calvin married to his first wife, Nancy Agnes Mitchell; Francis who had married his half first cousin, Polly Banta, daughter of John Banta; Jacob who had just recently married his half first cousin, Margaret/Peggy Banta, daughter of Cornelius.

Of the nine children he fathered, four would follow their mother in to the Shaker society, Sarah in 1805, Francis Jr in 1806, Jacob in 1809 and Rachel in 1810. All but Sarah brought into the society, their wives, husband and children.

When writing his will, Francis seems to have made a point of leaving out of it his wife Charity, though he did mention all nine of the children, including those who followed her into the Shakers. I think there are two reasons for his leaving her out, though she outlived him by three years. One is anger. He was still angry that she left his side to become a Shaker. The other is about any property left to Charity. It would automatically have been taken into the communal property of the Shakers. This seems bolstered by the fact that property left to the four children who followed her into the society, were left property held by their father in Indiana. I am not up on law, let alone laws governing this time frame, but it would seem more difficult for the Shakers to acquire property from their members that was left to them in another state.

Francis died at the home of his son John Calvin, or so it appears and was probably buried on the family farm a bit to the north of Pleasureville. He died the 22nd of April, 1825 in Henry County, KY.