The two roads of which I was reminded were not Frost's well-worn paths, however, but the often divergent ways of Science and Faith, a duo that seems in many ways particularly American and just as relevant today as they were one hundred years ago, the era concerning this post's subject: the contrasting lives of two cousins of mine, one on each side of my family.
On my father's side is Ada May Burnett, a second cousin, thrice removed; on my mother's side, Minnetta Amelia Ketchum, a first cousin, also thrice removed. The two share many superficial similarities: both the younger of two children; Ada May attended school through eighth grade, while Minnetta had one year of high school. Outliving their husbands by many years, both lived with lodgers after being widowed. Even their given names' initials are mirrored. But it is their differences that are the real story.
Minnetta Amelia Ketchum was born in 1865 in Ohio, but grew up on Mackinac Island in Michigan. After finishing the aforementioned year of high school, there is no record of what she did for almost twenty years, but on 24 April 1899, she married Frank Bursley Taylor.
|Frank Bursley Taylor|
Taylor (23 Nov 1860 - 12 Jun 1938) was the only child of a prominent Indiana lawyer and politician, Robert Stewart Taylor, and his wife, Fanny Wright. Always in poor health, he attended Harvard University, focusing his studies on the sciences, in particular geology and astronomy, until illness forced him to leave the school. In his own words:
After leaving college in '86, spent about six years traveling and at health resorts in search of health. About '90 began to spend part of each summer studying glacial and post-glacial geology in the Great Lakes region.
His friend and school contemporary, R. C. Archibald, in an obituary of Taylor that appeared in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Volume 75, Number 6 (1944), wrote:
It is not surprising that his attention was early called to Physiographic problems, so that when his health made indoor work harmful to him he took up... the study of the old shore lines, that surround the Great Lakes and are well marked on Mackinac Island, where he had a summer home, and from which he obtained his wife.
Archibald seems clearly more a scholar than romantic. Said wife was Minnetta Amelia Ketchum, about whom another source writes: "She became his lifelong companion at home and on field trips, taking care of transportation, driving a team of horses or a car." Clearly, this former middle-class "spinster" committed herself to Taylor and a life of Science; no stay-at-home housewife she, which I find remarkable--and laudable--for its time.
Taylor himself continues:
I have been spending most of my time in summer seasons doing geological fieldwork. This has ranged from Minnesota to central New England, but has been chiefly in the southern peninsula of Michigan, in Ohio, New York, and western New England, with a considerable amount also in Ontario. The winters have been spent mainly in the preparation of reports, and in doing some other writing.
That "other writing" culminated in a paper he presented to the Geographical Society of America in 1908 (and later published in revised form in 1910), in which he first presented his ideas about what we now know as the theory of continental drift. His ideas met with continued skepticism and even mockery, even though just a few years later a German scientist, Alfred Wegener, was independently coming up with similar theories of his own. From being a prolific researcher and writer (among other things, he prepared what is still considered the authoritative study of Niagara Falls for the U S Geological Survey), Taylor published nothing from 1917 to 1920, trying instead to clarify and defend his radical idea.
It was not until almost fifty years later that Frank Bursley Taylor's (and Wegener's) theories became accepted. Ironically, despite Taylor's many other published works on everything from glaciers to the solar system, it is his--at the time--controversial scientific theory for which he is remembered, and grants his place--albeit a minor one--among other scientific pioneers. And as a footnote to his footnote, there is Minnetta Amelia Ketchum, whom even the unsentimental Archibald later conceded "helped him in many ways." They had no children, but left a rich scientific legacy.
Across the country in Maine, Ada May Burnett was born in 1865. She was no spinster, marrying her first husband, Reuel Sylvanus F Clement, a farmer, in 1894, when she was just seventeen. They had three children before his death of typhoid fever in 1901. In 1905 the family, including Ada May's mother-in-law, joined a religious cult, and in 1908....
What's that--you want to hear more about the religious cult? Well, then....
Frank Weston Sandford (October 2, 1862 – March 4, 1948) was the founder of what was first called the Holy Ghosts and Us Society, then the World’s Evangelization Crusade (among other names), eventually becoming known as The Kingdom, or Shiloh; but by any name, an early American religious cult. Sandford was a dynamic--even frenetic--and charismatic man from his earliest days, when he was both school president and captain of the baseball team. After attending college, he dropped out of seminary school upon hearing the word of God, to become an evangelical pastor. Although initially part of the Free Baptist and other evangelical movements, including those believing in the premillenial return of Christ, he left the church after what some consider a nervous breakdown. He travelled to Asia and the Middle East, then returned to America. As Shirley Nelson tells it:
With an imagination like a magnet for the powerful stream of passions in the 19th century church—perfectionism, world evangelism, end-time prophecy, and the messianic ideals of America itself—Sandford’s ministry took a turn in the late 19th century, when God, he claimed, began to speak to him in whispers. The first word was “Armageddon,” which he heard as a directive to establish a band of purified Christians, absolutely obedient to the Bible (as no other group or denomination yet was, he was convinced) to fulfill God’s plan for the ages with “signs, wonders and mighty deeds.” He began this new work in southern Maine, with a tiny Bible school in a borrowed house. His first students, carefully selected men and women barely out of their teens, were to become the hard core of the special “band.” With funds “prayed in,” the school expanded quickly. A complex of buildings soon arose on a sand hill in the farming town of Durham, with the first structure, a chapel, called “Shiloh.” Sandford’s messianic vision also continued to grow, and he announced that he heard a series of God-whispered revelations naming him the present day embodiment of the Old Testament David and the prophet Elijah returned.
Within a few years of its establishment in 1896, there were hundreds living at or near the Shiloh compound, generally whole families (including Ada May Burnett's), with more at a property Sandford acquired in Boston he named Elim, all living communally under God's--and Sandford's--watchful eyes.
Among other tenets of Sandford's movement: that he was not responsible for his actions, and demanded complete obedience from his followers, as he was acting on God's direction--after all, he was Elijah. More than once, there were "purges" at Shiloh, banishing disbelievers; followers encouraged to report on their neighbors, children regularly whipped if disobedient. There were hours of mandatory prayer and "meetings with God" daily. The whole of Thursday was spent fasting and in prayer, as Sandford believed this was the day of the week on which Christ was Crucified.
The group believed in faith-healing and the laying on of hands, rejecting all medical treatment. Sandford once claimed to have resurrected a young girl who had died from meningitis. Oddly, a hospital ("Bethesda") was built on the premises. Nelson again:
Doctors would be permitted at Bethesda for diagnoses and consultation, but no medication would be provided, not so much as a headache powder or a laxative. Care would be free. Bethesda would not be ' a resort for cranks,' Sandford warned. Cranks would find it 'the hottest place' they had ever been. Nor was it a house where cripples could come and 'camp' They must 'either get healed or go home.'
(Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson, 1989, p. 122)
Sandford's followers were expected to reject money (after giving all of theirs, including whatever could be raised from the sale of their homes and belongings to The Kingdom), and not work for wages or to produce items for sale; they were to depend on God to provide for all their needs. Of course, they did work--at Shiloh: building, farming, cleaning.... The complex had its own cobblers and weavers, and even their own printing presses for preparing the numerous tracts and other publications they distributed.
Things continued apace until 1903, when Sandford had his first brush with the law. He was accused of manslaughter for the death of a young man from diphtheria who had not received any medical care. Although acquitted, the press vilified Sandford and attacked Shiloh, demanding more thorough investigations. Sandford's next message from God? He bought a yacht, and set sail for Jerusalem.
The Coronet, with Sandford joined by his inner circle, was going to "circle the world for Christ." Their intention was an ambitious one: not to actually land at any of the ports of call to establish missions or spread the word of God (or even Elijah), but anchor offshore and pray. This world cruise lasted nearly four years; on board, along with the crew and Kingdom members, was a taxidermist, and harpist--with harp.
Upon deciding to head home, Sandford was made aware that he was awaiting further legal trouble, so the "Coronet Company" stayed clear of ports, even through a gale. Not even landing for provisions (since God would provide...), it was not until six people on board died of scurvy and malnutrition that the remainder of the company forced Sandford ashore. This time, Sandford was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to ten years in prison. He accepted no legal counsel, saying only that the deaths were punishment from God for those who disobeyed his--Sandford's--wishes. The jury was out less than an hour.
It was during the Coronet period that Ada May Burnett and her family moved to Shiloh. Her son Lincoln was a popular boy, and when not praying or cutting wood or ice, was part of the Shiloh band.
|Lincoln Clement and other students, c. 1914|
The children, when not receiving religious instruction, praying (a minimum of three hours daily), scrubbing the steps of the seven story prayer turret or doing other chores, would often walk the grounds, or play croquet, despite a small pox outbreak, and near constant starvation. Nelson continues:
With the crusade on hold while their shepherd lived out his sentence, the Shiloh “flock” patiently endured hardship (and a World War) on their property in Durham, Maine. When he returned [after having been released for good behavior in 1918], haunted by death threats, Sandford moved with his family and most trusted workers to another property in Boston. It was during that time, while the Boston contingency fared well, that starvation took over in Durham, where “the Holy Ghost had been dethroned by a failure of faith and obedience,” as Sandford claimed.
What follows are excerpts from a remarkable document: the diary of Doris Hastings, a young woman of Shiloh. While only tangentially related to my family (although Lincoln Clement and his sister are mentioned), I think it is too compelling not to include, but feel free to skip ahead as you like. (My annotations are in bold; there are also occasional asterisked footnotes from her grandson, who preserved the diary.)
May 12  We went to the Bowie house at 9 and worshiped God and dedicated the house. I waited on the Lord. My head so bad I laid down and slept some. [Doris needed glasses, but was denied them.] Found Jesus very real at 3.
Friday, July 25 We received a long letter from Mr. Sandford about the 70 day battle.* The Bible School went to the turret and signed our names to paper up there and wrote a letter to Mr. S---a letter of response to the battle and loyalty and signed---"Yours forever".
* 70 days of prayer from 9 a.m. until midnight, with no break. Dinner was served after midnight. This 70 day prayer "battle" was to pay off the mortgage on the other house in Boston, 547 Mass. Ave.
Saturday, Aug. 2 A pint of milk for breakfast. A gem [little bits of bread with jam inside] brought to me which I give to Avis [her sister].... Nothing for supper. We get together after sunset and pray late into the evening. $2.oo comes from we know not where--wonderful--also some vegetables arrive, near midnight, from Mr. Marstaller's. David (Marstaller) hands them over by hand. I made some cornstarch pudding for John and Theodora. I had such a fight to get them to accept it. Theodora brought in her milk for me to drink after midnight.
Tuesday, Aug 12 My head is very, very bad. Suffering all forenoon, in 9 0'clock meeting and in Bible lesson---seemed unendurable. Bible School was together at 6. John brought in a bushel of peas and said that Mr. S had sent us $4.98. The 4 dollars got the peas and the 98 cents, a big bag of soy beans. Mr. Fenderson sent us some macaroni. We had a praise service. It seemed so wonderful. The God of Elijah.
Thursday, Aug. 21 Dear Mama comes over and she feels so bad because she forgot to bring some blueberries. Avis eats no breakfast. I eat a little--carrots and beet greens, but wish I hadn't because they make me so sick I have to ring turret bell to be relieved. Grace is suffering very much. I pray for her. Later in the day she seems better. Elsie is also suffering much. I go from one to the other in response to their calls but I am a poor comforter. We feel the need of John [Sandford, Frank's teenage son, who is running Shiloh at this time] so much. Grace gives me a sugar cookie. I fight with her because I can't bear to take it but she is so strong that I have to give in. I eat it after 3 and it helps me a lot. Mama gave Avis the biscuit that she brought over for her lunch. I feel relieved to see her get something into her. Mr. Hoad excuses her from meeting. She gets a birthday letter from Herbert which does her much good. Papa comes over in the evening [the Shiloh children live apart from their parents] and brings us string beans and blueberries. Dear papa and mama.
Sunday, Aug. 24 I took my piece of birthday cake and a biscuit Avis gave me and a hard boiled egg mama gave me and did them up and wrote a little note on the egg and took it to Fern (Brown). She is awfully thin and feeling poorly. I took a white gem left from Sabbath breakfast and my other egg and gave them to Etta.
Tuesday, Nov. 4 Bible lesson at 9 in rooms #1 & 2. Miss Dart [the children's matron] talked to us about believing in Jesus. We met again at 3. My work this week is the milk and lamps. And I fix many carrots. Sent Mama a big red apple by Avis today, my birthday present to her and an expression of love.
Wednesday, Nov. 19 I write a letter to Mr. S. There is no breakfast and no dinner. They send me a biscuit and a piece of cookie and some apple sauce in a.m. At noon a cup of cocoa and some squash and potato at night with a slice of white bread which I give to Etta. We have apples. I go to storehouse and get extra food. I have 2 cents and I get 2 cents worth of meal and make gems and give them to different ones.
Tuesday, Dec. 9 Avis feeling very bad. Goes home with Papa. Etta feeling very poorly. I go in and take her some blueberries that Benjamin had given me sabbath morning. Also half of my piece of meat we had sabbath. I go to turret from 6 to 8 and have quite a good time. I go into the chapel afterwards and come out suffering. Mr. McKennzie called me into the gallery today and spoke to me about the condition that people are in spiritually---hypnotized and dead, can't get through to God in meetings. He seems rather in need of courage. I Was suffering much and his words were depressing.
Thursday, Dec. 11 A very cold day. Heat is on during the 6 hours. I suffer very much in the Bible lesson (Mr. Hoad has it) and suffer afterwards. I am not able to wait on the Lord at all, just suffer through the hours until midnight. John sits up all the rest of the night preparing the Bible lesson. He sleeps a little. I go in and give him 2 cookies and an apple from Avis and me but he will not take it though I try very hard to make him do so.
Thursday, Jan 22  No breakfast. I stayed in bed in the a.m. Bible lesson at 12. All the evening to ourselves. I went to Peniel and found God. We had some supper about 9. I lay down after that feeling unable to wait on the Lord any longer. Avis camed to bed after 10 and asked me to go to bed too and it seemed as though I might as well.
Friday, Jan. 23 Went home in the afternoon. I ate a lot of apples that evening. [There were apple orchards on the grounds, although followers were not allowed to pick fruit, but eat only the windfall.] I walked with Mr. Hoad most of the way to the Hastings. He told me that Sandford and Solomon were there so I did not stop.
Thursday, Jan. 29 The Bible School met at 9. We have quite a charge [a fervent, beseeching prayer meeting] for coal. Miss Dart comes in at 12. A matter of John's concordance being misused is a subject of a good deal of time and we write him a note of apology. Ora's birthday. We pray for her and talk about her. I suffer much through the day. Avis and I go home at night and papa and mama read to us until about midnight. I suffer fearfully with my head, etc. It seems more than I can endure to go on but thinking of what Mr. S has said about our lives being laid down and being martyrs and thinking of the man whom they stretched and when asked if he would give up he only said, "Father, I embrace all Thy holy will" enables me to endure what seems unendurable. It really is martyrdom and I feel as though I hadn't the strength to endure. My head too bad to pray and wait on the Lord at all. On our way over home John calls to us from his veranda and we go up and talk with him a few minutes.
Friday, Feb. 6 My head is so bad that I cannot hold it up. I rest it on a pillow during the lesson. Rich lesson--Moses 40 days on Mountain. we meet at 3 and pray for dear Anna--her birthday. We meet at sunset and after taking in the Sabbath we pray some more for her and talk about her. Her character seems wonderful to me as we talked and I covet what she has--that I seem to be so lacking in. Supper after that. I eat 4 small pieces of corn bread, 2 helpings of gravy, 2 small cookies and I suffer much distress from it into the night. I feel it must have been more than my stomach could handle and I must not eat so much again. When we go up from our supper I find john there. I go to bed, my head so bad I cannot longer succeed in holding it up....
Thursday, Feb. 12 Older members meet in the turret until 12. God meets us. My head paining so bad I come down about 11. My head pains very badly all day. In the evening Avis tells Miss Dart and she sends word for me to eat. Mary calls on me a few minutes. She is considering coming to the Bible School. She said her father thought it would be a help to her. She said I was next to her mother to her. Dear Papa comes in and finds me in bed. He puts his hand on my head and tells me he thinks I should eat something. My head pains fearfully all night. I hardly sleep at all. It seemed as though morning would never come.
Wednesday, Feb. 25 Turret from 6 to 8. Another suffering time. Lesson at 9 on Nazariteship and earnest prayers until we knew we were Nazarites, "as He is so are we---" and the Holy Spirit to work it out and lead us into the fullness of it. Mary Robinson's funeral at 1:30. A very stormy, drifty day. I feel so lonesome today, almost as if there was nothing to live for. Had a little breakfast after the Bible lesson.... My head very bad and do not feel able to pray but everything is all right.
Sandford and his family and intimates, upon his first visit to ShiIoh after his imprisonment, were fed a veritable feast, by followers who had not eaten in days. It was all very simple: God would provide. If God didn't provide, you must not deserve it, didn't believe enough, doubted Elijah's way. Things continued to get worse. Before his move to Boston, two of Sandford's own children escaped from Shiloh, casting more doubt.
The end of Shiloh came abruptly in 1920, following just days after another death. The family brought a suit against Shiloh, and the state sent in investigators, who demanded that all minors be removed from the premises immediately. Sandford received another message from God: the single word "work." Men left for local mills and farms. Within two months, the entire complex was deserted. Expected, it was--and still is--referred to as "The Scattering."
So now that you know about that, let me continue my family history: ...in 1908 Ada May Burnett remarried, this time to another cult member, Burnham Wheeler Hardy (31 July 1857 - 25 Dec 1925). After the death of his first wife, Gertrude E Emerson (16 Mar 1868 - 28 Oct 1906), herself a longtime Kingdom member (but who apparently did not live on the grounds), Hardy sold his successful hardware business in Hampden Maine and joined Shiloh in late 1907.
|Hardy's hardware store is on the extreme left, c 1905.|
Although it is unclear why Ada May Burnett first became attracted to The Kingdom and what prompted her to move to Shiloh, the family had involvement with The Kingdom as early as 1899, when
Mr George Higgins, the minister in charge of Shiloh when Mr Sandford was away in Jerusalem.... had been tarred and feathered in Arrostock County a few years back for preaching Shiloh Principles, so the story went.
(Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson, 1989, p. 187)
Shiloh records confirm this in a 1917 member roster discovered in a vault. After Ada May's name is the note: "First husband Ruell [sic] S. F. Clement from whose house G. W. Higgins taken by mob in 1899."
It is also unclear exactly what Ada May Burnett Clement Hardy did after The Scattering; she lived another twenty-eight years, yet never moved from Durham. It would be fascinating to know how she and the others adjusted and what they felt about their time with The Kingdom.
We do know a few facts about the rest of the family. Mother-in-law Anna T Fogg Clement died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than six months after The Scattering. Daughter Dorothy Anna Clement died just three years later at age twenty-six, followed soon after by Burnham Wheeler Hardy, who is buried with his first wife. Son Phillip John Clement did not marry until 1938; he and his wife Clara had no children of their own (although she had two from a previous marriage). The most recent record I could find for him was a Sanford Maine City Directory from 1963, the same year his older brother, Lincoln Edmond Clement died. Lincoln seems to have lived the most "normal" post-Shiloh life, marrying Florence Ina Smith (22 Apr 1898 - 17 May 1973)--who seems to have no connection with Shiloh--in 1921, just a year after The Scattering; they had four children. They continued to live in Durham, in the almost literal--if not metaphoric--shadow of Shiloh for many years.
|All that remains of Shiloh's grounds today. It is still used as a church.|
And what of Frank Sanford? He retired--per the word of God, of course--and disappeared into virtual seclusion in the Catskill Mountains of New York. He farmed, prayed and taught, read astronomy (perhaps something by Frank Bursley Taylor?), lost all of his books and papers--twice!--to fire, and continued to have a small, loyal following until his death in 1948. He is not known ever to have denied he was Elijah, or repent for the many deaths he had--directly or otherwise--caused.
The Kingdom continued, on an even smaller scale, under the leadership of Sandford's secretary, Victor Abram, until it was revealed that he had had many extra-marital affairs; in 1977 Abrams' son-in-law took over. There are estimated to be about one hundred active members of The Kingdom to this day, scattered throughout the United States.
Science or Faith? Although a hundred years after the choices of Minnetta Amelia Ketchum and Ada May Burnett, we find many still traversing one--or the other--of those same two roads.
For more information on Frank Bursley Taylor, especially his scientific research:
And an invaluable and exhaustingly comprehensive website about Shiloh and its history:
[Our Minnetta--whose name is just as frequently spelled Minetta--is not to be mistaken with Miss Minetta Taylor, her contemporary, who also lived in Indiana. Miss Taylor was the daughter of Drs George and Mary Taylor; while not a doctor, she was quite accomplished nonetheless. The souvenir pamphlet Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention (Western Writers' Association, 1890) tells us that after Annie J. Fellows Johnson "charmed her hearers with her rhythmic rendering of a tender retrospective poem of rural life," Miss Taylor, "prevailed upon at the last moment..., won the laurels of the convention by an elegant impromptu address on 'The Natural Stimuli of the Imagination,'" which synopsis, "prepared... by memory by Miss Taylor," runs seven dense pages. Not to be outdone, Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana (1910) reminds us that Miss Taylor "is the joint author of six Spanish-English textbooks..., a regular contributor to the McClure syndicate..., spent seven years on the lecture circuit on literary and sociological subjects..., [and] speaks forty-five languages."
There is, alas, no record of a second Ada May Burnett.]
Minnetta Amelia Ketchum was born 2 Jul 1865, in Huron, Erie, Ohio, to George Cherry Ketchum (3 Dec 1835 - 3 Sep 1899) and Amelia Lloyd McLaurin (Nov 1842 - 3 Apr 1914). She grew up on Mackinac Island, her father being a sailor (and later a post-master); an uncle ran a resort hotel on the island as well. She attended school through her first year of high school, although what occupied her for the next eighteen years, until her marriage at age thirty-three to Frank Bursley Taylor (23 Nov 1860 - 12 Jun 1938), son of Robert Stewart Taylor (22 May 1838 - 28 Jan 1918) and Fannie W Wright (30 Aug 1938 - 10 Mar 1913) on 24 Apr 1899, is unknown. The following year, the newlyweds moved to his home town of Fort Wayne, Indiana, living first with his parents, and then, by 1910, in a house of their own at 548 Home Ave. By 1916 they are at 2905 Fairfield Ave; in 1930, 420 Downing Street; all of these houses are within a few blocks of each other. Minnetta lived fifteen years beyond Frank's death; she died on 25 Aug 1953.
|Fittingly, Frank and Minetta's memorial is a natural rock, unlike the conventional headstones|
found elsewhere in Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo: Jim Cox
Ada May Burnett was born in May 1877, in Hermon, Penobscot, Maine, to Daniel G Burnett (abt 1847 - ?) and Lucinda C Walker (Dec 1852 - 10 Jun 1920). On 8 Jun 1894, she married Reuel (or Ruel) Sylvanus Clement (28 Apr 1873 - 7 Mar 1901), son of Edmond Clement (13 Dec 1838 - 5 Jun 1889) and Anna T Fogg (25 Apr 1847 - 18 Nov 1920); they had three children in the next six years, the last just seven months before Reuel's death from typhoid fever. In June 1905, Ada joined Shiloh, and on 3 Feb 1908 she married another member, Burnham Wheeler Hardy (31 Jul 1857 - 25 Dec 1925), son of Abel Hardy (30 Nov 1803 - 22 Sep 1871) and Rebecca P Edgerly (9 Mar 1816 - 15 Aug 1898). Burnham had joined Shiloh in 1907, although his first wife, Gertrude E Emerson (16 Mar 1868 - 28 Oct 1906), had formerly been a member of The Kingdom. After Shiloh was disbanded in 1920, Ada May continued to live in Durham, Maine until her death in 1948. She shares a headstone with her mother-in-law, daughter, and a grandson, all of whom she outlived.
|Although Shiloh had its own cemetery, this is the last resting place|
for some of The Kingdom's followers.
Lunt Memorial Cemetery, Brunswick, Maine. Photo: IHRP & Family