PRESCOTT, JAMES SULLIVAN (26 Jan. 1803-3 Apr. 1888), stonemason, educator, and historian of the NORTH UNION SHAKER COMMUNITY, was born in Lancaster, Mass., the son of Levi and Mary (Townsend) Prescott. He moved at age 16 to Springfield, Mass., then to Hartford, Conn., and apprenticed as a stonemason. He affiliated with the Baptist revival movement, in 1821 becoming a teacher in the African Sunday School. While serving his apprenticeship, he attended high school and in 1824 entered Westfield Academy, Mass.
After a year (1825) teaching the Oneida Indians for the Baptist Missionary Convention of New York, Prescott emigrated to Cleveland in 1826, working as a journeyman stonemason. That summer, Elisha Russell, an elder in the N. Union Colony of Shakers, persuaded Prescott to come to N. Union to assist in building a dwelling house. After working for several months in the colony, Prescott was admitted to the Shaker Society. In 1827 he was appointed an elder, and the following year became a teacher in the colony. He served as a farmer, educator, headmaster, stonemason, and craftsman (especially furniture), and in positions of leadership, including presiding elder, deacon, and legal trustee. He was the spokesman for the Shakers at national spiritualist conventions held in Cleveland in 1852 and 1871. In 1870, Prescott wrote the history of N. Union for the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY which was published as a series in the CLEVELAND HERALD. Subsequently, Prescott revised his manuscript, dedicating it to the EARLY SETTLERS ASSOC. in 1881. Prescott died about a year before the dissolution of the N. Union Colony. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the N. Union Colony Cemetery.
MacClean, John P. Shakers of Ohio (1907).
Piercy, Caroline P. The Valley of God's Pleasure (1951).
Shaker Manuscript Collection, WRHS.