Born to a wealthy New York family in 1835, Annie Haggerty Shaw represents both the Berkshire Civil War widows and the “first generation” of Lenox summer homeowners.
Her parents, Elizabeth Kneeland Haggerty and Ogden Haggerty (also buried at Church on the Hill) summered at Vent Fort. Pictured here, the building, no longer standing, was moved and replaced by the far grander Ventfort Hall built by Sarah Morgan in 1893 and still standing today.
This transformation was illustrative of the 19th century evolution of Lenox from a charming, intellectual watering hole for the Sedgewicks, Melvilles and Hawthornes to the “can you top this,” opulence of the Gilded Age.
In 1861 she met Robert Gould Shaw, the son of a wealthy Boston family active in the Abolitionist movement. The Shaw family used their influence to get Robert appointed as leader of the Union’s first all Black regiment, the Massachusetts 54th.
Annie and Robert married in 1863 and honeymooned briefly at Vent Fort before Shaw shipped out at the head of his regiment. As portrayed in the movie, “Glory,” Robert Gould Shaw and many of his troops were mowed down in the assault on Fort Wagner.
Annie Haggerty Shaw never re-married and died in Boston in 1907.