I found this story on Jeff Kacirk's "Forgotten English" day calendar from June 7, 2013. If you thought cults were a 20th-century phenomenon, look to the Victorian era. It was RIFE with crazy shit like this.
'On this date in 1843, thousands of disciples of the revered founder of the New York Second Advent Association, "Father" William Miller, donned similar white muslin gowns as they prepared to depart this earth. Across eastern America, from Illinois farm towns to the cities of New England, members of Miller's cult sat awaiting the "second coming," which they believed was imminent.
'According to John Farmer's Americanisms Old and New (1889), "Numbers of his followers settled their earthly accounts, bade farewell to their friends, put on their 'ascension robes,' and listened for the sounding of the last trumpet. The highways and byways were throned with anxious crowds of men and women, while the trees in the orchards and the roofs of hosues were filled wit hteh more imaptient Millerites, who thus hoped to be nearer to their new home in Heaven."
'After this event fizzled, several recalculated "ascensions" were staged, with similar disappointing results'.
According to Wikipedia (which I still feel dirty quoting, but hey, at least they have citations now, right? RIGHT???):
'the day Jesus was expected to return, ended like any other day to the disappointment of the Millerites. Both Millerite leaders and followers were left generally bewildered and disillusioned. Responses varied: some Millerites continued to look daily for Christ’s return, others predicted different dates—among them April, July, and October 1845. Some theorized that the world had entered the seventh millennium, the "Great Sabbath", and that, therefore, the saved should not work. Others acted as children, basing their belief on Jesus’ words in Mark 10:15, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." O. J. D. Pickands used Revelation 14:14-16 to teach that Christ was now sitting on a white cloud, and must be prayed down. Probably the majority however, simply gave up their beliefs and attempted to rebuild their lives.
'Some members rejoined their previous denominations while a substantial number became Quakers Hundreds joined the Shakers, who believed that Christ had already appeared for the second time in the person of Mother Ann Lee. The "Advents'" impact was greatest on the Shaker villages at Union Village and Whitewater, Ohio, Harvard, Massachusetts, and Canterbury, New Hampshire. Some remained Shakers for the rest of their lives; others left after a short time'