See the bottom of this page for current info on a documentary and a link.
The Delawares were a noble, intelligent and virtuous tribe, as compared with redmen generally, and peculiarly susceptible to Gospel teachings. Among them the missionaries worked east of the Alleghenies for years, converting thousands; forming them into separate industrious communities; teaching all the arts of peaceful civilization, and assisting them to live pure, devoted and consistent Christian lives.
The western explorations of Frederick Post, a very devout man of God, satisfied his Church that a most promising field of missionary enterprise invited beyond the Alleghenies. The first decided attempt was made on the upper Allegheny, and many were converted; among others, Allemewi, a blind old Delaware chief. Wars and troubles, however, soon arose, and it was concluded to accept the invitation of Pankake and Glickhican, and move further west, where the Delawares were more numerous and all favorably inclined.
Accordingly, in April, 1770 a fleet of sixteen canoes, filled with missionaries and their little band of disciples, the firstlings of the Faith, descended the Allegheny from Lawunakhannek, to Pittsburgh; thence. down the Ohio to the Big Beaver; thence up said river twenty miles. where a debarkation was effected and a settlement made. The Indians soon flocked in from far and near, and were " astonished at their doctrine." Chiefs and warriors, great and small, wise and simple, were in like manner attracted; but when Glickhican, one of the best, greatest and most influential Delaware war chiefs, as also the wife of Allemewi, became converts, the excitement increased and widened.
A beautiful and prosperous village arose, which was called Friedenstadt, or Village of Peace. The land was rich, and the woods filled with every variety of game, as were the streams with fish Churches, schools, mills and workshops were erected; the lands were surrounded with good fences, and cultivated with the latest improved implements; horses, cattle, hogs, &c., were multiplied, and, in a word, the "wilderness blossomed as the rose," and all was peace and happiness.
But soon the low, depraved, vagabondish " Indian trader," with his cheap daubs, gewgaws and abominable whiskey, made his appearance; perverting and demoralizing the faithful, sowing jealousies, and creating great trouble generally. In the meantime, persistent invitations had been extended to the Moravians by the Great Council of Delawares in Ohio, to come further west and settle near them on the Muskingum. This invitation was soon after more urgently repeated by the great and good Delaware chief, Netawatwees, backed by the Wyandot chiefs, who promised all the land they needed and constant protection.
In 1775 this invitation was accepted, and, a large number of disciples from east of the mountains having migrated, Friedenstadt was abandoned the next year for the new village of Schoenbrun, (Beautiful Spring,) on the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum, some going by land, and twenty-two large canoes going by water down the Beaver and Ohio, and then up the Muskingum nearly two hundred miles.
It would take many pages even to briefly relate the varied and deeply interesting history of the Christian villages located in those years on this river. Schoenbrun was followed by Gnadenhutten; then by Lichtenau, and when, in 1779, that village had to be abandoned, because Lying directly on the great war path between the British Indians and the American borders, was followed by Salem.
These three all grew fat and flourished. Indians crowded in from all sides. Even one tribe of Miami Shawnees moved near to be under their benign influence. The reports of the love, harmony and abundance which existed among these three communities of converts spread far and near, and exercised a most happy influence. Their fields of waving corn could be counted by the hundred acres; the hills were dotted with fine horses and cattle, while droves of hogs roamed and fattened in the woods.
Chapels, schools, houses and workshops were built, and the voice of prayer and praise was alternated with the busy hum of industry. On still nights the inhabitants of each village could hear the sounds of the church bell from the neighboring village; rude cabins made way for comfortable two-story houses of hewn logs; traveling bands of Indians were always treated hospitably and fed with abundance and variety; war, and all that led to or made for it, was forever forsworn, and every tribe in Ohio saw, heard, understood and wondered.
Alas! this was too good a state of things to last! The contrast was too marked. Prosperity begets envy, and those bereft of everything soon learn to hate those who are blessed with everything. The conjurers and " medicines " of the various tribes saw "an unknown God" set up for worship; felt their own power and influence waning, and denounced the new religion as making squaws of their chiefs and warriors. They execrated the ``praying Indians" for their neutrality; made border-scalpers return by their towns so as to draw on them the vengeance of the whites; accused them of constantly conveying news to Forts Pitt and McIntosh, so that all Indian raids aborted.
In all this they were aided and even surpassed by those three artful and desperate tories and renegades, Girty, Elliott and McKee, who were constantly, like Saul of Tarsus, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." They all saw that the Delaware nation persisted in maintaining strict neutrality in the war between the British and Americans, and made repeated efforts first to sow dissensions; then break up the Moravian towns; then waylay and kill the missionaries, and, all these failing, to make the British at Detroit, and Pomoacon, the Huron Half King, remove the "praying Indians" back out of the way.
The missionary Senseman had been attacked near Schoenbrun; Edwards and Young were shot at while planting potatoes near Gnadenhutten; Heckewelder had been thrice waylaid and assaulted; while Zeisberger had been ambushed by a hired gang of eight Mingoes. Just as Simon Girty, their leader, leaped into the path before him, shouting, ``This is the man; now do your work as promised," some Delaware hunters providentially appeared and effected a rescue. If any was more persistent in his hatred to the Moravians than Girty, it was Elliott, who was infinitely more artful and sneaking. Pipe, whose prophetess wife had been finally converted to the new doctrines, was quite as bad and hateful as either. If Girty and Elliott were the crafty, designing plotters, Pipe and the Huron Half King, Pomoacon, were the pliant tools. We have already related how Pipe at length succeeded in dividing the Lenni-Lenape in two, taking with him the Wolf tribe, which was for war, and leaving the Turtle tribe, which was for peace on the Muskigum.
Alas! for the worried and harrowed Moravian towns, their great and good protector, Netawatwees, had died at Fort Pitt in '76, desiring, as his last will and testament, that his nation should embrace the Gospel. His successor, the greater Captain White Eyes, although, like King Agrippa, `' almost persuaded to be a Christian," had contented himself with remaining their staunch and unwavering friend, and had died the very next year. Soon after, the young chief who was lineally to succeed them, was compelled, by Pipe and tribal dissensions, to move with his guardians, Killbuck and Big Cat, to Smoky Island, under the protecting guns of Fort Pitt.
What more was left for the peeling and scattering of these persecuted heathen converts? The ignoble trio ot tories and deserters from Fort Pitt having been baffled in all their bad schemes, now applied for aid to the Six Nations of New York, who claimed all the Ohio soil and a protectorate over the western tribes. These steady friends of the British would not openly interfere, but were found ready enough to relegate the cowardly business to others, so they sent to the Chippewas and Ottawas the following pleasant message: "We herewith make you a present of the Christian Indians on the Muskingum to make broth of." These two nations were too proud to engage in such contemptible work, alleging that `'their 'Grandfather' had done them no injury." The same summons was then sent to the Wyandots, who were nearly connected with the Six Nations, but even they at first refused, since the Delawares were their "cousins," and they had formerly contracted to be protectors of the Christian Indians.
The machinations of Girty, Pipe and the rest soon persuaded the Half King to lead a hostile expedition against the Moravian towns. Accordingly, with a cohort of three hundred chosen warriors, Pomoacon "came down like a wolf on the fold." British guns were in their hands; the British flag waved over them, and Elliott, a British captain, was at their head. It was either removal or death.
Great and unspeakable was the consternation among these three peaceful communities at the sudden appearance of so many fierce and hostile warriors. The gist of the Half King's commands was that the believing Indians "were sitting just half way between two powerful, angry gods, who stood with their mouths wide open and looking ferociously at each other; that if they didn't move back out of the road they would be ground to powder by the teeth of either one or the other, or perhaps by both. He urged them not to stand stupidly gazing at their horses, flocks and standing crops, but to rise, take their teachers, and he would lead them to a fat and rich place, near his own town, where game, fish and corn were plenty."
No use to argue! A whole week was spent in that way, the unruly rabble becoming each day more .violent and aggressive, wantonly shooting down cattle, pillaging houses, and riding over fenced grounds. The interception of some messengers who had secretly been dispatched to Fort Pitt, and the escape thither of a squaw who had ridden off Pipe's famous riding horse, brought matters to a crisis, and the missionaries and their chief assistants were arrested and menaced with death. This so alarmed the more timid of the congregations that they finally consented to leave their beautiful villages behind, and go whither their cruel and merciless persecutors directed.
The last parting was a most touching one. The chapel was thrown open and crowded with people, many of the heathen savages having also flocked in. After hymn singing by the united congregations, all joining their sad wails together, Zeisberger, their most beloved minister, calmly arose and preached a touching and most powerful sermon from Isaiah liv: 8--" In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord, thy Redeemer."
The scene then presented was certainly one of very extraordinary interest. The venerable missionary was most profoundly grieved and touched, and discoursed with unwonted force and feeling; Joachim, tne native chapel interpreter, spoke with equal freedom and unction, and as his clear, ringing tones resounded through the crowded assemblage, weeping and wailings arose on all sides. It was like an inspiration-as if the tongue had been "touched with a live coal from off the altar." Even the on-looking heathen were moved to tears.
But why dwell longer on these sad and harrowing scenes? These persecuted Christians, "hunted like a partridge upon the mountain," placed their beloved pastors in their midst, and took up their melancholy pilgrimage for the distant Sandusky; all their comfortable homes abandoned; over three hundred acres of standing corn left in the ear; most of their cattle shot or driven to the woods; their bountiful stores of meat, honey, tools, &c., left behind, and nothing to look forward to but a dreary Winter of cold and privations.
They were just a month on their way, and suffered untold hardsnips. But these were as nothing to what followed. The promised Paradise turned out a bleak, wintry desert. The wretched victims were cast adrift in the barren woods, while the Half King and his exultant followers continued on to their own town. Some miserable hovels were knocked up; Many of their cattle now died of absolute starvation, and amid want, pinching cold, and sick and starving children, passed the terrible Winter of 1781. Added to all this, their missionaries were now dragged to Detroit and confronted with Pipe, their chief tormentor and accuser.
On being ordered by the British commandant, De Peyster, to make good his constant charges against the Muskingum Moravians, that truculent worthy, much to the surprise of all, called on his chiefs to "get on their legs and speak. " Alas! these were utterly dumb! A second command, and Pipe arose in a most embarrassed manner, and recalled all he had ever said against the Moravians; taking the blame on himself and tribe, and concluded with the request that the missionaries should be treated well, and sent back to their suffering congregations. Being thus triumphantly acquitted, this was done, De Peyster making all the amends in his power by sending with them food, clothes and his best wishes.
The year 1782 opened very miserably for the poor wanderers. They had, it is true, built a new chapel and continued their devotions, but suffered so terribly from cold and want of provisions, that many sickened and died. They were straitened to that degree as to be obliged to live on the carcasses of their starved cattle, and many sucking babes perished miserably. Each grown person was reduced to one pint of corn per day. The famine now increased; corn advanced to half a dollar per quart, and very little to be had at that; their children distressed them by their constant wails for food, and, to save them and theirs from sheer starvation, they concluded to return to their forsaken towns on the Muskingum, and gather the corn from the large crops they had left standing in the ear. They accordingly set out-men, women and children, with horses to bring back the food-in three divisions, and numbering one hundred and fifty souls.
Girty and the Half King all this time continued increasingly hostile. Their object was to drive the "praying Indians" out of the country altogether. To this end new charges were trumped up against the missionaries, the Half King threatening that if they were not removed he "would know what to do." A special order from Detroit was sent to Girty to conduct them again to Detroit, and should they refuse to come, Pomoacon was bidden to aid him.
The grief and consternation of the poor Indians when they found they must lose their pastors and teachers, was indescribable. They lost both sleep and appetite, and hurried off messengers to hasten back the expedition which had left for the Muskingum in quest of corn. Alas! most of these were fated never to come back, or to look again on the faces of their beloved teachers.
On March 14th, just as the missionaries were preparing to set off, they heard the "alarm yell" sound, and, on going out, found a "runner" returning from the Muskingum with the sad news that while the one hundred and fifty Indians were busy gathering their maize, a party of Virginians had come upon them and made them all prisoners, killing some and taking the remainder to Pittsburgh.
With this heavy news the missionaries started. How would their hearts have bled had they known the whole dread story, in all its horrid and sickening details! They surely must have concluded that the Hall King's rhetorical figure was not overdrawn, and that between the two angry gods standing opposed to each other with mouths open, the one on the Sandusky and the other on the Ohio, they and their flocks were being ground to powder.
In order to render the account of the Gnadenhutten massacre more acual to our readers, we borrow a chapter from our Historical Work of "Simon Girty, the Renegade." The narration therein given is faithful to history, having been carefully gathered from every reliable source, while the dialogue style makes the whole drama, as it were, more present and realistic. In order to a fuller understanding of the scene presented, we may premise that two companies of border scouts, out on an Indian trail in search of a party of captives, meet and encamp by appointment only two months after the massacre-near the burnt and deserted village of Gnadenhutten. Captain Sam. Brady, the noted scout and one of the prominent characters of the romance, desirous of witnessing the deserted ruins, and the scene of a butchery, the details of which were then in every mouth on the frontier, is piloted at night to the ruins by Rev. Edward Christy. This young divine, having lost his betrothed by Indians, had accompanied Williamson's slaughtering expedition, and was a protesting and horrified witness of the dreadful drama. We now quote:
* * * * "Let me see," replied Christy, reflectively, "it was the 4th of March that our company of about a hundred, gathered from the Ohio shore and the various settlements along Short, Buffalo, Raccoon, Ten Mile, and other creeks, assembled at Mingo Bottom. Most of us were good and true men, who were much exasperated at Indian incursions and atrocities and determined to retaliate. Since all the signs favored the Moravians as either the perpetrators or the instigators of these thefts and scalpings, and as we did not know their characters so well as they were known at Fort Pitt, we were honest in our ends; but still there were many Indian haters among us; people who looked upon them as of no more account than mad curs, to be shot on sight; others, who had a religious or rather fanatical hate of all redmen, and very many rough, lawless desperadoes, who coveted their lands, horses and pelts, and who, by their boldness and violence, were allowed to have far too much influence among us. There was the mischief! It was an odd and incongruous mixture of good and bad.
"Well, in about two days we came in sight of this town. We found out afterwards that about one hundred and fifty men, women and children, all told, had come down from Sandusky to gather their corn, and that the day before our coming, a party of Wyandots passing through here confessed to a border murder, and advised them all to be off or they would be attacked. A conference was then held here by the leaders of the three villages, and the conclusion was, that as 'they had always been peaceable and friendly to the whites, feeding and relieving their captives and sending the settlements early intelligence of expected raids, they certainly had nothing to fear; but it was also resolved, that as they had gathered their corn and were all ready to go back, they would start from home on the 6th, the very day we arrived.
"Our videttes having informed us that most of the reddys were across the river, the band was divided into two equal parts; one to cross over about a mile below Gnadenhutten and secure those who were gathering corn, and the other, with which I was, to attack this village itself. The first party found young Shabosch about a mile from here out catching horses. He was shot and scalped by a Captain Builderbeck. Finding no canoes for crossing, and the river being high and running ice, young Dave Slaughter swam over and brought back an old sugar trough, which would only carry two at a time.
*This Captain Builderbeck was a large, fine looking, and very daring borderer, who was some years after captured by Indians. On giving his name, a look of intelligence immediatdy circulated among the captors.. He was recognized as the man who fired the first shot at the Moravian massacre, and as the slayer of the much-esteemed Shabosch, and was at once killed and scalped under circumstances of great cruelty. It may here also be stated that, aIthough Colonel David Williamson escaped immediate retribution for his share in the massacre, and was even afterwards made sheriff of Washington county, Pa., yet towards the end of his life he became wretchedly poor, and died in the Washington, Pa., jail.
"This was slow work, and a good many strippod, and, putting gun. and clothes on board, swam over. Fearing the noise of their shot would alarm the Indians, they sent word for us to advance on the town, which we did with a rush, finding it, much to our surprise, completely deserted all but one man, who was just pushing off in a canoe, and who was instantly killed.
"The other party hurried along with all speed; hailed the corn gatherers as friends and brothers; told them they had heard of their sufferings and bad treatment among the Hurons, and offered to take them to Fort Pitt and protect and support them.
"This was joyful news to the Indians, for they had been so starved and maltreated that any change was for the better. So they gathereed about, shook hands and exchanged congratulations with each other. They were then advised to leave off work and cross to Gnadenhutten.
"Meanwhile, as we afterwards learned, a native teacher, by name of Martin, from Salem, on the west side of the river, five miles below, was out with his son and saw the tracks of our shodden horses, for we had a good many mounted men with us; and being surprised thereat, ascended a hill to reconnoitre. Seeing whites and reds all together, talking and chatting in the most friendly manner, he sent his son across, while he rode rapidly off to Salem, and told them there what he had seen, giving it as his opinion that God had ordained that they should not perish on the Sandusky barrens, and that these whites were sent to succor them. Two brethren were then dispatched to this village, and finding all favorable, returned with some of our band to Salem, who, on repeating the same promises that were made by the whites here, all came trooping up the west bank.
"Unfortunately, our party who went to Salem set fire to the church and houses there, which at once excited disapproval and suspicion. It was explained, however, that as they were going to abandon the place, it had been done to prevent its occupation by the enemy."
"They must have been a very credulous folk," here put in Brady, "to be so easily deceived."
"Well, I've heard that our boys talked religion to them, praised their church, called them good Christians, and made so many fine promises that their suspicions seem to have been completely lulled. On arriving opposite this place, however, their eyes were opened very quick; but it was now too late. They discovered blood on the sandy beach, and more of it in the canoe by which they crossed."
"But when they found themselves betrayed, why didn't they fly to arms?" worderingly asked Brady.
"Ah' this was the most curious part of the whole performance," said
I noticed that your site has some information connected to the Moravian Church. I have just created Moravian Church Genealogy Links at http://www.enter.net/~smschlack. I would love to add a link to your Moravian information--your site. Thanks for considering, sincerely,
The following from John Schwab:
Yes, if you'd like, feel free to include this message, (after I corrected my mispellings). Include my address E-Mail: email@example.com and my father's E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org possible.
>Date: Saturday, September 12, 1998 2:09 AM > >Dear Mr. Sanders, > I had visited your website awhile ago and was very intrigued by your >information on the Moravian Massacre at Gnadenhutten. I also explained to >you, that much of my interest in this subject was because in the pursuit of >my families' genealogy a possibility existed that different branches of my >families may have been involved on opposite sides of this controversy. My >father's side representing the Pennsylvania villagers and my mother's side >representing the Moravian Missionaries counseling the Christian Indians. > I cannot confirm a relationship on my mother's line at this time ( and >probably years away from researching it). I have found some concrete >evidence linking my father's lineage, however and thought you may be >interested. To set the scene... I am a descendent of David Hays, whose >funeral procession is mentioned in the text. Currently, I believe this >family ( Hays) arrived in Western PA in 1783, after the Moravian Massacre. >However, I am a direct descendant of the Vance mentioned in text and in >fact, the Lyle discussing the Massacre with Vance also marries into my >Hay's heritage. I hope you find this information as engaging as I did, as >it somewhat humanizes the occurrence of the Gnaddenhutten Massacre to some >extent....Anyways follow this link if interested.... >ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/washington/cemetaries/crosscrk.txt >Sincerely, >John Schwab >
The following from Donald Green:
Read with great interest your Moravian Massacre page. I have been doing some study and research on the Moravinan settlement in Clinton Township, Michigan. It was here in 1782 that the struggling band of Moravians and their followers came to settle and start a village after the massacre in Gnadenhutten, Ohio. They named their settlement here New Gnadenhutten. We have a fair amount of information on this settlement and the events that took place over the four years they located here.
Would like to keep in touch with you and any others on this fascinating subject and part of history.
Please add me to the E-Mail site. I'm located in Cliton Township, MI, which is next to Mount Clement or 20 miles northeast of Detroit. It was Cliton Township that the Moravians fled to after the massacre and settled a new village called New Gnadenhutten. They settled here in 1782 and stayed to 1787. I'm chair of the Cliton Township Historical Commission and we are doing some detail research into this settlement. We have a fair amount of information about this settlement and hope to develop more. E-Mail: email@example.com
The following from Edward Hancock
At 05:57 PM 7/14/96 -0400, you wrote:
Dear Ed: My name is Edward Hancock and I recently produced a documentary, with my associate Randall Wilkins, on the Moravian Massacre. I would be extremely interested in seeing it. How will it be distributed? We (Randy and I) were reading with interest your various historical index referances, and wondering how you became interested in the Massacre and this particular period in Early Frontier History. Sort of one of those one-thing-leads-to-another type things. Found another couple of books that alluded to the horror of the massacre and its pivotal role in the war and wanted to learn more. Have always been a "history nut". Putting this info up on the net as am highly interested in history being presented with sources as close as possible to events and as much accuracy as possible. I think history should be recorded as it really happened and let the chips fall where they may. This is a period of particular interest to us and are considering making an 8 hour documentary series on the entire period. We were also wondering, with great interest, what some of your sources were. Our WESTERN BORDER in EARLY PIONEER DAYS containing the true account of Western Frontier Life and Struggle in the Most Heroic Age of America. By Charles McKnight 1875, copyright 1902 We have done extensive research at the Ohio Historical Society and really throughout the midwest. Further we are working with such authors and historians as Earl Olmstead, Allan Eckard and Phil Hoffman. One piece we were most interested in knowing the source of was the basis of the Moravian Massacre piece. We do not believe we have seen this source. Any clues you could give us to enhance our search would be greatly appreciated. Will put it all up on the net as soon as possible. Have a lot of scanning and ocring to do to get it there. Feel free to use any info I put up there. All I ask is that the following credit appear with any list of credits in a ducumentary so people can locate the text version on my page and read it if they develop an interest from your films. Credit: (Under information sources, or such appropriate heading) (The other addresses in case my web page moves so people can locate it.) Hope to hear from you soon. I can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org Willing to help you any way possible with this project.