This next section was penned about the same time as the first essay–The Story of the Moravians. The focus here was on the role of Moravian culture and history on Native American culture during the period when tribes were being forced more and more to move west and ultimately to settle in places defined by the US government as safe places, havens where they could live their traditional lifestyle, and in theory, continue to live off the land like their great grandfathers. The resulted in two series of events important to local history.
The most commonly told story of Moravian and Christian Indian history pertains to the successful baptism of these “neophytes” and their subsequent transition to the Christian lifestyle along with their removal to numerous places in what was then considered the Farwest and the Great Northwest. During this time, the government of the colonies was often concerned about another attempt made by the French to reclaim parts of New York and the Ohio region. By allowing the Moravians to establish homesteads in these territories, the colonies were essentially building a protective barrier that would hopefully prevent future Indian invasions from the north.
The less commonly told story about the Missions, in particular the Shekomeko mission, is the role of these intercultural activities in the development of the outdoor spiritual revival circuit, a contribution to American culture which the Shekomeko Indians of Pine Plains, New York, plays a uniquely important role in regarding our local history. As a part of this revival movement amongst Indians, the philosphy of natural religion played a heavy role in how influential such a movement would be. The natural setting was more appealing to many an Indian, especially a “wild” Indian untrained in civil practice and behaviors. The Shekomeko Missions begins the story of this birth of the Christian Revival Movement of the American Indian, the first example of a natural philosophy movement bred and raised mostly due to the natural Creator part of the American Indian philosophy.
The Shekomeko Missions
From 1742 to 1746, at least fifteen schools were built by Moravian carpenters. At times even Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican churches were able to work alongside them in meeting their spiritual goals. The Great Awakening which began in Europe in 1726 amongst the Dutch, and which had spread to England in 1736, was now having its major influence on the German settlers in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and even limited parts of Rhode Island and Maine. In 1742, as Missionaries headed westward through the Susquehannas and into newer unexplored parts of Virginia and the Alleghenies, Moravian began to be criticized by mostly English Colonies. The Moravian’s attempts were to convert the negro slaves and Natives. The British goal was to retain their holdings on lands attached to their original purchases in order to secure more wealth.
The French were by now driven northward and westward into their communes and older, much more stable townships. Not as much by the Missions, but instead by the migrations that typically followed these missions which served to better inform the people of the conditions of these unsettled lands, and the increasing population density taking place along the Atlantic shoreline due to increased migration beginning about 1700.
Their number of arrivals during the seventeenth century became dwarfed by the first to migrate to North America between 1700 and 1730. These early settlers brought with them not only more knowledge of the European cultures, religions and lifestyles, but also parts of the European political goals, including an understanding and acceptance of the British-based economic goals. By now these new settlements were no longer just for detached members or religious groups in society. The new settlements offered prosperity, and the satisfaction of knowing the chief goal of the ongoing revival, the spreading of the word, could be achieved by individuals as well as missionary groups.
Between 1700 and 1740, numerous tribal communes were set up all along what land later known as the Rombout Purchase and Dutchess County.
In 1740, Christian Henry Rauch, then twenty two years of age, met up with Friedrich Martin in St. Thomas and was encouraged to travel to New York to look into the plans for establishing a new mission along the Hudson River in Shekomeko or Pine Plains. On July 21, 1740, Rauch arrived in New York City and made his way up to Shekomeko over the next few weeks. Like Zinzendorf, he came upon Mahicans on their way to New York city to speak with the Governor. Versed in Dutch, these Mahicans were convinced by Rauch to allow him to travel back to their village with them.
The Shekomeko settlement was located about twenty five miles east of the Hudson River, at the base of ‘Stissik’ Mountain near Connecticut (today called Stissing). The purpose of this Mission had by then become quite clear to the Moravians. During their previous encounters with natives who interacted with Georgian and Pennsylvania settlers, Moravians witnessed the impacts of the legal interactions then taking place. Quite often, a tribal group made their way to the Colonial Governor’s mansion to dispute the attempts being made to dislocate them in order that new European settlements could be laid. On at least one occasion, the Missionaries witnessed the end results of the methods of barter and contract signing which took place. Local liquor producers, who were busy making beer and ales, and trading with the more southern British colonies for rums and wines, were making a heavy profit by providing their beverages as incentives for Natives to sign the British land deed statements promising a turnover.
The liquor sellers were against the teachings of Missionaries, who were against this use of alcoholic beverages in any way, shape or form except Holy gains. In just a short time in New York, Moravians were being criticised for interfering with attempts being made to purchase lands along the Hudson River. This resulted in the creation and even publication of numerous tales about the New York Moravians, who were accused of being spies in cohorts with the French, the former settlers of this same region. British King George required that these Moravians swear their allegiance to him, which they refused, going only as far as to re-affirm their loyalty to the British Crown.
Still, this was not enough to satisfy the British. After some political turmoil took place, the New York Assembly passed a law requiring the Moravians take The Oath of Allegiance and obtain permits to preach in their Province. The punishment for failing to follow these requirements was imprisonment and/or a fine of forty Pounds. A second violation would result in their removal from New York.
The Moravians continued to preach in these regions, leading to the first imprisonment of young David Zeisberger in 1745, who was journeying to Canajoharie to learn the local Native language of Maqua. Afterwards, David Zeisberger again made his way into New York to meet with the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in one of their core communities located at Onondaga. Zeisberger, John Joseph Schebosch, and Conrad Weiser, their interpretor, renewed their three-year old treaty and obtained the permission needed to begin making their way past Susquehanna River and into Wyoming where they would establish a new settlement.
This impacted the already unstable realtions between the French and Six Nations. The siding of Hurons with the French had already led to some vicious and deadly encounters between these two tribes. Now, with the Moravians wishing to remove the Mahican Shekomekans from Pine Plains to Wyoming, this set up the possibility for the French to seek revenge once the new commune of Christian Indians was relocated to the border of the New France. Finally, in April 1746, the ten Christian Indian families of Shekomeko were forced to leave Shekomeko and head westward into Wyoming. By then, the Dutch and English families began to displace any remaining French and German families in this region who were loyal to New France. Temporary accommodations were set up for the Christian Indians near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, before their excursion westward took place, which soon after led to their disastrous demise and near extinction.
Now refugee Indians, these Christian Shekomekan Indians were settled in Blue Mountains at the junction of two rivers, Mahoning and Lehigh, overlooking both of their valleys. This place, previously purchased by the Moravians for just such a cause, received the name Gnadenhutten and was approved as a settlement by the Pennsylvania Governor George Thomas. A movement which began with just three-hundred migrants, had in 1748 reached five-hundred in number. Between 1746 and 1748, their second village was formed at Shamokin (Sunbury), a strategic placement supported even by their chief.
This community was to serve the Moravians as the perfection of their cause. Still it was quite rural and surrounded by wilderness, which to Moravians and many other religious groups was not the ideal way to plan a society being converted to Christianity and the Christian-European lifestyle. For one thing, they lacked financial support and the hope for developing trade with other groups in the near future due to their distance from the larger waterways. Thus, a self-sustaining economy had to be developed in Gnadenhutten and Shamokin. To serve the religious needs of this commune, the church offered prayers and choir session each day, leading many to practice the same on their own while in the field tending to their farmlands, or while indoors tending to their domestic needs such as drying and storing foods and spinning yarns, weaving fabrics, and making clothing.
Following the diminishment of revivalism, the English people, theological leaders, and government had decided to propagate their religious beliefs throughout North America. A number of religious promotion groups were established, such as the Scottish Society, which became most effective in serving the Scotch-Irish communities of Pennsylvania. By 1750, the Moravian missions in New York and middle Pennsylvania were by now mature. Their initiator, Count Zinzendorf, was then residing in London promoting his cause for the purpose of receiving financial support. Plans began to be made to build housing for his leaders in the Moravian districts of the Colonies, where they could continue to convert the members of such tribes as Cherokee, Catawba, Creek and Chickasaw. The hope was to esatblishment a stable settlement by the late 1750s, but a political encounter, followed by an ambush of Christian Indians in late 1755 ceased the chances for this Christian Moravian happening.
The Ambush and Attack of Bethlehem
Disputes between England and France were beginning to heighten during the 1750s. In dispute were the boundaries between New England and New France, made an important issue soon after the settling of English-based Christian Indian communes within the Allegheny wilderness. Meanwhile, similar disputes remained between the Moravian and Irish Presbyterian settlements situated closer to major waterways and land-based travel routes.
By the 1750s, the larger Moravian townships came to serve as places where refugees could escape to in order to avoid legal prosecution. Nearby the Shawnees still resided in their tribal settings, then inhabited by fugitives, self-employed trappers, and French Canadians as well. Each of these Western communities had established fully-enclosed fortresses to prevent criminal activities from taking place and hopefully avoid the chances for deadly raids. About this time, a printed communication was forged by enemies of the Moravian missions, which was reprinted by several of the local newspapers. It claimed the Moravians to be on the side of the French residing in their area who were overseen by Quebec. Almost immediately, this led to the eruption of a dispute between French, Anglicans and Moravians. Those to most suffer the consequences of these disputes and their resulting hostilities were the Christian Indians from Shekomeko.
These hostilities came to an end in 1758, but only after a significant portion of the Moravian mission and its Christian Indian population was killed, and the chances for subsequent hostilities remained viable for years to come. Soon after the murders of the Moravian Shekomekans, one of the members of a supporting Delaware Mission, Teedyuscung, became a renegade and led numerous war parties for years ot come. Still others who survived had taken refuge within the old Dutch communities which remained as well as other places totally detached from the English-bred land grant settlements and non-Moravian missionary communities.
The Moravian village of Nain was the last successful mission for the inventor of these missions, Count Zinzendorf to witness the birth of. Soon after the Count’s death, these Moravians accomplished the difficult task of converting Papunhank, who was both a chief of the Munsee and the tribe’s medicine man. In April 1760, following the conversion of Papunhank, the Moravians were able to purchase this land west of Blue Mountains and assign it as the new settlement, named Wechquetank (Polk Township, Monroe County) for missionary Gottlob Senseman to provide leadership for. Compared to the previous settlements, Wechquetank was a great deal larger, due most likely to its distance from the major townships. Sized at fourteen hundred acres, Papunhunk, his wife, and thirty-three potential Christian Indians comprising around ten families settled there.
Economy and the Late Colonial “Medicine Man”
Economy, which in Christian terms stood for the divine plan or creation and redemption, helped form the basic function of these New Christian communities. Economy, in the more utilitarian sense, also became the goal of British political and economic hierarchical groups overseeing these early settlements of the “Far West.” This single goal of Economy had attached to it two types of utopian visions, both born from notions of supremacy, but each one differing in regard to the overall purpose of these life changes. In just a few years, these British-sponsored, French-oppressed settlements would serve great Britain well. As future engagements and battles led to arguments about who owned the Mid West, followed by destruction and deaths of these Christian, non-Christian, and “heathen” communes, the Great British emigrants residing closer to the Atlantic remained protected within a fortress constructed from wilderness, highlands, and devoted outcast communities remained there from the century before.
Meanwhile, this gave the more central Missions such as those in close proximity with the Iroquois to time needed to publish books on the Iroquois language. The Iroquois by then were close allies with the British. Whereas nearly a century before, they had befriended the Dutch on New Amsterdam, setting up markets in New Amsterdam where they sold their artistry and wares, now they were inviting the new owners of this land, the British, into their economic-minded lifestyle. Similarly, other tribes were by now being taken advantage of as well to help the British develop their New World industries.
Aside from being able to sell Rum and Beer to the Iroquois and any other allied communities residing nearby, their botanists were learning the use s of native flora for food, dye, and medicine. The Tuscaroras for example, allied to the British during one of the Moravian disputes involving Shekomeko and the disaster at Bethlehem, introduced to one European entrepreneur their Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica), which soonafter became North America’s first patented medicinal-based food product. The Iroquois settled in upper New York near Albany, introduced to their Brtish overseer, a Colonel, their knowledge of the use of Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), which later became one of the first most popular alternative medicine herbal remedies. The more stable, although barely active, economic relations then taking place between Cherokee and the Carolinians eneabled their botanist to learn about and introduce the valuable vermicide Carolina Pink in 1762. These events enabled further interactions to ensue, and finally facilitate the learning of medicine previously known by traditional medicine men, missionaries, and certain local Indian Doctors of French, Dutch, and lower class origin.
The Golden Age of Missions
The Pontiac Conspiracy in 1763, initiated by the claim that Moravians had sided with the French, led to the massacre of residents at a number of wilderness settlements. About the same time other massacres were taking place aroundthe Great Lakes and in western Pennsylvania. This led William Penn to order the removal of the Christian Indians to Philadelphia for a short while, until the hostility had been reduced. One of the local frontier settlements, the Conestogas, was victims of these slaughters. In New York, several smaller refugee tribes overseen by Sir William Johnson also became victims.
The blame being placed on the Moravians and their Christian Indians of Nain and Wechquetank in Wyoming Valley forced their removal to Philadephia, where soonafter they were once again under attack by the Society of Friends due to underlying religious-based philosophical differences. Nearby, Philadelphia had set up Province Island as a quarantine area, where they Christian Indians remained until William Penn could obtain the authority to export them to William Johnson’s settlement in New York for their safety. This journey was brief, for on their way to New York, they were ceased by a party near Perth Amboy who forced them to return to Philadelphia, where they finally found safety residing in the local army barracks.
Knowledge of their placement in the barracks increased the hostility already felt again them as Moravians. As two parties from Lancaster and reading merged, residents of Philadelphia were split in their opinion and sided with either the rebels and the Natives. In just over a year, of the 125 Indians residing in the barracks, 56 lives were taken due to Dysentery and Small Pox.
The Conspiracy of Pontiac continued to take its tolls on political relations until a new agreement could be established with local governments. During the 1740s and early 1750s, the spiritual goals of colonists were replaced by a growing hostility based on needs for religious purity and improvements demanded in land claims rights and regulations. The domain of the New England-Mid-Atlantic had by now spread well into western Pennsylvania. Thus the previous settlements of Nain and Wechquetank were no longer viable places for Christian Indians to settle due to the encroachment of the newly arrived emigrants.
The Christian Indians opted to move further into the Wilderness, at the risk of further enraging the French Canadians who established communes and a matching fur trade industry out there. Chief, Christian, and Medicine Man, Papunhank of the Munsee, opted to remove to the junction of the Wyalusing and Susquehanna Rivers. The remaining 83 survivors of the recent epidemics and massacres next made their way to their new anticipated settlement. They were joined by a few of the Pachgatgoch tribe who resided in the Bethlehem settlement. David Zeisberger and John Jacob Schmick served as their missionaries.
An unfortunate series of indifferences, disputes, and hostile activities, some perhaps planned by the English and/or British-supporting Iroquois, led to the deaths of numerous settlers from this mission. Their five week trip to this valley on the Susquehanna took the life of one mother and her child. Reaching their goal on May 9th, 1767, they only came to discover that this land had already been under claims made by the Cayugan Iroquois. Since these Iroquois were supporting of Zeisberger’s goals, they allowed his new mission to be settled along the Susquehanna River. By the end of that season, this new town of Friedshutten or “Tents of Peace” was founded and settled.
Meanwhile, Iroquois leaders in Onondaga had decided to rescind the grant made by the Cayugas with the Moravians. By September of that year, the Moravian Indians were now in a compromising and unhealthy situation. The Iroquois allowed the Moravians to remain in their new settlement, but still this event led to later economic and political repercussions, possibly initiated by the British. That same year, Zeisberger began his search for the settlement of another Munsee town, Goschgoschunk, in what is now Venango County. This town was resided by Medicine man Wangomen, who retained his traditional beliefs but allowed Anthony, a Mahican, the Munsee’s Medicine Man Papunhank, and other members of his group to use his lodge as a church.
In the end, Zeisberger, Anthony, and Papunhank had little influence on a significant portion of this settlement. Those who had broken away to become Converts were subsequently forced to leave in 1769 to form a new commune, Lawunakhannek. Lawunakhannek was located extremely close to Goschgoschunk. By being just three miles upstream from them along the Allegheny River, on its east bank, the contrasting cultures in close proximity with one another must have led to problems regarding fishing, hunting and even certain medicine rights in the years ahead. In the Christian mind, Those who chose to remain with Wangomen retained their “heathenness,” while those who removed to Lawunakhannek were considered “blessed” and safe from any later medical or political problems. The Christian leaders retained their label of Goschgoschunk as the “stronghold of Satan” they had first judged this the original town to be. In the years to come, more of the occupants of Goschgoschunk became converts.
Now, several new changes were underway. In 1769, a matching settlement of Munsees, Schechschiquanunk, was laid just twenty-four miles up the river from Friedschutten. In April 1770, a large assemblage of Christian Indians planned to meet in Kaskaskunk, where Shenango and Mahoning Rivers converged. Zeisberger was invited to further the goals of his Missions by converting the members of various tribes convinced to attend this session. With the support and invitation of Sagamore Glikkikan and Packanke, the Supreme Chief of the Delaware Wolf Clan, many were convinced of the purpose and meaning of this inter-Provincial meeting. By then, strong connections between Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania had been established.
A year after the Moravian mission settled on Cayuga Iroquois land (May 1767), which had soon after been disputed due to a change in decisions made by the Onondagan Council (September 1767), once again the problem regarding this settlement began haunting the missionaries who had removed there with their converts. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was signed by Iroquois and John Penn in November 1768, agreeing to the previously-approved settlement of Friedshutten. Job Chilloway, of the Delawares, claimed to represent the Moravians and asked for a survey of Wyalusing, suggesting they were in search of another place to settle. This was construed as an invitation for the Wyalusing occupants to remove from Pennsylvania to Ohio. A place near “Big Spring” or Welhik Tuppeek was offered to the Christian Indians and accepted. Others encouraged to remove there were the Tuscawaras, a Delaware group situated along the river bearing the same name in Ohio, and where the covert Glikkikan had preached his Christian faith to the settlers of Netawatwes (King Newcomer). After this dispute had subsided, it was determined that the Grand Council of the Delawares had remitted on their previous promise not to sell this land to the White people.
Still, in spite of these mistaken political and territorial moves, the value of the Missions persisted. Whereas in 1771, only 100 members resided in Friedshutten, their removal to Ohio and the accompanying well-publicized and native-supported conversions which took place at Kaskaskunk, led other groups to follow this westward movement. Between 1771 and the commencement of the Revolutionary War, Big Spring became inhabited by numerous much smaller tribal groups. In 1772, a company of Tuscawaras arrived along with their Missionary John Heckewelder. That same year, Zeisberger returned to Friedensstadt during the summer where a number of Wyalusings remained, and encouraged John Ettwein to leave; later that year he arrived with 204 Christian Indians. Another large band of Friedensstadt residents were removed by Zeisberger to their new home of Schonbruun (“Beautiful Spring”) by the end of that year. In 1773, the remaining Christian Indains in Friedensstadt were removed to the Ohio village.
A second village of converted Mahicans was being formed by this time about ten miles downstream from Big Spring, Ohio. This community was named Gnadenhutten as a reminder of the fate of the community once residing along the Mahoning River. In 1755, members of the Mahoning River group were massacred by the residents of the Munsee’s Goschgoschunk, the settlement which the new Christian Indians had to leave to form Lawunakhannek. The “demons” the Christians felt had occupied Goschgoschunk had once again led to numerous war parties and excursions between 1773 and 1777. When the third town, Lichtenau (“Meadow of Light”) was started, its failure came quickly due to the choice of Missionaries to settle along a heavily travelled war path; these people removed to the town they came to call Salem located just five miles downstream from Gnadenhutten.
Consequences of the American Revolution
Great Britain was angered by its lost control of North America beginning as late as 1769 with the Pequot War. The Revolutionary War that ensued just seven years later led to increased hostility between the British and the various type of occupants of New France and the thirteen Colonies-turned-States. Still, the British maintained a hold of the Mid West and to ensure their retention of this increased their hostilities towards any renegade groups residing on or near the western Border of the United States. What little civilization was establishing in the Midwest at this time was certainly leveled by British troops on their way to attack the Colonies from the Interior.
One example of where these hostilities took place was Detroit, where the British managed to gain a stronghold of this formerly French city. Just across the United States border was Pittsburgh. With some tribes remaining hostile against all white settlers, including the isolated frontier family settlements, attacks on new settlers continued, which were hard to differentiate from either the British or American attempts to control these regions. When the turning point of this war took place with the surrender of General Cornwallis in western New York around Yorktown, on his way to split the former Colonies in two by way of the Hudson River, the English turned their ensuing despair, frustration, and aggression towards the Christian Indians who were settled in this region.
In very short time the various villages inhabited by the Missions were attacked, with all of their cattle slaughtered and some of the more resistant Natives killed. The 400 natives residing there retreated to the woods, leaving all of their belongings and provisions behind. They retreated to Sandusky, where they remained beginning October 1st with what little they had. The Missionaries, accused of being American spies, were brought to the British-run Detroit to be tried. On November 9th, they were acquitted and allowed to return to their former missions.
It was very late in the year and these people were left without provisions to help them through the upcoming Winter. They for a short while survived on just their residuals of corn. Their neighbors, overseeing their blight, did little to assist them at first. This led 150 Christian Indians to migrate back to their old fields remaining intact and unharvested in Gnadenhutten. After harvesting the remaining crops from their past year’s plantings, they began their return to Sandusky in early Spring, March 7th.
By the time of their departure, American Colonel David Williamson and about ninety soldiers had settled just outside Gnadenhutten. In search of the murderers of one of their British Families residing on the Monongahela River, they allowed the Moravians Indians to make their stay with them for the night, during which time they massacred ninety Christian and six non-Christian Indians in the two “slaughter houses” they were allowed to sleep in. Five of the victims were Christian Indians who were serving as Missionary assistants. Their religious leader, Abraham the Mahican, died spending the night in preparation of this anticipated “martyrdom.” What the remaining Moravian Indians and Missionaries in Sandusky learned a few weeks later, came to them from the two young boys who escaped. The only other survivors of this tragedy were the native at work in the nearby fields of Schonbrunn, who left before the arrival of this vengeful British troop.
Once again, after catching word of his activities in Sandusky, the British ordered Zeisberger’s return to Detroit where they questioned him again about his loyalty to Great Britain versus the United States. After this query, they ordered him to remove to “no man’s land” in the distant outskirts of Sandusky.
By then Zeisberger had only four Christian Indian families to accompany him to their new settlement in the Chippewa lands of what is now Macomb County. Michigan. Thus as once-suspected spies, these Missionaries and their devoted followers were now situated even further away from their initial Delaware Mission sites, further into British territory, and closer to the Hudson’s Bay activities, thus ensuring their loyalty to Great Britain and preventing any potential Moravian-American-sponsored espionage from taking place. Few of the remaining tribal members scattered near Gnadenhutten returned to the Mission. The missions of two other Moravian comrades soon after made their way to Michigan as well, by which time Zeisberger had named it New Gnadenhutten.
New Gnadenhutten remained the sole site for the Moravian missions following the Revolutionary War. By then, a population ranging from 100 to nearly 1000 had been depressed to a point of near extinction. Members of the newly formed United States Congress promised these Moravians their old homesteads, which they never returned to. Instead, with just a party of 117, Zeisberger chose to remain near the smaller townships they had established in Tuscarawa Valley, where there were less chances for hostility due to a tried population of recent war-heroes. They removed to the Cuyahoga River area, and one year later removed to the Huron River where they set up and Christained the town of New Salem in 1787.
Native American Revivals
The stay made by many colonists who interacted with the Natives along the Delaware River came to a peak in the 1750s. This was in many ways a continuation of the Revivals which had already taken place in New England and New York throughout the late 1730s and early 1740s. This New York-New England Revival came after the Dutch experienced the same revival of Reformed Protestants in the Netherlands during the mid-1720s. The events leading to Revival are often quite similar from place to place, although at times, the Calendar year becomes an important factor in determining the attitude and behavior of the common people. The late fifteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries were interpreted by many faiths as important periods in history. The first the Europeans attached to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World. The second was related to the Revivals taking place in New England and New Netherlands, consummating in the Salem Witchcraft trials. The late eighteenth century gave birth to the first of the Spirit Revivals to be born in the United States.
We can at times also use simple, basic explanations to explain the birth of revivals. The 1490s of course again can be attributed to Columbus’s Discovery of the New World. The 1790s Revival in the United States can be even more closely attached to non-religious events, such as the post-War economic depression period, followed by its expected Reformative, post-Federalist attitude, and the relief of a recovery from the depression. In some cases however, religious enthusiasts, especially some preachers but especially evangelists, interpret these natural events with enthusiasm, there by resulting in a new interpretation of events in a New World.
These were the events which took place in the Hudson Valley during the 1790s. A Revival was about to take place once again in New England. The earliest hints of this Revival took place in the churches of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The more re-affirming and even undeniable events took place along the Hudson Valley, followed by a similar revival taking place in the Mountain communities of Kentucky and Virginia.
The Hudson Valley became the first to rejuvenate a 1792 belief system from Connecticut and Massachusetts following the return of the Yellow Fever epidemic. This epidemic had already made its way into the United States in 1792 and 1793, its first return since the years preceding the Revolution. Yellow Fever had already existed in epidemic proportions since the early 1600s, and probably was brought in on ships arriving from the tropics. Whereas some of these earliest ships to come to the New World between the 1620s and 1660s usually had with them late-comers to New Amsterdam and Boston on board, following the establishment of these early city communities, these ships brought in with them the slaves from South American and Africa whose villages bore the mosquitoes needed to spread the contagion responsible for Yellow Fever.
Following the return of Yellow Fever in 1793, a number of doctors trained at the European schools wrote their own opinions as to the cause for this epidemic fever. Most attributed it to some sort of miasma or contagion, either brought in by ships or due to the harbors where ships often landed. Since many of these harbor areas were also the sites for estuary behavior, the circulation of brackish and fresh waters, and the related birth of swamp gases, these fevers were often associated with air and weather patterns and the stench of decaying animal and vegetable materials. Another argument for the onset of Yellow Fever had to do with some sort of spiritual reason for its onset. The electricity of storms, and matching traits within the foggy marshlands where ghosts and goblins were once felt to reside, were felt to be causes for yellow fever, as were the slightly different traits of god-given energies of nature and the environment about you.
This period succeeded the introduction of animal magnetism to North America. Benjamin Franklin had successfully made use of electricity to treat a lady with a troubled psyche. Other doctors were about to considered the use of static electricity to treat paralysis, epilepsy, and the dystrophies, not to mention most of the other most common maladies. The effects of Galvanism on muscular activities were equally becoming quite important to not only science and medicine, but also spiritualism and religion. Death was no longer considered an ultimatum to all who appeared deceased, with the help of static electric shock for example, drowning victims found in a state of suspended animation could be recovered with the help of a medical electrician. Similarly, hysteria and other psychiatric malafflictions could be cured by a mesmerist, instead of undergoing the excessive amounts of blood-letting which led to the death of their relative, and even George Washington during his final fever spell. Throughout all of this physical and spiritual medical revivalism, Religious Revivalism was again commencing in many of these same communities. The end results of these experiences, be they physical, metaphysical, mental or emotional, helped support the foundation with which new missionary work began taking place in the United States about 1790.
The Christian Indians of Huron River, under the direction of Moravian Missionary Zeisberger, were by now at the border of Canada and land which soon became the Louisiana Purchase. Numerous French Canadians communities were established in this region. The French, born-spiritualists who later gave birth to Rousseau’s fame and the initiators of spiritual and scientific enlightenment, and the Germans, the providers of Goethe, helped feed the communities of French and German settlers now residing in the distant borderlands west of the Alleghenies. Zeisberger’s family was formerly Austrian, his own raising in a German-Slavic community, helped other German groups perpetuate their own beliefs through his Missionary work. In this way, Native America and German traditions were merged, giving rise to the Iroquois-German Dictionary and Language textbooks written by Count Zinzendorf during the middle 1600s. Now, in Chippewa, it was time for the resurgence of Native American religious thinking to merge with the healing goals of self-trained United States physicians and the Great Physician which the consecrators at the Moravian missions were devoted to.
The Northwest Territory was now defined as portions of the French River, later called Thames River, where the Munsee and Chippewas had help build the town of Fairfield. Further south, the Shawnees had by now developed their own town or utopian community, which was of considerable size for its time. With the earliest post-Colonial self-governing Cow-boys and trappers residing there, the notion of law and governing bodies became a unique practice handled just by maverick sheriffs (who called themselves ???).
At the Moravian Missions, the Great Northwestern Fur Company had become active participants in stabilizing this community’s economy and marketplace. This helped to further stabilize Fairfield and led to the development of an early Maple Sugar Industry, and a matching Wood and Bark Canoe industry, thereby satisfying the needs of the earliest adventurers, voyageurs, couriers du bois, and trappers making their way through. These same events immediately preceded the more rapid development of Missions which would take place in the Midwest during the 1820s. In many ways, these Moravians had now become an example of future Missions to be established by Jesuits, Methodists, Baptists, Protestants, Episcopalians, and Roman Catholics.
By now the United States Congress was also paying surveyors to map out even the Missionary lands, a task they often spent little time with during the later colonial post-Allegheny settlement years. In 1797, as Moravian-Tuscawara lands were surveyed and mapped, small Native groups were brought in from the surrounding borderlands for the Missionaries to convert and baptize. The Society for Propagating the Gospel took on the alternative task of encouraging the Moravians to continue their invitations of the more eastern tribe to Ohio, hopefully to open up and secure more lands for incoming emigrants.
The Churches at Gnadenhutten and New Salem supported these goals, for it helped increase their following and strengthen their chances for future development and the growing impact of Christianity. Congregations continued to be formed in Ohio during the months ahead. The Senecas had by now become an important influences on this movement, as well as the increasingly popular Scotch-Irish Presbyterian and Kentucky-based Southern Baptist groups. Numerous new laws were being passed during this time, facilitating the development of schools on church grounds, and the publication of the Bible in Native American tongues. Finally, by 1800, this expansion of the Missionary programs was about to make use of the Wabash River, so far into French Territory that new political rivalry was about the be reborn in New France leading to the Louisiana Purchase several years later. Settlements along the Muskingum, Ohio and Miami now came into play in developing the Missionary Program, preceding the first utopian-based popularization of Indian Root Doctoring by less than ten years.
A conflicting dichotomy of discoveries and popular opinions remained extant in these freshly settled communities. The Moravian missionary beliefs, as well as those of other more recently established midwestern sects, conflicted greatly with those of the famed Shawnee town which were now becoming increasingly popular. The practice of shamanism had once again become popular. With the Negro population having its own influences of some of these rural communes, uninhabited swamplands, and rebellious borderlands, the witch-doctor had once again become popular, especially along the rivers in Louisiana.
Poisons were commonplace in the Shaman’s tipi. A number of these poisons, mineral born, were produced by the well trained chemists who served as apothecaries and well as domestic and early industrial chemists. The powders of Antimony and Mercury were by now popular. The hallucinogenic plants of Virginia, such as Datura, had made their way deep into the midwest by now, with a distribution that followed the water routes illustrating their role in and passage due to trade routes.
The Missions established during these years served innumerable tribes. Their disruptions were planned in order to detach them from participating in the future plans for the United States. The most important events during this period of Missionary history include the growth and development of other missionary programs and societies, and the increasing popular practice of camp revival meetings.
The goals of many of these newer missions were quite different from those of the Moravians. The Mission-directed revival in Petquotting in 1803 served more the trappers and real estate agents, for they only resulted in numerous intoxications initiated by settlers and traders hoping to either take advantage of these Natives, or lead to further hostility against them.
In 1805, a missionary of the Shawnees, Joshua, was accused of storing poisons and making use of spirits to take the lives of other Indians. The old chieftains of this village also received much criticism for their practices. Sagama Tettepachsit was accused of poisoning and tied to a stake within a fire. Another Sagama, Caritas, an “aged convert’ no less, was accused of similar practices and dragged by a mob to a nearby bonfire, into which he was thrown after being clubbed on the head. Joshua, their Missionary who had witnessed all of this, was also subsequently killed and turned into a martyr.
These events contrasted greatly with the revival events taking place further north at the Chippewa Mission. In 1808, a large revival took place where Native Missionaries preached the gospel and sang the Moravian hymns. Revivalism and conversion became the chief goals of these spiritual groups. In Dutchess County, New York, the recent history of their Christianized Indians–the Shekomekos–led to the continuation of the practices of the Seneca groups situated just north of this county, and led to a utopian sort of fascination with Native American spiritualism and herbalism as it became merged with the same beliefs of Christian origin.
The War of 1812 set the stages for the next changes about to take place. Conversions and the establishment of Missions continued, but became less philosophical and religious-based and more utilitarian and economically guided. Indian Medicine in the minds of Europeans and Euro-Americans became quite detached from spirituality and the goals of missionary work. The scientists, botanists and chemists, were now in touch with Native herbs, but often denounced them as potential medicines, favoring instead the use of mineral drugs and at times the matching mineral springs. It was mostly the more impoverished medics of the remaining borderland communities which came to accept and appreciate these free medicines. Except for those of the religious and missionary groups, these medicines soon became idealized and utopianized.
LINKS to MORE on the MORAVIANS and MAHICANS, at THIS SITE
- The Story of the Moravians
- From Missions and Revivals, to a New Philosophy of Medicine
- Georg Loskiel: Spiritualist, Storyteller, Historian, Scientist, Physician
- Shekomeko and Tschoop
- Mahican Medicine
- Mahican Medicine, Part 2
- Personal Health
- Community Health in Transition
- Epidemiological Transition
- Rauch, Tschoop and Zinzendorf
- The Baptisms
- Brethren John’s Health and Well-being
- Brother John’s Mysterious Illness
- Rituals and Sainthood
- Saintly Practices
- The Evidence
- Site Visits