Regional and National change pertain to two core features:
- Actual social change
- Perpetuation of knowledge change
The first consists of events that continue to spread along expected diffusion routes.
The second is detailed by evidence for the dissemination of knowledge as the written word and orally shared.
Notice the differences in nomenclature used on these two maps which depict pretty much the same history. The recognition of “Gnaddenhuten” (adjacent to COMTE DE NORTHAMPTON” versus just “Mohicans” in the right image, above Bethlehem. Is this a political statement?
In spite of public unrest with the Moravians from 1745 on, their missions continued to survive. Once the spread of Moravian teachings was successful between Shekomeko and Bethlehem, the opportunity for further propagating the Word began when the Moravian planned their diffusion westward into the interior. The first major site to be developed west of Bethlehem was between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers and was called Gnadenhuten. This was the first attempt made to begin crossing the Appalachian mountain range that prohibited westward migration.
Although at times the Mahicans/Christian Indians managed to barely escape from several mob scenes in some of the more heavily populated areas, their continued survival is worth mentioning since this often requried the loss of precious crops grown during the months prior. In very short time this meant that their needs to move frequently would begin taking their toll on the people, their stamina, their way of living, their overall health. These move from the New York-Pennsylvania eastern region into the western Pennsylvania-Western Territory wilderness once again returned the mission to their natural wilderness settings they initiated in, with other Indian encampments nearby also in need of pastoral improvement. Two major and ongoing political disruptions during this time pertained to who wanted and needed these lands. It was these land disputes t thamade it almost impossible for the missions to be successful from this point on in American history.
First, the Mahicans weren’t the only Native American tribes forced to make these westward migrations. If we take a close look at some of the Atlas maps published during this time, we find the Moravian-Mahican hamlets planted right upon territories once inhabited mostly by other tribes, and we also find other former more eastern tribes also trying to make claim to these virginal or non-colonized territories such as the Cherokee and Iroquois.
The second political problem still a threat to the related to the ongoing disputes for territorial claims between the British and the French in Canada. Whereas in New York, the claim that the French were interacting with Mahicans was not as likely due to territorial settings, the lack of proximity to the more important government leaders in the colonies made those areas west of Pennsylvania still available for the French to make claim to, which they did. New France began as a region extending from Quebec southward across the Great Plains, following the Mississippi River, until Louisiana was reached. This part of the midwest, which to some included Northwest Territory lands in what would later become northeastern Ohio, was still fought for, by both Canadians and Native Americans. This was to become the major disadvantage to moving so far west that the Moravians would have to deal with. It was also the cause for their demise.
When we look at early colonial interpretations of the New York-Pennsylvania area, in which the far western parts of Pennsylvania and what would become Ohio are included, we find mention of the Moravians. When we look at British versions of these maps of the beginning of Western Territory, we find no reference to the Moravian aspect of this Native American group, they are only referred to as Mohicans. By the 1770s, the Moravian aspect of Mahican/Mohican history has been dropped from the educational and reading materials. We are only left with evidence for small collections of what were formerly sizable national tribal systems. These were now disappearing from the newest versions of these colonial maps, with the British maps documenting this more than the French maps.
These cultural differences in interpreting the placement of American Indians and Moravian missions possibly had some underlying reasons related to public and governmental (Royal)perception about these events. The ongoing dispute for land rights and borders throughout Colonial history kept the French and English from becoming good friends and neighbors most of these years. These political differences also took priority over the needs of such a small group of settlers as the Moravian Missionaries and their Christian Indians. This meant that neither French nor English government cared much about the fate of the people residing upon, what now was in each of their minds, “their lands.” This governmental disconnect with the missions, and the ongoing problems that local Native American groups had with losing their own personal places in the world, together made personal and political enemies of the fairly pacifistic, utopian missions. As the Moravian missions moved westweard the people became more their own culture and practiced living in whatever new and unique ways they were able to develop during these few short years of survival in the wilderness. Out west, the English, French, Metis, and numerous relocated indigenous groups hated them and their presence. This meant they stood little chance of surviving much more than a generation of two the further westward they were able to travel, the more utopian their community became with the Moravian and Christian Indian traditions in mind. In general, it can be said that societies hate the concept of change and even more hate utopians with their new way of living. Due to Social Darwinism, this led to the extinction of this new Moravian-Indian culture in the Midwest by the very early 1800s.
The Written Word
We find the best evidene for this part of Moravian-Christian Indian history in the written historical words. The knowledge of the Moravian missions was later diffused to us onlookers and side-listeners through the books that were written about the Moravian church, the world missionary projects and the lessons books for churches and home readings that were published and dispersed through the nineteenth century. Were it not for these books, we would have had little understanding of this important lesson in American history.
The most important parts of these historical documents was the retelling of the Moravian missionary story and the successful spread of its word westward. Most important to this cultural knowledge were the stories related to Tschoop’s experiences, as a valuable example of meaning of the word and the conversion experience. These tales often included most of the small parts of Tschoop’s life that together exemplify the Christian experience. The least modified of Tschoop’ stories is the letter he sent to other Mahicans Indians about the meaning of his conversion, followed by the tale of his experience with Rauch napping in his place of stay one afternoon–his realization of the social equality of American Indians in general and colonists.
The most significant modifications in Tschoop’s story involve the retelling of his quality of life just before meeting up with Rauch. These parts of the conversion legend portray Tschoop in different ways, some more portraying him as a several thoughtless drunkard and others as a hefty Indian ready to engage in battle at any moment. The truth was Tschoop was neither of these two unfortunately, a truth about his personal story that is never revealed in any of the subsequent rewrites of this legend.
From the maps, we also learn more about the spread of the Word. We hear mostly about Shekomeko and Tschoop’s experiences with the nearby village set up just west of Sharon near Indian Lake. At times we are also told about the missionary activities engaged in down near Kent, Connecticut. The maps alone tell us that there were two other places not normally discussed much in any later writings,one just north of Sharon along a creek, and the other much further into Connecticut to the south and east of Kent, a location close to the edge of colonial civilization.
The boundaries of the Moravian Missions are thus portrayed as far as can be physically reached on foot, horseback or canoe/boat from Shekomeko westward into the hinterlands, but only as far as the borderlands of the rapidly growing European settlements and townships located to the south, north, and east of Shekomeko.
The following is evidence for the influences of this Christian movement initiated by Tschoop far from its place of birth between Shekomeko and Bethlehem. This diffusion of the Word westward had a significant impact on local Native American groups, especially the Delaware Indians. This is largely responsible for the popularization of Revival taking place in outdoor settings, one of the primary methods by which this movement rapidly became national followed international in nature.
John Beck Holmes. 1818, Historical sketches of the missions of the United Brethren: for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, from their Commencement to the Present Time. (Dublin, 1818) pp 126-129.
BEGIN PROOF, Stage 2 or 3:
Shekomeko now became a flourishing little town. More missionaries joined brother Rauch, endowed with the same patient fortitude and ardent zeal, tempered with prudence, for the conversion of the heathen. The young converts were filled with joy and gratitude for the grace conferred upon them, testifying with a warm heart, both to white people and to Indians, of the love of God in Christ Jesus; and their christian deportment evidenced the reality of their profession. The gospel not only found attentive hearers in the neighbouring villages, but many savages came from a distance of twenty miles to hear the great “word, as they termed it, and were often so much affected during the sermon, that they wept all the time, and some even fell on their faces, and by other expressive attitudes signified, how deeply the words had penetrated and humbled their hearts.
Meanwhile the other Indian nations were not wholly neglected by the brethren. Besides the endeavours of Count Zinzendorf and the persons in his company, our brethren at Bethlehem * frequently sent some of their number to preach in the Indian towns in their vicinity, which were chiefly inhabited by Delawares. No immediate success attended these endeavours, except that the kind and affable behaviour of the brethren prepossessed the savages in their favour, and thus paved the way for better things at a future period. These journeys were frequently attended with much fatigue and danger. On one occasion two of our brethren were obliged to pass through a forest, which had been set on fire, and to cross a large brook, which had overflowed its banks But the God, whom they served, delivered them, and in this case also verified his promise: ” When thou passest through the “waters, I will be with thee ; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” Isa. xliii. 2.
In externals the missionaries had to endure many difficulties and trials. The enmity of many so-called christians against the work of God among the heathen had not wholly subsided. They met with much opposition, and Satan was continually instigating his emissaries to harass and distress them. They lived and dressed in the Indian manner, so that in travelling they were often taken for Indians. As far as they could, they maintained themselves by the labour of their hands, being only assisted by our brethren in Bethlehem, when their own resources proved insufficient.
As most of the christian Indians, who visited at Shekomeko, lived in Pachgatgoch in Connecticut, at a distance of about twenty miles, they requested the magistrates to provide them with a preacher. They submittes a petition for this request.
Bethlehem lies in Pennsylvania, and forms a regular settlement of the brethren, such as Fairfield and Fulneck in England, and Gracchus in Ireland, and was originally built by colonists from Germany, being members of the brethren’s church. To the minister, elders and wardens of this settlement, called the Elder’s Conference, the superintendency of the Indian mission was committed.
Being rejected, they applied to the brethren in Bethlehem for help, who sent brother Mack and his wife thither. They were received with great joy even by the heathen, who remarked that they must love them very much, to undertake so long a journey in winter. Mack likewise made a journey to Fotatik, about seventy miles further into the country. In both places the Lord evidently blessed his labour. Many were awakened to a sense of their lost condition and their need of a Saviour; and six Indians were baptized at the latter place.
The congregation at Shekomeko continued to increase not only in number but also in grace and knowledge; but hitherto our missionaries had been scrupulous of admitting any to the Lord’s Supper. Now, however, they thought it wrong to debar them any longer from this holy ordinance. Having therefore given their converts the needful instruction respecting its institution and the blessings thereby conveyed to true believers, they admitted ten of the christian Indians to partake with them of this sacred repast, in March 1743 ; and their number was augmented each succeeding month.
In July, the same year, a new chapel was opened at Shekomeko. It was thirty feet long and twenty broad, and entirely covered with smooth bark. This enabled them better to regulate their meetings for worship. On Sundays and other festival occasions, Shekomeko seemed all alive, and it might be said with truth that the believers shewed forth the death of the Lord, both early and late. Many heathen visited the place; and once, when above a hundred were there the missionaries observed, that wherever two or three were standing together, the love of God and the sufferings of Christ formed the subject of their conversation j and such was the zeal of the christian Indians, that they often testified of Jesus to their countrymen, till after midnight*. At the request of the inhabitants our missionaries drew up some rules for the regulation of their civil and social intercourse with each other, and for the observance of good order in the settlement; and they had the pleasure of finding, that whenever any of their converts had been guilty of transgressing these rules, they were ready to acknowledge their misconduct, and to listen to advice and instruction.
Thus every thing seemed to flourish at Shekomeko ; the number of baptized Indians, at the close of the year, amounted to sixty-three, exclusive of those residing in Pachgatgoch. Besides these, they had a great many constant hearers, some of whom were under serious impressions of divine truth. Brother Mack and his wife now took up their residence at Pachgatgoch, and built themselves a hut of bark, after the Indian manner. The wonderful effects, produced by the preaching of the gospel in this place, soon roused the attention of the whole neighbourhood. Some white people, who had been accustomed to make the dissolute lives of the Indians subservient to their own advantage, were exceedingly enraged, when they found them unwilling any longer to abet their wicked practices. They, therefore, resorted to every base artifice to seduce them, propagating the grossest calumnies against the missionaries ; and as this did not succeed, they persuaded a clergyman of the Church of England to join in their measures. He ordered the Indians to send to New England for a minister and schoolmaster; but they replied, that they were perfectly satisfied with the teacher they already had, and requested to enjoy the same religious liberty as all other denominations of christians in the state did. This answer exasperated the adversaries still more. They publicly stigmatized the brethren as papists and traitors,
Witness to Tschoop’s work: * Mr. Weiser, a justice of the peace in Pennsylvania, bears a pleasing testimony of the grace prevailing at Shekomeko, in a letter, written to one of the missionaries after he had visited that place. He writes among the rest: ” The faith of the Indians in our Lord Jesus Christ, their simplicity and unaffected deportment, their experience of the grace procured for us by the sufferings of Jesus, have impressed my mind with a firm belief, that God is with you. I thought myself seated in a company of primitive christians. They attended with great gravity and devotion ; their eyes were steadily fixed upon their teacher, as if they would eat his words. John [Tschoop] was the interpreter and acquitted himself in the best manner.. I esteem him as a man anointed with grace and spirit.—The text of scripture, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day, and for ever, appeared to me as an eternal truth, when I beheld the venerable patriarchs of the American Indian church sitting around me, as living witnesses of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. Their prayers are had in remembrance in the sight of God; and’ may God fight against their enemies’ May the Almighty give to you and your assistants an open door to the hearts of all the heathen.
Loskiel, Part ii. p. 53.
And the missionaries, Mack, Shaw and Pyrleus, (the two latter being on a visit in Pachgatgoch,) were taken prisoners, dragged up and down the country for three days, till the governor of Connecticut, after fully investigating the allegations brought against them, honourably dismissed them. However, as their enemies still continued to harass them, they thought it most prudent to retire for a while to Shekomeko.
I forbear making particular mention of several visits, paid by our brethren, about this time to other Indian tribes, and shall only observe, that while, on the one hand, they had to suffer many hardships and much opposition, they met, on the other, with many proofs of the power of the gospel in ” turning the gentiles from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” In one place, a most savage Indian publicly burned his idols, and in a speech, delivered to his countrymen, lamented his former blindness and ignorance, with great energy exhorting them to turn to the Lord Jesus.
Tormented: Hitherto, though exposed to various vexations, they had not met with any serious interruption to their labours; but in the spring of 1744 a violent and unmerited persecution was raised against them. Some white people continued to employ every artful means to alienate the affection of the Indians from the brethren, and to seduce them to drunkenness and other vices. They circulated the basest insinuations against the missionaries, representing them as dangerous to the state, pretending that they were in league with the French, and intended to supply the savages with arms to fight against the English. This report, false as it was, spread such terror through the country, that the inhabitants of the neighbouring town of Sharon, remained under arms, for a whole week, and, some even forsook their plantations. The missionaries were now called upon to serve in the militia; but this they refused on the ground that as ministers of religion, they ought not to be compelled to bear arms. A second application to the same effect being likewise resisted by them, they were for several months dragged from one court to an other, to be examined and answer to the allegation brought against them. They punctually obeyed every summons, though with very great inconvenience to themselves and their work, and were enabled to disprove by unimpeachable evidence, every charge brought against them, at the same time protesting against the restriction laid upon them, and avowing their firm resolution rather to suffer any thing for conscience’ sake, than disobey God and the lawful authority of the state. The magistrates were satisfied, dismissed them with every mark of respect, and gave them an honourable acquittal in writing, to protect them against the machinations of their enemies on their return to Shekomeko.
Public Torment: Their adversaries, finding their scheme in this respect frustrated, resorted to other measures. Knowing the conscientious scruples of some of them against taking an oath, they exerted all their influence to obtain two acts of assembly in New York, which were passed in October; the one enjoining all suspicious persons to take the oaths of allegiance, and in case of refusal, to be expelled the country ; the other positively prohibiting the brethren from instructing the Indians. December the 15th, the sheriff and three justices of the peace arrived at Shekomeko, and in the name of the governor and council of New York, prohibited all meetings of the brethren, commanding the missionaries to appear before the court in Pickipsian, on the 17th of that month. On their appearance, the act was read to them, by which they were expelled the country, under the old pretence of being in league with the French.
The injustice of this act was acknowledged by every candid and unprejudiced person. Bishop Spangenberg, who visited this settlement towards the close of the year, makes the following remarks in his journal: ” The nearer we approached to Shekomeko, the more veneration we found among all ranks of people, for the great work of God in that place. The justice of the peace at Milsy accompanied us, and declared that he would rather suffer his right hand to be cut off, than treat the brethren conformably to the act passed against them, for he was thoroughly convinced, that the grace of God had, by their means, wrought miracles in that place, &c. *.”
* Loskiel, Part ii. p. 64C ,
Our missionaries, however, deemed it not only prudent, but their duty, to obey the lawful authority of the state, and therefore retired to Bethlehem which lies in Pennsylvania, indeed with a heavy heart, but unshaken confidence in the Lord, that he would himself defend their cause and arise for the help of his oppressed people.
Torment: After their removal from Shekomeko, the christian Indians continued their religious meetings as usual, and were occasionally visited by brethren from Bethlehem, though at the risk of persecution. Once, when a large company was returning to Bethlehem, the circumstance of the wife of one of the missionaries being an Indian woman, furnished some ill-disposed justices at Sopus, with a pretext for detaining them. They were insulted by the mob, and had to suffer much in the open street from cold and violent rain, and when at length permitted to proceed, were loaden with curses and reproaches. On another occasion two brethren were arrested at Albany, and after enduring many indignities, carried to New York and confined in prison for seven weeks.
Amidst the grief experienced in consequence of these disastrous events, they were greatly comforted by perceiving that their labour was not in vain in the Lord. Soon after their expulsion from Shekomeko, they had the joy to baptize the first fruits of the gospel among the Delaware nation, a man and his wife. This solemn transaction was performed at Bethlehem. Being both of the family of the chief, their relations were highly displeased, considering the step they had taken as a disgrace to their rank, and in order to dissuade them from it invited them to visit them ; but the two baptized persons, fearing their souls might suffer harm, declined going. Upon this their relations resolved to take them by force, and thirty-six, among whom were several young warriors, came to Bethlehem with this intention. At first they behaved in a very turbulent manner, but being kindly treated, their anger abated, their countenances softened, and they entered freely into conversation with their two baptized friends and other christian Indians. Gottlieb, (such was. the name of their baptized relative,) gave them a plain account of his reasons for joining the christians, exhorting them also to believe in the Lord Jesus. During this conversation the savages seemed extremely uneasy, and early the next morning set off on their return. After some time they sent a message to Gottlieb, desiring him to come and instruct them. With this he complied, and had the satisfaction to see his own brother become a believer, and joined to the church by baptism.
Although the state of things at Shekomeko was such as to afford our brethren sincere pleasure, yet the suspension of the regular services of the missionaries could not but eventually prove injurious to the congregation. It was therefore proposed to the christian Indians to remove from the province of New York, and settle near Bethlehem till a more eligible spot could be procured for their future establishment. But, contrary to expectation, the inhabitants of Shekomeko shewed themselves averse from this measure, and among other reasons, alleged, that the governor of New York had expressly commanded them to stay in their own town, promising them his protection; and that, were they even to remove, some of their relations, especially the young, would still remain there and be easily seduced to their former sinful practices. An event, however, soon after occurred, which induced them gladly to accede to the proposal of our brethren. Some white people came to a resolution to expel the christian Indians by main force, under pretence that the ground on which Shekomeko stood, belonged to other people. The governor of New York not attending to their petition for his interference; the white people seized upon the land and appointed a watch to prevent all visits from Bethlehem. The old accusations of disloyalty were renewed, and gained so many supporters, that the inhabitants of Reinbeck demanded a warrant of the justice to kill all the Indians at Shekomeko. The warrant indeed was not granted, yet the situation of the people there became so very distressing, that they were glad to emigrate.
Ten families of these, emigrants, consisting of forty-four persons arrived at Bethlehem in April 1746. They immediately built some huts near the settlement, as a mere temporary residence, to which they gave the name of Friedenshuetten. But as an Indian town could not be supported so near to Bethlehem, our brethren purchased two hundred acres of land, lying at the junction of the rivers Mahony and Lecha, about thirty miles distant. This situation pleased the Indians much, and they immediately began to plant, and lay out a town, calling it Gnadenhueten. The building of this place was not only attended with expense, but also with much trouble. The land, being overgrown with wood, had first to be cleared, and the Indians, having neither knowledge nor skill in agriculture, the heaviest part of the labour fell upon our brethren ; but they cheerfully endured every fatigue, considering it as done in the service of the Lord.
When intelligence of this new settlement reached Shekomeko and Pachgatgoch, many Indians in those places were induced to remove to it, so that, in a short time, it contained more inhabitants than the two former; and soon became a very regular town. The church stood in a valley; on one side, upon rising ground, were the Indian houses, forming a crescent, and on the other the missionhouse and burying-ground. The missionaries and every Indian family had plantations. The road to Wayomick and other Indian towns lay through the settlement.
In Shekomeko the prospect appeared daily more precarious. The French Indians, having made inroads into the country, had advanced within a day’s journey of that town, on their way setting fire to houses and murdering the inhabitants. By these circumstances, and being called upon to join in the war, the christian Indians, still remaining in that settlement, were kept in constant fear and anxiety. The brethren could not come to their assistance till in July 1746, when Hagan and Post went thither from Bethlehem. It was now found necessary to give up every idea of keeping meetings for divide worship in that place, but the chapel was, by a written deed of gift, secured to the Indians, as their property. Thus our brethren concluded their labours in Shekomeko, with sorrowful hearts, yet praising God, who had first caused the light of the gospel to shine to the heathen in this place. Within the space of two years sixty-one adults had been made partakers of holy baptism, exclusive of those baptized in Bethlehem.
During the troubles in Shekomeko various disorders had occurred among the converts. Some had been seduced to join in sinful practices, and others, through the calumnies of adversaries had imbibed prejudices against the missionaries. The brethren, however, had the joy to find, that most of them became sensible of their errors, and with sincere penitence confessed their deviations. Such penitents were received with open arms at Bethlehem and Gnadenhuetten. As an example of the figurative manner in which the Indians generally express themselves, the language of one of these penitents may be quoted: ” I am like a child,” said he ” whose father loves him dearly, clothes him well, and gives him all he stands in need of 5 afterwards the child becomes refractory, deserts his parent and despises his counsel. At length, the child, through his folly loses all the good things he possessed, hi& clothes become ragged, and nakedness and want follow. Then, remembering how well he fared, he repents and weeps day and night, scarcely presuming to return. This is precisely my case.”
The Indian congregation at Gnadenhuetten continued for several years in a pleasing course, and increased to about five hundred persons. Besides other useful regulations, schools were established. The place was often visited by heathen, who were treated with hospitality and kindness, and no means were neglected for directing their attention to the gospel. Nothing, in general, made a deeper impression upon the savages, than the peace and harmony prevailing among the christian Indians, and their contentment amidst all difficulties. The sincerity of their profession evinced itself in many ways. They diligently attended to their work and the cultivation of their fields, and when necessary for their support went out to hunt. Their firm confidence in our Saviour, shewed itself in many trying circumstances. Thus when the small pox broke out among them, they bore the sickness with patience, manifesting but little fear of death; and the cheerful and happy disposition of those who departed this life, was truly edifying. Their solicitude for the christian education of their children, was another proof of the change wrought on their minds. Such is the excessive fondness of the Indians, that they hardly ever suffer their children to be out of sight; but now many of them, seeing the temptations to which they would be exposed at home, entreated the brethren, even with tears, to receive them into the schools at Bethlehem ; a request which, if possible, was always acceded to.
The labours of our brethren for the conversion of the Indians at this period, were not confined to Gnadenhuetten. They improved every opportunity that offered for propagating the gospel, and undertook many difficult and perilous journeys. The Iroquois more particularly engaged their attention, and on this account they made several visits to Shomokin and other towns on the Susquehannah, and by degrees established themselves in that place. The inhabitants of this town being noted for ferocity and licentiousness, our missionaries witnessed many barbarous and profligate scenes, and were more than once in danger of being murdered by them when intoxicated; and no permanent advantages were gained by their exertions. During a journey to Onondago, the chief town of the Iroquois and the seat of the great council, a solemn league, executed with due Indian formalities, was made between the council and our brethren, by which the latter obtained permission for two of them to reside in that country for the purpose of learning the language.
Their endeavours in other places were more successful especially at Pachgatgoch and Wechrputtnach, in the neighbourhood of Shekomeko, where a few christian Indians, who had not emigrated with the rest, were still residing. The missionary David Bruce was appointed to this station in 1748; and the year after had the pleasure of seeing twenty Indians added to the church by baptism. But that very year he finished his earthly pilgrimage, being succeeded by brother Abraham Blininger. The believers there continued for several years to enjoy rest and peace, and increased to upwards of a hundred.