Ohio History Journal

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164       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


C. L. McIlvaine, representing the New Philadelphia Board of


The announcement was made of the organization, under the

auspices of the Board of Trade, of the Schoen-Brunn Monument

Association, and the names of the Board of Officers were an-

nounced as printed on the program: President, Wm. A. Wag-

ner, President Board of Trade; Vice-President, Rev. Dr. Wm.

H. Rice, Gnadenhutten, O.; Financial Secretary, Professor

George C. Maurer; Treasurer, James F. Kildenbaugh; Associates,

Laurence E. Oerter, Canal Dover; Oliver Peter, Uhrichsville; M.

McDevitt, Scio; Apollo Opes and Charles L. McIlvaine, New


It is the purpose of the Schoen-Brunn Monument Association

to erect a fitting monument to the memory of David Zeisberger.

Superintendent Maurer, in a short address that was attentively

listened to, said that the money for the proposed monument would

be raised by public subscription and he was sure that the people

of Tuscarawas County and the school children would be happy to

contribute to perpetuate the memory of so good a man as David

Zeisberger, whose life was a model.

An original poem from the pen of Judge J. W. Yeagley, of

New Philadelphia, entitled: "The Grave of Zeisberger," was

read with much expression by Miss Bertha Kelly, and was well

received. A pleasing number on the program was a vocal solo

by Albert Senhauser, entitled: "The Lord is My Light."

The celebration throughout was a splendid success and re-

flected much credit upon the local committee.




DEAR FRIENDS: We are assembled in the Sharon Moravian church,

on this Friday morning, to make memorial of the death, and of the burial

one hundred years ago, of David Zeisberger.

He died in the Goshen Mission House at half past three o'clock on

the afternoon of Thursday, November the seventeenth, 1808, and his In-

dian brethren and friends with their white brethren and friends, laid

the body of their revered pastor and friend to its well-earned grave-rest

in the near Goshen Indian God's- cre on the following Sabbath morn-

ing, in loving obedience to his dying injunction, "Bury me amongst my

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David Zeisberger Centennial.                 165


Indians." And in that consecrated spot his body has now been resting

for a century, awaiting the Resurrection morn.

He and his illustrious co-laborer, John Heckewelder, - younger by

twenty-three years than Zeisberger, and who, after his subsequent re-

moval to Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania, in 1810, died there in 1823,-al-

though dead are more alive than ever in the esteem of all who love the

Gospel and their fellowmen. Their names can never die; they are "writ

large" in the annals of men. John Heckewelder, in his 65th year, stood

this day, a century ago, at the grave of his honored leader and co-laborer,

David Zeisberger, who rested from all earthly labor in the eighty-eighth

year of his heroic pilgrimage, sixty-two of which were devoted to mis-

sionary work amongst the Indians of North America. In our State and

especially here in Tuscarawas County and the Valley of the Muskingum,

they are honored as the earliest pioneers

in the establishment of Christian civili-

zation within the borderes of Ohio's im-

perial domain.  Their foot-marks will

never be blotted out so long as the

names of Schoen-Brunn (the Beautiful

Spring); Gnadenhuetten (The Tents of

Divine Grace); Lichtenau (the Meadow

of Light); Salem; and Goshen, shall

have a place in the records of our State.

Your presence here this morning in

response to the invitation of the Ohio Ar-

chaeological and Historical Society of Co-

lumbus, and the presence here of the So-

ciety's representatives testify to the deep

interest and affection with which the

names of Zeisberger and Heckewelder are

cherished by the people of today; an

interest and affection which Ohio has al-

ways cherished for these heroic pioneers and their illustrious achieve-

ments in the beginnings of the establishment of Christian civilization in

her broad domain.

It is a matter for special gratification to note the presence here this

morning of the teachers and pupils of the neighboring grammar and high

schools. It augurs well for the perpetuation of the memory and record

of the men who were instrumental in the establishment and conduct of

the first schools for the instruction of the children and youth of the in-

habitants of this section. In 1776, there was published in Philadelphia,

Pa., "A Delaware-Indian and English Spelling Book for the use of the

Schools of the Christian Indians on Muskingum River," by David Zeis-

berger printed by Henry Miller, pp. 113. John Heckewelder was the

teacher of the Schoen-Brunn school.

It is a good omen for the success of the proposed plan to erect a

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monument in memorial of the first school in the territory of the State of

Ohio, which stood on the eastern bank of the Tuscarawas (then Mus-

kingum) at Schoen-Brunn, that the teacher and pupils of the neighbor-

hood are showing their intelligent interest in this centennial memorial


In the time at our command I will attempt a brief sketch of the

outlines of the history of David Zeisberger.

He was born in the Province of Moravia, in the Austrian Empire,

of old Moravian stock. His parents, David and Rosina Zeisberger were

dwellers in the (Valley of Kine), Kuhlandl, in Moravia, and had their

home in the village of Zauchtenthal in that valley. One night in July,

1726, his parents arose with their family of children, including the five-

year-old David, and leaving house and lands, fled from religious oppres-

sion to find their way across the Saxon mountain border to the estate of

a young Saxon nobleman, Count Zinzendorf. Here, since 1722, refugees

from Moravia had been permitted to begin the building of a settlement

for exiles from their fatherland. They called it Herrnhut, the Lord's

Watch. To this asylum the Zeisberger family found its way in 1726.

Ten years later, in 1736, the parents were sent on missionary errand,

to the Province of Georgia in North America, where at Savannah, under

the patronage of General James Oglethorpe, they joined the colony of

Moravians who under Bishop David Nitschmann, were carrying on mis-

sion work amongst the Indians of Georgia.

In the intervening ten years, their son David, now a lad of fifteen,

whom they left behind, had been attending the schools of the Herrnhut

settlement, and shown great aptitude as a diligent scholar. He was very

quick in the thorough study of Latin, a talent which he afterward im-

proved in the acquisition of Indian languages and dialects. The lad of

fifteen was sent to a newly-established church-settlement in Holland near

Utrecht, as an errand boy in a mercantile establishment.

One day he was sent to accompany a gentleman of rank as a guide

to a neighboring castle. The lad's manner so pleased the visitor that he

offered him a very liberal gift, on parting with him. The lad refused to

accept the gift because it was against the rules to do so. But the gen-

tleman compelled him to take the gift. On stating the case to his su-

periors the boy was at once denounced as a liar and thief, and severely

punished. He was told that nobody would think of giving so large a

sum of money to a mere youth, and that he must have come by it in a dis-

honest way. This the lad resented. And we must give him credit for

resenting such unreasonable conduct on the part of his elders. He made

up his mind to run away from his unjust superiors. He made his way

across the channel to London, where he hoped to find the opportunity to

join his parents in the Georgia colony. In this he was entirely success-

ful. He found friends who introduced him to General Oglethorpe, the

patron of the colony. He readily furnished the lad a passage to Savan-

nah. On his arrival at the American port, Zeisberger's parents could

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scarcely believe their eyes on seeing their son David, who had almost

grown out of their recognition. But their joy on receiving their son

was greater than their surprise. David was happy now in the new

home in the American wilderness; for such it was as compared with the

soft civilization of Holland.

In the third year after his arrival, the lad of eighteen accompanied

his parents and the rest of the Moravian colonists to Pennsylvania.

Here, in the "forks of the Lehigh," within twelve miles of the conflu-

ence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers, they founded the Moravian town

of Bethlehem, in 1741. Here amid the hard experiences of a church set-

tlement in the new country, the youth grew into the years of early man-

hood, strong in body and resolute in purpose to do his part in the com-

mon work.

The Moravian church settlement at Bethlehem was organized for

missionary work, primarily amongst the Indians of the provinces. Zeis-

berger was ordered back to Europe by the authorities of the settlement,

who had chartered a vessel to carry a company to England. On the

dock, at New York, as they were preparing to embark, Bishop David

Nitschmann, inquired of the young man, "Are you anxious to go?" The

prompt reply was given, "No! I am not; I would much prefer to remain

in America! I want to be thoroughly converted to Christ and to serve

as a missionary to the Indians of this country!"

The Bishop was surprised and delighted. His answer came quick,

"Then, if I were you, I'd at once go back to Bethlehem!"

Without another word Zeisberger jumped ashore, saved for his great


In a year he is the smartest scholar in the class of young Moravians

studying the Mohawk Indian language as candidates for missionary work

amongst the Five Nations in the Province of New York. This pro-

ficiency in acquiring the language of the Delaware Indians in the neigh-

borhood of Bethlehem caused his appointment as official interpreter to

the civil authorities in the meanwhile.

In 1745 he began his missionary career. He accompanied Christian

Frederick Post, on a mission to the Indians of the Mohawk Valley. The

sequel of this first attempt was the imprisonment of both of these Mo-

ravian missionaries as spies in an Albany, and then a New York prison.

After their release and return to Bethlehem, Zeisberger accompanied

Bishop Spangenberg through the trackless wilderness, on a visit to Onon-

daga, the capital of the Iroquois Confederacy, in New York. On this

visit Zeisberger was adopted into the Tribe of the Onondagas and the

Turtle Clan, and received the name of "Ganousserarcheri," which signi-

fies "On the Pumpkin." This first expedition was followed by a second

visit to the Iroquois capital, on which occasion a treaty was made, by

the terms of which two resident missionaries were to be sent to the

capital to learn the language.

On his return from Europe whither he had been sent by the Elders

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of the church at Bethlehem, to report to the elders at Herrnhut the

present outlook for successful missionary operations amongst the In-

dians of the Provinces of New York and Pennsylvania, Zeisberger pro-

ceeded to Onondaga, the Iroquois capital, and took up his abode in the

quarters assigned to him by the Indian Council. In the following year,

1754, with his assistant, Frederick, he erected a substantial Mission-

House, at Onondaga, with a view to the establishment of a permanent

Mission center in that section. The good will of the Iroquois friends

seconded their effort. The Grand Council of the Iroquois Confederacy

appointed Zeisberger, Keeper of the Archives, and deposited in the Mo-

ravian Mission House many belts and strings of wampum, written

treaties, letters from colonial governors, and other similar documents of


He was encouraged to believe that his favorite plan of evangeliza-

tion, with Onondaga as a center of mission work in the Confederacy,

was now in a fair way to success. He had gained a complete mastery of

the Mohawk Indian language and spoke several of the dialects fluently.

His labors in the compiling of an English-Mohawk Dictionary were ap-

proaching a successful completion. But the breaking out of the French

and Indian War, in 1755, put an end to active evangelization, and marks

the close of Zeisberger's missionary operations in that quarter.

At the close of the War, in 1763, Zeisberger entered again upon

the life-work which he had chosen, as an apostle to the Indians. But

now he was called to the field which he occupied until his death among

the Delaware Nation of Indians in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The first mission station was established in the Wyoming Valley,

on the Susquehanna. In their eagerness to respond to the invitation sent

them by their Delaware friends, Zeisberger and his assistants "crept for

miles on hands and feet beneath and between laurel-bushes whose tan-

gled mazes made walking impossible." The results of his pastoral labors

were phenomenal. Amongst the converts was the foremost "prophet"

of the tribe, Papunhank. At his baptism he received the name of John.

He played a very conspicuous part in after years, in Zeisberger's work

amongst the Delawares. Rev. John Heckewelder, who at this time be-

came his assistant, says, in his manuscript Biography of Zeisberger, "Had

Zeisberger inherited a kingdom, his joy would not have been as great as

it was over the conversion of the Indian 'prophet,' the first one whom

he brought into the Church of Christ."

The visiting Quaker Evangelist, John Woolman, attended the ser-

vices in Zeisberger's church and prayed, "that the great work which Zeis-

berger had undertaken might be crowned with success." But again war

-the "Pontiac War"-put an end to Zeisberger's Indian work. His

converts were imprisoned in Philadelphia, where small-pox decimated

their ranks.

In the Spring of 1765, on the return of peace, the Pennsylvania

Provincial authorities released the imprisoned converts, who like a flock

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of partridges that have been cooped up in the winter quarters of a farm-

er's barn-yard and are set free, these "children of the forest" flocked to

their forest home on the Susquehanna, and at once began to rebuild their

Mission Station which they called Friedens-Huetten, Tents of Divine


This village is described as having twenty-nine log-houses, with

windows and chimneys, like homesteads of white settlers, and thirteen

huts. These were built along one street, in the center of which stood the

Mission Church, a structure thirty-two feet in length by twenty-four in

width, with shingled roof and a wing used as a school house. Each

house-lot had a frontage of thirty-two feet. A ten-foot alley ran be-

tween every two lots. Gardens and orchards, stocked with vegetables

and fruit trees, lay to the rear of the homesteads.

A post and rail-fence enclosed the town. In summer time the street

and alleys were kept scrupulously clean by a company of women. They

swept with wooden brooms and removed the rubbish. Two miles of

fencing enclosed two hundred and fifty acres of meadow land, between

the town and the river. At the river bank a canoe for each household

was tied. Cattle, hogs, and poultry of every kind were raised in abund-

ance. More time was given to farming than to hunting. Plentiful crops

were raised. They sold corn, maple-sugar, butter and pork, and canoes

of white pine, to the white settlers, and visiting Indians.

But the spiritual prosperity of the Indian church in the wilderness,

exceeded the material prosperity.

The beginning of a great revival was marked by the baptism, in

the autumn of the first year, of an Indian convert. From near and from

far came visiting Indians,-- Mohawks, Cayugas, Senecas, Onondagas,

Mohicans, Wampanoags, Delawares, Tutclas, Tuscaroras, and Nanticokes.

Zeisberger wrote: "For several months a great revival has been prevail-

ing among the visiting Indians. They listen as though they never had

enough of the message of a Saviour. They tremble with emotion and

shake with fear. We have many candidates for baptism." Of one of

the Indian Helpers or Elders, of the church, he says: "Anthony enjoys

the particular esteem of his unconverted countrymen and he sets forth

the Saviour's love with such feeling that not infrequently his hearers

burst into tears, and Anthony weeps with them." After four years of

unvexed prosperity the beginning came of the trouble which ultimately

compelled the abandonment of their prosperous settlement. The land

was to be sold to the white settlers.

Without waiting for the inevitable crisis, Zeisberger set out in the

fall of 1767, on a tour of exploration to the head waters of the Allegheny.

The path of the intrepid apostle to the Indians, (he was accompanied

by his two Indian Elders, John and Anthony, with a pack-horse between

them), was through the trackless wilderness, never before trodden by

the white man. In the following year (1768) Zeisberger and a company

of Indian converts from Friedenshutten established the mission station

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Friedenstadt, (City of Divine Peace), on the banks of the Beaver River,

in what is now Lawrence County, on the Ohio border. Here the preach-

ing of Zeisberger was attended with the usual results. The most signal

gospel triumph was the conversion of the Delaware Indian war captain,

Glikkikan, who was baptized, receiving the name of Isaac. Zeisberger

was adopted into the Monsey Indian Tribe and the religion of Jesus

was recognized as that of the majority of the Tribe.

Here in March, 1772, an urgent invitation from the Grand Council

of the Delaware Nation led Zeisberger to visit the Delaware capital sit-

uated in what is now Oxford township, in this county of Tuscarawas.

It was his first visit to Ohio. Post and Heckewelder, then a mere youth,

not yet of age, had been here in 1761 and 1762. But this was the be-

ginning of the first permanent mission in Ohio. Zeisberger was just

fifty years old when he first came to Ohio. For the thirty seven after

years of his life he was an Ohio Missionary, to the Indians of this region.

In 1772 the entire body of Moravian Indians, at the settlement of

the Susquehanna (in Bradford County) and at the settlement on the

Allegheny (in Lawrence County) were transferred to Tuscarawas County,

under the leadership of Zeisberger and his principal assistant, John

Heckewelder. The site of the first settlement, on the Muskingum, near

Tuscarawas River, marked out for them by Chief Netawatwes, was oc-

cupied in May, 1772, and named Schon-Brunn (The Beautiful Spring-

in the Delaware language, Welhik-Tuppeek). The site of the second set-

tlement, that of Gnadenhutten (The Tents of Divine Grace) was occu-

pied in October, 1772, by a party of Mohican Moravian converts, under

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the leadership of Joshua, the Mohican Elder. Lichtenau (Meadow of

Light) was settled in 1776 on a site just below the city of Coshocton,

on the Muskingum. In 1780, on a site a mile and a half below Port

Washington, John Heckewelder founded the settlement of Salem. After

having built the Chapel at Salem, he welcomed his bride, Miss Sarah

Ohneberg, the daughter of Rev. George Ohneberg (a Moravian mission-

ary) who was escorted from Bethlehem, Pa., by the Rev. Adam Grube.

The wedding took place in the newly built chapel July 4, 1780, with Rev.

Grube as the officiating clergyman, at what was, probably, the first wed-

ding of a white couple performed in Ohio.

Schon-Brunn, the first settlement, begun in May, 1772, had two

streets laid out in the form of the letter T. The main street ran east

and west, and was long and wide. About the middle of the transverse

street, and facing the main street, stood the church, in which, on June

27. of the same year, the Holy Communion was celebrated for the first

time. In August following the first church-bell used in Ohio was hung

in its steeple. Adjoining the church on the right hand stood the house

occupied by Zeisberger.

At the northwest corner of the main street stood the school-house.

The first school-house erected in the territory of the State of Ohio.

I am sure I may gather from the interest these pupils have shown

in my story of Zeisberger, that there will be no lack of enthusiastic sup-

port of the proposed movement to mark this historic site in the near fu-

ture with a monument worthy of the work to be commemorated.

This is not the occasion nor would the time permit me to give the

history of the heroic missionary campaigns with all its record of suf-

ferings and of murderous persecutions with fire and sword, and cruel

captivities and banishments and wanderings in the Ohio wilderness, and

in Michigan and in Canada, which extend, over a period of years from

1781 to 1798. In 1782 occurred the Gnadenhutten Massacre, on March

the eighth.

From "Captives-Town" in Wyandot County, the Moravians fled

across the border into British territory, and for four years lived in their

new settlement in Michigan, in Clinton County, Macomb township, within

the present municipality of Mt. Clemens. At the close of Indian hostili-

ties they were compelled by their Chippewa hosts to give up their set-

tlement, and they crossed Lake Erie to return to the Muskingum Valley.

On their arrival near the site of Cleveland - at the site of what proved a

short-lived settlment-Pilger Ruh, Pilgrims' Rest, was occupied for a

few months. In the meanwhile Zeisberger selected a site in Huron

County, near Milan, for a new settlement. It was named New Salem.

At this mission station the palmiest days of the Indian work of Zeis-

berger were revived. Amongst other gospel triumphs in the prolonged

revival which characterized the labors of Zeisberger and his Indian Help-

ers, was the conversion, among other prominent Indians, of Gelelemond,

chief of the Delaware Indians, who at his baptism was named, at his

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own request, William Henry. Here died that veteran assistant mission-

ary, Joseph Schebosch, or more properly, John Bull, aged 68. Since

1742 he had been identified with the Moravian Indian Mission work. On

the day of his funeral, Friday, September 5, 1788, Zeisberger writes this

memorable tribute:

"Bruha Schebosch was serviceable to every man without distinction

white or Indian, at all times ready to help when he could. He bore his

cross with patience, for in this life he seldom had things cosy and good.

But he was never heard to complain or fret, even if things went hard

with him, and he had not even enough to eat. He loved and was loved.

We shall long miss him among us. His stay here below will remain with

us and with the Indian Brethren in blessed remembrance."

"Dear old Abraham," converted at Friedenshutten on the Susque-

hanna, 1765, who went through all the sufferings and hardships of the

Indian church, in the years intervening, died and was buried here at

New Salem. "We have had but one Abraham," is Zeisberger's tribute

to William, a National helper, an interpreter in early manhood in the

service of Sir William Johnson, of New York, who joined the church at

Friedenshutten on the Susquehanna, in 1770, died here. A man of "fine

gifts," honored by Indians and whites as a man of consequence, Zeisber-

ger pays high tribute to his fidelity as a Christian and his great helpful-

ness in the service of the church and against the hostile Indians.

But the final break-up of this flourishing mission station came, when

on April 10, 1791, the day before the seventeenth anniversary of his

birth, Zeisberger preached the farewell sermon preliminary to removal.

They removed once again to a settlement under the British flag,

near the mouth of the Detroit river, on the Canada side. After the lapse

of a year, on a grant of land by the British government, on the River

Thames, in Oxford township, Canada West, Zeisberger founded the Mis-

sion settlement of Fairfield. The tract of land was six miles wide and

twelve miles in length. Here they established a flourishing settlement of

forty-two regularly-built houses, with a church and parsonage. For six

years, until 1798, Zeisberger labored here. In 1798, John Heckewelder,

commissioned by the Mission Board of the Church, at Bethlehem, Pa.,

with the venerable William Edwards, led a colony of Indian converts

back to Tuscarawas County and built a new Indian settlement, here at


Hither, in October, 1798, the venerable David Zeisberger in the 77th

year of his pilgrimage, came to spend the last of his honored career.

Here in the Goshen Mission Home he lived from October, 1798, until the

autumn day in 1808, November 17th, when he fell asleep in Jesus, and

rested from a period of missionary labors which extended over more than

sixty years.

He enjoyed during the two months of his last illness the counsel

of a physician and the nursing care of his fellow missionaries and friends.

During the closing days of his life, when scarcely able to speak, he

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David Zeisberger Centennial.                173


signified his great satisfaction and comfort when his Indian brethren,

who watched with the dying saint, sang some of the Delaware hymns

for the dying, which he had rendered into their vernacular years ago.

And thus on the afternoon of November 17th he fell asleep amid

the prayers of his brethren and the singing of his converts, after the

benediction had been spoken in the name of the church.

On the following Sunday, at noon, after funeral sermons in Eng-

lish and in German, interpreted into the Delaware vernacular, three of

his Indian brethren and three of his white brethren bore his body to the

near Goshen God's-Acre, followed by a large concourse of the inhabi-

tants of the vicinity. There they buried him, one hundred years ago this

very hour. And to-day his name is more alive than ever in the memory

and esteem of the people of Ohio, and of this neighborhood, as every-

where in the world where men value apostolic love and fidelity to Christ

and to those for whom Christ lived and died.




The following is the Poem written by Judge J. W. Yeagley

and read by Miss Bertha Kelly at the celebration of the Centen-

nial of the death of Zeisberger at the New Philadelphia Opera

House, November 20, 1908.


Close by a placid river's shore,

Near where its waters lave

The sylvan banks that fringe a plain,

I saw an ancient grave.


And by it rose a monument,

On which thereon was traced

The name of one who toils endured,

And many dangers faced.


The name of one who came from far,

Who crossed the ocean wave,

That he might be an instrument

The red man's soul to save:


Might make his home in wilderness,

And teach the savage rude

The mission true of human life,

And all it does include:


Might tell him of the loving One,

Who loves his creatures all,