Ohio History Journal

David Zeisberger Centennial

David Zeisberger Centennial.            179


Slumber on, and may Christians of whatever creed

Bow their heads to the altered condition,

And as years roll along with eternity speed

Give thy tomb its deserved recognition.

Slumber on in the vale far away from thy birth

Where pure beauty and plenty fail never,

Where thy victories were in the efforts put forth

For the Race almost vanquished forever.




Regarding the location of Lichtenau, founded by Rev. David

Zeisberger of the work of Heckewelder and Zeisberger and the

first spelling book used in Ohio, Rev. W. H. Rice, D. D., says the


Lichten-Au is a German word, signifying a Pasture or

Meadow of Light here the name is significant of God's smile upon

the green pasture lands. It was the name given by Rev. David

Zeisberger to the Christian village settlement which he founded

in April, 1776, on the eastern bank of the Muskingum river, two

and a half miles below Goshochkunk (Coshocton) in accordance

with the urgent wishes of the chief of the Delaware Indian Na-

tion. Chief Netawatwes whose capital was Goshochkunk the

Indian name which has survived in "Coshocton." Netawatwes

selected the site in such proximity to his capital because, "If the

brethren will live near me, I will be strong. They will make me

strong against the disobedient."

The site is a broad level of many acres stretching to the foot

hills with a slight rise. The river bank has an arc-shaped out-

line and was covered with maples and sycamores. There was a

rich soil, and an abundance of materials for building.

The pre-historic relics tell of its having been occupied once

before as a village site. There is a circle of five acres and a

mound. The former is quite near this site of Lichtenau and the

latter three-quarters of a mile down the river.

Forty-five years ago the site of Lichtenau was identified as

stretching across the long lane that runs from the river to the

foot hills, separating the farms then owned by Mr. Samuel Moore

and Mr. Samuel Foraker, in Tuscarawas township, in Coshocton

180 Ohio Arch

180      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


county. The church probably stood in the yard of Mr. Moore,

and the town stretched across over the farm of Mr. Foraker.

The settlement of the Lichtenau village was begun by Rev.

David Zeisberger on April 12, 1776, just one day after his 55th

birthday anniversary. Eight families accompanied Zeisberger

and his assistant, Rev. John Heckewelder, a young man of 33.

It was Saturday. On the following day, April 13, Chief Neta-

watwes with almost the entire population of Goshochkunk at-

tended the first Sunday services. Zeisberger preached on the

text Luke XXIV, 46 and 47.

"Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer,

and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and

remission of sins should be preached in His name among all na-

tions beginning at Jerusalem."

The one street of this village ran parallel to the river. The

church was erected on a lot half way between its northern and

southern ends. The work prospered from the outset and con-

tinued as this letter of Pastor Heckewelder shows. Among the

converted were members of Chief Netawatwes' family, as well

as himself. The first service at which the Lord's Supper was

celebrated was on Sunday, May 18, 1776.

At this time the Delaware-English spelling book by David

Zeisberger, printed for the use of pupils in the Mission schools ot

these Ohio towns in Philadelphia, Pa., was completed and came

into use in these parts. It is the first Ohio spelling book pub-

lished 132 years ago, for schools at Schoen-Brunn, Gnadenhutten

and Lichtenau. In July, 1776, the first baptism took place at

Lichtenau. The convert from among the heathen Indians was

a grandson of chief Netawatwes. He was named John. To a

friend who advised him how perilous it would be for him to risk

religion, John made quick answer, and brave as it was quick.

"If my life is in danger, I will the more cheerfully witness

of the truth. Do you imagine that a baptized Indian fears your

sorceries as he did when he was a heathen, and that he will hesi-

tate to make known what the Saviour has done for him and for

all men?  No! While I live I will not hold my peace, but pro-

claim salvation. This is the command of God."

David Zeisberger Centennial

David Zeisberger Centennial.            181


Among the men who wielded the axe in cutting timber for

the building of Lichtenau was the converted Indian Chief and

brave warrior, Isaac Glicklican, who was a church elder as emi-

nent for his piety as for his prowess. He perished in the Gnad-

enhutten massacre in 1782.