Ohio History Journal

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with its annual receipts from members' dues, interest, sale of

publications, etc., will keep it on a plane with the best societies.

in the country and enable it to do its full share of usefulness.

The General Assembly has provided for the purchase and

preservation of that remarkable earth-work--Fort Ancient-in

the Little Miami valley. It is the largest and most extensive

prehistoric remains now in Ohio. The move was most com-

mendable, and will result in its preservation, whatever may be

the use of the grounds enclosed by the embankments. The

Society was invited by the Legislative Committee to visit the

place with them, and many members did so. The Society will

assume the care of the "Fort," and place it under such use as

the General Assembly may direct. We would also say that by

resolution of the members, such legislation is requested as will

represent the state on the Board of Trustees of the Society.


S. S. RICKLEY, Treasurer.

A. A. GRAHAM, Secretary.

By order of the Board of Trustees.






[A paper read at the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Society at Columbus,

by William M. Farrar.]

It is now more than a century since what is known to history

as "The Moravian Massacre," occurred at Gnadenhutten, on

the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum river; so long ago

that all those concerned in that affair have long since passed to

their graves and been forgotten. This sad affair was unique in

character, from any thing of the kind recorded in ancient

or modern history, and has been more persistently misrepre-

sented than any other event relating to the early history of the

country, many of those misrepresentations have passed into

history and been accepted as true.

It is the duty of this society to vindicate the truth of history

and place upon record any facts that time may have developed

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.              277


tending to explain, or throw light upon, what has always been a

subject of much controversy.

This expedition which originated in the western townships

of Washington, County, Pennsylvania, during the fall and

winter of 1781, has been represented as a military one, author-

ized by the lawfully constituted military authority of that county,

commanded by a regularly commissioned militia officer, and called

out in the regular way. And yet no such order has ever been

found, nor is there any muster roll* in existence giving the list

of names of the officers and privates composing the expedition,

showing to what companies or battalion of the enrolled militia

of the country they belonged, nor has any claim for services

rendered, damages sustained, provisions furnished, arms pro-

vided, or property lost, ever been presented either against the

State or general government, by any person claiming to have

been a member of the expedition. Neither is there any official

report of the expedition extant, made by either Col. Williamson

the officer in command, by James Marshel the lieutenant of the

county who was responsible for it, if any such expedition was

ordered out, or by Brigadier General Irvine the commandant at

Fort Pitt in whose department it occurred.

It is true that so accurate and careful a historian as Mr.

Butterfield has pronounced otherwise, but a review of the author-

ity upon which he relies does not seem to justify his conclusions,

based as they are upon a single statement made by Gen. Irvine

in a letter written from Fort Pitt, May 3, 1782, to President

Moore of the executive council of Pennsylvania.+

Brigadier Gen. Wm. Irvine was appointed to the command

of the Western Military Department, October 11th, 1781. At

that day the Ohio river marked the dividing line between

barbarism and civilization, east of it, the hardy pioneers, after

making their way across the Alleghany mountains with Fort

Pitt as their objective point, had extended their settlements

north and south along the rich valleys of the rivers forming the

Ohio, and pushed them westward until the smoke of their cabins


* See Crumrine's History, Washington County, Pennsylvania, page 110.

+ See W. & I. cor. 239 and 245.

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could be seen, and the sounds of their rifles and axes heard by

the red men who dwelt among the deep forests beyond. To

guard this frontier line and protect the settlements against

Indian raids, was the work assigned to the commanding officer

of the Western Department, and for that purpose small garrisons

of regular troops were stationed at the several forts built along

this frontier line, and companies of militia drawn from     the

counties of Westmoreland and Washington kept constantly rang-

ing along the border, to give timely notice of the approach of

hostile bands of savages.

To assist the commandant at Fort Pitt in this work, an

officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and known as the

County Lieutenant, was appointed by the Supreme Executive

Council of the State of Pennsylvania, for each of the several

counties embraced in the Department, whose duty it was to attend

to the enrollment and equipment of the militia of the county,

and provide for their subsistence when called into actual service;

also to make return of the number and names of those subject

to military duty, together with the names and rank of the officers

commanding the different companies composing the several

Battalions to the commanding officer at Fort Pitt, upon whose

requisitions they were called into active service as necessity

required, whether by battalions, companies, or in smaller details,

the officer in each and every case being required to wait upon

the commandent at Fort Pitt for instructions as to the kind

of service required and his own duty in the premises.*

The orders of Congress and the Executive Council, which

were the law in the case, together with the explicit instructions


See History Washington County, Pennsylvania, by Crumrine, page 136.

See Res. of Congress assigning General Irvine to command of Fort

Pitt and his instructions dated September 24, 1781.

See order Supreme Executive Council, Pennsylvania, October 11, 1781.

See Letters Marshel to Irvine, November 20, 26 and 28, 1781.

See Requisition of Irvine to Marshel, January 10, 1782.

See Letter of Irvine to Cook, January, 1782.

See instructions to Lieutenant Hay, November 28, 1781, and January,


See Instructions to Major Scott, April, 1782.

See Letter, Marshel to Irvine, Washington County, April 2, 1782.

The Moravian Massacre

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given to the general and subordinate officers employed in this

frontier service, and the uniform manner of calling out the

militia, are so plain and so consistent with good military sense,

that it seems strange that any person could be misled as to the

true character of the Moravian Expedition, and yet Mr. Butter-

field has taken a single expression used by General Irvine in his

letter of May 3, 1782, to President Moore, of the Executive

Council, as "unequivocal" evidence that the militia who went

to the Muskingum were "ordered out" by Colonel James Mar-

shel, the Lieutenant of Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The letter reads as follows:

FORT PITT, May 3, 1782.

Sir: Immediately on receipt of your excellency's letter of

the 13th of April, I wrote to Colonel James Marshel, who or-

dered out the militia to go to Muskingum (to that branch known

as the Tuscarawas) for his and Colonel Williamson's report of

the matter, Colonel Williamson commanded the party. Inclosed

you have their letters to me on the subject, by way of report. I

have inquiries making in other quarters; when any well authen-

ticated accounts come to my knowledge, they shall be trans-

mitted.                           WM. IRVINE, B. Gen'l.

It is somewhat difficult to reconcile the statements con-

tained in the foregoing letter with the facts and circumstances

of the case, for, if true, Marshel, as County Lieutenant, had

been guilty of a palpable violation of law, in calling out the

militia of the county without authority, and sending them upon

an unauthorized expedition beyond the limits of the state, with-

out the proper instructions, where they had committed excesses

unheard of in civilized warfare, excesses that were being very

generally condemned as a lasting reproach to the good name of

the state, and yet he was never court-martialed, investigated, or

even called upon by the Executive Council of the state from

whom he held his appointment for an explanation of his conduct.

That General Irvine wrote to Marshel and Williamson for

their reports of the matter, and transmitted the letters received

from them in reply to the President of the Council, "by way of

report," as stated, is no doubt correct. But to assume that these

were the official reports of the transaction is not warranted.

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The President of the Council, in acknowledging their receipt,

speaks of them as not reports, but as "the representations made

by Colonel Williamson and Colonel Marshel."

It is greatly to be regretted that these letters cannot be

found, as they would no doubt settle the question whether Mar-

shel had anything to do with calling out the militia that went to

the Muskingum, and would show to what extent, if any, he was

responsible for the movement.

James Marshel survived the massacre forty-seven years, and

for almost twenty years thereafter was continuously in public

office; Lieutenant of Washington county in 1781-2-3; Register

in 1781; Recorder in 1791; Coroner from 1794 to 1799; and

Sheriff from 1786 to 1787, when he was succeeded by Col.

Williamson, whose election was opposed because of his connec-

tion with the massacre, while no such objection was ever made

against Marshel, who was certainly more to blame for ordering

out the expedition, if he did so. But no such charge was made

during his lifetime, nor until more than fifty years after his

death, when the letter of May 3, 1782, was found among the

Pennsylvania Archives and given to the public by Mr. Butter-

field. (W and I cor. p. 239).

About 1799, Col. Marshel removed to Wellsburgh, Virginia,

where he died in 1829. For many years he was the neighbor

and friend of Doddridge, the historian, and during the time his

history was being written and published (in 1824) they were

intimate personal friends, and it is at least reasonable to suppose

that if Marshel had ordered out the militia that went to the

Muskingum it would have been known to the historian and so

stated. Had it been a military expedition, acting in pursuance

of any competent authority, would Doddridge have stated (after

detailing the events that led to it, as he does on page 248) "ac-

cordingly between eighty and ninety men were hastily collected

together for the fatal enterprise?" That "each man furnished

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himself with his own arms, ammunition and provisions." * * *

That "many of them had horses;" that "the murder of the

Moravians was intended;" that "no resistance from them was

anticipated" (page 253); that "in the latter end of the year

1781, the militia of the frontier came to a determination to break

up the Moravian villages on the Muskingum" (page 259); and

that "it (the massacre) was one of those convulsions of the

moral state of society, in which the voice of the justice and

humanity of a majority, is silenced by the clamor and violence

of a lawless minority." (Page 261.)

His son, John Marshel, who died in 186-, was for many years

a well known resident of Washington, Pennsylvania, cashier of

the old Franklin Bank, a man of much intelligence and integrity

of character, with whom the writer often conversed about the

Moravian Massacre, and he repeatedly said that his father always

spoke of it as the outgrowth of a mistaken belief that prevailed

at the time; as a matter of course his father's connection with it

was not spoken of, because he was not implicated.

It may, and does seem strange, that an officer like Gen.

Irvine should write such a letter unless there was some founda-

tion for it, and yet to take the statement as correct, shows a dis-

regard of the instructions contained in his letter of January 10,

1782, so gross and inexcusable, that it would not have been

passed over with so much indifference. By that letter the Lieu-

tenants were notified of his intended absence, that Colonel Gib-

son would be left in command, that he would be the best judge

of the necessity for calling out the militia if one should arise,

and that they should "on his requisition," order out such mem-

bers of the militia as he will call for.

These orders Colonel Gibson exercised during his absence,

by making a requisition upon the Lieutenant of Westmoreland

county for militia to protect the frontier, and to presume upon

no better authority than the statement contained in the letter of

May 3, 1782, that a much larger and more important expedition

to extend beyond the borders of the State, was ordered out by

the Lieutenant of Washington county, upon his own motion and

without even consulting Colonel Gibson, would be very un-

reasonable, and yet, Colonel Gibson's letter of May 9, 1782,

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written to the Rev. Nathanial Seidel at Bethlehem, Pennsyl-

vania, shows that he had no knowledge of such an expedition,

and that if he had, " he should have prevented it by informing

the poor sufferers of it."

Gen. Irvine left Fort Pitt on the 16th day of January, 1782,

on a visit to his family at Carlile, and did not return until the

25th day of March following, and it was during his absence on

the 8th day of March that the massacre occurred. Nineteen

days after his return, on the 12th day of April, he wrote his wife

a letter, showing that he then knew all that could be learned of

the massacre, as he details all the terrible features of the affair,

including the fact that " Many children were killed in their

wretched mothers' arms."  And then adds, " Whether this was

right or wrong, I do not pretend to determine." But the key to

such inexcusable indifference on the part of General Irvine is

found further along in the same letter, as follows: " Whatever

your private opinion of these matters may be, I conjure you by all

the ties of affection, and as you value my reputation, that you will

keep your mind to yourself, and that you will not express any

sentiment for or against these deeds; as it may be alleged the

sentiments you express may come from me or be mine. No man

knows whether I approve of killing the Moravians."

It is evident from this correspondence that General Irvine

was much alarmed about his own reputation; that he withheld

from the council the information written to his wife on the 12th

of April; that in his reply to Pres. Moore, of May 2d, he sought

to give the impression that he was in possession of no news

upon the subject, and on the 9th of May, after due consultation,

he joined with Pentecost in advising against an investigation.

The first news the people residing to the east of the Alle-

gheny mountains received of the massacre, was from a notice

published in the Pennsylvania Packet, of April 9th, 1782, one

month after it had occurred, and which came through Moravian

sources by way of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and read as follows:

" A very important advantage has lately been gained over

our savage enemies on the frontiers of this State, by a party of

back-country militia; we hope to give particulars in our next."

But before the next issue of the Packet came to hand, fuller

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.              283


information received through the same sources, showed a very

different state of affairs; the killing was confirmed, but instead

of the victims being "savage enemies," they were found to have

been Christian Indians, reclaimed from savage life by the Mora-

vian missionaries, who ten years before had planted their mis-

sions in the deep wilderness, and succeeded in christianizing

several hundred of the rude and warring savage tribes, who had

become converts, abandoned savage life, and made considerable

progress in civilization. It was these converts who had been

killed, their villages destroyed, and the missions broken up, and

what was worse, even the women and children, the old and in-

firm, had been cruelly slaughtered in a manner that was shocking

to humanity, and a lasting disgrace to civilization. And as the

details of the massacre became more fully known east of the

mountains, a strong public sentiment developed in condemnation

of an outrage so manifestly in violation of the rules and usages

of civilized warfare. Whereupon, Dorsey Pentecost, a member

of the executive council from Washington county, left his post

of duty and hastened home, to stay, if possible, the tide of popu-

lar indignation that seemed to be setting in so strong against his

constituents. He reached Pittsburg on the 2d of May, and on

the 8th wrote his chief as follows:


"PITTSBURGH, May 8th, 1782.

Dear Sir :--I arrived at home last Thursday without any

particular accident. Yesterday I came to this place; have had a

long conference with General Irvine and Colonel Gibson on the

subject of public matters, particularly respecting the late excur-

sion to Kushocton. * * That affair * is a subject of great

speculation here-some condemning, others applauding the

measure; but the accounts are so various that it is not only

difficult, but almost, indeed, entirely impossible to ascertain the

real truth. No person can give intelligence but those that were

along; and notwithstanding there seems to have been some

difference amongst themselves about that business, yet they will

say nothing; but this far I believe may be depended on, that

they killed rather deliberately the innocent with the guilty, and

it is likely the majority was the former. I have heard it insin-

uated that about thirty or forty only of the party gave their con-

sent or assisted in the catastrophe. It is said here, and I believe

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with truth, that sundry articles were found amongst the Indians

that were taken from the inhabitants of Washington county.


Before this letter had been forwarded, and on the next day,

he wrote again as follows:

" PITTSBURGH, May 9, 1782.

"Dear Sir: --Since writing the letter that accompanies

this, I have had another and more particular conversation with

General Irvine on the subject of the late excursion to Kushoc-

ton, and upon the whole, I find that it will be impossible to get

an impartial and fair account of that affair; for although sundry

persons that were in the company may disapprove of the whole

or every part of the conduct (of those engaged in the killing),

yet from their connection they will not be willing, nor can they

be forced to give testimony, as it affects themselves. And the

people here are greatly divided in sentiment about it; and on in-

vestigation may produce serious effects, and at least leave us as

ignorant as when we began, and instead of rendering a service

may produce a confusion and ill-will amongst the people. Yet

I think it necessary that the council should take some cognizance

or notice of the matter, and in such a time as may demonstrate

their disapprobation of such parts of their conduct as are cen-

surable; otherwise it may be alleged that the government,

tacitly at least, have encouraged the killing of women and chil-

dren; and in a proclamation of this kind, it might be well not

only to recommend but to forbid, that in future excursions that

women and children and infirm persons should not be killed-

so contrary to the law of arms as well as christianity. I hope a

mode of proceeding something like this would produce some

good effects, and perhaps soften the minds of the people, for it

is really no wonder that those who have lost all that is near and

dear to them go out with determined revenge and extirpation of

all Indians.                     DORSEY PENTECOST."

By way of contrast to these apologetic letters of Mr. Pente-

cost, we have that of Col. Edward Cook, Lieutenant of West-

moreland county, who was called upon during General Irvine's

absence from his post of duty for a detail of men for frontier

service, by Colonel Gibson, and furnished the same, the officer

in command waiting upon Colonel Gibson for instructions. It

bears date September 2, 1782, and addressed to President Moore

of the Executive Council, as follows:

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.               285


"I am informed that you have it Reported that the Massacre

of the Moravian Indians obtains the approbation of Every man

on this side of the Mountains, which I assure your Excellency is

false; that the better part of the community are of Opinion the

Perpetrators of that wicked Deed ought to be brought to Condein

Punishment; that without something is Done by Government in

the Matter, it will disgrace the Annuls of the United States, and

be an Everlasting Plea and cover for British cruelty."*

These letters of Pentecost serve to show the difference in

public sentiment that then prevailed east and west of the Alle-

gheny Mountains in regard to the massacre. Pentecost was a

politician, and therefore anxious to avoid a public investigation

of the matter, and Irvine, in great alarm for his own reputation,

readily joined him in advising against one.

Colonel David Williamson, who commanded the expedition,

has probably received a great deal more than his share of public

censure, because of the prominent part he acted in the affair.

Whether he held a commission at the time as a militia officer is

uncertian; he certainly did soon after, and if so, that was about

all the military character the expedition had. the fact that

Williamson was chosen commander after they had assembled

at Mingo, goes to show that he commanded by virtue of that

authority, whatever it was, rather than because of any he exer-

cised as a militia officer.

The expedition was neither infantry nor cavalry, mounted

nor dismounted, but a mixed crowd made up from that reckless

and irresponsible element usually found along the borders of civ-

ilization, boys from eighteen to twenty years of age, who joined the

expedition from love of adventure, and partly of such well-known

characters as Captain Sam Brady, of West Liberty, Virginia,


* See Crumrine's History Washington County, Pennsylvania, page 110.

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and at least one of the Wetzels from near Wheeling, who, from

their experience and well-known bravery as frontiersmen, are

said to have exercised very great influence in deciding the fate

of the Indians.

It has always been a matter of some surprise that the

brothers, Andrew Poe and Adam Poe, were not members of the

expedition. They were well known as stout, hardy, fearless

backwoodsmen, experienced leaders in Indian warfare, and on

hand wherever courage and endurance were required. But for

some reason, now unknown, they were not along, and, so far as

known, do not appear to have been advised of the movement.

Their absence is all the more unaccountable as they had, in

the September previous, greatly distinguished themselves by a

vigorous pursuit of a Bigfoot party, which was overtaken at the

Ohio River and dispatched, after a struggle that has made the

name of Poe famous in pioneer history.

The greater portion of the crowd were mounted, the others

on foot; each man provided his own horse, arms and provisions,

and it was noisy, turbulent and disorderly from the start,1 and

the authority exercised by Williamson over it, about equivalent

to that usually conceded to the leader of an ordinary mob.

Who suggested that the question, whether the Indians

should be killed or taken prisoners to Fort Pitt be submitted to

a vote, is not known, but the fact that he did so only serves to

show the extent of Williamson's authority. It has never been

claimed, however, that he cast his own vote or participated in

the slaughter. He is represented by those who knew him per-


Note 1.- Statement of a member of the expedition.

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.              287


sonally as a man of naturally pleasant and agreeable disposition,

six feet in height, rather fleshy in his make-up, of florid com-

plexion, and of "too easy a compliance with public opinion," as

Doddridge says.

In the Sandusky expedition that followed closely upon the

Moravian massacre, Williamson was in command, and it was

largely to his unremitting activity, courage and judgment, that

any considerable number of the men were kept together after

the defeat and brought back in even tolerable order. He after-

ward filled a number of important and responsible offices in

Washington County, Pennsylvania, and in 1787 was elected

sheriff of the county after a warm canvass, during which his

connection with the Moravian expedition Was strongly urged

against him. He was born in Carlile, Pennsylvania, in 1752,

was thirty years of age in 1782, and died at Washington, Penn-

sylvania, in 1814, aged sixty-two years, and is buried in the old

graveyard on North Main street, but no stone or other monu-

ment marks his last resting place. He married Polly Urie, the

daughter of Thomas Urie, a well-known family of Washington

County, Pennsylvania, and left a family of four sons and four

daughters. Two of his daughters married into the well-known

McNulty family, of West Middletown, Pennsylvania, and Caleb

J. McNulty, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, who died on his way to

Mexico during the war with that country, was his grandson.

He was the one member of the expedition who, by reason of the

position he filled, could not hide from public censure, and hence

his undue share of it. During a large part of his lifetime he re-

sided on Buffalo creek, near to the Virginia line, where he was

personally acquainted with the historian, Doddridge, whose

statements concerning his character and disposition may be

safely taken as correct.

John Carpenter has always been quoted as an authority

whose statements go to extenuate the massacre. The story is

that about the time of the Wallace tragedy, or very soon after-

ward, he was captured on the waters of Buffalo creek by six In-

dians, two of whom spoke good Dutch, and called themselves

Moravians; that he was carried a prisoner to the middle Mora-

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vian town, where, among other things, he saw the bloody dress

of Mrs. Wallace.

This was accepted as proof positive that the Moravians were

in the habit of raiding the settlements, or of harboring and

trading with those who did, and therefore should be exter-


The value of this evidence, however, depends upon the date

of Carpenter's capture. If it occurred prior to the Wallace

tragedy, the conclusion is inevitable that he did not see the

bloody clothing of Mrs. Wallace at the Moravian town, as stated.

John Carpenter was among the first, if not the very first,

white man to settle on the west side of the Ohio river. He lived

for some years on Buffalo creek, ten or twelve miles east of the

river, and in his hunting excursions often crossed to the west

side, where game was more plentiful, and believing, as many

settlers did, that the Indian titles would, ere long, be extin-

guished and the rich lands on that side of the river come into

possession of the government, and be opened to settlement, he

determined to secure a claim by making an improvement in ad-

vance, and therefore in the summer and fall of 1781, he pro-

ceeded to clear a piece of ground and build a cabin near the

mouth of Rush Run, the same that was afterward strengthened

and became Carpenter's Fort. It was this work he was engaged

upon in the month of September, 1781, when the second Indian

attack upon Fort Henry (at Wheeling) took place, and barely

received warning of their approach in time to escape to the east

side of the river and remove his family to a place of safety.

After the raid was over and all again quiet, Carpenter re-

turned and continued his work, which he finished late in the

fall, when he removed the game he had killed across the river,

where it was loaded upon horses and carried to his home on


Having done this, he took a pair of horses and started to

Fort Pitt in order to secure a supply of salt, and while on his

way was captured, taken to the Moravian town, and started from

there in charge of two of his captors, from whom he escaped

and made his way back to Fort Pitt as has been related, but all

this took place two months or more prior to the 17th day of

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.                289


February, 1782, when the Wallace cabin was destroyed and his

wife and children carried into captivity.

In 1801, Edward Carpenter, the oldest son of this John

Carpenter, took a government contract to open a road from

Steubenville to the Wills creek crossing on the Zane Trace, and

while so engaged entered a quarter of land in section 26 of

township 11 of the 6th range, where he continued to reside until

his death, January 12, 1828. And upon the same quarter section

of land his son, Edward, lived until March 22d, 1882, when he

died at the age of 80 years, and it is from him that the facts

stated concerning the capture of his grandfather were obtained.

He was a gentleman of much intelligence, served for many

years as a justice of the peace, took much pride in the history

of his ancestry, and had learned many of the incidents relating

to his grandfather from the pioneer himself, and many more

from his own father, both of whom were very reliable men,

whose statements are much more likely to be correct than the

indefinite rumors published in the Pennsylvania Packet at that

time, based as they necessarily were upon the most meagre

information concerning a transaction that occurred several hun-

dred miles distant, the true character of which it was the interest

and purpose of those implicated to conceal.

Another misrepresentation that has passed into history

and been often repeated, even as late as 1882 in Crumrine's

history of Washington county, Pennsylvania,1 is, that the mas-

sacre was an after-thought, the result of frenzied feelings, pro-

voked by finding the dead body of Mrs. Wallace impaled on the

wayside, directly leading from Mingo bottom to the villages on

the Muskingum, and also by finding in possession of the

Indians, property stolen from the plundered cabins of the set-

tlers, trinkets and clothing of murdered relatives, at the sight of

which they became exasperated and forgot themselves. In all

such statements, which have times without number been urged

in excuse of the massacre, there is no truth whatever.

The site of the Wallace cabin was a short distance north of


NoTE 1. See Crumrine's History, Washington county, Pennsylvania,

page 104.

Vol. 111-19

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what was long known in the early settlement of the country as

Briceland's cross-roads, and the Indians that committed the out-

rage reached it by crossing the Ohio river at the mouth of

Yellow creek and thence following the well known trail along

the dividing ridge between the waters of King's creek on

the south, and those of Travis creek on the north, until the

advanced settlements were reached, when having killed the

stock and plundered the cabin they set it on fire and retreated by

the same route, carrying with them as prisoners, Mrs. Wallace

and her three children, one being an infant. This soon became

too much of an incumbrance for the mother to carry and keep up

with the party as they feared pursuit and were anxious to reach

the river and cross to the west side, but when they attempted to

take it from her, or dispatch it in her arms, she resisted so vigor-

ously that the Indian having her in charge became enraged and

struck his tomahawk into her own skull. The bodies of mother

and child were then carefully hidden, that they might not aid the

pursuit, and remained concealed until found years afterward.

The Indian trail followed by this party, and within a few

rods of which the remains of Mrs. Wallace* were afterward

found, was as much as twenty-five or thirty miles further north

than the one followed by the Moravian expedition through

Mingo, hence the absurdity of finding the body of either mother

or child impaled by the wayside.

At the date of the massacre, Robert Wallace did not know

that his wife was dead, but supposed her to be a prisoner among

the Indians, nor did he learn otherwise until nearly three years

afterward, when an Indian trader who had been among the

Wyandots at Sandusky, learned that his younger son (Robert)

was still living, but that the elder one was dead, and that the

mother and youngest child had been killed before reaching the

Ohio River, as has been stated. In a letter written by the Lieu-

tenant of Washington county, Pennsylvania, addressed to Gen-


* NoTE--Her maiden name was Jane McKay, and Mr. Wallace always

insisted that she could easily have kept up with the party and carried her

babe, had it not been that an old pair of shoes she happened to have on

that day impeded her, as she was a strong, hearty woman. (Statement of

her surviving son, Robert.)

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The Moravian Massacre.              291


eral Irvine, and dated October 21st, 1782, it appears that at that

time, more than eight months after the capture, Wallace believed

his wife to be living, and was making efforts, through General

Washington, to find out where she was and effect her recovery.

He finally secured possession of the younger boy, and ascer-

tained about the locality where the mother and child had been

killed, when he made search and found the remains, which he

gathered up carefully, carried back to his home and buried in

the graveyard at Cross Creek, Pennsylvania.

In 1792 he married Mary Walker, by whom he had five

children, and died in 1808 at the age of seventy-three years.

He is buried in the old cross-roads burying ground at Florence,


The son Robert, redeemed from the Wyandotts, lived to be

seventy-seven years of age, and died in 1855. He had a large

scar on his right ear, given him while a prisoner, made by a

squaw who became offended and swore she would kill him, but

was prevented by another Indian from doing so.

Whoever follows the affair carefully from beginning to

end, will be convinced that the massacre was no accident or

after-thought, but the result of a fixed and predetermined pur-

pose, of which there is conclusive evidence, traditional, to be

sure, but of the most reliable character.

The Lyles removed from Northampton county, Pennsyl-

vania, to the headwaters of Cross Creek, in 1784, two years

after the Moravian massacre took place. East of the moun-

tains the affair was almost universally condemned as being an

inhuman outrage, and Robert Lyle so continued to speak of it

after his removal west, but was soon given to understand that

he must not so express himself, as public opinion would not

permit it.

In 1792, Robert Lyle and Joseph Vance, the proprietor of

Vance's Fort, who had become brother church members and

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fast friends, were riding together in advance of the funeral pro-

cession of David Hays, when Lyle asked his friend if the de-

ceased had not been a member of the Moravian expedition, to

which Vance replied, "No, he was not," and after a few min-

utes' silence said, "Did you ever know how that affair hap-

pened?" and then went on to say that it originated in Vance's

Fort in the fall of 1781, at a time when some twenty-five or

thirty families were forting from the Indians. The opinion

had long prevailed among the frontier settlers that the half-

way houses, as they characterized the villages on the Mus-

kingum, were simply resting places for the Sandusky war-

riors on their plundering raids into the settlements, and that

the settlers would get no permanent relief until those villages

were broken up and destroyed. The military authorities at

Fort Pitt knew  better, knew  that the Moravian missions

were not only what they pretended to be, but that they

had frequently received information from them of Indian

expeditions into the settlements that enabled them to counter-

act and defeat them. But they dared not communicate the

same to the settlers, as it would have exposed the Missions to

sure destruction by the Sandusky warriors, as eventually hap-

pened. Driven from their homes and shut up within the fort,

the men became very impatient and frequently discussed the

situation with much earnestness. Prayer meetings were held

daily, and often in the Vance cabin, which stood outside of but

near to the stockade. After one of these meetings, Vance and

two of his neighbors remained after the others had returned into

the fort, and while talking over their troubles one of them said,

"There is no use in talking, this thing will never be better until

the half-way towns are destroyed."  "Yes," replied another,

"and I will be one of a company to go and wipe them out," to

which the others assented, and that then and there the Moravian

Massacre originated. The proposition was thereupon stated to

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.               293


those in the fort, who approved it and pledged their assistance

to carry it into execution, but what steps were taken to com-

municate with the other frontier settlements and secure their co-

operation is not known. The organization was, however, com-

plete, and the intention to move promptly on the half-way towns

about to be carried out, when the movement was frustrated for

the time being by two companies sent out by the commandant

of the Western Department, under Colonel Williamson, for the

purpose of taking the Indians at the Muskingum towns back

to Fort Pitt. The Pennsylvania Archives, page 753, contains

what is believed to be a complete roll of these companies, in-

cluding the names of two captains, two lieutenants, one ser-

geant and fifty-one privates, but it bears no date and only con-

tains the names of four persons known to have been present at

the massacre in March following. But Williamson found him-

self anticipated by an expedition from Detroit that had already

removed the Missionaries and their converts to Sandusky, and

finding but half a dozen Indians there, who had either strayed

into the place or found their way back after the removal, they

were taken back and delivered to the authorities at Fort Pitt,

who soon after released them, thereby giving great offense to

the settlers, who thought they should have been killed. The

authorities were denounced, Williamson severely censured, and

the frontier filled with exaggerated rumors of Indian depreda-

tions and plots that were really without foundation.

The expedition to the Muskingum was not abandoned, only

in abeyance, when the Wallace tragedy set the frontier in a blaze

of excitement, the word was passed around, and on Monday,

the 4th of March, men in couples, squads and singly, on horse-

back and on foot, appeared suddenly on the east bank of the

river at Mingo, crossed over to the west side, where, when all

had assembled, they chose officers, and on the next morning dis-

appeared, going west along the old Moravian trail up Cross

Creek. Doddridge says,1 "They chose their own officers, fur-

nished their own means, and conducted the war in their own

way." On Wednesday evening they encamped within one mile


NoTE 1.- See Doddridge's Revised History, p. 256.

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of the middle Moravian village, but carefully concealed.their ap-

proach until the next morning, when, having discovered that

some of the Indians were at work on the west side of the river,

they divided their force, part of which crossed the river, when

they approached the town from different directions. To show

the purpose with which they went there to be murder, and mur-

der only, the party that crossed to the west side killed and

scalped the first Indian they saw, while he was pleading with

them not to kill him, that he was the son of John Schebosh, a

well-known Christian convert. Others were shot and killed be-

fore, the town was entered, proving that it was not the sight of

what was found in the town that induced the killing.

They deliberated all day of the 7th while waiting for the re-

turn of the parties sent out to bring in the Indians from Salem

and Schoenbrun, and it was during this delay that some of the

better element among them began to relent, to realize that they

had misjudged the Moravians, and that it would not do to kill


Among others who had joined the expedition burning with

revenge, was a young preacher whose affianced bride had been

carried off a prisoner by Indians, but the prayers and songs of

the poor creatures softened his heart and turned aside his wrath,

until he not only voted to take them prisoners to Fort Pitt, but

remonstrated against the killing; all in vain; the demon had

been roused, and only blood could stay his hand. Whether

Colonel Williamson witnessed the slaughter or retired from the

scene with those who voted against it, we are not told, but to

those who have visited the place and are familiar with the local-

ity, that excuse is valueless.

The river on the west side of the village runs deep in the

earth, and it was under the bank where the eighteen retired,

distant by measurement not more than seventy-five yards from

the church out of which the victims were dragged to the slaugh-

ter houses. Standing there, they could not see, but could dis-

tinctly hear all that was going on above. And one of those who

stood there and lived to be the last survivor of the eighteen, has

told persons yet living, that while so waiting, a young Indian

escaped from his murderers, and all covered with blood, came

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.              295


running to the river, plunged in and swam to the other side and

was already clambering up the bank, when one of the party

raised his gun and shot him through the body.

Of the details of the massacre little is known. The sur-

vivor of the eighteen referred to, who died in 1839 at the age of

ninety-six years, said that after all was over, Robert Wallace

came to where several of the company, including himself, were

standing, and bursting into a flood of tears, said: "You know

I couldn't help it!" His clothing was soiled and bloody, and he

was laboring under great excitement and exhaustion.

Gathering together the plunder found at the village, and

fastening it upon the backs of their horses, they set fire to the

houses and set out upon their return. They must have traveled

nearly all night, for they reached Mingo late in the afternoon of

Saturday, where they halted only long enough to readjust the

packages of plunder to their horses, when they recrossed the

river and disappeared from the public notice almost as com-

pletely as if they had perished in crossing the stream.

Whether they had agreed among themselves to say nothing

is not known, but it is more than likely that on the way back

to the river they had begun to realize what they had done, that

they would be called to account for it by the military authorities

at Fort Pitt, and therefore the less said about it the better. And

no expedition of equal importance, military or civil, so suddenly

and so entirely disappeared from public notice. Even the fam-

ilies of many of the members being entirely ignorant of their

connection with the affair.

One example may be given; a colored man (the slave of

one of the parties) who died in 1812, was wont to tell that upon

going to the stable one Monday morning, he discovered that the

horse his master usually rode when absent on hunting or scout-

ing expeditions, was missing from his accustomed place, but as

such things were not uncommon, nothing was thought of it, nor

did any member of the family speak of it. But on the next

Sunday morning, upon going to the same place, the horse was

found in his stall, bearing marks of hard usage, and his sides

and flanks streaked with blood; that nothing was seen of his

master until the following morning, when he shaved, washed

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and dressed himself carefully and ate his breakfast, after which

all the family were called in to prayers, and that during the day

his master busied himself in stretching a couple of scalps upon

a hoop, which was then hung up in the great wooden chimney

to dry.

Although born and raised in the community from which the

expedition was mostly raised, the writer, in a peried of forty

years, has only been able to collect the names of about thirty

persons that he has reason to believe were members of the ex-

pedition, and as to only a few of those is there absolute


A gentleman born in 1796 said that he was present at Bur-

gettstown, Pennsylvania, in August, 1812, upon the day when

volunteers were raised to march to Detroit to repel the British

and Indians reported to be marching upon the frontiers in con-

sequence of Hull's surrender of the post at Detroit. It was a

day of great excitement, and called together a large crowd of

people from the surrounding country. That among other sights

that drew the attention of a boy of sixteen years, he came

across a crowd being entertained by an old man much the worse

for liquor, who was singing maudlin songs, when some person

said, "Now, Uncle Sol, show us how they killed the Indians."

That at once the old fellow's whole manner changed from the

gay to the grave, and he began crying and cursing the cowards

who killed women and children.  Presently he ran forward,

making motions as if throwing a rope over the heads of those in

front of him, and then running backwards as if dragging an

object after him, seized the large stick held in his hands, and be-

gan beating an imaginary object, all the time howling and curs-

ing like a demon, when somebody pulled him away, saying it

was a shame. That having but imperfectly comprehended what

he saw, my informant made inquiry, and learned that Uncle Sol

had been at the Moravian Massacre, and when in his cups, as he

had seen him, would show how they killed the Indians, but

when sober could not be induced to open his mouth upon the


But little more remains to be said. None of the excuses

urged in extenuation of the affair are tenable. No murder was

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The Moravian Massacre.              297


ever so well kept. The early historians were meagre and in-

definite in their accounts of it, because there was nothing known

to tell, and it was only after half a century that a few details

leaked out and became known, as already stated.

The Sandusky expedition followed so soon after, with Col-

onel Williamson second in command, that many of the same

persons joined it and took part in the disastrous defeat at San-

dusky, resulting in the terrible death of the commanding officer,

who was burned at the stake in retaliation for the Moravian

Massacre, and in the shocking details of his sufferings and death

the Moravian affair was lost sight of and forgotten.

The men concerned in the affair returned to their homes,

where many of them lived to a good old age and spent exem-

plary lives, a number having become ruling elders and leading

members in the churches at Cross Creek, Upper Buffalo, and

other places. And it is a curious fact that in the great religious

movement that swept over Western Pennsylvania during the

latter part of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth

centuries, many of these same men were active and leading par-

ticipants; and that the great religious movement had its origin

at Vance's Fort* and among the same men with whom      the

Moravian Massacre originated. But time has drawn the veil of

oblivion over their names and nothing could now be gained by

removing it.

Ninety years after the occurrence of this sad event the

Moravian brethren met at Gnadenhutten, and with appropriate

ceremonies dedicated a monument to the memory of the poor

Indian converts who perished there with a heroism worthy of all


This monument stands upon the site of the old Mission

Church, and the shaft, which rises 25 feet above the base, was

unveiled by four Moravian Indians, one of whom was the great-

grandson of Joseph Schebosh, the first victim of the Massacre.

On its western face the shaft bears this inscription:


* See historical discourse of Rev. John Stockton, D. D., on fortieth

anniversary of his ministry at Cross Creek, Pa., page 7.

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MARCH 8, 1782.



In the address of Bishop DeSchweinitz, delivered on that

occasion, the names of the victims were given and are herein

copied that they may go upon record and never be forgotten.






Members of the Gnadenhutten Mission.

1. JOSEPH SCHEBOSH, a half-breed, son of John Joseph

Schebosh or John Bull (which was his real name), a white man

and assistant Missionary.

2. CHRISTIANA, his wife, a Sopus Indian from New Eng-


3. JOHN MARTIN, a distinguished national assistant.

4 and 5. LUKE, and his wife, LUCIA.

6, 7 and 8. PHILIP and his wife, LOVEL, and their little

daughter, SARAH.

9. ABRAHAM, surnamed the Mohican.

10 and 11. PAUL and ANTHONY, John Martin's sons.

12. CHRISTIANA, a widow, educated in the Moravian

schools at Bethlehem, a refined and cultured woman.

13 and 14. MARY, another widow, and her little daughter,



a young daughter of Mark.

The Moravian Massacre

The Moravian Massacre.             299


18 and 19. GOTTLIEB and BENJAMIN, two little sons of


20 and 21. ANTHONY and JOHN THOMAS, two other little


Members of the Salem Mission.


1. ISAAC GLIKKIKAN, one of the most illustrious of Mora-

vian Indians, formerly a great warrior, and after his conversion

a faithful assistant of the Missionaries, baptized on Christmas

eve, 1779, by Zeisberger, at Friedenstadt.

2. ANNA BENIGNA, his wife, who took the pony of one of

the Sandusky warriors and rode all night in order to notify the

garrison at Fort McIntosh of the Indian movement upon Fort


3 and 4. JONAH, another assistant, and his wife AMELIA.

5 and 6. CHRISTIAN and his wife, AUGUSTINA.

7. SAMUEL MORE, a Jersey Indian.

8. TOBIA, a venerable sire.

9. ISRAEL, a celebrated Delaware chief, known as Captain


10. MARK, surnamed the Delaware.

11 and 12. ADAM, and his wife CORNELIA.

13 and 14. HENRY, and his wife, JOANNA.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.  SALOME, PAUL, MICHAEL,


21 and 22. LEWIS, and his wife, RUTH.

23 and 24. JOHN, and another John, a young man who

was shot after swimming the river.

25. HANNAH, Joseph Peepis' wife.

26. JUDITH, an aged gray-haired widow, the first killed

among the women.

27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33. CATHARINE, MARIA SUSANNA,


gether with the following little boys and girls:

34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49,



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Besides these there were five adults, one man, SCHAPPIHIL-

LEN, the husband of Helen, together with four women and thir-

teen babes not yet baptized, and the following members of the

Mission at Schoenbrun, who happened to be at Gnadenhutten,

to-wit: NICHOLAS and his wife, JOANNA SABINA, ABEL, HEN-

RY, ANNA, and BATHSHEBA, the last two daughters of Joshua,

the founder of Gnadenhutten; in all, twenty-eight men, twenty-

nine women, and thirty-three children. Two boys, Thomas and

Jacob, escaped.

I cannot better close this paper than by quoting the words

of Charles McKnight, who, in his centennial work entitled,

"Our Western Border One Hundred Years Ago," says:


"The whole massacre leaves a stain of deepest dye on the

page of American history. It was simply atrocious and execra-

ble-a blistering disgrace to all concerned, utterly without ex-

cuse, and incapable of defense. It damns the memory of each

participator to the last syllable of recorded time. All down the

ages the Massacre of the Innocents will be its only parallel."







The centennial is approaching of the greatest battle fought

on the soil of Ohio, the battle between the Indians and the army

under General Arthur St. Clair, November 4, 1791. It is well

to note in detail the important military posts in our State. An

examination of the map accompanying this article will show

that not many northwestern states have such a military record.

The accompanying sketches are compiled from so many

sources that it is impossible to give credit to all, and hence none

will be mentioned. The description of each is brief, and con-

fined to the important facts connected with each. On each of

these places pages could be written, but the object of this

article, however, is to place in compact form the salient points