Archaeological and Historical
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JOSEPH BADGER, THE FIRST MISSIONARY TO THE
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BY BYRON R. LONG.
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A preliminary word to the writing of this document is not
unlike that which I wrote to the last article furnished for pub-
lication in this historical record.
In the sketch of Isaac N. Walter, printed in the April num-
ber of 1915, I dwelt at some length on the story of the Chris-
tian denomination with which he labored for many years as a
minister. My own personal connection with that people through
the early portion of my life made me familiar with the men and
women who were prominent in it from the beginning and up to
very recent years.
Among their leaders was Joseph Badger. The biography
of this man fell into my hands while I was yet a boy, and I read
it with great interest. It consisted largely of his autobiography,
which made it all the more lively and impressive to a boy seeking
knowledge and susceptible to inspiration from the personal ex-
periences of youth and manhood that had gone before. E. G.
Holland, a writer of considerable note in the middle of the last
century, prepared the volume, and in addition to the story told
by Mr. Badger himself, presents a history of the man and his
work that makes the book worthy a place in the choicest library.
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The childhood of Mr. Badger was lived in the midst of
scenes and circumstances characteristic of New England in the
Vol. XXVI-1 (1)
2 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
years from 1792 to 1802. His grandlfather was General Joseph
Badger, who won fame in the Revolutionary War. The father
of General Badger bore the name of Joseph also and was a
wealthy and influential citizen of Haverhill, Mass.
Joseph Badger of this partial sketch was born at Gilmanton,
New Hampshire, forty-five miles from Portsmouth, sixteen from
Concord and about eighty from Boston. His father was Major
Peasly Badger, who removed from Gilmanton in 1801 to occupy
a tract of land in Lower Canada. Here, in the wilderness, the
boy grew toward manhood finding favor with all who came to
know him. He was of a religious bent of mind, and in his own
story tells of his struggle to reach some reasonable conception
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 3
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of the Christian teaching that would eliminate the unnecessary
formal requirements and put emphasis on the fundamentals. He
thought if this could be done the divisions that obtain among
Christians might be avoided. At this task he wrought all his
life, only to find that no one mind is able to do complete sifting
and that when all is done by that one mind it still finds itself in
a narrow and more or less biased position.
The Christians had launched their propaganda throughout
the East and middle West, and these people, coming nearest to
his idea of what the church ought to stand for, led him to
cast in his lot with them and to give himself to the ministry in
that order for the remainder of his life, which ended in 1852.
Most of his work was done in New England, New York
and Pennsylvania. But in 1825 he came into Ohio and held many
meetings in the churches already established and aided in estab-
lishing many others. His greatest and most helpful work was
done as an editor and writer. This found the public ear through
the periodical known as the Christian Palladium, which was first
published in Rochester, New York, and afterward at Unionville.
Mr. Badger had a prominent part in the controversy which
centered about Alexander Campbell, founder of the denomination
known as "Disciples of Christ," and nicknamed "Campbellites."
Strange to relate, these two bodies of Christians, with almost
identical views theologically, should be the most antagonistic of
any in that time, whereas, if they had put aside their little differ-
ences, they might have achieved unbounded success in moulding
the thought of the age and in bringing about a state of unity
among the followers of Christ.
Coming from a family of distinction and being identified
with people of note throughout his lifetime, it is not to be won-
dered at that one or more of his progeny should be of some
consequence. One of his sons, Henry Clay Badger, won fame as
a scholar and preacher. He was an instructor in Antioch Col-
lege during the administration of Horace Mann, and was the
close friend of that noted educator as he was of his eminent
successor in that office, Dr. Thomas Hill, who went from there
to become President of Harvard.
4 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
Henry Clay Badger married Addie Shepard, sister of the
wife of Thomas Hill. Before her marriage to Mr. Badger, Miss
Shepard went to England in the capacity of Governess with the
family of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and became the original charac-
ter of Hilda in "Marble Faun," one of the famous Hawthorne
1While attending school at Antioch in the eighties, the writer had
the privilege of hearing Henry Badger in an address before the stu-
dents, reminiscent of the great men he had known. The volume used
in collecting these notes was the property of Henry Clay Badger up
to his death, and was secured by the writer from his son, Frederick
Badger, now living in Boston.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 5
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It would be interesting to follow this man's career through
all its varied circumstances to the close, giving in detail the inci-
dents that make its comedies and tragedies; but this paper can
not do that for the reason that the matter collected for the
Historical Society must, in the main, confine itself to the story
The introduction of this much is to reveal a strange coinci-
dence, linking up this life with that of another of the same name
whose life story is closely identified with Ohio from her beginning
on into the midst of her progress as a great commonwealth.
In 1904 the writer became pastor of the First Congregational
Church of Ashtabula, Ohio. On the occasion of his first visit
to the church he was introduced to a deacon of the church by the
name of Badger. Curiosity was awakened immediately, and
when questioned as to whether he was related to Joseph Badger,
the preacher whose biography I had read when a boy, he re-
plied: "I presume I am his grandson, since my grandfather
was a missionary in an early day." He also stated that he had a
volume of his biography that I might have to read if I so
desired. In a few days I visited the home and secured the
book, but found on looking at it that it was not the book I had
read before and that I was to read an entirely different story.
While writing the sketch of Isaac N. Walter, I thought
again of the two Joseph Badgers and felt their stories might
be linked together in a way that would be interesting to the
readers of Ohio history. The books before mentioned were
secured after considerable effort; one, as stated, from Frederick
Badger of Boston, the other from Mrs. E. E. Taylor of Ashta-
bula, the great-grand-daughter of the one known as Priest
Badger throughout the Western Reserve. To my surprise some-
what the two stories enabled me to easily trace the two men
back to a common ancestor, Giles Badger; one removed six
generations and the other four.
Giles Badger came from England to New England in the
year 1635 and settled in Newbury, now Newburyport, Massa-
chusetts. John Badger, the son of Giles Badger, had two wives.
By the first wife he was the father of four children, three of
whom lived to maturity,-John, Sarah and James. John
6 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
Badger, Jr., became a merchant in Newburyport. In 1691 he
was married to Miss Rebecca Brown. Seven children were born
to this union, -John, James, Elizabeth, Stephen, Joseph, Benja-
min and Dorothy.
Joseph Badger was a wealthy merchant in Haverhill, Massa-
chusetts, and married Hannah Peasly, daughter of Colonel
Nathaniel Peasly. To this pair were born seven children also;
among whom was General Joseph Badger, one of the most noted
men of New England in his time. His son, Major Peasly
Badger, one of a family of twelve children, was the father of
the Joseph Badger I first read about, thus placing him in the
sixth generation from Giles Badger, the head of the family in
the New World and who came to Newbury in 1635.2
The second wife of John Badger, first removed from Giles,
was Hannah Swett, to whom he was married on the 23rd of
February, 1671. Their children were Stephen, Hannah, Na-
thaniel, Mary, Elizabeth, Ruth, Joseph, Daniel, Abigail and
Nathaniel of this family married Mary Lunt and settled in
the town of Norwich, Connecticut. This union was blessed with
nine children;- John, Daniel, Edmund, Nathaniel, Samuel,
Enoch Mehitable, Mary and Henry. The last named was the
father of the Joseph Badger, whose life sketch is attempted in
Henry Badger married Mary Langdon and settled in
Bethlehem in New Jersey, but afterward returned to Wilbraham,
Massachusetts, where the subject of this sketch was born in
I have followed in detail these lines of descent in order that
the relation of these two men may be shown to any one who may
in the future desire to trace it, since it is apparent that neither
of these families have been aware of the near relationship ex-
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2In 1912, the Centennial of the founding of the City of Columbus,
the State Journal gave an account of an old plat of the city, and the
names of owners of property. Among them is Giles Badger of near
Philadelphia. This Giles Badger no doubt, was the son of Edmund,
uncle of the subject of this sketch.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 7
Joseph Badger, known in the history of the Western Re-
serve as "Priest Badger," lived an eventful life. As eventful,
perhaps, as that of any person whose story has been told in the
annals of Ohio. The autobiography is as interesting as any
narrative the fiction writer has given us of the times when the
Indian roved her forests or rowed their bark canoes along her
beautiful rivers. The stories of Boone or Kenton or Wetsel are
no more thrilling nor were they fraught with more of the ele-
mental stuff essential to the pioneer achievement in the building
of commonwealths. Before he saw the western wilderness
in the role of missionary he had helped George Washington and
his generals fight the battles of the Revolutionary War. He
helped to establish a nation and then gave himself to the sort
of preparation that would enable him to impart the teachings in
the wilderness regions of that country that would eventually
make that wilderness blossom as a rose.
8 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
The aim of the following sketch will be to present some of
the outstanding incidents in this useful and patient life as gath-
ered from the story told by himself, and which is now in pos-
session of the Historical Society. The memoir and autobiography
were first published by Sawyer, Ingersoll and Company, at Hud-
son, Ohio, in 1851. In addition to information gained from this
volume, the writer, as before intimated, had the privilege of
being associated with a grandson and a great-grand-daughter for
some years, and of visiting the scenes of his labors in the state
The birthplace and early home of Joseph Badger was Wil-
braham, Hampden County, Massachusetts. When he was nine
years of age his parents removed to Partridgeville, now Peru,
in Berkshire County, in the midst of the Green Mountains. At
that time the region afforded very meager opportunity for secur-
ing an education, so that about all he received as a youth was in
the home. Being of an observing mind, however, he took in
the information that the nature-world about him and the on-
moving of current events afforded.
The part he was to play in these events was to have its
active expression at an early period. He was eighteen years of
age in the memorable year of 1775, when the colonies of America
threw off the yoke of English sovereignty. He entered the
Revolutionary army about three weeks after the battle of Lex-
ington. His regiment was headed by Colonel John Patterson
and his company by Captain Nathan Watkins.
At the battle of Bunker Hill, fought on Breed's Hill, Pat-
terson's regiment was stationed on Cobble Hill. From this point,
the narrative states, they could see the firing along the whole
line. The British rank and file was broken several times, but
would as often return. On the final return they carried the
works at the point of the bayonet. Two months later he was
with his company at Litchmore's Point, and records in his
memoir that at close range he made good use of his rifle, which
proved fatal to more than one British soldier;-"the tragedy of
war" 'was his thought about it. He was taken ill and returned
to his home where he was compelled to remain over a brief time,
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 9
when he returned to the ranks. He was then enrolled in another
company under Captain Moses Ashley, same regiment as before.
The British, having evacuated Boston in March of '76, his
regiment was sent to New York, and from thence to take part
in the campaign on the Canadian border. They were provisioned
for a period of five days at Ticonderoga and took to the boats
on Lake Champlain. When they reached Crown Point the snow
covered the ground to a depth of several inches. Here they were
delayed, but finally, in the midst of the storm, they embarked
again, with Captain Sawyer, an experienced seaman, piloting
the boats. After a stormy passage they arrived at St. John and
went on to La Prairie, in sight of Montreal. Hunger and cold
caused great suffering and made the march difficult. But there
was a fort at the Rapids, which was being bravely defended by
a small band of Americans against an attack made by five hun-
dred Indians under Joseph Brant, and a company of British
soldiers under Captain Foster. The American regiment was
headed by Major Henry Sherbourn, and pushed rapidly to re-
inforce the soldiers at the fort. As they approached in the early
twilight they were met by Foster's company and his Indian allies.
For an hour the contest was sharp and furious, with the Amer-
icans getting the better of the engagement. All at once Foster
raised the white flag and asked for a parley. This was granted.
In the conference which followed Foster deceived Sherbourn
into believing that the fort had been surrendered already by
Major Butterfield and that it would be folly to sacrifice more
lives in its relief. Then Foster made demand for the surrender
of Sherbourn and his men, but it seems that the surrender
affected but a small portion of the regiment. The others were
able to get away. The company to which Mr. Badger belonged
was among those of the regiment who were not caught in the
trap. These fell back to Lachine, a French village above Mon-
treal. Here the order was to stand till reinforced. General
Arnold arrived with reinforcements in a short time. But it was
deemed prudent to make a hasty removal from the position
taken. Boats were provided at St. Anns, on Bacon Lake, and
at this point they arrived the following day, although menaced
by the Indians. The boats were ordered to push to a point three
10 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
miles up the river. But as the boats were landing Foster's men
and their Indian allies made a fierce attack, bringing two small
field pieces into action. A volley of bullets poured into the
flotilla, but did small damage. General Arnold ordered a retreat
and spent the night making greater preparation for what he
predicted would be a severe contest at the break of day. But it
was not to be as expected. Toward morning Captain Foster, in
company with Major Sherbourn and Captain McKinstry, who
had been shot through the thigh the preceding day, came across
the lagoons in a canoe and an arrangement was entered into by
which six captains and subaltern officers should be held as
hostages in exchange for prisoners. Three days were spent in
carrying out this plan and getting the men back into the American
ranks. Careful parole duty was now observed, and learning that
Montreal had been evacuated, the troops crossed the St.
Lawrence and marched to St. Johns. Smallpox broke out and
it was necessary to send many of the men on to Crown Point.
The boats carrying these men were piloted by Mr. Badger
and Captain Ashley, and as many as could be stowed into the
boats were taken. Three days were consumed in the journey
up the lake, but the return trip was much easier and more rapidly
covered. Three days afterward the entire army embarked under
orders to proceed to Cumberland Head, where they rested for
a day and then proceeded to Crown Point.
Here smallpox was carrying off the soldiers almost as
swiftly as bullets did in battle. In the short period of two days
sixty-four were buried in two vaults. This was done because there
were not sufficient well men to dig separate graves for the victims.
Buildings were erected at Fort George to receive the convalescent
and they were conveyed to that place for treatment. The others
were sent to Mt. Independence, opposite Ticonderoga, to occupy
themselves in erecting defences. Note is made in the memoir
at this point of the deleterious effect of liquor on the men taken
with disease. Nearly all the cases addicted to strong drink suc-
cumbed to the disease, while those who were not, recovered.
The retreat was a sorry affair, in that the men lost their
wearing apparel except that which they had on. Mr. Badger
says he went a period of six weeks without a change of shirts
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 11
and was much incommoded with vermin. Frequently took a
garment off, washed it without soap, wrung it out and put it on
again. "Was greatly distressed with cutaneous diseases until
August. Built a fire beside a large log, a little out of camp, and
roasted myself with brimstone and grease, which cured the itch,
but boils and sores followed for some time."
The chaplain of the regiment was taken sick about this time
and Mr. Badger was assigned the task of nursing and waiting
on him until he could be sent to Albany.
For some time after this Mr. Badger remained with Colonel
Buel, who was commandant at the post, giving his time to various
things, among which was the preparation of wooden dishes out
of the aspen wood plentiful in that region. This supplied a
distressing need, as there was no kind of vessel in the camp
which could be used for serving food or for drinking purposes.
He soon had orders to go back to his company, which he
rejoined in November. Following Arnold's defeat his company
marched to Albany, where they arrived in six days. From thence
they marched through the settlements and over mountains to
Sussex Court House in New Jersey. Orders had been given
to join Lee's army on the east side of the Delaware, but on their
arrival they discovered that Lee had been taken by the British.
So after they had tarried the night and until sunset the following
day, they hastened to join Washington on the other side of the
river. This was in December and the cold was growing intense.
The language of the memoir is very interesting here:
"It was now December and the cold was severe, but we
marched most of the night and towards morning began to pass
over to the farther side. The river was full of floating ice
which loaded the flat-boat almost to sinking. Toward night of
that day we all got over and marched into a little Moravian
village called Nazareth. The next day we marched to Bethlehem.
Here we had orders to wait until Lee's division under General
Sullivan joined us."
Mr. Badger says nothing in the narrative about the crossing
of the Delaware by Washington and the victory at Trenton, but
this stirring event was but a day or two removed from the time
of his own crossing about fifty miles to the north of Trenton,
12 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
The condition of the river was the same as we have often read
about in the story of Washington's great accomplishment on
Christmas night 1776. There are only thirteen days elapsing
between the date of the capture of General Lee and the crossing
of the Delaware by Washington. During these days the march-
ing and the waitings would bring this remnant of Arnold's army
to which Mr. Badger belonged into the region of Trenton just
about the time of Christmas.
The narrative discloses, however, that Mr. Badger was not
in the company that went with Washington. For, after leaving
Bethlehem and crossing the Lehigh, the discovery was made that
six of their men were missing. A sergeant and a small body of
soldiers were sent back to find what was the matter. On their
return they reported them sick with fever. Mr. Badger was
ordered back to care for them and remained with them until late
in January. Here he mentions a little detail that calls to mind a
very interesting episode at this period of the Revolutionary con-
Many of the soldiers who were in the army at this time
had enlisted to January first of 1777. He speaks of these sick
men as being among that number and that on their recovery they
returned to their homes. This was true not only of those who
ought to have gone home to recuperate, but it was also true of
many others. It became a peril to the army, and Washington
was put to his wits' end to know how to continue their services.
A victory had been won to be sure, but now came the necessary
task of following it up, and here were great numbers of men
getting ready to leave the army at the end of their enlistment
period, and that, too, at a time when they could least be spared.
What was he to do? It was decided to offer the men ten dollars
apiece to remain another six weeks. But where was he to get
the money with which to pay them? Washington pledged his
own fortune and made the well-remembered appeal to Robert
Morris of Philadelphia. The story of the patriotic service of
Robert Morris in response to Washington's appeal at this critical
hour of the fortunes of the American army is known to every
school boy. It is interesting, however, to be able to link the
important detail with this narrative.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 13
As said, they were on their way to Trenton from the north
when, because of the sickness of the men as above mentioned,
Mr. Badger was prevented from joining the troops under the
direct leading of Washington. He took control of the general
hospital service at Bethlehem on condition that he might choose
his own assistants, turning off all former nurses and attendants.
This was done because of the wretched service they had ren-
dered. Here he and his chosen attendants labored faithfully till
the last of February, when he was taken seriously ill and was in
delirium most of the time until the last of March, when he
began to recover. During this sickness he was taken care of in
a private family of German Moravians. After he had sufficiently
recovered, he was given a discharge and started for his home,
arriving in New Milford the day before Danbury was destroyed
by the British under General Tryon in April, 1777.
This event fired the young soldier and he re-joined the
Americans under General Wooster, who pursued the enemy, en-
gaging them at Ridgeville. The enemy retreated, but the life
of General Wooster was sacrificed in the encounter. The Ameri-
cans followed their advantage, and the next day overtook the red-
coats on Wilton Hills as they were descending into the valley.
I prefer to quote Mr. Badger's own story of this scene of battle:
"We charged their rear guard on the top of the hill, they
firing upon us with two field pieces and with small arms. Here
the man at my left side was shot down; a Captain Revel, of
Litchfield, had both of his thighs broken, and many others were
badly wounded. They soon ran down the hill to the main body,
which was passing the meeting house, and entered a road to
the south, which ascended a hill and formed nearly a right angle
towards the west, in which Arnold had taken a stand a few
minutes before, with a few regular troops and a field piece.
While yet on the ground from which we had just driven them,
looking at the enemy entering and filling the pass up the hill, we
saw the smoke of Arnold's cannon pouring down upon them,
they retreating to another road leading to Campo bridge; but
Arnold reached the bridge and compelled them to ford some dis-
tance above. Here the action was sharp, but a reinforcement
was landed from their ship, which enabled them, after a severe
14 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
contest, to get on board their fleet. The loss on both sides was
Mr. Badger then returned to his home and rested awhile,
but there was another urgent call for men and he enlisted as an
Orderly Sergeant and served until January, 1778, having served
his country as a soldier of the Revolution over a period of nearly
three years. In commenting on this service, he wrote:
"When I entered the army it was from principles in defence
of the civil and religious rights of our country. The "tea" affair
was well known and the design of introducing taxation and of
prohibiting domestic manufacturing were well understood; and
the apprehension of being governed by laws which we had no
voice in making, with other grievances, determined the people
generally to defend themselves against what appeared to be
tyrannical and oppressive government."
He speaks of the terrible privation and the great danger that
threatened him many times and closes with this statement:
"On my return from the army I received about two hundred
dollars in paper currency, with the whole of which I could not
get cloth for a decent coat. This was all the compensation I
received for almost three years of hard service until 1818, when
Congress began to think of the old soldiers."
For six months following this he took up weaving for a
livelihood and recounts that he wove during that period sixteen
hundred yards of plain cloth. Along with this work he spent
much time in study under a Rev. Mr. Day as tutor. The common
branches and Latin were pursued diligently. This fitted him to
take charge of a school and he taught through the years of 1780
and 1781. During this time the subject of religion grew in in-
terest with him, and under the urgent persuasion of Rev. Day,
supplementing a conscious self-propulsion, his thought was di-
rected toward the calling of the ministry. Mr. Day persuaded
him to accompany him to the commencement at New Haven in
this year. When he arrived there he learned that a few young
men were being examined for entrance to the college. Mr. Day
encouraged him to join the company, about thirty in all. He
passed the examination and entered Yale College. Teaching
common school, singing school and engaging in various other
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 15
kinds of labor and studying with the same energy shown in his
patriotic defense of his country, he won his way and graduated
in September, 1785.
During 1786 he taught school and pursued the study of
theology under the direction of Mr. Leavenworth in Waterbury.
In the Spring of 1787 he was invited to a charge in Vermont,
but on account of the excitement occasioned by Shay's Insur-
rection he did not go, but accepted an invitation to preach in
Blandford, Massachusetts. Here he was ordained on the 24th
of October, 1800.
November 15, 1800, under the call of the Connecticut Mis-
sionary Society, he took up his first journey to the Connecticut
Western Reserve. From this time for forty-seven years his life
was to be spent upon the soil of what is now the state of Ohio.
From 1780 to 1800, while the student life of Joseph Badger
was passing in New England, and while he was getting ready
for his task in the Ohio country, events of epochal importance
were taking place in that vast region. Following the Revolu-
tionary struggle the pioneers began to push toward the new land,
where the young Washington had gone as a surveyor of the
Virginia Company and about which Christopher Gist had reported
to the Ohio Company in Connecticut. Tales of wonderful and
bewildering character had found their way back along the forests'
paths and had set on fire the enthusiastic ambitions of young
men and women with their budding families, so that pilgrims
were seeking new homes in the shadows of mighty trees and on
the banks of winding, beautiful rivers; only to be participants in
the dark and bloody scenes which marked the pioneer days of
Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the Ohio
land, which comprised vastly more than what is now known as
In 1778, when Joseph Badger, worn and exhausted, returned
to his home in Connecticut, after rendering faithful service of
incalculable value at Bethlehem and Nazareth, as an attendant
upon the sick soldiers, he little thought that from these villages
would go the simple-hearted Moravians that had shown such
friendship to him and the men under his care, to be the center
of events and circumstances that have made Salem, Gnaden-
16 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
hutten and other settlements synonymous with martyrdom in
which Christian red men and white men were both innocent
victims of the cruelty of red and white savages.
The stories of those years in the West have been told by
the men who had part in them and are among the heirlooms of
our Western annals and have been collected by diligent students
of that period, and, though the narratives make our blood course
violently, we are mindful that the deeds of those early men and
women are immortal and laid the superstructure of the common-
wealths which are the pride of a mighty nation.
The pioneer work, however, was not all done in the year
1800, else the missionary societies had not seen the necessity of
sending others to take up further tasks at the beginning of the
new century. States were yet to be cut out of the magnificent
territory that was just beginning to reveal its splendor and pro-
ductivity. Ohio the Beautiful had not at this time been set apart
by itself to develop an individuality of its own that has given it
one of the proudest positions among the sisterhood of states.
Here and there, separated by long stretches of forest, were
single families or little groups, brave to encounter the difficulties
that stood in the way of productive effort or to defend themselves
against the wild life in man and beast which endangered them
on every hand. The making of a great state from what was on
the ground in the way of civilizing material in the first year of
the nineteenth century was a tremendous task. It was to this
that the young missionary came with his family in that beginning
year, at the age of forty-three, and there he was to labor through
all the vicissitudes of pioneer life during another period as long
as that over which he had already come.
The decision of the Connecticut Missionary Society to send
Mr. Badger to the Western Reserve followed a call to him to
take up work among the Black River settlements. He consented
to their final plan, and, leaving his family, started on his western
journey of between 600 and 700 miles on November 15, 1800.
Crossing the Hudson at Newburg, he traveled through Goshen,
Sussex Court House, N. J., and across the Delaware into Penn-
sylvania. He crossed the Alleghany Mountains amidst raging
snow storms and reached Pittsburgh the middle of December.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 17
Leaving there on the 14th, he preached along the way and came
to Youngstown, within the bounds of the Reserve, on the last
Sunday of the year.
The narrative of the difficulties met and overcome in this
journey is thrilling indeed. Climbing mountain passes; swim-
ming his horse through dangerous fords in rivers; journeying
for miles without looking into a human countenance or seeing a
dwelling place of man. Tired and hungry most of the time, he
went his way rejoicing that he could be a message bearer to a
new world and a pioneer in the work that would preserve the
new civilization from the influences that bring degeneration. The
settlements he mentions as having visited after Youngstown are
Hopewell, Neshannoc, Vienna, Hartford, Vernon, Warren, Can-
field, Deerfield, Boardman, Atwater, Poland, Mesopotamia,
Windsor, Mantua, Aurora, Hudson, Ravenna, Newburg, Paines-
ville and Cleveland. Chagrin, Mentor and Euclid are mentioned
as on the way from Cleveland to Painesville. In Cleveland at
this time there were two families, in Euclid one, in Chagrin one,
in Mentor four, in Painesville two. The last two places men-
tioned in connection with this tour are Harpersfield and Austin-
burg, in each of which there were ten families. To the last
named of these settlements, Austinburg, he was eventually to
bring his family in April, 1802, and there he founded the first
Church in the Western Reserve and the second Congregational
church founded in the state of Ohio, on the 24th of October,
1801; the first being founded in Marietta thirteen years before.
This completed tour of the settlements brought him to the
month of August, 1801, when he says: "I have now visited
and preached the gospel to all the families on the Reserve."
A journey full of incidents worth recounting is mentioned
as occurring in September of this year. Mr. Badger had prom-
ised George Blue Jacket, son of a Shawnee Indian chieftain, to
go with him on a visit to his father. In company with the Indian
and Rev. Thomas Hughes, they started September 2nd. The
home of Blue Jacket was about three miles from Brownstown
and in the region of the Maumee. The journey is described in
a graphic way and relates some stirring adventures. The first
night they swam the Cuyahoga River with their horses and slept
18 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
in their wet garments. On the morning following they followed
the Indian path along the lake, reaching Rocky River. Here
they forded the river, and while cutting a path up a steep bank
to afford a road for their horses they heard the salute of a
rattle snake. They pursued their way along the high, rocky
shore of the lake to Black River, where they encamped. The
following morning they crossed the river in a bark canoe, swim-
ming their horses. They came to the Huron about 3:00 P. M.
They were entertained over night in an Indian cabin, and the
following day being Sunday, Mr. Badger preached in the Indian
village. He says they were treated kindly and given the very
best to be had in the way of eatables and entertainment.
On Monday, supplied bountifully with food, they pursued
their way to the Portage River and encamped for the night. He
writes as follows of the following day:
"Rode through the swamp to the Shawnee village on the
Maumee. George, our Indian boy, took us on to the island just
below the rapids to see his aunt. Soon after we were seated we
were presented with a bowl of boiled corn, buttered with bear's
grease. As the corn was presented, the old Indian woman said,
'Friends eat; it is good, it is such as God gives to Indians.' This
gave opportunity to preach Christ to her and her two daughters,
the only ones present.
"We crossed the river afterwards and lodged with a brother
of George. He had a good bed and blankets, all clean and whole-
Two days afterward they reached the home of Captain
Blue Jacket and were received with great cordiality. This Indian
family lived in a "comfortable cabin well furnished with mat-
tresses, bedding and blankets; and for the table, crock-
ery and silver spoons, and their cooking was equal to that of
white people." Mention is made of a trip taken to Detroit with
this notation: "There was not one Christian to be found in all
this region excepting a black man who appeared pious."
Returning to Blue Jacket's home, the matter of schools was
discussed with a company of Indians who had been invited to be
present. This talk had much to do with the future work Mr.
Badger was destined to do among them.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 19
On the return from this visit they passed by Lower San-
dusky. Mr. Badger was taken ill with fever and ague and the
return was much retarded. Notwithstanding his very weak con-
dition, he persisted in preaching on the Sabbath. Mention is
made of a seventeen-year-old white boy among the Indians who
became greatly interested and who was inclined to listen and
showed a desire to learn to read. He acted on advice, to go to
the settlement. "He soon learned to read the Bible and became
hopefully pious." The last two days of this return trip were
spent without anything to eat except chestnuts.
Following immediately on the return from this sojourn
among the Indians, he came to Austinburg, and on the 24th of
October, 1801, the church before mentioned was organized. On
the following day he set out for Massachusetts in company with
Eliphalet Austin, after whom Austinburg was named. The mis-
sion of Mr. Austin was to secure a pastor for the new church.
Mr. Badger had suffered greatly from the year's pioneering
and the journey back to New England was one that taxed all
his reserve energy. On the 15th of December, when near Bloom-
field, New York, one side became paralyzed. This detained him
until the 26th. He then proceeded to his home and family,
from which he had been absent nearly fourteen months, arriving
January 1, 1802.
On January 3rd his report was made to the Missionary So-
ciety at Hartford and a new commission was issued for his return
to take up the work as a full-fledged missionary at the princely
emolument of seven dollars per week. Having exchanged his
small piece of land in Blandford for a parcel of land in the
Western Reserve, he loaded his belongings in the way of house-
hold goods and on Washington's birthday, 1802, started with
his wife and family of six children to brave the hardships and
inconveniences of the then very sparsely populated Ohio country.
The story of this journey is most thrilling. Almost every kind
of adventure was encountered on the way. A great snow storm
was sweeping the region through which they were compelled
to travel, so that many miles of the way they were obliged to
shovel paths for their passage through heavy drifts of snow,
On the second of March they came to Troy, New York, and
20 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 21
experienced a perilous crossing of the Hudson. Through many
other difficulties they passed, reaching Buffalo the first Sunday
of April. Here in a poorly contrived boat they were enabled
to convey the wagon and horses across Buffalo Creek, though in
mid-stream Mr. Badger was thrown from the boat and compelled
to swim ashore. The narrative notes at this point that this was
the first team of horses known to have crossed this stream.
They were now among the Indians and received much help
from them in their further progress westward. Corn was pur-
chased at the price of one dollar per bushel. Cutting roads for
the passage of horses and wagon and moving as rapidly as pos-
sible, they arrived at the first house in the state of Pennsylvania
on the following Friday. Here they remained several days and
then proceeded, reaching Moulton Station, recorded as the first
habitation reached in the bounds of the Western Reserve.
On the last Thursday in April they came to their future
home at the settlement of Austinburg.
22 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
In May began the labor of erecting a cabin for the shelter
of the family, and some time in June they were under their
own roof and the work of the pioneer missionary was begun in
earnest. The cabin home is described as being built of round
logs without chinks, a floor covering but one-half of the floor
space and made of split stuff, partly roofed with boards from
Austin's mill and with no chimney.
Having provided this much of a home and with provisions
to last over two or three months, Priest Badger took up once
more the itinerary of the settlements which he had formerly
visited. He mentions being in the home of Mr. Burke in Euclid.
Mr. Burke had come to that region with Moses Cleveland, the
surveyor, and the man after whom the metropolis of Ohio is
named. The Burke family had been living in this lonely place
for three years, and Mrs. Burke related that she had been com-
pelled to spin and weave cattle's hair to make coverings for her
On the next Sunday he was in Hudson, where he organized
the church that has been memorable in the history of Christian
progress throughout the Reserve, and where were sown the
educational seeds that blossomed and fruited in the Western
Reserve University. Many noted people afterward had their
membership in this church, among them John Brown whose
"body lies mouldering in the grave, but whose soul goes march-
The settlements were all visited, and in September, 1802, he
notes a visit to the north part of Trumbull County, where the
voters were assembled to elect a representative to the proposed
convention at Chillicothe for the purpose of shaping a State
Constitution. Samuel Huntington, six years later elected Gov-
ernor of Ohio, was the man elected as this representative.
From this place he returned home for a few days, but was
called to Pennsylvania to attend a meeting of the synod at Pitts-
burgh, which had supervision jointly with the Connecticut society
over the missionary enterprises in the West. After a few days'
labor in a revival meeting following the visit to Pittsburgh he
returned to his home, having been absent, except for a day or
two, over a period of almost three months. He now devoted
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 23
himself to putting their home in a better condition of protection
from the storms of another winter, preaching the while in four
or five settlements not far away.
Late in December of this year he began again his round
of visits to the churches already organized and to the settlements
in which efforts were making toward organization. The record
of this work continues with little variation in the character of
incidents narrated. There is note of the fact that while there
were a great many Methodists settled in the Reserve at this
date, there had as yet no Methodist missionary arrived on
the ground. He speaks of Watt's hymns being used for the first
time west of the Alleghany Mountains in the year 1801 and
gives an account of a revival meeting on this tour that typifies
the revival of the time. I quote here his own description.
"I preached in the afternoon to about three thousand people,
the largest worshipping assembly I ever saw collected. They
were conveniently seated in a grove, with a stand for the speak-
ers raised about four feet above the congregation. In the time
of preaching there were many who cried out and fell into a
perfectly helpless condition. There remained a slight respiration,
the only sign of remaining life. In this situation many lay from
two to six hours without strength to move or speak. Others
were taken with trembling and loss of strength, and yet could
talk freely. I could not learn from any with whom I conversed
that their views of sin and their danger and criminality were
any wise different from what was common in revivals in New
England, with which I had been conversant. But the effects
on the system, so different and alarming, were totally inexplicable
by any. The exercises of singing, exhortation and prayer were
continued until after midnight, when the ministers retired, but
the great body of the assembly continued on the ground through
Just following this meeting and while traveling to another
appointment, he had an adventure with a bear that compares in
the thrill of it to any told in the famous stories of adventure
among the wilds of the western or tropical forests.
The work of the missionary during the year of 1803 took
on, in addition to that of preaching and organizing churches,
24 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
the task of the colporteur. The association saw the need, as
did he, of the circulation of good books among the people. So
many volumes were put at his disposal, and as he went from
settlement to settlement he carried in his portmanteau all that
might be easily transported in that way and saw to it that the
people were put in possession of them either by gift or purchase.
Thus information of the richest sort was distributed throughout
communities. The roadways through the wilderness were in a
very imperfect condition. He mentions riding to Conneaut from
Austinburg and marking out his own path. He also speaks of
the organization of the first school in that settlement about this
time. On his trip he visited Chautauqua to officiate at the funeral
of a Mr. McHenry, who was drowned in the lake, and mentions
that it was the first sermon ever preached in the place that has
now become the mecca of religion and education during certain
months of the year for hundreds of thousands of the best and
most enlightened people of the world.
The year 1803 was spent in this active work among the set-
tlements and resulted in his growing influence all over the Re-
With the beginning of the activities of 1804 the Missionary
Society at Hartford decided that it would be necessary to cut
down his salary to the sum of six dollars per week. Up to this
time he had been receiving the sum of seven dollars, which was
one dollar more than they were paying the missionaries in New
England. The society had come to the conclusion that with the
increasing population on the Reserve the living expenses would
grow proportionately less, or that there would be means of earn-
ing a livelihood more easily on the outside of his regular work
as a missionary. He sent in his protest, but it was of no avail.
For two years more he continued this work of an itinerary,
attending faithfully to every detail of the requirements placed
upon him and reported the same to the society which was paying
him his royal salary. In June of 1804 he makes note of the
following as having occurred on Sunday, the 10th of that month.
I quote this because of the appearance of so many names that
have since become notable or whose children have kept the
names familiar to a succeeding generation.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 25
26 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"People met in Judge Austin's barn. Mr. Patterson
preached. After the sermon forty-one persons were admitted to
church membership; four were baptized. The Lord's Supper
was then administered to sixty-two communicants. It was a
refreshing time. The assembly consisted of about one hundred
and seventy souls, more than half over fifteen years of age were
professors. Lois Badger, John Wright and Sarah, his wife;
Nathan Gillett and Lucy, his wife; Salome Gillett, Timothy R.
Hawley, Robert Montgomery and Mary, his wife; and the
widow Betsy Harper were from other churches. Eliphalet Aus-
tin, Thomas Montgomery and Rebecca, his wife; Elisha Ward,
Louis Cowles, Quintas F. Atkins and Calvin Stone were bap-
Ira Blanchard, Henry Langdon Badger, Lydia Case, Florilla
Austin, Julianna Badger, Benjamin Morse, Thomas Dunbar and
Ruth, his wife; William Harper, Betsey Harper, Abraham
Bartholomew, Zera Cowles, Erastus Austin, Sally Atkins, John
Wright, Jr., David Wright, Moses Wilcox, Alexander Harper,
George W. Hawley, Lydia Battle, James Montgomery and Mary,
his wife; Edmund Strong and Anna, his wife, are the names of
the persons admitted to fellowship in the church at Austin-
In June, 1805, according to plans arranged some time before,
he visited the River Raisin in Michigan territory, the home at
that time of the Wyandot Indians. His absence from home was
planned to cover a period of two months. He left home on the
9th of June and returned on August 20th. This visit was prelimi-
nary to a more extended service to be rendered among the Indian
tribes during the years 1806 and 1807 and intermittently over
a decade of years.
Mr. Badger, now a man fifty years of age, offers himself
to the service of his country in the capacity of an all-round
servant of the people who were friends or foes to the white race,
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3Ashtabula County today is made up of the people who have de-
scended from these families. The Harpers mentioned are of the family
whose history is recorded in a former sketch prepared by the writer
and published two years ago under the title, "A Grave in the Wilder-
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 27
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
just as the white people were minded to make them. And if
all the white men who had to do with the Indians had treated
them as Priest Badger treated them much of shame and anguish
that marked the time might have been avoided. He went among
them as their friend and they learned to know him as such, and
during the years of his service among them he had their con-
fidence and respect.
As before said, he left his home June 9th and at Cleveland
fell in with Captain Parish of Canandaigua and Mr. Knaggs
of Detroit, interpreters, on their way to attend the treaty at
Swan Creek. This treaty was one involving the methods and
compensations regarding the sale and purchase of lands belonging
to the Indians. Mr. Jewett, the Indian Agent, and the commis-
sioners of the Connecticut Fire Land Company met in council
with the chiefs of eight different tribes, to discuss the land
problem, a subject that has been under discussion through all the
ages, and grows no less difficult as the centuries proceed.
The journey from Cleveland to Sandusky extended from the
11th of June to the 14th and was fraught with varied experiences.
Mr. Badger relates that just as they were starting from the
Black River on the morning of the 11th they looked up the lake
toward Detroit and saw the smoke of the burning town which
was that morning consumed by fire. Swimming their horses,
losing their way, and meeting with other unfortunate circum-
stances, they finally came to Sandusky, where Mr. Badger was
entertained by Rev. James Hughes, who was doing the preaching
in that place.
The chiefs from the upper town had arrived on their way
to the place of treaty. In conversation with Crane (Tarhe) and
Walk-in-the-water, Mr. Badger made arrangements for a season
of prayer and preaching with the Indians at the council house
on the following day, which was Saturday. He here mentions
for the first time a man by the name of Barnett and a woman
by the name of Whitaker. These names appear frequently in
the subsequent parts of his narrative. Barnett seems to have
been a white man brought up among the Wyandot Indians
from childhood and bore the Indian name of Eunonqu. He was
an early convert to Christianity and was one of Badger's chief
28 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
lieutenants in his work among these people. He seems to have
gone back to Pennsylvania for some years and reared a family
there, but subsequently returned to the old life. Mrs. Whitaker
was a white woman. Whether her husband was living or not
dos not appear. The home of Mrs. Whitaker was always open
to the missionaries and she had the respect and confidence of
the Indians. A quotation from the story of the proceedings of
the Saturday meeting is very interesting. This meeting was
held in the council house of the Indian village three miles from
Sandusky. Saturday morning, June 15, 1805.- "We went up to
the council house, found the chiefs gathered and others coming
in to the number of about sixty or seventy. Others stayed away,
making noises, sometimes coming in and going out again. One
came in looking very ugly with his gun and went through the
house twice, singing the war whoop while Mr. Hughes was
preaching. Being engaged in another discourse after Mr.
Hughes, the same Indian came in again with his war club and
sang and whooped as before. The chiefs were much displeased
with his conduct, and early Sabbath morning called the dis-
turbers together and gave them sharp reproof. On the following
day, Sabbath, we both preached again without any disturbance,
and they all appeared to listen with solemnity. Barnett appears
with the meekness of a Christian and is indeed an amiable man.
After the sermons, Tarhe, or Crane, consulted with the chiefs
and thanked us for what we had said, and expressed his belief
in the truth of our words, that it was God's work, and he hoped
they might remember and mind it."
On the following Monday morning Mr. Badger discovered
that his horse was gone, and after some search it was found at
Spicer's, in the Mohawk village, twenty-six miles away. This
village was at Honey Creek, where the chief's name was Beauty.
Mr. Badger speaks of having him as an auditor at a previous
time, where he had listened with great interest and solemnity.
He made request at this time for a visit from both Mr. Badger
and Mr. Hughes and that they should preach to his people. On
the next day, Tuesday, they accompanied the Indian and the in-
terpreter to the Upper town to attend the treaty council, putting
up at the home of Chief Tarhe.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 29
Very little is said about the treaty proceedings here, but he
attends another session of it the latter part of the month at Fort
Industry4 where eight different tribes met with the commission
of the Connecticut Land Company. Here his main object was
to get opportunity to preach.
Two or three days of the week were spent at Honey Creek
when he returned to the Lower town. On Friday he went out
4Fort Industry, over which there has been much discussion among
Ohio historians is here referred to as the place of the treaty and shows
that there was a fort known by that name that existed at that time.
30 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
to the village again and was the guest of Barnett, in whose home
the Indians congregated to hear an address on civic improvement,
the subject of education - reading, writing and figuring was the
main theme. The address presented the great advantage of
being able to cultivate the lands more extensively and in a way
more intensively; of raising cattle and making cloth, saying to
them that this was the only way in which they could increase
their population and live happily.
At Swan Creek late in the month, when the proceedings
were being continued, he had another opportunity to get before
the great body of Indians out of eight tribes. Tarhe again is
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 31
intercessor to obtain this privilege. So the next day he talked
to them on the subject of the disastrous effects of the ardent
spirits on them as a people. He said:
"In the first place, after drinking a little you get drunk and
lose your reason, and then you quarrel and abuse one another;
sometimes one friend kills another, and you abuse your women.
This is one reason why you are wasting away and have few chil-
dren that grow to be men. But when you are sober there are
none more friendly. Secondly, when you get drunk you lie out
in the wet and the cold and contract disease which unfits you
for hunting or hoeing corn or doing anything for your support.
Look at that man, a son of the head chief, he is shaking all over
and can scarecly walk with his staff. This he has contracted by
drinking to excess. He must soon die, although a young man.
They all cried out- Entooh! Entooh!, true! true!
"Thirdly, by reason of your drinking the traders impose upon
you and cheat you and get away your property for almost nothing.
When you have been out hunting or have made a good quantity
of sugar, the traders will visit you on your hunting-ground
with kegs of whiskey and a few goods and get you to drinking
and get away from you all your winter's hunt for a mere trifle,
and you go home and have nothing with which to make your
families comfortable." To all these sayings the assembly would
shout: "Entooh! Entooh !"
The old chief then addressed them, and at the close he
turned to Mr. Badger and said: "Father you have told us the
truth. We thank you Father. We have all agreed to use no
more ardent spirits."
Mr. Badger further states that during the years in which
he dwelt among them afterwards he never saw but one Indian
in a state of intoxication. As a result it broke up the gang of
traders and they no longer molested them.
The Wednesday following the address mentioned above he
went to Brownstown and walked out about five miles to the
home of an Indian that he mentions as the Black Chief, who
had just lost his wife. To him he tries to bring the comfort
of the Christian faith. During the conversation the chief ex-
pressed surprise that so many bad people were among the French,
32 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
English and Americans when they had the same God and the
He told the chief that the people who brought them whiskey
and goods and tried to cheat them out of their property did not
believe in the Word of God, and therefore were deceiving the
Indians and despoiling them by not only cheating them in
trade, but by putting into their hands the means of destruction
of life and manhood. The chief said, "Our Father, the President,
has sent word to us asking why we are diminishing in number,"
and that he had requested Mr. Jewett, the Indian agent, to tell
the President that diseases were being sent to them in their
goods and annuities, but the most destructive thing was spirits
of various kinds, especially whiskey. It destroyed their stom-
achs, brought on decay, made them drunk, and frequently made
them quarrel and kill each other and do many other bad things.
He said that when the French first came they were better and
did not bring fire-water, and that they were better off than now.
He wished their Father, the President, would take pity on his
children and wholly prevent the bringing of spirits among his
Mr. Badger convinced him, however, of his and the Govern-
ment's friendship by getting it before him that there was a law
regulating the matter, by which he and those of his people who
wanted could destroy all the liquor that came into their midst
without any recourse on the part of the owners.
In may be mentioned in this connection and from the vantage
ground of more than a century of history made since then, that
there never has been provision made such as the Government
should have made in regulating this matter. In fact, the Gov-
ernment, as such, has been very slow through all the years in
doing the deed that is fundamental to protection of her weaker
subjects from the ravages, not only of the liquor traffic, but of
many other devilish contrivances by means of which the strong
and knowing have been enabled to make spoil of the weak. The
Government itself has been mean and unscrupulous and has en-
couraged these qualities in men and combinations of men who
have cared to be despoilers of their fellow men.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 33
Thus far what has been written has had to do mainly with
getting ready for the regular missionary work among the people
to whom he was an appointed minister. From 1806 to 1808 the
mission work was to be continuous, and while very interesting,
the daily accounts of details of preparation will not be gone into
here. The removal of his household to the Wyandot country
took place early in May.
The difficulties encountered in getting by boat along Grand
River to Lake Erie appalls one who thinks of the ease of trans-
portation in these later days. With their hand-constructed boat
they sailed along the lake, close to shore, from Painesville past
where Cleveland now stands, and on past Rocky River, and Ver-
milion, to the Huron, where, on account of a rough sea they
had to sail into the river to escape the danger of shipwreck.
Here they were joined by several companies of Indians in canoes
who were helpful through the remainder of their journey. These
Indians were of the Ottawa and Ojibwa peoples and seemed
deeply interested in the coming of this minister into their midst.
On the 12th day of May, 1806, their boat sailed into San-
dusky Bay. They went up the river a distance of ten miles
while a thunder storm was raging and missed their way, landing
the vessel at the edge of an extensive marsh. Here, the nar-
rative relates: "We spread our sail over our boat and slept under
it very wet and there being nothing on shore for fuel, we had
patience for supper."
The next morning he was met by his sons who had preceded
the others and rowed back into the Sandusky and a short dis-
tance on to the home of Mrs. Whitaker. Information was
brought here that the chiefs had gathered in the village in re-
sponse to the call of the Shawnee prophet. Word was sent to
the Indians assembled that the new missionary had arrived.
Barnett received the word and seemed very much distressed and
sent back word that the chiefs were gathered to counsel to-
gether about the proposed execution of four witches and Barnett
had been designated as one of the executioners. He (Barnett)
had not so far given his consent and was anxious to get the
advice of the minister. Mr. Badger told him to have nothing
34 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
to do with them but to go to the chiefs and tell them to desist
from such a thing until the interpreter could be brought into the
council. A runner was then sent to the upper town and Arm-
strong, the interpreter, arrived on the following day. Four of
the best women in the nation had been picked out by the Prophet
as deserving death as witches and had been condemned to be
executed. Crane, or Tarhe, was the leading chief in the council
gathered and Badger's appeal reached him and through his influ-
ence the prophet's plan was not carried out.
A comment on this proceeding found in connection with the
narrative reads as wollows: "It appears as though Satan had
come down to fight against the Redeemer's kingdom with great
violence and has many supporters; particularly the French and
A day or two after his arrival and settlement, the chiefs
and young men came to visit the missionary and he laid his
plans before them and after the meal and the usual custom of
smoking their pipes they considered the matter together and
accepted these plans as good for them and expressed themselves
very favorable to the project. They gave free consent to the
erection of a building anywhere west of the river but stipulated
that no land should be improved beyond the reserve land and
no other white people should be brought in except those neces-
sary to the carrying on of the mission.
Mention is made of a company of black people at the Upper
town living together in the Black Village. There were seven
heads of families and many children. A white man by the name
of Wright, a silver-smith, married to a colored woman was a
member of this community. He afterward left his wife, who
is spoken of as being a very estimable woman of careful and
industrious habits. These people were eager listeners to the
preaching that was provided them from time to time and be-
came deeply interested in all that the missionary attempted to
do for them. The result was that they learned to read and to
do things about the house and in the fields that brought them
real prosperity as prosperity was rated in that time and place.
Priest Badger's labors among the Wyandots from Upper
Sandusky to Maguago, six miles below Detroit, was very ar-
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 35
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
duous and fatiguing. He was exposed to inclement weather
and the annoyances of camping out in disagreeable places and
traveling over rough and dangerous grounds, but the opportu-
nities afforded for doing good among a simple minded people
were very great and gratifying. The opposition to this work
was not found among the Indians themselves except as they were
deceived and bewildered by the traders who came among them
to despoil them of their belongings. The wonderful influence
gained over them by the generous, unselfish treatment they had
at the hands of Priest Badger and others who lived among them
as he did, brought marvelous results in their conduct and
manner of dealing with one another. Persuaded to abstain
from intoxicating liquor, as mentioned in forewords, brought
them to a state of mind where they could see for themselves
that they were being robbed by these deceivers so they made it
so uncomfortable for them that they ceased to visit them. Gov.
Hull was visited in Detroit, and he gave sanction to the work
Mr. Badger was doing.
This sort of work, educational and religious, was the daily
task through the years of 1806 and 1807. The educational work
branching from teaching them how to read and write and
calculate in figures to the practical tasks which they would per-
form in the getting of their sustenance under a constantly chang-
ing order of things.
The record contains evidences that the circuit over which
Mr. Badger traveled stretched from Detroit as far south as
Franklin on the Scioto; that he had intimate acquaintance with
all the noted chiefs of the time; and that he was their constant
advisor in times of emergency. Two or three visits to Franklin
and the home of Tarhe on the Scioto are referred to. He men-
tions the Whetstone, now known as the Olentangy River. He
says in one place that his preaching places were more than one
hundred miles apart. This would indicate that he followed
these wanderers about from place to place and ministered to
their needs not only as a spiritual guide but also as a physician
and teacher in the books as well as in the art of agriculture.
On one of his visits to Franklin he speaks of preaching on
the Sabbath in Worthington and twice in Franklin. This was in
36 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
February of 1808. At that time he also carried a message to
Crane who was at that time growing old and was seriously ill.
He speaks of him as being very ill and feeble, but he lived ten
years after this.
In the autumn of 1808 he took his wife and journeyed to
the New England region where he told the story of his work
to the churches and collected several hundred dollars for its
prosecution. He remained there till late in the Spring of 1809
and then returned to his field of labor. In that year the rum-
blings of war terminating in what is known in history as the
"War of '12" were heard all over the country and the final
battles of that war were to be fought on the very territory over
which he was doing his work for the native tribes.
As mentioned early in the narrative, Mr. Badger was bit-
terly opposed to war, but he, like most men who have had the
Christian Missionary spirit, was caught in the maelstrom of
militant forces, where to utter protest was to invite the con-
tumely of the multitude and the powers that rule. Nevertheless
he withheld no word that he felt needed to be uttered as expres-
sive of his prophet office as a messenger of peace to all the world.
His counsel to the Indian tribes was always on the side of peace.
On the other hand the malevolent influences of designing poli-
ticians and greedy exploiters were leading these people into the
paths of recklessness that meant their final undoing.
An incident showing his characteristics in this particular
is related a little further on in the narrative. The incident oc-
curred while his family was in Ashtabula and where he was at
intervals. Buffalo had been set on fire and intelligence had been
carried up the lake that the British were going to march on
Erie to destroy the vessels that were then in process of build-
ing and then to proceed farther west along the lake shore. The
people of the village were in consternation. Men and women
were flying about getting their belongings together, to flee they
knew not where. It was the man that they had called chicken-
hearted because he hated war that became the man of the hour
in the trying experience. The company who had shown so well
on dress parade a few hours before, with the exception of the
captain refused to turn out in the face of danger. Mr. Badger
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 37
made fun of them and turned the tables on them by arraigning
them as chicken-hearted and mounting his horse he dared them
to follow him. "You have called me an old Tory but let us now
see who is willing to give himself in defense of his country
when a real call comes." The result of this action spurred many
of them to march toward Erie but they had not gone far till
the order was countermanded.
In October 1809, while his family was yet living in Austin-
burg, a disastrous night fire destroyed their home. This was not
only a great loss to them but it inconvenienced Mr. Badger for
the time very seriously. A few months afterward the family
removed to Ashtabula where he erected a house, a part of which
is still standing.
In June of 1810 he was among the Indians again helping
them to work out plans for their own advancement and preser-
Mention is made again of great excitement among the In-
dians over the subject of Witchcraft. Their chieftains had des-
ignated several of their number as guilty of the crime as they
thought of it. A peaceful Indian, known as Leatherlips, was
one of those accused and he was made to suffer the penalty
imposed on all such. The story of Leatherlips is known to all
the readers of Ohio historical papers. This year of 1916 the
writer, in company with the Daughters of the Revolution, visited
the spot where he was executed, or as Mr. Badger says, mur-
dered, and where on the banks of the Scioto River, fourteen
miles north of Columbus a beautiful monument marks his grave.
There is little doubt that Priest Badger was near at hand when
this tragedy occurred. It was only a part of the greater tragedy
which involved all the tribes who were then inhabiting the beauti-
ful Ohio country and whose action resulted in just what the
white prophet foretold. His language in an address to a large
assembly gathered in council will bear quoting:
"I hope war will not take place. It will be a great calamity
both to the red man and the white. I have some advice to give
you as to the course you should take in case war should come.
Listen my children! You are now living very happily on the
lands occupied for many years by your fathers who now lie in
38 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
their graves near you. This is a good land, well fitted for your
support. Here you can hunt and fish and cultivate your fields
and raise an abundance of corn. You are under no obligation
to sell it and while you remain at peace with the government at
Washington you will not be driven from it. If war should break
out between the British and the United States and you should
join the British, many of you will be killed in the contest and
you will forfeit your favor and rights with the rulers at Wash-
ington, and they will doubtless feel illy disposed toward you as a
"The Americans laid the British on their back in a former
war and will do it again, for America is much stronger now than
it was then. If this comes to pass your land will be taken from
you and you will be driven still farther away from the home of
your fathers. This is good land and many people would like
to have it, and war begets a spirit that forages on those who
become its victim. My advice is that you stay out of the war,
taking part with neither the British nor the Americans. The
Americans are not asking you to fight for them, but they do
expect that you will not help the other side. If the war reaches
you here go back to some of the settlements farther south till
after it is over. Then you can return to your homes and take
up your pursuits as before. Thus your women and your chil-
dren will be safe and you will all be happy."
Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet of the Shawnees,
were doing all they could to keep the Indians in a state of hos-
tility toward the Americans. These men felt personal grievances,
no doubt, but there is reason to believe that they were well paid
by the British for their influence lent in behalf of that govern-
ment during those troublous years. Few men even among the
white race stand out more prominently in the annals of the West
than do these two strong members of the Indian race. St. Clair,
Wayne and Harrison found in these men foes to be dreaded
not only because of their sometimes cruel methods of warfare,
but for their genuine ability in the art and strategy of war.
They were real marshals and would have graced high station
among the leaders of men anywhere.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 39
While Mr. Badger makes no mention of having met these
warriors he does speak of many of their compeers with whom
he was on friendly terms.
With his home and family in Ashtabula he spent the years
of 1810 to 1812 preaching everywhere and doing a little business
in the book trade. This did not prove a very profitable venture
because of the difficulty in getting anything in the way of freight
or luggage transported west from Buffalo. We are forcibly
reminded at the time this is written of the condition then not at
all unlike conditions now over a widely extended territory, where
with embargoes and merchant ship interference and foreign de-
mand, the prices at home have been soaring. He speaks of salt
being from twelve to twenty-three dollars per barrel, and all
other merchandise in proportion. The result of this was to
check the increase in population for the time being.
About the first of October 1812, the troops began to be called
upon to move in the direction of hostilities. The grounds over
which they were to move covered the region in which the mis-
sionary had done his work.
"A scout, passing over the outlet of the Sandusky to the
peninsula, had a brush with the Indians and a number were
severely injured, others were soon taken sick. Several officers
wrote me urging me to come to the scene of the trouble."
In response to this call as recorded in the diary, Mr. Badger
went to the region of the Sandusky and the Maumee purposing
to stay about three weeks. He says further: "Found both the
sick and the wounded in a bad condition. I secured help and
made the block-house comfortable and provided bunks and regu-
lar attendants. In a few days General Harrison came."
Without being consulted he was appointed chaplain to the
brigade and postmaster to the army. A chaplain's commission
soon came and so he felt constrained to remain. In November
they were ordered to march to Sandusky. There was no one
in the camp who had ever gone over the road but the chaplain.
I quote here the language of the diary once more:
"I observed to the General, that to pass through on the
Indian path with teams would be wholly impracticable on ac-
count of the deep mire and swampy ground. He replied, 'Can
40 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
you find a better route?' I told him I could and mostly on dry
ground. He proposed that I should take a guard of about
twenty men and several axemen and mark through where I
thought the army could pass with heavy teams and wagons. I
went through in five days, marked out the road and returned.
On the last day there was a heavy snow storm. I then piloted
the army through in three days. The Indians were on every
hand. They killed one man just a mile below the fort on the
day we arrived."
In February of the following year, 1813, the army proceeded
to the Maumee country, and Fort Meigs was erected. Soon after
this Major Whittlesey was taken ill and Mr. Badger took him
into his own tent and tended to his wants; his past experience
in the war of the Revolution and among the Indians standing
him in good stead. The illness was of a severe type and except
for the fine ability of Dr. Stonard of the Virginia line and the
faithful nursing of the chaplain the career of the Major had
ended at that time. The Major had just begun his convalescence
when word came of the serious illness of Mr. Badger's two
sons. One of these bearing the name of his father, died and
was buried in the old cemetery at Ashtabula. Mr. Badger had
turned over the Army postal service to another, but in May word
reached him at his home that the siege of the Fort had begun
with General Proctor leading the British and Indians. He was
at Sandusky when General Harrison returned from the siege.
On the next day he was sent to the Fort with the mail and re-
mained with the soldiers until in the month of July when he went
back to his family, and to preaching in the churches.
In August 1818, he was called to endure the sorrowful
affliction of another death in his family and this time it was as
severe an affliction as falls to the lot of man. His good and
faithful wife was taken ill suddenly and lived but a short time.
He had reached the age of 61 and felt at the time that his
work was almost done. Already he had accomplished what few
men are able to do in a long lifetime. But his physical strength
had not abated and for seventeen years more he was to preach
the Gospel and help organize churches, and then ten more years
he was to suffer in silence, his voice having failed him entirely.
Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 41
But what he could not do through his voice he attempted to do
by means of his pen, and a volume might be filled with the let-
ters and communications that were found after his death.
He continued to fill pastorates in the Western Reserve,
mostly in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. The last ten years
were lived at Maumee and Perrysburg, towns famous because of
their proximity to the battlefields of the War of 1812 in which
he had a conspicuous part.
If at three o'clock on an August afternoon the shadow of the
Fort Meigs Monument could extend the length of a half mile
its point would rest on the grave where has rested his dust in
42 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
the Perrysburg cemetery since 1846. The stone slab which
marks the grave was erected by the Northwest Synod of Ohio,
and bears the inscription
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
REV. JOSEPH BADGER
Born in Massachusetts in 1757.
Died in Perrysburg, Ohio, 1846.
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>
In reading "Life among the Indians" by Rev. James Finley,
the Methodist Missionary, who worked among the Wyandot
Indians after 1815, I have been curious to know why no men-
tion is made of the work done by Mr. Badger and one or two
other ministers who antedated his coming by at least ten years.
In the chapter in which he tells about John Stewart, the
Mulatto revivalist, he says: "While they (the Indians) were in
this degraded condition, God remembered them, and sent them
the word of eternal life. Not by the learned missionary, but
by John Stewart, a colored man, of no learning, 'that the ex-
cellency might be of God and not of man!' "
The degraded condition here mentioned, Finlay credits to
the character of the religious instruction imparted by the Roman
Catholics through many years. He seems to have heard nothing
about Badger or else was the victim of a prejudice which pre-
vailed universally at that time which banished from notice any
commendable work other than that done by one's own denom-
We are loth to feel at this date, that any such spirit could
ever control the followers of Christ, but it has proven true in
so many instances more recent than then, that we can imagine,
at least, that it might have had something to do with the omis-
sion. Without doubt credit must be given to Joseph Badger
as the first missionary in the Western Reserve and among the
Wyandot Indians of Ohio.