Those who escaped alive from the slaughter of the Pennsylvanians, under Col. Williamson, located themselves around Sandusky. But although they were here among their kindred, the Delawares, they were not in a place of safety. The Indians threatened and annoyed them, until at last they appealed to Col. Depuyster, the British commandant at Detroit. He treated the missionaries and their converts with humanity. This gentleman made great efforts to soften the ill will of their savage enemies. The praying Indians remained near Detroit during four years. They built a village on the Huron river of Michigan, which was called New Gnadenhutten. I May, 1786, they determined to plant a “settlement on the Cuyahoga river, within the limits of this county. The officer in command at Detroit procured two small vessels, the Beaver and the Mackinaw, to bring them, their provisions and other luggage to this place.
They left New Gnadenhutten because the Chippewas were dissatisfied at seeing them on the Huron. With their usual bad luck, after they were near enough to have a view of the mouth of the Cuyahoga, a violent storm drove them back to the islands opposite Sandusky. It was now one month since they had embarked at Detroit, and they were not more than half way to their destination. Two of the missionaries, Youngman and Senseman, had left New Gnadenhutten in May, 1785, so that the responsibility of directing their affairs remained with Zeisberger and Heckewelder.
The North-Western Fur Company, to whom the vessels belonged, could spare them no longer, and sent orders for the Beaver to return. It was barely possible to crowd the weak, the sick and the young, with the heavy luggage into the Mackinaw. The others were landed in the woods on the shore opposite Sandusky bay. From thence they straggled along, crossing the bay in a very destitute condition. Those who were healthy and strong, whether men or women, took the great trail along the Lake Shore on foot, led on by their brother Zeisberger. For those who could not travel by land, canoes were built, and Brother Heckewelder embarked with them on the 7th of June. Both parties reached the Cuyahoga on the same day. The schooner Mackinaw had also been here, and had landed their blankets, mats and other property, including some provisions.
Congress had ordered five hundred bushels of corn for their support, but it never came. A firm by the name of Duncan, Wilson & Co.; of Pittsburgh, were engaged in furnishing supplies to the Indians of Lake Erie. They had flour in store on the west side of the river, and had the liberality to relieve the immediate wants of this distressed company. They immediately proceeded up the river. The site of their mission was on the east bank of the Cuyahoga, a short distance below the mouth of Tinker’s creek, to which they gave the name of Pilgerruh, or the “Pilgrim’s Rest.” Near it there had been a village of Ottawas, where some ground had been cleared. This they planted with corn. On the 13th of August they celebrated the Lord’s Supper. In the mouth of October their village was so far completed, as to furnish comfortable lodging for the coming winter. Mr. Heckewelder then left the community, whose numbers at this time I cannot ascertain, and started for the old station at Bethlehem, Pa. A brother by the name of Wm. Edwards, had arrived at the Pilgrim’s Rest, who remained with Zeisberger during the winter.
Their chapel was completed and consecrated on the 10th of November. It was never their design to remain permanently at Pilgerruh.
Their rich lands in the more genial valley of the Muskingum, were ever present to their future home.
But they were not destined to see those pleasant fields, to drink the sweet waters of the spring at Sochoenbrunn, or to weep over the bones of their slaughtered companions; until after more trials, and after painful and distant wanderings.
The majority of the Delawares were still their enemies. At Sandusky they had friends enough, however, to keep them advised of the designs of their pagan brethren. A Delaware chief sent them word, privately, that they would be wise not to go to the Muskingum.
General Butler, who was the Indian agent at Pittsburgh, also advised them to remain at Pilgerruh. Captain Pipe, a noted chief of the Delawares, desired them to come and settle at the mouth of the Huron river, a place which was known by the name of “Petquotting.”
One of the Moravian writers and missionaries, by the name of Loskiel, speaking of the dilemma they were now in, remarks that the “missionaries were not concerned as to their own safety. If that alone had been the point in question, they would not have hesitated a moment to return to the Muskingum. But they dare not bring the congregation committed to their care, into so dreadful and dangerous a situation.”
They resolved to abandon the project of a return, and after celebrating Lent and Easter at Pilgerruh in the spring of 1787, they prepared to remove to the mouth of Black river.
Their last service on the banks of the Cuyahoga, is said to have been an occasion of deep religious interest. Their hearts were full of devotion and of gratitude, notwithstanding the dangerous by which they were surrounded.
On the 19th of April, the last prayer was heard in their chapel at the “Pilgrim’s Rest,” which was no sooner concluded than they set forward.
One part descended the river in canoes, and coasting westward, reached the mouth of Black river. Another party proceed on foot to the same place, with which they were well pleased, and had hopes that the unconverted Indians would suffer them to remain in peace.
They had enjoyed this expectation only three days, when a peremptory came to them from the principal chiefs of the Delawares, to proceed forthwith to Sandusky.
This band of simple, patient and harassed children of the woods, decided at once to obey, looking with confidence to heaven for protection.
The praying Indians of Ohio, whom the United brethren of Moravia had induced to separate from their savage neighbors, had the misfortune to be suspected by all parties. Those Americans who constituted the frontier men of the West, living at the verge of the settlements in Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania, regarded the Moravians as secretly leagued with the French, and after the Revolution, with the English.
This was the cause of the massacre on the Muskingum, in March 1782. On the other side, the north-western tribes of Indians including those of Ohio, who were in league with the British, regarded the praying Indians as no better than Whites. It was this feeling that led the Delawares, a tribe to whom many of Zeisberger’s band belonged, to keep a strict watch over them. They stood in constant dread of the chiefs of their own tribe. They were afraid to return to the Muskingum, because it displeased the Delawares and other nations, and thus lived daily expectation of persecutions. It was not an unexpected event, therefore, when they were ordered away from Black river, after they had left the Cuyahoga. Only three days were they permitted to remain there, supplying themselves with fish, which they speared in the river, by torch light. They then felt compelled to enter their canoes and remove to Petquotting, at the mouth of the Huron river. As they passed along near the shore, vegetation began to show the influence of spring. The buds upon the trees of this dense forest, were expanding into miniature leaves; grass, flowers and rank herbage were springing up under the shade of their branches. But the mind of these wanderers, was in sad contrast with the peace and beauty of the scene. They were full of apprehension. The message of the Delawares was couched in dominant and angry terms. There were with them two young men, by the name of Michael Young and John Weygand, vainly endeavoring to support their timid souls, as they entered the Huron river, and tied their canoes to the shore at Petquotting. This must have been about the first of May, 1787, the message of the Delawares having been delivered on the 27th of April. By the 11th of May, they had erected huts. giving to their new residence the name of New Salem. On the first of June, they had built a chapel, and celebrated the Lord’s supper in it. In the winter of 1789-90, a powerful league was formed among the north-western Indians against the United States. The Moravians were required to join it, and as they were suspected by their Pagan brethren, it was determined at their council fire, that they should be removed to the interior, near Fort Wayne, which was then called Keyequash. In their distress they again applied to the commandant at Detroit, who being touched by their demeanor and their helplessness, again gave them relief. He sent a vessel to the mouth of the Huron river, in April, 1790, and selecting a place on the river Thames in Canada, transported them thither.
To this settlement they gave the name of Fairfield, where they remained in safety during the Indian was under Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne. In the year 1797, when their reverend father, Zeisberger, had attained the age of seventy-seven years, their lands on the Muskingum were surveyed, and patented to them by the United States. It seemed that all obstacles were now removed, to their return to their desired home in Ohio. A part of the band returned there in the spring of 1798. They found, after an absence of sixteen years, nothing but the ruins of their houses, weedy and deserted fields, and the graves of their kindred. Some remained at Fairfield, in Canada. In 1804, a part of them returned to New Salem, on the Huron river. On the Muskingum, they rebuilt the villages of Gnadenhutten, Salem and Schoenbrunn, and established a new settlement, under the name of Goshen. The faithful old Zeisberger died in the year 1808, but at this time his grave cannot be identified. As the country adjacent became more populous with whites, the converted Indians, and probably their white neighbors, thought it best for them to abandon their settlements. The United States purchased their lands and improvements on the 4th of August, 1823, and they returned to Canada, where some of them still survive. The grave yard at Goshen was reserved from sale, also ten acres around the church at Beersheba, together with the parsonage, church lot and grave yard, at Gnadenhutten. Thus terminated the Moravian settlements in Ohio, after a precarious and painful existence of sixty years.
In the mouth of April, 1788, while Zeisberger and his congregation were at Petquotting, the first settlement of whites was founded in Ohio, at the mouth of the Muskingum.
As these emigrants were from the land of churches, they considered religious services to be an essential part of the new colony. They brought with them the Rev. David Breck, and afterwards the Rev. Daniel Story, who, under the Rev. Manasseh Cutler, formed a church at Marietta. In the fall of the same year, a settlement was made at Columbia, near Cincinnati, and a Baptist church was established there in 1790, under the charge of the Rev. Daniel Gano. These congregations worshiped God, as the Pilgrims had done before them, with arms in their hands, surrounded by savages, whose minds were filled with wonder and revenge. During the second year of the settlement at Cleveland, (1797,) the Rev. Seth Hart held the position of General Agent and Chaplain, for the Connecticut Land Company on the Reserve. He has left no evidence of his spiritual efforts, and according to tradition, he was not a very zealous laborer in the vineyard of Christ. In this part of Ohio, the first regular dispensation of gospel truth occurred in Youngstown, in September, 1799, under the Rev. William Wick, of the Presbyterian persuasion. A church was organized there the next year, during the last months of which the Rev. Jos. Badger arrived as a missionary from Connecticut, to the settlements on the Western Reserve. From this period, being the commencement of the present century, the history of Wick, Badger, Robbins, and the other pioneer ministers who planted Christianity throughout the Reserve, is within the reach of all.
As the labors, privations, and even names of these early teachers are forgotten, I append a list of them here:
Date of Arrival. Name. First Station. Persuasion
1761 Frederick Post, near Bolivar, Moravian.
1761 John Heckewelder do. do.
1768 David Zeisberger, Venango Co., Pa. do.
1768 John Etwein, Forks of Beaver River do.
1772 Heckewelder and Zeisberger on the Muskingum do.
1773 David Jones on the Scioto Baptist
1775 John Jacob Youngman on the Muskingum Moravian
1775 – Rothe do. do.
Number of members, 369.
1777 Wm. Edwards on the Muskingum Moravian
1777 John Jacob Schmick do do
1780 Sarah Ohneburg afterwards Mrs. Heckewelder on the Mukingum Moravian
1780 Michael Young do. do.
1780 – Shebosh do. do.
1780 – Sensemann do. do.
1782 John Martin do. do.
1787 John Weygand on the Cuyahoga do
1788 Daniel Breck Marietta Congregational
1788 Daniel Story do. do.
1788 Daniel Gano near Cincinnati Baptist
1799 William Wick Youngstown Presbyterian
1800 Joseph Badger Western Reserve Congregational
1801 E. F. Chapin do. do.
1803 Thomas Robbins do. do.