Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

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Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 3 of 44)
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wrote multitudinous theological papers and essays, and
preached statedly at Germantown and Philadelphia.

In June he again repaired to Bethlehem, and having
organized the Moravians there into a congregation, he
set off for a tour of exploration into the Indian country,
visiting various tribes, and cultivating their friendship
and good will. At the close of 1742 he left for Europe,
where he died in 1760.

The number of Indian converts maintained by the
Moravian congregation at Bethlehem kept steadily
growing. Augmented by Mohegans from Shekomeko,
in the state of Connecticut, and Patchgatgoch, in New
York, near the borders of the first named state, their
number grew to such proportions that it was found in-
convenient to properly care for them all at one place.


Accordingly, in the early part of the year 1746, a
mission was established near the month of the Mahon-
ing creek, on the west side of the Lehigh river.

The land thus occupied was then contained within
the limits of Bucks county, becoming a part of North-
ampton when that county was organized in 1752. At
a later date it became a part Carbon, and the settle-
ment which was there planted was the first that was
made by white men in this county. The location was
selected by Count Zinzendorf in 1742, when, in com-
pany with several friendly Indians, he ascended the
Lehigh on his tour of exploration. The land on which
the mission was established was purchased in 1745,
there being one hundred and ninety-seven acres in the

The Moravians named the place Gnadenhiitten,
meaning Tents of Grace, or, more literally speaking,
Mercy Huts. South Lehighton now occupies the site
where the mission stood, and smoke wreaths from the
tall chimneys of flourishing industries brood over the
peaceful valley where civilization gained its first foot-
hold in this immediate region of the state. The first
work done here was performed under Martin Mack, a
missionary, the white men and the Indians laboring
side by side in the enterprise of clearing the ground
and erecting the necessary buildings.

The improvements were meant to be but temporary,
because it was designed from the first to locate the In-
dians permanently on the Susquehanna; the project
was, however postponed from time to time, and thus
the settlement on the Mahoning grew, and became the
seat of a most flourishing mission. The farm buildings
lay at the foot of the hill, near the creek; on its first
ascent were the huts of the Indians, forming a cres-
cent; behind these was an orchard, and on the summit.



the graveyard. The latter was laid out in August,
1746. Jeannette, the wife of Martin Mack, lies buried
here, her dust mingling with that of about two score
others, both Indian and white, who died at the mission.
Each Indian family was allotted a portion of land, and
each had its own house. A little log church was built
in the valley.

On the eighteenth of August, 1746, the Indians and
the missionaries held a love feast, partaking of the first
fruits of the land and of their labor, while offering
thanks to God for the blessings that He had bestowed.
The sound of song arose from the forest hamlet morn-
ing and evening, and the labors of the day were always
begun and concluded with prayer. Portions of the
Bible were translated into the Mohegan tongue, to be
read whenever the congregation was assembled, and
devout discourses were delivered every Sunday by the

The holy sacrament was administered to the congre-
gation once every month; this day was known among
the Indians as "The Great Day." Christian Ranch
and Martin Mack, who first ministered to the spiritual
needs of the congregation on the Mahoning were suc-
ceeded by others after a comparatively short period, it
being the policy of the Moravians to make frequent
changes, so that the Indians might not form too strong
an attachment for their religious leaders, but learn to
place their hope and dependence on God alone.

The church built during the first year of the mission
was soon too small to accommodate the growing con-
gregation, and the missionaries usually preached in the
open air, that all might hear.

Successive parcels of land were added to the original
tract on both sides of the Lehigh, until 1382 acres be-
longed to the establishment.


The affairs of the station being promising, Bishop
Watteville went to Gnadenhiitten in 1749, and laid the
foundation of a new church, which was dedicated by
Bishop Cammerhoff on November 14 of that year.

There were accessions from Pachgatgoch and Wech-
quetank in 1747 and 1748, and from Meniolagomeka
in 1754. The last named placed lay in Smith's Valley,
eight miles west of the Wing Gap, on the north bank
of the Aquashicola, in Monroe county. The Moravians
conducted a mission here, but it was finally absorbed
by that at Gnadenhiitten, the converts being Delawares.

The congregation at Gnadenhiitten now numbered
several hundred people.

During 1754, the land on the Mahoning being impov-
erished, the seat of the mission was transferred to the
east side of the river, where Weissport now stands.
The transfer was made in the month of May. The
place was called New Gnadenhiitten. The dwellings
were removed from the opposite side of the river, and
a new chapel was erected.

In the removal of the buildings, the chapel only ex-
cepted, the Indians were kindly assisted by the congre-
gations at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Christianbrunn, and
Guadenthal, who furnished not only workmen and ma-
terials, but even contributions of money.

The work progressed so rapidly that twenty dwell-
ings were ready for occupation early in June, while the
foundation stone of the new chapel was laid on the
eleventh of that month. Bishop Spangenberg preached
a powerful sermon on this occasion. The houses were
so placed as to form a street, on one side of which
lived the Mohegans, and on the other the Delawares.

The Brethren at Bethlehem took the culture of the
old land on the Mahoning upon themselves, made a
plantation of it for the use of the Indian congregation,

From a Stiituc in F;iinuount Park, Philadcli┬╗liia.


and converted the old chapel into a dwelling, both for
the use of those who cared for the plantation and for
the accommodation of missionaries passing to and fro
along the Lehigh.

The mission at Gnadenhiitten was connected with
that at Bethlehem by a road which was built during the
third year of the history of the first named congrega-

Among the Indians who came under the influence of
the Moravians was Teedyuscung, who was destined to
become the last great war king of the Delawares.

According to his own statement, he was born about
the year 1700, near Trenton, New Jersey. In this
neighborhood his ancestors of the Lenape had been
seated from time immemorial.

Old Captain Harris, a noted Delaware was his
father. He was the father of a family of high spirited
sons who were not in good repute with their white
neighbors. The latter named them, it is true, for men
of their own people, and Teedyuscung they termed
^'Honest John"; yet they disliked and feared them;
for the Harrises were known to be moody and resent-
ful, and were heard to speak threatening words as
they saw their paternal acres passing out of their
hands, and their hunting grounds converted into pas-
tures and cultivated fields. These they left with re-
luctance, and migrated westward, in company with
others of the Turtles or Delawares of the lowlands.
Crossing the great river of their nation, they entered
the province of Pennsylvania in its forks, that is to
say, on the north side of the Lehigh, which river was
in earlier times termed the west fork of the Delaware.
This was about 1730. Finding no white men here they
lived the life which they loved so well until the advent
of the Scotch-Irish immigrants, who began to crowd


the Delawares in the forks south of the Blue mountain
as early as 1735.

Count Zinzendorf 's reconnoisance in 1742 introduced
the Moravian missionaries into the homes of the east-
ern Delawares; and from that time they preached the
gospel to them on both sides of the mountain.

Teedyuscung too heard them, first on the Aquashi-
cola and then on the Mahoning.

Impressed by the words of the plainly clad preachers
from Bethlehem, his religious feelings were stirred,
and he sought for admission into Christian fellowship
with the Mohegans and Delawares of Gnadenhiitten by

The missionaries hesitated long before they acceded
to his request, for they tell us that he was as unstable
as water and like a reed shaken before the wind.
Hence they granted him a time of probation, and as he
reiterated his request at its close, they consented to
admit him into their communion. He was baptised by
Bishop Cammerhoff in the little chapel on the Mahon-
ing in 1750. The estimation in which he was held by
the Moravians is indicated by the entry which the
Bishop performing the rite made in his record:
"March 12. To-day I baptized TatiusJcundt, the chief
among sinners."

Thus the straight limbed Delaware warrior became a
member of the Christian church. But the lessons of
the Divine Master whom he had promised to follow
proved distasteful to him. Every fibre of his being
rebelled against the idea of the renunciation of self,
the practice of humility, the forgiveness of injuries,
and the return of good for evil. These doctrines did
not accord well with the lessons which he had learned
in the stern school of nature, in which he had for half
a century been an observant pupil.


Hence he ill brooked the restraints imposed upon
him in the ' ' Huts of Grace, ' ' and resisted the influence
of the Good Spirit that sought to dispossess him of the
resentment that burned in his soul when he remem-
bered how his countrymen were being injured by the
whites, and how they had been traduced and were being
oppressed by the imperious Iroquois, who had made
them their vassals.

The Moravians, it is true, treated the Indians justly
and fairly ; but these could not atone by their kindness
and honesty for the wrongs which other white settlers
along the border were daily heaping upon the aborigi-
nes against a day of terrible retribution.



The crucial hour in the history of North America
was soon to strike. Although there had been no for-
mal declaration of war, the English and the French
had long been maneuvering in the gigantic game that
was being played by the rival nations for supremacy
in the New World.

The issue of the conflict which was then impending
was, after years of sanguinary struggle, determined on
the Plains of Abraham, giving to the English tongue
and to the institutions of the Germanic race the better
part of half a continent for all future time. Appre-
ciating the help which might be rendered by the In-
dians, the French emissaries, bent on territorial ag-
grandizement, made alluring representations to the
dusky dwellers of the forest, in which the prospect of
recovering their national independence and the homes
of their forefathers was flatteringly held out. The con-
fidence of the Indians in the descendants of the ''good
Penn," whose memory they revered, had already been
seriously impaired ; and under these circumstances it is
not surprising that the designing French were able to
secure their allegiance and good will.

The Indians along the Susquehanna who were favor-
able to the interests of the French looked with much
disfavor on the mission of the Moravians at Gnaden-
hiitten. Messenger after messenger came down from
that region with sinister invitations to the reluctant
Delawares and Mohegans at Gnadenhiitten to come up
to them and plant at Wyoming. Teedyuscung had
already yielded to the persuasions of his untrained



countrymen from the Minisinks, who had come to the
smithy at Gnadenhiitten, bringing with them their un-
shod ponies and broken flint locks, preparing for war.
They told him that the hour had come to place things
in readiness to rise against their oppressors, and they
asked him to be their leader and king. This was in the
spring of 1754. Abraham Shabash, the first of the
patriarchs, also turned his back on the whites, and the
two chieftains together prevailed upon seventy of the
"brown hearts," as the missionaries termed the In-
dians, to remove to Wyoming, there to live neutral, or
to array themselves under their standard. Further
efforts to induce the rest of the Indians at the mission
to imitate the example of these seventy in removing to
Wyoming proved unavailing, and this roused the
hatred of Teedyuscung and his dissatisfied followers.

''Are they not our brethren, and is it not best that
they should return to their own people!" was their in-
sidious plea.

Meanwhile they and others reasoned among them-
selves : "If these Moravian Indians continue at Gnad-
enhiitten they may thwart us in our plans when the
time comes to take up the hatchet ; they may become in-
formers, or they may be employed as scouts and run-
ners; and even if they hold themselves neutral, their
proximity to the settlements will embarrass our move-
ments." Foiled in effecting the coveted removal, the
chieftain spoke angrily of the Moravians, and the evil
report was spread throughout the Indian country that
the palefaced preachers from Bethlehem were craftily
holding the Indians in bondage. To render the situa-
tion of the Moravians still more trying the mission
among the aborigines was loudly denounced by that
class of white people who profited by degrading and
defrauding the Indians. These men published the mis-


sionaries to the world as an association in league with
the savages, in the interests of the French, and as de-
serving of being treated as a common enemy. Thus a
strong feeling was aroused against the Moravians.

In July, 1755, Braddock's army was disastrously
routed and almost annihilated on the banks of the
Monongahela. His defeat left the whole border of the
province deplorably defenseless, and was the signal
for a general uprising among the Indians. The Dela-
wares of the East met the Delawares of the West in
council on the Allegheny and prepared for war. They
were especially bitter in their denunciations of the
fraud that had been perpetrated by the whites in the
walking purchase of 1737. Wherever the white man
was settled within this disputed territory, there they
resolved to strike him as best they could with the most
approved weapons of their savage warfare. And that
the blow might be effectually dealt, each warrior chief
was instructed to kill, scalp, and burn within the pre-
sincts of his birth-right, and all simultaneously, from
the frontiers down into the heart of the settlements,
until the English should sue for peace and promise re-

Teedyuscung assembled the Delawares and the allied
Shawnese and Mohicans on the Susquehanna, where a
plan of campaign was mapped out for the coming
autumn and winter.

Soon the whole frontier along the line of the Blue
mountains, extending from the Delaware to the Sus-
quehanna, was bathed in blood. The terrifying sound
of the war-hoop, intermingled with the shrieks and
groans of the dying, echoed along the border.

Sparing neither man, woman nor child, the Indians
indiscriminately killed, mutilated and scalped the de-
fenseless settlers and their families, while their humble


homes were reduced to ashes. The Indians had their
hiding place in the dark recesses of the Great Swamp,
later known as the Shades of Death, or the Pine
Swamp. Here Teedyuscung gathered together his
forces, as the tempest marshals the battalions of its
wrath in the bosom of the thunder-cloud, and would
suddenly emerge at a time and place least expected,
carrying havoc and consternation into the settlements.

Occasionally there would be indications of these im-
pending ravages that filled the hearts of the settlers
with foreboding. Perhaps the distant report of a gun
would be heard from the solitary woodland, where
there was known to be no white man; the cattle which
had been wandering in the woods would sometimes re-
turn home wounded; or an Indian or two would be
seen lurking about the skirts of the sombre forests and
suddenly disappearing, as the lightening may at times
be seen playing silently about the edge of the cloud that
gives warning of the approach of the storm.

Many of the people, abandoning all their belongings,
sought madly to escape, only to be suddenly overtaken
in many instances, and mercilessly slain.

As winter came on, the border was well-nigh de-
populated of white people ; but the Moravians made a
covenant together to remain undaunted in the place
alloted them by Providence. In so doing they acted
unwisely. For on the evening of the twenty-fourth of
November, they were suddenly and horribly aroused
from their sense of fancied security, the mission-house
on the Mahoning being attacked by Indians, burned to
the ground, and ten of its inhabitants massacred, while
another was carried away a captive.

It was in the gloaming, says a Moravian chronicler,
and they were about finishing their evening meal when


the furious barking of dogs in the farm yard apprised
them of the approach of strangers.

Joachim Senseman being reminded that the meeting
house was not locked hastened thither to secure it.
This precaution saved him.

The barking of the dogs had been indeed porten-
tious; for soon after there were voices, and then foot-
steps were heard without.

Martin Nitschmann opened the door to ascertain
whose they were.

A blinding flash, followed by a terrible roar revealed
the hateful countenances of twelve Shawnese, painted
for war, and Nitschmann fell to the floor riddled with
bullets. Joseph Sturgis was also grazed by two bul-
lets. The door standing ajar, the attacking party
poured a random volley into the room, killing or
wounding John Lesley, Martin Presser, and John Gat-

Those who remained retreated preciptately into an
adjoining apartment, and from there up the stairway
to the loft, closely followed by the Indians, who raised
a terrific war-whoop.

Susanna Nitschmann was overtaken on the stairs,
and pierced by a ball ; reeling backward, she fell into the
hands of the enemy. Her piteous cries for help were
unavailing; she was bound, gagged, and given to an
attendant by her captor to grace his triumph on his
return to his native village.

Eight persons reached the attic, immediately barri-
cading the trap door at the head of the steps.

George Schweigert, a sturdy teamster, successfully
resisted the desperate attempts of the assailants to
force it with their hatchets and the butts of their guns.
Foiled in their efforts to reach those for whose blood
they thirsted, the Indians fired repeated volleys


through the floor, and some from without into the roof,
in the hope of killing or bringing to terms the unfortu-
nate beings within. Suddenly the shooting ceased.
Deep silence prevailed, while hope revived in the hearts
of the survivors.

Soon they realized the terrible fate that awaited
them. The torch had been applied, and the house was
in flames. One of the number went to the window and
shouted for help, but the only answer was the echo of
his wailing cry. Among the fated company in the loft
were three helpless and tender women, and it is re-
corded that they were long the most composed.

Anna Senseman was last seen seated upon a bed with
folded hands and upturned face in an attitude of pious
resignation. The second was a mother with an infant
in her arms. Wrapping the child in her apron, she
pressed it closely to her bosom and sat in silence; for
the flood of feeling and motherly affection that swept
through her heart in that moment of peril and supreme
anguish rendered her speechless. This was' Johanna,
the wife of Gottlieb Anders, the gardener.

At intervals, above the roar of the flames and the
whoops and taunts of the Shawnese, were heard the
piteous cries of the affrighted little one.

Three of the beleaguered partj^ could now endure the
suspense no longer, and chose the desperate alterna-
tive of risking their lives in an attempt to escape in
preference to that of certain death by the horrors of
fire. The first to take the awful leap was Joseph Stur-
gis, a youth of seventeen years. Watching his chance
at a moment when the vigilance of the sentinel on
guard was relaxed, he jumped to the ground, ran for

his life and won it. He lived many years thereafter.
Susan Partsch followed Sturgis' example, reaching the
meeting place without being detected. Here she se-


creted herself for a time, leaving her covert on the
approach of the Indians, later in the evening, and mak-
ing her way falteringly down the valley toward the

George Fabricius, a scholar, was the next to take the
desperate leap. He did so with hesitation, having
waited until goaded to the attempt by the fierce heat of
the burning building. He fell as he reached the ground,
but sprang quickly to his feet, probably feeling that he
was safe. His hopes were of short duration. Being
discovered, he was instantly pierced by two bullets, and
sank to the earth.

Rushing upon him, the infuriated Indians buried
their tomahawks in his unresisting body and scalped
him down to the eyes. His mutilated corpse was found
the next day in a pool of blood on the spot where he
had cruelly met his death.

By its side, in mournful vigil, was couched his faith-
ful dog. Five of the inmates of the house on the Ma-
honing met death in the fire.

When the attacking party made its first onslaught
Joachim Senseman and George Partsch, who were with-
out the house, made a brief reconnoisance of the
position, which showed them the folly of any attempt
to render assistance. They accordingly resolved to
cross the river wthout delay and give the alarm to the
inhabitants of New Gnadenhiitten.

Their action was probably the means of saving the
life of David Zeisberger, perhaps the most noted of all
the missionaries of the Moravian church among the
Indians. He had reached New Gnadenhiitten from
Bethlehem early in the evening, and was preparing to
go to the dwelling house on the Mahoning. Martin
Mack advised him to wait until morning. He started
on his journey, however, the chill autumnal winds sigh-


ing among the fallen leaves as" he left his friends and
started to cross the river. Shortly afterwards a cry of
distress reached the mission house, but the splashing
of the water by his horse prevented Zeisberger from
hearing it. Mack ran to the Lehigh, where he met
Senseman and Partsch, who conveyed to him the fear-
ful intelligence of what was taking place at the house
on the Mahoning.

By this time the missionary had reached the oppo-
site side of the river, and his friends called to him to
turn back. He heard their voices, and hastened to re-
ford the stream. Soon thereafter a pillar of flame rose
in the direction of the Mahoning.

The loyal Indians at New Gnadenhiitten, upon hear-
ing the reports of the guns, and seeing the flames across
the river, when informed of the cause, went imme-
diately to the missionary in charge, and offered to
attack the enemy. But being advised to the contrary,
they fled precipitately into the woods. New Gnaden-
hiitten was cleared in a few moments, while some who
had already retired for the night, had scarce time to
dress themselves.

Having finished their bloody work on the Mahoning,
the Indians proceeded to pillage and burn the remain-
ing houses of the doomed settlement. First, the barn
and stable, and next the kitchen, the bake house, the
Single Brethren's house, the store, the mill, and, finally,
the meeting house, until the whole valley was light as
day with the glare of the conflagration, athwart which
could be seen, in bold relief, the dusky figures of the
fiendish Shawnese as they hastened to and fro in the
closing scene of this sad tragedy. When their work
was done, they gathered about the spring house, where
they divided their plunder. They then soaked some
bread in milk, feasted with blood-stained hands, and.



loading their spoils on stolen horses, they filed off

Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 3 of 44)