William Montague] 1796-1867 [Ferry.

Notices of Chippeway converts online

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Book ■ !.C QlJ-Sl



No. VII.




f ff




The nature and excellence of the object which the
friends oi foreign missions aim to accompiisli, cannot
probably be shewn more plaiidy, than by an exhibition of
he character of those individuals on whom the gospel has
exerted its transforming power. The design of this Paper
is to present to the patrons of missions such an exhibition
of what has been effected, by their contributions and
prayers, in the case of a few Indian converts.

Such cases should be noticed, because they illustrate
the manner in which the grace of God searches out the
objects of his saving mercy, finding them ignorant and
far removed from all Christian watchfulness and instruc-
tion, directing their way amidst the most inauspicious
circumstances, and at last bringing them under the sound
of the gospel, and renewing their hearts.

It «s interesting to see how the truths of the gospel,
applied by the Holy Spirit, operate, when first presented
to minds which have grown to some maturity in ignoratjce
of them; and to observe the analogy between the feelings
of those under the induences of the Spirit, among the
heathen, and of those who are operated upon by the sane
Spirit, in the congregation;? of a Cfiristian land. There
IS manifested the same view of the human character, of
the need of divine aid, of the guilt of sin, and of the ap-
propriateness of the doctrines of the gospri; connectod
with the same change ot external character, corre&pondnicr
with the new light which has dawned on the nund,

2 Eliza, an Indian Woman.

Such narratives also bring before the mind in a striking
manner the contrast bttween those who are without the
gospel, and those who enjoy its light and embrace it.
The effects of the change on individuals and neighbor-
hoods, for this life and the future, cannot be estimated.
The missionary and his patrons see in these converts living
proofs, that their work is feasible, and that God approves
of their labors and is co-operating with them. Tliey also
see the greatness of their work, which is to effect a similar
change in the whole heathen population of the globe.

[These narratives were furnished by ihe Rev. W. M. Ferry, missionary
al Markinaw, and may be relied upon as being- authentic. The various
iiidividuais menlioued are members of the mission family.]

Eliza, an Indian Woman.

Her Life, before Conversion.

The Indian name of Eliza was O-dah-be-tuh-ghe-zhe-
go-quai, signifynig in English the Mid-way-sky-woman, or
the place of the sun at noon. She was born near the
Aunee, about three hundred miles up the south shore
of Lake Superior; and is by descent of the Chippe-
way, or, more properly, O-jib-e-way tribe. She does
not know her age, but is probably not far from forty-five
years old.

Being of influential connections, (her uncle a principal
chief,) she was selected to become an interpreter of dreams.
This took place when she was probably about 16 or 17
years old. Her merits for this rank or honor must, ac-
cording to their superstition, be decided by her living ten
days in a separate lodge, without any other nourishment
than a little water each night. She faithfully observed
the prescribed abstinence, although it nearly cost her her
life. Her bodily strength was almost exhausted; and on
being brought out of the lodge, probably from being too
plentifully led, she fell sick, and did not recover for several
moons. And yet, of her own accord, soon after she got
well, she fasted nine days more. From this time she was
considered an extraordinary beinsf. The clan would not
permit her to v ork, but provided for her a wigwam of

Eliza, on Indian Woman. 3

distinction, and constnntly supplied her with the best of
their every thing, botli food and chjthinj.

She was also furnished with a hirge otlrr skin, or med-
icine sack, stored witli every necessary article, either for
magical cure of the sick, or for interpreting dreams. This
sack, which she caretully preserved, was her badge of
honor; and in all their medicine dances she was greatest
among the great. One proof of which was taking the lead
in drinking whiskey, in this way she became so exces-
sively intemperate, that in one of these scenes she lost her
sack. This was duiing the last war, at the connnencement
of which she came from Lake Superior, aiid resided on the
main land west of Mackinaw. Another sack was provided
her; but this she kept only about two yaars. Near this
time she lost one of lier children, which, together with the
loss of her second sack, and the neglect of the Indians, so
dispirited her, that she abandoned herself to every vice.
About nine years ago she lost another child, the third of
four. Then for a while she listened to advice, and stopped
drinking. But it was not long before she was allured
away in'o the woods by an Indian man and woman, where
whiskey had been previously carried, and there those two
persuad'd her to drink with them. In this drunken frolic,
throur h jealousy, as she supposes, but without any just
provoc ition, the other woman fell u|)on her, and cutoff her
nose. This was the greatest disgrace, in her estimation,
that s- ft could possibly suffer. And for a long time her
friends h.ad to watch her to keep her from destroying her
life. Once she tri'^d to hang herself At anoth.er time,
returning from Mackinaw, where she with other Indians
had been for whiskey, she threw herself into the lake, but
the Indi in in the stern caught her by the hair, and drew
her again into the canoe. After this she began to think
that the unknown Indian, who, as she supposed, had the
care of her life, was unwilling that she should kill herself,
and she ffave up all further attempts to effect it. Having
but one child left, she now staid sometimes on the island
of Mackinaw, and sometimes on the main land, with no
fixed object but to get whiskey by every possible means.

The first knowledge I had of her was in the fall of 1823.
Soon after our school wasopened to receive children, I one
day met her boy, and on ascertaining who he was, I went
with an interpreter to the lodge of the mother. A wretch-

4 Eliza, an Indian Woman.

ediy destitute and miserable scene we witnessed. At that
time no persuasion could induce her to let nie have her
son. But going the second time, and the boy himself be-
ing willing, she at length reluctantly gave her consent.
However, in a {e\v da)s he ran away, and though I obtained
him again, yet through the winter the mother watched for
opportunities to get him. The following spring, more out
of pity than for our convenience, I employed her, first in
the kitchen, and afterwards at the sugar camp on Bois
Blanc, a neighboring island, on condition that ^he would
drink no whiskey and conduct herself properly. By much
counsel and care, she did so much better than my fears,
that 1 finally told her, that, provided she would be steady,
and do such work as she was able, she might have a home
with us. From that time, 1 believe, she never had but
three or four seasons of intoxication.

First Religious Impressions.

It is now about three years since her serious attention
to religion commenced, the amount of which for some
Jength of time was very fluctuating. While under the sound
of instruction she would be more or less afff^cted, sometimes
to tears. For several years, during the hours of Sab!)ath
school, we have had a separate school for Indian women
and others, mostly under the care of Mrs F., for the pur-
pose of reading and explaining the Scriptures, tracts, &.c.
It was at these meetings that Eliza was often alTected;
though aftei wards, as she says, she would throw the sub-
ject off, and become in a measure indifferent. Again, per-
haps, impressed with the idea that there could be no mercy
for such a creature as she was, and the thought of her re-
ligious state making her unhappy, she would avoid being
present at these meetings. Under this same impression,
she could not think it right for her to come with us to family
worship, or to the evening meetin'Js of the females. Yet,
she says, she ofien felt so strong a desire to hear the sound
of prayer and singring, that she has gone to the door of the
room, and rem;tined tliere as long as she thought she could
without being discovered — someliines till nearly frozen.
Most of that winter passed with such uneasiness of mind,
that, when not daring to look to God herself for mercy, be-
cause she was such a sinner, she would feel it a kind of re-

Eliza, an Indian Woman. 5

iief to overhear the worship of otiiers; as if God misfht
possibly hear their prayers, though she was unworthy to
be present.

I)iirint][ the spring, while at the sug^r camp, slie says, slie
was gre.itly distressed during the whole time. When gath-
ering sap, she often had feeUngs like these — 'Here i am,
going the same round daily from tree to tree, and can find
no relief — I must always carry this wicked heart, and when
I die be miserable forever.' — The pious Indian woman who
had charge of the sugar camp, used to talk some with her;
and after seasons of prayer, would perhaps ask her if she did
not feel tiie importance of joining in heart with her. She said
she did. And thoujrh there was to her mind no prospect of
ever being better, yet she would, as she says, forget herself
and feel strong desires for mercy. After her return, she
thought, as she says, that every one must look upon her con-
dition as a hopeless one; and, as before, she often staid
away fi-om meetings, because she thought herself unfit to be
there. Most of the following summer she spent at the farm,
where at times she seemed to awake to an affecting view of
her dreadlul state, and with such feelings that she would go
off from the house, and pray and weep much alone: but for
the most part slie indulged in despair, without relief

The next fall we had unusual sickness in the family, and
Eliza and her son were left at the farm alone for two or
three weeks. They also were both taken sick; and probably
suffered sotnewhat for the want ol nursing, before we were
aware of it, and couhi bring them home. In reference to
this time, she says, that after she was taken sick, she
thought with herself, that she had found no relief to her
mind in our way^ meaning that of Christians, and that she
would again try her o/r/ wc/?/of medicijie songs; and that she
spent the greater part of several nights in songs and lier
former Indian mummery. After she was brought licme,
she discontinued this; but she thinks she lost nearly all
anxiety about her soul, and seemed to have no feeling fiir-
ther than to take care of Joseph, her son, as he fiiled. He
talked with her considerably, but she said she did not feel
it much, that she was like one who had lost her senses, and
nothing seemed to niove her feelings. A few days before
Joseph's death, he had a long conversation with her; told
her that he should die soon, and that he wanted her to
promise him never to drink any more whiskey; to remain

6 Eliza, ail Indian Woman.

with the mission family; listen to their instructions; and
pr'iy every day to God; then, v\hen she ditd, she would go
to Ood with him. At first she told him that if he died she
would die too. But Josepii said that was wrong; that it
M'ouid not he as she said when to die; but that God only
had a right to have her die when he wished. At length
she promised him that she would remember and do as he
had requested.

Duiing the whole scene attending Joseph's death and
funeral, her behavior was singularly calm and solemn: so
much so, that it was noliced by all. Many a professing
Christian mother might have received from her in that
afflictive scene, a silent, though awful reproof, for immod-
erate grief When she perceived that his spirit was really
gone, the tears rolled, and she exclaiaied, 'My son! my
son!' in Indian: but farther than this, not a complaint nor
groan was heard to escape her lips.

After the funeral, 1 sat down with her, and had a long
conversation. Among other things 1 asked her, why it was
that she appeared as she had done: whether it had been so
at the death of her other children? To this last she said,
no; and gave some account of her feelings and conduct —
how she had, as is common among the Indians, wailed and
mangled her own body in st'lf-affliction. In answer to the
former part, she said, 'I have no such feelings now — God
is good, and I feel that what he has done must be right.'
Although she expressed no consciousness of the love ot God
in her soul, yet she furnished comfortable evidence to my
mind, that her feelings were under the sanctify in jj influence
of the Holy Spirit. On the following niirht, as she now
relates, while fixing her bed, all which had passed between
her and Joseph, a few days before his death, rushed upon
her mind like a torrent, awakening at the san^e time an
impression that there was no hope for her soul: but in a
moment, she determined with herselfto pray once more that
God would have mercy. For the purpose of greater retire-
ment, she started to go to the cellar, and while descending
the stairs, as if sh^ could go no further, she settled down, and
began to pour out her desires. This is the last distinct
recollection she has of any thing that took place then. How
or when she got back she has no knowledge. Between 11
and 12 o'clock, I heard a distressed noise, and lighting a
candle immediately, I went to her and found her apparently


Jb^liza, an Indian Woman, 7

asleep; and upon awaking her, I asked if she was sick?
she said, No; and I went hack. The first that she remftn-
bered was seeing me with a candle in my hand. She after-
wards, as she says, engaged in prayer again, and was then,
for the first time, conscious of enjoyment in the love of
Christ. The next morning her soul was so filled with love
for all the memhers of the family, that, as she saw one and
another, she says, she felt that her own children had
never been so near to her heart as they. Now she felt so
entirely reconciled to the death of Joseph, that she had no
inclination to grieve. At times, she says, her mind would
recur to the scene of his death; but to use her own ex-
pressions literally interpreted, 'I felt as if I was in a nar-
row, happy way, and if a thought came to me about Jo-
seph, it seemed like being drawn out of this way, and I
longed to get back again immediately.' With these happy
feelings towards God and Christians, she now for the first
time ihou'^ht a great deal of her own people. 'Oh if they
could only see as 1 do, how happy would they be.'

Adrancement in Piettj.

When asked about the state of her mind afterwards, she
said, '[ have always been happy in God since then. The
more I have had a view of the love of God in Christ, and
the longer 1 have lived, the more 1 have desired to love
him, and to love him more and more, and to be more and
more like him in my soul. 1 do not know that I have since
had any sorrow of soul so great as I have had for those who
are ignorant of God. Much sorrow I have often had for
them. Sometimes when going into church, or while there,
it has made me weep to think of those who do not love God.
There has never been one day, since I found peace to my
soul, when 1 did not feel that God was with me.' The rea-
son which she assigns for this mercy is, that God will soon
take her out of the world, and that he is pleased to be thus
preparing her fi)r his presence. 'Every Sabbath,' she says
*I have felt that this leaves me one Sabbath less to be in
this world, and brings me one Sabbath nearer the time
when I shall be with Christ.'

Here, on being i)articuhirly questioned, she related three
instances when, for a time, her mind was troubled. A

8 Eliza, an Indian Woman.

year ago she was reduced quite low, and one evening word
was brought us that she was dying. On going to her room,
shti was found to be very languid, but after some time re-
vived, so as to be able to converse. She was questioned
rei'diive to her views and feelings, to which she gave an-
swers expressive of joy in tiie prospect of being soon with
God. She answered one of the sisters to this effect, *I
long to be gone, I want to have the tiuie come. After-
wards she felt that she had expressed impatience, and it
grieved her exceedingly; so that she had several seasons of
weeping l)etween that and the following Sabbath morning.
Another time to which she referred, she had gone to bed,
and, as she supposes, had not slept long, when she awoke,
and felt a desire to pray. She arose and knelt down, but
had been eniraged but a ^q\v moments before she drowsed.
This occurred again; but awaking the second time, she was
alarmed at herself, and feared that her love to God was all
dying; and so great was her distress that it banished every
sleepy feeling. With fears and a burdened heart, she set
about prayer in earnest; nor did she leave off until her
tears of sorrow were turned into tears of joy. Then her
soul was so full that she could not sleep, and the remain-
der of the night was spent in prayer, and joy that God v/as
with her.

The other instance was on an occasion when the girls
had made some remarks to her, from which she thought,
that, as she was always sick, they and the rest of the fam-
ily corisidered her as burdensome, and wished her away.
This rn:ule her feel unhappy for a {aw hours, but before
night, she obtained that relief in prayer which restored
peace to her soul.

I afterwards put several questions to her, which follow,
together with her answers.

You hive said that before you found peace in Christ, you
did for a long tinie — for many months — feel yourself miser-
ably wretched, and that you often prayed; was it for the
sake of these prayers tliat God gave you peace? or was
there any good in them? — 'No; it was because of Christ's
pity to my soul; because he died for poor sinners; and it
was of God's mercy that missionaries were sent to teach
me.' — Do you mean to have me understand from all you
have said, that you never had any fears that you were de-
ceived; no time in which you have doubted whether you had

Eliza, an Indian IVomari. 9

a part in the Savior or not? 'I have always felt sure that
God has had mercy on my soul; and the more I have
thought of my old wicked life, it has been like one pushing
me nearer to God: it has made me feel more humble in
myself: and a strong desire to live only for him ' — But
should God take away his Spirit from your heart and leave
you to yourself what do you think would become of you?
'I should be good for nothing.' — Have \ou any fears that
God will ever take away his Spirit Irom your soul? — 'No.'
— Why? — 'From what I have heard of his word, he has
promised to keep those that trust in him; and 1 believe he
is faithful to his word.'

There have been several times when in your sickness
you have been very low, and have had reason to thinUyou
would live but a \\i\\ hours or days; have you, at none of
these times, been unwillinj: or afraid to die? — 'No.' — Have
you always felt, ihat if it were God's wdl, it would be a
privilege to die, and you would be glad to have the lime
come? 'Yes, I have. This fall, wh« n I was very sick for
two days and nights, and felt that God only could make me
better or take me away, I thought, if it were his will, how
glad I should be to know that I was dying, tliat I might
be with God.' — A year ago last spring, [1828] you was
baptized and received into the church; can you tell me
any thins of your feelings at that time about the ordinan-
ces? — 'After I understood their design, that Christ liad
commanded them, and why he had dt)ne it, I had a very
strong desire to be baptized and to receive the sacrament;
nor is there any thing in this world that I have felt to be
so great a privilege. When at the table I was baptized,
and promised solemnly to be for God, I really felt in my
heart every word, and that I vvas now all the Lord's, and
no more for myself or for any other. I was happier
tlian 1 can express, in the privdege of being there with
the love of God in my heart; and when receivincj the
oread and wine, I felt thaj I could not be thankful enough
to God for bringing me to the table once. I thought I
should come there no more* but that the next time, I should
be at God's table in heaven.' — You see that it has not
been as you thought. You have communed several times:
have those always been precious seasons to your soul?
'Yes, everyone of them.' — Have they been as precious as
the first one? — Yes: as I have heard more of the Savior,

10 Eliza, an Lifllau Wo)n


and bnve lonrnt more of his love from the Bible, I have
felt each time, if possible, more and more near, and hap-
py in him.' — Whit good do you think that baptism or the
sacrament could do you, without a heart to love the
Savior? — 'None. There would be no joy to my soul in
them.' — C)u!d you ha«'e this joy and peace of which you
have told me, if you did not, as far as you know, strive to
.obey G h\ in all things? — 'No; I could not. Though una-
ble to do any thin^r with my hands to help the family and
to labor for God, it is my sincere desire daily to have my
heart much in prayer for them and for the solvation of their
souls; and because God lets me live, I believe he wishes
me to be devoted in spirit to tliis.' — Do you think you love
God and souls as much as you ought? — 'No: I try to love,
but do not feel so much as I ought.' — When do you expect
to have perfect love to God and souls? At first she an-
swered, 'Never;' tliinking I meant wliile in the body.
Afterwards she said, 'When I get to heaven.'

Respecting llie foregoing narrative, RJr. Ferry remarks —

I have written it as taken from the woman through an
interpreter, and as having in part fallen under my own ob-
servation I have scrupulously avoided any thing like a
more favorable coloring than facts would justify. The
statements have been read by those who have had most
knowledge of the sut»ject of them, and of her exercises, and
they believe that the impression which will naturally be left
on the mind of the reader will be less striking than the
reality. In respect to uninterrupted peace and spirituality
of mind, the case of this woman is unlike any other which
I ever knew. Aware that some will at once set it down
as untrue, or a delusion, I have fiithfully tried, but in vain,
to draw from her somethins^ which would warrant me in
truth to cloud some part of her Christian life with doubt;
but you might as well attempt to make her disbelieve her
exi&tence, as to convince her that she has been left to go
mourning the hiding of God's countenance from her soul.
She is indeed a fjivored child, ripening fast for glory: sick
or well, in pain or at ease, she always meets us with a
placid, and most commonly with a smiling, countenance.
She is afflicted with consumptive complaints, and for many

Early Life and Conversion of C. TV. i?. 11

months has rnised blood freely: we expected that before
this siie would have been at rest.

She was spared lo remain Ijefore iho mission family a montunpiil of grace
and an example o! palit'ncc and ripening hulmess, lill Nov. 23, 1830.

At the time of her decease, she exhibited, says Mr
Ferry, the character of the believer triumphing in death.
For many mouths she had been almo>t daily looking for
her departure. Though suffering much in body, yet she
was uniformly patient and happy. She repeatedly said, on
the day of her death, 'I think 1 shall go to-day.' At night
she shook hands with some of the members ot the mission
family, and with a smile spoke of it as the last time. But
a few minutes before her death, in allusion to David's
words, she said she feared no evil. Surely no unbeliever,
observing her course down the valley, could any longer
doubt the reality of religion, or deny the importance of
carrying the tidings of the gospel to tlie unlettered savage.

Early Life and Conversion of C. W. R.


The Indian name of C. W. R. was Me-sai-ain-se. She
is half Indian, though by habit of life, and by language,
she was a full native of the wilderness, having lived far in
the interior, south or southwest of Magdalen Island, or
St. Michael's Point, ujwn Lake Superior. Her home,


Online LibraryWilliam Montague] 1796-1867 [FerryNotices of Chippeway converts → online text (page 1 of 2)