George Copway.

Life, letters and speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, or, G. Copway, chief Ojibway nation .. online

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of his warriors in council. He explained the object of
our visit, viz. to live among them and teach them ; to
which the chief assented.


Brother Clark now left Johnson, Marksman, and my-
self here, to do all the good we could. On departing,
we accompanied him down the river for two days ; and
on the first of August we bade each other fare\vell.

That day, Peter and John were inconsolable because
Brother Clark and the rest had left us for a whole year.
I felt so '' choked up" and deserted, that I talked but
little during the day. After praying, as Brother Clark
was parting with us, and our heads were resting on the
canoe, he said, " Brethren, take courage ; do all the
good you can. Pray much ; trust in God ; tell the In-
dians how the Saviour died ; we will pray for you ;
good bye ; and may the Lord bless you and your

We returned to Ottawa Lake, and built a house,
where we resided during the year. Quite late in the
fall, Johnson and Marksman left me, and went to La
Pointe, where they remained all the winter. It is true,
there were but few Indians here, but yet, too many for
one teacher. They wished me to go with them, but I
preferred, from a sense of duty, to spend the winter and
spring in teaching, singing, and praying among the peo-
ple here. In the spring an interesting conversion took
place ; the convert committed the fourteenth chapter of
St. John before he had learned the alphabet. This
young man had been remarkably kind, and humane, be-
fore his conversion ; he was more like a Christain than
any unconverted man I ever saw. I never heard a'ny
thing proceed from his mouth that was censurable.
One Sabbath morning, while we were in the woods, I
was reading to him, " God so loved the world, that he


gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
on him, might not perish, but have everlasting life."
This was like an arrow in his heart ; he prayed, and
wresded with God, until the Lord spoke peace to hi?

In the summer, when Johnson and Marksman arrived,
John and I went down to Prairie Du Chien, on
the Mississippi. On our way, we had to pass through
the land of the Sioux, the enemies of the Ojebwas,
and we knew not what would be our fate. However,
we pursued our course and ventured at their village.
As soon as we approached, they raised the war-whoop
and fired some guns over our heads, and the bullets
either splashed in front of our canoe, or whizzed about
our heads. Still, we kept on our course, and as soon
as we stepped from our canoe, they seized us, and kept
us prisoners for nearly three days. When we told them
(through an interpreter) that we were missionaries, they
released us, and treated us kindly. On the third day
we were on the water again, on our way to Prairie Du
Chien, which place we reached, and there saw Brother
Brunson, the Superintendent for that year. We ac-
companied him to St. Peters, near the Falls of St. An-
thony ; and the same summer, through the kindness of
Brother Clark, we were sent to school near Jackson-
ville, Illinois. To Brother Clark, under God, I owe
all the education (little as it is) which I now possess.
Before this, I could neither speak nor read five words
correctly. Brothers Johnson, Marksman, and myself,
were placed under the care of the Rev. Jno. Mitchell,
now an assistant at the Book Concern, in Cincinnati.


For two years we attended school at theEbenezer Semi-
nary, about two miles north of Jacksonville. At this
institution, I passed some of the happiest seasons of my
life. Many who were with me at this school, are now
ministers of the Gospel, both among the whites and the
Indians. The groves seemed vocal with the praises of
God. The camp meeting, and the quarterly meetings,
which I then attended, are still fresh in my memory.
The remembrance of the many delightful acquaintances
formed, the appointments filled, the interesting meetings
I attended in different parts, about Jacksonville, at Lyn-
ville, Manchester, Rushville, and Versailes, will always
hold a seat in my heart. It was here that I learned to
read the word of God, and often, for hours together,
upon my knees, in the groves, have I been thus en-
gaged. O the sweet communion I then had with God!
Among the many letters which I have since received
from my school mates, I will trouble the reader only
with the following :

February 8th, 1845.
Dear Brother Copway,

With pleasure I improve this privilege of answering your
kind epistle, and taking a ''paper talk" with you. By the
blessings of the good Lord, we are well. But I hear you say
" What does he mean by u'e?" — Only myself, my wife, and
boy! Now if you will pardon me this time for marrying
young, I will promise never to do so again. But I think you
will not be severe in your censure, inasmuch as I have a wor-
thy precedent in you. Brother Troy travelled three years, and
married Brother Stratten's daughter, of Pike county; and I,
who commenced three years after him, preached two years,
and married another ; so we, who had long been brotheis, be-


came brotheis-^i .i -7. Brother Wm. Piper ^yas married since
conference, to squire Baynes' daughter, near Columbus
Harden Wallace married Miss Bronson, of Athens, one year
since. Brother S. Spates is on a visit to his friends, and has*
the ague; neither he nor Reason is married, but have "good
desires." I visited Brother George, two weeks since.

We have glorious times in religion. O it would have done
you good to have heard Dr. iVkers tell his experience, in our
last quarterly meeting. In speaking of his sanctification he
said, with a peculiar emphasis, while his lips trembled and
tears filled his eyes, " It was the revelation of the Son of God in
meP But time would fail to tell of these '•' Ebenezer'"' boys,
who through faith, preach " big sermons,'^ exhort thousands,
'• who are valiant in fight," who slaughter many a sinner,
and wear the marks of many a well fought field, although
death has done his work among us ! Our faithful teacher, and
a beloved schoolmate. Brothers Troy and Piper, are no more ;
they fell victims to fever just after conference ; but they fell
like martyrs; they died at their post. Brother Troy and I, at-
tended Brother Piper's funeral (the sermon was preached by
Brother Berryman) at Barry. It was a solemn time. While I
stood by his cofiin, T thought of you all, and of Brother Hud-
dlcstun, who had gone before him. The day before i left,
Father Stratten, Brother Troy, and I, walked out on the Missis-
sippi bluffs, while the bright surface of the river reflected
upon us the last rays of the setting sun. We talked of the
happy days of other years, spent with kindred spirits now
scattered over the world. His breast seemed warmed at the
recollection. The flame of his zeal mounted high, and point-
ing to the bright waters that rolled in the distance, he said, " T
feel like preaching till the last sinner on the last tributary of
that stream is converted to God.*' Alas! he had even then
preached his last sermon. Peace to their memory. '' They
taught us how to live, and, how high the price of knowledge,
taught us how to die." Sister Piper, and her two children,
live at her own home in Barry; Sister Troy, with one child,
lives with her father. You have, perhaps, read the obituaries
of Brothers Benson, Otwell, Corey, Edmunson, and Hale —


gone home. Brother N. W. Allen, married clown south, and
John Mathers to Miss Julia Tucker. Brother Heddenburg is in
Springfield. I believe M. has concluded not to marry, but to
keep house for her father. Moses C. lives and prospers in
Petersburgh Circuit.

March 13th. I commence again, not having time to finish
when I commenced. I record with sorrow the death of our
child, aged eight months. The affliction of one short week,
carried him beyond the sorrows incident to mortality, to rest
with God. it was a trial to see him sink in death, and bear
him to the grave. But now, thank God,

*' The storm that wrecks the winter sky,
No more disturbs his sweet repose,

Than summer evening's latest sigh,
That shuts the rose."

The Lord has given us some tokens for good ; w^e have some
glorious prayer and class meetings. Thirteen joined on my
last round. I expect Brother Wallace with me at a protracted
meeting next week; can you not come too?

Well, Brother George, how do you get along in religion?
This is the subject all importard. Time, in its rapid roll, still
bears us on. The sun stood still in Gibeon, but time did not
stand still. The sun went back ten degrees on the dial of
Ahaz, but time rolled on with unremitting speed. Mutation
is written all around us. The little flower, so bright, is nipped
by the untimely frost of winter. The rainbow is beautiful,
but it passes away with the weeping cloud. And how soon
the fleeting years of time will be lost amid the mighty cycles
of eternity. And yet, my brother, we know that on this inch
of time hang everlasting things. Lord, help us to stamp every
moment with improvement. Now, if God has entrusted to us
the care of souls immortal, how should we pray and labor, lest
we should lose a prize so dear !

Brother George, I shall never forget our band society, and

*^young men's" prayer meeting ; these were precious seasons

Though I view my brethren falling round me, the hope of im

mortality makes "the valley of the shadow" flame with the



glory of God. Thank God for religion that can conquer death^
and view the grave as but a subterranean passage to the skies
Go on — I expect to hail you in a better clime. Brother,!
think I have experienced that the blood of Christ cleanseth from
all sin. O glorious truth ! Have you not found it too 1 It is by
simple Faith.

" Faith has an eye no tears can dim ;

A heart no griefs can stir ;
She bears the cross, and looks to Him

Who bore the cross for her."

Go on, brother; the land of rest lies just across the rolling
tide of Jordan. Methinks I see a Troy, a Huddlestun, and
Piper, put forth their hands from the banks of glory, to beckon
us onward. They look out for us ; let us not disappoint
them! You know the north and south talk of division; thank
God they can't divide me, nor break those ties that bind me to
good brethren every where, from whom "joy, nor grief, nor
time, nor place, nor life, nor death, can part."

I must close my scattering letter, though not half done.
Brother come down, and I'll try and tell you the rest. We can
go over to Ebenezer and have a meeting. Pitner is there now.
He says that the Lord has the best market in the universe ;
Christian duties are always good sale there, and then we are
sure to get a " back load" of grace. He says, '• the Lord has
a great big two-story ware-house: the promise of the life that
now is, that's the loiver story ; and of that which is to come,
this is the upper story. There," says he, ^'brethren, I'll not
tell you any more, 3^ou'll have to die to know the rest."

My very best respects to your lady, and the little Copways.
Yours, fraternally,

William J. Rutledge.

N. B. Dr. Vandevanter, Brother Bond, and many others,
still speak of your preaching at Versailes. We have some
good times there now. Brothers Billy and Cabbie Patterson
are married ; yes, and Aquilla too. He preaches, and teaches
school. Brother Saxon still goes it with a rush. The " first
year'' class of boys in thisconfeience, are now first rate; some


of them could almost stride a mountain. sir, it would do
you good to see Brother Billy Piper throw his searing thunder
bolts and rive the forest oak, or bury them in the smoking
earth. See him rise in the fulness of his strength, and ex-
claim, "Man fell- Heaven was robed in silence, Earth in
sorrow^ and Hell alone was glad."' Farewell.

W. J. R.

I attended several of the Conferences; the last of
which was in Bloomfield, in 1839, where I parted with
some of my dearest friends and companions, for nine
months. Still it was pleasant to reflect that the Con-
ference had appointed Brothers Spates, Huddleston,
Johnson, and Peter Marksman, to labor at the head of
the Mississippi. Brother Kavanaugh was appointed
Superintendent of the Missions for that year. I was
allowed to visit home in the fall, to see my friends. I
travelled to Chicago free of expense ; I drove a pair of
fine grey horses for an individual who was on his road
to that place. We slept in our wagons every night. At
Chicago* I embarked in a schooner fc Buffalo; but
getting tired of this, left it at Detroit, and took steam-
boat for Buffalo, where I arrived just about day light.
I had lost my cap, the wind blew it into the lake, with
my pocket book, containing S27 in bills, and S2.50 in
silver, with a silk handkerchief, in which my all was
wrapped. Here I was, moneyless, friendless, and hat-
less, and in a strange land ! I had, however, a little
change left. I had made up my mind to visit the East
before my return to Canada. But this must now be
abandoned. I walked about Buffalo quite disheartened

* Chicago signifies the place of skunks.


At last I saw on a sign " Temperance Hotel." I con-
cluded to put up at this house, and to my surprise and
joy, the landlord was a warm hearted Methodist — James
Madison. At night, I accompanied him to the prayer
meeting, where he told a Brother Copeland my circum-
stances. They made up the whole amount of my loss,
and gave me a dollar over. I could now visit the East
as I had purposed before my loss. The next day I
started for Rochester, where I spent the Sabbath. I
was very anxious to see the great cities of which I had
read so much at school. I resolved to go through thick
and thin for the sake of seeing New York. At Roches-
ter I stopped with Brother Colby; Miss Colby perceiv-
ing that I was not warmly clad, gave me a cloak which
she obtained from Brother S. Richardson. Should
either, or both, of these dear friends see these remarks
concerning their kindness, I hope they will excuse me
for thus mentioning their names. I must thank them
again for their goodness; I often remember them in my
closet and by the wayside. May God reward them
and all other friends.

On Monday I left for Albany. When I reached
Syracuse, I took the long-looked for rail road. We
were soon on our way, moving along like a streak of
lightning. In the morning 1 arrived in Albany in time
for the morning boat for New York. I walked around
this Dutch city; and as every thing appeared to be some-
what new, I was interested, especially with the vessels,
&c. As I wished to be economical, I left without any
breakfast. I was charmed with the steamboat. We
passed down the Hudson ; the towns, villages, and the


splendid scenery enchanted me. I had seen but very
few such magnificent scenes before.

About noon, a plain looking man approached me : I
discovered at once that he was of that class of men call-
ed Quakers. He spoke of what they were doing for
the Indians in New York. I was very much interested
with his conversation. I felt glad and proud to have
the honor and pleasure of seeing and conversing with
one of Penn's descendants — the friend of the poor In-
dians. While conversing with him, the bell was rung
for dinner ; he wished me to go down and eat ; I told
him I was obliged to be saving, as I had but little
money and was not accustomed to travelling. Upon
saying this, he pulled out a dinner ticket from his pocket
and said, ^'■Friend, thou must take this and come down
to dinner." I had an exalted opinion of the Quakers
before, but this kind act increased my feelings, and con-
firmed all that I had ever heard of their generosity to
my poor people. " God bless the Quakers," said I,
silently, as I descended to dinner. After dinner we
finished our conversation. He said he was on his way
to Philadelphia. God bless him, wherever he is. He
has my kindest wishes.

In the evening I arrived at New^ York, and went im-
mediately to see Brother Mason, who directed me to
go to Sister Luckey's in Broome street, where I tarried
during my stay.

On the 25lh of October, came that great jubilee of
Methodism. In the morning I went with Dr. Bangs to
meeting. He preached the centenary sermon, which
was afterwards printed. In the evening I attended the


Allen street Station. Oh what a happy meeting thia
was. Here I saw some of the greatest among them
we-epforjoy. " Amen, halleluiah, glory to God," and
similar ejaculations, rang through, and frlied the house.
In this vast assembly was a ;>olitary Indian — George
Copway ! Never can I forget that evening ! What-
ever may be my future lot in this Itfe, I will always
thank God for the privilege of attending these services.
May the Lord pour out his Spirit on all his churches.

The next day I visited Nfewark, N. J., to see brother
Abraham Hedenburg, with whom I had become
acquainted in Illinois, at the house of his brother
James. Here I met with a great deal of kindness.
Brother Bartine, of the Franklin Station, requested me
to preach for him in the morning ; and Brother Ayers,
of the Northern Station, invited me to preach for him
in the evening. Brother Ayers gave me about ^8.00
worth of books, which I had the pleasure of perusing
during the winter. This was a favor — a distinguished
favor indeed. I have seen that dear brother but once
since. May the Lord be gracious to him.

My visit to Brother Hedenburg was delighful. I
met many friends here, to whom I can never be thank-
ful enough. May God visit them in great mercy. I
saw them again last summer, and partook of their kind
hospitalities. I feel more and more indebted to them ;
especially to Brother Hedenburg.

My next journey was to Boston. Dr. Bangs gave
me a letter of introduction to a brother in that city. I
remained about two weeks, looking at the Yankees and
their city. Boston is much overrated ; there are a few
very few pretty spots ; the rest is crooked and narrow.


It is far behind New York, Philadelphia, and perhaps
Baltimore, and New Orleans. I met with a few choice
spirits — Brothers King, Rand, Wise, and Smith ; and
on the Sabbath, I addressed the Sabbath School in
Russel street. In the evening we had a delightful
meeting. I remained with Brother H. Merrell's family
during my sojourn, and I shall always recollect them
\vith feelings of sincere gratitude. I visited several
noted places while in that vicinage, — the Monument
on Bunker's (or rather Breed's) Hill, etc. ; I went also
on the top of the State House when the sky was clear.
It was from this point that I saw the works of the
white man. The steeples, vessels arriving, and others
spreading their sails for distant lands. The wharves
were filled with merchandise. A few steamboats were
running here and there, breathing out fire and smoke.
On my left, I noticed several towns. The steam cars
from Worcester rolled on from the west ; others were
starting for Providence, and whizzed along the flats
like a troop of runaway horses. Here were factories in
different directions. As I saw the prosperity of the
white man, I said, while tears filled my eyes, " Happy
art thou, Israel, who is like unto thee, people saved
by the Lord .'" When I thought of the noble race of
red men who once lived and roamed in all the land, and
upon the waters as far as my eye could reach, the fol-
lowing thoughts arose in my mind, which I have since

Once more I see my fathers' land

Upon the beach, where oceans roar ;
Where whiten'd bones bestrew the sand,

Of some brave warrior of yore.


The erores, where once my fathers roam'd—
The rivers, where the beaver dwelt —

The lakes, where angry waters foam'd —
Their charms, with my fathers, have fled.

O ! tell me, ye *' pale faces," tell,

Where have my proud ancestors gone 1
Whose smoke curled up from every dale,

To what land have their free spirits flown 1
Whose wigwam stood where cities rise;

On whose war-paths the steam-horse flies ;
And shipSj like mon-e-doos in disguise.

Approach the shore in endless files.

T now visited the Missionary Rooms of the American
Board, whose invaluable labors are felt throughout the
globe. I saw some articles, wrought by our people in
the west, such as bead work, porcupine quills, mocca-
sons, war clubs, etc. I thought, that if Brother Green
had seen as much of war clubs as I had, (for I have
seen them stained with blood and notched according to
the number of individuals they had slain,) he would
conceal them from every eye.


About the 4th of November, I took my leave of Bos-
ton, for the great commercial emporium, on my route
homewards. My travelling companion was the Rev.
E. Taylor, the sailor's friend. He was on his way to
Philadelphia to preach. I should suppose that a better
sailor's preacher cannot be found in the Union. I was


much pleased with his conversation. In one of his
public addresses, I was told that he said, " When I die,
smother me not under the dust; but bury me in the sea,
where the sea- weed will be my winding sheet, the coral
my coffin, and the sea shell my tomb stone." I heard
an individual say of him, "start him where you will, he
will go to sea."

I was now, once more, in the magnificent city of New
York. I bought a few books at the Book Rooms. After
surveying the beauties and curiosities of the city, I left
in the steamboat Rochester for Albany. I spent one
day in Albany, and attended a Methodist prayer meet-
ing. The Rev. Mr. Seymour, the preacher in charge
at the Division street Station, introduced me to Brother
Page, who had the charge of the South Ferry street
Church. At the latter church I was present at a delight-
ful and soul-stirring meeting.

The following day I took the canal for Syracuse and
Oswego. On my way from Schenectady to Utica I
preached twice on board the boat; and even here I
found some pious souls. I observed the tears falling
from several eyes. " The Lord be praised," was the
language of my heart. When shall this poor heart
feel fully and wholly alive to the unsurpassed fav^ors
of heaven ?

I took a steamboat at Oswego, and arrived at King-
ston, C. W., on the evening of Nov. 11. Here I had
to pay duties on the books which I had obtained in New
York. The amount to be paid was ^32.50, and I had
but ^27. I went to Charles Oliver, Deputy Collector ;*
and as soon as I laid my circumstances before him, he


said, " pay the ^27, and 1 will advance you the balance^
and as soon as you reach home, write to Mr. McCau-
lay, the Inspector General, who lives in Toronto, and
inform him who you are ; he will, doubtless, authorize
me to refund you the money.'' I did so, and shortly after-
wards received the whole amount. In this public way
I would express my most hearty thanks to these gentle-
men for their acts of kindness towards an Indian stranger.
I arrived at Rice Lake on the 12th day of November,
1839, having been absent from home five years and four
months. Never did I feel so rejoiced as when I stood
on the top of a hill, and saw my village, seven miles
across the lake. I gazed upon it with pure delight; and
as I took a retrospective view of all the scenes which I
had passed through, I wondered at myself, and at the
great goodness of God. I knelt down and "blessed
and thanked Him who liveth for ever," for his unspeak-
able goodness to a child of sin. While crossing the
^ake, I was in perfect ecstacies ; my heart leaped with
joy ; and my thoughts and emotions were at my home
long before my person. O how tedious and tardy the
boat seemed to be ; I wished for wings several times.
But at last, I planted my foot upon the spot on which I
had been reared from my infancy, and where some of
the sweetest and happiest recollections of my life were
centered. But " every sweet has it bitter." On en-
quiring for some of my relatives, I was informed that
they had left this, for a better life. Many of my old
friends and acquaintances had gone to try the realities of
•another world. Numbers were bathed in tears, and the
wounds of their hearts were re-opened. My own heart


seemed to bleed at every pore. What a painful interview !
I now requested to be shown the graves of my dear re-
latives and friends. I wended my way to these conse-
crated grounds, and sighed and wept over them. My
reflections were solemn indeed! I followed many of
them, in my thoughts, to heaven, whither they doubt-

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Online LibraryGeorge CopwayLife, letters and speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, or, G. Copway, chief Ojibway nation .. → online text (page 6 of 15)