James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

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dren. His stay, however, seems to have been of
short duration. Rauch, who married in Bethlehem,
Ann Elizabeth Robins, returned to Shekomeko
in the early part of 1743, and continued his labors
jointly with Biittner and Mack. Not long after
Christopher P)a-laeus and Gottlob Senseman, with
their wives, joined this mission ; also Christian
Frederick Post, "the most adventurous of Mora-
vian Missionaries sent among the Indians, who
afterwards married a Wampanoag named Rachel,
one of the first converts at Pachgatgoch, (near
Kent,) Connecticut. Biittner and his wife re-
mained the greater part of the year 1743 at Sheko-
meko j while the other missionaries spent most of
that period in visiting other places, especially
Wechquadnach* and Pachgatgoch,t the latter

* This village was located on the west side of Indian Pond, in the town
of North East. Aunt Eunice Maweehu said the correct name was Pacii-
quadn^h, which orthography was first used by tlie Moravian Mission-
aries, as reference to their diaries shows.

-tThis name, as used by the Missionaries, as well as the modem Schagh-
ticoke, are, according to Aunt Eunice Maweehu, corruptions of Pisli-
gachtigok, signifying the confluence of two streams.

about twenty miles from Shekomeko. Rauch
visited the country about Albany, Schoharie and
" Canatschochary ;" and Pyrlseus, the Mohawks at
Tulpehokin, remaining three months with the dis-
tinguished interpreter, Conrad Weiser, to learn
their language.

Most of the Indians who visited Shekomeko,
" and who were truly awakened," lived at Pachgat-
goch. Having applied in vain to the magistrates
of Connecticut for a Christian minister, they be-
sought the Moravians to send one to preach " the
sweet words of Jesus." Accordingly Mack and his
wife went thither on the 38th of January. They
also visited Potatik, a village about seventy miles
further inland. They returned to Shekomeko at
the expiration of two weeks, but later in the year
he and his wife took up their abode at Pachgat-
goch. The success of the mission at Pachgatgoch
was even greater than at Shekomeko, and it was
continued there at intervals for more than twenty

"The Indian congregation at Shekomeko con-
tinued to increase in number and grace," and
March 13, 1743, the holy communion was for the
first time administered to them. It was preceded
by a love feast, and followed by the pedilavium.
" During the subsequent meeting for adoration
and thanksgiving," writes the missionary, " we
were overcome with weeping, and whilst I live, I
shall never lose the impression this first com-
munion with the Indians in North America made
upon me."

In July, 1743, the new chapel at Shekomeko was
finished and consecrated, some of the elders of
the congregation at Bethlehem being present. It
was thirty feet long and twenty broad, and entirely
covered with smooth bark. The daily meetings
were now regulated in a better manner. A dis-
course was usually delivered every forenoon, and a
hymn gung in the evening. A monthly " prayer-
day " was established, at which accounts were read
concerning the progress of the gospel in different
parts of the world. On these days, as well as all
Sundays and festival days, "Shekomeko seemed
alive," says Loskiel, "and it may be said with truth,
that the believers showed forth the death of the
Lord, both early and late. One day above one
hundred savages came thither on a visit, and one
of the missionaries observed, that wherever two were
standing and conversing together, our Lord Jesus,
and his love to sinners, as the cause of his bitter
sufferings, was the subject of conversation. The
zeal of the baptized Indians in testifying of our



Saviour was such, that they were thus employed
even till after midnight." At the close of the year
1743, the congregation of baptized Indians consist-
ed of sixty-three persons, exclusive of those at Pach-
gatgoch, from whence Mack had been driven to
Shekomeko, followed by many of the Indians whom
he had instructed, by persecutions instigated by
malevolent white settlers, who had been accustomed
to make the dissolute life of the Indians, especially
their love of Uquor, subservient to their advantage.
Mack, Shaw and Pyrlseus, (the two latter being on
a visit to Pachgatgoch,) were branded as papists
and traitors, and were arrested, " and dragged up
and down the country for three days, till the Gov-
ernor of Connecticut, hearing their case, honorably
dismissed them."

The first months of the year 1744 were spent
in peace by the mission at Shekomeko, which was
then under the care of the missionaries Mack,
Shaw and Senseman ; Post having been recalled,
and Biittner being on a visit to Bethlehem from
January till May of that year. But grave difficul-
ties soon disturbed this grateful quiet. The war
which was commenced this year between the
French and English, known as the French and
Indian War, by which the entire English frontier,
from Nova Scotia to the mouth of the Mononga-
hela, was laid waste by fire and sword, and at least
a thousand people were killed and carried into
captivity, exclusive of the losses of soldiers, was
made the pretext' by disaffected white settlers in
the neighborhood for fomenting jealousy and
hatred against the Moravian missionaries. They
were accused of being in the French interest, and,
like the Jesuits, on whose heads a price was set,
with laboring to alienate the Indians from, and
array them against, the English colonists. The
Indians, who were generally in alliance or in
sympathy with the French, through the great in-
fluence exerted over them by the Jesuit mission-
aries, were commonly looked upon as enemies by
the English colonists, and those who befriended
them naturally became objects of suspicion. These
falsehoods were assiduously circulated, and the
white settlers became thoroughly alarmed. Many
forsook their farms ; others placed themselves
under arms for mutual defense ; and the civil
authorities were urged to interfere.

March i, 1744, says Loskiel, Justice Hegeman,
of Filkentown, (now Mabbettsville,) "arrived in
Shekomeko, and informed Brother Mack, that it
was his duty to inquire what sort of people the
Brethren were, for that the most dangerous tenets

and views were ascribed to them. He added, that
as to himself he disbelieved all those lying reports
concerning them, and acknowledged the mission
in Shekomeko to be a work of God, because, by
the labor of the Brethren, the most savage heathen
had been so evidently changed, that he, and many
other Christians, were put to shame by their godly
walk and conversation ; but that, notwithstanding
his own persuasion, it would be of service to the
Brethren themselves, if he was suffered minutely
to examine into their affairs, with a view to silence
their adversaries." In the absence of Biittner,
who, during these troubles was regarded as their
leader and counselor — a position awarded him no
less from his superiority than his amiability — he
only desired to be informed of his return. Upon
notification of the return of Biittner in May fol-
lowing, the missionaries Ranch, Biittner and Shaw
were summoned to Pickipsi (Poughkeepsie) " to
exercise with the miUtia ; " but they claimed ex-
emption, as ministers of the gospel, from military
service, and did not go. On the i8th of June
another summons was issued, pursuant to an order
from Governor Clinton to Col. Henry Beekman,
dated the 8th,* requiring their attendance on the
23d. The following day a Justice, with the Sheriff
and eight men, arrived from Pickipsi, and in-
formed the missionaries that two companies had
been ready to march to arrest them, but that he
had prevented it, with a view to examining the
whole affair himself. After receiving answers to
his inquiries as to the nature of their business and
who sent them, he observed that, though he con-
sidered the accusations brought against them re-
specting the Indians to be groundless, yet, if
they were papists, as a clergyman in Dover had
positively asserted in a letter then but recently
written, they could not be suffered to remain in
the country. He added, every inhabitant was re-
quired to take two oaths, one of which was, " That
King George being the lawful sovereign of the
kingdom, he would not in any way encourage the
Pretender;" the other, "That he rejected tran-
substantiation, the worship of the Virgin Mary,
purgatory, etc." Biittner assured him that they
could assent to every point contained in the oaths ;
yet, though he did not condemn those who took a
lawful oath, he hoped that, for conscience sake, he
would not insist upon their swearing ; but that he
would submit to every punishment for perjury if
found acting contrary to the asseveration yes or no.
The Justice expressed satisfaction for the present,

* Council Minutes, XIX., Doc. Hist. III., loij.



but required the missionaries under a penalty of
;^4o to appear before the court in Pickipsi on the
1 6th of October. He then visited the Christian
Indians in their plantations and took leave with
much civility.

Col. Beekman, who had also been ordered to
search the "Moravians and other disaffected
persons " for arms and ammunition, and to cause
the dispersion of the Indians, wrote to the Gover-
nor " that there were four Moravian priests and
many Indians at Schocomico," and that, having
made search for arms and ammunition, he could
neither find nor hear of any. In referring in the
same letter to this visit of the Justice, Sheriff and
others, on the "i8th" of June, he wrote "they
found all the Indians at work on their plantations,"
and that they " seemed in a consternation at the
approach of the Sheriff and his company, but re-
ceived them civilly ; that they found no ammuni-
tion, and as few arms as could be expected for
forty-four men."*

On the 2 2d of June, the missionaries went to
Rhinebeck, in answer to summons, and were re-
quired to prove in open court, before Justice Beek-
man, that they were privileged teachers. " Biittner
produced his written vocation, and his certificate
of ordination, duly signed by Bishop David Nitsch-
man, adding, that the protestant church of the
Brethren had been declared by the Archbishop of
Canterbury to be an Episcopal and Apostolical
church ; and therefore they hoped that they would
be entitled to the same toleration enjoyed by other
protestant communities." These evidences were
rejected, and they were ordered to appear before
the court to be held at Pickipsi in October follow-
ing, by order of the Governor. But as the accusa-
tions against them increased very fast, and a great
stir was raised among the people, the magistrates
thought proper to hasten the examination, and
they were required to appear at Filkentown on the
14th of July. Three witnesses were heard against
them, but their testimony " made no impression
upon the court." Their friend, John Rau, kindly
accompanied them, and was examined in their
behalf. He testified that he " could say nothing
but what tended to their honor; that he had
frequently been present with his whole family at
their meetings, and had never seen anything to
justify the strange accusations brought against
them." They were again honorably acquitted.

In the meantime the accusations of their adver-
saries had be en repeatedly brought to the ears of

* Council Minutes, XIX., Doc. Hist III., 1013.

Governor Clinton, and at a meeting of the council
July 5, 1744, on presenting the subject to that
body, he was advised to write to the sheriff of
Duchess county to order the missionaries to appear
before him at New York. The Governor com-
municated this action to Henry Filkin, High Sheriff,
the same date, and on the 17th, that officer visited
Shekomeko, which, he says, in his letter to the
Governor acquainting him of the fact, is inhabited
chiefly by Indians, where also live Gudlop Bydner,
Hendrick Joachim Senseman and Joseph Shaw,
three Moravian priests, with their families, in a
block house, and sixteen Indian wigwams round
about it. The two first were at home, where-
upon he acquainted them with his Excellency's
order, and they promised to set out on the 24th
instant, and that he perceivgd nothing disorderly

Accordingly the three missionaries repaired to
New York, (Shaw being then at Bethlehem,) and
there learned "that the attention of the whole town
was raised," and that "they were regarded as disturb-
ers of the public peace, deserving either imprison-
ment, whipping, or banishment." They were ex-
amined separately before the council on the ist of
August, and asked to take the oaths, which each
refused to do. Justice Beekman, who had pre-
viously examined them in Rhinebeck, publicly de-
fended them in New York, and affirmed " that the
good done by them among the Indians was unde-
niable." August II, 1744, in re'sponse to the in-
quiry of the Governor as to "what further should
be done in relation to the Moravian priests," it is
recorded that "the council were of opinion to ad-
vise his Excellency to order [them] back to -their
homes and required them to hve there peaceably
and await the further orders of his Excellency." On
the 2 1 St, leave was given them to return home;
but they were enjoined to " live according to their
religiofls tenets in such a manner that no suspicions
might arise concerning them." They received a
certificate of their acquittal in writing, " to secure
them against any injury from the mob." Biittner
and Shaw arrived at Shekomeko on the 9th of
September; but Senseman went to Bethlehem,
there to give an account of these transactions.f

Biittner answered the summons to Pickipsi in
October. His health was already greatly impaired,
yet he was detained there two days in very severe
weather. At last, through the, intervention of a
friend, his case was brought forward ; but having

*Doc. Hist. Ill, 1014.

tLosiiel, Part It, Chap, ly. 6l-6z. Doc. Hist., Ill, 1014-10191



received a dismission from the Governor, he was
liberated without further examination.

The adversaries of the missionaries having thus
far failed in their machinations, except so far as to
annoy them and interfere with the successful prose-
cution of their labors, now resorted to other meas-
ures which, unhappily, were successful and ulti-
mately broke up the flourishing mission at She-
komeko. The prosecutions thus far had been con-
ducted under the enactment against Jesuits, passed
July 31, 1700, previously referred to; but each
examination to which they had been subjected
showed clearly that they had no affiUation with
papacy. It became necessary, therefore, in order
to accomplish their purpose to resort to other
means ; and, knowing that the Moravians had con-
scientious scruples against taking an oath, through
their exertions a law was passed by the As-
sembly September 21, 1744, requiring all persons
residing within the province to take the State oaths
under a pecuniary penalty, or six months imprison-
ment in default, and forbidding any person " to
reside amongst their Indians under the pretence of
bringing them over to the Christian's faith, without
the license of the Governor and the consent of the

November 27, 1744, the Governor, by advice of
the council, directed the Deputy Clerk of the
council to write to the sheriffs of the counties of
Albany, Ulster and Duchess, " to give notice to
the several Moravian and vagrant teachers among
the Indians in their respective counties * * «
to desist from further teaching or preaching and to
depart this province;" also to the several Justices
of the Peace of those counties, directing them, in
case of refusal, to "immediately put the act in
execution against them." December 15, 1744, the
sheriff and three justices arrived at Shekdmeko,
prohibited all meetings, and commanded the mis-
sionaries to appear before the court in Pickipsi on
the 17th of that month. Biittner was too ill to
comply ; but Ranch and Mack did so, and were
edified by the reading of the act in question. Biitt-
ner thus wrote to the brethren in Bethlehem : "We
are either to depart, or incur a heavy penalty.
They threaten to seize upon all we possess. We
have but little, and if they take away that little,
then we shall yet have as much left as our Lord
had, when on earth."!

♦ This law was calculated to continue in force for one year only, and
expired by its own limitation.— Zlw. Hist., Ill, 1027.

t Digest of Davis's Shekemeko^ in Moravians in New York and Con-
neciicui, 45," Holmes' Missions of the United Brethren, 134; Loskiel,
Part II.., Chaf. 1^,63,64; Doc, Hist., III., 1019, 1010.

In November, 1744, the Moravian Bishop, A.
G. Spangenberg, to whom the care of the affairs of
the brethren in North America had been com-
mitted, visited the persecuted congregation at She-
komeko, with whom he remained from the 6th to
the 1 8th ; but his efforts to devise means whereby
the good work might be continued were unavailing.

December 31, 1744, Count Zinzendorf addressed
a letter from Marienborn, Germany, to the Board
of Trade of New York, in which he complained
of the injustice of the act of September 21, 1744,
and asked for relief Two Moravian ministers also
directed their attention to the same subject. June
28, 1745, the Board of Trade wrote Governor
CUnton, requesting information regarding " the
behaviour of these Moravians," " and whether any
ill-practices on their part gave occasion to their
being inserted by name in the said act." This
elicited from the council in May, 1746, an official
exposition of the reasons which, in their opinion
influenced the Assembly in the passage of the law —
" a document which," says Davis, " for its miscon-
ception of the real character of the zealous and
good men against whom it was aimed, and the
odious imputations which it casts upon them, is
seldom equalled." " It is some palliation, perhaps,
of these persecuting measures/' adds the same
author, "that the public mind was exceedingly
sensitive, and that the whole country was filled
with rumors to the prejudice of the harmless
Moravians. But, on the other hand, it is equally
true that they had fully proved themselves clear of
every charge that had been preferred against them,
and finally, secured a full vindication by the highest
authority of the British Government. For, by an
act of the British ParUament, passed May 12th,
1749, 'the Unitas Fratrum were acknowledged as
an ancient Protestant Episcopal Church ; those of
its members who scrupled to take an oath, were,
exempted from it on making a declaration in the
presence of Almighty God, as witness of the truth;
they were exempted from acting as jurymen ; they
were entirely exempted from raihtary duty under
reasonable conditions.' Such was the ultimate
result of the remonstrances of the Moravians to
the British and Colonial Governments. A result
however, so tardy as that, though it aided their
subsequent missionary efforts, it was yet of little
or no service to the poor Christian Indians and
their self-denying teachers at Shekomeko." In
1753, they were invited to the scene of their
former persecutions both in New York and New
England to preach. In New York city they built



a church; they ministered to the Indians at
Pachgatgoch and Wechquadnach ; and even the
white settlers of Duchess county " begged for and
obtained a minister from Bethlehem."*

But the beloved Biittner was not permitted to
return with his associates to Bethlehem. He sank
under his physical infirmities, which were aggra-
vated by mental afflictions, and " fell gently and
happily asleep in Jesus," February 23, 1745, in the
presence of all the Indian assistants, whom he
exhorted with his dying lips to be faithful to the
end. The Indians wept over him as children. over
a beloved parent. With holy awe and reverence
they prepared his remains for the tomb. They
dressed his corpse in white, and buried it with
great solemnity in the burying-ground at Sheko-
meko. They watered his grave with their tears,
and for a long period thereafter continued to weep
over it. The stone afterwards erected over his
grave bore the following j inscription : —





DEN Heiden die Botschaft BRACHTE, •



welches sie auch angenomen

und sich in den tod des

Herrn haben Taufen lassen.

Sein leztes Flehen war,

DAS SIE Alle mochten behalten werden,


Er war geboren den xxix sten
December MDCCXVI, (v.s.)
UND entschlief, im Herrn,
am xxiii sten Februar MDCCXLV. (v. s.)
After the burial of Biittner, the believing In-
dians held a council, to consider whether they
should not leave Shekomeko ; fearing that, if left
to themselves, they might be gradually overcome
by sinful seductions. However, they continued
to meet as usual, and only now and then one or
more brethren, acquainted with the language, were

* Crantz^ History of the United Brethren^ 401.

t A copy of this inscription is now in the possession of Benson J.
Lossing, LL. D., and was furnished by him for pnblication in The
Dutchess Farmer^ of May 7, 1878. It was copied exact from the tomb-
stone, and sent from "Northeast Town," May 16, 1806, to Gilbert
Livingston, at Poughlceepsie, by Stephen Winans, at the request of his
father, Gerardus Winans, for translation into English. It recently came
into the possession of Mr. Lossing with other papers of the Livingston
family. The original draft, from a published copy of which the above is
given, is preserved in Bethlehem. The following is the English transla-
tion, as given by Loskiel, [Partll.^ Chap.V.^ 69): —

" Here lies the body of Gottlob Buettner, who, according to the com-
mand of his crucified God and Saviour, brought the glad tidings to the
heathen, that the blood of Jesus had made an atonement for their sins.
As many as embraced this doctrine in faith, were baptized into the death
of the Lord. His last prayer was, that they might be preserved until
the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was born December 2Qth, 1716,
and fell asleep in the Lord, February 23, 1745."

sent to visit and advise with them. They fre-
quently went to Bethlehem where they were always
received with great cordiality and friendship, and
sometimes they spent several weeks there in large

But the persecutions of their enemies did not
cease, and sometimes they were even cruelly
treated ; nor can it be denied, says Loskiel, that
some occasion was given by the inconsiderate
zeal of the awakened Indians, who, often boldly
reproved the white people for their sinful way of
Kfe, and when interrogated, spoke the truth with-
out reserve or caution.

At length the continued aspersions of the absent
missionaries, who were accused of an intention to
reduce the behevers to a state of slavery, had its
effect upon their persecuted and disheartened flock-
Some not only departed from the faith, but returned
to their sinful practices ; division and much slander
was occasioned, which ended at last in confusion
and rhisery. The Moravians resolved on an effort
to remove them from Shekomeko and near to Beth-
lehem, where they might enjoy perfect Uberty of
conscience, and be less exposed to the seductions
of the white people. Wajomick, (Wyoming,) from
which the Shawanese had then mostly removed
to the Ohio, was regarded an eligible location,
and in May, an embassy, consisting of Bishop
Spangenberg, Conrad Weiser, David Zeisber-
ger and Shabash, set out for Onondaga to gain
the consent of the Iroquois, to whom the country
belonged, or by whom it was claimed, to its occu-
pancy. But now an unforseen difficulty arose ; for
after the consent of the Iroquois was obtained, the
Indians at Shekomeko refused to accede to the
proposition. They alleged as a reason that as the
Governor of New York had particularly commanded
them to stay in their own town, and promised them
protection, they could not, therefore, remove with-
out giving new cause for suspicion, and encourag-
ing a new persecution against the missionaries ;
and further, if they emigrated, their unbaptized
friends and relations would yet remain there and
enter upon their old sinful courses, which would
grieve them exceedingly. An event soon tran-
spired, however, which compelled their removal ;
for the white people drove them from Shekomeko
by force, under pretense that the ground upon

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 7 of 125)