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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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 8 of 125)
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which the town was built belonged to other people,
who would soon come and take possesion,* and

* The site of Shekomeko was included in the Little Nine Partners
Tract, which was granted to Sampson Houghton and eight others, April
JO, 1706. A map of the tract was made in 1744, by Charles Clinton, and
ip 1769 lot 12, embracing this site was sold to James Winans, by the



even appointed a watch to prevent all visits from
Bethlehem.* They applied in vairl to the Governor
for help.

It was further reported that a thousand French
troops were on their march to the province, and
that the Indians at Shekomeko, would join them
and ravage the country with fire and sword. The
rumor spread terror, particularly at Rhinebeck, so
that the inhabitants demanded a warrant of the
justice to kill all the Indians at Shekomeko. The
warrant was not granted ; but the fact that it was
demanded was soon known to the Indians, some
of whom, notwithstanding their great attachment to
Shekomeko, were constrained to accept the invita-
tion of the brethren at Bethlehem. In April, there-
fore, ten families, comprising forty-four persons,
left Shekomeko, "with sorrow and tears," for Beth-
lehem, where they were received " with tenderness
and compassion." They were established tem-
porarily adjacent to Bethlehem, in a village called
Friedenshuetten, or " Tents of Peace ;" and sub-
sequently removed to a tract of two hundred
acres, at the junction of the rivers Mahony and
Lecha, (Lehigh) beyond the Blue Mountains,
about thirty miles from Bethlehem, and the same
distance from Wyoming — (near where Mauch
Chunk now stands). This village was called
Gnadenhuetten, or " Tents of Grace ;" and many
other Indians from Shekomeko and Pachgatgoch
soon joined them~there. Others who still remained
joined the army at the call of the English to help
repel the French Indians, who had penetrated to
within a day's journey of Shekomeko.

July 24, 1746, the missionaries Hagen and Post
were sent from Bethlehem to Shekomeko and held
a love-feast with the remaining baptized Indians.
They then, by a written deed of gift, secured the
chapel to them as their property, and thus, with
sorrowful hearts, concluded their labors at this
place, where, within the space of two years, sixty-
one adults had been baptized, exclusive of those
baptized in Bethlehem. The converted Indians
were now dispersed in different places, at a con-
siderable distance from each other, viz : in Gna-
denhuetten, Bethlehem, Pachgatgoch, Wechquad-
nach and Shekomeko; some, notwithstanding the
war and other troubles still remaining at the latter
place, to which they were so much attached, though
their misery daily increased. The brethren from
Bethlehem and Gnadenhuetten frequently visited
Pachgatgoch and Wechquadnach, to prevent the
entire extinguishment of the spark of truth which

*Loskul, Part II. , Chap. K, 80.

yet glimmered there ; and the missionary Frederick
Post staid some time in Pachgatgoch, living in the
Indian manner, preaching the gospel, and work-
ing at his trade as a joiner. In 1747-48, Shekome-
ko was also variously- visited in conjunction with
those places ; and in December of the latter year
all three places were visited by Bishops Johannes
von Watteville and Frederick Cammerhoff, in com-
pany with Nathan Seidel, a minister of the society,
their chief object being " to look after the lost
sheep." At Shekomeko they found everything de-
stroyed, except the burying ground ; but in March'
following, these places were again visited by Bishop
Cammerhoff and Gottlieb Bezold, " to strengthen
the believers, and to administer the sacraments to
them." Twenty Indians were then added to the
church by baptism. In January of this year, 1 749,
the missionary David Bruce was appointed to the
care of the Christian Indians in Pachgatgoch and
Wechquadnach, and remained till his death which
occurred July 9th of the same year. " Since the
before-mentioned visit," says Loskiel, these Indians
" had again formed a regular settlement," the lat-
ter, this time, apparently, on the east border of In-
dian Pond, in the town of Sharon, Connecticut.
Bruce lived chiefly at Wechquadnach, in a house
belonging to the brethren, called Gnadensee. He
sometimes resided at Pachgatgoch, whence he paid
visits to Westenhuck, " by invitation of the head-
chief of the Mahican nation, sowing the seed
of the gospel wherever he came." His funeral
was conducted with appropriate ceremonies, and
one of the assistants " delivered a powerful dis-
course upon the solemn occasion." His suc-
cessor was Abraham Bueninger, who, " at leisure
hours, was very diligent in instructing the children."
In the spring of 1753, "the small congregation of
Indians settled at Wechquadnach were driven away
by their neighbors, and some retired to Wajonick.
Thirty-four of these people, having given satisfac-
tory proofs of their sincerity, obtained leave to re-
move to Gnadenhuetten." In 1755, the missionary.
Christian Seidel, twice visited Pachgatgoch, bap-
tized several Indians, and administered the Lord's
supper to the communicants. He passed " through
Oblong, Salisbury, Shekomeko, and Reinbeck,
where his animated testimony of the gospel was
well received by many." " The congregation at
Pachgatgoch, whose situation," says Loskiel, " was
very distressing in the year 1762, was still more
oppressed during the war, and at length so much
dispersed, that nothing remained but the hopes
that they might unite again in time of peace." This



is the last account Loskiel gives us of these inter-
esting missions, whose last flickering light seems
now to have been extinguished. The subsequent
history of those who removed hence to Pennsyl-
vania was not less ch'eckered than we have seen it
to have been here, but we have not the space to
follow it. It was, for the most part, a sickening
succession of injustice, outrage and oppression,
such as has characterized the subsequent treatment
' of the unfortunate red man by his white neighbors,
relieved by only an occasional ray of light flashing
athwart their retreating horizon, through the singu-
lar fidelity of the devoted missionaries who first
taught them to look to a future life for that happi-
ness which was denied them in this.

In 1753, immediately after the dispersion of the
Indians at Wechquadnach, Abraham Reinke, an
ordained clergyman, was sent by the Moravians,
in response to a request of the inhabitants, and
established a Moravian congregation of white per-
sons on the western side of Indian Pond, in the
town of North East, on the present farm of Mr.
Douglass Clarke (i 858). The meeting-house stood
here till within a few years ; and in an adjoining
burying-ground is the grave of the Rev. Joseph
Powell, the Moravian missionary of that name, and
one of the last to minister here under the auspices
of the Moravian society. His labors here were
brief, commencing in the spring and ending in the
autumn of 1 7 7 4. As appears from the stone which
stands at his grave, he died in 1774, aged skty-
three years.

For a full century the veil of obscurity was drawn
over the scenes and events we have narrated, and
all knowledge of them was almost obliterated from
the minds of the present generation. For a cen-
tury the remains of the faithful and^ gentle Biittner
enjoyed that serene quiet and rest which were so
foreign to the closing years of his laborious life ;
and but for the stone which marked his last resting-
place, it is probable that his deeds, in this connec-
tion, would never again have been revived in this
locality. That stone, " which," says Mr. Lossing,
the historian, " was a heavy mass of gray carbonate
of lime, smoothed on one side for the inscription,
which is in the thin Latin characters which are met
with in the printing of the last century," was, in the
lapse of time, broken into fragments, and only a
small portion, containing the central part of the
inscription, preserved ; but it was sufficient, with
th^, aid of the records of the society in Bethlehem,
to certainly identify it, and connect it with this mis-
sion. In 1855, that fragment which some sup-

posed to be the monument of an Indian chief,
was deposited in the museum of the Poughkeepsie
Lyceum, and by that society generously presented
to the Moravian Historical Society at Nazareth,
Pennsylvania, who now have it in their posses-
sion.* •

The results of the researches of Rev. Mr. Davis,
as pubHshed in his Shekomeko, came to the knowl-
edge of the Moravian pubKc, and were of so satis-
factory, a nature as to suggest the propriety of
visiting the scenes to which they referred ; and it
was thought that, with the aid of records and docu-
ments known to exist in the archives of the church
at Bethlehem, Mr. Davis' discoveries might be
confirmed, new clues obtained, and the identity of
the old stations established beyond a doubt. Ac-
cordingly, in June, 1859, a party of gentlemen,
members of the Moravian Historical Society,
visited the locaUties of Shekomeko and Wechquad-
nach, under the guidance of Messrs. Lossing and
Davis, whose interest and aid were readily enlisted in
an enterprise of so much interest to this county.
Arriving at Mr. Edward Huntings, the party
were joined, in addition to Mr. Hunting's family,
by other residents of the county. "A slight de-
pression in the soil, and the protruding edge of the
heavy limestone," says the account of this visit,
pubhshed in The Moravian of July 21st and 28th,
were all that marked the grave of Biittner ; which
was discovered in 1854, by Messrs. Davis and
Hunting, with the aid of Mr. Josiah Winans, (a
son of Gerardus Winans, who succeeded his father,
James Winans, as proprietor of the farm, on the
death of the latter in 1795,) who was the only per-
son living from whom any reliable information*
could be obtained in reference to it. By means of
a sketch of Shekomeko, made in 1745, which the
visitors brought with them, they were not only able
to identify the locality of the grave, but also of the
Indian village, the huts of which — seventeen in
number — were arranged in the form of a crescent
around the little bark-covered church, only some
eighteen feet from the missionary's grave. The
following day the party proceeded to the site of
Wechquadnach, where the missionaries, David
Bruce and Joseph Powell, are buried. Of the
Wechquadnach mission house, says the account
before quoted, there is no trace; but Douglass
Clarke, on whose farm it was located, pointed to
where it stood within his recollection. (He was
then — 1859 — " a venerable man of eighty-three.")
Tradition has preserved nothing of the site of the

» The Dutcktss Farmer-, l\a.y ^■,1i^S. ■ •■ —



Indian village. As the missionaries, in writing
of Wechquadnach, never distinctly allude to one,
"there is room for the presumption that the
dwellings of the Indians were scattered along
the western shore of the lake, inasmuch as the
nature of the ground is such as would have led
them to select it for planting purposes.'' Bruce
was carried across the "Gnaden See'' (Indian
Pond) on two canoes, and buried on the east side
of the Pond. From Wechquadnach the party pro-
ceeded to the site of Pacligatgoch, two miles south-
west of Kent.

July IT, 1859, the Moravian Historical Society
resolved to erect monuments over the grave of
Buttner, and near the graves of Bruce and Powell.
A numerous committee of which Messrs. Davis, of
Pleasant Valley, Lossing, then of Poughkeepsie,
and Edward Hunting and Theron Wilber, of Pine
Plains,. were members, was appointed to collect the
requisite funds and superintend their erection.
October sth and 6th, was the time designated for
the dedication of the monuments. The details of the
work naturally fell to the share of the local mem-
bers of the committee. The monuments were
fashioned by Messrs. Miller & Co., of Poughkeep-
sie ; and Messrs. Davis and Lossing cheerfully un-
dertook to select the material, and to superintend
the lettering of the inscriptions. Two obelisks of
the finest Italian marble were contracted for at
$260, (including transportation and necessary ma-
sonry,) to which was added $16.41 incurred for

The monuments were thus described by Mr.
Lossing, in a letter to members of the committee
August sth, 1859:—

" Shekomeko Stone. — Pedestal, 29 inches square;
1 2 inches high ; of Connecticut sandstone. Weigh-
ing 700 lbs. Base, 23 inches square; 12 inches
high ; with moulding above 2\ inches high. Weigh-
ing 500 lbs. Shaft, 18 inches by 15^ below; 17
inches by 14^ above ; 4 feet 5 inches high. Weigh-
ing 1,400 lbs. Entire height, 6 feet 6^ inches.
Entire weight 2,600 lbs."

^^Wechquadnach Stone. — Pedestal, 29 inches
square ; 1 2 inches high ; of Connecticut sandstone.
Weighing 700 lbs. Base, 23 inches square; 11
inches high; with moulding above 2\ inches high.
Weighing 500 lbs. Shaft 18 inches by 15^ below;
I o inches by 8 above ; 6 feet high. Weighing 1,400
lbs. Entire height, 8 feet ■i\ inches. Entire
weight, 2,600 lbs."

The following are the inscriptions on the Sheko-
meko monument: —

[North Side.J

Shekomeko Mis.sion,
Commenced August 16, 1740,


Christian Henry Rauch,

Erected by the

Moravian Historical Society,

October 5, 1859.

[South Side.]

In Memory of

the Mohican Indians,


Baptized Dec. i, 1742. Died Dec. 5, 1742.



Baptized Dec. 26^ 1742. Died March 20, 1744.

Upon the west side is the German inscription
which appeared on the original tombstone of Biitt-
ner; and upon the east side, the English transla-
tion of the same.

The inscriptions upon the Wechquadnach monu-
ment are as follows : —

[North Side.J

Joseph Powell,

A Minister of the Gospel

IN the

Church of the United Brethren,

BORNj 1 7 10,


DIED, Sept. 23, 1774,


Duchess Co., N. Y.

[South Side.J

David Bruce,

A Minister of the Gospel

IN the

Church of the United Brethren,


Edinburgh, Scotland,

DIED July 9, 1749,

at the

Wechquadnach Mission,

Duchess Co., N. Y.

[East Side.]

" How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him that bringeth
Good tidings, that publisheth peace ;
That bringeth good tidings of good ;
That publisheth salvation." — Isaiah Hi, 7.

[West Side.]

Erected by the

Moravian Historical Society,

October 6, 1859.

October 4, 1859, a delegation of Moravians from
Bethlehem, New York and Philadelphia, arrived at
Pine Plains, and on the evening of that day held in-



troductory services in the Bethel, a union church in
the valley of the Shekomeko. The two succeeding
days, the 5th and 6th, first the Shekomeko, and
next the Wechquadnach monuments, were dedi-
cated with solemn and imposing ceremonies, con-
ducted according to the Moravian ritual.

The Shekomeko monument marks the grave of
Biittner J that at Wechquadnach stands on a rocky
ledge on the east shore of and overlooking the
beautiful " Gnaden See," or " Lake of Grace," and
the entire region of country in which the Mora-
vians, whose labors it commemorates, carried on
their missionary work. The grave of Bruce, near
which the latter stands, is on the east, and that of
Powell, which is still marked by the stone originally
erected to his memory, on the west side of this
sheet of water.

The services consisted of those portions of the
Moravian ritual that relate to death and the res-
urrection ; the litanies used at burials, which were
.deemed peculiarly appropriate, inasmuch as the
remains of the missionaries were committed to the
grave without the performance of those cherished
rites ; the Easter morning litany, which is observed
yearly in Moravian burying-grounds ; the choral
music of trombonists, a characteristic element of
Moravian obsequies ; and historical and doctrinal


Hudson's Discovkry and Exploration of the
North River — His Intercourse with the Na-
tives—Diverse Claims of the English, French
AND Dutch — Character of the Dutch Col-
onists OF New Netherlands— Early Dutch
Enterprises in the Valley of the Hudson —
The United New Netherland Company — The
Dutch West India Company — Dutch Colo-
nization — Its Pernicious Features — The
Harsh Measures of Director Kieft — Dep-
redations of the Wappingers^ — The Esopus
Wars — The Destruction of Wiltwyck — Ex-
pedition TO Red Hook during the Second
Esopus War — Friendly offices of Wappin-
gers — Indian Treaty of 1664— Its Efficacy
— Supersedure of the Dutch by the English.

ON the 4th of April, 1609, Henry Hudson, an
intrepid English navigator, and the friend
of ©aptain John Smith, having failed in two attempts
to discover a. western passage to the East Indies,
in the interest of a company of London merchants,

sailed from xlmsterdam with a mixed crew of some
twenty Dutch and English sailors, in the employ of
the Dutch East India Company of Holland,
formed the previous year for traffic and coloniza-
tion. He arrived on the American coast near
Portland, Maine, whence he proceeded south along
the coast to the entrance of Chesapeake Bay.
From thence he proceeded northward, discovered
and entered Delaware Bay, and on the 3d of Sep-
tember moored his vessel, the Half Moon (^Halve
Maene,) a mere yacht of about eighty tons burden,
within Sandy Hook. On the fourth he proceeded
up the bay to a very good harbor near the Jersey
shore ; and here he received on board the natives,
who came in great numbers to traffic for knives
and beads. On the fifth Hudson returned the
visit of the natives, who welcomed him by singing
and dancing. " Men, women and children were
feather-mantled, or clad in loose furs." "Some had
pipes of red copper, with earthen bowls, and cop-
per ornaments round their necks." " They were
friendly, but thievish, and crafty in carrying away
what they fancied." On the sixth, five of the crew
were sent in a boat to examine the channel. They
sounded the Narrows and proceeded to Newark
Bay ; but on the return, for some unexplained rea-
son, were attacked by the natives in two canoes,
and John Colman, an Englishman, who had ac-
companied Hudson in his Polar explorations, was
killed by an arrow shot in his throat, and two of
his companions wounded. Colman was buried at
Sandy Hook, and Colman's Point, where his re-
mains were interred, perpetuates the memory of
this first European victim of the natives in these

During the three succeeding days Hudson con-
tinued to receive the visits of the natives, some of
whom came armed, though he took tJie precaution
to allow only two of the latter to board the vessel,
and those he detained and dressed them in red
coats. Soon after two others came to the vessel,
and one of these he also detained, but he escaped
by jumping overboard and swimming to the shore.

On the ninth Hudson moved cautiously through
the Narrows, and on the eleventh reached New
York harbor, " where he rode all night." On the
morning of the twelfth he commenced the memor-
able voyage up the river which bears his name.
Owing to the lightness of the wind he could pro-
ceed only a very few leagues. The moment he
anchored, the native men, women and children
renewed their visits in increased numbers, bringing

* History of New Netherland, /,, 36.



beans and very good oysters; but none were
allowed on board. On the thirteenth, with the aid
of the flood tides, he reached a point just above
Yonkers. On the fourteenth, a strong south-east
wind carried him rapidly into the Highlands,
" through the majestic pass guarded by the frown-
ing Donderberg." He anchored at night near
West Point, amidst the most sublime scenery of
the mountains, whose summits were concealed
when he awoke the next morning by a heavy mist
which hung over the river and adjacent country.
Here the two natives whom he held as hostages
escaped through the port-holes of the vessel and
swam to the shore, where they expressed their in-
dignation at the treatment to which they had been
subjected by uttering loud cries of scorn and

The mist soon cleared and he proceeded up the
river, anchoring at night a little below Red Hook,
within the shadow of the majestic CatskiUs. Here
he found " very loving people and very old men,"
by whom he "was well usedj" and here also he
" caught a great store of very good fish.'' Most
of the sixteenth was spent in taking fresh water.
He did not weigh anchor until night, and then
proceeded only two leagues, when shoal water
compelled him to lay at anchor till morning. On
the thorning of the sixteenth the natives brought
Indian corn, pumpkins (pompions) and tobacco,
which they exchanged for " trifles."

On the evening of the seventeenth, having twice
grounded on shoals during the day, he reached a
point just above the site of Hudson (latitude 42°
.18'.*) On the eighteenth he rode at anchor; and
in the afternoon the " master's mate f went on land
with an old savage, a governor of the country, who
carried him to his house and made him good cheer."
"He was," says O'Callaghan, " chief over forty men
and seventeen women," and says Bancroft, occu-
pied "a house well constructed of oak bark, circular
in shape, and arched in the roof." " Here," adds
O'Callaghan, " he found large quantities of Indian
corn and beans, - sufficient to load three ships,
besides what were still growing in the fields."

At flood tide on the nineteenth, about eleven
o'clock, Hudson weighed anchor and proceeded
"two leagues above the _shoals," anchoring in
eight fathoms of water. Here too, the natives
flocked aboard, bringing grapes, pumpkins and

* Bancroft's History of the Unitid States, II.., r%. O'Callaghan,
{History of New Neiherland, I., J7,) fixes this location in the neighbor-
hood of the present town of Castleton.

t Robert Ivet's account, Transactions New York Historical Society.
Bancroft and O'Callaghan both say it was Hudson himself.

beaver and otter skins, which they exchanged for
beads, knives, hatchets and other trifles. He now,
says Bancroft, " drew near the landing of Kinder-
hook," and ventured no higher with the yacht ; but
sent the master's mate with four men to take
soundings of the river. Two leagues above they
found but two fathoms of water, and the channel
very narrow; but above that, seven or eight fath-
oms. They returned towards night.

On the twenty-first Hudson purposed exploring
the river higher up, but was deterred because
" much people resorted aboard." He determined,
however, "to try some of the chief men of the
country, whether they had any treachery in them.
So he took them down into the cabin and gave
them so much wine and aqua vitas that they were
all merry," and "in the end one of them was
drunk." His companions were filled with astonish-
ment, and " could not tell how to take it.'' They
left in their canoes for the shore ; but some of
them returned again, bringing " stropes of beades,"
which they gave to their stupefied companion, who
slept quietly all night on the vessel. He had re-
covered when his friends came to see him at noon
the next day, and so rejoiced were they that in
the afternoon they visited the boat in great num-
bers, bringing with them tobacco and beads, which
they presented to Hudson, to whom they " made
an oration, and showed him all the country round
about." One of their number was sent ashore,
and soon returned with a great platter of dressed
venison, which they caused Hudson to eat with
them. They then made him reverence and de-
parted, all save the old man, who, having tasted
the fatal beverage, preferred to remain aboard.

Heckewelder has preserved the pathetic Dela-
ware tradition of this first debasing acquaintance
with the Europeans, whom the natives first regarded
with a superstitious fear, believing Hudson to be
none other than iht great manitou. After describ-
ing the consternation of the natives when they
first discovered the strange apparition of a house
upon the waters and the preparations made to give
the supposed manitou the most fitting welcome
their savage natures could devise, he says : —

" Meanwhile, a large Hackhack* is brought by
one of his [Hudson's] servants, from which an
unknown substance is poured out into a small cup
or glass, and handed to the supposed Mannitto. He
drinks — has the glass filled again, and hands it to

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 8 of 125)