Ohio – A State with a Rich Spiritual History

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

While many think of Ohio, they think of a Midwestern state that decides presidential elections. Some go on the mention Ohio’s contributions throughout history. More US presidents, inventers, and astronauts came for Ohio than any other state. All of that is true, but what many people don’t know about is Ohio’s rich spiritual history.

Schoenbrunn Village

Ohio was a part of the First Great Awakening. Ohio’s first white settlement was in the 1770s by the Moravians. A band of Moravians moved to Schoenbrunn to become missionaries to the Lenape Indians. The Moravians started the First Great Awakening with a hundred year, round-the-clock, prayer meeting that launched the modern missionary movement. Moravian leaders were also responsible for the salvation of the Wesley Brothers.

The great camp meeting revivals of first decade of the 1800s swept through Ohio as well as Kentucky and West Virginia. Revival broke out in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. It soon spread. In June, 1801, a large camp meeting was held at Eagle Creek in Ohio. Before 1804, revival had broken out in the following Ohio cities: Turtle Creek, Eagle Creek, Springdale, Orangedale, Clear Creek, Beaver Creek and Salem. The people at these revivals reported many strange spiritual manifestations such as falling out, jerking, and laughing.

Ohio played a major role in the Second Great Awakening. In the 1830s, two Presbyterian ministers started Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. From the start, this college was the first college to accept women and blacks as students and allowed them to earn regular college degrees. A few years later, Charles Finney, Second Great Awakening preacher, became the president of Oberlin College. There he started a church that became the largest congregation at the time, draw 6,000 to 8,000 members. Before the Civil War, Oberlin became known for its abolitionist activities, and during the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue when students rescued a fugitive slave, the college was almost responsible for Ohio separating from the US over slavery.

Ohio was also instrumental in the American Missionary Movement. It started with the missionaries in Schoenbrunn and continued throughout Ohio history. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of all American missionaries sent forth by the American missionary society were graduates of Oberlin College. Latter in the early 1900s, many missionaries were called in Pentecostal camp meetings held in northern Ohio and traveled overseas.

The Second Great Awakening spurred on various social movement in the last half of the 1800s, and Ohio was a part of all of them. Ohio was a state that was prominent in the Christian feminist movement of the 1800s. Frances Dana Gage organized Women’s Suffrage Conventions all over Ohio in the 1850s. Ohio had strong ties to the abolitionist movement as well. Lucy Stone and Harriet Beecher Stowe, both Ohioans, were strong abolitionists. Sojourner Truth gave her famous ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ speech in Ohio. At a Woman’s Rights convention in Massillon, Ohio. People in Ohio also fought for prohibition. The Ohio Women’s Temperance Society, organized in 1853, was one of the first temperance organizations.

The Azuza Street Pentecostal revival in Los Angeles in 1906 quickly moved to Ohio. Ivey Campbell, a native Ohioan had heard about the meetings and traveled to Los Angeles to attend She was soon baptized in the Holy Spirit. In November, she returned to Akron, Ohio to hold meetings there. Soon everyone heard of her meetings. Revival flourished, and a Pentecostal camp meeting was held in Alliance, Ohio.

There have also been some strange spiritual movements that were birthed in Ohio Mormonism in Kirtland, and they still have the first Mormon church there. Shakers arrived in Ohio in 1805 and established many communities there. The largest was Lebanon.

Billy Sunday leaving Portsmith, Ohio.

Through the 1900s, many famous revivalists and evangelists preached in Ohio including Billy Sunday, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Billy Graham. Large churches such as Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow were established in Ohio. During the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, revival broke out at Ravenna Assembly of God. Also the great theologian AW Tozar was raised in Akron, Ohio and is buried at a cemetery there. Ohio has a rich spiritual heritage. I don’t believe God is done with Ohio. The next Great Awakening might just come from this midwestern state.

When Ohio Almost Started the Civil War

When Ohio Almost Started the Civil War

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

Before the Southern states succeeded from the Union in 1860, a small Christian college in Ohio almost caused the Civil War. It all started in 1850 with the Fugitive Slave Act. Before 1850, owners of slaves in slave states could not easily retrieve their slaves if they escaped to free states. Many of the escaped slaves settled in Ohio. When the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted, slave owners could not only chase their slaves down in states like Ohio, but abolitionists in free states were forced to aid them and hand over these slaves or be convicted of a crime.

That didn’t sit well with most Ohioans, but the students at Oberlin College were enraged by the law. Oberlin College was the only college at the time that allowed both blacks and women to graduate with a college degree alongside white men. A religious fervor had filled the campus, and Charles Finney from the Second Great Awakening had become the college president. Oberlin students felt it their duty to live out their Christian life in the culture of the times. Graduates became missionaries overseas, preached abolition in the South, and women’s suffrage and equal rights for all.

Oberlin 20 at the Cuyahoga County Jail

Since the Fugitive Slave Act, many escaped slaves settled in Oberlin and were warned by residents whenever slave catchers were around. In September, 1858, a federal agent arrested a fugitive slave, John Price, in Oberlin and transported him to nearby Wellington intending to take him to Kentucky. Half the town of Oberlin chased the agent down and took Price back. He was secretly moved to Canada by an Oberlin College professor. 20 men were arrested and charged with impeding the capture of a fugitive slave.

The trial caused such an uproar in Ohio, there were discussions about succeeding from the United States. The federal agents were arrested for kidnapping because they violated Ohio’s constitution against slavery. Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase was an abolitionist, but he talked the crowds out of succeeding. Many wanted him to run for president in 1860, but he stepped aside for a moderate anti-slavery candidate, Abraham Lincoln, who had a better chance of winning.

My novel, Red Sky Over America, is about a woman abolition who attended Oberlin College shortly before the Oberlin Wellington Rescue. Here’s a little more about it.

Red Sky Over America

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

“Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten.” — Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.

Oberlin – A College Ahead of Its Time

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Oberlin College, founded in 1833 in Northern Ohio, was a college ahead of its time in many ways. In 1835, it became the first college in the United States to regularly admit African Americans. It’s also the oldest co-educational college in the US. In 1837, it admitted four women, three of whom graduated and earned a college degree. Mary Jane Patterson, another Obeberlin graduate, became the first African American woman in 1862 to earn a Bachelor of Arts college degree.

One of Oberlin’s founders once bragged that “Oberlin is peculiar in that which is good”. Oberlin was peculiar in many ways in advancing the causes of the time. Charles Finney, the second president of the college, helped it earn it’s controversial reputation. He was the founder of the Second Great Awakening, a Christian revivalist movement in the early and mid 1800s.

Oberlin College was the hotbed of abolitionist activity and a stop for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. It was once called “the town that started the Civil War” because of its participation in the Oberlin Wellington Rescue in 1858. Slave catchers came to Oberlin to capture an escaped slave and return him to Kentucky. Most of the town came to the slave’s aid and rescued him. For their trouble, over twenty were arrested and put on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. During the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, three men from Oberlin participated.

Oberlin College was also well known for the women who graduated from the college and participated in the suffrage and prohibition movements. My new novel Red Sky over America is about a college student there who is involved in the abolitionist movement. Lucy Stone, considered a pioneer for the women’s movement, graduated from Oberlin College in 1847.

Oberlin was also very well known in the missionary movement of the late 1800s. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of missionaries sent overseas by the American Missionary Society were graduates of Oberlin College. Between 1899 and 1901, thirteen missionaries from Oberlin were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion of China. An arch in Tappan Square at the center of Oberlin pays honor to their sacrifices.

Oberlin is featured in my Ladies of Oberlin Series. Book 1, Red Sky Over America is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Red Sky over America

Ladies of Oberlin, Book 1

William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?

 

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

 

America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

 

Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. — Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.

Oberlin – A College Ahead of Its Time

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Oberlin College, founded in 1833 in Northern Ohio, was a college ahead of its time in many ways. In 1835, it became the first college in the United States to regularly admit African Americans. It’s also the oldest co-educational college in the US. In 1837, it admitted four women, three of whom graduated and earned a college degree. Mary Jane Patterson, another Obeberlin graduate, became the first African American woman in 1862 to earn a Bachelor of Arts college degree.

One of Oberlin’s founders once bragged that “Oberlin is peculiar in that which is good”. Oberlin was peculiar in many ways in advancing the causes of the time. Charles Finney, the second president of the college, helped it earn it’s controversial reputation. He was the founder of the Second Great Awakening, a Christian revivalist movement in the early and mid 1800s.

Oberlin College was the hotbed of abolitionist activity and a stop for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. It was once called “the town that started the Civil War” because of its participation in the Oberlin Wellington Rescue in 1858. Slave catchers came to Oberlin to capture an escaped slave and return him to Kentucky. Most of the town came to the slave’s aid and rescued him. For their trouble, over twenty were arrested and put on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. During the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, three men from Oberlin participated.

Oberlin College was also well known for the women who graduated from the college and participated in the suffrage and prohibition movements. My new novel Red Sky over America is about a college student there who is involved in the abolitionist movement. Lucy Stone, considered a pioneer for the women’s movement, graduated from Oberlin College in 1847.

Oberlin was also very well known in the missionary movement of the late 1800s. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of missionaries sent overseas by the American Missionary Society were graduates of Oberlin College. Between 1899 and 1901, thirteen missionaries from Oberlin were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion of China. An arch in Tappan Square at the center of Oberlin pays honor to their sacrifices.

Red Sky over America

Now available for pre-order

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

The Story of the Real Santa Claus

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Santa Claus is a legend loved by millions of children throughout the centuries. While the story of Santa Claus is a myth told to illustrate the spirit of giving at Christmastime, there was a real man named Saint Nicholas.

Nicholas was born in the third century in the village of Patara. When he was born, Patara was a part of Greece. Now it’s located in Turkey. His parents were rich and raised him to be a Christian, but they died when he was young.

He used up his inheritance caring for the needy, the sick, and the suffering. When he was a little still a young man, he was appointed as bishop of Myra and became well known for his generosity to the needy, his love of children, and his care for sailors.

One story tells about three dowerless girls. In that time, girls whose fathers were too poor to provide dowries often had to be sold into slavery. On these three occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home providing enough for the dowries. People suspected Saint Nicholas of leaving the gifts. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

The Roman Emperor, Diocletian, persecuted the church. Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned in a prison that was so full of Christians, it didn’t have room for criminals. Eventually he was released and returned to Myra and attended the council of Nicaea in 625.

Nicholas died on December 6, 643. A substance grew on his grave called manna that was reported to heal people. Since then, December 6 has been known as Saint Nicholas Day.

Moravian Christmas Traditions We Still Have Today

img_1022By Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novella, A Christmas Promise, I write about Moravian missionaries in Schoenbrunn Village, circa 1773. The Moravians brought many Christmas traditions to America that we use to celebrate Christ’s birth today. Here are a few of them.

red room with christmas-tree and colorful gift - rendering

The Christmas Tree: Moravians brought the idea of decorating Christmas trees in their homes in the early 1700s, long before it became a popular tradition in the United States.

 

Illustration of Christmas candle lighted with wreath isolated on white background done in retro style.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: Most churches have Christmas Eve services where they sing Christmas carols and light candles to show Jesus came to be the light of the world. The Moravian Church has been doing that for centuries. They call their services lovefeasts because they also have a part of the service where they serve sweetbuns and coffee – juice for the kids – and share Christ’s love with each other. For candles, Moravians use bleached beeswax with a red ribbon tied around them. The white symbolizes the purity of Christ and red symbolizes that His blood was shed for us.

The Moravian Star: In the 1840s at a Moravian school, students made 24 point stars out of triangles for their geometry lessons. Soon those Moravian stars started making their way on the tops of Christmas trees. The star as a Christmas tree topper is still popular today.

The Putz: The putz is a Christmas nativity scene surrounded by villages or other Biblical scenes. Moravian children in the 1700s would make a putz to put under their Christmas tree. Today, nativity scenes and Christmas villages are popular decorations.

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

Available at these online stores:

Moravian Missionaries in Colonial Ohio

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Schoenbrunn Village

In the 1770s, Moravian missionaries moved to Ohio from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to settle a village called Schoenbrunn which means Beautiful Spring. Their goal was to bring the Gospel to the Delaware Indians. Delaware Native Americans who converted to Christianity moved into Schoenbrunn to be a part of the Christian community. Within a year, the village grew so large, they started another settlement called Gnadenhutten.

Schoenbrunn, in many ways, was ahead of its time. The settlers of the village, including the Delaware, created their own code of conduct and opened a school. The school taught both boys and girls when other colonial schools at the time only accepted boys. The students learned to read both English and Lenape out of a Bible that was translated in the Lenape language.

The Moravians built a church there with paintings on the walls depicting Biblical scenes. They used these painting to teach about the Bible. They had church every morning and twice on Sunday. On special occasions they would have Lovefeasts where they served coffee, juice, and sweet buns. The Christmas Eve Lovefeasts were the most special and became the forerunner of Christmas Eve candlelight services popular in the US.

The settlement only lasted a few years. When the Revolutionary War broke out, British troops suspected the Moravians of giving information to the colonial army. These charges against them were true. In 1781, Native Americans supporting the British forced the Moravians to relocate to the Sandusky area to protect themselves from reprisals. The British arrested the two leaders of the villages, took them to Detroit, and tried them for treason.

When a group of Christian Lenape went back to Gnadenhutten to harvest their crops, a company of Continental military from Pennsylvania accused them of raiding farms in Pennsylvania. and massacred them. The militia the militia murdered and scalped 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children and burned down the village.

Settlers were outraged by the massacre, but the men were never brought to trial. In 1810, Tecumseh reminded future President William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Schoenbrunn Village is still open today for visitors and tourists to learn about Christian Native Americans and some of the earliest missionaries in America. A Christmas Promise was set in Schoenbrunn Village.