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.

 

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The Real History of the Pilgrims

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Thanksgiving is coming soon. There are many facts about America’s spiritual heritage ingrained in the Pilgrims and Puritans. These are some of the facts that children are not taught in school.

Most children are taught that pilgrims came to America to flee religious persecution. That’s not exactly true. Pilgrims and Puritans were persecuted for believing that Christians could have a personal relationship with Jesus separate from the Church of England. But they traveled to Holland to flee the persecution, not America.

So why did they travel to America? There were many reasons, but the main reason is they felt compelled by God to come to America and establish a colony of people that honored God. Many called this colony, New Jerusalem, believing that God had established this new land to spread the gospel to the world. William Bradford wrote in his journal that the motivation came from “a great hope for advancing the kingdom of Christ.”

Pilgrims and Puritans were not the same. Pilgrims were separatists who believed they should separate themselves for the Church of England and the world systems. Puritans believed in working within the system. When they came to America, Puritans wished to set up the government so that religious freedom of expression would be established. Pilgrims wanted freedom of religion so they were free to worship without fear of persecution. Both Pilgrims and Puritans wanted freedom of religion to protect the church from the government, not to protect the government from the church.

Many schools teach that Thanksgiving was a secular celebration. But letters written by the Pilgrims tell a different story. God was such a part of their everyday life that they included God in everything. One such letter states that Thanksgiving was a celebration called so that “God be praised” for what He had brought them through. John Winthrop called New England a City on a Hill in one of his sermon. He, as well as many other Puritans and Pilgrims, believed they had made a covenant with God to be a new nation that was a model of Christianity to the world.

William Bradford believed that America was called to spread the gospel to the world. Since the Pilgrims and Puritans came to America, the United States of America has sent missionaries to more nations and more remote places in the world than any other nation on Earth. Could it be they were right?

The Birth of the Protestant Reformation

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is tomorrow. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis entitled Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the church wall and sent a copy to his bishop. In these thesis, Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Pope when he conflicted with Scripture. He also challenged the church’s policy of selling indulgences. An indulgence was a absolution from sin given by a priest. Luther stood on the Scripture in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it isthe gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Many people today don’t understand the courage it took for Martin Luther to make his stand. He risked excommunication and could have been executed. A meeting was held at the Diet of Worms by a council of the church. Luther was threatened with excommunication if he did not recant. Surely Peter’s words to the Pharisees went through his mind as the challenge was issued. Did he obey the church or God?

This was Luther’s answer, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” He then his arm raised his arm “in the traditional salute of a knight winning a bout.”

Luther hid out after the meeting, fearing retaliation. During his sequester, he translated the New Testament into German. He was excommunicated and the Protestant Reformation was firmly under way. He spent the rest of his life preaching salvation by faith through faith. Luther wasn’t the best role model of a Christian. His anti-semitism and faulty doctrine left scars on his legacy, but he stood strong in the face of persecution.

Luther wasn’t the only reformer at the time in a sea of men and women who stood for the truth of Scripture and faced of persecution, imprisonment, and death. Through it all, the reformation led the world out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Science, art, and theology flourished. The Bible was translated into many European languages and the Gospel was spread throughout the known world.

The Girl Who Warned “The British are Coming”

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Most Americans have heard of Paul Revere’s fateful ride to warn “the British are Coming.” His ride was made famous in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but there were other riders who warned about the British during the Revolutionary War. One of these riders was a sixteen-year-old girl named Sybil Ludington.

Sybil, the oldest of twelve children, was born in 1761 in Dutchess County, New York. Her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, was the commander of the militia there. His farm was a receiving center for collecting information from American spies.

In April 1777, Colonel Ludington and the members of his militia were at home taking care of their farms. It was planting season. Around 9:00 in the evening on April 26, a man rode to the farm with news the British were burning down Danbury, 25 miles from Ludington’s home. The man’s horse was worn out from hard riding, and he didn’t know the area. Ludington needed to send a rider to rally the militia, but he couldn’t go himself because he needed to stay where he was to help arrange the troops as they arrived.

Sybil was recruited. She rode a total of forty miles in pouring rain to warn the militia and order them to meet at the Ludington farm. Revere only rode twenty, and it wasn’t raining.

During Sybil’s ride, she faced more danger than getting wet and tired. She rode along narrow roads after dark with only a stick to protect her. British loyalists were in the area, and she risked capture. There were also “skinners” around. Skinners were roadside bandits with no real loyalties either way. One account of her ride had her fighting off a skinner with a stick.

When she arrived back home, 400 men had gathered there. The British had moved to Ridgeville by then, and the militia rode seventeen miles to battle them there. It was a strategic victory for the Americans.

After the ride, Sybil was congratulated by General George Washington. She married a Revolutionary War solder, had a child, and died in 1839. Her hometown was named Lundingtonville in her honor.

She didn’t have a poem written about her, but 1961 Sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington created a statue of a statue of Sybil on her horse. In 1976, the US Post Office issued a stamp also commemorating Sybil’s ride. She is a true Revolutionary War heroine.

Molly Pitcher – Patriot and Soldier

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

There were many well known heroes during the Revolutionary War, but there were many more lesser known or unknown heroes. One heroine has virtually disappeared from the history books, but her heroism was celebrated in early American history. She was known as Molly Pitcher.

Molly Pitcher was born as Mary Ludwig in 1754 near Trenton, New Jersey. Although some suggest Molly was a legend or a composite of many women, Mary Ludwig was a real woman and did at least some of the things suggested.

Mary moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1768 where she met William Hays, the local barber. A year later, they married. During the American Revolution, Hays volunteered in the Continental Army and became a gunner. As was common during this time, Mary would follow her husband in battle to help where needed.

On June 28th, 1778, Hays fought in the Monmouth in New Jersey during a extremely hot day. Mary followed him into battle and carried buckets of cold water onto the field to give the soldier cool drinks. This is when the soldiers nicknamed her Molly Pitcher. While on the field, Molly saw her husband collapse at his cannon. She immediately took his place at the cannon and manned the weapon until the Patriots won the battle. One witness said a cannon shot passed between her legs carrying away the lower part of her petticoat, but she was not injured during the battle.

Because of her actions, Molly Pitcher became a legendary figure representing women who helped during the war. After the war, Molly moved back to Carlisle, and after her husband’s death, she married another veteran. She was honored for her wartime service in 1822 when a statue was erected in her honor and she was given a pension or $40 a year for the rest of her life. She died ten years later in 1832.

US Presidents Who Were Assasinated

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

When asked what US presidents were assassinated while in office, most people remember John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Would it surprise you to know there were four presidents assassinated? There were also two presidents who died in office and were rumored to be assassinated, and 30 unsuccessful assassination plots or attempts. Here is a list of the assassinated presidents.

Abraham Lincoln was the first and most famous president to be assassinated. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. After shooting the president, Booth jumped onto the stage, breaking his ankle, and shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” ( “Thus always to tyrants”). Booth was a Confederate sympathizer and was against abolition of slaves. He was part of a larger conspiracy where the vice-president and secretary-of-state were also targeted, but Lincoln was the only one killed. Booth was shot a few days later, and 8 other conspirators were hanged.

James A. Garfield was shot on Saturday, July 2, 1881, in Washington DC, by Charles Julius Guiteau less than four months after taking the oath of office. Garfield’s son, James Rudolph Garfield, and Secretary of State James Blaine, both broke down and wept. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, thinking back to the assassination of his father, said, “How many hours of sorrow I have passed in this town.” Garfield died eleven days later from complications and infection. Guiteau was immediately arrested, and after being found guilty, was hanged. Guiteau was assessed as mentally unbalanced and possibly suffered from some kind of bipolar disorder or from the effects of syphilis on the brain. He claimed to have shot Garfield out of disappointment for being passed over for appointment as Ambassador to France.

William McKinley was shot September 6th, 1901 on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz shot him while he was shaking hands with the public. McKinley staggered backwards and to the right, but was prevented from falling by Cortelyou, Milburn, and Detective Geary who guided him to a chair. Seeing men beating Czolgosz, McKinley ordered it stopped. He then expressed concern for his wife. He was then carried out by an electric ambulance. After an operation and apparent recovery, he died of gangrene eight days later. Czolgosz was an anarchist who had lost his job during the economic Panic of 1893. He considered McKinley as a symbol of oppression and was convinced that it was his duty as an anarchist to kill McKinley. After being found guilty, Czolgosz was executed in the electric chair. After this, the Secret Service was assigned to protect the president.

John F. Kennedy was shot by a sniper on Friday, November 22, 1963 while riding with his wife in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. He died instantly. Texas Governor John Connelly was also shot but recovered. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who had become a communist was arrested for the crime. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner distressed by the assignation, shot and killed Oswald. He was convicted and spent life in prison. The Warren Commission ruled Oswald acted alone, but to this day, many people believe he had help.

2 Presidents Rumored to Assassinated:

Zachary Taylor died on July 9th, 1850 of cholera morbus, a term that included diarrhea and dysentery, likely caused by food poisoning. In the late 1980s, author Clara Rising raised the possibility Taylor was murdered by poison. She convinced Taylor’s closest living relative and the coroner of Jefferson County, Kentucky to order an exhumation. The tests showed arsenic in Taylor’s system, but it was much less than they would have expected if he had been poisoned.

Warren G. Harding died on August 2nd, 1923 of a heart attack or stroke brought on by food poisoning and pneumonia. While traveling in Alaska and Canada, Harding had been informed of corruption in his administration which he claimed to know nothing about. He gave a speech in Seattle, Washington, then fell ill. His train proceeded to San Francis where he died in a hotel there. Doctors said he died of a stroke, but the Hardings’ personal medical advisor disagreed with the diagnosis. His wife, Florence Harding, refused permission for an autopsy. This led to speculation that the President had been the victim of a plot, possibly carried out by his wife. Harding apparently had been unfaithful to the First Lady. Gaston B. Means, an amateur historian, wrote about his suspicions Harding had been poisoned. He also surmised Harding may have been killed to protect politicians because Harding probably would have been impeached if he hadn’t died. Speculation continues to this day.

How a Native American Brought the Great Awakening to the Indians

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Samson Occom, a native American born in a wigwam, became one of the first ordained Indian preachers, the first Native American to be published, and the only one to travel with Evangelist George Whitefield during the Great Awakening in America. He brought Christianity to the Indian tribes in his area of the country, yet most have never heard his story.

Samson was born in 1723 as part of the the Mohegan tribe near New London, Connecticut. His parents were Joshua and Sarah Ockham, direct descendants of Uncas, a famous Mohegan chief. At the age of 16, Occom heard his first sermon during the Great Awakening. His mother Sarah was one of the first Mohegan converts.

Samson was stirred by what he heard and began to study English so he could read the Bible for himself. A year later he became a Christian under the preaching of James Davenport. He started going to a school for Indians and white boys started by evangelist Eleazar Wheelock and spent four years at Wheelock’s school. He was a gifted student, but poor eyesight prevented him from going to college.

He taught school and ministered to the Montauk Indians for eleven years. He used many creative methods including singing and card games as teaching devices. When Azariah Horton, the white Presbyterian minister to the Montauk, retired, Samson took his place as pastor.

Samson married Mary Fowler in 1751, and they had ten children. The church  paid him a much smaller salary than the white men doing the same job. To make ends meet, he bound books and carved spoons, pails, and gun stocks for his white neighbors. Despite the prejudice he faced, in 1759, Samson became on of the first ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church.


His passion was to share the Gospel with other Native Americans, and he was commission by the Scotch Society of Missions to preach to the Cherokee in Georgia and Tennessee. Fighting among the Cherokee and white settles put those plans on hold, so instead he went to New York to preach among the Oneida.

In 1765, Samson traveled with George Whitefield, Great Awakening preacher, during his sixth preaching tour in the colonies. Later that year, he traveled to England with Nathaniel Whitaker to raise money for Wheelock’s Indian Charity School. Over the next two years, he preached over 200 sermons in England and was well received. He raised over 11,000 pounds, the most ever raised for a ministry in the colonies. While in England Samson visited with John Newton, writer of Amazing Grace, and received an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh which he politely declined.

When he returned to America in 1768, Samson found that Wheelock had failed to care for his wife and children as promised. Samson’s family was living in poverty. The rift widened when he learned Wheelock had used the money he’d raised to move the school to New Hampshire and decided to exclude Indians. Wheelock renamed the school Dartmouth.

Samson was a prolific writer throughout his lifetime. He kept a diary from 1743 to 1790 about his work that became an historic document. In 1772, he preached a temperance sermon at the execution of a Native American who murdered a man while he was drunk. That sermon became a best seller. He also wrote and published hymns. He is recognized as the first Native American to become published.


When Samson became a defender of land claims of the Montauk and Oneida against speculators, false rumors were spread that he was a heavy drinker and not even a Mohegan which caused the loss of support from his denomination and several missionary societies. He wrote an autobiography to defend himself, but it did little good.


Throughout the 1770s and 1780s, Samson preached among the Mohegan and other tribes in New England. After the Revolutionary War, he settled in Brothertown, New York on a reservation for New England Indians where he establish the first Indian Presbyterian Church. In 1791, he died while gathering wood to finish the new church building.


His legacy continued after his death through his children, students, and converts who also ministered to Native Americans. Two of his students also became authors. Besides being the first Native American who was published, Samson fought for Native American rights, spread the Gospel to New England tribes, and promoted education for Native Americans.