PAPER BY J.W. INGHAM
NOT far from the present village of Wyalusing, on the north hank of the creek near its junction with the Susquehanna, at the point of the ridge which was cut through by the railroad, stood Go-hon-to-to, one of the fortified villages of the Te-hot-ach-see tribe of Indians, which was one of the ten confederated tribes called the Adastes, or Susquehannocks. In a desperate war with the Six Nations (or Iroquois), who had the advantage of fire-arms which they had obtained from the Dutch at New York, the Susquehannocks were defeated and nearly exterminated. Only a remnant tied down the river and settled at Conestoga in Lancaster county, Pa. The greatest battle of the war took place at Go-hon-to-to, most of its inhabitants were slain and their palisaded town destroyed. For nearly a century this "blood stained field," as the Six Nations called it, seems to have been abandoned as a permanent habitation.
It was owing to their conquest of the Susquehannocks that the Six Nations claimed the land in Pennsylvania, Maryland and part of Virginia, and both the provinces of Pennsylvania and Maryland bought large tracts of land of them for settlement to prevent war.
THE INDIAN TOWN AT WYALUSING.
On the east side of the Susquehanna river, about a mile and a half below the mouth of the Wyalusing creek, and directly opposite the present village of Sugar Run, was situated an Indian town called by themselves M'chwihiusing, which the whites shortened to Wyalusing. When the town was rebuilt on higher ground under the supervision of the Moravian missionaries, the name was changed to "Friedenshutten," signifying "huts of peace."
The town was founded in 1752 by John Panpunhank, a Monsev chief of the Delaware tribe, who had been living on the head waters of the Delaware river and who had with a number of other Indian families crossed over to the Susquehanna and came down the river in canoes to Wyalusing.
In his intercourse with the Quakers about Philadelphia in, which place he had frequently visited, Panpunhank had learned something about the Christian religion, and endeavored to the best of his ability, by precept and example, to instruct the people in the duties of morality.
In May 1760, eight years after the founding of the town, Christian Frederick Post, one of the most adventurous of the Moravian Missionaries, on his way to attend a council of the Western Indians us, spent a night in Papunhank's town and preached to the Indians at their request, and preached to them in their own language without an interpreter. This was the first gospel sermon ever heard in the Susquehanna valley above Wyoming, Count Zinzendorf having preached to the Shawanese in 1712. Post journeyed several times to the Ohio country in the service of the government of Pennsylvania, to endeavor to make peace with the Delaware and Shawanese Indians residing there, and who, instigated by the French governor of Canada, had drenched the frontiers of Pennsylvania in blood. This patriotic and Christian service he undertook in the interest of humanity, and at the persuasion of the Quakers, knowing that there was a large reward offered for his scalp, and, that his every footstep was surrounded with danger. His first journey prepared the Delaware and Shawnese for peace, and his second robbed the French of their entire Indian alliance in Ohio and enabled General Forbes to occupy Fort Duquesne without opposition.
After the preaching of Christian Frederick Post the Indians at Wyalusing were desirous of obtaining the labors of a Christian minister, but were unable to agree upon what denomination to apply for the desired missionary. Papunhank wanted a Quaker, but Job Chilloway, another influential Indian, wanted a Moravian. Hearing of this desire, the Moravian brethern at Bethlehem sent Zeisberger, a very successful missionary, to the town. Accompanied by Anthony, an Indian convert of the Moravians, they reached the place on the evening of May 23, 1763. Papunhank received them into his house, and thither the Indians came from every part of the village to hear the gospel, and although weary from his journey Zeisberger preached to them that night and several times afterwards. He and Anthony remained four days and then returned to Bethlehem. On the 17th of June following Zeisberger and Nathaniel (a brother of Anthony), returned to Wyalusing and were welcomed by Papunhank and his people. On their way, they had overtaken and passed John Woolman, a Quaker preacher from New Jersey, who arrived in town the next day. Woolman was well received, and for three days the two missionaries labored together harmoniously, both having to preach through an interpreter. Perceiving that the Indians preferred the preaching of Zeisberger, Woolman decided to return to his home. He says: "That though Papunhank had before agreed to receive the Moravian, and join with them, he still appeared kind and loving to us." There is no certainty that the Moravian was a better preacher than the Quaker, because Zeisberger had preached to them on his former visit, about a month previous, and they had agreed to receive him as their missionary, He had already been installed, as it were.
When Woolman was ready to depart, those who had attended his meetings came and shook hands with him and he says: "I went among some who did not use to go to meeting, and took my leave of them also; and the Moravian (Zeisberger) and his Indian, appeared respectful to us at parting. We expected only two Indians to be our company, but when we were ready to go we found many of them were going to Bethlehem with skins and furs, who chose to go in company with us. So they loaded two canoes which they desired us to go in, telling us that the waters were so raised with the rains that the horses should be taken by such who were better acquainted with the fording places. So we, with several Indians, went in the canoes, and others went on horses, there being seven (horses) besides ours. When near night, a little below a branch called Tankhanna (Tunkhannock), we lodged there, and some of the young men going out a little before dusk with their guns brought in a deer. On the 2d of June, through diligence, we reached Wyoming before night, and mostly understood the Indians were gone from the place. Here we went up a small creek into the woods, carried our baggage, and before dark our horses came to us. On the 23d, in the morning, their horses were loaded, and we prepared our baggage and so set forward, being in all fourteen, and with diligent traveling, were favored to get near half way to Fort Allen (Stroudsburg); the land on this road from Wyoming to our frontier being mostly poor, and good grass scarce. On the 24th we passed Fort Allen, and lodged near it in the woods. Having forded the western branch of the Delaware (the Lehigh) three times, and thereby had a shorter way, and missed going over the top of the Blue Mountains, called the Second Ridge. The troubles westward, and the difficulties for the Indians to pass our frontier, I apprehend, was one reason why so many came, as expecting our being in company would prevent the outside inhabitants from being surprised.
“On the 25th we reached Bethlehem, taking care on the way to keep foremost, and to acquaint the people on and near the road who these Indians were. This we found very needful, for the frontier inhabitants were often alarmed at the report of English being killed by Indians westward. On the 26th and the first of the week, having carefully endeavored to settle all affairs with the Indians relative to our journey, we took leave of them, and I thought they generally parted with us affectionately, so we getting to Richland, N. J., had a very comfortable meeting amongst our friends. Here I parted from my kind friend and companion, Benjamin Parvin. I reached home the next day where I found my family middling well."
In describing his journey to Wyalusing, he says: “Between the English inhabitants (settlers on the frontier) and Wehalossing (Wyalusing) we had only a narrow path which in many places is much grown up with bushes, and interrupted by abundance of trees lying across it. These, together with the mountains, swamps and rough stones, make it a difficult road to travel; and the more so for the rattlesnakes abound there, of which we killed four.” In describing the Indian village, Wool man says: " This town (Wyalusing) stands on the bank of the Susquehanna, and consists of about forty houses, mostly compact together; some about 30 feet long and 18 wide, and some bigger, and some less, mostly built of split, planks one end set in the ground and the other pinned to a plate, on which lay rafters and covered with bark. I understood a great flood last Winter overflowed the chief part of the ground where the town stands, and some were now about moving their houses to higher ground.''
Woolman, like the Moravians, was largely endowed with the missionary spirit and had made this difficult journey on horseback with a single attendant, solely for the purpose of preaching the gospel to these Wyalusing Indians. He says: "I came to this place through much trouble, and though through the mercies of God I believed that if I died in the journey it would be well for me; yet the thought of falling into the hands of Indian warriors were, in times of weakness, afflicting to me but the Lord alone was my keeper, and I believed that if I went into captivity, it would be for some good end!'
I have given more of Woolman’s journal than necessary to the history of Wyalusing in order to show the situation of the country between that place and Bethlehem, where the Moravian Indians went to exchange their skins and furs for goods and the road over which their missionaries frequently had to travel.
On the 26th of June, five days after the departure of Woolman, Papunhank and another Indian convert name Peter, were baptized at Wyalusing. Papunhank became an excellent helper to the missionary and was soon after appointed a native assistant in the work of Christian evangelization among his countrymen. His labors were efficient and he led a consistent Christian life until his death in 1775 at the age of 70 years. According to the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, Papunhank and his Indians from “Wyalusing,” were at a council in Philadelphia, July 11 1760 and again at a council I the same place, where he made a speech, Aug. 5, 1761. He afterward sent a message to the governor, informing him that they had dissuaded some relatives of the murdered man from revenge, and was thanked by the governor for their services.
These children of the forest were now more comfortable and happy than they had ever been before in their lives. They had cleared land, set out fruit trees, raised corn and vegetables in abundance; game was plenty and they were learning the arts of civilization, but their happiness was soon to be interrupted.
The Pontiac War had broken out and emissaries from the hostiles in the West were now traversing the East to stir up the Indians here to engage in a great war to exterminate the hated pale faces. Powerful tribes in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Western New York, with the Delawares and Shawanese, had already joined the conspiracy, and those along the Susquehanna were being earnestly solicited to unite with their countrymen and take part in the conflict. On the 30th of June, only a little more than a month from the first preaching of Zeisberger, a runner arrived at the village with a letter recalling Zeisberger to Bethlehem and suggesting that the Indian converts should come with him for protection against the hostile Indians, and also against the enraged frontier settlers who, having suffered much from Indian raids, regarded the whole race with hatred and made but little distinction between those who desired to be friendly and those on the war path.
The converts and their friends who were ready to go were taken first to Nazareth and Bethlehem, where they remained for a short time. here they were not considered safe from the attacks of the whites whose kindred had been killed or carried into captivity and their property destroyed. By order of the governor of Pennsylvania the Christian Indians were disarmed and taken to Philadelphia and from thence to Province Island, where they were sheltered in barracks and supported at the expense of the government.
Papunhank and twenty-one other converts, who had remained behind to gather the crops, followed in December. Job Chilloway and other Indians who had not embraced Christianity determined not to take any part in the war on either side, went to Philadelphia and joined their friends on Province Island.
Being subject to restraint, like prisoners, and not living the active lives to which they had been accustomed and supplied with food different from their former diet, they became despondent, suffered from sickness, and in the space of fifteen months (the length of time they were kept there) buried nearly half their number. The bore their afflictions with heroic fortitude and remained steadfast in their Christian faith.
On the 20th of January, 1765, danger of molestation being over, they were allowed to leave the place of their detention (81 in number) and started oil the journey to their former homes on the Susquehanna. They tarried a short time for rest with their while friends at Nazareth and Bethlehem and resuming their journey on the 3d of April, after a long and tedious travel through the wilderness on foot, arrived at their destination on the 8th of May. They were accompanied by Zeisberger and Schmick (another missionary) and Schmick’s wife, who were to remain with them and be their resident religious instructors.
Soon after the Christian Indians returned from Philadelphia to Wyalusing (January 1765), after an absence of nearly sixteen mouths, they sent a message to Togahaju, a chief of the Six Nations, who resided near the head of Cayuga Lake and to whom had been consigned the supervision over the Susquehanna Valley, to inform him of their return to their former residence and their desire to settle there.
He did not make any definite answer and the messenger returned, but not long after he summoned them to a council, and to the deputies who vent to him be said the place where they were "was stained with blood, was unlucky, and was not a fit place for settlement." He alluded to a battle that had taken place there between the Six Nations and the Susquehannocks and the destruction of the village of Gohonto. He said: "I will appoint you a place near us."
The deputies promised to lay the matter before their people and give him an answer when their corn was ripe. The Wyalusing Indians decided to remain where they were as long as they could but neglected to inform Togahaju of their determination. At the close of the year 1765 there were connected with the mission 146 souls of whom 33 were communicants. In the month of April, 1766, Togahaju sent them the following message:
“Cousins: What kind of corn have you at Wyalusing? You promised an answer to my proposition when your corn would be ripe. My corn was ripe long ago. It is nearly consumed. I think of planting again. Why don't you fulfill your promise?"
Zeisberger, Papunhank and three other Indians were sent to negotiate with Togahaju. On the 30th of April, 1766 they had a conference with the chief and the next day were presented to the council. Zeisberger plead the cause of the Wyahusing Indians with such success that the Chief replied
''Up to this time you have only sojourned at Wyahusing now I set you down firmly and we give you all the land from Wyahusing up to a short distance above Tioga. There you can build, plant, fish and use as you like. It is yours.”
Six months afterwards a report came that the Great Council at Onondaga had repudiated the grant made by Togahaju. Zeisberger and Gottlob Senseman, the two missionaries, were sent to Onondaga to ascertain the truth. Zeisberger addressed the council with his usual eloquence and the council returned the following answer: “The land grant made that. Spring by Togahaju is approved by the council."
Finding that their town was subject to overflow from high floods in the river, in 1767 it was rebuilt on higher ground and consisted of log houses, several of them being roofed with shingles, 13 huts and 7 stables for horses. In 1767 a new church was built, 22x34 feet., built, of hewn pine logs, roofed with pine shingles, well lighted and with glass windows and surmounted by a tall cupola having a church bell. Altogether they had several hundred acres cleared on which they raised corn, oats, several other grains, hay and vegetables. They had apple de orchards and a peach orchard. They had horses, cattle, sheep, hogs and fowls. They were industrious, rich for Indians, contented and happy, except for the fear they might be obliged to leave their homes at the common of the Six Nations, the Connecticut people or the Governor of Pennsylvania.
The Six Nations had sold all the land along the river from Wyoming to Tioga in 1754 to the Connecticut-Susquehanna company, but the fact was not known to the Christian Indians at Wyalusing. In 1766, twelve years afterwards, with what appeared to be a noble generosity, the Six Nations gave the Christian Indians all that part of the said grant from Wyalusing to above Tioga, and in 1768 sold the same lands to the proprietaries of Pennsylvania.
This latter sale became known to the Wyalusing Indians in December, 1768, when it was sold to them by a trader. A messenger was immediately sent to Togahaju to learn the truth of the report. He said: "I heard that an Allegheny Indian had been with you telling lies. Don't believe all you hear. Stay where you are., and if white men come, and you have to leave, I will give you good lands elsewhere."
In February, 1760, in a petition to John Penn, then acting governor of Pennsylvania, the Wyalusing Indians gave a. history of their settlement, stated that their occupation was chiefly agricultural, told the number of acres they had cleared and improved, and praying that their lands might be secured to them for a permanent residence.
Four months afterwards in a letter dated June 21st, 1769, Governor Penn said: "When some of you came to me some months ago, I told you that as you were a peaceable, quiet people and behaved very well, you should not be disturbed in your possession at Wyalusing. This is the word that I then gave and you may depend that I will keep it, and I have accordingly given orders to the surveyors not to survey your lands, nor any lands within five miles of your settlement. I will do all in my power to protect and secure you in possession of your lands so long as you behave yourselves well.”
It seems almost incredible that a descendant of William Penn, within two months after writing this letter should have signed warrants for surveys within this reservation, and in the spring of 1770 warrants were laid surveys made within sight of the town. The Connecticut people also had surveyors running lines on both sides of the town.
It now became apparent to the Indians at Wyalusing that they must soon remove voluntarily or be driven from their homes by one or the other of the two parties Contending for their lands.
The chiefs of the Delaware Indians, who resided in eastern Ohio and who had become acquainted with their troubles through Zeisberger who was now stationed among them, sent a pressing invitation for them to come and reside with them. After consulting their Moravian brethren at Bethlehem and Zeisberger, their former pastor, they decided to accept the invitation of the Delaware Chiefs and remove to Ohio. The Christian Indians at Sheshequin, where the Moravians also had a missionary station, resolved to go with them.
REMOVAL FROM WYALUSING.
On June, 11, 17721 after having met in their chapel for divine worship, they started on their long and wearisome journey in two companies. One hundred and forty went with the missionary Roth and his wife in thirty canoes. They floated down past Wilkes-Barre to Northumberland and from thence pushed up the West Branch. The church bell was taken along in one of the canoes and was rung as they started. Fifty-four went with Etwein, who at their request had been sent from Bethlehem to accompany them across the overland route from Wyalusing to Muncy through a dense wilderness without roads. In five days they arrived at the mouth of Muncy creek, where they waited live days for the arrival of Roth and his flotilla of canoes. He came on the 20th of June, then all pushed on up the West Branch as far as practicable, crossed the Allegheny Mountains and down the Allegany River and finally arrived at their destination in the Tuscaroras Valley, now Tuscaroras County in Eastern Ohio, on the 5th of August, 1772, having been fifty-five days on the route.
The history of the Wyalusing Indians after they settled in Ohio is painful to read. Under guidance of Zeisberger and Heckewelder who remainded with them in their new home, they were peaceable, industrious and for a while prosperous and happy. They raised corn, hay and vegetables and had herds of cattle, horses and hogs.
In 1781, after they had been residents of Ohio for nine years, and the Revolutionary War had been in progress five years, the British commanders by the authority of their government were offering a bounty for American scalps and prisoners delivered in Canada. DePeyster, the British commander at Detroit, by the bestowal of money and goods to the Indians in the West and the promise that they should be protected in the possession of their lands against the encroachment of the American settlers, had gained them all over to the British side except the Wyalusing Indians now resident in Ohio, who had resolved to remain neutral. The Delawares, among whom they lived and who had given them their lands, were the last tribe to be seduced to the royal cause.
In April 1781, Colonel Broadhead the American commander at Pittsburg, made a rapid march into the wilds of Ohio and on the Muskingum (now Muskingum county) had an interview with Heckewelder the Moravian Missionary, and it was agreed that the Christian Indians should not be disturbed, but he had hard work to carry out his agreement as the militia in his command hated Indians with such perfect hatred that they were desirous of killing all they could catch. Colonel Broadhead then marched to Coshockton where he attacked a band of hostiles and captured about 20 of them, whom were all by the militia before returning to Pittsburg.
In the following September, Colonel Broadhead received information from Zeisberger that a large body of Wyandots, Delaware, Mouseys, and Shawnese, were stealthily approaching the settlements of Western Pennsylvania. He cautioned Colonel Broadhead not to disclose the source of his information lest the savages should take revenge on Wyalusing Indians and their missionaries.
This information was of immense value to the settlers. The forts were put in readiness and when the savage hordes arrived in Pennsylvania they found all the people in arms and in the forts, in readiness to receive them. Disappointed in their expectations of surprising the settlers and rightly suspecting that Zeisberger had given notice of their approach, they were enraged at the missionaries and their converts, and on their return to Muskingum m from their unsuccessful expedition, told them they must immediately remove to Sandusky where they would have them under their eves. They had to obey or be exterminated. Hastily gathering up such articles of food as they could carry they were marched through the wilderness to Sandusky, where the Christian Indians were allowed to remain, but the missionaries, who had been bound like criminals, were taken to Detroit to answer to the charge of being the spies of congress. There being no evidence against them they were discharged. Their horses having been stolen while in Detroit, DePeyster generously furnished them with others to return to Sandusky-an instance of kindness for which he deserves great credit, and is in striking contrast with the acts of some other British generals during the Revolutionary War.
In February, 1782, the missionaries obtained permission from the British authorities at Detroit for the Wyalusing Indians confined at Sandusky to return to Muskingum and get some corn left there for which they were in urgent need. About this time some atrocities were committed in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and it was believed that some hostile Indians were lurking in the abandoned houses at Muskingum. Accordingly Colonel David Williamson, commanding a battalion of Washington county militia, marched to Muskingum and found about 150 men, women and children, who had come there to get the corn. They did not regard these white people as enemies, they showed no evidence of guilt, they offered no resistance, made no attempt to escape. They admitted that ten hostile warriors had come with them from Sandusky and gone on to the white settlements and that four of them had returned and were now in the village. Some articles were found that had been taken from the people in Washington county, which no doubt the four hostiles had brought. With the exception of the intimacy with the ten hostile warriors who had come with them and whose company and conduct they could not prevent, they were no doubt innocent of all crimes against the whites. This intimacy was considered crime enough. Colonel Williamson, to his everlasting disgrace, put it to vote whether they should be spared or whether they should be slain. Exactly how the vote stood is not known but the Indians were all killed except those in another village. The slain numbered over 90, most of them women and children. The manner of killing is not known. One account says they were driven into their church, tied fast and then burned to death with the church. They were probably shot, as that was the easier and quicker method of committing the whole sale murder. The white assassins then pillaged the village and burned every house.
In Bradsby’s History of Bradford county there is an error that does injustice to the Moravian Indian converts at Wyalusing. Mr. Bradsby says: “After the defeat of Braddock in 1755 the whole frontier blazed out in war. Some of the noted Indians who had been baptized into the church by Moravian missionaries apostatized and turned upon the people in implacable hatred. The Bradford county Indians, although some of them it was supposed had become exemplary Christians, especially at Wyalusing, joined in the war upon the whites and forgot all Christian precepts as well as their friendship for the pale faces.”
If Mr. Bradsby had read his history over before sending it to the printer he would have erased this cruel slander. Where he got his authority, nobody knows, but fortunately he contradicts the statement himself. Further on he says: "In May 1760, Christian Frederick Post, a Polish Prussian missionary of the Moravian church, arrived at Papunhank’ s village (Wyalusing) and preached the next day. This was the first sermon as far as we can know ever peached in the county." In 1755, the date at which he alleged that some of the Moravian converts at Wyalusing apostatized and made war upon the whites, there had been (according to his own statement) no gospel preaching in the county and no Indians converted to the Christian faith. In fact there were no conversions of Indians until 1763; eight years after Bradsby says they apostatized, when Papunhank and another convert named Peter were Baptized.
SOURCE: Pages 9-25; Annual, Bradford County Historical Society: Containing Outline of Work Accomplished, Papers on Local History, Questions and Answers, Condensed County History and Early Marriages. Towanda, Pa: Bradford Star Print, 1906. Print.