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Jan
16

Gnadenhutten

By
When:
November 24, 2019 all-day
2019-11-24T00:00:00-05:00
2019-11-25T00:00:00-05:00

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Compiled and researched by Jim Moyer  in 2015,  updated  1/19/2020, 1/23/2020

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Because of the Braddock Loss

After the Braddock Disaster July 9, 1755, the Indians were emboldened to attack.  The attacks on the Virginia frontier are listed here  and on the Pennsylvania frontier listed here.  The attacks kept coming into November of 1755 and through the winter of January 1756 and again in the Spring of 1756.

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3 Attacks Examined

We look at that January 1, 1756 attack. We also look at the November 24, 1756 in Gnadenhutten in PA and a much later one, June 11, 1782 at a Gnadenhutten in Ohio.

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A temporary stockade was erected, and all would have gone well had the soldiers been better versed in Indian tactics.

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From lack of this experience disaster followed, and on January 1st, 1756, a number of the men fell victims to an Indian stratagem.

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Whilst amusing themselves skating on the ice of the river, near the stockade, they caught sight of two Indians farther up the frozen stream.

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Thinking that it would be an easy matter to capture or kill them the soldiers gave chase, and rapidly gained upon the Indians, who proved to be decoys skillfully manoeuvring to draw them into an ambush.

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After they had gone some distance a party of Indians rushed out behind them, cut off their retreat, and falling upon them with great fury, as well as with the advantage of surprise and superior numbers quickly dispatched them.

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(Original Caption) The Deerfield Massacre of settlers in Western Mass. during “King Philip’s War,” 1675. Indians attacking settlers’ cabins. Drawing.  See source is getty images.

Some of the soldiers,

remaining in the stockade,

filled with horror

by this murder of comrades,

deserted,

and the few remaining

thinking themselves incapable of defending the place, withdrew.

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The savages then seized upon such property as they could use

and fired the stockade,

the Indian houses and the mills.

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Source is a 1916 report on old forts in Pennsylvania.

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There were 2 Gnadenhutten Massacres.

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The first one
was in Lehighton PA on Nov 24, 1755.

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The 2nd one
was in Gnadenhutten, Ohio in March 8, 1782.

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The first Gnadenhutten Massacre?

The first one
was in Lehighton PA on Nov 24, 1755.

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The account of this attack below is found in a 1916 report on Fort Allen.

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Night Attack:

The family, being at supper, heard an uncommon barking of dogs, upon which brother Senseman sent out at the back door to see what was the matter. On the report of a gun, several ran together to open the house-door.

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Door Opens to a Nightmare:

Here the Indians stood with their pieces pointed towards the door, and, firing immediately upon its being opened, Martin Nitschman was instantly killed.

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Upstairs to the Garret

His wife and some others were wounded, but fled with the rest upstairs into the garret, and barricaded the door with bedsteads.

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Brother Partsch escaped by jumping out of a back window.

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Brother Worbas, who was ill in bed in a house adjoining, jumped likewise out of a back window and escaped, though the enemies had placed a guard before his door.

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Meanwhile the savages pursued those who had taken refuge in the garret, and strove hard to burst the door open; but, finding it too well secured,

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A House in Flame

they set fire to the house, which was soon in flames.

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A boy, called Sturgeous, standing upon the flaming roof, ventured to leap off, and escaped; though at first, upon opening the back door, a ball had grazed his cheek, and one side of his head was much burnt.

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Sturgeous?

He is actually Joseph Sturgis, laborer, latter a potter, age 17, born Philadelphia, arrived before 1755. Joseph Sturgis recently arrived from Mucungie, and previous to that lived at the Moravian boys School at Oley.  Baptized by the Brethren at an early age, his mother sent him there when he was about ten, after the premature death of his father aged 44.  They were living in Philadelphia.  

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Joe Sturgis went on to become a potter and a successful business owner.  He built a stately home in Lititz, PA in 1782.  His family continued to live in Lititz where his grandson founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States.”

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Source is from a blog published  Sunday, April 14, 2013, titled Lehighton Students Investigate: Gnaden Huetten Moravian Massacre & Ben Franklin’s Fort Allen.

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Sturgis Pretzel House

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The above link

states Joe Sturgis

“built a stately home in Lititz PA in 1782.”

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Question?

Is that the same home as the Sturgis Pretzel Home built in 1784

by Peter Kreitel ?

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The Moravian Graveyards of Lititz index on page 335 shows all the Sturgis names.  The links below mention Joseph Sturgis and his son, George Sturgis.

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Confirmed

That does confirm they were in Lititz.

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2 More Questions

But did they build the Sturgis Pretzel House?

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And what is the Ancestry Tree linking Joseph Sturgis to Samuel Sturgis to  Julius Sturgis to Marriot (Tom) Sturgis?

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To proof this connection, we hand you the baton. Look at this index of the Sturgis names of the Moravian Graveyards in Lititz.

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Page 246 of  Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society Vol. 7, No. 4 (1905), pp. 215, 217-321, 323-336 (122 pages) Published by: Moravian Historical Society  and here’s another link from , full text of “The Moravian Graveyards of Lititz, Pa., 1744-1905

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shows a “George Sturgis, died Sept 15, 1793, born in Lebanon 1755, a son of Joseph Sturgis, a linen weaver,” and shows a short story on Joseph Sturgis himself, died June 8, 1817, page 258.

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Page 249  of above link shows a Peter Kreiter died May 10, 1802 and Page 250 shows a son of his, Frederick Kreiter, infant son of Peter Abraham Kreiter.

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The Wikipedia article on the Sturgis Pretzel House in Lititz  states,

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” The building was built in 1784 by a man named Peter Kreiter (original inscription: “Er Bauet Von Peterkreiter”) and is one of the original structures in Lititz. The house was built from stones taken from the streets and from the surrounding timber forest; it had windows to fire muskets to prevent against Native American attacks. The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is on the list of National Register of Historic Places

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Sturgis Pretzels is well known to this day.

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We leave enough of the trail for you, the reader, if you want to pick up this baton, to close up the missing connections.

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Back to the Burning House

Sister Partsch, seeing this, took courage and leaped likewise from the burning roof. She came down unhurt, and unobserved from the enemies; and thus the fervent prayer of her husband was fulfilled, who, in jumping out of the back window, cried aloud to God to save his wife.

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Brother Fabricius then leaped also off the roof, but before he could escape was perceived by the Indians, and instantly wounded by two balls. He was the only one whom they seized upon alive and, having dispatched him with their hatchets, took his scalp, and left him dead upon the ground.

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The rest were all burnt alive,

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and brother Senseman, who first went out at the back door, had the inexpressible grief to see his wife, consumed by the flames.

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Behind a Tree Watching

Sister Partsch could not run far for fear and trembling, but hid herself behind a tree, upon a hill near the house.

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From thence she saw sister Senseman, already surrounded by the flames, standing with folded hands and heard her callout, “Tis all well, dear Saviour-I expect nothing else.”

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The house being consumed, the murderers set fire to the barns and stables, by which all the corn, hay and cattle were destroyed.

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Matter of Fact

Then they divided the spoils, soaked some bread in milk, made a hearty meal, and departed – sister Partsch looking on unperceived.

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What about the Indian Converts?

This melancholy event proved the deliverance of the Indian congregation at New Gnadenhutten; for, upon hearing the report of the guns, seeing the flames, and soon learning the dreadful cause from those who had escaped, the Indian brethren immediately went to the missionary, and offered to attack the enemy without delay. But, being advised to the contrary they all fled into the woods, and New Gnadenhutten was cleared in a few minutes; some who already were in bed having scarce time to dress themselves.

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A Militia Posse comes close

Brother Zeisberger, who had just arrived in New Gnadenhutten from Bethlehem, hastened back to give notice of this event to a body of English militia, which had marched within five miles of the spot; but they did not venture to pursue the enemy in the dark.

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Aftermath

The fugitive congregation arrived safely at Bethlehem.

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After the Indians had retired

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the remains of those killed on the Mahoning were carefully collected from the ashes and ruins, and solemnly interred.

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A broad marble slab, in the grave yard south of Lehighton, placed there in 1788, and a small white obelisk on a sandstone base, erected at a more recent date, tell in brief the story of Gnadenhutten and preserve the names of those who fell as victims to savage hate.

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The account of this attack above is found in a 1916 report on Fort Allen.

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FORESHADOWING

There were warning signs.

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On Wednesday November 19, 1755  [6 days before the Attack] Reverend Martin Mack who oversaw the operations on the Mahoning wrote from “New Gnadenhutten” [on the eastern side of the Lehigh River] to Bishop Spangenberg who was in Bethlehem:

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My precious and dear heart Joseph:

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Last night to our and our pious brothers’ and sisters’ great joy, came the brothers and sisters Lawatsch*, Partsch, and brother Gattermeyer here to us. After a brief stay with us, they went to the Mahoning  [a creek the dumps into Lehigh River’s western side] , and this evening David# with John Shikellamy [also known as Chief Logan] also came to us. For a few days now the neighborhood around us is in an uproar. Many people have fled to Allemangel` again. They also notice that enemy tries and seeks to drive them into the forest. This is down by several disorderly loiters who came from the Susquehanna and have been in the area for several days. The brothers are not home much, but hunting up the Lehigh.

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Did they Know each other?

Whenever you read of these attacks, you find out often, the Indians and the Whites knew each other, if not by name, then by face or by contact in trade.

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All of these Indians who had muskets? They might have been cleaned and fixed by a blacksmith sent by the Moravians to help the Indians fix their muskets so they could hunt.

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Could it be that blacksmith Gattermeyer repaired or cleaned one of the muskets used by the Indians to kill him?

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From the blog published  April 14, 2013 Lehighton Students Investigate: Gnaden Huetten Moravian Massacre & Ben Franklin’s Fort Allen:

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In October, the Moravians rescued their missionary blacksmith Marcus Kiefer from the Shamokin settlement who was sent there in April of 1747.  It was Bishop Spangenberg’s controversial decision to send him there, but a necessary one to maintain their close Indian friendships.  

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He was to allow a blacksmith there who was to fix flintlocks belonging to the warriors.  

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It was hoped the guns would be used to hunt game and not to be used on the war path. 

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More recently, a member, John Leonard Gattermeyer was working as a blacksmith there as late as October, one month before he arrived back at Gnadenhutten where he was murdered on November 24th.

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WIKIPEDIA

Lehighton was built on the site of the German Moravian Brethren’s mission station “Gnadenhütten” (cabins of grace) founded in 1746. “

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Indians “killed 11 missionaries and Lenape (Delaware) converted Christians at Gnadenhutten on 24 November 1755. They destroyed the mission village, and only four of the fifteen residents escaped.”

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Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehighton,_Pennsylvania#cite_ref-8

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Lehighton Students Investigate:

Gnaden Huetten Moravian Massacre & Ben Franklin’s Fort Allen   (posted Sunday, April 14, 2013):

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This site corrects the above Wikipedia article.

This article lists the

Killed,

Wounded,

Survivor counts.

Also pictures of the site are here.

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https://culturedcarboncounty.blogspot.com/2013/04/lehighton-students-investigate-moravian.html

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24 single sisters choirs is title of picture in 1751 by Johann Valentin Haidt.

And attacking the peaceful Indians and the Moravians?

Picture these people as victims.

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AN ACCOUNT OF THE MASSACRE AT GNADENHUETTEN, PA

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Page 371 from Moravian Historical Society Volume VII published 1902:

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https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=79EYAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA371

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https://archive.org/details/historyofcarbonc00inbren/page/34

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Attacked Again

January 1, 1756

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Lt Colonel Adam Stephen

stationed at Fort Cumberland, writes on January 18, 1756 to Colonel Washington about Gnadenhutten:

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“Northamptonshire in Pennsylvania;

The Indians had a Skirmish

with a Company of 35 men

on the first of January,

wherein were killed Seven Indians &

22 Whites

The Indians fled & the Christians burried the dead.:

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Founders Online footnote about that:

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The action referred to here, in which much of the town of Gnadenhutten in Northampton County, Pa., was burned, was described in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) on 8 Jan. and again on 15 Jan.

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Source
https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Date%3A1756-01-18&s=1111311111&r=2#GEWN-02-02-02-0297-fn-0005

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Here is a description of that January 1, 1756 attack printing in Pa Gazette, January 8, 1756

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Another description of that attack of that Jan 1, 1756,  printed in Pa Gazette, January 15, 1756

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Look at this map of this skirmisk of January 1, 1756. 

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Ben Franklin picked to respond

Ben Franklin meets the Governor in Reading PA,  January 1, 1756.   Their plans were to go to Carlisle to participate in another Indian Treaty, but the news of the burning of Gnadenhutten reached them on January 5, 1756. Ben Franklin was picked as a Commissioner to go to Bethlehem and Easton to organize a response to this continuing threat.  Ben Franklin sent Jacob Levan with militia to scout.  And by Jan 12, 1756, another organization of militia is detailed here.  Ben Franklin reports on a mass exodus of Whites leaving the frontier at Bethlehem Jan 14, 1756, because of the January 1, 1756 attack and subsequent attacks.

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Sketch by Ben Franklin of Fort Allen built in Gnadenhutten, now Weissport PA on the Lehigh River.bb

Ben Franklin himself and his son and militia leave Bethlehem Jan 15, 1756 for Gnadenhutten.   Ben Franklin arrives Jan 16, 1756 at the tavern of John Hays, about ten miles northwest of Bethlehem on the road to Gnadenhütten.  Ben Franklin arrives in Gnadenhutten Jan 18, 1756 Sunday.

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Ben Franklin datelines this letter from Gnadenhutten Jan 20, 1756 and mentions how they haven’t built the fort yet.

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First letter by Ben Franklin datelined Fort Allen, Jan 24, 1756.

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Sketch drawn of Fort Allen by Ben Franklin Jan 25, 1756 can be found here.

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Fort Allen

This fort was built in response to this attack by the Indians on the Moravians.

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Here is a 1916 report on Fort Allen.

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The Well of this fort still remains.   Ben Franklin datelines this letter from Gnadenhutten Jan 20, 1756 and mentions how they haven’t built the fort yet.  First letter by Ben Franklin datelined Fort Allen, Jan 24, 1756.

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Fort Allen was supervised and inspected by Ben Franklin, aged 50, and his son, who later became NJ Governor and who remained loyalist to the Crown during the War for Independence.

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TIMELINE OF BUILDING FORT ALLEN

Extract printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan 29, 1756, of a letter Ben Franklin wrote on 26 Jan 1756:

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Wednesday   [21 January 1756]   we were hinder’d almost all Day by Rain.

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Thursday  [22 January 1756]  most of the Stockades were set up.

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Friday  [23 January 1756]  all inclosed to the Gate, and Part of the Platform round the Inside made.

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Saturday [24 January 1756] the Platform was finished, and two Swivels mounted.

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Sunday [25 January 1756]  had a Thanksgiving Sermon, hoisted the British Flag, fired three Vollies, and the Swivels, and named the Place Fort Allen.9

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Source:

https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Date%3A1756-01-26&s=1111311111&r=4

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24 single sisters choirs is title of picture in 1751 by Johann Valentin Haidt.

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Gnadenhutten Meaning?

Means variously, Log Tabernacle, Tents of Grace.

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Tabernacle?

Means biblically, a light tent or portable housing that the Israelites used to move out of Egypt in the Book of Exodus. Other groups have used that word Tabernacle symbolically.

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And Grace?

A special Christian meaning.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_in_Christianity#cite_note-1

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Who were these Massacred Moravians

at Gnadenhutten?

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The source for the information below is an excellent blog on this subject:

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Victims (11*)  
Ages are at time of attack.  Arrival date is at Gnadenhutten.:

  1. Gottlieb Anders, gardener age 38, born Neumark, Siesia, arrived in 1755.  (They arrived in Pennsylvania aboard the church ship “Little Strength” in 1743 among the “Second Sea Congregation.”)
  2. Christina Anders nee Vollmer, age 34, born Homburg, arrived  1755.
  3. Johann Anders, infant 1 year, 2 months, born Nazareth, arrived 1755. (Johann was too young to live in the Moravian nursery in Bethlehem and so perished in the flames.  Brothers Gottleib and John were safe at the Church nursery in Nazareth.)
  4. Martin Nitschmann, cutler, age 41, born Suchdol, Moravia, arrived August 1755.
  5. *Susanna Nitschmannnee Weicht, age 34, born Rosnitz, Silesia, arrived August 1755 (She and Martin were married in one of the mass weddings of the Moravians, July 15th, 1749.  Her name was included on the stone even though she did not die at Gnadenhutten.  She was taken captive and died six months later.)
  6. Catharina Sensemannnee Ludwig, age 38, born Upper Silesia, arrived August 1755.
  7. Leonhard Gattermeyer, blacksmith, age 34, born Regensberg, arrived November 1755.
  8. Christian Fabricius, teacher/scribe, age 39, born Heidenheim, Wurtem, arrived 1754.
  9. George Schweigert, military/teamster, age 31, born Heidenheim, Wurtem, arrived 1754.
  10. Frederick Lesly, laborer, age 23, born Conestoga, PA, arrived October 1755.
  11. Martin Presser, carpenter, age 46, born Weimar, arrived 1751 or 1752.

Survivors (5):

  1. Joachim Senseman, tailor, age 48, born Hesse, arrived August 1755.
  2. George Partsch, linen weaver, age 36, born Upper Silesia, arrived November 18, 1755.
  3. Susanna Partsch, nee Eller, cook, age 33, born Budingen, arrived November 18, 1755.
  4. Peter Worbass, carpenter, born May 18, 1722 age 33,  born Denmark (Jutland), arrived 1754 or 1755.
  5. Joseph Sturgis, laborer, latter a potter, age 17, born Philadelphia, arrived before 1755.

Joseph Sturgis recently arrived from Mucungie, and previous to that lived at the Moravian boys School at Oley.  Baptized by the Brethren at an early age, his mother sent him there when he was about ten, after the premature death of his father aged 44.  They were living in Philadelhphia.  Joe Sturgis went on to become a potter and a successful business owner.  He built a stately home in Lititz, PA in 1782.  His family continued to live in Lititz where his grandson founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States.

Peter Worbass is the one survivor most accounts forget to mention.  He married Anna Maria Schemel in Bethlehem in July of 1758.   They had one surviving son Joseph who married Phoebe Hull.

George and Susana Partsch continued to serve “the Economy” after the massacre in St. Thomas.  George died in 1765 and is buried in row 1 plot 12 of the “Married Men” section of the Moravian graveyard in Bethlehem.  Susanna (nee Eller) died in 1795 and is buried in row 6 plot 2 of the “Women and Children” section.  They left three daughters.

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The source for the information above is an excellent blog on this subject.

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Dreams?

A special connection between the Indians and the Moravians involved Dreams.

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There is a whole library of dreams discussed by the Indians and the Moravians.   The article alleges artist William Blake’s mystical and dream-like images were influenced by his Mom who had connections to the Moravians.

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Dreams based on Daniel
https://mwatch.org/blog/2018/2/7/dreams-and-visions-the-intelligence-of-the-spirit

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Great Awakening

Moravians and the Indian Great Awakening in Pennsylvania —
https://www.jstor.org/stable/2953880?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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Mahicans and Lenapi

Tribal Identity in the Moravian Missions on the Susquehanna
file:///C:/Users/jim-m/Downloads/25581-25420-1-PB%20(2).pdf

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A History of the Moravian Mission Among the Indians on the White River in Indiana 

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The 2nd Gnadenhutten Massacre

is in today’s Ohio

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During the American Revolutionary War, in 1782 Pennsylvania militia raided a Moravian mission village, also called Gnadenhutten, in present-day Ohio. Suspecting the Lenape of being allied with the British, the militia killed 96 unarmed men, women, and children in what became better known as the Gnadenhutten Massacre.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnadenh%C3%BCtten

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This 2nd more famous Gnadenhutten Massacre

has  a Winchester VA connection.

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Winchester VA connection.
A Winchester area resident, William Crawford was blamed by the Indians for this massacre.

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He was a lifelong surveyor friend of George Washington, paid with his life, burned at the stake June 1782, which was a year after Yorktown battle, a year before the treaty ending the Rev War, a national headline at the time.

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Later he paid posthumously with his statue’s head decapitated during the Charlottesville demonstrations against the Robert E Lee statue in August 2017.

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Source:
http://frenchandindianwarfoundation.org/event/william-crawford-burned-at-the-stake/

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Notes to use

to update more to this article


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Back to the 2 Gnadenhutten Massacres.
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One in Pennsylvania, 1755, November 24.
See story and map.
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https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1trymtX5rGYDjQ_tYJUvv63wqc1M&ll=40.82870230000001%2C-75.7062477&z=18
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One in Ohio 1782, March 8.
See story and map.
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https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1trymtX5rGYDjQ_tYJUvv63wqc1M&ll=40.82870230000001%2C-75.7062477&z=18
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Our Winchester Area Resident?
William Crawford.
June 11, 1782
Burned at the stake for the 2nd Gnadenhutten Massacre, accused wrongly. But that’s another story. He is a Lifelong surveyor friend of George Washington.
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See his story:
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http://frenchandindianwarfoundation.org/event/william-crawford-burned-at-the-stake/

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Tecumseh allegedly spoke of Gnadenhutten

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We have found different, conflicting versions of this story.
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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?”
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Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnadenhutten_massacre#Aftermath
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https://www.stcharlesschoolsc.org/cms/lib/CA02223381/Centricity/Domain/148/tecumsehs_speech.pdf
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http://usslave.blogspot.com/2012/10/tecumsehs-speech-of-august-11-1810-to.html
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Another different version of the Tecumseh talking about Gnadenhutten:
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Scroll down to see the text of this speech
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http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/dc007/id/19/rec/11
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Different words in this one:
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https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Tecumseh%27s_Speech,_of_August_11,_1810,_To_Governer_William_Harrison
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Different words
https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/nativeamericans/chieftecumseh.htm
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Copied here just in case that site goes down or the link is broken

https://culturedcarboncounty.blogspot.com/2013/04/lehighton-students-investigate-moravian.html

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lehighton Students Investigate: Gnaden Huetten Moravian Massacre & Ben Franklin’s Fort Allen

It was a stormy night, the heavy rains nearly drove them away, but a determined few achieved their objective.

 

The group (students, their parents and teacher) from April 13th gather beneath the shelter of the well-roof between showers.  The modern brick-and-mortar roofed-well was built by Weissport resident Bruce Begal.  He feared children playing nearby were in danger of falling in it, prompting this project in the 1980s.

Note of Disambiguation: Lehighton’s Gnaden Huetten Massacre (November 24th, 1755) occurred after the start of the French and Indian War with Gen. Braddock’s Defeat (also known as The Battle of the Wilderness) in July 1755.  (The Gnaden Huetten Massacre along the Mahoning Creek Valley of Pennsylvania should not be confused with the massacre of the same name in the same named valley of Ohio in 1782.  In the Lehighton massacre, Shamokin Native Americans killed peaceful Moravians while the massacre in Ohio was retaliation by wilderness forces committed against the native people of that valley.

In the case of Ben Franklin and his men, it was a matter of life or death.  The frontier was in turmoil, hundreds had been killed.  On his way to Gnadenhutten to build Fort Allen, eleven farmers requested guns to defend themselves so that they could retrieve their cattle from their burned out homesteads, to which Franklin obliged.  Then the rains came, forcing Franklin and his fifty militia soldiers into the hospitality of Nicholas Opplinger’s barn near the Aquashicola Creek, in today’s Palmerton.

The view of the Fort Allen site from the Weissport bridge.  The fort would
have been in the dead-center of this picture, 122 feet by 50 feet, with 3 block
houses inside measuring 18’x18′, 18’x20′ and one 20’x20′.

Soon upon their arrival, word came to Franklin that all but one of the farmers they’d assisted were killed by roving Natives.  Their guns failed them in the rain.  A lesson not lost on Franklin.  The next morning’s journey was clear for the first two miles but once again the defenselessness of their flintlocks in the rain forced them to retreat back to Opplinger’s.

On April 10, 2013, students of the Lehighton Area Middle School also found the site of Fort Allen, minutes after a torrential thunderstorm.  Their mission was simpler than Franklin’s: to find the dimensions of the fort Franklin and his men built over 250 years prior.

Ben Franklin looms large in our nation’s history, but his military exploits are barely
mentioned.  Here he stands over Weissport Park, facing “Franklin Street” just
outside “Franklin Township.”  The well and the fort he supervised are about 200
feet in front of this statue, behind the Fort Allen apartment building.

But like Franklin, it was their inquisitiveness that led them to this time and place.  I think Franklin’s commitment to civil service was a natural extension of his curiosity about, and care for, his fellow man.  The LAMS students were assigned to research and report on this colonial episode.  The more they learned the more questions they asked that challenged the knowledge of their teacher, which led their teacher to Dr. Harrison Hoppes.

Dr. Hoppes recently returned to the area and is the foremost expert on this early period of what was then Northampton County (Carbon would be chiseled away from their mother county in 1843.)  His book, “Behind the Blue Mountain: Tales from Upper Northampton County, PA During the 18th Century (2009) is available at the Lehighton Memorial Library.

Here is Franklin’s sketch of his fort as it appears in his auto-biography.  The gate faces the river as one
drawing indicates.

One thing that impressed me about the students’ research was their insistence on making the math add up.  Most accounts of our massacre state that there were fifteen Moravians on the Mahoning, eleven (some say twelve) of them killed with three (some say four) survivors.  The more they dug into the information, the more they realized there were actually sixteen with five survivors.

Information confirmed by Dr. Hoppes and his research.  So my fifth-grade students ascertained the correct figures that those who posted the story on Wikipedia could not.

This is the sketch that appears in Montgomery’s 1916 “Report to
Locate the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania. Click here to view the original report.

Ben Franklin and his men reached New Gnadenhutten just one day after his fiftieth birthday.  Their first order of business was to properly bury the six hastily buried soldiers killed on January 1, 1756.  While ice-skating on the Lehigh, two Native decoys lured the soldiers from their skating into the woods where they were ambushed.  The attack sent the remaining soldiers garrisoned at New Gnadenhutten scattering.  Future Memorial Day services should include mentioning these fallen men who died within the bounds of our community.

Could these human skulls be three of the six skulls of the fallen
soldiers?  I doubt Franklin and his men crossed the Lehigh with
the dead soldiers to bury them along the creek.  However, if the
ambush occurred near there it is understandable that the
first burial was done near the Heilman Dam below Rt 443,
therefore this should be considered as one possible
theory.

Franklin was already established in the fields of science, publishing, and civil service, establishing Philadelphia’s first hospital, library and fire department.  He was an influential legislator in the Pennsylvania house and he was the one who proposed establishing a colonial militia to protect the citizenry.  So how could Franklin refuse the Governor Morris’ request to lead the militia in this important endeavor?

A view of the river as it looks today and site of the January 1, 1756 deaths of six colonial militia men.
“New Gnadenhutten” would have been through the trees at the end of the
bridge seen at the left.  The ford to “Old Gnadenhutten” is thought to be below the McCall bridge at the right,
above where the Mahoning Creek enters the Lehigh River.

In November, the remaining Moravians at “Old Gnadenhutten” across the river, stayed put despite firm evidence that attacks from the French supported Indians of the Wyoming Valley were moving eastward.  The Penn’s Creek Massacre occurred October 15th; another on October 25th at John Harris’ Ferry near Harrisburg and then the Henry Hartman family was attacked on October 30th at the Swatara Gap.

Here is where the Mahoing Creek enters the Lehigh River today.  Teedyuscung, the “Last Great War King” of the Delawares was baptized here in the waters of this creek when he was converted by Moravian Bishop
Cammerhoff on March 12, 1750.  Teedyuscung lived at Gnadenhutten before the attack and visited several
times after.  He is a controversial figure in this history, often vilified but also took part in peace negotiations.

Then came the attack at Readington (Reading) on November 16th very similar to the one that occurred here on November 24th: thirteen killed (11 were killed here, counting Susanna Nitchsmann who died six months later in Indian captivity) with their houses burned and having their cattle, grain and fodder destroyed too.

On Wednesday November 19, 1755 Reverend Martin Mack who oversaw the operations on the Mahoning wrote from “New Gnadenhutten” to Bishop Spangenberg who was in Bethlehem:

My precious and dear heart Joseph:
Last night to our and our pious brothers’ and sisters’ great joy, came the brothers and sisters Lawatsch*, Partsch, and brother Gattermeyer here to us. After a brief stay with us, they went to the Mahoning , and this evening David# with John Shikellamy^  also came to us. For a few days now the neighborhood around us is in an uproar. Many people have fled to Allemangel` again. They also notice that enemy tries and seeks to drive them into the forest. This is down by several disorderly loiters who came from the Susquehanna and have been in the area for several days. The brothers are not home much, but hunting up the Lehigh. *Andrew Anton Lawatsch and his wife Anna Maria were visiting Gnadenhutten as part of their Moravian official duties and left before the attack.
# David Zeisberger; a Moravian who frequently traveled between Bethlehem, Gnadenhutten and beyond, frequently living for long stretches with the Natives.
^Cayuga Chief Shikellamy’s son who was a good friend to the Moravians.
` A Moravian settlement in Lynn Township, near where Fort Everett was built under the direction of Ben’s son William Franklin.

In October, the Moravians rescued their missionary blacksmith Marcus Kiefer from the Shamokin settlement who was sent there in April of 1747.  It was Bishop Spangenberg’s controversial decision to send him there, but a necessary one to maintain their close Indian friendships.  He was to allow a blacksmith there who was to fix flintlocks belonging to the warriors.  It was hoped the guns would be used to hunt game and not to be used on the war path.  More recently, a member, John Leonard Gattermeyer was working as a blacksmith there as late as October, one month before he arrived back at Gnadenhutten where he was murdered on November 24th.

For these and other reasons, many of the non-Moravian settlers from New Jersey and on out the Mahoning Valley had little trust in the “Indian-loving” Moravians.  However the night of the November 24th attack proved to many that even the pacifist Moravians were not immune to these deadly attacks.

Suffice it for this post to simply list the following information from Dr. Hoppes (Augmented with a few notes of my own:)

The gravestone marker, laying in the flat Moravian tradition, was erected by the Moravians on December 10th, 1788 above the remains of the martyrs.  It can be visited in the lower edge of the Lehighton Cemetery and at the top
edge of the Gnadenhutten Cemetery.
An interesting fact about this stone: Psalm 116:15 normally states
“…precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.”
However, whether it be a mistake made by the Moravian pacifists or intentional,  the stone was carved,
“…precious in the fight of the Lord…”
Ironically, the Moravians sought and gained conscientious objector status by the PA Assembly prior to the attack.  When violence erupted in the frontier though, Moravian leadership granted special dispensation allowing the those brethren who wished to defend themselves to do so as needed.

Victims (11*)  
Ages are at time of attack.  Arrival date is at Gnadenhutten.:

  1. Gottlieb Anders, gardener age 38, born Neumark, Siesia, arrived in 1755.  (They arrived in Pennsylvania aboard the church ship “Little Strength” in 1743 among the “Second Sea Congregation.”)
  2. Christina Anders nee Vollmer, age 34, born Homburg, arrived  1755.
  3. Johann Anders, infant 1 year, 2 months, born Nazareth, arrived 1755. (Johann was too young to live in the Moravian nursery in Bethlehem and so perished in the flames.  Brothers Gottleib and John were safe at the Church nursery in Nazareth.)
  4. Martin Nitschmann, cutler, age 41, born Suchdol, Moravia, arrived August 1755.
  5. *Susanna Nitschmannnee Weicht, age 34, born Rosnitz, Silesia, arrived August 1755 (She and Martin were married in one of the mass weddings of the Moravians, July 15th, 1749.  Her name was included on the stone even though she did not die at Gnadenhutten.  She was taken captive and died six months later.)
  6. Catharina Sensemannnee Ludwig, age 38, born Upper Silesia, arrived August 1755.
  7. Leonhard Gattermeyer, blacksmith, age 34, born Regensberg, arrived November 1755.
  8. Christian Fabricius, teacher/scribe, age 39, born Heidenheim, Wurtem, arrived 1754.
  9. George Schweigert, military/teamster, age 31, born Heidenheim, Wurtem, arrived 1754.
  10. Frederick Lesly, laborer, age 23, born Conestoga, PA, arrived October 1755.
  11. Martin Presser, carpenter, age 46, born Weimar, arrived 1751 or 1752.

Survivors (5):

  1. Joachim Senseman, tailor, age 48, born Hesse, arrived August 1755.
  2. George Partsch, linen weaver, age 36, born Upper Silesia, arrived November 18, 1755.
  3. Susanna Partsch, nee Eller, cook, age 33, born Budingen, arrived November 18, 1755.
  4. Peter Worbass, carpenter, born May 18, 1722 age 33,  born Denmark (Jutland), arrived 1754 or 1755.
  5. Joseph Sturgis, laborer, latter a potter, age 17, born Philadelphia, arrived before 1755.

Joseph Sturgis recently arrived from Mucungie, and previous to that lived at the Moravian boys School at Oley.  Baptized by the Brethren at an early age, his mother sent him there when he was about ten, after the premature death of his father aged 44.  They were living in Philadelhphia.  Joe Sturgis went on to become a potter and a successful business owner.  He built a stately home in Lititz, PA in 1782.  His family continued to live in Lititz where his grandson founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States.

Peter Worbass is the one survivor most accounts forget to mention.  He married Anna Maria Schemel in Bethlehem in July of 1758.   They had one surviving son Joseph who married Phoebe Hull.

George and Susana Partsch continued to serve “the Economy” after the massacre in St. Thomas.  George died in 1765 and is buried in row 1 plot 12 of the “Married Men” section of the Moravian graveyard in Bethlehem.  Susanna (nee Eller) died in 1795 and is buried in row 6 plot 2 of the “Women and Children” section.  They left three daughters.

Mr Semmel’s Class Report Mrs. Lusch’s Class ReportMr Knappenberger’s Class Report  Mr Rabenold’s Class ReportOther History Hikes:
The Switchback Railroad HikesOld Mauch Chunk Tour/Lower Switchback 

Senseman was widowed by the massacre.  He and his first wife Anna Catharine Ludwig were married at Marienborn August 5, 1741 and arrived here as part of the “First Sea-Congregation” in Philadelphia June 7, 1742.  They had five children, of which three survived, one daughter and one son died in infancy.  Gottlob, Joachim, and Anna Benigna (Named after Count Zinzendorf’s daughter who founded the girls’ school in Bethlehem.) were in the care of the church nursery in Bethlehem at the time of the attack.  Anna was only 5 when her mother died.  She died at the age of 10 in 1760.  Joachim II lost his arm in a hunting accident later in life, dying at the age of 61.  Gottlob became a faithful companion of Bishop Zeisberger in “successful work and severe trials in the Indian Mission service.”  He married Anna Brucker Senseman on May 11, 1778 in Lititz.  She is buried among the brethren in Bethlehem in 1815.  Gottlob died in 1800 in Fairfield Canada.

The Joseph Sturgis grave also lies flat in the Moravian tradition in Lititz, PA.
From all accounts, he appeared to have lived a long and happy life after
the massacre, responsible for many children and grandchildren who came
after him.

Many descendants of the survivors were on hand for the 150th Anniversary held at the grave site by the Moravian Historical Society in 1905.  From page 355-6 of Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, 1906: “…those who were murdered…who left descendents: Martin Nitschman, the first one to be slain; and Ann Catherine Sensemann, who was burned in the building.   Of the direct lineal descendents of Martin Nitschmann there were present: Eugen Martin Leibert, of Nazareth, Richard W. Leibert; Joseph M. Leibert, Jr.; Eugenia Leibert Bishop; John Leibert Bishop; Emily Leibert and Joseph A Rice, all of Bethlehem; and William Henry Rice of Gnadenhuetten, Ohio and who was the one who gave the memorial message.  Of the descendants of Ann Cathaerine Sensemann there were present: Mrs. Albert Lindermann and her daughter Alberta Linderman, of Philadelphia.    More on them on some future post.  The missionaries on the premises at the time of the massacre who escaped, were John George and Susanna Louisa Partsch, Joseph Sturgis, and Peter Worbass.  Of the descendents of John Partsch there were present: J. Samuel Krause and Henry J Meyers of Bethlehem and Mary Krause Henry of Boulton, PA.  OF the descendants of Joseph Sturgis there were present: James Orlando Sturgis of Lititz and Albert Orlando Sturgis and Albert James Sturgis of Nazareth.  Sixteen in all.”

A transcript of the Moravian grave side speech and ceremony is available
on Google Books in “Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society.”
Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 people attended.  The Lehigh Valley
Railroad allowed the Noon express train to make a special stop
to accommodate pilgrims from Bethlehem.  The memorial address was
given by the Rev W. H. Rice, D. D, himself a descendant of Moravian
missionaries who was living in Gnadehuetten, Ohio at the time.
A transcript of this address can be viewed by clicking this hyperlink.
Paul Niehoff above started the well known florist business in Lehighton
and was known to have a grandmother “Nitschmann” who was from
Moravia attesting to his involvement with the 150th Re-Dedication Service.

On that November evening, the news of the attack reached those at “New Gnadenhutten” by way of survivors Joachim Senseman and George Partsch.  They were picked up by Moraivan Brother John Bull’s canoe (also known by his Native name “Shebosh;” he married a Native American woman of the settlement.  Both Senseman and Bull served together in the first settlement in New York years prior.).  At about this time, Brother David Zeisberger arrived from Bethlehem and was crossing the ford on his horse, calls to get him back could not be heard over the hooves splashing and clomping on the rocks, but he turned as the sounds of shots and the flame-orange lit sky alerted him to danger.

Natives living among them at New Gnadenhutten at first asked to go and find the attackers, but Rev. Mack asked them to refrain themselves, so they scattered into the woods.  George Partsch and Joachim Senseman and others took flight to Bethlehem, reaching there around 3:00AM, to which after daybreak they set out again back to the settlement and claimed the victims from the ashes.  To the astonished relief of Partsch, he found his wife had hid in a “hollow of a tree” overnight in the woods, unharmed.

The body of Martin Presser was found by the militia stationed at Fort Allen the following April, lying peacefully in the tangled growth along “Sand Spring” (Perhaps this is the spring that flows along Seventh St., Lehighton, past the “Body and Soul” Complex, through the land that once was Olewine’s tannery.).  He had his hands folded on his chest and appeared to have suffered a wound in his right side.  He was identified by his hair and his clothing.

Students line up around the perimeter of the right side of the fort as measured from the well, center left of this picture.  The student in the pink raincoat is on the front right corner while the student in red at right is at the back corner.  The group of students in the middle are representing the dimension of one of the block houses.  The configuration outlined
here represents exactly the right half of the fort.  Jacob’s United Church of Christ appears at right.

Students participating in Wednesday’s first group hike were: Makayla Nothstein, her sisters Riley and Aliyah, Rachael DeSanto, Madison “Denver” Bronko, Madison Cressley, Aisa Arner, Aleah Nothstein, Chloe Schliecher, Karissa Hough, Elizabeth Tower, Abigail Hoppes and her brother Daniel, Luke Wilusz, and Alex Zeigenfuss.

Students, along with their parents, from the second group were: Dylan McIntosh, John DeMatte, Mykayla Engle, Collin Moyer, Kimberly Yerance, Jose Lopez, Makayla Nothstein, Matt Smith, Corey Moyer, Rachael DeSanto, Tia Tyson, Ricky Fasching, Tessa Sitarchyk, Isabella Collotty, and Jessica VanFossen.

Students took dimensions from Ben Franklin’s notes from his autobiography,
measuring from the well, the only remaining piece of Fort Allen.

They and their parents humored their teacher by listening to more anecdotes of that fateful night and the week that Franklin performed his duties in today’s Weissport.  They eagerly took the copies of Franklin’s original sketch and dimensions of the fort and measured the right side of the fort from the well (the left side of the fort is now occupied by Behavioral Health Associate’s Building). The students also measured the interior block houses of the fort.

With the raw data from the primary source, the students had to collaborate
and apply problem solving skills to locate and estimate the parameters
of the fort as well as the three interior wooden block houses.
The base of the Ben Franklin statue in Weissport park.

The original fort was 122 feet long by 50 feet wide, with a gated side that faced the river.  They used fifteen foot timbers placed three feet into the ground yielding twelve-foot walls.  Planks were ascertained on their way to Palmerton at Kern’s Mill in Slatington.  Planks were fastened on the inside of the stockade about six-feet up, giving the garrison the ability to fire their flintlocks through the palisades as well as the two swivel-guns (small cannons) mounted at opposite corners.

This historical marker sign sets along Trout Creek in Slatington near the location
of Kern’s Mill where Franklin and his men secured planks for Fort Allen.
Many parents were also interested in this key role our area played during this contentious period in our national history.
We were fortunate to have retired Social Studies teacher Mrs Barbara Jones, Dr. Harrison Hoppes, and LAMS social studies teacher Mrs. Katherine Decker to help our students learn this history.

A deserved ‘Thank you’ goes to all the parents who took the time to attend the hike and braved the wet weather as well.

A follow-up trips was held Thursday, April 18th.  We were fortunate to have Dr. Harrison Hoppes who provided valuable commentary and insight.  A few students came both nights.  Imagine that!  I have a lot of hope for our future historians.  Thank you Dr. Hoppes, Mrs. Barbara Jones, retired Social Studies teacher  and to Mrs. Katherine Decker 5th Grade Social Studies Teacher at LAMS for helping out and giving our students an opportunity to learn about our area outside the classroom.

The second night group also poses along the perimeter of the right side of the fort.

Resources:

-Interview with and personal notes of Dr. Harrison Hoppes, PhD.

-Hoppes, Harrison N.  Behind the Blue Mountain: Tales from Upper Northampton County, PA During the 19th Century, 2009.

-Montgomery, Thomas Lynch.  Report of the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania, Google Books, 1916.

-Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, Vol 7, Google Books, 1902.

at April 14, 2013  

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1 comment:

  1. Laura KlotzJune 14, 2018 at 7:38 PMReply
  2. This was a great article! I found it very helpful while writing my own blog post about Gnadenhuetten, and I linked to it as a source in order to provide credit. 🙂

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