Monday, November 17, 2008

Brotherton Reservation

After John Eliot himself, one of the most famous missionaries to the American Indians was David Brainerd. In the 1740's, Brainerd found the Delaware Indians at Crossweeksung, New Jersey open to his preaching and willing to become Christians. But since ownership of the land there was in dispute and since the soil was more fertile 15 miles away, Brainerd acquired another tract of land there which became the mission town of Bethel in 1746. Brainerd died in 1747 at the age of 29.

About ten years after Brainerd's death, it became clear that white settlers were about to move into the area. To prevent this from happening, Stephen Calvin, a New Jersey Delaware who served as Bethel's schoolteacher, as well as other chiefs and a coalition of white Presbyterians and Quakers got together and influenced the New Jersey colonial government to purchase over 3000 acres in the pine barrens. "Brotherton," was the only Indian reservation in the history of New Jersey.

By 1801 there were less than 100 Delawares left on the Brotherton reservation. Captain Hendrick Aupaumut of the Stockbridge Mohicans (then living in New York State) had already invited the Brothertons to join his people in a letter he wrote in 1793. Several other letters were sent back and forth and petitions to the government of New Jersey were also written. The petition they wrote in 1801 was acted on with the state selling the Brotherton's land in order to pay for their transportation to New Stockbridge, New York. A subsequent treaty made the Brothertons legally a part of another small Indian nation, the Stockbridge Mohicans.

The primary documents and some of the background that I have discussed here were compiled in a little book edited and published by Richard S. Walling (ISBN 0-9768719-3-9). The title is Brotherton Reservation & Weekping - Coaxen A Documentary History: The Betrayal of the Indigenous People of New Jersey. (Clinton A. Weslager and Herbert Kraft have also written books about the Delaware Indians that briefly address the Brothertons.)


Click here for other posts featuring the Brotherton Indians.

1 comment :

Myron said...

Brother ton
Preaching town