Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Last Sermon in Stockbridge, Wisconsin

A white congregation had taken the place of one that was once almost exclusively Indian. But they continued to worship in the "old Mission House" until December 19th, 1869. On that day Rev. L. P. Norcross attempted to give his congregation the church history of the Stockbridge Mohicans. (So his sermon was about history, instead of religion.)

The Oshkosh Times had the foresight to print Norcross' sermon (referring to it also as a "MEMORIAL DISCOURSE") in their December 29th, 1869 issue. Of course Norcross didn't have a lot of good resources to work with, so it wouldn't be fair to have high expectations of his sermon. Nevertheless, we can call it a good faith attempt at recounting the past.

Norcross tells us how church attendance was enforced when the tribe still lived in Massachusetts:

"These Indians were very strict, very moral and pure in their habits, especially observant were they of the Sabbath, and the whipping master applied the benefits of his office to all strolling pleasure-seekers with whom he came in contact."
While I'm inclined to think that the term "whipping" is not the most appropriate, Norcross is in the right vein because the old Indian church for many years did have an officer known as a "beadle" who at least wielded some kind of a stick (Calvin Colton observed this in 1830).

Norcross reported something that I have seen nowhere else, something about what he called "the Hendricks and Quinney trouble." Certain political documents (which Norcross was unaware of) will tell us more about this conflict, but Norcross has an anecdote of how the conflict may have started. "It was about a single cow, which Austin E. Quinney claimed was stolen from him by one Hendricks, and, I believe proved on him."

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