Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ohio 1818: "The most interesting day in this place"

Thanks to the Google Books digitization project, a lot of old material is available to people like me who don't live near the libraries of major universities.

In searching the old Congregational publication called the Panoplist, I came upon a truly remarkable blurb taken from a letter written by an Ohio clergyman in 1818. Here it is:

In September seventy or eighty of the Stockbridge tribe of Indians passed through this place on their way to the White River, Indiana. By sickness they were detained over the Sabbath, and asked if there was to be any meeting which they could attend. They were informed that there would be a meeting and that the Lord's supper was to be administered; at which they expressed great joy, and inquired if they could be admitted. On questioning them it was found that their cheif and nine others were regularly formed into a church; and their credentials and appearance gave us satisfactory evidence of their peity. A number of them attended public worship, dressed in the Indian habit, and six came forward to the communion table. They conducted with the utmost propriety and solemnity; and some were bathed in tears. When a psalm was named they all took out their books, and turned to it. It was the most interesting day in this place.

The excerpt continues:

On Monday I visited them, conversed and prayed with them and never was more kindly and cordially received. I found that a large proportion of them had Bibles and could read. The Chief had Scott's Family Bible. they also had other religious books..... They are going to live with the Delawares, who are intimately connected with several other tribes. It appears to me that the hand of God is visible in their removal...
The "chief," was John Metoxen. The minister in Ohio way back then may well have been right when he said that "the hand of God is visible in their removal," if, that is, he meant that they were conducting themselves in a manner that spoke well of Christian Indians. However, unfortunately, the result of their journey, I'm sorry to say, was a disappointment. The land in Indiana offered by the Delawares and Miamis was ceded to the United States for white settlement at about the same time the group left their settlement in New York State.

Use this link to read the original document for yourself.

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