Page images
PDF
EPUB

erected upon the Rapidan, and made the point of trade for the Indians of the North. A tract of good land 6 miles square upon the Maherin River was set apart, and the Saponys and four other affiliated tribes were induced to emigrate. This movement necessitated the In. dians leaving their former improvements. The Saponys received fourteen cows and as many calres besides corn as their share of payment." As inducements to settle on the reservation the education of their chil. dren was promised, and also that they should purchase their goods at reduced rates. A five-bastion fort was built and the fort named Chris. tanna, and the Indian trading company put in charge was to have a mon. opoly of all the trade south of the James River for twenty years. The school was opened under the care of Mr. Charles Griffin, his salary of £50 being paid out of Governor Spotswood's pocket. In 1715 three hundred Indians were reported on this reservation, and seventy chil. dren in school, 5 " a great part of which can already say the Lord's prayer and the creed.” 6 By 1718, the opposition to the Indian trading company became sufficiently powerful to secure its legal dissolution, and the tributary Indians were abandoned to the mercy of their Indian enemies although the governor for a time sought to protect them;? but he was already involved in difficulties, his policy toward the Indians forming a part of the charges against him which resulted in his removal. The school was broken up to the distress of the Indians, who were much attached to Mr. Griffin. The latter gentleman was transferred to the Brasserton Indian school in connection with the College of William and Mary, and the only attempt at an Indian school outside of Brasserton came to an end in about five years.

As early as 1711 the governor of Virginia had demanded hostages, not only of tributary Indians, but of the border tribes. The children, two from “the great men of each town,” 10 were to be surety for the friendliness of their relatives. Up to this time none bat slaves seem to have been attainable as pupils for the Indian school established by the charity of the Hon. Robert Boyle." Those Indians giving their children to be educated were to have their tribute of skins remitted while they kept their children in school.12

Governor Spotwood's interest in the welfare of the Indians seems to have been practical and sincere, but he labored at grave disadvantage, for public sentiment failed to second his plans and endeavors. He ventured not only his private purse, but his public reputation to secure to the natives some chance to become civilized and educated. His letters to the authorities in London are full of pleadings for the support of such benevolent plans as he sought to set in motion. He secured the little hostages; and the Nansemonds, the Nottoways, the Maherins, the Pamun. keys, and the Chickaliominies, who sent their children were well pleased

1 Spotswood Letters, Vol. II., p. 194. * Ibid., p. 198. 3 Ibid., pp. 89, 141, 194. 4 Ibid., pp. 90, 196. 5 Ibid., p. 113. 6 Ibid., p. 138. ? Ibid., pp. 302, 303. * Ibid., pp. 190–218.

9 Perry: Hist. of the American Episcopal Church, Voi. I, p. 128. 10 Spotswood Letters, Vol. I, p. 121. 11 See p. 34. 12 Spotswood Letters, Vol. I, p. 122.

1

with the treatment they received. In 1713 he reported seventeen boys at the college. The numbers fell off during the maintenance of the school at Christanna, where most of the hostages, as well as the children living on the reservation, were brought under instruction. The attendance seems to have been always very small at Brasserton, not more than eight or ten at any time. The funds derived from the bequest of Mr. Boyle exceeded the expenses of the school, for, in 1732, the president and master of the college requested the authorities in London to per. mit the expending of the £500 surplus, which had accumulated over the expenses of the Indian school, in the purchase of books to serve as a common library for Indians and white pupils. The Revolution put an end to this Indian school, “the funds by which it was sustained having been diverted by the English courts of law into a different channel." 5

The records of the college during the period prior to the Revolution are quite imperfect, and but fourteen Indians are mentioned in the collective catalogue.

Mr, Hugh Jones, professor of mathematics in the college, states in bis “Present State of Virginia," published in London in 1724, he having left Virginia two years before:

The young Indians, procured from the tributary or foreign nations with much difficulty, were formerly boarded and lodged in town, where abundance of them used to die, either through sickness, change of provision and way of life, or, as some will have it, often for want of proper necessaries and due care taken with them. Those of them that have escaped well, and have been taught to read and write, have, for the most part, retumea to their home. Some with and some without baptism, where they follow their own savage customs and heathenish rites. A few of them lived as servants with the English, or loitered and idled away their time in laziness and mischief. But it is a pity more care is not taken of them after they are dismissed from school. They have admirable capacities when their humors and tempers are per fectly understood.

It is impossible to tell how large was the number of returned students referred to by Professor Jones. The school, prior to 1711, had had only a few slaves; in that year the hostages were brought in. Professor Jones's observations, therefore, cover a period of about ten years, during which time there could hardly have been more than fifty different Indian pupils, seventeen being the highest number given as present at one time. Of these, "abundance" died; a few remained “as servants, the only occupation open to an Indian among the colonists; consequently the number must have been very small who, after a few years of schooling of a primitive character, returned to their tribes and fell in with the religious customs of their people. The Indian tribes were isolated and forbidden by law to share in the life of the whites; they were relegated to hunting in order to gain the pelts demanded by the trader in exchange for goods. No missionaries or schools were in their midst to uphold and encourage any new mode of life; and, as to the surroundings of these Indian tribes which has been pushed to the

1 Spotswood Letters, Vol. I, p. 122. 2 I bid., Vol. II, p. 61. 3 Catalogne College of William and Mary, 1855, p. 5. 4 I bid., 1859, p. 10. 6 I bid., 1855, p. 5.

frontier to guard the colonists from the Indians further to the westward, Governor Spotswood writes as follows:

The Inhabitants of our frontiers are composed generally of such as have been transported hither as servants, and being out of their time settle themselves where land is to be taken up and that will produce the necessarys of Life with little Labour. It is pretty well known what Morals such people bring with them hither, which are not like to be mended by their situation.

Those who are nearest neighbours to the Indians, by whose principles and practices they are not like to be much improved; but this is not all, for these people, knowing the Indian to be lovers of strong liquors, inake no scruple of first making them drunk and then cheating them of their skins, and even of beating them in the bargain.

Hence your Lordships may judge whether a frequent intercourse and communication between such people and the Indians be like either to reform their Morals, or to promote a good understanding with them. As to beginning a nearer friendship by intermarriage (as the custom of the French is), the inclinations of our people are not the same with those of that Nation, for notwithstanding the long intercourse between ye Inhabitants of this Country and ye Indians and their living amongst one another for so many Years, I cannot find one Englishman that has an Indian wife, or an Indian marryed to a white woman.

Ostracized by law and race prejudice, and remanded to the company of men not of a reputable type, it would be well nigh a miracle if the Indian should blossom out into a life of Christian civilization, or that Indian students who had gained a little English and could repeat the creed should, on their return, isolate themselves from their kindred and attempt to carry out principles but vaguely comprehended, and which, if carried out, would condemn the white population even more severely than the Indians themselves.

1

PENNSYLVANIA.

The establishment of a lasting friendship between the followers of William Penn and the Indians is too well known to need more than mention. The good-will bred of fair treatment has never grown dim during the long and varied experiences of over two centuries. While peace abounded where the Friends had control, the strong, positive people that pioneered through the western portions of the colony came into conflict with the vigorous tribes inhabiting that region.

Pennsylvania became the theater of one of the most remarkable examples of missionary labor in our history, not only on account of its success, but from its tragic fate; proving again, in records written in human blood, that failure lies with us, not with the Indians.

Moravian missions.-The headquarters of the Moravian church in America were at Bethlehem, Pa., a town on the Lehigh River, 12 miles westerly from its junction with the Delaware. Its site was purchased and its settlement commenced in 1740. The inhabitants were united by a community of labor and house-keeping, but each retained his own 1 Spotswood Letters, Vol. II, p. 227. 2 Schweinitz: Life of David Zeisberger,

3 Loskiel: History of the Mission to the Indians, p. 84. + Schweinitz: Life of David Zeisberger, p. 24.

4

p. 24.

private property. From this religious family missionaries went out to labor for the conversion and civilization of the Indians, and to it they returned with bodies exhausted by travel and exposure, but often with hearts rejoicing over new-made converts and increasing opportunities of asefulness. When the Christian Indians of Shekomeko reached Pennsylvania they were received at Bethlehem, and a little hamlet was built near by for their temporary abode. Soon afterward they were permanently located 30 miles farther up the Lehigh River, and the town built there for them was named Gnadenhütten (tents of grace). It became, says Loskiel, “a very regular and pleasant town." The Indians were diligent, cheerful, and active. They united with the missionaries in building houses and in cultivating the soil. Mills and shops were erected at a little distance from the town, and schools were provided for the children. In 1749 the Indian congregation contained several hundred persons, and the frequency of conversions incited the brethren to unceasing efforts for the surrounding tribes, most of which belonged to the Delaware Nation.

Several missionary enterprises were undertaken during the prosper. ous days of Gnadenhütten. The famous Zeisberger had visited the Iroquois, learned their language, and been adopted into their nation; but his efforts at converting the natives were unsuccessful, and the fruits of his labors appeared only in incidental advantages gained to the missions through his acquaintance with the Iroquois and his standing among them. The inhabitants of the Wyoming Valley attracted the attention of the missionaries, and they made occasional visits to it, and at length it became a regular field for missionary labor.' Another mission established was at Shamokin, the chief town of the Delawares. The first attempt to interest its people in Christianity was unsuccessful, and the mission, which was greatly desired, was opened rather as an adjunct to a blacksmith's shop, than as an independent enterprise.10 The mission never flourished, for the inhabitants seemed depraved and vicious beyond remedy, but one of its principal results was the enlistment of the sympathies of the Delaware chief on the side of the Moravians. A mission at an Indian town about 20 miles east from Gnadenhütten was more successful. The chief residing there and his wife were converted and afterward became useful assistants in the Indian church.!

The French and Indian war terminated the mission at Gnadenhütten. Its situation upon the Indian frontier exposed it to the misfortunes of war, and the principles of its religion forbade the bearing of arms. The English and the French were alike suspicious of these peaceful settle.

Schweinitz: Life of Zeisberger, p. 141. 2 Loskiel: History of the Mission to the Indians, p. 87. 3 Ibid., p. 84. 4 Ibid., p. 87. • Heckewelder: Narrative of the Mission among the Delaware and Mohegan Indians, p. 36. 6 Ibid., 38. ? Loskiel and Heckewelder gay five hundred. 8 Schweinitz: Life of Zeisberger, p. 219. 9 Ibid., p. 219. 19 Ibid., p. 143. 11 Losķiel : History of the Mission to the Indians, Part II, p. 119, 12 Ibid., p. 116.

12

ments; and while the former were threatening their extinction the allies of the latter accomplished their destruction. Ten of the Chris. tian Indians were massacred in November, 1755; 1 and on the next New Year's Day the entire village, together with the mill across the river, was laid in ashes. The fugitive converts established themselves near the large Moravian towns, and worked industriously in the fields and farm-yards of the people, or helped to support themselves by manufacturing simple wooden utensils.3

With the prospect of peace the Christian Indians in 1757 began a new settlement in the outskirts of Bethlehem and called it Nain. It was built in the form of a square, three sides of which were composed of houses, and the fourth was defined by a small stream of water. The houses were of squared timber and had shingle roofs. The public buildings were a chapel, school-house, and home for indigent widows. Visi. tors were astonished at the prosperity of the congregation, and thought it next to a miracle that by the light of the gospel a savage race should be brought to live together in peace and harmony, and, above all, devote themselves to religion.” 6 Nothing occurred to impair seriously the prosperity of the town until Pontiac's War (1763). Rumors of its bloody progress brought terror to the peaceful Indians. An outlying congregation was compelled to flee from its home, and ere long Nain was endangered on all sides. The whites settlers suffering from the attacks of the hostile Indians, were inflamed against the entire race; and the converts were saved from violence only by obedience to rules of dress and conduct prescribed and promulgated by the governor of the prov. ince. They were to be always clothed and have hats and caps, but no paint or feathers. Tbey were to let their hair grow naturally, carry their guns on their shoulders, observe special forms of salutation, and obtain passes when going out to hunt. Willing submission to such rules was an evidence of the changed character of these Indians.

An accusation of murder brought against a young convert hastened the impending crisis, and necessitated the immediate removal of the congregation to a place of safety.10 This was not found until after many wanderings and much persecution and suffering, borne with truly Christian fortitude. Only eighty-three Indians remained at the end of sixteen months to join in a farewell to Nain as they journeyed westward from their refuge in Philadelphia to seek a new home remote from their white enemies. 11

The place chosen for the home of the Christian Indians was near the Susquehanna, in the northern part of Pennsylvania.2 Permission to locate permanently was obtained with difficulty. A town called Friedenshütten was built, surpassing in attractiveness the former settle

1 Schweinitz: Life of David Zeisberger, p. 236. 2 Ibid., p. 239. 3 Ibid., p. 240. 4 Heckewelder: Narrative of the Mission among the Delaware and Mohegan Indians, p. 56. 5 Ibid., p. 231. 6 Ibid., p. 257. 7 Loskiel: History of the Mission to the Indians, Part II, p. 202. 8 I bid., p. 212. Schweinitz: Life of David Zeisberger, p. 276. 10 I bid., p. 282. 11 I bid., p. 307. 1. Ibid., p. 316.

« PreviousContinue »