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Diary of the Indian Gemeinlein on Pilgrimage (January 4-17, 1764)

Transcription and translation by Katherine Carté. Permissions courtesy of the Moravian Archives of Bethlehem.

Diary of the Indian Gemeinlein on Pilgrimage. 1764

January 4: In the evening, Br. Schmick held the evening service, during which gathering Br. David Zeisberger came as an Express from the city with the news that we should go this night from here to Philadelphia, and from there be brought to New York to Sir William Johnson. We made this news known to our Indian brothers and sisters immediately, as well as that they should ready themselves to travel because we were no longer safe here. Our dear Indians were very depressed over this, but it was soon all right again when they heard that they would be cared for further, so that no harm might come to them. So we packed our things together, took what we could carry in an emergency, and left the rest, which should be picked up tomorrow. We set out at midnight, and went were taken by a Flat Boat and two others to Jacob Weissen’s land, where we found Br. Ludwig Weiss, as well as Jacob Weiss, who were very helpful to us so that we could continue on. We loaded a cart and wagon with the blind, sick, and children, also Sr. Grube, and went five miles to Philadelphia, where we arrived safely on...

January 5: ... at 7 o’clock at the Brethren’s House, were welcomed by the Philadelphia Brethren with much love, and treated with a Love Feast. We went very quietly through the city, so that a pair of guards hardly observed us. Br. Schmick, with his wife and child, remained on the island and planned to come to the city in the morning with the remaining baggage. Mr. Fox, the Commissioner, also came to the Brethren’s House and saw in what an orderly fashion the Indians sat in the Gemein Saal and held the Love Feast. He had another thirty blankets distributed among them. After we had remained in the Brethren’s House for an hour and had rested a little, we began our trip to New York. The sick, blind, old, and children, with the most necessary baggage, were brought on four wagons. The crowds of people were very large, so that we could hardly force our way through. A large number accompanied us until outside of the city. Various Brethren went a couple miles with us, as did the old Jacob, who took his leave from us with many tears. Br. Renatus’ wife was, as we came to Philadelphia, sick, and shortly afterwards, as we were on our way, bore a son. Her mother, Jamitz, remained with her. We were very happy that we had not brought her with us, otherwise she would have stopped us along the way. After we were several miles from the city, seventy Highlanders came to accompany us. At first, they acted quite wild and particularly harassed our young women folk. It was mostly high and low ranking officers who came from Pittsburgh, and had been in the last battle with the Indians. At dusk, we came to Bristol, twenty miles from Philadelphia on the Delaware. We met Mr. Fox and Mr. Logan, two of the Governor’s counselors. The soldiers all immediately went to inns, and we could not go there. Finally we found some places in the Quaker Meeting House, where we quartered half [of our party], others had to crawl in a hayloft. The sick and blind lodged in a Cooper’s Shop. They were provided with some bread and cheese that we had brought from Philadelphia. Br. Grube, with his wife, and Brs. David Zeisberger, Christensen, and John Antes found a little space in an inn. There was confusion here among a few married couples. We had much work to do before we were all safely lodged. Our dear Joh. Pepunhang, with his family, was called back by the Governor, which made us very sorry.(1)

January 6: Early in the morning, the soldiers marched out, with us behind them without breakfast. Along the way we rested a little, and each person received three ships biscuits, otherwise we had nothing to live on the whole day. We had it very hard today, like on our special festival.(2) In Trenton, we had to cross the Delaware, which was very full of ice so that we and the soldiers spent more than two hours before we came across. We encamped for a half hour afterwards, until Captain Roberson came, who brought us to the barracks, but since the barracks master was not there, we had to wait for a long time before we could receive a place where we could rest. The wood was also a difficult issue, before we could have some. Finally, we equipped ourselves a bit. Mr. Fox and Mr. Logan also took care that an ox was slaughtered and bread was baked, so that we could take some provisions along on the trip. A dear old woman came to find us when she heard that a sister from Bethlehem was in the city. Sr. Grube spent a couple hours with her; the old woman and her two daughters inquired much about Br. Schmidt and his two daughters, Sally and Molly Price, and she was very happy when she heard that her grandchildren were doing so well in the Gemeine.

January 7: Mr. Logan made a speech to our Indians in the name of the Governor about the war and the murders in Lancaster. Namely, our Indians should deliver two belts of wampum to the Six Nations from the Governor of Pennsylvania, so that they should make peace because they had started the war without cause. item: the Governor sends two pieces black cloth and a few handkerchiefs to the [friends] of the murdered Indians in Lancaster, to put on the graves and to dry their eyes, and that the Governor wanted to punish the perpetrators, etc. etc. After the speech, our Indians took their leave of these two gentlemen and had them thank the Honorable Governor on their behalf for all the good he had shown them in this time. I wrote, with Mr. Fox, to Philadelphia. We then returned to our road in the company of Mr. Epty and came in the evening to Princeton, a comfortable spot where there is pretty college, which 130 students attend. There was soon a big crowd of young people, yet they behaved very discreetly. Mr. Daniel Billisko had ridden ahead of us with the passport from Governor Franklin and secured quarters for us with Justus Kennert, a nice man who brought us from the city to his farm for lodging. The space was much too small, yet it worked in a pinch. A student from the college made himself busy with our Indians, because he could speak Mahikan with them, which he had learned in Stockbridge. Br. Grube held the evening service tonight in three places. He and his wife lodged with a minister’s widow, who was very friendly. Today our journey proceeded very well, because we received six wagons from Trenton. The wagon drivers were also particularly good to us.

January 8 [symbol for Sunday]: We left again at 8 o’clock and arrived in Brunswick at 4 o’clock, where we were lodged in the barracks with the soldiers. The people here were insolent, and our Indians had to let themselves be scrutinized. The wagons went over the bridge to Namberg[?] tonight.

January 9: We set out again on our travels. Because the river was frozen, we went over the ice. The sick and blind, as well as Sr. Grube, were brought over with a hand-sled. Mr. Billisko, who carries our passport, would have soon lost his horse if our Indians had not come to help. On this side of the river, we heard much bad talk from the people. We came in good time to Amboy and were lodged in the good barracks, that is, in six spacious rooms with which we were very pleased.

January 10: We thought we would go early by water to New York, but, because this night the wind was contrary, we had to stay. Bread and meat were distributed to our Indians. We had a pleasant day of rest and in the evening Br. Grube held services in three rooms.

January 11: We made ourselves ready for travel in order to go with two sloops to New York. An Express came, however, to Captain Roberson (who had accompanied us, with his company, here from Philadelphia) with the news that we were not to set a foot in New York. The Express had also brought orders for all the ferrymen that they were under penalty not to bring us across the river. We were more than a little upset by this news. Mr. Epdy, who had accompanied us here and had taken care of our journey, wrote three letters: one to Governor Franklin [of New Jersey], asking him for further protection in this jurisdiction; the second he wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania, telling him that we had no permission to come into the province of New York. The third letter was to Mr. Fox. In the afternoon, the second Express came with a letter from General Gage in New York to the Governor of Pennsylvania, which we also forwarded immediately. The Highlanders [troops] marched away to Staten Island, but were soon called back to stay with us until further ordered. The baggage and the wounded with a few officers went by water to New York, however. John Antes also went there with the Stage Boat. Our good Indians were completely composed during these events. Josua said that the Savior had made it so that the wind turned just as we arrived here, otherwise we would have gone to New York and had to turn around and come back, which would have created confusion for us. We were also very thankful to the Savior for this. In the evening, Brs. Grube and David held the services in three separate rooms. Br. Rothe came from Bethlehem to stay with us.

January 12: He went to the barracks to greet the Indians, who rejoiced much to see their dear old Rothe. This evening, to our joy, our dear heart Nathanael and Br. Gambold came from Staten Island to see us. We thought about our most beloved Anna Johanna during the evening service that Br. Grube and David held, and we wished her many blessings on her birthday today.

January 13: Br. Nathanael and Gambold went to greet our Indian brethren, who were very pleased by this visit. Br. Nathanael read yesterday’s and today’s Daily Texts to them, comforted the poor brown pilgrims heartily, and assured them of the most tender thoughts of the Gemeine, at which they spilled many tears. Brs. Nathanael and Gambold went back to Staten Island soon after. Br. Christensen, who has accompanied us here from Philadelphia and has helped very faithfully, went back to Bethlehem with letters. In the evening, Br. Grube held services in two rooms, and Br. Rothe similarly in the third, in which there were a few Highlanders. Today our Indians gathered many oysters at the river. Our dear Anton is very known around here and knows where the best oyster places are. Our people are also well cared for with provisions, so that there is no shortage of food. The rooms have large fireplaces, so that they can make good fires to warm themselves.

January 14: Br. Rothe went very early to gather oysters with the men folk, because the water was very low. At midday, our dear Nathanael and Anna Johanna came to visit from Staten Island, about which we were heartily pleased. They went immediately to the barracks to see and greet our Indians, which was a great comfort and joy to them. In the afternoon, the visitors went back to Staten Island. In the evening, Br. Grube held a service only in one room. A few of our men folk behaved in an un-brotherly fashion, which displeased us. Late in the evening, the first Express came back from Philadelphia with a letter from Governor Franklin, in which he promised us his protection.

[Symbol for Sunday] January 15: The second Express arrived from Philadelphia early in the morning with a letter from Mr. Fox, from which we saw that the [Pennsylvania] Government was very dismayed at the resolution of the New York Government, and that we should return to Philadelphia without delay. Mr. Epdy made this known to our Indians immediately, and they wondered greatly over it. Today the visits from white people to the barracks were very numerous. Many asked to hear a sermon, but we could find no place other than in front of the barracks under the open skies. Br. Grube preached about the Daily Text: to obey is better than sacrifice etc.(3) Many white people from the city and soldiers were in attendance, and they were quite and orderly. Br. David Zeisberger and John Antes went to Staten Island with letters for Br. Nathanael and came back in the evening. Instead of the evening service, Br. Grube read aloud the letter that our dear Br. Peter wrote to them, and their hearts were very tender on hearing it.

January 16: Most of the Indians went to the water to gather oysters, and they brought a good portion of them back to the house. In the evening, we held a very blessed service, many white people from the city as well as Highlanders were there and were amazed by the Indians and their beautiful singing. Some people now receive a different idea of our Indians. A soldier said to the people [that] God would wish that all white people were as good Christians as these Indians are.

January 17: Our Indians received a good portion meat and cornmeal. Because today was Court Day, many people came to see the Indians; a few were very well behaved, other spoke very rudely to the Indians. Sr. Grube spoke specially today with various sisters. After the service, over 100 soldiers arrived from the American Regiment. They came from Detroit to New York a few days ago, in order to bring us to Philadelphia. They were lodged in the barracks.

Our Indians received orders to be ready to travel tomorrow. Our dear John Antes, who has formerly accompanied us, will begin his trip to Bethlehem again tomorrow. The Gemeine will accompany us again with its prayers; we have daily learned that His people never forget us, and I believe our faithful hearts will not fail us, as we are poor redeemed souls.    Grube.

Amboy, January 17, 1764

1. This sentence was written in between the lines, in the same hand as the rest of the text.
2. Epiphany, which the Moravians celebrated as the "Heathen Fest."
3. 1 Sam. 15:22. English translation taken from King James Version.

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