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Province Island Diary (December 1, 1763 - January 4, 1764)

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

Diary of the Indian Gemeine on Province Island, in the Delaware River, 
5 miles under Philadelphia, 1763 – January 4, 1764

December 1: Br. David Zeisberger went with the boat to Philadelphia. Peter and Nathanael helped him row and came late in the evening back home. [They] brought an Indian from Machchilusing with them, who wanted to visit his friends. We had a blessed service in the evening about the Daily Text: For our conversation is in heaven etc. (1)

December 3: Jacob came, and another strange Indian from the city. In the evening service, there was an old Swede who had heard the Brethren preach before.

December 4: We had a gathering in which many necessary things were mentioned, in particular going to the city and shopping, which we must suspend entirely for the time being because the people are angry again. Jo Peep and another Indian from the Jerseys came to visit their friends. At midday, the sermon was about the Daily Text: having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.(2) As soon as I complete my blessed election in the Side wound.(3) In the afternoon, Br. Grube had blessed Bands (4) with the communicant [Abendmahl] brothers, and his wife with the sisters. [In these meetings] the brothers and sisters emptied their hearts about how it was to leave Nain, and Nazareth, and the whole trip. A few said: It was very hard for us in the beginning to leave our nice homes, but now we are totally free of it, and we are happy that we can sleep peacefully again and eat our bread without fear. We are happy that the Savior has sustained us peacefully and blessedly up to now. Anton said: About one thing I am still perplexed, namely: that our people is not at all times obedient to the Savior and the Brethren. And thus expressed each his heart’s thoughts. We felt thereby the peace of God among our communicant brothers and sisters, and their longing for the great thing [i.e., communion, or Abendmahl]. Many young people from the neighborhood came to visit, among whom were a few Germans who had a desire to go to the sermon.

December 5: The two Jersey Indians went back to the city.

December 6: We received 13 cords of wood. We were busy with it nearly the whole day, carrying it from the wharf up to our house.

December 7: After the morning service, our sisters went with the boat, as they have done every morning in the past, to Jacob Weiss’s farm to milk their cows. When they arrived there, however, the cows had all been herded to Philadelphia in order to be sold. Our dear David,(5) with Peter and Anton, came with the boat back from the city and had bought all kinds of necessities for our small household. We heard also that Brother and Sister Schmick are come to Philadelphia. A separate meeting was held for the children on account of their behavior.

December 8: Our dear Brother and Sister Schmick, with their little Johanna, came here to stay. Our Indian brothers and sisters rejoiced and welcomed them all heartily. Br. Schmick held the evening service and greeted the brothers and sisters from the brothers and sisters in Bethlehem, which made they very happy.

December 10: A boat brought us ten cords of wood, [and] we were very busy bringing it to the appropriate place. In the evening, there was a blessed Singstunde.

December 11 [Symbol for Sunday]: Br. Schmick held the service at midday. A Nursing Conference [Krancken Wärter Conferenz] was created among the sisters. Seven were appointed, of which each visits on one day and reports to us who is sick. It was very important to all of them to have such an office.

December 12: Br. Grube and David went to the city to talk with Mr. Fox about provisions.

December 13: Br. Grube returned home to land [?] and brought Johannes Pepunhang and his family, as well as a pair of old men, to stay here. We put them in a single room. Towards evening, Br. David arrived here with a boat from the city, which brought us three cords wood, ten barrels salt meat, five barrels cod fish, 2,200 lbs flour, and two kegs of rice, which was very agreeable to us as our provisions were almost gone.

December 14: After the morning service that Br. Schmick held, we gathered all of the adults together because a few had expressed displeasure over the distribution of the provisions. [We] gave them an earnest reminder.

December 15: Br. David held the morning service. In the afternoon, Br. Schmick and David went to Philadelphia for provisions and wood. Last night was unusually stormy and cold. Seven Indians from the Nanticokes came here from Philadelphia to stay.

December 16: Br. Schmick and David came back from the city, the former held the evening service over the Daily Text: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.(6)

December 17: After the evening service, which Br. Grube held, there was a conference with the Room Overseers [Stube Aufseher]. We spoke with them about a few necessary matters, in particular about the children.

December 18 [Symbol for Sunday]: Br. David preached about the Daily Text. In the afternoon, Br. Schmick held Bands with the Abendmahl brothers, and Br. Grube with the young boys.

December 19: Br. David went to Philadelphia for wood and provisions. Isaac Still and Job Chelloway came from Philadelphia to visit.

December 20: Our dear Br. David came back home and brought with him some thirty pairs of shoes for our Indians, which were given to them. Because a couple of our young males have been disobedient and have gone over our borders to the neighbors and drank, Br. Grube went to the entire neighborhood and asked the people not to admit any of our Indians or to give them any strong drink, which they promised to do.

December 21: After our dear David held a heart-felt Band with Johannes Pepunhang, he traveled to Bethlehem. We and the Indian brothers and sisters were very thankful to him, for his faithfully rendered help, his efforts, and work. The Indian Brethren gave him many heartfelt greetings for the Gemeine in Bethlehem; their hearts are always tender when they think of Bethlehem. Abraham, Jannetzi’s son, who has lately behaved very badly, came and begged much for forgiveness. In the evening, after the service, the Room Overseers came together. In their presence, the young Philippus was spoken to very earnestly about his disobedience.

December 22: Br. Schmick went with four Indian brothers to Philadelphia to buy a few necessary things. The young Philippus came and asked for forgiveness. A few young people swept the chimney. The sick Verona also said today: Ah, if only the Savior would soon take me to him, I am so tired of living here. In the evening, Br. Grube held the service.

December 23: Br. Schmick came home safely with the four Indian brothers.

December 24: We had a blessed Christmas Eve. First, a pleasing Love Feast was held with the children, in which Br. Schmick told them with blessed feeling of the Savior’s birth. They were very glad upon hearing this and sang several pretty verses to the little Jesus child. The young Josua played the Spinet, and Elias played the Citter. Afterwards, the adults had their Agape with biscuits and tea. Br. Grube talked on the Daily Text. Finally we kneeled before our most dear little Jesus, thanked him from our hearts for his painful birth and incarnation, and recommended us all to his faithful heart.

December 25: Br. Schmick held the holiday service over the message of the angels. In the afternoon was the Children’s Hour and in the evening, Br. Grube held the service about the Daily Text: Blessed are the poor.

December 26: 25 pairs of shoes were distributed, which Mr. Fox had given to the Indians as a present. They were very happy about this, since a few of them already go barefoot.

December 28: Br. Schmick held the morning service, and Br. Grube [held the] Quarter hour service for the communicant brothers and sisters. [He] brought them the happy message that we would have Abendmahl this week.

December 29: Br. Grube held the morning service about the Text: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, etc. (7) Sisters Grube and Schmick began to speak to the widows for the Abendmahl. (8) They [the sisters] showed their great joy and thankfulness that the Savior would give them this great gift even here. They were all pleased and well in their hearts. Brother Grube went to Galloways Island, four miles from here, in order to see if wood is to be had there. A Nanticoke and two women came from Philadelphia, but, because they brought no [official] order with them, we sent them back. Br. Schmick held the evening service. At midnight two boats came here from Philadelphia with a letter from Mr. Fox indicating that we should be brought away from here quickly by water, on account of the Irish Rebels who have come down from Lancaster County in order to kill us. We woke our Indians and told them that they should make ready to leave here, which they did, though they were quite dismayed. We consoled them with today’s Daily Text: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.(9) After a couple hours, Mr. Epdy came via horse from Philadelphia with letters from Mr. Fox and Ludw. Weiss concerning our retreat.

December 30: Everyone was in motion with packing after the morning service, and each hour we expected orders to go on board. The boat people who had come to assist kept watch. Many gentlemen from the city came to see us, among whom was Colonel L_____ and two more captains, who suggested that in the case of emergency we should retreat. Br. Schmick held the evening service. Our men folk kept diligent watch this night. At midday, our dear Br. Marshall came from Bethlehem and brought us pleasing letters, along with the new Daily Texts [for 1764]. Israel Pemperton visited us and assured us that the Government would do everything that could help secure our safety.

December 31: Br. Grube held the morning service. Soon after an Express (10) came from Mr. Fox with the news that the Rebels were only 12 miles from here in great numbers, and that we should retreat immediately on the three boats which had been sent to us for that purpose. This we did, and, in a quarter hour, everyone was on board, though most of the stuff remained behind. We took flight to Leek Island, three miles from here, where we laid anchor and waited for further orders. In a few hours, some gentlemen came and brought a letter from the Honorable Governor to Brothers Schmick and Grube, the contents of which were very pleasing to us: "His Honor, the Governor, has ordered me to report to you that the alarm that we heard this morning, of the Rebels who were said to be on their way to Province Island, has been found to be false. Therefore, the Governor’s desire is, since he has heard that the Indians are already prepared to come to the city, that you will send them immediately back to the house on Province Island, to which place a certain protection will be sent as soon as possible to protect you against all attacks, etc." Jos. S[hippen]

Upon reading this we returned immediately, arrived here at 3 o’clock, and were soon back to normal. Our dear Br. Marshall pleased us with his visit at the same time and returned to Philadelphia before evening. Br. Schmick held the evening service at the close of this remarkable year. [In the service], we thanked our true heart [Jesus] on our knees and tearfully begged Him for forgiveness for everything. We also thought with love of our dear Br. Peter. Our Abendmahl, that we would like to have held today, could not happen because of the commotion. And thus we closed the year of probation that had been begun in childlike calmness and trust in our dear Lord, who will also make everything in the coming year bearable to us with his nearness.


January 1: Br. Grube preached over today’s Text: Now is the agreeable time, now is the day of the salvation and it was for us thus, as the Collecte says: Our God’s little sheep is in our midst (11) etc. In the afternoon, Br. Schmick held a blessed Children’s Service in [the] Mahican [language], and, in the evening, he held a Gemeine Service; many of our guards were present. Mr. Fox, along with two more gentlemen from the city, visited us. Our Indians greeted them cheerfully, which pleased them greatly. Mr. Fox assured us that there was no more danger, and if the governor should hear something, he would let us know immediately so that we could instantly board the three boats, which would stay here at our disposal. Job Chelloway, who was sent by Mr. Pemberton with an message for our Indians, returned to the city. The answer from our Indians was: we prefer to remain under the protection of the Government, and, [if] it can not protect us, we would prefer to suffer.

January 2: Br. Grube held the morning service. A few of our guards went to the city to procure provisions. Many gentle people, particularly Quakers, came from Philadelphia to see us. Our dear David Zeisberger came unexpectedly from Bethlehem with a message from Br. Marshall from Philadelphia; namely: the Quakers have made a proposal to transport us to a certain island where only Quakers live, who support themselves through fishing but have no wood. We declined right away, however, in the hope that our dear Father will show us another means by which we can be in security. In the evening, Br. Schmick held a blessed service over today’s Daily Text: Majesty and power are due you, magnificence, victory, and thanks, etc. Today was indeed a difficult day for us.

January 3: We had a nice quiet day. Only four Quakers to visit. We spoke to a few more brothers and sisters in preparation for the Abendmahl. The Savior was also merciful and allowed us to have the Abendmahl today. After the evening service, which Br. Schmick held, was the Love Feast of the Communicants, then the Absolution and the blessed taste of the body and blood of our Lord. O how the dear hearts, who had almost despaired of enjoying of the great thing, praised [the Lord]. We therefore thanked [Him] with tears for this great blessing, He knows best when we will have this blessed day again. The people who were sent here from Philadelphia to guard us made it nice, [they] were quiet and watchful during the service, and were amazed that the Indians have so many services here and that we take such special care of them.

January 4: Was again very uneasy. Toward evening our dear David Zeisberger came again from the city with the disturbing news that we must go away from here this night. Continuation of the travel diary.

1. Philippians 3:20. English translation taken from the King James Version.
2. Philippians 1:23. The full verse reads: "For I am in a strait betwixt the two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better." The German given in the diary reads, literally, "I have a desire to leave, ..." English translation taken from the King James Version.
3. 1763 Daily Text book citation: 903.
4. Bands, or Gesellschaften, were small group meetings held to discuss the soul’s condition.
5. David Zeisberger
6. Psalms, 21:6. English translation from the King James Version. The German in the original diary reads: "You have made me exceedingly glad with thy countenance." The Daily Text book for 1763 indicates that verse 7, not verse 6, corresponded to this verse in the version of the bible they used.
7. Philippians, 4:7. English translation taken from the King James Version.
8. Personal interviews, or "Gesprechen," with choir leaders were required preparation for taking communion within the Moravian Church.
9. Psalms, 4:8. English translation taken from the King James Version. The Daily Text book for 1763 indicates that verse 9, not verse 8, corresponded to this verse in the version of the bible they used.
10. A messenger with a special letter to deliver.
11. 1764 Daily Text book hymnal citation: 1355, 2.

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