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shikellamy conference 1747

First page of the conference minutes held in 1747 between Shikellamy and the Moravians to set conditions for the establishment of the blacksmith’s shop at Shamokin

Between 1745 and 1755 the Moravian church based in Bethlehem, PA sent missionaries to the forks of the Susquehanna at what is present-day Sunbury.  The missionaries were answering a request from Chief Shikellamy to build and equip a blacksmith’s shop to service the weapons of the Iroquois (today, the Haudenosaunee).  The missionaries kept a detailed diary of the day-to-day running of the mission and the blacksmith’s shop that has until now never been published.  Written originally for the most part in German, with a few entries in English, the Diary reveals fascinating details of life at the confluence of the North and West branches of the Susquehanna river at present-day Sunbury, Pa nearly 300 years ago.

This site includes links to digital images of the original manuscript pages of the diary; a German transcription of that original; an English translation; contemporary maps of the area; portraits of the missionaries; and images of the tools used at the blacksmith’s shop.

Support for the original work to transcribe and translate the diaries was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The diaries appeared in print in 2024 through The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Cultures at the Susquehanna Confluence is an annotated translation of the diaries documenting the Moravian mission to the area. Unlike other missions of the time, the Moravians at Shamokin integrated their work and daily life into the diverse cultures they encountered, demonstrating an unusual compromise between the Church’s missionary impetus and the needs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois. The diaries counter the dominant vision of the area around Shamokin as a sinister place, revealing instead a nexus of vibrant cultural exchange where women and men speaking Lenape, Mohican, English, and German collaborated in the business of survival at a pivotal time. It can be purchased from Amazon.