Brother Rösler’s account of his and Brother Philip Wesa’s and Marcus Kiefer’s final stay in Shamokin and their merciful preservation in the war of the savages against Pennsylvania. In the year 1755.

Brother Rösler’s account of his and Brother Philip Wesa’s and Marcus Kiefer’s final stay in Shamokin and their merciful preservation in the war of the savages against Pennsylvania.  In the year 1755.

In recent years, Shamokin had no longer been as it was when the Brethren [the Moravians] had first erected the smithy there with the intention of spreading the Gospel among the Indians and had begun to live there.  Since the passing of old Shikellamy (a decent man, who loved the people of God and who had visited Bethlehem and at whose invitation the business there had been started) only a few Indians continued to live there, from many Nations like the Macqua, Cayugas, Tutelos, Conoy, Mohicans etc. but mostly bad people who had been ruined by the whites.  The place had changed completely, and because so many Indians passed through there, the Brethren had become known to almost all North American Indian nations (as it was an established Station of the Six Nations when they were at war against the Catawbas).  But they now had another warpath and one only rarely saw an Indian from far off there, which is the real reason why the living of the Brethren was to be closed and the smithy moved to a spot of land purchased for that purpose between Gnadenhütten [Lehighton] and Wyoming to fulfill its original object.


The way things came to pass though showed us that it pleased our Dear Lord to end our plan there early because of the war with the Indians and to make an end with the smithy and everything we had there, after He had protected us from the murders that had already begun there, his poor children, who lived there at the end, without any fear under His wings of grace and to bring us back to our dear Bethlehem to our people.  And to this end, praising the good Lord, a detailed report is given.


In the last days of September in the aforementioned year 1755 many Indians who were unknown to us moved here, among them many white people who dressed as Indians.  The Delawares, who lived in quite a number in several towns not far from here and who had come to live in peace with the Shamokin natives, now began to move back and forth in and out of the native town.  Among them, a rather wealthy Indian had moved here from the Ohio country, after the battle that the English had lost, by the name of George Delaware, and he visited us regularly.  We could tell from his behavior towards us that he had become very fond of us, and because his wife fell sick here, and he had a child of about a year and a half who he often brought to us, we had many opportunities to show our friendship to him in many ways, which we did faithfully.


On October 11, as I was all alone at home, he came and said that French Indians had been seen and it would be good if we went into the woods and left the house alone this night otherwise we could meet with misfortune. When he had gone, a local Cayuga, well known to us came and asked me to give him some of the food I was cooking, and said that he wanted to help us too, if the French Indians came and wanted to kill us.  Although I was not able to take these words very much to heart and considered them to be childish chatter as we were used to from the Indians, I could not remain completely ambivalent, and when my Brothers Wesa and Marx Kiefer came home, I told them what had been said to me.  I did not feel like leaving our house. We were strengthened by the words of the Savior for today and tomorrow, and laid ourselves quite confidently down to sleep , “’And will God not avenge his elect?’ God, who has chosen us dearly.  He will do this and not hide himself.  He counts how often a Christian weeps.” ” [Luke 18:7 KJV]


The next morning at dawn there were suddenly many gun shots coming from the Native town, which lay not a short English mile from our house, and which frightened us somewhat.  As we were now awake, aforementioned George Delaware came to us and answered the question what kind of shots those were; he said the Indians had been on watch all night because of the French Indians and had let off shots for that reason.  We were then much relieved.


However, in the ensuing days almost all the Indians from here moved away, and on the 16th we suddenly heard that about an hour from away from us on the other side of the Susquehanna 6 Plantations had been attacked by Indians–31 people, some who had been pitiably murdered and some, especially the children and young women, had been taken away, and only one man, who had been shot several times had escaped from there.  We did not only hear about this but also the blood covered murder weapons were brought into our smithy and one of the Tutelo nation, who lived here, had also received a shot in his leg.  We began to feel a little scared, but what could we poor children do?  John Shikellamy, who was the Chief here in Shamokin along with his brother Logan came and asked whether we were not afraid and wanted to move away.  We answered that we were with them and as long as they stayed here we wanted to stay too.  At this he said nothing but came to our house often and repeated the same question.


In the meantime a quite unknown Indian had taken up lodging with us who spoke no word of English and thus we could not converse with him at all.  However, he was a quite young, polite man, as he could see that we did not allow our dogs to stay in the house and so he left his outside too, and did not want to trouble us with anything.  We gave him what we had to eat and he did not leave the house for the five days that he was with us, until October 22 when very many Indians from all along the Susquehanna gathered in Shamokin, among them our friend Paxinous and other acquaintances from Wyoming and Nescopeck.   As they came into our house, he gathered his things and left us amicably.   Who this Indian was, and what his reason was for being with us, one cannot say.  We thought quite a bit about him and asked among our local Indians about him but received no real answer.  Perhaps he was given to us as a Salve Garde (guardian angel).  That the dear Father will know, who has shown us in many ways that He wants to protect us and we could do nothing but to rely on his counsel and support.  But we wanted nothing more than to let our dear Brethren in Bethlehem know about our circumstances.


In the meanwhile, after the 16th, we had often conferred, and on the 28th October in the evening, as we were quite alone and sitting together by our fire, we talked about what could be done for us in our present circumstances.  But nothing could be resolved.  Our dear Marcus Kiefer firmly believed that there was no danger for us and that we could be quite calm.  Brother Wesa was too anxious; but it was not his fault because in his smithy he got to hear the most and had to work with the murder weapons.  And I could say nothing except reassure them that the dear Lord, who had counted the hairs on our heads, would make everything right and allow no harm to come to us and support us at the right time with good counsel and deeds.


As we were talking thus, a young English trader came into the house and said that just now a belt of wampum had arrived in this town from the Allegheny Indians with the words, that they were coming with a sharp ax and we should get out of their way otherwise we would be hurt.  Once he had left, we decided that one of us would go to Tulpehocken to Brother George Lösch and then from there go to Bethlehem with the Express to tell them how things looked for us here.  Because the others could not leave with a letter, the journey fell to me, and my Brothers helped get me ready for the journey that very evening.   As we wanted to sleep rather late to our great comfort we read together the Text (the Losung) for today and tomorrow.  1)  From the pages of the book (Old Testament), ”Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, for I fear him” (Genesis 32:11)  My God, who has promised me his protection at all times.  Jacob remained alone.  An angel of God came from heaven: The words of the Savior: “The riches of all the world cannot repair the smallest damage to the soul.  Be safe from all harm.  Think of Lot’s wife.”

At this I became thoughtful and said to my Brothers, “Dear hearts, when you see that it is becoming really dangerous, come after me, because I see nothing here for which we should lose our lives.  Above all, the words of the book, and the words of the Savior in the present time are such that it is as though they were spoken for us.”


On October 24 before dawn I set out, comforted by the notion that I would be back on the 28th!  Brother Marcus Kieffer accompanied me a short part of the way and, when we took farewell from each other, we still considered that the mission in Shamokin was not yet over.  However, after I had come 15 miles, where the first white people live on this side of the Susquehanna, I found everyone in fear and horror and most of the people already fleeing.  For, although the first murders on the 15th had only affected 6 plantations, which stood on Indian land and the people there had been frequently warned, now those who lived on proprietary land in that area had also been told by the Indians that if they did not leave that they would suffer the same fate as the others.


I might have wished that my Brothers in Shamokin had known of these circumstances but I could do nothing except continue my journey and on October 25 towards evening arrived safely at Brother and Sister Georg Loesch’s house.  They were exceedingly happy to see one of us, for, having listened to the talk, they had thought that we were already with the Savior.  John Shikellamy had told the Brethren today in Shamokin to leave quite clearly, and Brother Wesa had set off to tell me and arrived as at George Loesch’s house on the 26th just as I was writing, and because he had already resolved to go immediately to Bethlehem, he became the messenger who took the letter there.


Our Marcus Kiefer was now still in Shamokin.  I could thus do nothing except try to travel there to fetch just him, because we could not even think of saving any of our belongings.  So, on the 27th in the morning I set off.  Whoever saw me, tried to dissuade me from this trip.  Brother John Jorden from Lebanon, who had also spent this night at the Loesch’s, completely refused to consent to this plan.  I assured him however, that I was acting in accordance with my heart, and the dear Savior and angels would be my helpers, and so I set out.  Sixty families who were fleeing over the mountains in the greatest poverty and sorrow, met me on the way and told me with one voice that I was running into the arms of murderers and many of them pleaded with me that I should turn around.  Most of them knew that there was still one of us in Shamokin and said, God will protect your Brother, without you going to help him.  A Baptist, who met me on this side of the Thürnstein mountain (Pete’s mountain) said he had left many things behind but would not turn around; he was thinking of Lot’s wife.  At that it occurred to me that I had left Shamokin with exactly these words of the Savior.  After this I met only with an English trader, who pleaded with me to turn around with the assurance that if my Brother were still there, then he was out of all danger, but if he had left Shamokin then he had been definitely murdered.  (The following day there were people who had gone back to fetch their things and had fallen into the hands of the murderers).  As I did not decide to turn back he left me in pity.


I continued on only a few miles, and then it occurred to me to ask for counsel from my dear Lord and most loyal friend.  The texts for today were Genesis 35:15; “And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.”  Luke 17:9. ”When you have done everything you were told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”  Night was about to fall, and I set myself down on the summit of the Thürnstein, my dearest heart [Jesus] was unspeakably close to me and answered my question to the Lot, which I posed with the greatest humility, the answer was, that I should turn back, which I then did with a comforted heart and found my quarters in the bush that night with the last family that came over the Thürnstein.  On the 28th I arrived in Tulpehocken again and found refugees in Brother Loesch’s house and the whole area was in such a panic as though murder had broken out here and there already.  I soon continued my journey and, as night had fallen, I knocked on a stranger’s door. I was very welcome because I could tell the people that even if there were danger, it was not so near, and they saw it as God’s providence that they were able to sleep another night in peace.


On the 29th in heavy rain I came over the Heidelberg to Daniel Levant’s house.  There I met Brother Heinrich Frey who had been sent from Bethlehem to meet up with Anton Schmidt somewhere along the way to come to us in Shamokin.  Because he heard that Brother Kiefer was still there, he continued on his journey, but it was not possible to get any further through Tulpehocken than to Brother Loesch’s; from there they turned back again, and on the 30th I arrived happy as a sinner and well at the Brothers and Sisters in Bethlehem with the beautiful words of the Savior “Our citizenship, however, is in heaven, (Phillipians 3:20) that is the cause or all the joy of the church.


From October 25, Brother Marcus Kiefer was now all alone in Shamokin.  Once Brother Wesa had left, he went one time into the Indian town, and there our once familiar Indians appeared quite murderous and he felt very uncomfortable there.  Finally everyone moved away so that the town was completely empty.  Then he was quite alone and began to pack up what he could of our things with the tools from the smithy and to bury them in the ground.  In addition, our dear Schafinam visited him (he was a Conoy to whom the Brethren had given this name because of his sheep-like manner.  He had built his house close to ours, had hardly any business with the other Indians, and far less had he become involved in any of the affairs of war with them.  He and his wife had come and gone in our house like brethren.  We had wished him from our hearts baptism in the death of Jesus for which our Brother Christian Seidel had given permission this past summer.  This fall 1755 , as we heard, he departed this life not far from Harris’ Ferry .  We believe, that because of the way in which he stayed close to us, that he will partake of this even there).  He was a great comfort to our Brother Marcus Kiefer and when he finally decided to leave for Bethlehem, this Indian accompanied him to Nescopeck.  They found all the Shamokin Indians, and many others besides, and also a beautiful feeling there.  Schafinam returned from here to his family and John Shikellamy offered himself to us as company all the way to Bethlehem and they arrived there safely on November 15th, where everyone was very happy to see Brother Marcus Kiefer whom one had not thought to see again.


Before his arrival, ways to help him were thought of and in this most dangerous of times Bothers Schmick and Heinrich Frey dared to go to his aid in answer to the call of the Brethren and the Savior to Wyoming to see whether our friend Paxinous there had anyone who would go to him there and he and his people were immediately willing to risk their lives for these brethren and some even set out.  The fact that this Brother, M. Kiefer, arrived safely without this service, and the preservation of Brothers Schmick and Henrich Frey on their dangerous journey and also Paxinous and his people’s willingness to help is to be considered as reason to praise the goodness of our dear Lord, who is the light of all things and who can do what He wills for the wellbeing of His children and Jesus in this world.