Kliest’s Diary of the Shamokin mission 01/11/1754-07/02/1754

Brother Kliest’s  Diary from Shamokin, 1754

On Friday, January 11 I traveled with Brother Mattheus Otto from the dear and precious congregation in Bethlehem with a true pangs of love and because it was already late we could not make it further than Maguntsche and stayed in the school house with Brother and Sister Neubert, who welcomed us cordially and with love.

On Saturday the 12th we left there early and around midday we reached Heidelberg. Brother and Sister Wagner welcomed us cordially also, and many of the brethren who live in the countryside did the same who had gathered here for a sermon. After the sermon, we took our leave and traveled from here to George Loesch. Brother Casper Rieth accompanied us for part of the way and after he had got us onto the right path he took his leave amicably and returned home. The dear Brother and Sister Loesch took us in with much love and warmth and we stayed here over night. They provided well for us with food for our impending journey. After we had said goodbye warmly we departed here on January 14. Dear old Father Loesch accompanied us for 6 miles and then we took our leave and he returned home.

On Tuesday, the 15th we arrived in Shamokin and as we came towards our house we heard our Brother Bachhof’s voice, which made us very happy that he was still alive. The two dear Brothers, [Rudolph] Bachhof and Marx Kiefer were very happy about our arrival and welcomed us warmly.

On Wednesday, the 16th we rested a little. Brother Otto sorted out our little house apothecary a little and recommended a medicine for Brother Bachhof, which he should continue until his diarrhea was completely cured. After this, Brother Otto and I went to the Susquehanna and visited the Indian huts. We found only two menfolk at home, the others were all womenfolk and children. We also visited the grave of our departed Brother Hagen. After this we returned home again and resolved that Brother Otto and I would leave the next day for Bethlehem. We closed this day with a tender and heartfelt evening blessing and laid ourselves down to rest in the wounds of the Savior.

On Thursday, the 17th Brother Bachhof complained that he was experiencing more of his diarrhea and for this reason had not been able to sleep all night, at which we perceived in our hearts that it would be better if Brother Bachhof were to go back to Bethlehem and I stay here. We proposed this to him and it suited him.   After we had breakfasted a little, we took heartfelt leave of each other. Brother Marx Kiefer accompanied them and stayed alone at home. I felt in my heart and soul a little downcast that I had to stay here but the dear Savior was tangibly close to my heart and in my spirit I did abide much with the Congregation.

On Friday, the 18th I had quite a lot of visitors from the various womenfolk and children, for whom I had to partly sharpen their axes and who also wanted something to eat. This evening my dear Marx Kiefer returning from accompanying [the others] and brought with him heartfelt greetings from Bothers Bachhof and Otto. I was happy that he was here again.

On the Sabbath, the 19th we celebrated a dear and peaceful Sabbath. At noon we had a Love Feast and I spoke some about the blessed path of the Congregation and what the Savior had done for his people and what I I had felt and known in my heart during the short time of my visit, which does not allow me to express in words very easily. After the evening blessing we laid ourselves down to rest in the wounds of our Husband.

On Sunday, the 20th we visited the Indians in their huts. We were also visited by two white people. They live only 6 miles away from here on the other side of the Susquehanna, by George Gabriel who is a trader.[140]  They brought some work for me. One of them, a tailor, N. Ostermann, said that he had also been acquainted with Brethren in Switzerland in Bern and after this he had visited Herrnhaag. That was in the year 1742.[141] However, he had not received permission to stay there and blamed his being sent away on his bad conduct. After that he had got married and has been in the country for five years, but moved up here only recently. We closed the day with an evening blessing and laid ourselves down to sleep, content.

On Monday, the 21st we were most overjoyed with the arrival of our dear Brother David [Zeisberger] who brought with him both in letters and words beautiful and happy news from the dear Congregation. Brother David also told us that on the way here he had learned that the dear hearts Gottlob [Hoffmann] and Nathaniel had returned from their trip to North Carolina safe and well, which was very dear to us to hear and we thanked the Lamb for this. Our dear heart David also worked very hard, as he had found our house still so unfinished, he did what he could. He laid a beautiful strong floor in our house for which he made the boards himself, and we helped as we could. Overall he was able to help us with advice and deeds more than we had thought possible. He also held a beautiful Singing Hour and evening blessing for us. In all these opportunities the Lamb felt close to our hearts. During this time we also had the Cup of Thanksgiving.

On February the 17th we enjoyed the Body and Blood of the Martyr at which we were unspeakably happy.

On the 18th we were a little sad because our dear heart David, who had been a blessing to us until now traveled to the Synod. [142] We asked for the Congregation to think of us in support of our bloody husband.

In the month of March Indians came to us now and again asking for me to fix their flints[locks]. Otherwise nothing special happened.

On Monday the 1st of April we heartily rejoiced at the arrival of our dear Brother David and Brother Ortlieb. They were most welcome. Our hearts were also gladdened by the nice news that they brought with them from the congregation both in letters and by mouth. [Inserted marginalia: on the 2nd of April two of old Shikellamy’s sons, John and John Betty, moved 30 miles away from here][143]

During this week, our dear heart David held many nice little Singing Hours and Evening blessings. The Lamb was among us.

On the Sabbath, the 6th, we held a Lovefeast, during which Brother David told us something of our dear brothers and sisters in the Congregation. This made us feel contented.

On Sunday the 7th we held a quite blessed Communion. Everything around us was quite still. As though we were in the midst of the Congregation.

On Monday the 8th in the morning our dear heart David prepared himself to leave. Beforehand we held a little farewell lovefeast and then we took a heartfelt leave of him, gave him some little letters and through these tried to remind the brothers and sisters to think of us.

This so-called Passion Week was an especially blessed week to us because the “Passion of the Lamb is a great joy to us, His Crown of Thorns and Scourge a Balsam to our souls, our soul is well in itself when we think of him and he should plunge us into His Side Hole.”

On the Sabbath, the 13th, we spent the day in a blessed meditation on the Body of Jesus in the grave. We held at midday and in the evening a singing hour and an evening blessing.

On Thursday, the 18th, the chief Shawnee from the Great Island was here and brought me some work.[144] He was happy to have found me here. He recognized me straight away because I had repaired a gun for him 2 years ago in Bethlehem. He also asked about Brother Albrecht who had stocked his gun 2 years ago to his complete satisfaction.  He would have liked to have talked much more with me, but could speak no English. But I could feel what was in his mind and heart, that we held us dear. His wife was also well-mannered.

On the Sabbath, the 20th, a gunsmith arrived here from Lancaster and stayed with us overnight. His name was Billy Henry[145]. He has often gone to the meetings of the Brethren in Lancaster. He went from here on the 21st to Thomas McKee. Today we were also visited by our neighbors who live by the trader, Georg Gabriel.[146] He himself was also here and brought some work and then he complained that we came to visit him so little. He said that he held the Brethren dear and wished that we would come to visit him more often on Sundays. For his part, he was trying to build a closer connection with us and he has many people at his house and it would be good if we would come occasionally and see how it went with them and sometimes hold an exhortation. He asked very seriously that I should inform the Brethren in Bethlehem that they should also take care of him, because he lived not only for the temporal things of the world but also for the things of his heart. I told him that this was good. I would report this to the Brethren and because we were here we wanted to come and visit him as much as the time and circumstances allowed. But to preach to people or to hold an exhortation to those who are comfortable in their condition was not our way of doing things. If we were to come to them and find someone there who yearned in their soul to get to know his God and Creator, then it would be a joy to our heart to speak to such souls. “As the Lamb bled for us ….”

Today Mr Conrad Weiser arrived here and stayed with the Indians in the town.

On Monday, the 22nd he visited us and was very friendly. We offered him our house as a lodging and told him he was welcome here. But he replied that he was not able to be welcome, because whenever he was here the house was always full of Indians and therefore neither we nor he would have any peace. We asked him to tell us whether we could serve him in any way. We wanted to do as much as we could from the bottom of our hearts. He said he would do so.

Today, Leonhardt, the Indian from Nescopeck was here who had lived with the Brethren before now.[147] He was very drunk, identified himself right away, and asked for Brother Grube. He said he was going to war with the Catawbas. I could not speak with him very much as he was not in possession of much reason. We gave him some food and let him go on his way. The above mentioned gunsmith from Lancaster returned today (William Henry) with a Jew by the name of Joseph Meuer and stayed overnight with us. The Jew is a silversmith.[148]

On the 23rd they travelled from here to Wyoming.

On the 27th they returned and stayed with us overnight. They also brought some pieces of hard coal (anthracite) with them, which they had broken off from the cliffs above the Susquehanna and also two pieces of ore, which they wanted to test out at their furnace. They told us that the Indians in Wyoming had told them that they had had the ore tested in Bethlehem and that brass (Messing) had been made of it. I said that I did not believe that was true. Furthermore they said that they had heard from several people that we were melting down a lot of ore here and were becoming very rich from it. He had now discovered that people had been lying to him because he could see for himself that we didn’t have the slightest means to do this, and no smelting oven.

On Sunday, the 28th in the morning they left here and Mr. Conrad Weiser, who had stayed in Shamokin for a whole week and who had visited us almost every day and had shown himself to be very friendly towards us, came to visit us and say goodbye again. We closed the day with an evening blessing.

On Friday 3rd May the old Mohican, Blackfish, brought us two heartwarming letters from Bethlehem from our dear hearts David and Christian Seidel, which told us of the arrival of the dear and beloved brothers and sisters from Europe on the Irene and about their almost unheard of speedy and safe passage across the ocean.[149] We rejoiced and thanked the Little Lamb for everything that he does for his people and the Gemeine. We desired that we would soon see Brother Joseph and the dear hearts who had accompanied him in the flesh so that we could greet them and welcome them cordially, in the meantime we would do this in spirit. We closed this day with a small service of song and evening blessing and also took part in the festival of thanks that was being held in Bethlehem and Nazareth and thanked the Lamb in our poverty as well as we could. We felt the Lamb’s closeness in our hearts and so we laid ourselves down to rest.

On the Sabbath, May 4th, at midday we celebrated a Love Feast and were in our hearts much occupied with the Gemeine. After this we visited the Indian huts, but found few at home, We stayed a while in the hut of Logan Shikellamy. He was friendly and asked whether Ganuntschacharei[150] would soon return here.We said that we did not know. He has sent us a letter yesterday with Blackfish in which he reported that he was well and healthy and that our dear T’girhitonti had arrived safely in Bethlehem from over the water with some Brothers and Sisters. Logan and his wife were very happy to hear this. Furthermore they asked how T’girhitonti’s wife was doing. We told them that she was no longer here but rather up with our dear God, at which they were surprised and looked very sad. They also asked about Joseph Powell and his wife and Sister Hagen. We gave them news of each person. Logan told us that they were thinking of leaving tomorrow with his brother John to Onondago, to speak the words that Mr. Conrad Weiser and entrusted with him to the Six Nations.[151] He was thinking of returning in two months. They would be travelling with the Six Nation via Albany to Philadelphia first, where he was hoping to see dear Brother T’girhotonti, which he was looking forward to. We closed this day with a little Singing Hour and an Evening Blessing.

Sunday May 5th

Today Brother Kliest[152] wanted to visit, as requested, George Gabriel (who lives on the other side of the Susquehanna 6 miles from here) and the people who live by him, but could not get over the river because the wind was so strong that they could not hear his calls[153], therefore went home again without accomplishing this task. We were all busy this week with planting Indian corn and lots of other things. Not many Indians came, just those who needed something. We were at peace and our Lamb of God was in our midst.

Sabbath, 11th May we held a Lovefeast and thought a great deal about the dear Gemeine in Bethlehem on this day with an evening blessing.

Sunday, the 12th we were visited by various Indians. We were at peace and closed this day with a little Hour of Song and an evening blessing.

Not many Indians came here this week so we used our time to chop wood, in part for charcoal and in part as firewood. We chopped the wood in the proximity of our house so that it would become a little more airy. It is necessary. Until now we have been much inconvenienced by the mosquitoes and sand flies.

On the Sabbath, the 18th, we held a Love Feast and closed the day with an Evening Blessing and laid ourselves down to rest in peace.

On Sunday the 19th we visited the Indians in their huts but did not find many at home. In the evening we held a Singing Hour and Evening Blessing during which we were quite content.

This week we built two bridges over the ditch, which is close to our house and also had various visits from Indians. In our hearts we dwelt much with thoughts of the dear Gemeine and often looked out for the Brethren who were supposed to be coming to relieve us.

On June 11th, we had the great pleasure of seeing and heartily welcoming our dear and long awaited Brethren, namely Brother Boehme and Brother and Sister Anton Schmidt and Lambert Garrison.[154] At the same time we received many cordial letters from the Congregation of the Lamb which awakened in our hearts a special feeling of love and the desire now grew ever greater to see the dear Brothers and Sisters in the Gemeine in person and to greet them and kiss them. Brother Boehmer and the Schmidts told us many things and we shared in our hearts in all that the Lamb had done for his people and Gemeine.

On the Sabbath, the 15th, Brother Boehmer conducted a sweet Love Feast for us and regaled us with more stories from the Gemeine at which we felt well contented. After the Love feast I went out to look for our horses, that the Brothers and Sisters had brought, but could not find them. We thought that they had probably started to make their way back. Therefore I went as far as the shoemaker, by the name of Peter Glück who lived 15 miles away from Shamokin and where the path passes by.   I asked if they had noticed anything of the horses but they said no. Because it would now soon be night, at their insistence I stayed overnight. They were very friendly and cordial and offered me quite a few opportunities to speak to them about the love of the Savior for sinners and I felt contented in their home. They also asked many questions about Brother Grube who had baptized a child for them a year ago, which is a great blessing to them, and also told me that he had held a meeting for them and had spoken about the text, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”(Isaiah 53:4 KJV)[155] which had made such an impression on them and their neighbors that they would never forget it. They would have liked to seen me hold a meeting for them in the morning but because I do not have orders from the Gemeine to do so I excused myself with the promise that they were thought of by the Gemeine and that Brother Boehmer who had been sent to us by the dear Gemeine and who now lived in Shamokin would come and visit them as soon as he had time and speak to them about the Savior.   They looked forward to this very much.[156]

On Sunday the 16th in the morning I said my heartfelt farewell and returned home. I arrived only towards evening as I had left the path and had gone far into the bush to see if I could find the horses somewhere and had almost lost my way in the bush. The Brothers and Sisters were therefore even more overjoyed to see me again. Today Brothers Schmidt, Lambert Garrison and Marx Kiefer traveled with the canoe down the Susquehanna to fetch provisions. After and evening blessing we laid ourselves down to sleep content.

On Monday the 17th Brothers Behmer and Ortlieb went to our old place and carried the stones from the old chimney to the blessed Brother Hagen’s grave and made a fence with them around the grave and finished the job in one day. (Inserted in margin: Our horses returned of their own accord today).

On Wednesday the 19th the above named brothers returned with provisions. To our joy they were healthy and well. We held a blessed Singing Hour and evening blessing.

On the 20th the brothers traveled with the canoe down the Susquehanna again to fetch boards for our house at the sawmill.[157]   Shortly after that it began to rain very heavily and continued to do so the rest of the day. We could not leave the house. We held a blessed Love Feast for the Sabbath and our little Lamb of God was among us and we closed the day with a sweet singing hour and evening blessing.

On the 24th the water rose a lot.

On the 25th the water came into our house about 4 feet high and we had to come in and out with the canoe. Towards evening we thought that if the water continued to rise we should move to the hills. We noticed however that it had crested and so we recommended ourselves to the wounds of the Savior and laid ourselves down to sleep.

On the 26th the water fell as quickly as it had risen on the day before. It had caused us some damage in our house and fields but we had particular cause to thank our dear Savior for his gracious protection in our ark.

On the 27th we were busy drying out our house and nailing down our floorboards that had been raised by the flood and looking for our horses that had run away again. But we did not find them. We closed this day with an evening blessing.

On Friday the 28th in the morning we prepared ourselves to leave for Bethlehem. We held one more sweet Love Feast on our departure and after this we took heartfelt leave of each other and in fact not without a little tear, because it was painful for those brothers and sisters who had to stay, especially for Brother Boehmer who was not yet used to the solitary lifestyle. He accompanied us for a little, as did Brother Anton Schmidt, then we exchanged a kiss and they returned. At midday we arrived at Schumachers. They welcomed us very lovingly, gave us some food to eat and told us that whenever we came by this way we should stop to speak with them; and that we should cordially greet the brothers and sisters in the Gemeine from them and recommend them to their prayers; and whenever other Brothers and Sisters came by this way who had never been there before we should tell them not just to pass by for they would love to see anyone of our people. And if they could not show much love to us so they would do it in their hearts. We thanked them for their love and took a heartfelt farewell. We continued on to Ludwigs Ruh and wanted to stay there but found little firewood and so continued on to the Thürnstein where we found wood and so made ourselves a good fire and laid down to sleep.

On the Sabbath, the 29th, we set out on our way again in the morning and towards evening arrived at our dear Brother and Sister Loesch’s who were very happy to see us and welcomed us lovingly. Soon after the dear Brother and Sister Neisser arrived from Bethlehem and stayed with us overnight and told us many blessed news from the Gemeine.

On Sunday the 30th Brother and Sister Neisser continued on to Lebanon and with them for the sermon Father Lösch, Kliest and Marx Kieffer. In the evening we returned again with the beloved Father Lösch and laid ourselves down to sleep.

On Monday July 1 we took our leave in the morning and went on to Heidelberg where we met Brother and Sister Wagner healthy and well. They refreshed us with some food and after this we took our leave and made our way to Papsts plantation where we stayed the night.[158]

On Tuesday, July 2nd we left here and in the evening arrived in our dear Bethlehem. We thanked the Lamb for his gracious protection and company to this point and gave ourselves over to the care of the holy Gemeine like the poorest and neediest children.