The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees

Synopsis

In 1801 the Moravians, a Pietist German-speaking group from Central Europe, founded the Springplace Mission at a site in present-day northwestern Georgia. The Moravians remained among the Cherokees for more than thirty years, longer than any other Christian group. John and Anna Rosina Gambold served at the mission from 1805 until Anna's death in 1821. Anna, the principal author of the diaries, chronicles the intimate details of Cherokee daily life for seventeen years. Anna describes mission life and what she heard and saw at Springplace: food preparation and consumption, transactions pertaining to land, Cherokee body ornaments, conjuring, Cherokee law and punishment, Green Corn ceremonies, ball play, and matriarchal and marriage traditions. She similarly recounts stories she heard about rainmaking, the origins of the Cherokee people, and how she herself conversed with curious Cherokees about Christian images and fixtures. She also recalls earthquakes, conversions, notable visitors, annuity distributions, and illnesses. This abridged edition offers selected excerpts from the definitive edition of the Springplace diary, enabling significant themes and events of Cherokee culture and history to emerge. Anna's carefully recorded observations reveal the Cherokees' worldview and allow readers a glimpse into a time of change and upheaval for the tribe.