David Zeisberger: A Life among the Indians

By Earl P. Olmstead; David Zeisberger | Go to book overview
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There Are Worse Things Waiting for Men Than Death, 1781

WHILE ZEISBERGER was visiting Bethlehem, a new commander had taken over at Fort Pitt. Colonel John Gibson was now temporarily in charge. He was replaced by General William Irwin, who assumed command early in November.1

When Zeisberger returned to the mission field, he brought along his old friends Johann and Anna Margareth Jungmann. The Jungmanns had left the valley early in August 1777 at the height of the Indian scare. Their return, more than any other act, indicated Zeisberger's confidence that the missions would weather the remaining months of the Revolution. He would not have continued to increase his staff if he anticipated trouble with the Indians, especially the Delawares and Wyandots.

Events during the first three weeks after Zeisberger's return seemed to confirm his conviction. But on August 7, Heckewelder wrote a devastating entry in his diary: "Had a message: That about 100 men under the leadership of English officers and Half-King were on the way to take us away. Immediately, through a courier, I gave this information to Brother David at Schoenbrunn and Edwards at Gnadenhutten."2

Heckewelder's diary for the next two days set the stage for the following five weeks of tension and turmoil. It is the only day-to-day record we have


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