Blackcoats among the Delaware: David Zeisberger on the Ohio Frontier

By Earl P. Olmstead | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Goshen Mission Life An Overview

During his thirteen years at the Goshen mission, Benjamin Mortimer wrote over eight hundred pages of diary manuscripts. Beyond the broad major historical events occurring at the small villages, the record is filled with the routine of daily mission life. A careful study reveals the uniqueness of the experience and gives the reader a flavor of what it meant to live in a Moravian Christian mission.

When David Zeisberger arrived in the Muskingum valley on October 4, 1798, he was celebrating his fiftieth year in the mission service. With minor exceptions, from the Shamokin mission in 1748 where he served as an assistant to Martin Mack to his last mission at Goshen on the banks of the Muskingum, he lived those fifty years among the Christian Indians and, like all of his fellow Moravian missionaries, served without any personal compensation. 1 During that period, he developed a style of operation which, over the years, he altered and perfected to meet the changing conditions. Unlike most of the early Protestant Christian missionaries, he quickly recognized and appreciated the vast chasm that lay between the native Indian and Euroamerican culture. To bridge that gap, he developed a program that delicately balanced the native village life with his Christian mission settlements.

Early on he formulated a set of rules to govern the villages. At first they were loosely written, but after a mission conference in August 1772, and beginning with the Schoenbrunn mission, they were formalized and recorded (see appendix E). Each January, or at other appropriate times, the rules were read and discussed at a congregational meeting, at which time every convert pledged to abide by all statutes. There were nineteen specific regulations, which are more meaningful if broken down into four separate categories. In the following list, the number assigned to each rule represents its respective position in the original list. 2

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Blackcoats among the Delaware: David Zeisberger on the Ohio Frontier
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I The Wilderness Years 1772-1798 1
  • One the Ambiguous Delaware 3
  • Two the Great Dispersement 34
  • Three from Disaster to a New Beginning 51
  • Four Return to the Ohio Country 64
  • Five Pettquotting the New Salem 76
  • Six from the Detroit River to the Retrenche 87
  • Part 2 The Goshen Mission Years 1798-1821 105
  • Seven the Goshen Mission 107
  • Eight Goshen Mission Life an Overview 124
  • Nine Without Their Beloved David 152
  • Part 3 Record of Burials, the Goshen Mission Cemetery 173
  • Origins of the Goshen Biographical Sketches 175
  • Burials 1-44, 1799-1823 177
  • Appendix A 241
  • Appendix B 243
  • Appendix C 244
  • Appendix D 245
  • Appendix E 246
  • Appendix F 248
  • Appendix G 249
  • Notes 255
  • Bibliography 267
  • Index 273
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