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Some distance beyond the town of Wampum of pleasant Indian sound, and on the western shore of the Beaver River, lies the hamlet of Moravia, and just beyond Moravia, in an open field, is a stone marker which relates an important event in the history of the country west of the Allegheny Mountains.
It was here that David Zeisberger, the Moravian missionary, established a settlement of the Brethren for the evangelization of the Indians. The settlement was called Friedendstadt, or the town of peace. The Indians responded to the preaching of the gospel, and on June 12, 1770, the wife of the blind chief Solomon was baptized into the faith of Christ.
Among the other converts was a celebrated Delaware brave and orator, Glickhickan, who had been sent by the chief of the Wolf tribe of the Delawares to refute the teachings of the Christians. But he who came to mock and denounce remained to pray, and on Christmas Eve, 1770, Glickhickan was baptized and took the name of Isaac.
The first settlement had been on the east side of the Beaver, but the more substantial town was built on the west side, not far from the present Moravia. Here the God-loving and truth-loving descendants of the great John Hus of Bohemia preached the gospel of reconciliation and peace to the Delaware Indians. On May 27, 1771, the foundation stone of the church was laid, and on the twentieth of June, the church was dedicated to the worship of God with great rejoicing. It is probable that this was the first church building dedicated to the worship of God in Christ west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The Rev. David McClure, one of the pioneer ministers and travelers of the West, in his diary, gives an account of the Moravian town as he saw it. He describes the village as consisting of one street with houses on each side and gardens back. There was a log church with a small bell. At the sound of the bell the Indians gathered for evening prayer. The church was lighted with candles and decorated with paintings of gospel themes. He related the following conversation between an Indian and one of the missionaries:
Indian: "Father, I am going a-hunting."
Missionary: "Well, dear friend, be always mindful of your blessed Saviour, and do nothing to displease Him who loved you and died for you. Go not in the way of the wild Indians; but if you meet them show them much love and kindness. Be careful to pray your hymns to Jesus every night and every morning."
In 1773 the "wild" Indians had become very threatening, and it was thought wise to remove the settlement to a safe district. On the thirteenth of April, 1773, the Moravians departed from Friedenstadt, after having razed the chapel which they had loved, so that it might not be profaned by the Indians by being turned into a house for savage sacrifice and war dances. The Moravians settled among the Delawares on the west bank of the Tuscarawas, near what is now New Philadelphia, Ohio. From there they moved to Gnadenhutten, the Tents of Grace, on the east bank of the river.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Moravians and Christian Indians, who were pacifists, and showed Christian kindness both to the Americans and English
In 1872, Indians made a raid on the farm of Robert Wallace on Raccoon Creek, on the south side of what is now Beaver County, and tomahawked and scalped Mrs. Wallace and an infant daughter. On its retreat this war party passed through the Moravian town of Gnadenhutten, and the Moravian Indians, knowing nothing of what had happened, purchased some of the spoils from the Wallace home, and a Moravian squaw came into possession of the blood-stained dress of Mrs. Wallace. Thus the innocent Moravians were charged with being accessories to the massacre on Raccoon Creek.
On the eighth of March, 1782, the avenging militia from Pennsylvania, pretending to have come for the purpose of removing the Moravians to Fort Pitt, where they would be safe from the "wild" Indians, fell upon the disarmed lovers of peace and massacred them in cold blood.
(From NOT FAR FROM PITTSBURGH By Clarence E. Macartney)
John Roth, founder of the American branch of the family, was born February 3, 1726, at Saarmund in Mark Brandenburg, Germany. Though reared a Lutheran he united with the Moravians at Neusalz in 1748, to be commissioned for missionary service in Pennsylvania, June 6, 1756, in a "colony" of single brethren. When they arrived at Bethlehem, John Roth immediately began his labors among the 1ndians at Nain. Acquiring the Delaware tongue, he was in due course ordained, .and in 1756 became assistant to the famous David Zeisberger. Of his accomplishments one item only knits into our narrative now, that being his journey in 1771 with persecuted mission Indians from the Susquehanna towns across the untrodden wilderness of Pennsylvania to a site near the present city of New Castle, Lawrence County. Here he built the town of "Friedenstadt." It was a weary journey; speed about ten miles a day. It had one cheerful interruption; Missionary Heckewelder met the Roth pilgrims at the intersection of the Wilderness and Venango Trails; so pleasant was that camping place to the Missionary that he inspired his son John David with longing to make the location his home. This the son did in 1821, when claiming a tract of forest land he struck the family roots deeply into the Western Pennsylvania soil.
The Missionary did not stay long at Friedenstadt. His call took him on to Gnadenhuetten, accompanied by his wife, Agnes Pfingstag, who shared with him all the bitterness of the frontier. On July 4, 1773, John Lewis was born, the first white child born ~-i what is now the State of Ohio. This child was baptized by David Zeisberger, with two Indians as sponsors, Anton, a Delaware, and Christina, a Mohican.. Recalled to Eastern Pennsylvania by his Church, the Missionary spent his closing years at York. When the Continental Congress fled to that city he served as its chaplain. He died in 1791. In 1898 his remains were brought to the Emanuel Cemetery in Prospect, Butler County, his camp site of 1771.