1782: Village of Moravian Delaware Indians Massacred
Indian Country Today
Today marks the 235th anniversary of the Gnadenhutten Massacre of the Moravian Delaware Indians. It was on this day, 235 years ago, that 96 Christian Indians were massacred in the small Moravian Delaware Indian village of Gnadenhuttten, Ohio. The remains of these 96 Christian Indians lay exposed to the forest animals and the weather for over 15 years before being piled in a mass grave called the Burial Mound for the Christian Indian Martyrs.
The year was 1782. On this bitter cold day in March, a group of nearly 100 Moravian Delaware Indians were working in the fields, gathering the corn they were forced to abandon during the previous year’s harvest.
Out of the woods and through the snow came a large group of colonial militiamen on horseback. As the startled Indians watched them approach, the leader of the militiamen gave a friendly hailing gesture.
After exchanging peaceful greetings, the militiamen told the Moravian Delaware Indians that they were sent to rescue them from the approaching British troops and would be escorting them to nearby Fort Pitt. Convinced that their intentions were honorable, the Indians complied with the request to surrender their weapons.
As soon as the weapons were gathered, the treachery was revealed. In a surprise move, the militiamen turned their weapons on the Moravian Delaware converts and informed them that they were to be killed. The frightened group of Moravian Delaware Indians pleaded for their lives but the thirst for killing was strong. Their request was denied. When the Indians saw there was no hope for mercy, they asked for time to pray and prepare for death. They were granted a stay of execution to last during the overnight hours only, and no more.
The condemned Moravian Delaware Indians spent the night praying and singing hymns, asking God for forgiveness for their own sins, and for the sins of the men who would soon take their lives. They consoled one another and prayed for strength to accept their fate with courage with the knowledge that they would soon be with Jesus, in Heaven.
Not wanting to waste valuable ammunition, the Moravian Delaware Indians were mercilessly clubbed to death by the same people, who before this day, were their allies.
The Christian Indians did not resist. They did not struggle. They prayed.
I am compelled to speak to this matter as my great great grandfather, Christian Moses Stonefish, dedicated the obelisk that stands in the Gnadenhutten Historical Park, erected as a memorial in 1872, and it is my family interred in that burial mound.
This 35-foot monument at the Gnadenhutten Massacre Site was erected to honor the 96 slain Moravian Delaware Indians.