Chapter V. The Chippeway Mission--Gull Lake
IT is near the end of this year, 1851, that we find an outline given, in advance, of that work among the Red Men, which was to open a new era in the experience of the American Church.
(December 9th.--To Miss Edwards.)
.... We are contemplating a work of great moment and responsibility in the Spring, viz., a branch Mission of this House, to be planted upwards of 150 miles to the Northwest, amongst the Chippeway Indians. The Church has as yet done next to nothing, in the United States, for the pagan portion of her people, all of whom are near members of CHRIST, if the Church has a duty to every creature and to all nations. There is a double duty resting upon us in behalf of this poor people. They are destitute of the means of grace, but are asking for them at our hands. The Methodists and Presbyterians, also, have done next to nothing for the Red Man in these northern countries, but they have exceeded the Church in having made the effort to do them good, with divers Missions that have been established, some for eight, others for ten, and some even for eighteen years. Their labors lie chiefly amongst the Sioux. We propose the Chippeways, because they have applied to us to teach them, and they have already sent us two youths of their tribe, that are now with us, one eight, the other fifteen years of age. They could not speak a word of English when they came to us. There are, of twenty-five thousand Chippeways, about six thousand in Minnesota.
It is amongst these people that the English Church has done so great good, nearly six hundred miles to our Northwest. There ate Churches already built for the Red Man in Prince Rupert's Land, which are filled with devout worshippers from amongst these people. They have given up their wild life and adopted the peaceable arts of civilization. There is a Bishop of the English Church, with six or more clergymen, so far beyond us as I have just mentioned. There are six or seven churches built on the Red River of that region. So that this new Mission, as contemplated, is making an approach to them in doing good, and in the onward march of our people.
Of this Mission I can at present say but little. But our plan is to begin with a school, which shall have in it two departments, one for boys, and the other for girls; that none shall be taken under seven years of age, nor over twelve; that these shall be given up to the Church's training, taken away from the miserable filth and idleness of the wigwam, and educated day and night beneath the Mission roof, in religion, in learning, but still more than the latter, at present, in work. The girls are to be taught sewing and all domestic duties, and the boys gardening, the use of tools, &c. This is indeed contemplating a great deal, but it is the only way to train the wild blood. The end of such an undertaking is, to become self-supporting; but at first there will be a large outlay, although we intend to begin moderately, as at Nashotah and also again in this Territory.
The Mission must be located in the country of the Indians for a two-fold reason. First, the benefit the Mission's example in training and presence will be to the natives themselves; and secondly, in the sense that must ever be present to the Indian youth, that they are children of the Red Man. We have already made some provision of laborers for this Mission, and we hope in due time to see all the necessary laborers, male and female, ready for, and centering upon, this work.
The work now that I propose to the ladies is to assist in the preparation of clothing for youth, male and female, of the ages above mentioned. The children come to us, of course, from the blanket, and must be provided for entire. In time, the girls will make the clothing for themselves, and the boys will also cook and do the washing, and thus will each department of the school help to support the other.
I could write much more upon this subject, but time at present will not permit me to do so. When I write to the young ladies of your family, more may then be said. We hope to find ladies in a number of parishes, disposed to help in a work of such moment to the Church, and a work that I believe the Church only can accomplish. We also hope a number of parishes will make special offerings for setting the Mission under way, which we cannot doubt that they will, when they consider how great is the work, and how slack the Church has been to put her hand unto it. This is to be a branch of the Mission House at St. Paul. I expect to go to this work myself (yet not to the desertion of this, but superintending both), and shall live in the midst of the Red Men, not in a wigwam, but in a log-house, and if the Great Head of the Church prospers the work there, shall we not be richly rewarded?
1852. (January 12th, St. Paul.--To the Minnesota Circle.)
......I trust an apology will not be necessary from a missionary writing to missionaries,--for in such regard we hold all who labor for CHRIST and His Church, whether they are upon the mission ground or off it. You have been laboring, young ladies, to benefit the Church in this far West. So far, you have been missionaries along with us, and gladly do we ascribe the work wrought by this Mission to yourselves and others at a distance, who have thus shown zeal for GOD and the Gospel of His Dear SON. May abundant blessings in return be showered down upon you, and your self-sacrificing teachers. At the suggestion of another, I do also write to you.
Perhaps I cannot better begin than by sending you extracts from the letter of a partially educated Chippeway or Ojibway, which we received on New Year's Day, just passed. The Chippeway referred to is the father of the Indian boy that is a member of our family. He was brought up a Methodist, but is now persuaded of the "better way." These Indians to which I refer, live 150 miles to our North, and are wholly wild, though of a disposition perhaps naturally more noble and generous than is usually found among savages. But to the letter,--for they have rather found us out than we them, and hence the duty is the more binding upon us, than would otherwise have been the case. We are sent to Minnesota to have a care for all souls within it. This Indian correspondent had been with us a few days, when bringing his son to us. His letter in part has reference to our conversation had together at St. Paul. It is as follows: "The Indians, particularly the chiefs and principal men, are very anxious to have teachers amongst them. The field is open for the missionaries to come in. The Indians have left for me to choose and select a teacher whom I think would be likely to benefit their nation, &c. The head chief is ready to receive and embrace Religious Instruction, now or at any time. I think I shall devote myself in teaching him and his family what little I know. If the head chief first embrace the Christian Religion, a great change will immediately take place, for he has great influence among his people. Every body say, Come you. Come and teach. What more can we want. No strong invitation can be given by the poor Indians. There might be some little translation of the Liturgy, and some of the forms of Prayers, &c. It would do a great deal of good at present." Thus far the Chippeway.
Now my dear young friends, can anything be more interesting than this? Here is the wild Indian seeking the Gospel at our mouths. We are asked to teach them in the things relating to their eternal salvation. This would be our duty to all within this portion of the vineyard under any circumstances, but especially so, now that the Savage himself knocks at our doors for admission. We must open to them, or disgrace the Church. There has never, perhaps, been so strong a call made upon the Church as this. We dare not refuse to answer. We are in the field, and we trust the Great Head of the Church will open the hearts of many to aid us in planting a Mission amongst these people, full 150 miles to our North. We must there fell the forest trees and build our rude log chapel and make of it a Temple to the GREAT SPIRIT, which the Savage will understand, and be impressed by. Our own rude Mission Houses must then be built, which shall be for the training of Indian children in the domestic and civilized life. These children will be taken immediately from the blanket, and hence will require the clothing of the whites; but we do not intend taking any over twelve years of age, and the number will, at the first, be very limited,--perhaps not over ten or fifteen children for the first year.
But, young ladies, you may feel more interest in the present work of the Mission than in that which is at a distance. I shall not therefore speak further of the Indian at this time. On Christmas day we were permitted to worship in three churches within our Mission. Only one of these, however, has been completed and consecrated. The others are enclosed, and worshipped in only through absolute necessity; but we hope, by next summer, to have one of them, at least, finished and prepared for consecration. Our Mission House is beautifully located upon a bluff to the rear of St. Paul, where there is everything pleasing in the wide view that lies extended before us, as well as in the quiet retirement of the Mission grounds. Since we first pitched our little tent beneath an old oak that stands close by my room door, our Mission House has been enlarging its borders, so that at present we have eleven rooms, besides a neat primary school-house. In this the children of the town are daily instructed. We are ten in family, and expect some accessions in the spring and summer. We continue to perform our journeys on foot, and feel much encouraged in the prospect that is opening before us daily.
(February 11th.)--Miss Sarah M. Edwards will do me the favor to present my sincerest acknowledgments to the ladies of the Seabury Society for their repeated alms-giving to this humble Mission. Your very acceptable epistle of the 12th ult. was received on the 9th inst.--almost a month after date; which shows the distance of this Mission from you in the winter season........We have just heard from the box. It is at Galena, where it must remain until the opening of navigation, which takes place from the 1st to the 20th of April. When the box comes, please say to the ladies, that I shall trouble them with another letter. Their present benefaction is of great moment to us at this time, when we are supporting not only a large family, but also are engaged in completing two churches for consecration by next summer. We are now worshipping in these churches, although they are in a very unfinished state.
You will rejoice with us, my dear friends, at the promise of a visit at that time, from the Bishop of Prince Rupert's Land. The meeting of an English Bishop and our own, in this extreme West, will be an era indeed, at least in our humble work. And, inasmuch as you have made yourselves co-laborers with us, you have the right to share the honor of such an event along with us.
But once more to the poor Indians. We continue to hope that all success may attend our endeavors for their regeneration to light and truth. Hear, if you please, the following extracts from letters received since my last to the young ladies of your school: "January 21st, 1852.--The Indians have all good feelings towards the anticipated Missionaries, especially the Head Chief. They all seem to open their dark and stony hearts to receive you any time. Hole-in-the-Day (the Head Chief) is very anxious to have you come and establish a school among his people in the spring. I have talked to him on Religious subjects. He told me, two days ago, that he had now fully made up his mind to become Christian man. He said, I am going to throw everything away behind me. I am going to embrace the white man's GOD, &c. I am doing," continues this partially educated Chippeway, "all I can, in talking to the Indians and others. I am very anxious to hear about my little boy." You will remember that we have this Chippeway's son with us. He is but nine years of age, and could not speak a word of English when he came to us. Our other little boy, a Church-orphan child, has just brought me a letter to send to the father of the young Ojibwa, and it is so true to nature, that I cannot but copy it here for you. Charles Beurgan, the writer, is in his thirteenth year: "I received your welcome letter to-day." (The father had enclosed one to Charley in his letter to me, asking after his son.) "The first thing I write about is your Alfred. He is getting along finely. You wanted to know how he acted. He in general behaves pretty good. He is a great help to us in the kitchen, he sets the table most every day, and wipes the dishes. He comes out of school every morning at 11 o'clock, and helps the cook. He sleeps very warm, and keeps the clothes on him, and makes his bed after he gets up, as good as any of us. He has not had to be punished but once, and that was to-day. He did not know his lesson, and he was set m the dunce's seat. As to your question about his learning, I will now tell you something. He is now spelling in four syllables and reading in the first reader. He is now beginning to talk English, and every day he repeats some new word. Last week he got a new coat, and was very proud of it; but as he was coming home from Church, he was sliding on the ice, and fell down, and got it muddy. You may want to know if he wore that old coat" (the one he had on when he came to the Mission, is here meant) "all the time since you were here. I gave him one coat and a pair of pants. I would be glad to see you here, and no doubt Alfred would be glad too. When I told Alfred about the moccasins" (his father had promised to send each a pair), "he seemed very glad, and I would be glad too. But it is growing late, and I must stop." Thus you have a very intelligent letter from a very intelligent little boy, that I brought with me last Spring from St. Louis, at the request of the Bishop and clergy there. You will no longer question the ability of Indian children to learn, after reading the above, when you consider that it is less than three months since he came to us.
But let me give you another extract from a letter of the father of that Indian Alfred to our catechist, who teaches the day-scholars. It will exhibit the affection of the Indians for their offspring. Their stoicism melts away before the fire of natural affection: "There is not a day passes away but what I have thought about Alfred. His little brother often speaks about him, and sometimes cries because he wants to see little brother Alfred. I like to hear particulars, spells how many syllables, whether he can say come or go to school, and sometimes imagine that I see him in school, or set to dinner. Let me say, good friends, when the cold nights come, I think about Alfred. Give him plenty bed-clothes, to have him sleep warm. You will bear with me, I know you will bear with poor Indian man. He thinks a great deal about his little boy. I think I say too much when I ask for anything for me." In the same letter, he writes farther concerning his people: "You will no doubt be happy to learn the minds of the Indians here, of having the Missionaries coming to them. They will gladly receive them. Hole-in-the-Day's words: 'They will come with intention of doing us good, but not to deceive or destroy us.' For my part, I am truly glad to see that there is, as it were, another offer of life to be given them in the Spring. I am the only one yet to speak and stand for my ruined people; and as long as the good LORD gives me breath, I intend to speak for my people. I know I am unworthy, and I feel my unworthiness before GOD, and wish I was truly Christian, and long to be one."
And now one extract more from a letter just received, and I am done: "Three days ago, I saw two more of the principal Chiefs. What did they say? you think. The poor fellows say: 'Let the good white man come, that he may open our blind eyes, and we will give him our children to teach.' So say the whole. Every encouragement is now before you. The door is wide open. I am doing all I can for the great and good cause. If you should need my assistance, I shall be ready any time. And here follows sad news. Hole-in-the-Day is very sick. I hardly think he will live long. I should be very happy you to see him, and he told me too, that he should like to see you before he dies. I saw him day before yesterday. I am very sorry that I cannot do anything for him in body; but I am trying to do something for his spiritual good, and to my great satisfaction."
You must now all be tired, but think I beg you, think on these poor creatures. Perhaps you may enlist the interest of the Rectors in their behalf, and thus awaken an energy in the congregation to help in so manifest a call to the Church to come to their assistance. Here are pagans anxiously asking for the Gospel. I intend (God willing) starting on Monday next to visit this sick Head Chief. The journey at this season of the year on foot will be a tedious one in all probability. If I were to hire a horse, it would be at a cost from $25 to $30, but on foot two or three dollars only, thereby the Church is the gainer. It is upwards of 100 miles up the Mississippi where the poor Indian lies sick.
(February 23rd, Mission in the Field, Minn.--To his Brother)
Your letter of the 20th January was received February i4th, and I have taken it along with me upon a Missionary tour, hoping to find time to answer it upon my way. This is the case at the present time, and hence the style of the date of my letter. You would, I am sure, dear Brother, write me frequently, were you aware of the pleasure I take, in this far-off West, in reading your letters. And if my own please yourself, then write me the oftener, and I shall try to gratify you.
I am now on my return route from Crow Wing, which is 132 miles up the Mississippi from St. Paul. My present visit has been to the Indians (the Chippeways), in whom we are interested, in the formation of a Mission. They have applied to us to aid them, having become satisfied that the sects can do them little or no good. For indeed, thus far, their efforts have proved futile to the last degree. But I have written you, dearest Brother, before upon this subject, and therefore I will not repeat it here...... We hope to form a branch of the Mission at St. Paul, and we look to the latent interest and energy in the Church to enable us to begin during the present summer. And now, my dearest Brother, is there none such sleeping element in your parish that may be set at work? You state that the Evangelical Catholic has aroused yourself, and now will not a most practical Indian Mission awaken your people? The pagan is asking the Gospel at our mouths, and can we refuse them? Taught in dissent, the very Indian discerns its nakedness, and looks to the Church for a system that can teach him. The head chief is willing and anxious to be taught in the faith of the Church. Think of this, my Brother:--the Romish Bishop, but a short time since, could pass two hours in his wigwam, trying to persuade him to be baptized, and the brave warrior refuses, not for unbelief in Christianity, for Hole-in-the-Day desires to be taught, but by reason of the system, which his father, a noble chief before him, refused; and yet at the same time, the father offered his son, the present head chief, to the Church to be taught. But there was no provision for imparting the Gospel to the savage! A burning shame this, which we hope in a degree to be able to wipe off. The head chief rejects the plausible system of Rome, and asks for the Catholic system of the Church. The friend of this Chippeway warrior is our correspondent, who has a son (nine years of age) in our Mission House. He now writes us the wishes of Hole-in-the-Uay, who is ill, and desires to see us before he dies. Such is the nature of the door that is opening to us, and is it possible for us to refuse to enter? The knock is given: we must open.
I have just walked 115 miles through a country but little inhabited in order to gratify the wishes of this influential chief. But, my Brother, we cannot begin with the Indian, as we can with the white man, without some money; for in the first of these we must take some children, at least, into a Mission House, where they must be both clothed and fed for a term of years. Can you not interest some of the brethren to assist by some special effort, that we may go on and improve before the opportunity passes away? I think I shall write to Wilmington, and try to interest the Rector of Trinity....... I think the teaching the Gospel to a pagan people must be the most interesting of all fields of labor in the vineyard of the LORD. If I should be permitted to enter it, then adieu to white folks, I think, for the remainder of my unprofitable life!
(March 25, St. Paul.--To Mrs. Dimock.)
It would be difficult for me to express the very great pleasure the receipt of your truly kind letter of the 26th February gave me. I had often thought of you, and could come to no settled conclusion why you did not write to me. My gratitude for the much assistance offered Nashotah, before I had left that sacred spot, would have led me long before to repeat my Missionary letters to you, had it not unwillingly come into mind that you would not care to read them. I could not learn that you continued your interest in Nashotah; but now all is made plain to me, and I am the more filled with wonder and gratitude at your excellent labors for our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.
Your first letter to mo was the more encouraging, by reason of the very difficulties that lay in your way, and which you so admirably encountered and overcame. You have wrought, through faith, a good work indeed for your LORD and MASTER. You have been instrumental in supporting a most worthy young man up to his very entrance into the Ministry. Along with your letter I received another, from which I make the following extract, which will doubtless please you, and should make you thankful to GOD that he has been so gracious in accepting your alms and prayers for His honor and glory: "The Rev. Mr. B. is with Father Hall" (an aged and devoted servant of the Vineyard in Ohio), "and is liked by his parishioners very much indeed. He is a very worthy young man, and will be respected, go where he may. His native dignity and unwavering sincerity will carry him safe through life. He very seldom speaks an unmeaning word. May the LORD prosper him, and all others laboring in His Vineyard."
I have before testified to the excellency of the character of this young man. Mr. B. wrote to me last autumn respecting his joining our Mission in Minnesota; but it was then too late to venture out so far to the Northwest. We all hope he will come in the spring or summer of this year. Speaking to the Bishop (Kemper) of the nature of Mr. B.'s letter to me, he replied: "Secure B. by all means for the Indian Mission. He is perfectly sincere and deeply pious. Two or three years since, I offered him, at his request, for the Chickasaw Mission."
...... The happy consummation of your efforts for our Divinity-student should indeed inspire your heart anew with zeal to labor again. I greatly rejoice that you have been so minded, and have already another beneficiary at Nashotah.
May he become also a faithful servant in the vineyard of the LORD. The very difficulties that arise in your pathway a second time are to be viewed by you rather as blessings, when overcome, than the contrary. '"Blessed is the man," saith St. James, "that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the LORD hath promised to them that love him." And again: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." And in another place it is thus written, for our instruction: "When thou contest to serve the LORD, prepare thy soul for temptation. Cleave unto him, and depart not away, that thou mayest be increased at thy last end." And this blessed season of the Church teaches us the great necessity for temptation, that it may be known of what sort we are; for we behold our adorable LORD led up of the HOLY SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. You have, dear Madame, been tempted to let go your duty through a plea of better allegiance to our Mother the Church. But on your part, at least, after having been led to the work so peculiarly, years since, and been so prospered in it, and the termination having been thus far so happy, for you now to turn aside through the ignorance that is in others respecting that which, so to speak, they can know nothing about, would certainly be deserting a most honorable post in the Church to which, in the mercy of GOD, you have been assigned. These very trials are to test your worthiness for such a work, and how great and how rich will be your reward, and the reward of all who serve in faith along with you, in raising up laborers for CHRIST and His Holy Church.
I have rejoiced greatly to-day (the Annunciation) in presenting your alms (received only yesterday) upon the Mission Altar, at the time of our partaking of the Holy Communion, It was indeed communion, for you were in our hearts to pray for you, as you requested of us. For this is our practice, to present unto the LORD all alms before using them in the cause unto which they have been sent. And also in the prayer of a special Office already in use from the earliest history of Nashotah to the present time, which is weekly engaged in by the clergy and divinity students of the Mission, on Thursday at 12 o'clock noon. You, Madame, were this day remembered by us. And now in return we ask your prayers for both Nashotah and Minnesota at the Throne of Divine Grace. This Mission has adopted Nashotah as the training school of her missionaries, until the ecclesiastical authority for this Territory has been organized, so that we are yet intimately joined together, and whatsoever is done there, we are equally glad as though it were done here. And do not consider, Madame, that you must tax yourself and Mr. Dimock for both Missions, in order that: I may be encouraged in this new field of labor. It will afford us pleasure to send yourself and others missionary intelligence from time to time, which may prove useful to you in inspiring with zeal, those that might otherwise be negligent through lack of knowledge.
(April 16th, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.)
All in haste, Indians waiting, &c.....I wrote you last week. I send you $48.89. the offering from St. Augustine's, England, for the Minnesota Mission.....I hope to send more soon, if I get it.
(April 18th, St. Paul.--To Miss Sarah Edwards)
Your kindness in procuring a copy of the sermon of the Rev. Mr. Pitkin on the Indian Mission is fully appreciated, as well as the earnest eloquence of my brother in the ministry. Is it not singular, that whilst those with you sometimes look upon our life as romance, but which is indeed all practical, we are led also to regard most part of what is said of us by our best friends, in the same light? The great Apostle to the Gentiles "could wish himself accursed" for his "brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh," that thereby they might be saved; and if this discourse on the man will produce fruits which shall minister to the saving of the Indian, how willingly should I bear with it, although there is one person (and I doubt not many besides) who knows how undeserving he is of all that is herein said, by a too partial brother.
But I heartily, and with tears, rejoice that the poor Indian hath such pleaders. I foolishly thought that I was here in the wilderness standing alone to intreat for them, when, lo! many are ready to speak, nay, to act, in their behalf. The LORD'S answer to Elias is full of reproof: "Yet I have left unto me seven thousand in Israel, which have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal." When brethren are thus moved, it is not for the man, but for the object. Without the abject, you would never, Miss Edwards, have known that there was such a being in existence, much less have heard him spoken of in a sermon. When brethren are moved thus to speak, it is the depth of the object that impels them. It is the HOLY SPIRIT, whose they are, that pleads with the faithful, that men benighted may be brought, through their prayers and offerings, out of darkness to the clear light of the Gospel, and hereby adding to their exceeding great reward in the world to come. We are insufficient for these things, we need the sufficiency of others. GOD is all-sufficient; but with man, He works by means, and these means are the sacrifices of your lips and the self-denying labors of your hands; and with these, the laborers on the frontier are fully strengthened to their work. Full well did St Paul know the force of those words in the above respects, which occur in the Rev. Mr. Pitkin's sermon: "I can do all things through CHRIST which strengthened me." We may know them likewise, in some degree.
Your letter was received only yesterday, and to-morrow I start on another journey to the North to Hole-in-the-Day's village, 140 miles up the Mississippi. I am glad to correct the statement in the New York paper that Hole-in-the-Day is dead. He is still living, and is almost well. At least his life is spared us for a season, it is certain; and, we hope, for years. Perhaps my last letter mentioned the ineffectual visit of the Romish Bishop of this place to Hole-in-the-Day at his wigwam, where he spent two hours with him, endeavoring to persuade him to be baptized; but even this heathen had learned enough to refuse,--not the sacrament of a new birth, but of a Romish faith, and with boldness rejected the unasked proffer of that which was intended to make him a Papist as well as a Christian. I failed in seeing him myself on the occasion of my last visit, for he was ignorant of the time when I should go up the river, and his better health led him to travel farther North amongst his people than my ensuing appointments would suffer me to go in pursuit of him. But I saw and heard enough of the Chippeways to know that all was working well, and that I could do more a little later to further the cause in hand, than at this present. So I returned, and now I have sent word that they should expect me in a few days.
At this place in my letter, a communication just received from our Chaplain at Fort Ripley will properly come, and I trust will interest you all, but particularly the Rev. Mr. Pitkin, for I think the Rev. Solon W. Manney is known to him as a fellow-student at the General Theological Seminary. During my visit to the Chippeways I had called upon the Chaplain specially to interest himself in a visit for us to Hole-in-the-Day, in case of a relapse of his former sickness. I am glad to testify to the interest at once awakened in him in behalf of his pagan neighbors:
"Fort Ripley, March 24th, 1852.--Hole-in the-Day, two of his wives, and 'Johnson' (the Anglican name of the father of the Indian boy that is in our house) took tea with me about two weeks ago. I had a long conversation with him. He said he was convinced that the only hope for the elevation of his people, which he greatly desired, was in the reception of the Christian religion;--that he himself, since he had been wounded, had thought a great deal about it, and wished to live differently. I told him, among other things--to take off the edge of receiving the religion of their conquerors--that not only we ourselves but most of the nations of Europe, before the reception of Christianity, were in a savage state, not unlike their own. I concluded by saying to him, that GOD may have spared him to be a blessing to his people, by receiving Christianity himself, and encouraging them to embrace it. On last Sunday also, Hole-in-the-Day, two of his wives, and Johnson, took tea with me, but they were in deep sorrow. They started to bring down his sick child to the garrison, but it died before they arrived here. But now, what do you suppose Hole-in-the-Day wished? He wished his child to be buried with Christian rites. He desired not the rites of his fathers, which he was about to abandon as worthless and of no avail. On last Tuesday, on the banks of the Mississippi, at Crow Wing, I gave it the burial rites of the Church. Lieutenant Flint was with me. Johnson interpreted paragraph by paragraph. After resolving one or two practical questions for him--first, as to the feast in remembrance of the child, which I forbade altogether, for fear of the consequences of association; second, as to the treatment of his wives whom he intends to put away--they all left. He is to keep the oldest wife; the two others he is to separate from, but I told him he-must see that they and their children were well taken care of, and protected--not suffered to want. Further, that after separation from him, they would be at liberty to marry again, when, in the case of such an event, he would be released from the obligation to support them. These questions were resolved for him at his own request."
Upon my return from the Chippeway country, I hope it may be in my power to communicate some certain intelligence respecting the actual beginning of our Indian Mission. We have an excellent catechist and teacher in our primary school instructor, who will be transferred to this department of our labors, whilst a former teacher of the primary school at Nashotah is now on his way to take charge in the Mission Day School at St. Paul. Thus we find the way opened to us, as we walk in it.
Permit me now to give you the opinion of Bishop Kemper on the above subjects, and all will be fully satisfied that we are not running in this new Mission before that we are fully sent. "If to the system of itineracy," writes the Bishop, "you can add an Indian Mission, it will be perfect, and many new friends, I believe, will come forth to your aid. Secure Bingham by all means for the Indian Mission. He is perfectly sincere and deeply pious. Two or three years since, I offered him at his own request for the Chickasaw Mission." Mr. Bingham is one of the late graduates of Nashotah, who wrote to us on the subject of joining an Association. The Bishop continues. "Your notions as to civilization are correct. In a measure it must precede Christianity. School for an hour a day, or even less, will do to begin with. You have secured a carpenter. The other man should, if possible, be a blacksmith, and both should understand and be ready to teach farming and gardening. The wives of these men should know, and be ready to teach, all the arts of domestic life,--cooking, sewing, spinning, milking, &c. As soon as you have formed your plan, and will make it known to the Church, and have stated what laborers you want, I have no doubt you will have plenty to offer their assistance." And now the Bishop, of his own mind, states:--"Let me say here that I will most cheerfully give any recommendations you may desire in reference to the Chippeway Mission. Your plan of teaching all in English, is the best by far. If you think a letter from me would secure Bingham to you, I will write to him with pleasure. You tell me your heart burns within you for the Indian Mission; and, by the grace of GOD, I will keep the coal alive. If by a journey to the East I could secure a proper man for you, I would willingly undertake it. The opening appears peculiar."
In another letter from the Bishop, just received, is the following:--"I have written to Bingham and urged him to join you. I am yet deliberating upon the expediency of an appeal from me in favor of the Indian Mission. You, however, may use my name in full endorsement of the scheme, as being deeply interested in it and most anxious, not only for the welfare of the Indians but for the honor of the Church, that it be carried into effect. I as yet hesitate, simply from my position as connected with the Domestic Committee, and being in their pay. They might think, particularly if it takes with the Church, that they should have the honor, and that I had not treated them well, by appealing under my own signature for a Mission with which they have no connection, and yet many of my means of doing good coming from them. For these reasons I hesitate. Still I may act, altogether and entirely in favor; and if necessary, I will spend a whole winter with you" if I can thus further its accomplishment. Again, the Domestic Committee might think I was drawing away funds which would otherwise come into their treasury. Still, if you think otherwise, I am willing to act, for I am MOST DEEPLY interested." The underscoring is the Bishop's.
Of course I should not, under such circumstances, ask any public endorsement of the Bishop, which would be of little avail unless he could give it without being bound. But enough of the Chippeways for the present.
It will be pleasing for yourself and others to learn that the Queen of Festivals passed not away without leaving a blessing behind it. Besides the two full services and the Holy Eucharist in the Church at St. Paul, there was an evening service for the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. At the American service there were twelve persons baptized. Five were adults, four were Sunday-school children, and three infants. Can we be thankful enough for such blessings in a land like this? On Easter Monday the vestry of this parish authorized us to procure an assistant, towards whose support they will pay $200. If this assistant should prove an efficient clergyman he will become Rector, and we shall be freed from all charge, and thereby have accomplished our first work. We hope also to procure a clergyman for the St. Croix stations. At St. Anthony the parish of the "Holy Trinity" was organized,--the second parish in Minnesota. It was for this station that the Rev. Mr. Pitkin procured for us $100 the first year towards building their church.
(April 20th, Mission in the Field.--To Miss Edwards.) I propose giving you a diary of my visit to the Chippeways, and have dated this letter "Mission in the Field." I am now writing in a log-house, neatly whitewashed within and without, situated on the banks of the St. Francis River, which is thirty miles above St. Paul. The people living here are a mixture, partly French and partly Indian, and perhaps some Scotch; and, in religion, the man is a Churchman, the wife a Romanist; and the rest, for there appear to be mothers, grandmothers, cousins, &c., I know not what.
On Monday the i8th, at 2 o'clock p. M., we started forth on a visit to the Indians living at Gull Lake, 140 miles to the North. "We" are myself arid a lay-brother, whom I have had the happiness to baptize by the martyr name of Stephen, and therefore in this journey he shall be known as "Brother Stephen," for in our Mission, all, both clergy and divinity students, are styled "Brother." We are traveling on foot, remembering how our blessed LORD and the Holy Apostles and others traveled. At the breaking up of the river (at St. Paul) the mails are stopped for two or three weeks, and it was not supposed a boat would be up before we should commence this journey; but on Friday night at 9 o'clock the shrill whistle of a high-pressure steamboat was heard,--a sound that was indeed welcomed back again, after an absence of almost six months, by a tremendous cheering and shouting of all St. Paul, who in one mass appeared to have turned out and crowded the bluff and landing, notwithstanding it was so dark that none could tell his fellows; but all were agreed to shout for joy, as if they had just burst forth from some place of long confinement. The Mission House on the bluff, three quarters of a mile distant from the river, was literally deafened by these unexpected chcerings in the stillness of the evening. My clerical associates and two of the divinity students could not but rush down to add to the joyous confusion of the scene; and Brother Craig, the catechist, rung out a merry peal from the old Nashotah bell, that hangs in the old oak tree, which is the only sentinel of our humble Mission House (saving the Cross, beautifully white, on the gable). I was of course overjoyed with the rest, for, I must confess, the thought of starting out without a mail, after having waited for one so long a time, and to be absent so many days, was a little trying. But here the trial was dissipated by the news that fifteen or twenty large and heavy mail bags were seen taken from the boat to the post-office. And so it was on Saturday morning fifteen or twenty letters were brought to me, among which yours, and that astonishing sermon (of Mr. Pitkin) were found.
But to return to our journey to the Indian country. Brother Stephen is harnessed as soldier with knapsack on back, and umbrella in hand, serving a double purpose. I am just like him, and both have high-topped boots, with trowsers tucked into their tops, à la mode Western, Thus equipped, we bid adieu to our brethren. Brother Wilcoxson has just come in from the St. Croix,--twenty miles' walk this day. He is a noble "fellow in the LORD." It has been raining in the morning, and the ground is somewhat wet; but our boots are proof against at least one element, and therefore we do not mind it.
The route lay through oak openings and occasionally a prairie, with farm houses in every direction. But how soon we have reached the Falls of St. Anthony! Yes, there they are,--have been trying to run over and down for centuries, but they are running still. How beautiful they look! It is now 4 o'clock, and we have come eight miles, where we reach the first houses of the village; and, as we have agreed, on the way, to keep the "ffours," there being an altar to GOD in this place, we will begin them within yonder sacred inclosure, a Christian temple. GOD be praised for His goodness! The alms of "sisters three," nay, of another now enjoying a continual feast in the society of the Blessed, helped to build that humble-looking church, whose Gothic windows and simple cross upon the top tell where it belongs,--Whose it is. But where is the sacrifice? do you ask with Isaac of old. GOD will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering. See here in my cassock breastpocket is the well-worn Hours Manual, handed me on the eve of my departure for the far West. Approaching the"" Altar we kneel at the chancel rail, and there in the Presence of GOD and His holy Angels, we offer up the "Nones." How beautifully appropriate is its text to ourselves concerning this journey: "Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify GOD in your body and in your spirit, which are GOD'S." We consecrated ourselves anew to the work on which we had entered for the poor Indian, and commended ourselves to the protection of GOD throughout the journey now begun.
(Sunday Evening, April 25th. Hole-in-the-Day's House.) I am writing to you from off my knapsack at Gull Lake in the palace of the Head Chief of the Chippeway Indians. Yesterday was one of some incident. We had arrived at the Fort on Friday night, wearied and glad. Lieutenant Flint, a good Churchman, extended hospitality to me, while Brother Stephen abode with the Chaplain. On Saturday morning, having previously learned that Johnson, my interpreter, was in a sugar camp but three and a half miles up the Mississippi, on the same side with the Fort, the Rev. Mr. Manney accompanied us on foot through a very great thicket. On the way he killed a muskrat with his cane. It took us two hours of steady traveling to reach the sugar grove. We were glad at finding Johnson, and soon made arrangements with him to accompany us to this point, where Hole-in-the-Day is living. Johnson put us across the river in his birch-rind canoe, that we might walk to Crow Wing, three and a half miles up the river, intending himself to come on in an hour or two, in his canoe, to that point. Here again we had brushwood, fallen logs, and everything in the way of land obstructions, to impede our progress, and--shall I say?--to try our tempers of what we were made. It afforded an opportunity to philosophize. It was almost 4 o'clock when we had recrossed the Mississippi above Crow Wing, having found a Frenchman to paddle us over. Johnson had not yet caught up with us; but we inquired our way and pursued our journey, being now west of "the Father of Waters," and traveling a part of the wild frontier where we had never been before, and where few roam saving the wild Indian. Our route lay through beautiful pine forests, and the Indian trail was very easy to our feet. I forgot to say that Brother Manney only accompanied us as far as the sugar camp.
We had now fifteen miles to travel, but not through the trackless forest. It was a well-beaten foot-path, having been traveled by the Red Man,--for how long? The savage himself cannot answer this. Our route lay through a country the very opposite to that which we had been traveling, winding its way around many a beautiful lake, but which were still frozen, though around the edges the ice was beginning to give way. These lakes were from one to twelve miles in length. The trail appeared to run, not without a purpose, up to these lakes, and just touch upon them, and be off again, burying itself in the depths of the heavy pine forests, from which we would think daylight must almost be excluded. And certainly we thought there can be no more beautiful lakes; but, in the course of a mile, another would burst upon our view. And are these basins of water here without a purpose? No, they are here to supply fish to the poor Indian; and before this day's journey is over, you shall know more of these finny creatures.
The Frenchman told us that it was but twelve miles to Gull Lake; consequently, we were now, towards sunset, expecting every lake to be the renowned residence of the Head Chief. But we were doomed to disappointment. We could hear no wild voices reply to our shouting, which at sundown made the woods ring again. All was silence. Think of our situation! away from all whites and Red Men' too, for all we knew. We now feared that we had mistaken our road. It was nearly eight o'clock. It was necessary for us to decide for the night. To stop at once was the wisest course; for, should we go on, and darkness envelop us, we could not prepare fuel for the night. We soon found a large log, where it would be convenient to build a fire. Accordingly, after saying vespers, and commending ourselves to the protection of the good providence of Almighty GOD for the night, we proceeded to make a fire, which was soon done, for we were well supplied with matches.
It was now quite dark, and the fire burned up brightly, favored by a breeze from the lake, which was within a few rods of our camping ground. After collecting fallen wood for the night, we began to think about our bed. The ground was very damp. The snow had just left it. An expedient struck us. We went to a pine tree near at hand, and broke off branches enough to make us a soft lounge. It was now approaching 9 o'clock. Brother Stephen was tired enough, as you may suppose; besides, one of his boots gave him much pain in his ankle. This was his first experience; not so with Brother Lloyd. We were now all prepared for night, when lo! voices were heard approaching. But we were not afraid. We were on an embassy of peace. We called aloud, and were answered. It was Johnson. He told us we had come by the right road, and were now within one mile of Hole-in-the-Day's house.
We were glad enough; soon had our knapsacks on our backs again, and were off, leaving the fire to take care of itself. Soon we entered the sugar-maple groves, where were the birch-rind vessels around every tree, collecting the sap. From these we drank most freely, and were much refreshed. In half a mile we approached the camp, where the Indians were engaged in making the sugar. We were now saluted by the barking and yelping of Indian dogs, which greatly resemble the wolf and fox. This informed the inmates that strangers were approaching. Although quite dark, the keen-sighted Indian saw the white man's form, or heard his tread; and, after passing along three or four rods, a voice was heard calling to us, and, much to Johnson's amusement, it was in Anglo-Saxon, "Where are you going?" I answered: "To Hole-in-the-Day's house." The female voice again called out to us: "Don't you want some sugar?" This honest invitation was not to be resisted. We unanimously turned back, and amidst the yelping of dogs, we entered the oblong camp, covered with bark, except the roof, which was open, to emit the smoke of the fire, built all along the interior. Over the fire were suspended numerous kettles, in which the sap was boiling. We took our seats opposite to the Indians. The group consisted of old and young, variously attired. The father of them all was sitting in the midst smoking, and almost without clothing. He was so old as not to be able to see. The young woman that called to us, soon fulfilled her promise, by offering us cakes of sugar already moulded.
Besides making sugar, they also set nets in the lake, where they catch large quantities of fish. These were drying, on poles running the whole length of the camp. There were also large bundles of fish, dried and laid aside for the year. They will keep without salt (I think Johnson told me) for two years. Thus bountifully hath the great CREATOR provided for these poor people, who know not how to call upon His Name. May the door soon be opened to us, to make known to them the way of salvation.
We soon proceeded on our way to Hole-in-the-Day's wigwam. It was now quite late, but the fire of this sugar camp, and the moon occasionally looking out from the clouds, dispersed the darkness, and now we were at his door. He lives in a hewed log-house. The dogs giving the alarm of strangers, he soon appeared in the door, and we were introduced to him, Indian fashion, by Johnson. Hole-in-the-Day at once invited us to enter; and now the sight of the Indians in their blankets, already lying down for the night, was singular enough. Hole-in-the-Day was habited in a sort of short frock or shirt, his hair plaited from behind, but hanging over his shoulders in front, down to his waist. His head is a perfect mould, from his eyebrows over to the back of his neck. Upon our arrival, his wives got up, went to the sugar camp, and there prepared supper for us.
This house of Hole-in-the-Day, the only house of the Indians, appears to be a sort of Hospitium, for there were arrivals of Indians to-day from Leach Lake, which is several days' journey to the Northwest. The Indians came on snow-shoes to within thirty miles of Gull Lake. Think of this, on the 251!! of April! These Indians were lying in their blankets all around the room. At length, supper was announced. A mat, made by the Indians, was laid on the floor, upon which were placed cups and plates, quite clean, and like white folks. The tea was, I think, sassafras, sweetened with maple sugar. The bread was really well made, and the butter was the only import. We sat down like Turks when drinking their coffee and smoking. The morning's meal had nicely baked fish from the lake, and also potatoes of the chief's own raising, which were brought on the table perfectly clean, and peeled (a refinement of Western life). There were also raw onions (and whole) placed on the matting. The chief is said to be a good gardener.
This spot is very charming, lying between two beautiful lakes, which are (where Hole-in-the-Day's house stands) within thirty rods of each other. The lakes are girted with a belt of tall pines about fifteen feet wide, within which are the maple groves, which extend along the lakes for miles. How bountiful our great Creator!--sugar from the trees, fish from the lakes, birds and beasts from the forests and prairies. The next morning I visited another sugar camp with Johnson, and on saying to a young woman that I hoped to be up again shortly for the purpose of a school, she replied, with great joy in her countenance, that she would come to it herself.
I had a long talk with Hole-in-the-Day, and I trust in due time to see him preparing for the Christian life. Upon asking him whether he intended moving away to any other place (for the Indian agent, wishing him to remove to the Indian Government farm, a few miles distant, promised to build him a good house, and by reason of his late sickness, to have a garden cultivated for him), he replied, that he wished to live where the Mission House should be located. The Indians were all scattered about making sugar, and I found it unadvisable to attempt a Service. This visit, therefore, effected only the preliminary step to another.
(April 28th, Itaska.)--The foregoing has been written at Various places and at odd intervals. It was begun in Hole-in-the-Day's house, and has no order. I fear that you will not think much of the diary form of letter-writing. You shall be relieved of the interval of starting and reaching Gull Lake. There was no time for completing, on the road, what was begun. A missionary has little time to himself by the wayside. He must entertain, as well as be entertained. A pedestrian missionary is rarely charged for either food or lodging. I shall now complete this letter by a few scattered remarks.
Brother Stephen and myself slept on a blanket, laid on the floor of the chief's house, surrounded by Indians accommodated in like manner. The break of day was announced by one of the Indians singing their wild chant. I made arrangements for almost immediate work; that is to say, Brother Stephen remains at the Fort with the Chaplain until next week, when I send up another divinity student, Brother Theodore. These two are to go up to Hole-in-the-Day's quarters, and there occupy themselves for ten days in making a garden. They are to live in a tent, which they procure at Fort Ripley. Then Brother Craig, the catechist of our Mission, is to go up with me, when he takes charge of the garden, and the two students aid in building a log-house for the Mission.
(Sunday after Holy Thursday, 1852, St. John's in the Wilderness, Chippeway Mission.--To Miss Edwards.)
The above august title, may perhaps, my dear Sarah, astonish you, although my last, possibly, prepared you for it. We reached the Indian farm, which lies between Gull River and Crow Wing River, on Thursday afternoon last. After holding a talk with Hole-in-the-Day, we proceeded to select a site for the Mission House. After examining the country round, we at length by Friday noon, located on two or three lakes in this vicinity. In the afternoon of Friday we commenced felling timber for a house. That is to say, the two divinity students and Johnson were engaged in this, whilst Brother Craig and myself cut down smaller trees for fencing in a small patch of ground, which we hope to plant the present season. The day was warm, and by evening we were all tired enough. Hole-in-the-Day was himself busy in the morning, planting his garden, which was a very pleasant sight, for thereby he appeared to be leading off in the most desirable of all habits for the Indians,--that of industry. He came out to visit us as we were chopping, and invited us to take tea with him. He is now living in a tent of a conical shape, beautifully white. We sat on cushions and ate from a mat, on which the tea was served. It was a Yankee supper, pork and potatoes,--I suppose, intended to suit our taste.
By the way, our goods have not yet arrived, on account of the high streams; and, until last evening, we cooked in the woods, drawing upon the simple store that two pails could contain, and which we carried thither in our hands from Fort Ripley. Would you not be amused at seeing your pioneer missionaries cooking their pork, each one with a slice on the end of a sharp stick, which was then held over the flame? The potatoes, which we procured of the Government Farmer, we cooked in the ashes. We obtained permission to sleep on the floor of the farmer's house, until our tent should arrive. But yesterday we had a shanty near by, appropriated to our exclusive use. It is here that I am now writing to my far-away Sister Sarah. The blanket forms my seat on the floor, and an only chair is my writing desk.
It is now the afternoon of Sunday, and our first Indian Service is over. You would like to hear particulars, I know. Where was the Service celebrated? Not in a log-house, that would be too much like white man for the first effort. Where was it then? In a church? Yes, in a church. "I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house, nor climb up into my bed, until I find out a place for the temple of the LORD, an habitation for the mighty GOD of Jacob." In a real church. We went to work bravely on Saturday morning, and chose a site for a church, in a beautiful group of pine trees, and after planning a church, we staked it out on the ground with nave 12 feet by 24 feet in length, and chancel 8 feet square. The walls were to be 6 feet high, and roof equilateral or Early Pointed. We then calculated the number of posts, &c. for the frame of the building, and the choppers went forth to procure them, whilst I remained on the spot, digging the holes for the posts. By noon, all were cut, and those for the walls planted. We had been invited to take dinner at the farmer's house, (where eight men are at work, employed on the Government Farm, for the use of these Indians). Accordingly, at noon, I invited them to come to the church grove and assist us in raising the heavy timber which was to support the roof. They accepted the invitation, and in an hour the entire skeleton of a church was completed, saving the ridge pole of the chancel. I complimented the men on having the honor to raise the first church in the Chippeway country, and thanked them for their service rendered us; and they left in good spirits.
The church was now to be enclosed. Before sundown this was sufficiently effected by cutting pine branches, which formed a graceful open roof, and a grateful shade, and permitting a delightful breeze to permeate the whole house. Thus was our church prepared for the morrow. But do you ask, "Where were the seats (pews)?" We answer,--these, too, were furnished, and all were free. Some clean hay from the farmer's stack formed the sittings of the congregation, leaving an alley three feet wide through the middle of the church. Our altar is a board, one foot square, nailed to a single upright post, in the centre of the board. These were the only nails used in the entire construction of this building. A clean napkin on the board, and a white cloth covering the post, with a simple cross on velvet, hung in front, were the only ornaments. I notified my brethren of the Eucharist for Sunday morning at an hour before breakfast, and accordingly we were in the church at the appointed season this morning. But the church must first be named, and in a sense consecrated. We chose the name "St. John's in the Wilderness," which was declared aloud in the church, before responding in the 84th and 132d Psalms.
After this the regular Eucharistic Service began, and was fully celebrated. At length the hour for the Indian Service arrived, which was in the following order: 1st. Gloria in Excelsis, chanted by the brethren as soon as I had said: "In the Name of the FATHER, &c., Amen." 2nd. Confession in English, and translated into Chippeway sentence by sentence. 3rd. The LORD'S Prayer in English, next in Chippeway. 4th. The Venite, chanted. 5th. Part of the 15th chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, read in English. The Chippeway Testaments have not yet arrived. 6th. The Benedictus, chanted. 7th. The Creed. 8th. Prayer in English and Chippeway. 9th. The 102nd Hymn, three verses. ["JESUS shall reign, where'er the sun."] 10th. Sermon in English and Chippeway. 11th. 102nd Hymn, last three verses with Gloria Patri. 12th. Told the Indians that I now intended praying the GREAT SPIRIT through the LORD JESUS CHRIST to bless them, and to do them good. Read the third Good Friday prayer, for "Jews, &c.," substituting these heathen people. 13th. Blessing. I then told the interpreter to invite them again, particularly the children, at sundown; I gave notice also of a service for the Whites at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. If I have time, I will copy my first sermon and send it in this to you.
First Sermon to the Chippeways. In the Name of the Father, &c., Amen. St. Luke xv. 6. "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost."
My children, the GREAT SPIRIT and JESUS CHRIST have sent me to you. The GREAT SPIRIT is good, and JESUS CHRIST is good. I greatly desire you to know this, for it will make you good also,--make you so good, that when you die, He will take you to Himself. My children, the GREAT SPIRIT made the first man good, and placed him in a beautiful garden. But he would not obey GOD, and so He drove him out of the garden. JESUS CHRIST, the only SON OF GOD, then saw us in a miserable, lost condition. We had just before been His sheep. He was our good Shepherd. Sheep, when lost, can never find their way back again to their fold. Sheep are very innocent. They do not even fight when attacked by the wolf, their chief enemy. JESUS saw us lost. We could not find our way back again to that good garden. He was very sorry for us, for He loved us very much. He saw that our hearts were hard. He saw that our eyes were blind. He sent Angels to teach us. He tried every way to bring us back. But, my children, we had gone too far astray. Our hearts had become very hard. Our eyes were so blind, we could not see what was good for us. After waiting a long time for us to return, and we would not, He determined to come to us Himself. Was He not a good Shepherd? Yes, He left heaven. He came to this earth, and taught us with His own mouth the good and the right way, the way to heaven. Before He went back again to Heaven, He built a sheepfold, and put it on the earth. Into this all His children must be gathered. In it they are safe; out of it, they are still lost, as was the first man after he disobeyed God. His sheepfold is the Christian Church. Before He went back to heaven, He sent praying fathers out into all the earth. These praying fathers were to speak for Him to all people and tribes, of every land, of every color. For JESUS loved all equally well. As one of these praying fathers, I have come, my children, to you. I have come to teach you; to open your blind eyes; to make you better. I am glad to hear that some of the Indians wish to live a different life. I have come to help you to do so. Others have come with me, to teach your children. Some of the Indians have said they would give these to me, if I would come to them. I am glad to hear this, my children, for we will try to do them good. And now I will not weary you by saying too much. But would you make JESUS, the great and good Shepherd, rejoice? Then come to this place, and hear His words. He has left with us, in His good Book, what we are to say to you. If you will love what He says, you will become a happy people. You will be sheep of the Good Shepherd. You will be children of the GREAT SPIRIT. And If you come to Him, JESUS CHRIST will say to His FATHER, I have found my sheep which were lost. What sheep? You, my children;--you that to-day hear the blessed Gospel for the first time. Come often to this place, and learn about JESUS. Become sheep of His flock, and He will love you and make you happy. This is all that I have to say at this time.
(July 11th, Kahgeeashkoonsikag.--To Miss Edwards.)
The arrival of Chippeway boxes of goods from New Haven demands an acknowledgment from the very scene of our Indian labors. We are now fairly engaged in the work proposed some time ago for the Red Man, and I trust, through your prayers, and the prayers and alms of many through the Church, to succeed in planting the blessed Gospel in the hearts of these poor, very poor and blind people. My duties with the Minnesota Mission to the Whites have led us to locate much nearer the border country than I had intended doing. This will subject us to some difficulties and dangers, that a more remote country would be free from. Whisky and ill-advice of evil-minded and unprincipled Whites are at the foundation of these. The Indians understand not the difference between men actuated by religion and those that are not. They think us all to be Christians. This is one reason they object to receiving our Religion. But we trust all will be overruled for good, and that all those who are assisting us in planting this Mission, may at the last, day have, in these people, a crown of rejoicing that will continue throughout all Eternity.
We are at present engaged in building some very small log-houses, for we are unable to enter extensively upon a work that, in this remote frontier, is necessarily so expensive. The assistance rendered us in providing clothing for these people, will very materially further our work in doing good, and your labors in three large boxes manifest your hearty good-will towards us. Our expectations have been far more than realized from the description conveyed to us by letter, both of the contents, and of those who have united so heartily in making them up. I have said, "from the description" for, during a late visit to St. Paul, the three boxes arrived; but having no time to examine and then repack them, it was concluded to let them come through directly to the Chippeway ground. So that at the present time I am only announcing to you their safe arrival, which will be some satisfaction in itself, reserving a minute reference to the contents of the boxes until after personal examination has been made. And I beg you to request the ladies, our very generous benefactresses for the poor Indians' sakes, to have long patience for this promised letter, for the boxes are, at present, located as follows:--one with us, stored away in a Government blacksmith shop; one on the way to this Mission from St. Paul; and the third is yet at the Mission House at St. Paul. They reached us divided in company, and they continue so; but be assured, it will be a happy meeting when they all come to see one another again, after so long confinement. But how astonished will they be to find their condition so changed! No longer nicely carpeted and curiously furnished parlors to sit down in, but coarse log-cabins without chair or table; no delicate fingers handling them with ease, but the roughened hands of frontier Missionaries holding them up in wondering gaze, asking, What are you for? And to end this apostrophe, if they could weep, they would do so when told that they are henceforth to associate with Indians,--to be with them, to be owned by them, to serve them as slaves do their masters.
But if these articles could think and be grieved and frightened, disgusted perhaps, what will the enclosed package have to say, when, from a savage boy's neck, the long flowing hair braided and adorned in their way, it comes to be handled by ladies, and gazed at in curious thought of the child of nature that wore it,--what will this memento of the first fruits of the Chippeway Mission desire, but the wild woods again and Lake Kahgeeashkoonsikag! All the refinement and gold and delicateness of Eastern civilized life can never satisfy that longing desire for the Red Man's freedom. It will remain silent, and fear to raise its head to look at you. Such is the nature of those with whom we have to do, away from their natural wild houses.
The history of Gigabish--for so his rude name runs--is simply this: Upon our first coming among these pagan people, he immediately attached himself to us, assisting us in our labors in all that he could do. This led us to inquire after him, and we found that he was an orphan, and was now living with his uncle, one of the best men of this people; furthermore, that he was anxious that we should take him and train him up, as we thought proper. This accounts for his present connection with us, although we have not yet left the crowded tent for our house. We soon furnished him with jacket and trowsers, which delighted him much, and he threw away his old blanket most gladly. Upon this change he soon wished his long flowing hair to be cut off, but he could not prevail upon any of my brethren to act as barber, for they feared it might displease some of the Indians. But after some days he came to us, evidently much pleased about something--what it was we could not tell, until he turned to us the back of his head, when, Io! his native beauty was shorn! He had persuaded an Indian to perform the deed. He was now, indeed, the white child, being about twelve years of age. I asked him to bring me the hair, without telling him what I intended doing with it.
I send you a part to dispose of as you think proper, and another part I hope to keep, and surprise him with it some day.
I could write you very much more, but where is the time? Some of the boys are now at work. A number of male and female children are studying in classes beneath the trees, where also we have had the Sunday services, until the last, when we were assembled in the first of our log-houses, still unfinished.
(August 4th, Mission in the Field.--To Miss Edwards)
My dear Sister Sarah--Your kind letter is in my knapsack, but forasmuch as we have just broken down--for I am on my way from St. Paul to the Chippeway Mission, by the stage, as far as it goes--I have thought it would please you to hear from the Chippeway Brother again. Fancy then your brother seated in the wagon on a carpet bag, and writing on the seat for a table, with the Winnebago encampment in full view, where are a few Indians, the remnant of a once powerful tribe. I have a boy along with me that has been some time at the Mission House at St. Paul, now returning to his parents at Kahgeeashkoonsikag. He is the Chippeway about whom I have written you in time past. There is also a carpenter in our company whom I have employed to build for us at our Indian Mission. He is a Churchman, and I hope will be qualified to train young Indians in the use of tools. It is sometimes pleasing to tell of events passing at the time of writing.
We have only proceeded three miles on the journey of to-day; and on stopping last evening at Sauk Rapids, I met with a gentleman from the Winnebago Agency. Upon inquiring after his wife, I was told that she was within the public-house, and would be glad to see me. Mrs. Olmsted is a lady from Vermont the last year; and, from the refinement of an Eastern home, had gone into the midst of wild savages, where her husband is in business. I found her with an infant of a few weeks old in her arms, which, being the first-born, was of course an astonishingly fine boy. But I rejoiced that something else was occupying her mind, which, was his baptism. Her anxiety was so great, that I offered to administer that sacrament in the morning, if she desired it, before our departure. Agreeably with her wishes, I went off early this morning before breakfast after a male sponsor, and how delighted I was on reaching the door of his log-house to find him and his family at worship. I was greeted with every expression of pleasure, and was immediately asked to conduct the family prayer. I found him reading the Psalms for the day, which I concluded with the Creed and the appointed devotions for the family altar. This man had come eighty-five miles to St. Paul, the year before, to receive Holy Baptism; had come a second time for Confirmation, when he arrived too late. But at the recent visitation of the Bishop to ordain Brother Merrick, he came again, and was confirmed. He is an intelligent man and reads the Calendar weekly. His wife is a very pleasing lady, though part Indian (Chippeway); sings the chants of the Church, and performs on the piano. I soon returned to the public-house, and early after breakfast a roomfull was gathered together to witness the regeneration. Thus was another innocent in these far Western wilds gathered into the Fold of the Redeemed.
You ask me about the Missionary College of St. Columba. Alas! alas! Do you want to weep? Is it for me to tell you all about this, to make your heart sad, as indeed my own has been? I had about resolved to say nothing to you on the subject; but you ask, and why should I withhold telling you all? Before asking for a charter from the Legislature, we thought it expedient to consult the Bishop on the matter; and it was soon discovered that a Divinity school would be a very impossible thing, except we ran a very heavy risk. [Dr. Adams and Dr. Cole both thought it would conflict seriously with the welfare of Nashotah.--C. B.] This settled the matter, although we three have but one and the same opinion on the subject. We plainly saw that the life and supply of future growth to the Mission was at an end. The three Missionaries had better hereafter be three clergymen in parochial cures, than live together, a body without a soul. We are now sending our divinity students to Nashotah, and we hope to be able to support them there, receiving their pledge to return here and spend three years at least in the service of the Church in Minnesota. The young men at Nashotah have disappointed us in respect to our Mission, in the same manner that the students of the General Theological Seminary have done through many years past; so that now we scarcely look to either of these places with any hope of securing men for this field. The only reliable source is the central school of each diocese for itself, and this is now denied us; and consequently our Associated Mission is reduced to a mere name. The providential affliction of the Rev. Mr. Merrick must, I think, forbid his joining us again. Consequently, the duty of the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson and myself is to do all that we can for Minnesota, by completing and building of churches, parish school-houses, and the like, thus preparing the field for the parochial clergyman. The Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson has been elected Rector of the Church in St. Paul, and has accepted it, although, for the present, he will spend only half his time in St. Paul. As soon as another clergyman arrives in the Territory, Mr. Wilcoxson will then give his entire time to this truly important parish.
Only think of miserable Dissent! St. Paul, a town of but 2500 inhabitants, has within it a Romish Bishop and sundry clergy and Sisters, who are school-teachers; an Old School Presbyterian and a New School preacher are on the ground; two Baptists, ditto,--one a very old man, and occupied, I think, in teaching; a Methodist presiding elder and a Methodist preacher are in St. Paul; a Dutch Methodist preacher also, and a Universalist preacher. All these constitute the direful array against the Church. Is she not a little one? We hope and pray that the true laborers of the Great Head of the Church may rapidly multiply, for the harvest is white. The clergy of the Church are asked for, everywhere......... A recent case of extreme sickness in our Mission House at St. Paul was greatly relieved by a cooling drink made of the currant jelly so kindly sent us by our friends in New Haven. Let me again thank you for so much thought had for those that have only the claims of Christian brotherhood upon them for such acts of benevolence. And how many in the Church ever think of this giving of a cup of cold water?
(August 7th, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. T. Wilcoxson.)
We feel greatly encouraged in our work. Some Indians are beginning to build houses. They have been hard at work today. The Indian that has built a house for himself, has taken a contract for cutting and stacking five tons of hay for us. Brother Craig was awfully lonesome during my absence. He and I are living high life in the attic. Our meals are taken upstairs. Parker and his man live in the tent, and board themselves at a separate table, whilst an old man that is making shingles, lives in another canvas house, and boards himself. We all cook at the same stove, but Brother Craig and I take breakfast at eight o'clock, after the workmen have retired. We lunch it at noon, and dine at five o'clock. Thus we are out of the way by the time the men are in from their work. I have not received a mail this week, but expect one the next. Send them until the Saturday but one before the last Sunday in September, when I will officiate at St. Anthony twice, if you please, and a third time at St. Paul, if you think it desirable, and appoint your own hours. Do not expect me down this month. It is highly necessary for me to be here. A Presbyterian preacher comes to the farm or Chippeway agency, ten miles away only, with $5000 from Government to expend for the Indians yearly. The Romanists also come, so I am told. Here we are a little one. But I would rather be at Gull Lake with a thousand a year, than at the farm with five thousand. And I think time will prove it, if we are faithful.
(September 10th.--To his Uncle)
.... I wish, through you, to make some inquiries respecting a certain mode of instruction practised by a gentleman in Philadelphia,--that is to say, conveying the simples of instruction to children by means of pictures. I have thought such visible teaching might be of eminent service to us in our Indian Mission, where the eye would naturally convey an idea more quickly than words, which appeal too powerfully at first to a mental process. If it will not be giving you, dear Uncle, too much trouble, I would ask you to see the gentleman or the pictures, and give me your opinion on the subject. Perhaps you would send me a half dozen by mail, and also let me know the cost of a complete set of them, and whether they could be sent through the Post-office department. By next Summer I think it will be necessary to apply for another dial for the Indian Mission, where it would be highly serviceable, for they have no clock but the sun.
(September 21st.--To Miss Edwards)
The long interval that now elapses between mails, causes me to write by such opportunities as may occur from time to time. My time is incessantly occupied with these poor Indians. Before coming here, I thought what a quiet time I should have for correspondence , whereas the very contrary doth appear. I am kept busy unceasingly. Yesterday I left my corner (for at present I am eating alone) before my breakfast was quite over, and had no moment to eat again until late in the evening. The clothing is a source of trial to me, as well as of amusement; that is to say, I am sorry sometimes for giving, and sometimes for withholding it. And then the oddity of some of the articles upon Indian forms, especially when contrasted with a painted face at times, and other additions to the human form, is certainly very amusing. The children's bonnets are thought wonderful, and every mother would get one if she could for her darling, for Red folks have darlings as well as White people. But the boxes must come under review by and by. Indian women have been washing for us this week, and the clothes have come back looking really nice. We have great hopes of training the girls and young women. They are by far the most diligent of all in improving themselves. I am giving names to them, which are hereafter, I trust, to be their Christian nomenclature. I enclose to you the first specimen of penmanship by any within our house or school. Heretofore they had practised altogether on the slate. 'Rachel' is the daughter of "Bad Boy," one of the principal and most reliable chiefs of his band. Yesterday I extracted a tooth for an old woman, my first attempt, and with signal success. I am sorry to say my Brother Craig had not sufficient of that singular virtue called patience, and in the stead thereof grew excitable. I had to tell him I thought he might be happier elsewhere, so that he has left, and the medical treatment has fallen upon myself entirely. You will judge that I am in high repute, when I am called upon to minister cures to stone blind old men, and to long standing and incurable diseases in others. I can only tell them I can do nothing, that they are in the hands of the GREAT SPIRIT. But in many cases I have been, thank GOD, highly successful. Were you to see me in their wretched wigwams, applying liniments and rubbing their filthy persons with my hands, you would really think me an Indian enthusiast. But I trust I do thereby become all things to all men, to gain some. Do not misjudge me. Pardon my thinking you could or would. I tell you these things about myself, believing you would be pleased to hear about your brother in the forest wilds, and how he fares........ I shall expect to hear from you by the return of the Indian who bears this to the Post-office twenty five miles distant.
Perhaps, for the benefit of those who think there is so much "romance" in Missions among the Indians, it may be as well to give this brief sample of correspondence among the Missionaries themselves:
(September 22d, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.)
My dear Brother: Please call at Newell's store and choose for me a cook-stove of the size of our own at the Mission House. One of the Indians, who is building a house, has bought the one I brought up. Send same by Mr. Olmsted's team. Also send five pounds chalk. McCloud will charge it to me. Brother Craig has sent the envelopes. I send no money, not having had a mail yet from the Fort. We are all well and progressing. Let me hear from you. Send all the papers, &c. Great dearth of white news up here. Yours truly and affectionately.
J. LLOYD BRECK.
P. S.--Call at the cap store, and, if you can, get half a dozen plain cloth caps to be sent me, and privilege of returning such as do not fit, within a couple of months, and settling for them at that time. You will greatly oblige, yours, BRECK.
P. S.--Have one of the kegs of nails exchanged for a keg of No. 5, a trifle larger than the common shingle nail. McCloud will do this, no doubt, charging me any difference; otherwise send me a keg of No. 6, two papers of brads 1 1/4 inch, two papers 1 1/2 inch, twenty pounds of finishing six-penny nails.
(October 9th, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson)
I have informed you of my receipt of money, in amount $450 (and a pledge of $150 more when wanted) for a church among the Chippeways at this Lake. I have determined to lay the corner-stone on All-Saints' Day, November 1st, at 2 o'clock P. M. Now, my dear Wilcoxson, you must be with me, as well as the other brethren of the Territory, that are able to attend. I will pay $10 on your expenses, and $14, or more, if necessary, rather than you should not be present at a ceremony so full of interest to us both, as members of an Associate Mission. It will be necessary for you to leave in the stage the 25th inst. Arriving at Fort Ripley Wednesday night, come out as early as you can therefrom. I intend inviting (with your approval) Brother Manney to deliver the discourse. I hope, after this ceremony, to go forward with the work according to the weather. In due time I will write, inviting the rest of the clergy. Please bring up my large copy of the Offices of our House, as well as your own, for the occasion. Also procure a copy of Father Gear's Office-book, which has the Office for Laying a Corner-Stone, and bring it with you. If there are blank-books along with the Office-book, bring those also. I trust you will consider it proper that I should lay this stone. It will be the first that I have laid in this Territory. Being All-Saints' Day, I have selected one of them who has wrought mighty things for the conversion of the world in the better days of the Church. I send $20 to bear your expenses up, and the balance use for me where you cannot properly purchase on my account......
Procure a tin-box for corner-stone, and bring up a Bible and Prayer-Book (large size) for same,--the box large enough to hold a Mohawk Prayer-Book, which also bring. Did I tell you I had received a Chippeway Prayer-Book from Manitouline Island, Lake Huron? We have now some authority. How I should delight to have Judge L. and his wife and mother with us on the above occasion! Give them my love and invitation. There are several others also I should delight in seeing, such as Mrs. Conway and others baptized by our Mission, who hold to the Faith without wavering.
(October 18th, Chippeway Mission House, To the Misses Edwards)
What shall I write you in reply to yours of one month since, by the hand of Sister Sarah? Few letters that I have received during my Missionary life have astonished me more, or rendered my pen so inadequate to a proper reply. Perhaps the fewest possible words would be the most suitable to the present purpose, for I feel assured that your reward is sure, and that you look not to me for praise. I am unworthy to praise you, but I feel rich in your prayers and your love. And this humble Mission, the most difficult possible to conduct, would, I believe, be hopeless, were it not for the prayers offered up in our behalf. If you read the Banner, you will notice the benefaction of a New Jersey Churchman made us in amount and purpose the same with your own. Although your letters came together, yet it is my duty to tell you that, his was opened first, and by thanking the Great Head of the Church at once, in humble gratitude, on my knees, I thereby accepted of it, and at the same time consecrated it by prayer, to the end for which it was sent. You will now judge of my surprise when next your own was opened. Was this an oversight, that 'double money was placed in my sack? or did GOD give me treasure in my sack? Now, my sisters, you can answer this better than I, and hesitate not to remand the offering, which under the circumstances you may safely do, at least from the point of view at which I look at it. The three hundred will build the nave of a log-church, and though imperfect without the chancel, &c., will of itself, as a sanctuary, impress the mind of the Indian. I will not, therefore, add further until I hear from you again. We intend, with Divine permission, to lay the corner-stone of the church on All-Saints' Day, naming it after St. Columba. I trust this selection from the multitude of Saints which the Church Militant commemorates on that day, will please you....... May the Great Head of the Church have you each in His holy keeping, and give unto you the blessing of the women that stood next the Cross on that day that made all the Saints that have been or ever will be!
(October 19th, 1852.--To the Rev. Mr. Van Rensselaer.)
I am writing you from a little upper room amidst the Ojibwas on the remote frontier, beyond the ceded lands, but you will better appreciate it, perhaps, when I add, beyond the presence of the white woman. We are indeed expecting a matron and a female assistant for our Mission House at this place the present Autumn, but they have not yet arrived in the upper country. With the solitary exception of a blacksmith (married to an Indian woman), in the employ of the Government for the Red Man, and three white men who are building the Mission House, all are Indians. This is to be my home (D. v.) for some years, and perhaps through my lifetime; unless, indeed, fellow-laborers should be raised up to us for this field, thereby permitting me to penetrate these forests yet deeper in search of the wild man. When I have so made up my mind, after long and serious thought, you will not fault me, dear brother, if I should appear to the sober-minded clergy of the Church at the East, a little enthusiastic. But all is reality about me. The view of the pagan of our own land is continually before my eyes, and only a religions enthusiasm, rightly tempered and originating in that sympathy, which our blessed LORD sanctified in His own Person, when He beheld us, not from afar off in the Heavens above, but on the earth, in our flesh;--only such a feeling could make this work at all tolerable.
The poor Indian!--I must say the poor Indian, notwithstanding all the romance wherewith poets clothe him, for he lives continually on the ground, and the paint on his face, and the blanket, only serve to hide his filthy person. How can it be otherwise? Unacquainted with the use of soap, or any substitute, he wears his blanket a year, without any washing save that which it receives from the rain of Heaven. He never provides for the future, save in a very limited degree. Consequently, in midsummer before the ripening of the wild fruits, and at the disappearing of the fish into the deep waters, where he is unable to spear them, he is literally in a starving condition; sometimes without food for three days together. This has been the case with those round about us the past summer. Again, in the winter season, when game becomes scarce and the ice is thick, preventing their taking fish, they are in a yet more suffering condition, for to their hunger must be added the extremity of cold, such as is found in this climate. This romance in Indian experience never appears in poetry. It would not sound well. But this and far more that would shock your nerves too much to relate is the true statement of the condition of these poor Red Men.
And now comes the grave question: Can we do anything whereby to recover them from their degraded and seemingly lost condition? The command has gone forth, "Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST, and lo" &c. And what have servants to do but to obey? If the Great Captain withholds victory, which He may as pleaseth Him, we have still only to plant and water. It is GOD alone who giveth the increase. But my very dear Brother, I rejoice and take courage at the prospect of fruit. Although we have been here but four months, we have, I humbly trust, and think, already wrought a good work upon these people. I say not that they are beginning to discern spiritual things. The Holy Ghost teacheth, "that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." Therefore, whereinsoever we perceive the least improvement working, therein we rejoice and take courage.
Whilst our Mission House is yet incomplete, we have been laboring for the improvement of both old and young. The children have been taught on the green grass beneath the grateful shade of the beautiful pine, and other forest trees, which adorn a natural lawn, that spreads itself out before a lake nine miles in length. They have already., made very commendable progress in learning to read, and write upon the slate. Some of the taught are quite young women, and a few are married persons. In the Winter we intend having a night-school for young men. When our Mission House is ready a matron and a female assistant will devote themselves to teaching the girls the domestic arts of civilized life. We hope to be able to receive a few children into our House the present Winter, upon whom special care will be bestowed, that they may, by example, teach others. As I have informed you before, the school is to be essentially one of manual labor. The Indian can only be raised gradually from his present condition. If they learn enough to read the Holy Scriptures in the English or Ojibwa version, together with the Book of Common Prayer, we shall be satisfied. This much learning will be sufficient for the present generation. But in the arts of civilized life, and especially in the cultivation of the soil, we shall not think any limit enough.
Our services of the Sunday are yet very imperfect, but in connection with the clergy of the Canadian Church, who have been laboring successfully among these same people for some years, we hope to set all things appertaining to the sanctuary in order. I am now in communication with a Missionary on Manitouline Island in Lake Huron, Dr. O'Meara, who has translated the Book of Common Prayer into Ojibwa, and it is printed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy by the last mail. It will be of the greatest service to these people. He has also translated the four Gospels, which arc likewise in print. A copy is on the way to this place. Dr. O'Meara informs us that the entire New Testament is in progress, and he hopes to send me a copy in the Spring. Thus, dear Brother, I am not alone in this work, and the sense of this is a source of great comfort to my mind.
After a time I shall hope to tell you more of the spiritual fabric than I can now; but that the material temple should be erected, in order to promote the inner and spiritual, I hope will be made evident by two facts. The first relates to the character of the Indian or any pagan, who is sooner taught through the eye than by any of the other senses. The solemnities of the Sanctuary can alone fully effect this. And the second is the coming in of the Romanists, intruders of the LORD'S vineyard, who have already built a log church, because they have the money, which renders it the more necessary that we should be prompt in this work. The Romish minister has been out at our lake and village, visiting wigwam after wigwam, distributing tobacco, needles and thread, and then telling the poor ignorant aborigines that he has come amongst them to baptize them. But he returned to his quarters without accomplishing aught, and it is almost too much to hope that he will not try it again. He has stationed himself and built his church at a point near us, where our Indians are frequently camping for a month or six weeks together.
But this is not the only strange religious atmosphere that has surrounded us. A Presbyterian preacher has come in from Lake Superior, with a Government annuity, I am told, of five thousand dollars. Thus how quickly marred has the beauty of unity become! But the Church is first on these grounds to proclaim the Everlasting Gospel. I trust she will be the last to leave them. I tell my brethren of the clergy and of the laity these things, that they may do what seemeth to them good, in furthering a work of Charity and Faith amongst a Pagan and heathen people, that must be accounted our own; and for whom, if we provide not, are we not liable--as the Church of this land, to which the LORD hath committed all the souls within it--to that strong asseveration of the Apostle, that such are "worse than an infidel." It cannot be that this language should be confined to merely perishable food.
I am rejoiced that evidence is already not wanting, that these people will gradually change their manner of life. Before our arrival, one Indian had built himself a log-house, having foreseen the necessity that must soon press itself upon them, of adopting the white man's life, or selling their lands and moving off in the track of the buffalo. We have since assisted him in putting a roof to his house, and otherwise completing it for winter use. But this, dear Brother, is not all. Three Ojibwas are now building houses for themselves, in constructing which they follow our directions, and receive through us, from certain of the Faithful in the East, the necessary nails, glass, &c., which have been sent out. And this beginning will, we trust, soon be followed by others. Indeed the principal chief of this place informed me, a few days ago, that he should recommend to all his young men, the adoption of the fixed life, meaning the civilized. And this, I trust, they will do, for it alone can save them from ruin as a people. And if they are brought to this, they must come to the acceptance of the Gospel along with it. And this, too, is working, in a degree, upon a few persons. One that has hitherto been versed in all the grand-medicine art, has resolved to abandon it and learn the Religion of JESUS CHRIST the SON of GOD. Another has come to us from a distance to learn to read the Holy Scriptures. He had been made a convert and baptized by the Romanists, but was refused instruction in reading, on applying to them for it. The only two converts of a distant Methodist Mission of fifteen years standing (not growth) have been to see us on the subject of the religious benefit and temporal estate of the Indians. On giving advice a short time since to one that had done wrong, his manly spirit confessed himself foolish in many things. For advising him, he said he should ever after regard and call me his brother.
This man is one of the three that are building houses near us, and that espoused the cause of the missionary to his people, before he had seen us. He is a very brave Indian, and one that in time is likely to become eminently useful to his people.
As soon as the Indian has a house, he will begin to think about the white man's dress, and in this respect many with you, dear Brother, that cannot give money, may furnish materials for clothing, or work with the needle, and thus put it in our power to clothe their too apparent nakedness. I beg you to commend this work to your good people, and to speak to such of the brethren as you may meet, commending also to them the cause of the Chippeways. To begin such a Mission, on the most moderate scale, is very expensive. We look with confidence to the Church in the East, to sustain this first work of our Household of Faith to the Red Man west of the Mississippi. This Mission, for various reasons, has fallen to my lot to work in, and, as regards self, I rejoice at it, for it has ever been the dearest wish of my heart to train either youth or a people in the simplicity of the faith and manners of the early Church. But gather not from this, that I have left the Minnesota Mission to the white portion of our population. These two are under the same regimen, and I belong to both, although the alms sent us are applied in all cases to the first of these Missions, unless expressly stated as intended for the Indians.
(October 19th.--To Miss Edwards)
I am happy to inform you of the election of the Rev, Mr. Wilcoxson to the rectorship of Christ Church, St. Paul. But our Association as a Mission for the white portion of the population of Minnesota continues as heretofore, for the prosecution of missionary work, for the erection of Mission churches, and for the future education of Divinity students.
Our matron, Mrs. E. R. Welles, has at length reached us, and 1 am happy in finding her, thus far, the very idea that I have had in mind for a work, that in difficulty can scarcely be equaled in any portion of the missionary world. We are in daily expectation of her assistant, Miss Mills, who would appear to be similarly calculated for this Mission.
(December 5th.--To Mr. J. K. Sass.)
..........It may please you that I learn of the fixed purpose of young Goodenough, of Nashotah, joining the Minnesota Mission on graduating in June next. If he continues firm in this mind, it will be peculiarly gratifying to my spirit, and must also please yourself. I am glad to know of his entire steadfastness to duty since his return, now some years past.
(December 5th.--To Mrs. T. J. Young.)
.......May I be permitted to be a sympathizer in your trial? And oh, that I were as sure as your dear departed husband was, of my faith being found at the Last Day laudable, glorious, and honorable, to the increase of glory and endless felicity. I now rejoice in having known him in this life face to face, for it has seldom been my permitted happiness to meet with one so truly living for the Church on earth and the Church in heaven at the same time. He walked and worked here, but he had his conversation and lived there. As I have written before to my nearest and dearest male friend, Mr. Sass, I again repeat it here, the visit that I was allowed to make to the South, has ever since been an increasing source of pleasure to me. I think I can truly say it was a spiritual delight and feast to the inner man. It has now the appearance of a happy vision, which I continue to enjoy whenever I look upon it. And, dear Madam, your own household, your departed, yourself, your children, your servants, the house so unique and antique, that sweet study, that quiet bed-chamber, and social and prayerful dining-room; all, ever is seen in that vision of delight to my mind. GOD grant that you may meet your beloved in that great Mansion House of the Embrace of the Beloved. The blessed doctrine of the Communion of Saints reacheth itself out into all parts of the earth, to include within its Holy Fold every son and daughter of the Kingdom. It covereth this frontier land, far away as it is from you. It turneth not away from the misery of the wigwam. Brothers and sisters in CHRIST you will have here, even as I found brothers and sisters in CHRIST among the Blacks with you. That is indeed a blessed Communion that can make of all kindred, and people, and tongues One Body, the Church of CHRIST. But this even is a figure only of the great Communion of Angels, and Spirits of just men made perfect, and that indeed even now embraceth all the elect within its holy Fold; but we see it not yet save by the eye of faith. May we all so live here below as to be worthy to be made partakers of the world to come, the company of Heaven!
1853. (January 2d, 1853, Kahgeeashkoonsikag.--To Miss Edwards)
......Christmas has come and gone. Yesterday was New Year's Day, And could these days be known, far away out here? perhaps you will ask. It was indeed the first Nativity ever celebrated here, in all time of the Gospel, and our little Mission House looked very like a church, so beautifully decorated with the evergreen of the northern pine. In my last letter I neglected describing to you our Altar, which is sacred and closed in with a curtain, excepting during the seasons of prayer. It is simple, but not wholly unadorned. The emblem of salvation continually points the pagan to the Crucified.
Perhaps the day upon which I am writing you would be best observed in describing to you the character of our religious services. And first, those of the Sunday, for the public congregation. The bell tolls and rings out the hour of Prayer from the top of our Mission House, as do other bells from their steeples. The "Makuhdayakuhnaya"--for so runs my harmonious name in Ojibwa, signifying the Black-robe or Man in the Cassock,--is thus clad at the opening of the services. This is the name for the clergyman printed throughout the Prayer-Book published by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and sent me by the Rev. Dr. O'Meara, who has been laboring fourteen years amongst the Chippeways in the British Provinces, and now living as their priest on Manitouline Island in Lake Huron. The name for Bishop is still more formidable, as follows, Ne-he-che-ma-kuh-da-ya-kuh-na-ya-me-ne-mah-neg, and yet for all these syllables, in long--almost endless--chain, the smallest children can speak them with the fluency of household words; and, if you will believe it, I am beginning myself to turn them about with considerable ease with my tongue.
Having taken my seat at the tolling of the bell, the children are arranged in the front benches, those of our Household in the fore-front one, and then the Indian men and women. [So far written on Sunday.] The bell ceases to toll, and, with a view to quieting them or fixing their attention, a hymn in English or Ojibwa is sung in our seats, rising at the Gloria Patri. We then all kneel down and make a silent prayer. We rise simultaneously, when the Fourth Commandment is read, or the Exhortation as in the Prayer Book. The Confession is then said in Ojibwa only. After the two sentences, "We have left undone those things," &c., and "We have done," &c., we make a pause for a space, in order, as I then tell them, that they may each in private confess their sins to GOD. Then follows the LORD'S Prayer (now repeated by all in Ojibwa). Then come the Responses, first in English, then in Ojibwa; next the Venite chanted in English. Here follows the First Lesson, interpreted verse by verse into the Ojibwa tongue, or rather read by the interpreter, for we have the New Testament entire in their language. Yesterday (for I am now writing on Monday) our interpreter was sick, and I performed the whole services for the day in their tongue, which we are diligently studying. After the First Lesson comes a Chant in Ojibwa. Christmas Day was distinguished by this advance in the divine art among these pagans. Will you not rejoice with me in having such a woman to our House, as our self-sacrificing matron 1 Then follows the Second Lesson, read as before. Next a Chant in English. Then the discourse, interpreted sentence by sentence. Here, strange to say, I first put on the surplice. But blame me not, there is a reason. You have had a specimen of my sermons. I hope I improve on that extensive production. I extemporize altogether, prefacing my words with these:--"In the Name of the FATHER," &c. After the sermon is a Hymn, sung in Ojibwa in seats, rising at the Gloria Patri. The children are now taught daily to sing, and soon will form a fine choir for the woods. Here follows the Creed in Ojibwa; next, prayer and the blessing, which is as follows: "GOD THE FATHER make you His children by adoption. GOD THE SON make you co-heirs of His Kingdom. GOD THE HOLY GHOST fill your hearts with His love. The HOLY and UNDIVIDED TRINITY number you with the Blessed in glory everlasting." So much for the Services.
Christmas was full of religious privileges. Our little Mission House was early illuminated, and the appropriate Matin Service of Dr. Muhlenberg at St. Paul's College, next used at Nashotah, then at St. Paul, Minnesota, and now in the Indian Mission at Kah-gee-ash-koon-si-kag, beautifully introduced the great subject of the day. All of our household were present. We have now four boys and two girls to our charge. The four male children are all that our house will accommodate. We expect two more girls. Pardon the desultory character of this letter. I wish to tell you all things, and lest anything be omitted, I crowd them together in a very rude manner.
After the services of Christmas and Christmas week, I must not pass over the peculiarities of New Year's Day. The New Yorkers think they carry the day in their festivities; but in one respect, at least, they fall behind the Chippeways. And now suffer me to describe to you the astonished state of my mind, when, quietly seated in the Mission House pursuing (along with Mrs. Welles) the study of the Ojibwa, as upon an ordinary day, the door suddenly opened, without knock or warning of any kind (to which we have become strangely accustomed), and a woman, the leader of a train closely following her, entered, and with countenance full of resolution, and gladness beaming out of its every corner, with quickened step, for fear, as it were, she might still falter, and before I knew it or could realize its meaning, as yet being amongst the uninitiated, she gave me a huge kiss I The way was now opened, and the next followed, and kissed me also, and so on the next,--"usque ad nauseam" I should almost venture to add, were it not that these folks were Indians, the red children of my charge; and surely, if children are not suffered to kiss their father, it is a hard case! But the next feature in this New Year's Day scene and custom (which till this moment we knew not, and only by a quick perception, induced by the extraordinary means used, were we led to suspect) was the repetition, in direful congruity, on the face of our excellent Matron. She bore it nobly, or through the force of the noble or heroic example set her by me; which, I know not, only such is the fact in the case, worthy of lasting record! But to narrate all the circumstances of the kissing of this first day in the year, would, I fear, try your nervous system a little beyond its capacity to bear. And you will not be surprised that as the onset thickened, even Mrs. Welles, who, as I have before told you, knew not what it was to be afraid of an Indian, began to draw back with a sort of righteous horror, on the approach not only of the annual blanket (never washed, ever worn, bed by night, and mantle every day and hour of every day], but of faces as black as though just escaped from the mythic Erebus;--faces not only black, but, to make them appear handsome, (can Nature so distort herself?) or to hide the filth upon them, blackened by coals! When these poor creatures have been made Christians, their faces will be made clean, and they will be brethren doubly dear, for in them we shall see our crown of rejoicing for another world. As for myself, on this memorable day, I made up my mind to be kissed by five hundred of these natives, if it would add to their happiness; but, I confess, a number far short of this fully satisfied my mind, and will satisfy it for the year to come.
(January 6th, Epiphany.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.)
No letters have been received from you since I last wrote you. Indeed the snow is so deep and without a road, that the team had to turn back after coming out a short distance from the river. Yesterday a train arrived, bringing us two barrels of flour, and the pork in sacks. The barrel could not be brought through. The remainder of the load is at Crow Wing. We are not starving, but we were within a quarter of a hundred weight of the bottom of the last barrel of flour. Mr. Parker will tell you all about the extreme difficulty we have had in getting our firewood. I never chopped so much before this winter. The Indians have been absent at payment, and we were left even without our boys. We had to back much of our wood to the door from some distance, to spare the trees near the house. But it is better now. The Indians have worked better, and I think they will back up for us the wood we require, which in this latitude is no trifle for three fires. I learn that neither pipe nor drums have come. This is very bad for us. I am compelled to have school twice a day in my chamber, simply for the want of four lengths qf pipe, that would let the stove down upon the first floor. And Indians of all grades, &c., frequent that room as though it were their wigwam. My room is the only apartment where perfect democracy reigns. This will please Judge Lambert.
(March 5th, Fort Ripley.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.)
...... I have invited Merrick, on his suggestion and Brother Manney's advice, to join us at K. His skill in the languages will be of immense service to us. I hope you will approve of this. Should you not, keep him, if he will, where you think he will serve the Church the best. Miss Mills is expected up by the first boat. Please send her forward as early as her health will permit, and a proper conveyance and protection offer. Send Ojibwa grammar to care of Brother Manney.
P. S.--Be of good cheer, and all will be well.
(January 12th, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.)
There are now thirty Indians at work. The axes sound in all directions. Tell Parker that another young woman from abroad has entered our household. We are becoming a busy community. Another Indian (Manitowob) is now in white man's dress, and is bold as a lion. He told the principal chief his determination to lead a different life,--that nothing should stop him; that if he would build a house, he would help him; but if not, he would not care what was said against himself." He has been the bravest man in the nation, is young and industrious. As a hunter he was never in want. Both himself and wife are preparing to become Christians. You would be delighted at the attendance of the young natives at daily Evening Prayer. All kneel. They also sing hymns from the Ojibwa Prayer-Book, and Mrs. Welles is teaching them to chant in their own tongue. On Christmas Day was our first chant in the native tongue. We are much encouraged, though we have many and sore trials to bear with; but it is a good school.
(March 2d, Gull Lake.--To the Rev. Mr. Wilcoxson.) I wish you had a part of our 100 cords of wood now cut and piled by the side of our house. It has been, not only cut, but carried up by the Indians on their backs. The snow has been too deep to use oxen. They have done this work of their own accord, and there has not been, by reason thereof, a hungry wigwam in our village, and no begging Indians seen. This is unprecedented in all this Northwest.