Informative Sign Marks Friedenshutten Monument
By David Keeler
It’s an often-overlooked chapter in our region’s history—a community where, in the 1760’s, Moravian missionaries and local Indians lived together in harmony in the Village of Friedenshutten. Established by David Zeisberger, a Moravian Missionary in 1765, Friedenshutten mission, or “house of friendship,” served over 200 inhabitants living in Indian huts and cabins. In the center of the community stood a modern meeting house with wooden shingles and stained glass windows. The village blended both Anglican and Indian cultures harmoniously. The Indians continued hunting, fishing and trapping while fences were stretched to the riverbanks for agriculture and livestock.
By 1772, at the onset of the Revolutionary War, the Moravians and Indians disbanded the mission and relocated westward to Ohio. By the time General John Sullivan arrived on his military expedition in 1779, there were hardly any identifiable remains of what had once been a bustling village.
Until recently the only visible sign that the once bustling village ever existed was a stone monument placed on the river flats near Browntown, just east of Wyalusing, by the Moravian Historical Society on June 15, 1871.
But thanks to the efforts of the Wyalusing Community Corps (WCC), with generous funding from Chesapeake Energy, a new sign has been erected near the monument that offers a look back at the village of Friedenshutten.
The sign includes a reproduction of a painting by Wyalusing Artist Brian Keeler illustrating how the village may have looked. Keeler’s artwork was made available by the Wyalusing Valley Museum.
Mike Kilmer, a member of WCC, said the new sign is but one of a number of similar signs planned for the area in what’s being called the Wyalusing Heritage Trail. Chesapeake has provided $20,000 to fund the project.
A map of the Village of Friedenshutten that is featured on the new sign was acquired from the Moravian Historical Society Archives by Dr. Katherine Faull of Bucknell University. The map shows the location of the village in relation to the river and other natural landmarks, and Kilmer noted that it’s been proven to be extremely accurate after being checked against satellite imagery. He said the location of the stone marker is precisely at what once was the center of the village. Dr. Faull also provided translations from original Moravian documents that appear on the sign, where there is also a portrait of Zeisberger.
The new sign also includes a feature named “Call and Discover” where those with cell phones can call the phone number listed on the sign and obtain more information about historic Friedenshutten.
The sign was erected by local contractor Thor Trowbridge. A formal dedication is expected to take place in the future but a date has not been set.