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flDfssionarie to the
REV. N. B. C, LOVE, D.D.
Missionary to the Wyandots
REV. N. B. C. LOVE, D.D.
THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF THE METHODIST
RTNDGE LITERATURE DEPARTMENT
150 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
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School ®f Theology Library
Pioneer Missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church
By X. B. C. Lorn D.D.
The Methodist Episcopal Church from its organiza-
tion in 1773 Avas missionary in its spirit. It made
continuous efforts towards the conversion of the whites
and blacks, but the red men of the forest were passed
by. The minutes of the annual conferences, at the be-
ginning of the last century, reported in separate columns
the numbers of whites and blacks in each society, but
no figures for the Indians.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was aggressive in
the older States and passed into the Northwest Ter-
ritory and the greater
West and South. In the
providence of God John
Stewart was the apostle
to the heathen Wj'an-
dots, and the founder of
the first Methodist Epis-
copal Mission among the
Before the advent. of
Stewart the most cruel
and bloody practices ob-
tained among the Wyan-
dots. In this respect
they were not different
from the other Indian
tribes of the Northwest.
The burning of Col.
Crawford, when a pris-
oner, is evidence of this.
Even the women and children participated in torturing
him. We need not repeat the story here. The Wyan-
dots were the leaders in this savage deed. Between-
the-Lo2"S, it is claimed, was a participant, and such
were the people to wliom Stewart carried the gospel
of love and peace.
The Wyandots for a long period stood politically at
the head of an Indian Federation of tribes and so were
recognized by the United States Government in the
treaties made with the Indians of the old Northwest
The names of chiefs of the Wyandot nation appear
first and prominently on the treaty made at Greenville
in 1795 between the Government and the Indians,
Gen. Wayne acting for our Government.
While the itinerant Bishops Asbury and McKendree
and their worthy helpers were denied the honor of in-
augurating the great missionary movement among the
heathen, they are to be honored for their unselfishness
in giving their co-operation and support to John
Stewart, an humble mulatto layman, who had been con-
verted through their preaching, and whom they recog-
nized as having received the call of God.
John Stewart's parents were free people of color
who resided in Powhattan County, Va. They were Bap-
tists, and of good repute. John went to winter school
while a boy at home, and was more favored in this than
many negro boys. While in his early manhood he
learned the dyer's trade and earned some money, but
a highwayman robbed him of all. The fear of destitu-
tion worried him, for he felt that to be poor was to be
in disgrace, and he purposed to commit suicide. Hesi-
tating in this, he drank intoxicants to drown his sorrow,
until a kind Christian friend persuaded him to desist
and reform. Although failing several times in his
efforts, he at last succeeded.
He listened to the preaching of the Gospel by the
Methodists and was converted. Finding no Baptist
Society convenient, he united with the Methodist Epis-
copal Church. Here he was at home. The prayer and
class meeting were delightful to him, and all his preju-
dices against the Methodists gave way. He also pros-
pered in business and saved some money. The grand-
father of Bishop McCabe was his class leader and per-
Stewart has been described to me by two pioneers
who knew him well. He was a light mulatto, about
five feet, eight inches high, weighing about one hundred
and forty pounds; well formed, erect in carriage, easy
and graceful in movement. His features were more Eu-
ropean than African. He had a tenor voice, and was
gifted in song.
He often went into the fields or forests to meditate,
to study the Bible and to pray. One Sabbath evening
he was in the edge of the woods by the side of a rivulet
that ran into the Ohio, when a voice from the sky
seemed to say to him in audible tone, " Thou shalt go to
the Northwest and declare my counsel plainly." As he
listened and looked, a peculiar halo appeared to fill the
\Yestern sky. This summons was repeated. The first
was in the voice of a man, the second that of a woman.
That he was honest in the thought of this calling there
need be no doubt.
A deep impression was made on his astonished mind.
He had no thought of preaching; he felt he would obey
fully by teaching and exhorting, but when a friend told
him he was called to preach he rebelled, feeling he was
not prepared nor worthy. He resolved to go to Ten-
nessee, but sickness came to him, and for awhile his life
was despaired of, but finally recovering, the impression
that it was his duty to go to the Xorthwest was intensi-
The Northwest, beyond a fringe of settlements, was
a vast illimitable wilderness, occupied by savage beasts
and as savage men. He resolved to go, not for gain,
nor for fame, nor for pleasure, but to save souls from
the bondage of heathen darkness. The risks were many,
but he felt that an unseen hand was over him. Starting
on his journey, he knew not whither he went any more
than Abraham of old. His friends tried to persuade
him not to go, and having started, those whom he met
in the settlements also tried such persuasion, or laughed
JOHN STEWART LISTENING TO THE " VOICE " WHICH
CALLED HIM TO PREACH TO THE WYANDOTS.
From a painting by Rev. IT. B. C. Love, D,©,
at his folly, but to no purpose. The red men of the
forest, neglected by the Government and despised, feared
and hated by the frontiersmen, were upon his mind. He
believed they were dear to the heart of Jesus.
He went on, keeping towards the Northwest, wading
streams, camping alone at night, unarmed in the pri-
meval forests, enduring hunger and many other hard-
ships. After the severe toil of days and exposure of nights,
he came to the village of the Delawares — on the head-
waters of the Sandusky River. The Indians extended
to him the hospitality of their cabins. Here he held
religious worship, singing, praying and telling the stoiy
of the dying love of Jesus until late at night, then, re-
tiring, he fell asleep, feeling that his mission was ac-
complished and that he would start on his homeward
journey in a day of two. With the dawn of the morn-
ing, however, he awoke and heard an inward voice tell-
ing him to go farther. Having inquired the way, he
started again on his pilgrimage.
The first afternoon he came to the cabin of a white -^ Backwoods
family and was refused admittance by the wife until the
return of her husband. Upon the husband's arrival,
while supper was preparing, Stewart sang some sweet
songs, which charmed the backwoodsman and his family.
He offered to hold services at night, and the boys were
sent post haste by the father to the few residents in
the vicinity. Stewart had about a dozen in his con-
gregation to whom he expounded the Gospel, and sang
Methodist hymns, to their great entertainment. The
Divine Spirit was in the word and several were
awakened and saved. Among the number was the daugh-
ters of the home in which he was entertained. He tar-
ried for several days, holding services at night and
forming a class.
In a few days he found himself in Upper Sandusky,
an entire stranger, without an introduction to any one.
He called at the home of William Walker, sub-Indian
agent, who thought him a fugitive from Slavery, but
Stewart in a sincere, artless manner gave his history.
including his Christian experience. Mr. Walker was
convinced, and gave him words of encouragement, direct-
ing him to the cabin of Jonathan Pointer.
. Pointer was a black man who had been stolen by the
Wyandots when he was a child. He could converse
fluently in both the English and Wyandot languages.
Here was a providential helper in opening an " effectual
door " to the Divinely appointed missionary of the
Methodist Episcopal Church.
Pointer was not favorably impressed with Stewart,
and tried to dissuade him from his undertaking by tell-
ing him of the efforts of the Roman Catholic mission-
aries and their complete failure. He did not know that
" the kingdom of heaven cometh not by observation."
Indeed, Jonathan Pointer was as much a heathen as
the Wyandots, and was at that time preparing to par-
ticipate in an Indian dance and religious feast. Stewart
wanted to accompany him, and Jonathan reluctantly
consented. Stewart as a visitor sat in silence and wit-
nessed the dance. When an interval of rest occurred,
he asked the privilege of addressing them on the pur-
pose of his visit which, with their consent, he did, Jono-
than interpreting and rather enjoying the notoriety it
Here was a scene worthy tne brush of the artist. The
first heathen audience of hundreds of Indian warriors
in war paint and gaudy costumes listening to a mes-
senger of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Jonathan,
too, in paint and feathers, while a mild-mannered mulatto
told them the purpose of his visit. Here was Christian
courage equal to that of Fr. Marquette or any of the old
Jesuit Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church. In this
Stewart evinced extraordinary courage and faith in the
At the conclusion of his address he invited all to
shake hands with him, and on motion of Chief Bloody
Eyes, all passed by in single file and did so. An appoint-
ment was made at Jonathan's cabin for the next evening,
and by the light of the cabin fire Stewart preached his
first sermon. This was late in November, 1816.
Stewart met the Wyandots daily, Jonathan inter-
preting and saying : " What Stewart says may be true,
he did not knoAv, he only translated fairly." Many were
greatly interested and a few awakened. The efforts of
Stewart to secure the conversion of his interpreter were
unceasing, and his reward soon came in an open pro-
fession on the part of Jonathan, who became a firm, out-
spoken believer. The soil of his jovial African heart
EEV. JAMES B. FINLEY PREACHING TO THE WYANDOT
INDIANS AT UPPER SANDUSKY.
The black man, Jonathan Pointer, interpreting.
was thin and did not bring forth perfect and matured
fruit. He was naturally vain and sometimes was given
to drink, but God used him as one of " the foolish things
of this w^orld to confound the wise." He was demonstra-
tively pious in church.
The missionary met with opposition from the whites
who sold " fire water " to the Indians. They maligned
him, persecuted and tried to scare him away: They
said, " he was no minister, a fraud, a villain," and some
of the leading chiefs became his enemies. Dark days
sy about the
had come. The muttering of a storm was heard, but
nothing daunted, Stewart sang, prayed, and going from
cabin to cabin found those who received him and his
words gladly. The agent, William Walker, Jonathan
and a few other leaders were his friends. Indians preju-
diced by Catholic teaching joined the opposition. His
Bible, they said, " is not the true Bible," but these
questions being left to Mr. Walker, the decision was
favorable to John Stewart. Walker said there was lit-
tle difference between the Catholic and Protestant
Bibles, one being a translation from the Latin, the other
from the Greek and Hebrew, and both from the same
original documents; and that any layman called of
God had the divine right to preach and teach. Thus
through this layman and Government officer, Stewart
was helped in his work.
The Wyandots were superstitious, believing in magic,
witchcraft, religious dancing and feasting. These things
Stewart opposed with Scripture and reason, and gave
any who desired the opportunity to defend them. John
Hicks, a chief, undertook this. " These things," he said,
'* are part of the religion of our forefathers handed
down from ancient times, and the Great Spirit was the
author of them, and all nations have religions given
them, the same being adapted to their needs."
Mononcue, then a heathen, endorsed what Hicks said.
He also said, " The Bible is the white man's book and
Jesus the white man's teacher; they were sent first to
white men, why not to the Indians ? "
Stewart said, " In the beginning Jesus commissioned
his disciples saying, ' Go ye into all the world and
preach the Gospel to every creature.' This is as much
for you as for any others; we bring His Gospel to you
and if you receive it not you shall be damned. The
Bible is for all. Christ died for all that all might be
Stewart continued and Mo noncue, Hicks and others
were "convicted and converted. Many others embraced
the truth. These were among his first converts. Having
never been Roman Catholics, their prejudices were easy
Crowds came to Stewart's meetings nightly, and the
work of revival increased. Many of the younger con-
verts became, under the leadership of Stewart, good
singers. Stewart's solo singing was a special attraction
to the unbelievers. He always sang with the spirit and
with the understanding also. While he was not demon-
strative nor vociferous, he had the gift of persuasion
and could logically impress the truth on other minds.
He was not a scholar, but he had a good common school
education and upon this foundation, through his inter-
course with books, nature and God he became an effi-
cient workman. Several of his sermons found in print,
although not fully reported, evince the fact that he had
clear conceptions of theology, especially as relates to
man as a sinner, and a sinner to be saved by Grace.
In February, 1817, Stewart felt that something
more radical must be done in order to bring about the
conversion of those who were under his instruction.
Their convictions were more of the head than of the
heart. He and those with him prayed daily for the out-
pouring of the Holy Spirit, and their prayer was
granted. Revival power came upon these heathen, and
there was deep and pungent conviction for sins and real
conversions. This work of grace aroused opposition.
The heathen party arranged for a " Thanksgiving
Feast and Dance." It was for the whole Wyandot na-
tion, and so Stewart and his followers attended. Stew-
art went with misgivings; he simply sat and looked on.
To his surprise his converts joined in the dance,
Mononcue with others. Stewart had protested against
this, and he went away discouraged, resolving to leave
them. He announced his purpose and preached his fare-
well sermon the next Sunday from Acts 20 : 30. This
sermon, reported and printed by William Walker, the
writer has read. Earnestly Stewart plead with the con-
verts to avoid all heathen practices, and warned the
heathen present, kindly but earnestly, to flee from the
wrath to come.
A List of
tie narrated his call to come to them and his labor's
with them, and told them they should see his face no
more. There was general weeping, even the heathen
joining in the lamentation. Stewart then addressed the
chiefs and principal men, while silence reigned among
the large audience assembled in the council house, as he
bade all good bye.
On the suggestion of Mrs. Warpole, a collection was
taken for Stewart, amounting to ten dollars. He left
and returned to Marietta. A few remained faithful.
Heathenism and drunkenness held full sway. Only
twenty men of the Wyandot nation did not drink intoxi-
cants. Although Stewart was away his heart was with
the Indians and after only a few months, to the joy of
the Christian Indians, he returned. During his absence
he wrote an excellent pastoral letter to the little flock.
Throughout, his spirit and conduct evinced the unselfish-
ness of his motives.
With his return came an increase of zeal, and power
and increased success crowned his efforts. The work
enlarged. It was more than Stewart was able to do.
A prominent Methodist minister of another denomina-
tion than the Episcopal Methodists, visited him and
tried to have him change his relationship, but it was of
no avail. He sent an account of " The Lord's doings "
among the Wyandots to a session of the Ohio Annual
Conference and asked for a helper who could assist him
in preaching and administration.
As nearly as can be ascertained, the names of the
missionaries and time are: John Stewart, 1816 to 1823;
James Montgomery, 1819; Moses Henkle, 1820; J. B.
Finley, 1821 to 1827 — part of this time as presiding
elder; Charles Elliot, 1822; Jacob Hooper, 1823; J. C.
Brook, 1825; James Gilruth, 1826-27; Russell Bigelow
served as junior missionary in 1827 and in 1828 was in
charge of the mission and of the district as presiding
elder with Thomas Thompson, junior missionary; B.
Boydson, 1830; E. C. Gftvitt, 1831; Thomas Simms,
1832; S. P. Shaw, 1835; S. M. Allen, 1837; James
Wheeler, 1839-1843; Ralph Wilcox, 1843.
The teachers in the mission were: Miss Harriett
Stubbs, Miss Margaret Hooper, Liberty Prentis, Miss E.
A. Gibbs, Asbury Sabin, Jane Parker, matron, and
teacher of spinning, weaving and domestic work, Mrs.
Jane Riley, L. M. Pounds and the missionaries' wives.
Up to this time Stewart was an exhorter, his license
being signed by Father MeCabe, grandfather of Bishop
Charles C. McCabe. The license was given while Stew-
art was in Marietta.
He now attended a Quarterly Meeting on Mad River
Circuit. Bishop George was present and presided.
" After a careful examination, John Stewart was
licensed as a local preacher."
With money raised by Bishop McKendree a tract of
fifty-three acres of land on the east side of the San-
dusky, near Harmen's Mill, was bought for Stewart.
About this time Bishop McKendree, in feeble health,
came to the mission on horseback, from Lancaster, Ohio,
and was accompanied by J. B. Finley and D. J. Soul,
Jr. The Bishop was delighted to find " the Lord had
a people among the Wyandots."
The money paid for the land was collected by Bishop
McKendree at camp meetings and conferences. In this
is not only an official recognition but a memorial of
the large heartedness of this pioneer Bishop.
About 1820 Stewart married Polly, a mulatto girl.
She was a devout Christian, and could read and write.
With her he lived in his own cabin home and with the
help of his wife and friends soon had enough from the
virgin soil, with some money assistance from the con-
ference, to live in pioneer comfort.
Near the end of 1823, after a battle with consump-
tion, the word spread among the Christians that Stew-
art was dying; a number of Christian chiefs and devout
men and women were with him. Christmas and the
New Year were at hand. Stewart calmly exhorted all —
told how the Lord sustained him, and gave his testi-
mony to the power of Christ to save. Holding his wife's
hand, he said to all, " Oh, be faithful," and died. In an
humble grave on his land he was buried, and for twenty
years thereafter no stone marked his resting-place.
But he was not forgotten. His grave was often
visited, and the Indian j'outh were taught to place
flowers on his grave each spring and summer time.
In 1843 the Rev. James Wheeler, missionary, just
before the Indians left for the West, had Stewart's re-
mains taken up and reinterred at the southeast corner
REV. N. B. C. LOVE, D.D.
of the "old mission," and a free stone slab placed at his
head with a suitable epitaph.
This church was erected in 1824, the money,
$1,333.33, being donated by the Government through
Hon. J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of War. Rev. J. B.
Findley was the instigator in securing this, and he was
made the custodian of the money pending its disposition
in the erection of this church. The building later went
into decav, and the gravestones were carried away piece-
meal by relic hunters, until in 1886 all vestige of them
was gone. A similar condition of affairs pertained
with reference to the wood work and the furnishings of
the Mission Church.
In 18G0 and 61 when these were in a fair state of
preservation, the writer, then a young man in his first
station. Upper Sandusky, made a chart and diagram of
the church and cemetery, the location of the buried dead,
with copies of the epitaphs on each tombstone, which he
preserved. The work of restoration was done with
money — $2,000 — donated by the Missionary Society of
M. E. Church, by order of the General Conference. The
writer, as chairman of the restoration committee, had
the honor of using this money in erecting once again,
out of its ruins, the first mission church of Episcopal
^Methodism, and the first Protestant mission church in
the Northwest Territor3\ When Charles Elliott was
missionary, a log building was erected in which Stewart,
Elliott and others preached, arid here Harriett Stubbs
taught the children. It was a temporary log building
and, so far as we know, was not used exclusively as a
church, and was not dedicated.
During the session of the Central Ohio Annual Con-
ference in September, 1889, the restored Mission Church
was rededicated. There were several thousand more peo-
ple present than could get into the house, so the services
were held under the old oak trees which had sheltered
the hundreds of Wyandots who had worshiped in the
Dr. Adam C. Barnes, P.E., was chairman. Dr. P. P.
Pope, grandson of Eussell Bigelow, led in prayer. Ad-
dresses were delivered by Bishop J. F. Hurst, Hon. D. D.
Hare, Dr. L. A. Belt, Gen. W. H. Gibson, a historical
address by the writer, and reminiscences by Dr. E. C.
Gavitt, only surviving missionary, and a hymn in Wyan-
dot sung by " Mother Solomon," a member in her child-
hood of the first mission school. Many were present
•whose parents or grandparents had been connected in
some way with the mission.
The name and work of John Stewart is perpetuated
in this restored and really monumental church, in the
engraved marble tablet in its walls, the granite marking
his grave, and in each mission church and mission school
of Episcopal Methodism throughout the world.
The good work inaugurated by this humble but ex-
cellent Christian character will never be forgotten, but
as the ages come and go,
and the heathen world is
brought to Christ, his
name shall be more re-
membered and honored.
All admit that his suc-
cess among the Wyan-
dots led to the organiza-
tion of the Missionary
Society of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in
1819. And was not the
mission school at Upper
Sandusky the genesis of
the Woman's Foreign
Missionary work? If so,
then all honor to Har-
riett Stubbs and Jane
Parker and their worthy « MOTHER SOLOMON."
Let the name of Stewart be placed in the list of the
world's benefactors. May his sublime faith, clear con-
viction of the Divine presence, enthusiasm, endurance,
patience and unselfishness, awaken in the hearts of each
reader of these pages the spirit of emulation.
1 17n D1D7D fi77b