Gnadenhutten Memorial

Gnadenhutten, Ohio

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The Gnadenhutten Memorial and museum is located on Cherry Street in Gnadenhutten, Ohio.

Gnadenhutten was founded by a Moravian missionary, David Zeisberger, in 1772. It is the oldest settlement in Ohio. His goal was to convert the local Indian tribes to Christianity. He succeeded in converting around 400 people.

The white settlers and Indians lived together peacefully until the start of the Revolutionary War. The white people weren't sure whether or not they could trust the Indians, even though they had converted to Christianity and had refused to join other tribes to fight against the Americans. Well, on March 8, 1772 most of the settlers decided they were enemies when Colonel Williamson of the Pennsylvania militia accused them of raiding American settlements in Pennsylvania, giving aid to Indian warriors, and stealing horses and other articles from Americans. Also, a local woman was murdered and her dress was found in the possession of the Indians. The settlers gathered in the church and voted on whether or not the Indians should be executed. The vast majority voted for death. The execution was to be carried out the next day.

On March 9, 1782 all of the Indians were led into two houses. One house for men, the other for women and children. They were then executed one by one by crushing their skulls with mallets. There were only two survivors - two young boys managed to escape and tell the story of this gruesome massacre. One of them actually hid in the basement of one of the houses, he told stories of all the blood leaking through the cracks in the floorboards. A total of 96 Christian Indians were killed - 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children.

After the massacre, the settlers set fire to the town and moved away. About five years later, in 1797, a missionary found the skeletons and buried them in a mass grave. The grave is located behind the present day museum, which was built in 1963.

Today a large obelisk stands in memory of the massacred Indians. There is a very nice museum with many local artifacts, and a mission house and cooper shop have been constructed on the site of the original cabins that served as the execution locations.

It's no wonder many people believe the spirits of the ninety-six massacred Indians still haunt the was a very dark day in American history. Many people have heard screams around the execution cabins, and several have also seen ghostly figures walking around the park.

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