Remembering Gnadenhutten: Missionaries, Massacre, and the Resilience of a First Nation Delaware Community

Date & Time
Saturday, Mar. 11, 2023
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Ticketing $20 for members
$25 per person

Explore the complex and disquieting history of the Moravian Christian mission during this one-day conference.

Join Fort Pitt Museum staff, independent historian Mark Turdo, and Theresa Johnson of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown in Ontario as we uncover the complex history of the Gnadenhutten massacre on Saturday, March 11.

During this one-day conference, attendees will examine the experience of Moravian Delaware converts in 18th-century Ohio Country and explore the fascinating history of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, where descendants of this resilient First Nation community live today.

Founded by Moravian Christian missionaries in 1772, Gnadenhutten was one of several religious communities for Native converts established by this dynamic protestant sect in the 18th-century Ohio Country. For several years, the village existed peacefully, but its Moravian and Delaware (Lenape) residents were soon ensnared by the turmoil of the American Revolution.

Though they remained neutral in the conflict, residents of Gnadenhutten found themselves caught between American forces, hostile to all Indians, and the militant branch of their own tribe, which demanded resistance to American incursions in the region. Marginalized by both sides, the fate of the community was sealed on March 8 and 9, 1782, when militiamen from Western Pa, believing the Moravians harbored hostile forces, murdered nearly one hundred non-combatant Lenape men, women, and children in cold blood.

Admission to the Fort Pitt Museum is included with conference registration.

Presentations include:

Alan Gutchess, Director, Fort Pitt Museum
The Forgotten Survivors of Gnadenhutten

Mark A. Turdo, Independent Historian
“What Kind of People We Are Now”: The Evolution of Convert Life in Eighteenth-Century Moravian Missions

Theresa Johnson, Delaware Nation at Moraviantown
The History of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown


10 a.m. – Museum Opens
1-1:15 p.m. – Opening remarks
1:15-2:15 p.m. – Mark A. Turdo presentation, “What Kind of People We Are Now”: The Evolution of Convert Life in Eighteenth-Century Moravian Missions”
2:15-2:30 p.m. – Break
2:30-3:30 p.m. Alan Gutchess presentation, “The Forgotten Survivors of Gnadenhutten”
3:30-3:45 p.m. – Break
3:45-4:45 p.m. – Theresa Johnson presentation, “The History of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown”

About the Presenters

Mark A. Turdo has been thinking, writing, and presenting about life in Moravian missions since 1998. A lifelong history museum professional, he has been on staff at the Moravian Historical Society (Nazareth, PA.), Fort Ticonderoga, and the Museum of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, Pa.), among others. Currently, he is an independent historian and curator.
Theresa Johnson will be a featured speaker at our upcoming conference, Remembering Gnadenhutten: Missionaries, Massacre, and the Resilience of a First Nation Delaware Community, at the Fort Pit Museum on Saturday, March 11 from 1-5 p.m.

Theresa is of Lunapeew/Munsee/Mohican descent and lives in Moraviantown, Ontario. Raised by her paternal grandmother, she has learned strong indigenous traditions since early childhood. Her grandmother cooked the old way, told the old stories, practiced the old traditions, used medicinal plants, and sewed both by hand and with an old peddle sewing machine.

For over three decades, Theresa has dedicated her life to learning and practicing more of the old and new traditional ways of her people. She has used that knowledge to teach her grandchildren and others willing to learn. She loves to listen and gain knowledge from the youth and Elders in her community. Recently Theresa worked on a Family Tree project that led her to explore the road her ancestors traveled, discovering where they lived and how they traveled to where they are today.

Theresa has also run a successful business, Rez Craft & Supply, for the past 30 years which has grown from making, buying, and selling beadwork and supplies to teaching beading, crafts, cooking, storytelling, language, wild plant medicine, family trees, and more.