Gnadenhutten Day of Remembrance set for March 8

Gnadenhutten Day of Remembrance set for March 8
Teri Stein

Chief Brad Killscrow of Bartlesville, Oklahoma spoke and played the drum at the 2023 event.

                        

Agroup of tribal leaders of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, Canada will be among the guests at the Gnadenhutten Day of Remembrance set for March 8 at the Gnadenhutten Historical Park. The event will begin at 9 a.m., and doughnuts and coffee will be served.

The ceremony will remember and honor those 96 Christian Delaware Indians who were brutally killed on March 8, 1782, by the Pennsylvania Militia.

Scheduled to attend are Chief Justin Logan and council members Lesley Snake, Jody Noah, Megan Logan and Sherry Huff. Theresa Johnson of Moraviantown, who has traced her ancestry directly to Gnadenhutten, also will be in attendance. In addition, many local Tuscarawas County officials will participate. Other groups of the Delaware Nation also were invited and may attend.

Andy McMillen, president of the Gnadenhutten Historical Society, feels it’s important the descendants of those killed are included in the Day of Remembrance as the ceremony has much more meaning for them.

As a history teacher, McMillen and other teachers from Indian Valley High School bring their students to the ceremony each year. Some are not aware of the history.

“A lot of students, they’ve been by the museum 100 times, and they don’t know what the story is. And I think it really is kind of eye-opening when they find out people are coming there from hundreds and hundreds of miles away and some came from Oklahoma, over 1,000 miles away. That’s a long way from home. It causes them to reflect and think there is something to this. It leads them to question things a bit and look a little deeper,” McMillen said.

Since McMillen took on the position of president of the all-volunteer Gnadenhutten Historical Society last spring, they have been working toward making the museum, site and events better.

The society’s board is made up of three subcommittees. One focuses on the museum. They are looking at what is the best way to tell the Gnadenhutten story, identifying anything that can be improved or redone, and looking at how the historical park can tell the story of the Moravian mission town itself and the massacre.

“For example, we’re looking at the process of having a ground-penetrating radar scan. I would love to have the village streets marked,” McMillen said.

They also want to reach guests who might show up when the museum is closed. They would have an informational pamphlet available and signage indicating the importance of different locations around the park.

Another committee would focus on the festivals held at the Gnadenhutten Historical Park, like Pioneer Days and Apple Butter Days. They also would like to work together with other historical societies on events.

“So just trying to find ways to have events in a variety of different ways. We’re developing some ideas along those lines, and it’s still kind of in its infancy, but I’m excited,” McMillen said, adding that working with other historical societies will benefit all. “People are interested. They come in. They don’t know much (about other sites), but once they understand, get some of the stories, they will actually visit some of these places. It really grabs people, even people you wouldn’t think are interested.”

The group doesn’t want to change the things people really enjoy about the festivals but supplement them with meaningful activities or interesting speakers.

The society was pleased repairs also were completed on part of the monument base in 2023. The monument is more than 150 years old.

Volunteers are needed to help with events and maintenance and to cover open hours at the museum in the summer.

McMillen is thankful to the longtime volunteers and new volunteers who helped keep the Gnadenhutten Historical Society Museum open during 2023.

“I was personally thrilled that last year we were open every minute we were supposed to be open,” McMillen said. “We had in total 13 people volunteer throughout the year. So we were very fortunate, and I’ve got a few more lined up this year. The more involvement we can get, the better.”

The society accepts donations to help cover the travel costs of the members of the Delaware Nation who attend the Day of Remembrance. Checks made payable to the Gnadenhutten Historical Society may be sent to treasurer Jane Miller, P.O. Box 498, Gnadenhutten, OH 44629.

To volunteer, call McMillen at 330-432-3049.


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