Scholla: Shabash, Seim, Kiop

Shabash, Seim, Kiop

If the three words which form the above caption seem unfamiliar, it is because they are the names of three Mohican Indians, the first Indians to be baptized in Pennsylvania, at the home of John DeTurck, in Oley in 1742.

In 1740, Christian Henry Rauch, a Moravian missionary, established a mission at Shekomeko, in Dutchess County, New York, near the borders of Connecticut and also to Stissik Mountain. IN 1742, Count Nicholaus von Zinzendorf, great leader of Moravians, arrived in American and began to call synods of all interested persons. The second of these synods was to be held in the DeTurck home in Oley. In advance of the meeting Gottlieb Buttner, an ardent teacher of Moravian doctrines was sent to Shekomeko to invite Rauch to bring all Mohicans who wished to be baptized to Oley. On January 22, Rauch and his three converts left their village on foot, arriving at the DeTurck home on February 9, after enduring several hardships en route.

Two days later the red men were baptized in the barn of the DeTurck farmstead, Count Zinnendorf being present at the ceremony. The preliminaries of the administration of the sacrament called for hymns and prayer. These were offered and sung during the morning.

Some “ill-disposed” persons in the neighborhood gathered and created a disturbance outside of the barn but the ceremonies were not interrupted. The Rev. Mr. Rauch baptized the three Indians while Deacon Buttner and Bishop Davide Nitschman looked on. Christian names were substituted for the Mohican, thus Shabash became Abraham; Seim became Isaac, and Kiop became Jacob.

Later Seim, or Isaac, became a very important assistant to the missionaries who carried the gospel westward across the Alleghenies and in several instances Isaac proved himself of great value to the British authorities.

After the ceremony, the Indians were so filled with the Spirit that they began to preach in relays; when one tired another began and exhorted the unconverted Delawares who had come to witness the ceremonies.

The Oley ceremony was the first baptism of Indians within the borders of Pennsylvania.

Archival Notes: “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?” — Tecumseh 1810, speaking to Governor William Harrison of Indiana Territory. Shabash, Seim, and Kiop were the first Indians baptized in Pennsylvania, by the Moravian church, in 1742. The baptismal took place within the barn of the Deturck homestead, in Oley. Conversion to Christianity would not provide safety for the Indians. Tribal members of Shabash, Seim, and Kiop who also converted to Christianity were massacared at Gnadenhutten, Ohio by the Pennsylvania in militia in 1782. 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children were murdered and scalped by the Pennsylvania Militia.

Monument commemorating the Gnadenhutten Massacre. Source:
Monument commemorating the Gnadenhutten Massacre. Source:

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