The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

February 2, 2013

Monument based on Moravian mission

It has stood silently for almost 100 years and in that time has probably gone unnoticed by more passersby than can be counted.

Yet, it commemorates an event in Madison County’s history that is unparalleled for its drama, one that forever establishes our county’s unique place in Indiana history.

Word of its contemplation was first mentioned in a letter written Jan. 1, 1912, by the Honorable John L. Forkner of Anderson to Frederick Webb Hodge of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In his letter Forkner wrote, “The Daughters of the American Revolution are making an attempt to preserve this notable spot by erecting a monument in the locality.”

That locality was a site known to the Delaware Indians as Woapimintshi, which translates to chestnut tree in English. It was the location of a mission station conducted from May 1801 to September 1806 by two missionaries sent by the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. Their names were Abraham Luckenbach and John Peter Kluge.  

The Delaware tribal leaders had invited the church to send missionaries to come and live among them. The invitation was extended in 1799, shortly after the tribe had arrived in the Indiana Territory. The Indian leaders’ real intent in extending the invitation was masked by the opportunity afforded the Moravian church to bring the teachings of the church to the Native Americans living along the White River. That hidden agenda was eventually revealed and became the basis for the epic struggle played out here over 200 years ago.

Marker set up east of Anderson

The local Kikthawenund Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution recognized the importance of the story and set about to commemorate it by placing a marker near the site. It was the first tablet of its kind in Madison County and among the first erected by the D.A.R. in Indiana.

The original monument configuration consisted of a bronze tablet 9 inches by 14 inches by one-half inch thick, which was embedded in and bolted to a large boulder taken from the mission site. The pyramidal shaped boulder was described as being about 3 feet high and 4 feet square at the base.

It was placed roughly one mile north of where the mission site was located. In 1913, that area was on a farm owned by Mathias Hughel. His home was located on the south side of East 10th Street (known then as the 12th Street Road), two-and-one-half miles east of the Anderson city limits. It was near the northwest corner of his yard, next to the road, that the D.A.R. chose to place the marker.

The Kikthawenund Chapter was in charge of the unveiling ceremony, which took place at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 1, 1913, and was attended by a reported 150 people. Mrs. Caroline Brady, former regent of the chapter, headed the committee in charge of the ceremonies. Anderson’s First Baptist Church orchestra provided music for the ceremony.

Among the notables attending were Miss Alice Kluge of Hope, Ind., and Mrs. Bromfiel of Richmond, Ind., daughters of John H. Kluge. He was born Dec. 31, 1805, the second son and third child born to missionary John Peter Kluge and his wife, Anna, during their time at the mission station. The two women were the only surviving grandchildren of the missionary.

Stolen and found

On Tuesday morning Nov. 7, 1916, The Anderson Herald reported of the theft of the bronze tablet. The thief had pried off the bolts, which had been set in concrete, and made off with it.

Two days later the newspaper reported the arrest of a Muncie man the previous day. The tablet had been recovered in a barrel at a metal works factory in Muncie. The barrel had been delivered there from a Muncie junkyard for disposal.

An employee of the metal works facility found it and reported the discovery to the president of the company who informed the officers of the D.A.R. and returned it to them. The police were informed and the arrest of the man followed soon afterwards.

Initially, the Kikthawenund Chapter planned to level off the boulder so that another stone could be placed upon it and the tablet secured to the new stone. That would have raised the tablet thus providing a better view. Those arrangements were expected to be completed within a short period of time.

Obviously there was a change of plans for today located on the site of the original marker is a solid piece of granite standing approximately 5 feet and measuring 13 inches thick by 20 inches wide. Embedded in the stone is the original bronze tablet which reads:

IN COMMEMORATION OF THE MORAVIAN MISSION TO THE INDIANS MAINTAINED ON WHITE RIVER SOUTH OF THIS SPOT 1801 — 1806

ERECTED BY KIKTHAWENUND CHAPTER DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 1913

On Sept. 27, 1966, another missionary descendant visited the city during the statewide celebration of Indiana’s sesquicentennial. Her name was Miss Martha O. Luckenbach of Bethlehem, Pa.

Visit to mission site

The great-great-grandniece of missionary Abraham Luckenbach was the guest of the Madison County Sesquicentennial Committee, headed by Francis R. Oleksy.

Miss Luckenbach spoke to students of Anderson and Madison Heights high schools during the morning where she related the difficulties the missionaries encountered while serving here. Following her presentations she was honored by a noon luncheon at the Anderson Country Club.

More important to our history was her visit to the mission site and to the monument, which was conducted by Oleksy. Miss Luckenbach’s visit to the mission site was probably the first time a missionary descendant had visited there. In 1913, the Kluge granddaughters would not have had access due to the difficulty in reaching the remote site.

Martha Luckenbach’s visit to the monument in 1966 was captured in a photograph. That photograph, along with Forkner’s 1912 letter, was fortunately preserved by Mr. Oleksy. His stewardship of these and other valuable county historical items will be appreciated for many years to come.

For over 100 years our county has been the benefactor of the good work done by the Kikthawenund Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution.

Their members, past and present, have achieved a special place in preserving the things that are important to us. Their work is best appreciated when one considers this axiom: “A people who take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.”

As long as there are Daughters working amongst us, this warning has no place here.

The epic story of the Moravian Mission on White River is available for presentation to groups in a PowerPoint format. However, due to its length it is suggested the presentation be done over more than one session.

For more information contact the Madison County History Center, 15 W. 11th St., Anderson. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone is 683-0052.

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