Gideon's People, 2-volume set


Gideon's People, 2-volume set

Being a Chronicle of an American Indian Community in Colonial Connecticut and the Moravian Missionaries Who Served There

Translated and edited by Corinna Dally-Starna and William A. Starna

The Iroquoians and Their World Series

1376 pages
4 photos, 3 maps


July 2009


$170.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2009


$170.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Gideon’s People is the story of an American Indian community in the Housatonic Valley of northwestern Connecticut. It is based on some three decades of nearly uninterrupted German-language diaries and allied records kept by the Moravian missionaries who had joined the Indians at a place called Pachgatgoch, later Schaghticoke. It is supplemented by colonial records and regional political, social, and religious histories and ethnographies. As such, it represents the only comprehensive, thoroughly contextualized description of a Native people in southern New England and adjacent eastern New York for the mid-eighteenth century.

The Moravians’ diaries report on the day-to-day activities in the community, including house-building, the production of material goods, hunting, fishing, and farming. We are told of marriages, births, deaths, disease, and the calamity of alcohol abuse. The unavoidable interactions with surrounding Indians and close-by colonial farmers and townspeople are offered in detail, along with the sometimes contentious relations with local and colonial authorities. And there is the omnipresence of the missionaries’ religious message to the Indians, frequently accepted and then tested by the inevitable temptations and, more than once, spurned. But we also learn of the struggles of the Moravians to feed and clothe themselves at a distance from their congregation in Bethlehem and their endeavors, often marked by conflict and deep personal pain, to lead their Native flock to the Lamb.

Author Bio

Corinna Dally-Starna is the translator of Lakotas, Black Robes, and Holy Women: German Reports from the Indian Missions in South Dakota, 18861900 (Nebraska 2007). William A. Starna is a professor emeritus of anthropology at State University of New York College at Oneonta. He is the coeditor of Iroquois Journey: An Anthropologist Remembers (Nebraska 2007) and of Adriaen van der Donck’s A Description of New Netherland (Nebraska 2008).


"An impressive achievement."—Robert L. Gallagher, Evangelical Missions Quarterly

"As anyone who has dabbled in the archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, can attest, the German script in which most of these documents are written makes for very slow going indeed—in fact, the Moravian Archives offers an annual class simply to help visitors learn how to navigate the difficult orthography. The editors' accessible translation of these diaries will therefore be welcomed by scholars of early America, Native America, and the history of religion in America and will serve as an invaluable research tool for undergraduates and graduate students alike."—Linford Fisher, New England Quarterly

"These two volumes serve as a worthwhile addition to our understanding of Gideon's people, whose lives are immortalized by missionaries who were there to record the mundane, the twisted, and the profound."—Rowena McClinton, Ethnohistory

"Gideon's People offers an exceptional portrait of Moravian values and mission structure and a uinque window into the daily rhythm of life for missionaries."—Sharon Sauder Muhlfeld, Journal of Moravian History

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