A record of the Congregational Church in
the Tuscarora Reservation
Obtained by inquiry
The church in the
Tuscarora Reservation was organized in the year 1805,
embracing six members only, under the care of the New York
Rev. Elkanah Holmes, first missionary, from 1805 to
Members of the Church Sacarissa, a Sachem, and his
wife; Nicholas Cusick, an interpreter, and his wife; Apollas
Jacobs and Mary Pempleton.
Rev. Mr. Gray, second missionary, from 1808 to 1813. At
first the Indians converted their Council House into one for
public worship, and also for school operations, and in time they
built a convenient chapel, which was painted red, and was
destined to share the same fate as their dwelling houses at the
hands of the British Indians in the war of 1812.
It was on December 20th, 1813, when they were burned to
the ground, in consequence of which the operations of the
mission were suspended from 1813 to 1817, when Rev. James C.
Crane took charge of the mission until the end of the year 1826.
In the year 1821 this mission was transferred from the
New York Missionary Society to the United Foreign Mission
Rev. Joseph B. Lane, the fourth missionary, took charge
of the mission from January 3, 1827, to June 8, 1827.
Rev. John Elliot, the fifth missionary, also labored among these
Indians from June 22, 1827, to May 7, 1833, when he left the
mission by his own request, being dismissed from the service of
the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to
which this mission was transferred from the United Foreign
Mission Society in the year 1826. Rev. Joel Wood also labored in
this mission from October 15, 1833, to October, 1834.
Rev. William Williams also labored among them from
October 26, 1834, to August 29, 1837.
Mr. Gilbert Rockwood, arrived and took charge of the
station as teacher and overseer of the affairs of the church,
and was afterwards ordained to the ministry.
Before he was ordained he would summon to his aid in
the discipline and ordinances of the Church, at different times,
Brother Asher Wright, and Mr. Bliss, of Cattaraugus Reservation,
and Rev. J. Elliott, of Youngstown.
Ordained at Tuscarora Mission, July 3rd, 1839, Rev.
Gilbert Rockwood as a missionary of the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to labor among the Tuscarora
Indians. Invocation and reading of the Scriptures were performed
by Rev. Lemuel Clark, of Lewiston; first prayer by Rev. John
Elliott, of Youngstown, and former missionary at Tuscarora;
sermon by Rev. E. Parmely, of Jamestown, consecrating prayer by
the Rev. Asher Wright, of the Seneca mission; charge by Rev.
Asher Bliss, of Cattaraugus mission; right hand of fellowship by
Rev. A. Wright; address to the Church and people by Rev. John
Elliott; concluding prayer by Rev. Elisha B. Sherrod, of Wilson;
benediction by Rev. Gilbert Rockwood.
The exercises were listened to by an attentive audience
of Indians, who probably never witnessed anything of the kind
before. The ceremonies were solemn and interesting to the people
to the very close, although considerably protracted by passing
through an interpreter.
What added to the Interest of the occasion was the
ordination of three native members as Deacons of the Church, at
the close of the ordination. The Church has received a
refreshing from on high during the last winter, which has added
a number of members, and is still in a peaceful and prosperous
Rev. G. Rockwood was a faithful missionary; he went in
and out among the Indians, visited in their homes, and talked
with them in their inroads, and was a great advocate in the
cause of Temperance. He was a powerful preacher, and at times
had great revivals: for instance, in the year 1852, when I was
first awakened to concern for my soul's welfare. It was then my
soul was first filled with rejoicing in my newly found Savior;
it was then I first poured out my soul in fervent prayer.
On the 7th day of March, 1852, was held a communion
season, and on that memorable day forty converts were admitted
to the full communion of the Church. Old men of seventy winters
and youths of fourteen bowed down together to receive the
ordinance of baptism, of whom I was one of the number, at the
age of fifteen. It was a scene that angels might rejoice to
behold. The whole number admitted to the Church that winter were
Rev. G. Rockwood finished his work among the Tuscarora
Indians on the first day of January, 1861. Thus it is claimed
that Rev. G. Rockwood spent the longest term of ministerial
service at one installation in Niagara county but one, which was
Rev. W. C. Wisner of the First Presbyterian church, Lockport,
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign
Missions, when they withdrew Rev. Rockwood from this mission,
also withdrew their supplies, when the Tuscarora were thrown
upon their own resources. In October following the church
appointed as delegates Mr. John Mt. Pleasant, a Sachem; Dea.
Samuel Jacobs and Elias Johnson, interpreter, to attend a
meeting of the Niagara Presbytery at Yates, to make an
application that this mission might come under the care of that
body, which was granted them on October 29, 1861. The Presbytery
appointed as Committee on Supplies, Rev. Joshua Cook, of
Lewiston, and H. E. Niles. In January, 1862, Rev. Charles A.
Keeler was sent to take charge of the mission, who labored among
them until 1863, after which the preaching was supplied by some
of the members of the church, and more particularly by Dea. S.
Rev. George Ford supplied the Church with preaching
every fourth Sabbath, and was succeeded by Rev. Wm. Hall, and he
by Rev. W. P. Barker, who began his labors among us in Oct.,
1877, and was formerly a missionary in India.
A letter by James Cusick, concerning the Baptist mission at
Tuscarora, to wit:
"In 1836, a portion of the Tuscarora Nation thought it
expedient to become Baptists, according to the dictates of their
own conscience and free enjoyment of their religion in this
Consequently a Baptist church was built and organized among the
Tuscaroras, and they were called in council with several Baptist
churches in this county. In 1838 they were admitted into the
Niagara Baptist Association at Shalby.
"In a ministerial council June 14th, 1838, Mr. James Cusick was
examined touching his Christian experience, and called to preach
the Gospel by Providence and the council. They decided on that
question, and gave him ordination as a native preacher, deciding
that he was well qualified by knowledge of theology; and now he
has labored among several tribes of the Six Nations."
The first Baptist Church at Tuscarora was broken up in
the spring of 1846, on account of an emigration to the Indian
Territory, under the influence of Rev. James Cusick, the party
being composed mostly of the members of that Church, which
caused its overthrow. The next year, after about one-third of
the emigration party had died in the Indian Territory, the
remainder came home among the Tuscaroras, but Rev. Mr. Cusick
removed into Canada and labored among the Six Nations at Grand
In the year 1860 Rev. James Cusick began his labors
again among the Tuscaroras, in the town of Lewiston, having been
invited here by James Johnson, with the view of reorganizing the
former Baptist Church.
On the fifteenth day of February, 1860, there was held
a deliberative meeting at the house of James Johnson, Rev. James
Cusick acting as moderator. There were present, William Green,
of Grand River; James Johnson, Isaac N. Jack, Isaac Patterson,
Joseph Williams, Adam Williams, Sr. The church was organized on
March 21, 1860, at the house of James Johnson, Rev. James Cusick,
Moderator, and Isaac N. Jack, Clerk.
A council of delegates from Wilson and Ransomville was
invited by the reorganized Baptist church to meet on the 26th
day of April, 1860, for recognition, which duly met, Rev.
William Sawyer, Chairman: James Bullock, Clerk. Introductory
prayer by Rev. L. C. Pattengill: hand of fellowship by Rev. Wm.
Sawyer; address by Rev. L. C. Pattengill, including prayer and
benediction by Rev. Wm. Sawyer. The following delegates were
From Wilson Rev. L. C. Pattengill, Dea. R. Robinson,
Dea. A. Chapin.
From Ransomville Rev. Wm. Sawyer, Dea. G. Hopkins, Dea.
They were received into fellowship of the Niagara
Baptist Association June 14, 1860, held at Akron, Erie county,
N. Y. James Johnson, the first deacon, was chosen April 13,
They finished an edifice of 30 x 40 feet, a convenient
chapel, which was dedicated February 5, 1862. A sermon by Rev.
L. C. Pattengill, prayer of dedication by Rev. Wm. Sawyer,
report of building by J. C. Hopkins.
Rev. James Cusick was to have been their first
installed pastor, but in the year 1861 death took him to his
long rest. He was a powerful preacher, and we had great revivals
under his ministrations.
Rev. Thomas Green, a native, was baptized Jan. 9th,
1861, and on the third day of Oct., 1863, was licensed to preach
the Gospel of Christ, a helper for Rev. Nicholas Smith, and on
Sept. 25th, 1867, was ordained to the ministry, and succeeded
Rev. N. Smith as pastor of that Church, which office he
faithfully filled, went in and out among them, with meek and
humble spirit, ever faithful to his trust. He had the gift of
natural oratory, and we had some powerful revivals under his
preaching. It would seem to us that he was called away too soon,
but the Omniscient Being knows best. God called him from his
labors and trials in this vale of tears to weal in the pleasures
of his presence and of his only Son, Jesus, of whom he had
preached, and fought, as did Paul, the good fight of faith, and
finished his course on Jan. 12, 1877, and has seen the crown of
life which was lad up for him in Heaven.
Rev. Franklin P Mt. Pleasant, a native, began to preach
the Gospel in the spring of 1877, by the invitation of Rev. T.
Green, and was licensed on the 23d day of October, 1879, and has
been their constant preacher.
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Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations and History of the Tuscarora Indians
Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the
Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois