A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson

"Century of Methodism"

Sanderson's "Century of Methodism"

"In 1805 two men entered Canada, contrasts, yet complements to each other, Henry Ryan and William Case, destined to leave their impress on the plastic cause they took in hand to mould. The central part of the work, Bay of Quinte, was placed in charge of Ryan, an Irishman, tall, athletic. His great strength was shown in quietly dismounting and landing a would-be antagonist over the fence. A voice of surpassing power accorded with his massive frame and brawny arm. Bishop Hedding described him as "a very pious man, with a great love for the cause of Christ and great zeal in his work as a minister". The energy and success which marked his early ministry were deemed suitable credentials for the work. In this new and northern field, while his birth and upbringing made an appointment welcome to himself. As his colleague, William Case was sent. He was American-born, slight, mild and meek. The shrinking meekness and clinging faith of Moses proved qualifications for leadership quite as essential as the giant strength and impulsive courage of Samson; and Case, in humility, fidelity, and consistency during more than forty years of prominent position in our Methodist Israel, won more enduring triumphs than fell to the lot of his gifted colaborer, for the time his superior in office. Ryan and Case entered heartily upon their labors and had a year of prosperity. One of their first efforts was the holding of a camp meeting, a novelty in Canada."

Quoting again from Sanderson's "Century of Methodism" an account of the conversion of Peter Jones is given:

"At a camp meeting two young Indians, Peter Jones and his sister Mary were converted, first fruits from these native tribes, and promise of a glorious harvest. In his autobiography Peter Jones writes: "In June, 1823, I attended Ancaster camp meeting, anxious to see how the Methodists worshipped the Great Spirit. The encampment, about two acres enclosed with a brush fence, the blazing fire stands, the blowing of the horn, the singing, praying and preaching impressed me very greatly. I began to feel very sick in my heart, and was soon crying, 'What must I do to be saved?' To control his emotions he withdrew into the woods. The ministers Stoney and Ferguson took him into the prayer meeting, where he found his sister Mary rejoicing and praying for him. Soon he rejoiced with her and praised God in the midst of the people, which caused Elder Case to exclaim, "Glory to God, now the door is opened to this people." Returning home, Peter met in a class led by Seth Crawford, heard the Methodist preachers, assisted in the day and Sunday schools, interpreted, told the story of his conversion, and was the means of leading many to Christ.

One of the earliest reservations which is now no longer in existence was known as the Credit Reserve, in Etobicoke Township. Some of the residents moved to Alderville, abbreviating their names to Tobico. An account of the "pay day" was given by Sanderson, who writes thus:

"Early in July notice was given the tribes to meet the Agent at the Credit for their annual presents from the government. On Sunday morning many of them went three miles to hear the Rev. W. Culp. In the afternoon Peter Jones preached to about three hundred whites and Indians at the Credit. Many of them fell to the ground crying for pardon. In the evening an experience meeting was held, not thus did these poor Indians spend the Sabbath a few months before.

By request of the Agent they met him at the Humber. They camped in time for a sunset service with some pagan Indians. Next morning a boat from York brought the presents. The Rev. Dr. Stratchan, his wife, and several gentlemen came to see the Christian Indians. The children read and sang for them, then listened to addresses advising them to settle at the Credit. After considering the matter the Indians agreed to do so. Thus began a settlement which became a grand centre for education and religion.

With the presents, the Agent had brought kegs of whiskey. But the Christian Indians refused to touch the fire-water, and the pernicious custom ceased. Many of the pagan Indians went with their Christian brothers to Grand River. Three days they journeyed, holding prayer meetings by the way. On Sunday they listened to Alvin Torry, Peter Jones interpreting; a great awakening resulted, and forty-five were baptized. In the Sunday-school were scholars, chiefly Mohawks and Ojibway commonly called Mississauga. Torry and Jones visited the Chippewa on the Thames and the Muncey's, a remnant of the Delaware who had received some instruction from David Brainherd and the Moravian missionaries, and since 1792 had frequented these Canadian regions. In the early spring of this year John Carey, a young school teacher, had gone among them offering to teach their children. He reported his investigations to Mr. Torry and arranged for a visit. Towards the end of May, Torry and Jones had several meetings with them in Dumfries, Oxford, Westminster, and finally at Muncey, where Carey had a school started. A service was held, and the Chief gave the strangers blankets for the night.

This was the beginning of the Mount Elgin Industrial School where many children from Alderville and Hiawatha attended; a boarding school in which domestic science was taught to the girls, and the boys learned farming and attended classes on alternate days. This school has since been torn down. A similar boarding school was built at Alderville under the direction of the Rev. William Case, but was in operation only a few years. A visit by the noted evangelist Peter Jones was recorded:

"January 20th, 1827. I set off, hoping to reach Darlington before night. 21st. Arrived at Mr. Cryderman's near Bowmanville, where about forty Indians were encamped. I taught them the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Held a meeting with the white people". Thence he went on through Cobourg, Monaghan and Cavan, instructing many of his people, building a place of worship, and holding meetings. On his return he fell in with other camps near Port Hope and Whitby.

Early in May he visited Rice Lake, Carrying Place, Belleville, and Grape Island. He assisted in building a mission house on the Island, cheered by Elder Case, who administered the Sacrament to about ninety Indians and baptized twenty. After two weeks together they left to attend the quarterly meeting at Cobourg. About seventy Indians came from Rice Lake, forty-four of whom Elder Case baptized. At the love-feast whites and Indians shouted together and partook of the Lord's Supper. After some weeks at Rice Lake, ploughing, planting, fencing, and religious services, Mr. Jones hastened to Port Hope where a hundred Mud Lake Indians were awaiting him.

Peter Jones writes of them: "This tribe, a praying people, renounced ardent spirits. I felt very sorry to leave them so anxious for instruction. I exhorted the class leaders to be faithful. They handed me five dollars and shook hands, tears in their eyes."

Visited the Scugog Indians and attended a camp meeting up George Street where many of them were converted. May 19th ; Arrived at Holland Landing, saw some Indians, also French and half-breeds, professing the Roman Catholic faith, but wicked as pagans. Held some meetings, warned our people of the traders. 24th; Sunday. After prayers heard Mr. Beatty; spoke in English and Indian. 25th; Building a chapel and schoolhouse, 20' x 24' with slabs. 26th; Completed the house. Cost, cash $75.60. Before sunset, we had one of the happiest meetings. Our homely chapel appeared to me "none other than the house of God and the gate of Heaven". Many wept and trembled. 27th; Commenced school of native children, Bro. Law, teacher. At five o'clock we assembled for worship. Bro. S. Crane exhorted, and I spoke of perseverance, watching against intemperance and evil men. Blessed be God for what my eyes see! 28th; Heard Bro. E. Smith; I interpreted and Bro. Crane exhorted. I asked all who had experienced a change of heart to stand up. About forty did so. We sang a hymn and commended them to God."

These few items, declared Sanderson, may indicate the constant usefulness of our first Indian evangelist.

James Wilson, familiarly known as Father Wilson, superannuated for a time, after the death of his wife, reappears in charge of the new Whitby circuit, including Whitby, Pickering, Scarborough, Darlington and Clarke. Cobourg circuit was lessened in extent. Hallowell, later known as Picton, had a year of great revival. The Belleville circuit reached out to new settlements in Thurlow. The Rice Lake mission gathered in 166 Indians. A lease of Logram and Grape Islands, in the Bay of Quinte, for 999 years was obtained and an Indian settlement begun.

In 1827 the reservation was established on these islands, moving to Alnwick Township ten years later. The first Chief on Grape Island was James Howard. The writer's great-grandfather, Elder Case, John Sunday and Peter Jones ministered to their spiritual welfare. Sanderson quotes Elder Case writing to a friend, October 15th, 1827:

"I have a hundred things to tell which you and your family would delight to hear about the good work of the Lord among the Indians. Bishop Hedding was very much gratified in witnessing their devotion and hearing their answers. When told they could not have a school until spring, as they were going on a hunt, they replied; "We go always to hunt, but if our children may learn to read we will leave our women; they make baskets and brooms to get flour; they catch fish till we come back". We therefore commence a house immediately, and have engaged a worthy young man for the school, as soon as the house is ready". Elder Case was referring to the Indians at the Credit reserve. Continuing he writes, "At Grape Island we have a house 25 x 30, with a chamber for the teacher, also a small apartment for the Missionary. The Indians have ten houses 15 x 20. About one hundred belong to the society. By subscriptions and their own labour the work has so far been accomplished. About $200 will complete the houses, and for this I am responsible. The whole expense of the Rice Lake school rests on me, also that of the female school at the Credit, and a part of that at Lake Simcoe. This may be a venture, but where calls are so great and the path of duty so plain we dare not hesitate. Thousands are calling and they must be provided with missionaries and teachers. The avails of our societies the past year are $1,680 for three missionaries, seven schools, stationery, translations, etc. The Rice Lake school will be the eighth, and the female school at the Credit the ninth."

A revival on Grape Island, beginning with a quarterly meeting held by Elder Case, gave the cause enduring strength and fruitful vitality. The revival spirit spread through Sidney, Thurlow, Rawdon and fanned by a camp meeting nearly doubled the membership.

Early in the spring Elder Case visited the United States in quest of money and helpers for his mission. He engaged Mr. John B. Benham, a student in Cazenovia Seminary, and two ladies, the Misses Barnes, and Hubbard as teachers. Miss Barnes was soon at work in the Rice Lake school, and Miss Hubbard at Grape Island.

The founder of the Alderville missions, Rev. William Case, was elected President of the Conference in 1838, and also Superintendent of all Indian Missions. He was practically Bishop, save in the power of conferring Orders, and made his home on Grape Island.

In "Methodism in Canada" Chap.XVI, Sanderson writes:

"In February Mr. Case, Peter Jones, the Misses Barnes and Hubbard with some of their scholars set off for the United States to raise money for the Missions and get some translations printed. They crossed the St. Lawrence and held a meeting Sunday March 1st. in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. They passed the territory which the Mohawks, now of Grand River, lost through their allegiance to Great Britain, and visited Chatham where Mr. Case began his ministry. Then dividing into two bands, they received a welcome in Philadelphia and many other places, meeting again in New York, May 1st, the guests of Mrs. Francis Hall. The female Missionary Society gave them an ovation, heard the Indian boys sing and recite, then rewarded them with a donation of $200. At a Sunday-school gathering of two thousand, Jones, Simpson, Snake, Salt, and Shawney were presented, some of them in Indian costume.

Their journeying over, Mr. Case and Miss Hubbard were married by the Rev. Nathan Bangs. They arrived home at the end of May, bringing portions of scripture, spelling books and hymn-books, with liberal contributions and provisions for the education of Turtlefield, Sunday, Simpson and Jacobs.

At Grape Island we first meet Thomas Hulbert teaching the school. The Belleville preachers took up new appointments at Maybee's, Salmon River, the Trent, Madoc and Marmora. A fortnightly service with the Mohawks required long journeys over roads almost impassable. The youthful Riggar, on the Cavan circuit, found Ryan's emissaries at work, but aided by steadfast men, the Thompsons, Bamards and Dawsons of Monaghan, also the Millers and Borkers of Smithtown, successfully held his ground and returned an increase. The Indians were largely included in the Mud Lake, Balsam and Scugog missions.

Of the presiding Elder, William Ryerson, one of his young men, John Carroll, said:

"He traveled over that extensive district and never once missed an appointment. I have know him when the weather was so severe that he would have to run by the side of his horse to keep warm to throw off his overshoes lest they should impede his movements, and start on a journey of ninety miles facing the cutting blasts of early winter without shrinking. He looked after the wants of his preachers as no Presiding Elder had done before. To one asking leave of absence he said: 'No, I am determined that the preachers shall serve the people faithfully and that the people shall support them well'. The improvement was most marked and enduring.

Reference was made to Thomas Hurlburt who taught at Grape Island and later at Alderville Residential School, and to William Ryerson and others to show the great debt that we owe to these early preachers. They ministered to Indians and whites alike, traveling unarmed through trackless forests on horseback carrying what few possessions would fit in saddlebags. All honor to them. In Chap. XVIII of "Methodism" we are told that in addition to Peter Jones, Thomas McGee and Davie Sawyer, John Sunday and John Paul and John Thomas were proving very helpful at the missions. Early in October Peter Jones, Miss Barnes, John Benham and David Sawyer spent a week or two on the Lake Simcoe Missions. Returning to the Credit, they met Sunday and Paul just home from a lengthy tour to Mackinaw and other northern parts with very interesting tidings, ten Chippewa converted near Detroit, and about twenty near Mackinaw, with other openings. They had many thrilling stories to relate of their long journey, on which they supported themselves by hunting. In November Peter Jones found many Chippewa from the Saugeen at the Grand River; in January he was assisting Ryerson and Sawyer at the Credit.

On Nov. 18th, 1830, the Rev. Philander Smith visited Grape Island. He tells of the neat appearance of the village, twenty-three whitewashed houses, a chapel, schoolroom, hospital, and store buildings for mechanical work. The men were ploughing a twenty-acre field. From fifty acres they had a good supply of grain, roots and fodder. Some of the men were good mechanically, building houses and furniture. A raft of all kinds of lumber came in for their use. The schools, with a male and a female teacher, were doing well. The Sabbath was devoted wholly to religious services. At the sounding of the horn at 6 a.m. they assembled for prayer. Sunday-school was at nine, women and children in the chapel, and men in the schoolhouse. At eleven the missionary preached, all were very attentive. At two there was a meeting for inquiry, classes again at four, and a prayer meeting at seven in the evening. The families had prayer after meals, and there were three meals a day. Some of the boys, Allan Salt and others living with the missionary read and translated the scriptures. He visited some of the homes with Mrs. Hurlburt and found the women busy making moccasins and clothing. He says: "Of the hospital, no white woman need be ashamed. The number of births during the year were seventeen, the deaths ten. It is scarcely to be believed that a people so deeply degraded as they were before their conversion should attain so honourable a degree of improvement in the short space of four years".

The Rev. Thomas Whitehead, a veteran of three score years and ten, writes of his second northerly tour:

"Started June 17th, 1832; attended a quarterly meeting in Zorra. Wednesday; In the saddle for Huron, through the coloured people's settlement, delighted with their promising gardens and fields; had a solitary ride to Mr. Vandeburgh's on the Huron Road. Saturday; Into Goderich, two refreshing services and a live class-meeting. Monday; with three or four families started in birch canoes for the Saugeen River, a frugal repast onshore, a precious prayer-meeting, a bed of cedar boughs and saddlebags for pillow. Tuesday; At sunset, we entered the noble Saugeen. With Mr. Benham, paddled several miles upstream, the scenery is indescribable, timber and soil satisfactory. Sunday, 8 A.M. Met the natives for love-feast, worship, the Lord's Supper, baptisms, four adults, eleven children, three marriages. Bro. Simpson interpreting. The mission is young and remote, there are great difficulties, but the desert has blossomed. Halleluia! Tuesday; With a goodly number we knelt on the shore and sang a parting hymn amid tears of joy. Then with Benham and three Indians, our paddles dipped the Huron waters. We made a bed on the rock and "the opening heavens around us shone with beams of sacred bliss". We awoke with the peep of dawn and our paddles were soon in motion. On our passage we took plenty of fish and a trim-built, velvet horned buck, landing safely by nine o'clock at Goderich".

Peter Jones was kept busy during the whole year in the Old Country, preaching, giving addresses, visiting notable persons and places. He had the honour of being presented to the King and Queen. In aid of Indian missions, he received a grant, collections, and donations amounting to £1,032 beside nearly £500 in books, clothing, tools, etc.

On the 27th; April 1832 he writes at sea, aboard the Napoleon:- "I left the shores of England under a pleasing recollection of the very kind reception I had met. During the whole year not a single unkindness, but much goodwill. May God bless the English nation!"

After a month on the Atlantic he landed at New York, met Mr. Case in Philadelphia, and in a few weeks received a welcome home from his own people at the Credit. With John Sunday and others he was soon off on a tour among the Indians of the north. At a missionary meeting in Buffalo, Peter Jones said to his people: "This appears to have been a great Indian country from the quantity of flint arrowheads, stone mauls and pottery found. What has become of these once numerous and powerful tribes who thronged the shores of these lakes and rivers? Alas, the fire-water and bloody war have wasted them away. Only small scattered groups remain to tell the sorrowful tale. Oh, that all the remnant may turn to God and live!"

Peter Jones, William Herkimer, and Thomas McGee were joined at Detroit by Thomas Hurlburt, and set off for Sault Ste. Marie. There they fell in with John Sunday after his protracted labours along the south shore of Lake Superior for two hundred and forty miles. After a very profitable fellowship with their people they visited other districts as they journeyed towards Penetanguishene, and finally to York, where they arrived on the 22nd of July.

Through the autumn the superintendent of missions, assisted by the president of the conference filled a long list of appointments. On the 25th October he dedicated "a very neat and comfortable chapel in the rising village of Peterborough." The Indians of Grape Island subscribed £40 to the Missionary fund. The Credit chapel, with its temporary gallery, was crowded to excess for the quarterly services; the power of the Most High was sensibly felt, and many were added to the society. About three hundred Munceys, Chippewa and Bear Creek Indians shared the labours of the Rev. John Dause at Munceytown. John Sunday was admitted and ordained into full connection with the Methodist Church at their conference held in Belleville in June 1836.

In 1836 the Indians of Grape Island were transferred to the Township of Alnwick; their village was named Alderville after one of the missionaries' secretaries, and became the home of the Rev. William Case for the rest of his life. Mr. Hurlburt resided on the north shore of the lake at Hiawatha.

At the Conference of 1837 in the Bay of Quinte district, the following list of missionary stations are given, the general superintendent being Joseph Stinson:-

Alderville Wm. Case, John Sunday
St. Clair and Walpole Island James Evans, Thomas Hurlburt
Lake Simcoe and Barrie Jonathan Scott, Thomas McMullen
Coldwater and French River Gilbert Miller
Munceytown Solomon Waldron
Saugeen John Simpson
Grand River Matthew Whiting
Credit Benjamin Slight
Isle of Tanti Jonathan Gladwin
Manitoulin Island One to be sent
Guelph One to be sent
Goderich To be supplied
Warwich and Adelaide To be supplied

Peter Jones (John Sunday?) was to visit, one supposes to inspect and advise, these various missions, and had the privilege of going to England the following autumn.

The Wesleyan Magazine thus refers to John Sunday's sojourn in England: "Among those returning to their labours in Sha-wun-dais, John Sunday the Indian Chief. During the year which he has spent in this country many of our readers have had the opportunity of hearing from his own lips the artless narrative of his conversion, and of some remarkable passages in his life. Several important objects have been gained by John Sunday's visit to England. His health, impaired by journeys, exposure and severe labour in the wilds of Canada, has been restored; the interest which many had begun to feel in the ill-requited tribes of North America has been deepened, and there is reason to hope that his intercourse with some high in authority may prevent further advantages being taken of his people. Mr. Sunday has embarked for Canada this day, August 23rd1837, and we commend him to the kind providence of God and the prayers of his people."

The Rev. Joseph Stinson wrote of his visit to Alderville on September 5th. The Indians from Grape Island were settling on their new tract of land there, having already cleared forty or fifty acres of land, and many of their gardens were full of vegetables. Passing through Cobourg he found about a hundred pupils attending the new academy with every indication of satisfaction and success.

At Alderville, Mr. Case began a school of domestic economy in which the Indian girls were to be taught spinning, knitting, and the making of butter and cheese. To replace Thomas Hurlburt transferred to the Credit/St. Clair mission, George Henry, an Indian preacher, was enlisted as interpreter and assistant for the Rev. John Dause. In Moore, Plymton, Warwick and Sarnia drinking and all kinds of wickedness made their work very difficult.


Mary Jane and her brother Daniel Muskratte

One of the probationers received into full connection this year was John Sunday, Sha-wun-dais, whose sound conversion and fitness for the work had been tested by several years of varied missionary labours. His education was very limited, but his mind was sharp, his methods original, independent and strikingly effective. His docility, humour and readiness for any service made him a welcome addition to the native staff.

The Rev. William Case wrote of his initial manual labour school; "The dear children collected from the wilds, their home-sickness conquered by the recreations of the hayfield, the swings, and school feats, made a cheering beginning." The preparations made by the Indian parents for the comfort of their children surprised and pleased the teachers. During the year the Rev. John Carroll visited the missions and was delighted by the home, the school, the hewn log house, well-furnished; the frame barn, cows, sheep, pigs, poultry; and especially with the wife and children, tidy and busy, in the happy home of John Pigeon, one of the latest converts of the Belleville band. After a long absence, he had returned to his people with his wife and children, hungry and in a worn and dirty canoe. Having heard of wonderful changes within the Band he was afraid to land but yielded to their earnest supplication. He was won to the better way, he became sober, reliable, industrious and a good class-leader.

After Conference, the Rev. Thomas Hurlburt left Toronto (York) on his return to his Mission north of Lake Superior, a perilous tour of nearly a thousand miles.

The author of "Methodism in Canada" visited the Peterborough and Belleville regions, and reports: - "We have found the hearts of our brethren and of the people fully in the work. The Quarterly Meeting at Cobourg was a season of melting gratitude and burning love. The Upper Canada Academy opened with an increasing number of students, every possible effort is being made for their improvement. Mr. Jesse Hurlburt B.A., the classical teacher, delivered one of the addresses at the Cobourg Centenary Meeting. The interest was kept up for four hours. Subscriptions, £192.

We are indebted to Sanderson and others who recorded and compiled the adventures of our early missionaries as they came to dwell among and enlighten our forefathers, princes and noblemen of the forests.

WebPage courtesy of Totem Consulting www.totemconsulting.ca