Dansbury Mission spreads Moravian ideals to East Stroudsburg

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

The area now known as East Stroudsburg has a rich and early history. East Stroudsburg was settled by the Brodhead family in 1737, while Stroudsburg was not settled until Jacob Stroud purchased his first piece of land in 1769.

Daniel Brodhead was born April 23, 1693, in Marbletown, N.Y. In 1737, Brodhead purchased land in present-day East Stroudsburg, near where Pocono Medical Center now stands. Daniel, along with his wife, Esther, and six children built a home on 1,000 acres on Brodhead Creek then known as Analomink River). The property was known as Dansbury Manor. A few years later, Brodhead added to his land holdings by purchasing an additional 500 acres on the west side of the river and into present-day Stroudsburg.

At this time in Pennsylvania's history, the area where the Brodheads settled was wilderness. The only neighbor of the Brodhead family was Nicholas DePui and his family, who had settled along the Delaware River in 1727 near contemporary Shawnee-on-Delaware. Both families had pleasant relations with each other and with the native people, known as the Delaware Indians. There was no record of violence or strife between the two cultures.

Often, Moravian missionaries would travel through the area and lodge at the Brodhead home. These missionaries would travel back and forth from Bethlehem to northern destinations including Dutchess County, N.Y. Even Count Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian sect in Bethlehem, stayed with Daniel Brodhead in 1742 while returning to his headquarters from the Wyoming Valley.

Daniel Brodhead supported the missionaries and their way of thinking. He and his wife converted to the Moravian faith and donated 3½ acres for them to build a small chapel. In October 1744, Moravian missionary James Burnside built a small log cabin for that purpose and named it Dansbury Mission. According to the records, in 1747, there were nine missionaries, and 28 people took communion in the small chapel. These communicant members were: Daniel and Esther Brodhead, Christian and Hana Carmer, Samuel and Abigail Green, John and Catherina Hillman, Joseph and Helen Haines, Francis and Rebecca Jones, William and Mary Clark, Edward and Catherine Halley, John and Hannah McMichael, Daniel Roberts, George and Mary Salathe, Henry and Hannah Schoonhoven, Nicholas Schoonhoven, Rudolph and Dorthea Schoonhoven and Benjamin and Catherine Smith.

By 1753, Brodhead replaced the small log cabin and erected two new structures, a parsonage and a chapel. These new structures were located where Second and lower Main streets in Stroudsburg are today. Ephriam Culver became a Moravian and donated land for a burial ground to adjoin the mission property. When it was created, the cemetery had only nine graves: Eales Clarkin, Rachel Connelle, Frederick Countryman, Adam Miller, John Piers, Jocaim Schoonmocker, Peter Schoonmocker, Golding's child and an African-American. The Dansbury Cemetery remains on lower Main Street, Stroudsburg, and holds about 50 original interments of early Monroe County residents.

Two years later, on June 20, 1755, Daniel Brodhead became ill and traveled to Bethlehem for medical treatment. By July 22, Brodhead had died and was buried in the Moravian Cemetery in Bethlehem. Brodhead's five sons the oldest of whom was 26) were left to run the family estate.

The year 1755 was one of unrest and strife. After years of pleasant relations with the native peoples, the interactions between the natives and the colonists were greatly strained. For years prior to 1755, the natives harbored negative feelings about the unfair nature of the Walking Purchase of 1737, which had stripped them of their ancestral lands.

The Lenni Lenapes chose a new chief, Teedyuscung, in 1754 who ruled over 10 clans. Teedyuscung had become a Christianized Indian named Gideon and lived at the Moravian mission at Gnadenhuetten now present-day Lehighton, Carbon County) from 1749 through 1754. Throughout his life, Teedyuscung was forced to move twice due to white settlers having taken over his land. In 1755, with the start of the French and Indian War, Teddyuscung was convinced to travel north to the Wyoming Valley where Iroquois Indians and French military officials convinced the Delaware Chief, along with 70 of his men, to rise up against the white settlers living within the area of the Walking Purchase.

Teedyuscung and his Delaware tribesmen went on a warpath and attacked and killed many settlers and burned their homes. Dansbury Mission was attacked on Dec. 11, 1755, by 200 Indians. Eighty-nine inhabitants of the mission were massacred with only a few escaping and retreating to the Brodhead home, Dansbury Manor.

The manor was quickly fortified, and Brodhead's five sons, Charles, Daniel, Garret, John and Luke — as well as Brodhead's youngest daughter, Ann Garton Brodhead, who was only 12 years old — took up arms and fired through windows of the manor.

Daniel Brodhead's children successfully defended the family home, but Dansbury Mission was destroyed and never rebuilt.