Theresa Johnson is a steady and friendly conduit of the Native American perspective for FOWCAS. You can see a video of her with her daughter and grandson elsewhere on this website. She is an honorary board member of FOWCAS and a community leader in Moraviantown, Ontario, Canada. That’s where many descendants of the Delaware wound up after they were chased out of Westchester and surrounding areas. They call their home Eelunaapeewi Lahkeewiit. (See delawarenation.on.ca.)
Theresa has visited Dobbs Ferry several times, joined us in events here, and with her husband Larry, a former chief, spoke with a class at Dobbs Ferry middle school. Also, she was the model for the painting which you see here. Entitled “Now is not the time to go to war,” it depicts an eighteenth century clan mother as painted by Alan Fitzpatrick, an author and artist in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he specializes in presenting the Indian side of history. (See weelunk.com.)
Theresa recently shared with us her recent visit to the areas where her people were before they were able to escape to Canada:
“In July of 1781 a group of Indians attacked the Klingensmith family in western Pennsylvania. The mother, Christine, went outside with her baby for water when she was attacked. Her husband, Phillip, went out to help her, but he was killed too. Two of their sons were taken as prisoners, John Peter who was 8 and Kaspar who was 12. Kaspar was able to get away and go back to his home area. John Peter Klingensmith was taken back to what is now the Six Nations Reserve in Canada where he grew up and married a Native lady. He was known later in life as White Peter. Today he is buried along the north shore of Lake Erie where he had settled in the little town of Nanticoke, Ontario.
“Because of the above incident, the Pittsburg militia got together and went looking for Indians. There were Christianized Indians in Gnadenhutten, Ohio. They had no knowledge of the previous event. On March 8, 1782, around 96 Delaware were captured and slaughtered. They spent the night singing and praying all night and were slaughtered in the morning. Some were slaughtered as they tried to get away. Two boys survived. One was scalped and succumbed to his injuries. The other was able to tell what happened. There were other Delaware and other Indians in towns in the area.Twenty years after the massacre, the Moravian missionary Heckewelder went back and buried the bones in a mound at the ice of the Massacre.
“I worked on my family tree since 1986, and ten years ago I made a breakthrough. One of my Lenape ancestors was Chief Newalike, who was in the Ohio area but not at Gnadenhutten. His son married the daughter of ‘White Peter’ or John Peter Klingensmith. So actually I have double ties to this area. When I read the name of the people that were massacred, I broke down and cried because some of my ancestors are buried in that mound.
“In 2018 I was able to visit the house where White Peter was born and his parents killed. It is still in existence today. The house was built in 1772. A couple bought the house over thirty years ago to restore and gave one tour of it. I just happened to be on that tour. There I met two other people who descend from White Peter’s siblings, Kaspar and Andrew Klingensmith.
“I found so much out about my family tree after Larry and I went on the journey to find out where our people had lived. I am trying to encourage others from here to do the same.”