ZINZENDORF AND THE ASSASSINS
Count Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravians, is said to have been the first white man to set foot in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. While on a visit to America in 1742, he penetrated this region with his daughter and a few companions, to open mission work among the Shawanese. Conrad Weiser, the colonial Indian interpreter, like Count Zinzendorf himself, an observer of the seventh-day Sabbath, had piloted the party to the Indian village, near the present Plymouth, and then returned, leaving them in the wilds.
After a time, the Indians, suspicious and covetous, laid a plan to assassinate the party. Of how their plan was frustrated, Charles Miner, in his History of Wyoming, speaks as follows:
“Zinzendorf was alone in his tent, seated upon a bundle of dry weeds which composed his bed, and engaged in writing, when the assassins approached to execute their bloody commission. It was night; and the cool air of September had rendered a small fire necessary to his comfort and convenience. A curtain, formed of a blanket and hung upon pins, was the only guard to the entrance of his tent.
“The heat of his fire had aroused a large rattle-snake which lay in the weeds not far from it; and the reptile, to enjoy it more effectually, crawled slowly into the tent and passed over one of his legs, undiscovered. Without, all was still and quiet except the gentle murmur of the river at the rapids, about a mile below.
“At this moment the Indians softly approached the door of his tent; and, slightly removing the curtain, they contemplated the venerable man who was too deeply engaged in the subject of his thoughts to notice either their approach or the snake which lay extended before him.
“At a sight like this, even the heart of the savages shrunk from the idea of committing so horrid an act;
and, quitting the spot, they hastily returned to the town and informed their companions that the Great Spirit protected the white man; for they had found him with no door but a blanket and had seen a large rattlesnake crawl over his legs without attempting to injure him. This circumstance, together with the arrival soon afterward of Conrad Weiser, procured the friendship and confidence of the Indians.”
Conrad Weiser’s timely arrival was also a direct intervention of Providence, being due to the fact that, although he was far away, attending to other duties,
he was seized with the conviction that Zinzendorf was in danger; so he hastened back, and arrived just in time to assist the missionary in the crisis.