Schoenbrunn celebrates 250th anniversary of its founding

Schoenbrunn celebrates 250th anniversary of its founding

Image Credit: Teri Stein

free two-day event will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Historic Schoenbrunn Village near New Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 3 marks the exact date Moravian missionary Rev. David Zeisberger, other Moravian missionaries and Christian Delaware families arrived at the site in 1772. Zeisberger had been invited to establish a mission at the invitation of the Delaware leader Netawatawees.

The first event on May 3 will feature a number of representatives of the groups that have been involved at Schoenbrunn from the very beginning — the Delaware Tribe and the Moravian Church.

Wendy Zucal, director of the Dennison Depot Railroad Museum, which operates the village for the Ohio History Connection, feels it’s important to mark this occasion.

“It’s also an opportunity to bring people together — the Ohio History Connection, our Delaware partners and our Moravian partners — for the betterment of the village,” Zucal said.

Legacy gifts and improvements to the village in honor of the 250th include the rebuilt Shebosh cabin, a metal sculpture in honor of the Delaware Tribe, a new guidebook to the village, and a new pollinator garden and trees. The OHC also will showcase a new exhibit in the museum.

“Our goal is always to improve the sites under our watch, and through the legacy gift improvements at the site, we can lift the village up into the future,” Zucal said.

On May 3 the day will begin at 9 a.m. with a meet and greet. Members of area Moravian churches will serve Moravian sugar cakes to guests. For those who are unable to attend, a live-stream of the program will begin at that time on the Historic Schoenbrunn Village Facebook page.

Pastor John Wallace of First Moravian Church in Dover will serve as emcee. A welcome will be presented in three languages: Delaware, German and English. The New Philadelphia Welty Middle School choir, directed by Christa Roberts, will perform, and a Moravian musical medley will be presented by the trombone/flute choir, directed by G. Randall Gibbs.

Speakers include Chief Denise Stonefish representing the Delaware Tribe, David Hipp of the Tuscarawas County Historical Society, New Philadelphia Mayor Joel Day, Tuscarawas County commissioner Chris Abbuhl, Congressman Bill Johnson, Director of Ohio Tourism Matt MacLaren, Tom Chema of the Ohio History Connection, Todd Kleismet of the Ohio Commission 250th and Elizabeth Miller, president of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church.

At the end of the program, a new metal sculpture, a gift from the Moravian Church in honor of the Delaware people, will be unveiled. A blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at newly reconstructed Shebosh cabin.

A break will be held for lunch before the History Bits programs begin in the afternoon. Two food trucks will be onsite both days: Cheezylicious and Ross Mountain Barbecue.

On May 3 the History Bits programs will run simultaneously at five locations throughout the village, and there will be two sessions: 1:30-2 p.m. and 2:15-2:45 p.m.

Topics and speakers in the first session include Delaware Life, Moravian Missionaries and Native American Christians in Ohio, Records of Schoenbrunn Moravian Archives, and the First Phase Overview of Museum Additions.

Session-two topics include The Rediscovery of the Village, Lenape Story Telling, The Shebosh Story, The Story of Anna Jungmann and The First Phase Overview of Museum Additions.

A 250th anniversary Children’s Day will be held May 4. Topics will be modified for children with morning and afternoon sessions including Delaware Life; The Lenape Story; Meet Mr. Zeisberger; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; and Anna Jungmann. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and admission is free.

One of the programs for children will feature Theresa Johnson, a member of the Delaware Tribe, reading the book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” in the Delaware language, and she will teach some of the Delaware language to the children.

The event is the first time a field guide, “Understanding Schoenbrunn Village: Field Guide to the Moravian Delaware Village of Welhik Thuppeck,” will be available for purchase at the gift shop. Welhik Thuppeck is what the Delaware called the village and the name Zeisberger used in his diaries.

Seth Angel, a volunteer at the village for 10 years, originally wrote the new field guide so Schoenbrunn volunteers had a better grasp on the history and to let them know about some of the people who may have been overlooked.

“Each of the individuals that lived in the village had a story. Unfortunately, a lot of those stories have been lost to time, but the ones that we still know and still remember through the diaries, we need to tell so they aren’t forgotten,” Angel said.

In addition to the history, the center portion of the book is a walking tour around the village, stopping at each of the reconstructed homes, and it also has a section to talk about God’s acre, the village’s cemetery. A time line of the Moravian missions ends with Goshen, which was founded in 1798 and was Zeisberger’s last mission.

Angel of New Philadelphia will portray the town crier at the event.

“I’m looking forward to just the opportunity to meet with some of the folks that are coming in, both the Delaware contingent coming in and people coming from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” Angel said. “I’m also looking forward to talking about Anna Jungmann, who lived in the village.”

Life in the village revolved around a system known as choirs.

“In the choir system, the village was divided by age, gender and marital status. And those choirs or groups attended church worship, had fellowship time and studied, worked and so forth together in those choirs. And that was kind of the overarching structure of the village,” Angel said. “That’s something that’s kind of hard to understand today, but I’m hoping the book will help visitors and staff understand how the village operated at that time.”

Longtime volunteer George Laurence of New Philadelphia headed up a project to build a ghost cabin that will be part of the village for the first time during the 250th event. Made of a metal framework, the structure gives shape to the next cabin rebuilding project village officials would like to undertake. Visitors will be able to use their phones to donate to the project.

Another project to look for will be a map inside the museum that is going to be representative of the Ohio Country between 1760 and 1780.

“That’s going to show distances of how long it took to get somewhere,” Laurence said. “It’s going to be interesting. It’s a small map, but it’s good for the kids. It took two weeks to go from Schoenbrunn to Fort Pitt or to Detroit.”

The 250th anniversary will be celebrated year round with a speaker series from May 2022 to May 2023 in conjunction with Kent State Tuscarawas and the Moravian churches. There also will be commemorative items for sale in the gift shop including original artwork from local artists.

On Aug. 14 the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will partner with Schoenbrunn to sponsor a Paddle into the Past event to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Schoenbrunn with a paddle trip on the Tuscarawas River. The event will begin at the Snyder’s Landing Boat Ramp in Tuscarawas and end at the Charles B. Miller Boat Ramp in Gnadenhutten. Canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards are welcome. The paddle is for experienced paddlers only, age 12 and up.

Registration is required at All participants must sign a participation form. Kayaks are available for rent at $25 per person.

Sponsors for the events include the Ohio History Connection, Greg Kimble, Dover-Phila Federal Credit Union, Marilyn Stocker, Lin Sidel, Linda Earley, Amy Ansel (McDonald’s), Wendy’s, Craig Barnett, VFW Ohio Charities, Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, BM & LL Peacock, Lilly Family, Donald and Helen Borland, Freeport Press, the Commercial and Savings Bank, and WTUZ.

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