Delaware materials, John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder letters, 1816-1822, to Peter Stephen Du Ponceau
Contributor: Heckewelder, John Gottlieb Ernestus, 1743-1823
Subject: Anthropology | Ethnography | Linguistics | Social life and customs | Missions | Government relations | Religion | Place names | Personal names
Extent: 0.5 linear feet, circa 115 items
Description: Letters from Moravian missionary, historian, and linguist John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder, mostly to Peter Stephen du Ponceau with one to Caspar Wistar. Some of the replies from Du Ponceau are copied in the letter books of the Historical and Literary Committee. Heckewelder most frequently wrote of the publications he was working on or revising, particularly his Account of the Indian nations (1819), Narrative (1820), Heckewelder (1821), a Mohican (Mohegan) vocabulary, remarks on a Swedish-Delaware vocabulary, etc., some of which were to be published or republished by the American Philosophical Society. Many letters thus revolve around the research, writing, and publishing processes, including Heckewelder's responses to du Ponceau's edits and suggestions; his own edits, additions, lists of errors, etc.; his concern that errors by the typesetter could bring criticism on linguistic portions; new information and discoveries, such as the finding of a Maqua (Haudenosaunee) manuscript in the Moravian Archives; negative reviews and criticisms of his work, like an objectionable review in the North American Review (1819), a review in the Westchester Village Record disputing the role of Delaware as women, and William Darby's disagreement about Heckewelder's account of the killing of Native people by Williamson and his men; more positive responses to his work, like an honorary membership in the Massachusetts Peace Society for his Account (1819); translation of his work into German and other languages; and his insistence that the American Philosophical Society imprimatur appear on the title page, because as a Moravian he could not publish anything on his own relating to the Society of the United Brethren. Heckewelder repeatedly touched on Native languages and matters of linguistics: among other things, he referred to the Native vocabularies he himself had collected; a Swedish-Delaware catechism and dispute over "r" or "l" sound; difficulties in hearing Indian languages properly; difficulties in writing Native American languages; comparisons between his own findings and linguistic materials and scholarship published by others (of whom he was often critical); several examples of Delaware or Lenape words, roots, paradigms, gender, usage, etc.; and comparions of Delaware to other Native languages like Ojibwe, Shawnee, Natick, and Narragansett. Heckewelder's letters reveal him to be well-read and immersed in a network of similarly-minded scholars trading information and forwarding books and articles. Specific works by others mentioned include the Steiner article in Columbian Magazine (September 1789); a Pickering-Du Ponceau Dencke's version of St. John's Epistles in Delaware; Zeisberger's Bible translation and Life of Christ; Poulson's paper relating Welsh to Powhatan (which Heckewelder deems incorrect on the basis that Powhatan was Delaware); Pickering's essay on a uniform Orthography and spelling; Eliot's Bible translation; a paper by Zeisberger on Delaware being made men again (#865) and Zeisberger's replies (#341) to 23 queries of Barton (#1636); Loskiel's history (Heckewelder notes general verification in Loskiel for specific incidents and believes that the absence of certain incidents in Loskiel's history is the result of missionary discretion); works by Barton (he criticizes Barton for seeking speedy answers to questions of Indian origins, and for thinking Delaware and Iroquois related); and various publications of the Historical and Literary Committee. Heckewelder also wrote about "Indian affairs" such as the Jefferson-Cresap dispute (over Logan speech and affair); Benton's resolution concerning the Christian Indians and Moravian land; the speech of a Delaware at Detroit, 1781; and Heckewelder's role in the Washington City Society for Civilizing the Indians. Ethnographic topics include Native American names, place names, childbirth, swimming, friendship, treatment of captives, derivation of "papoose," names of trees and rivers, and various anecdotes. Other individuals mentioned include Rev. Schulz, Butrick, Colonel Arent Schyler De Peyster, Captain Pipe, Vater, Hesse, Gambold, John Vaughan, Charles Thomson, Thomas Jefferson, Deborah Norris Logan, Mitchill, Daniel Drake, Abraham Steiner, Noah Webster du Ponceau's brother, etc. Heckewelder's letter to Wistar regarding the Naked Bear traditions was printed (except last paragraph) in the Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society 1: 363.
Collection: John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder letters, 1816-1822, to Peter Stephen Du Ponceau Mss.497.3.H35o