Religion in Family History
The Light in the Forest is a short book written in 1953 by Pulitzer Award winning author Conrad Richter. The book tells the story of a 15 year old boy who grew up among the Lenni Lenape Indians. True Son or Johnny was captured when he was only four years old and had been adopted by an Indian family to replace a child who had died. The story begins with a recounting of the 1764 campaign by British Army officer Henry Bouquet to gather white captives from among the Indians and return them to their families. This experience was very traumatic for many of the young captives as they had grown up among the Indians and saw them as their own family. The return to their families was especially traumatic if they had been captured when really young.
Richter does a great job of telling the story of how Johnny has trouble fitting back into his own family. When I first read this story years ago when I was in High School, it did not have as much meaning to me as it did when I read it again today.
I first read the book before I knew of the Northkill Massacre. One of my ancestors, Jacob Hochstetler, was an early Amish immigrant and helped start the first Amish settlement in America at Northkill, Pennsylvania. In September of 1757, the Hochstetler family was ambushed by the Lenni Lenape Indians. The mother and two children were killed by the Indians and Jacob and two of his sons, Joseph and Christian, were carried off into captivity. After several years Jacob was able to escape and return home, but his two sons lived with the Indians for many years. One of the sons, Joseph, was brought back to his family by the Bouquet campaign, so this story now has special meaning to me. Both of the sons had trouble fitting back into the daily life of the Amish, and Joseph would often go hunting with the Indians who remained in the area. Christian eventually left the Amish and became a Dunkard Minister, and a large number of his descendants eventually joined the Restoration Movement. Joseph married into another Amish family and many of his descendants moved to Indiana and Kansas. My branches of the Hochstetler family come from the older children of Jacob who had already left home and married by the time of the massacre.
There is much more to this story, but I will leave you with the essential facts related above. Perhaps in the future I will share more.