This church owes its origin and support for many years to missionary zeal excited towards the remnant of the Muhhckaneew, or Stockbridgc Indians. These lived in different places on the Housatonic river, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and more in various places within the limits of New York.
The immediate cause of interest in their favor was that Konkapot, the principal Indian on the Housatonic. in Massachusetts, was known to he favorably disposed towards the Christian religion. He lived in Stockbridge, and was regarded by his acquaintances as a man of worth, strictly temperate, honest in his dealings, prudent and industrious in his business ; and it was strongly hoped that, under proper instruction, he would become a decided Christian, and that many others connected with him would be brought into the kingdom of God.
Rev. Samuel Hopkins, a worthy minister of the gospel in West Springfield, was greatly affected by the state of this Indian, and was determined that he and others should be taught the truths oft Christianity. He consulted Col. John Stoddard on the subject, who knew more about the Indians in Massachusetts than any other man, having been often employed by Government in affairs respecting them.
He said these Indians were the largest tribe of Aborigines near the English settlements, and that they were not under the influence of French Catholics, as Indians in some other parts of the land were. He thought a missionary might be very profitably employed among them. He consulted also Rev. Stephen Williams, of Long Meadow, who, when young, was carried captive to Canada with his father, Rev. John Williams of Deerfield, and knew well how much the Indians needed instruction in the gospel, and how they were misled by Jesuits in Canada. He was ready to co-operate with Mr. Hopkins.
Through these men the matter was brought before the Honorable and Rev. Commissioners for Indian Affairs in Boston, of whom his Excellency, Jonathan Belcher, British Governor of Massachusetts, and Rev. Dr. Benjamin Colman, were the most active and influential. This was in the spring of 1734.
The Commissioners at once took an interest in the matter, appointed a committee to consult the Indians on the Housatonic living in Stockbridge and Sheffield, "whether they were willing a minister should be sent to them to instruct them in the Christian religion, to teach their children to read," &c. These Indians, after thinking on the subject four days, "all gave in their names, and signified their desire that a minister should be sent to them for the end proposed."
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