Tuesday, December 29, 2015

First Schoolhouse West of the Alleghenies was for Everyone

The Schoenbrunn Schoolhouse

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Schoenbrunn Schoolhouse

The first schoolhouse west of the Alleghenies was built by a band of Moravian missionaries that had come to Ohio to establish a community to minister to the Lenape (Delaware) Indians. The band was led by David Zeisberger who believed everyone had the right to an education. He translated the Bible in the Lenape language and opened the Christian school to teach white and native children alike. School was taught in German, the Moravian native language, and the Lenape languague.

In colonial times, most schools did not teach boys and girls together. Girls from prosperious families went to seperate schools that taught home-making skills. Public schools didn't allow girls to attend. Puritans believed in teaching girls how to read so they could learn Scripture, but that was as far as their formal education would get. Educated girls were considered to not be suitable wives. Schools where blacks and native Americans attended with white children were unheard of although there were some Quaker and missionary schools that taught black and native Americans.

The Schoenbrunn School bucked all of these colonial traditions. In Moravian schools, blacks, native Americans, and girls were taught together with white boys. The Moravians believed that all children should receive an education so they could study the Bible and minister to others. Schoenbrunn School was one of the first public schools in the United States to do this.

The school and village only lasted until 1777. At that time, British troops questioned Zeisberger's neutrality in the Revolutionary War. The Moravians were forced to move on to Sandusky County, but their legacy of equality in education of all races and both genders in the Christian faith lives on until today. The Moravians destroyed the school and church to keep British troops from using the buildings, but the village has been rebuilt as a historic site in it's original location in Tuscarawus County in Ohio.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio. Soldier’s Heart and A Christmas Promise are two of her historical novellas that have been published. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Her third novella, A Resurrection of Hope, will be released in March.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.

A Christmas Promise

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773
During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

You can purchase A Christmas Promise at Pelican Book Group.


  1. Those Moravians sure pushed the limits back in their day, but good for them!

  2. Tamara, thanks for this interesting post! I've done some research on the Moravians for the project I'm currently working on, and they were truly admirable men and women. I have David Zeisberger's dictionary of native languages and also his journal of the native tribes he ministered among. Fascinating stuff!

  3. So glad to hear about the Moravian schools who taught everyone together, no matter their race or gender. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com