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Schoenbrunn Village schoolhouse

Schoenbrunn-School

Schoenbrunn Village

1984 E. High Avenue

New Philadelphia, OH 44663

Schoenbrunn Village, located on the Tuscarawas River near present-day New Philadelphia and founded in 1772 as a Moravian mission among the Delaware Indians, is the site of several Ohio firsts – the first Christian settlement, church, schoolhouse, and code of laws. The village, now restored to appear as it did more than two centuries ago, includes the original cemetery and 16 reconstructed log structures, as well as the church and gardens. A visitor’s center with museum and introduction video helps orientate the visitors to experience the village as if they were in the past.

The Village was established by David Zeisberger, who in 1772 found a rare pocket of neutrality in a region that was tense as the American Revolution approached. The word Schoenbrunn means “beautiful spring” in German. Five Indian families and Zeisberger came to the Tuscarawas River area to find a suitable site for a mission, upon an invitation of the Delaware or Lenape Indian leader Netawatwes to establish a mission in the Ohio country. The village established the state’s first civil code, and built the first schoolhouse. Towards the end of its short five year history, the villagers were harassed from both sides; the Indians, who were under the influence of the British, and the American frontiersmen who were pushing their way farther into the Ohio country.  By 1777, shortly after the start of the Revolutionary War, the villagers, pressured by the opposing forces chose to abandon Schoenbrunn.  Upon leaving, they ruined the meeting house so it could not be used again.

In the early twentieth century, residents of the Tuscarawas Valley of Ohio began to discuss ways to honor the missionaries and converts who had once lived there. Because the mission village of Schoenbrunn had included the first church and school buildings west of the Allegheny Mountains, reconstructing these and other village buildings seemed an appropriate monument to their memory. At that time, Joseph E. Weinland was minister of the Dover First Moravian Church and also president of the Tuscarawas County Historical Association. He was instrumental in research, planning, and raising money for the project. Although Schoenbrunn mission once contained over 60 buildings, by the 1920s, its location had been lost; the passage of more than 140 years and extensive farming had erased all signs that it had ever existed. Finally, after archeological excavations, the sites of the church, school, and graveyard were located and the first reconstructed cabin was completed in June of 1927.

Schoenbrunn, on State Route 259 just outside New Philadelphia, OH, has since been rebuilt and is administered as an historic site by the Ohio History Connection. There are 17 reconstructed buildings on their original village site. The village contains the school, meeting house, 4 native round log cabins and 14 square log cabins.  The original school was built ca. 1772. The older photograph was taken ca. 1940-1949.

schoenbrunn First_Schoolhouse_in_Ohio

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