The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847
The missionaries first visited us on the island called Be-quah-qua-yong, in 1827, under the following circumstances. My father and I went to Port Hope, to see our principal trader, John D. Smith, in order to obtain goods and whiskey, about twelve miles from Rice Lake. After my father had obtained the goods, he asked for whiskey. Mr. Smith said, “John, do you know that whiskey will get kill you, if you do not stop drinking? Why, all the Indians at Credit River, and at Grape Island, have abandoned drinking, and are now Methodists. I cannot give you any whiskey.”
“Tah yah! (an exclamation of surprise,) it cannot be, I must bave whiskey to carry home; my people expect it,” said my father. He wished to buy a barrel, but only obtained, after much pleading, about five gallons. My father promised to drink no more when the missionaries should have come to Rice Lake. We reached home the same day about one o’clock, and the Indians were awaiting our arrival, that they might have some fire-water. They assembled themselves together and began to drink and to smoke. Many of them were sitting on the grass when the whiskey began to steal away their brains. One of our number suddenly ran in the crowd, and said, “the black coats (missionaries) are coming, and are on the other side of the point.” Each looked at the other with perfect astonishment. My father said to our informer, “invite them to come over to us;”? and to the one who was dealing out whiskey, “cover the keg with your blanket, and don’t let the black coats see it.” The whiskey was concealed, and then came the messengers of glad tiding of great joy. They were converted Indians, saved by grace, and had been sent to preach to us, and to invite us to attend a camp meeting near Cobourg. After shaking hands all around, one of them delivered a speech to the half drunken Indians. He referred to the day when they were without the good news of salvation. He spoke with great earnestness, and the tears fell from his eyes. He said, “Jesus Christ, Ke-sha-mon-e-doo O-gwe-son, (i. e. the Benevolent Spirit’s son,) came down to the world, and died to save the people; all the Indians at the Credit River, and Grape Island, are now on their road to the place where the Saviour has gone. Jesus has left a book containing his commands and sayings to all the world; you will see it, and hear it read, when you go to Cobourg, for the black coats have it. They wish you to come and hear it. To-morrow is the Sabbath, and on that day we do not hunt, or work, for it is the day which the Great Spirit made for himself.” He described the way that the Son of God was crucified. I observed some of them crying; my mother heaved deep sighs; the half drunken Indians were struck dumb, and hung their heads. Not a word was uttered. The missionaries said, “We will sing, and then we will kneel down and pray to the Great Spirit He gave out the following hymn:—
“Jesus ish pe ming kah e zhod.”
“Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone.”
They stood up and sang. O what sweet melody was in their voices! The echo was so great that there appeared to be a great many more singers than we could see, After the hymn, they prayed with the same fervency as they sung.
Peter Wason prayed, and in his prayer said, “O Great Spirit! here are some of my own relatives; open their eyes and save them!” After the prayer, they said they were going to Cobourg that evening; and if any desired to go with them, they would have them do so.
My father arose and took the keg of whiskey, stepped into one of the small canoes, and paddled some thirty feet from the shore; here he poured out the whiskey into the lake, and threw the keg away. He then returned and addressed us in the following manner ” You have all heard what our brothers said to us; I am going with them this evening; if any of you will go, do so this evening; the children can attend the great meeting some other time.” Every one ran at once to the paddles and canoes, and in a few minutes we were on the water. The missionaries bad a skiff, in which they went from the Island to the opposite side. They sang again, and their very oars seemed to keep time on the still water. O how charming! The scenery of the water; the canoes moving in files, crossing the lake to visit their first camp meeting. When we arrived on the other side, it was about dusk, and we bought five candles for a dollar(!), and obtained an old lantern. We marched on a new road the whole of Saturday night, in order to reach the camp ground. During the journey, we had to wade through deep creeks. Just before the dawn, we were about half a mile from the camp ground; here we tarried until day light, and then approached the camp.
When the Indians beheld the fence and the gate, and a great number of whites, they began to feel rather timid and suspicious, for the trader had told my father at Rice Lake, that it was for the purpose of killing all the Indians that the black coats had invited them to the meeting. My father told me to keep away from the ground, and hunt birds and squirrels with my bow and arrow; his object was to save my life, in the event of the Indians being killed. After remaining on the camp ground awhile, I departed; but while there, I saw a large number of converted Indians who belonged to Credit River, and Grape Island. Some of them were singing, some praying, and others lying about the ground as if dead. There were a great many preachers present.
On the third day many of our company were converted; among this number was my dear father!
As I entered the ground in the afternoon, I heard many voices, and among them my father’s voice. I thought my father was dying; I ran to him, and found him lying partly on one of the seats. My father, said I, what is the matter with you? Are you sick? “Come here, my son, I am not sick, but I am happy in my heart;” he placed his hand upon his breast while he spoke. “I told you you must keep away from the ground, that your life might be spared; but I find that these are good, and not bad, people; kneel down and I will pray for you.” I knelt, while he prayed. O, this was my father’s, first prayer! Methinks, that at this time the angels rejoiced in heaven. I became agitated; my bow and arrows had fallen from my hand. The Indians lay about me like dead men. All this was the effect of the power of gospel grace, that had spread amongst them. The shouts, praises, and prayers, of fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, were heard from every quarter. Those who had just appeared as lead, arose, and shouted the praises of God! They clapped their hands, and exclaimed, “Jesus nin ge shah wa ne mig,” Jesus has blessed me. The feeling was so general and powerful, that the influence was felt throughout the camp, both by the Indians and the whites. This was one of the happiest seasons I ever witnessed, except the season of my own conversion. Many of my relatives were converted on this occasion. Many of them have since gone to the world of spirits, and are now singing the praises of redeeming love. This heavenly fire began to spread from the camp, to Mud, Schoogaug and Balsam Lakes, the homes of the Ojebwas; also to the shores of Lake Simeco, and Lake Huron, and to the vicinity of Lake Superior.
“Waft, waft, ye winds his story,
And you ye waters roll,
Till like a sea of glory
It spreads from pole to pole.”
On the camp ground, the Ojebwas sat in squads, giving and receiving instruction in singing, learning and teaching the Lord’s prayer, and other things. Some were singing,
“Jesus, kuh ba ke zhig
Ning ee e nuh uh moz,
Uh pa gish kuh ke nuh wahb’ dum ‘wod
Ning ee ‘nuh da moosh
A zhe o ne zhe shing,
O ge che o duh nuh me ah win.”
“Jesus all the day long
Was my joy and my song;
O that all, his salvation might see!
He hath lov’d me, I cried;
He hath suffer’d and died
To redeem such a rebel as me.”