From Ohio History Central
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Newcomer was born around 1686. His Indian name was Netawatwees. He eventually became the leader of the turtle clan of the Delaware Indians in the Ohio Country. The Delaware Indians consisted of three separate clans: the turtle clan, the turkey clan, and the wolf clan. Many Delawares believed that the turtle clan was the most important. Of the three animals that represented the different clans, only the turtle could survive on both land and in water. The turtle represented the entire earth. As chief of the turtle clan, Newcomer was the most powerful and influential member of the Delaware Indians. He became chief of the turtle clan circa 1757. In 1759, Newcomer established Gekelmukpechunk. Known as Newcomerstown to white settlers, this village was located east of modern-day Coshocton, Ohio, and became an important Delaware village.

Both during and following the French and Indian War, Newcomer tried to form alliances with the English. The British favored such alliances during the war and afterwards to improve their involvement in the fur trade. But they failed to come to the Delawares' aid in 1762 when a smallpox epidemic struck the Ohio Country. Newcomer and his followers began to turn away from the English. Newcomer became a follower of Neolin, a Native American prophet who encouraged the Indians to forsake white customs and European goods. Neolin's ideas also influenced Pontiac, who led a rebellion against the English beginning in 1763. Newcomer supported Pontiac's actions.

During the early 1770s, Newcomer welcomed the arrival of missionaries, including David Zeisberger and John Heckewelder. The Moravian Church sent these men to convert the natives to Christianity. The missionaries established several missions in the Ohio Country, including Gnadenhutten, Lichtenau, and Schoenbrunn. Newcomer hoped that the missionaries would help the Delaware Indians overcome an epidemic that was passing through the native population. The disease eventually ran its course. The Moravians remained in the Ohio Country actively seeking converts. The missionaries asked that the natives leave behind all of their traditional customs and ways of life. Many Delawares did adopt Christianity, but others refused to do so. The Delawares became a divided people during the 1770s. This was even true for Newcomer's family. Newcomer's grandson, Killbuck, resented his grandfather for allowing the Moravians to remain in the Ohio Country. The Moravians believed in pacifism, and Killbuck believed that every convert to the Moravians deprived the Delawares of a warrior to stop further white settlement of their land. While Necomer welcomed the missionaries, he never converted to Christianity. The Delawares remained divided even after Newcomer's death in October 1776.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.