The Reverends Brainerd, 
they felt a mission to help the "Indians." 

The following biographies came from the web site: 

History of the Early American Presbyterian Church
Only the biographies of the Brainerd Brothers are copied (with permission) to this page - all other links will take you to the site listed above. (This site is no longer available)


Rev. John Brainerd (d.1781)

He was a native of East Haddam, Connecticut, and was the brother of David Brainerd. He graduated at Yale in 1746, and, his brother's health failing, he was appointed by the correspondents of the Scottish Society to take his place as a missionary among the Indians. He came to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, April 10th, 1747, and, having been examined by New York Presbytery on the 13th, he went the next day to the Indians at Cranbury. He was ordained by that Presbytery early in 1748.

Mr. Brainerd traveled to the Forks of Delaware and to Wyoming several times, to induce the Indians to leave their unsettled life and dwell near him. Numbers came, from time to time, but he succeeded in doing little more than civilizing them. In 1751 he had some special success, and in October, 1752, he had forty families near him, and thirty-seven communicants. There were fifty children in the school. In the same year, with only one attendant, he spent a fortnight on the Susquehanna. Their horses were stolen, the guide was too lame to go on foot, and they remained three days where there was no house. That year, also, the General Court of Connecticut, on the petition of the Correspondents, granted a brief for a general collection to aid him in his school.

In 1755, Mr. Brainerd retired from the Society's service as a missionary, and in 1757 took charge of the congregation in Newark. Here he remained but a short while, for, in 1750, he resumed his mission among the poor Indians. "As to the success that has attended my labors," he wrote, "I can say but little. It is a time wherein the influences of the Diving Spirit are mournfully withheld. I think, however, I have ground to hope that some good has been done among both Indians and white people, and the prospects of further usefulness are very considerable, if proper means could be used."

Mr. Brainerd resided for some time at Mount Holly. He had a meeting house there which was burned by the British in the Revolutionary War. Seven other places were regularly and frequently visited by him. The Synod, in 1767, granted him twenty pounds, besides his salary, for "his extraordinary services in forming societies and laboring among the white people in that large and uncultivated country." The grant was renewed the next year, for his extensive services and labor in those parts. From 1760 to 1770 he received from the congregations between Egg Harbor and Manahawkin fifty-nine pounds, nineteen shillings. He continued to supply these numerous vacancies and the annual allowance of twenty pounds was promised by the Synod for that service. In 1773 it was increased to twenty-five pounds. The next year he gave an account of his labors and prospects of success, and the interest of the Indian Fund was reserved for him. In 1777 he removed to Deerfield, and preached there till his death, March 18th, 1781. His remains repose beneath the floor of the Deerfield Church. The Rev. Dr. Field, who was for many years minister of the congregation in which Mr. Brainerd's parents resided says, "The tradition in Haddam is that he was as pious a man as his brother David, but not equal to him in ability." [Note that this article was copied from a text printed in 1884 and does not reflect my own feelings about missionary work among Native Americans.]

Rev. David Brainerd (1718-1747)

He was born at Haddam, Connecticut, April 20th, 1718. At the age of twenty he entered on a course of learning in the house of Mr. Fiske, the minister of that place. He finished his preparation for college with his brother, the minister of Eastbury. In September, 1739, he entered Yale College. In the Spring of the same year in which he left college he commenced the study of theology, under the direction of the Rev. Jedediah Mills, of Ripton, Connecticut, and on the 20th of July, 1742, was licensed to preach by the Association of Ministers, holding its session at Dunbury. His heart burned to follow in the footsteps of the apostle Elliot, in bringing the gospel to the Indians, and accordingly in the Autumn after he was licensed, he went to New York, by invitation from the correspondents of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and appointment from them as a missionary among the Indians.

Having now undertaken the missionary work, and thinking he should have no need among the Indians for the estate left him by his father, Mr. Brainerd assumed the expense of educating "a dear friend," Nehemiah Greenman, of Stratford, for the ministry. He was soon put to learning and was supported by Mr. Brainerd till his death, Mr. Greenman having gone through his third year. He was, for many years, the pastor of Pittsgrove, in West Jersey.

The first scene of Mr. Brainerd's missionary labors was at an Indian village called Kaunaumeck, about half-way between Stockbridge and Albany. Here he lived in the woods nearly a year, lodging, during a part of the time, in a wigwam with the Indians, and subsisting altogether upon Indian fare. Having been ordained by the Presbytery of New York, at Newark, New Jersey, in June, 1744, he immediately stationed himself near the Forks of the Delaware, in Pennsylvania, where he labored, with comparatively little apparent effect, for about a year. At the end of this period he visited the Indians at a village called Crosweeksung in the neighborhood of Freehold--the residence of the celebrated William Tennent. Here was the scene of his greatest success. A wonderful divine influence accompanied his labors, and in less than a year he baptized seventy-seven persons, thirty-eight of whom were adults, whose subsequent life furnished satisfactory evidence of a true conversion.

In the Summer of 1746, Mr. Brainerd visited the Indians on the Susquehanna, and on his return, in September, found himself worn out by the hardships of his journey. His health was so much impaired that he was able to preach but little more. Being advised, in the Spring of 1747, to travel in New England, he went as far as Boston, and returned in July to Northampton, where, in the family of Jonathan Edwards, he passed the remainder of his days.

Mr. Brainerd entered into rest October 9th, 1747, aged twenty-nine years. [Note that this article was copied from a text printed in 1884 and does not reflect my own feelings about missionary work among Native Americans.]

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