From Samuel Eckerling8
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Philadelphia, Novemr: 5th: 1764.
My Brethren Israel and Gabriel Eckerling were taken by the French and Indians from the Aligany Mountains in the Month of August 1757 and some Time after sent to Rochelle in France w[h] ere I am informed they died in the Hospital. I shall esteem it a particular Favour if you will enquire wether my Information be true or not.
Please to let me know by a few Lines directed to me to be left at Thomas Say’s in Philadelphia9 the Result of your Enquiry and all Charges that may accrue thereon shall be thankfully repaid by Your Affectionate Friend
To Benjamin Franklin
Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr / in / Philadelphia
Endorsed: S. Eckerling concg. his Brothers
8. Samuel Eckerling (d. 1781), a leading Pa. Seventh-Day Baptist (Dunker), and his three brothers had once been members of Johann Conrad Beissel’s Ephrata community, but left about 1745. Samuel, Israel, and Gabriel crossed the Alleghenies and settled on the Youghiogheny River, Samuel as a doctor and fur trader, the other two as hermits. The fourth brother, Emanuel, joined another group of sectaries elsewhere. In August 1757 a group of Ottawa Indians captured Israel and Gabriel; they were taken to Fort Duquesne and sent from there to Quebec and then to France, where they died of a distemper. BF had known Samuel since at least 1732, when he arranged for the publication of Beissel’s hymnbook, Vorspiel der Neuen-Welt. Julius P. Sachse, The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania 1742–1800 (Phila., 1900), esp. pp. 350–55; William A. Hunter, Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1753–1758 (Harrisburg, 1960), pp. 126–7; Felix Reichmann, “Ezechiel Sangmeister’s Diary,” PMHB, LXVIII (1944), 306–8.
9. Thomas Say (1709–1796), Philadelphia apothecary and physician, a signer of the petition for the Pa. Hospital and a subscriber (above, V, 320, 329), was a mystic given to visions, of which his son Benjamin (1755–1813) published an account. A grandson, Thomas (1787–1834), was a well-known naturalist. DAB under “Benjamin Say.”