The Reverend John Stuart was a family man with a deep faith in God, and in the year 1770 after being ordained to priesthood from deacon he was assigned as a missionary to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter, New York. Being a former school teacher, he helped to establish a schoolhouse at nearby Johnstown where he would also conduct monthly services. He also ministered to the Mohawks at Canajoharie where he would meet the man who would become one of his closest friends, confidants, and allies, Joseph Brant. In just five years time the American Revolutionary War would begin and tests of faith and loyalty would commence which set off a chain of events with outcomes rippling throughout history.
Reverend Stuart was a man who believed in the importance of family and the true meaning of the Bible. It was a time of revolution in the 13 colonies so he felt compelled to put as much good into the world as possible. A year passed and Stuart continued taking his family to prayers in both Johnstown and Canajoharie when Joseph Brant became a widower and fell into a depression.
Seeing the state of Joseph, Stuart approached him in an effort to console and help guide him through his grief period. Being a family man he couldn’t fathom the thought of losing a loved one. He himself had eight children with his wife Jane O’Kill. At this time during the 1700s all of the scriptures and hymns were written only in the European languages. To take Joseph’s mind off his loss he requested assistance in translating St Mark’s Gospel into the Mohawk language. The two would sit regularly and translate the works over family dinner and cups of wine.
Their work came to a halt in 1774 when the American Revolution turned into all out war, Reverend John Stuart was forced to choose between his faith and his homestead. American Patriots would loot his home, destroy property, and desecrate his church, making it unsafe for him and his family. Upon being nearly arrested Joseph Brant arrived and took him and his family to safety.
As the Patriot forces started closing in, the British called upon their allies to fight alongside them. It was at this time that a secretive fraternal organization began to make underhanded moves which included some members such as the late Sir William Johnson, the brother-in-law of Joseph Brant. At the homestead of Johnson, Joseph and Stuart were brought into the Freemason group with the promise of ultimate safety and power over any and all situations. It would put them in rooms with the likes of George Washington, who Brant would later describe as the Village Burner.
With this newfound membership, Reverend Stuart began to see some of the things he had only heard rumor about while attending seminary school in Pennsylvania. Many of the practices included standard religious rituals in which he was familiar and comfortable with. Many others were dark and made him uneasy, making him question the faith of those who introduced him to Freemasonry. Although these practices seemed to be mostly for protection against the Patriots, Stuart would soon realize the terror that followed these rituals.
The Reverend was well aware of different types of witches within the colonies. There were even some referred to as Granny witches for their caring nature and ability to heal and knowledge of herbs, medicines, and prayers. These practitioners had been in the area since the early 1600s when Indigenous people and settlers started to combine their medicines and rituals. There were also other witch doctors and evil witches with more sinister practices. Some of which included a small bow & arrow with which they would shoot at an image named after the person they wish to injure. Whatever they wished to throw into a person, such as wool, sewing needles, or coal would be tricked to the end of the arrow and shot at the image.
Even Joseph Brant himself, although a religious man, was hell bent on the existence of otherworldly evils and supernatural powers. His son would even later on become a victim of witchcraft. Brant claimed that rituals had been performed since ancient times; that the Mohawks and other tribes used these ceremonies to ward off evil spirits and energy. They had also been used to cause sickness and decay when used in a certain fashion, usually with the use of a blood sacrifice.
While war waged on, those loyal to the British Crown were taken north to Johnson Hall, the home of Sir William Johnson and Molly Brant. From there Molly would assist the Loyalists in migrating to present day Quebec and other northern territories until Sir William Johnson passed away in 1774. She then moved back to Canajoharie and began to fully assert herself as a matriarch without the strictness and fraternal watch of the 1st Baronet of New York.
After threat of arrest, Joseph Brant led John Stuart and his family to safety in what is now Lachine, Quebec outside of Kahnawake. Molly followed her brother north in 1776 just before the end of the Revolutionary War. They continued on to Fort Frontenac, a former Patriot base used as defense against the Haudenosaunee and British which was captured in 1758.
The Mohawks then moved onward to their original hunting and fishing grounds where some French and Mohawk people had already begun to settle. The territories of Six Nations and Tyendinaga would be established, and Stuart would continue his monthly services among the Indigenous people who lived there.
On a cold Cataraqui winter night in 1785 Reverend Stuart had just finished reading scripture to his family. He had a falling out with Joseph Brant about the division of land, as he believed the loyalists should be able to settle wherever they deemed reasonable within the corridor between Toronto and Kingston. To take his mind off his troubles he turned on his phonograph, playing some comforting loyalist music which reminded him of his home in New York. As he sank deep into his chair with his favorite Bible passage in hand, his gut sank giving him a nauseous feeling for a moment; someone began to bang at his door.
Startled, he moved swiftly to find Molly Brant at the doorway in visible distress. Her eyes held a clear terror behind them as she tried her best to keep herself together. Although it was a calm and clear night, there seemed to be a mist that followed her and wouldn’t sway with the slightest breeze. Stuart ignored what seemed to be two omens in a row and tried to rush her in out of the cold to explain her anguish.
With no time to stay and warm up, they immediately set out on their jouney. Stuart informed his wife Jane that there was an emergency with the Mohawks and left with urgency; he considered himself in debt to them for saving the lives of him and his family during the Revolutionary War.
On the carriage ride from Cataraqui to St. George’s Church in Tyendinaga, Molly explained strange occurrences that had been happening since its construction had begun, including unexplained fires. In recent days children had gone missing or come back with stories that one would believe outlandish and childish excuses for playing late had they not already believed in the presence of evil and sorcery.
Recently there had been murder and other sicknesses afflicting the Mohawks at Tyendinaga. Stuart added that there had been a shroud over his home in recent days which made him feel uneasy, compelling him to work later within the walls of the Kingston church at night.
As they proceeded, Stuart questioned Molly as to why the rector at Kenhteke, known to Loyalists as Tyendinaga, was unable to help. She explained to the Reverend it was because of the trust they held for him and for his loyalty to the Mohawks through the American Revolution, he had been asked for specifically.
The carriage shook rapidly and the night grew darker as they approached the Mohawk village. The once crystal clear night, save for the mist still following Molly, was becoming cast over with a blanket of ominous clouds and the moon dimmed as they arrived at the wooden St. George’s Church. There, Molly said there was a healer waiting for him in the house behind.
As Reverend Stuart and Molly Brant exited the carriage, a chill ran down his spine in the same way as when he overheard talk of dark rituals when he was a young Decon. He then began to reminisce unwittingly about the dark practices that Joseph had mentioned, then the sinking feeling he had while sitting in his home before departing on this Godforsaken journey in the darkness returned.
The thin winter air fell heavy and thick upon his shoulders, with a faint stench that he could not quite identify. As he approached the house behind the church, he could see the local healer sitting inside by the fireplace shaking from what appeared to be more than just the cold.
As a zealous missionary, Stuart could not understand why this medicine man would want to speak to him. Especially because in the past they had not seen eye to eye, and Stuart had referred to him as a heathen who would not accept the absolute truth.
At this point, he knew there was something terribly wrong for Molly Brant to bring them together at such haste, and in secret.
He felt eyes upon him as if even the slightest movement was being watched and assessed, as if he were being stalked like prey. Through the calmness of the night he could hear the snapping of branches and twigs following close by as he walked, which he amounted to the ice on branches weighing them down. Yet the chill down his spine remained as he proceeded.
Upon entering the house, there was a strong smell of sage, sweetgrass, and sacred tobacco. The thickness of the winter night faded as they passed the threshold and the atmosphere turned more unsettling, as if the medicines were trying to protect from something sinister lurking outside. When they gathered by the fire they all heard a low growl outside the window, then a set of footsteps with a talon-like sound began up one wall and over the roof before going down the next wall and stopping outside the window on the opposite side of the house. This prompted the healer to hurry in explaining why he wanted to meet with Stuart.
The medicine man had been trying to warn people about walking in both canoes, or playing both sides. They needed to stick to their traditional roots and reject the teachings of the bible so that balance could be maintained in the world. He explained that he did not hate Stuart, but the fact that he was trying to change the minds of the people and employed Joseph Brant to carry that business on. He saw the building of St. George’s Church on traditional hunting and fishing grounds as a religious attack, a betrayal after the Mohawks had saved countless lives.
Through this animosity, the medicine man explained that he tried using the scripture of the King James bible to try driving the church away, with the idea of using their own religion against them. Through advice from some jugglers in Tyendinaga, he was sent to a coven in Belleville where rituals took place and animals were sacrificed to call on spirits. With rumors of witchcraft happening in The Grove as well, which is where St. George’s Church was located, people began to get uneasy.
There had been a sighting of what someone thought was a wendigo, but it turned out to be just a shapeshifter; one of the natural people that connect with the Earth and nature through a physical change. He was spotted transitioning into his animal form and mistaken for the creature that may have been responsible for stealing the children. Weeks later the body of a bear was found but had strange taggings. It was as if the skin underneath was tattooed with the same markings as the shapeshifter would have had in his human form.
Molly explained that they believed that was the end of it, with the apparent Wendigo which was actually the shapeshifter gone things had started to gain normalcy for the following few days, before the bear body was found.
The medicine man then discovered that there was a group of jugglers in the area trying to do the same thing he was and had learned from the lead witch at the coven he had been directed to. When he joined there was no way he could leave with his life.
The coven had seven children prepared, one for each of the members to sacrifice. The rituals began in the barn across the trail from the house, behind the Church. The healer described a makeshift altar that could be taken down after each use. It had small bones, a golden hilted dagger, and a large book which he assumed was either a Bible or Book of Shadows. Beside were different sized bowls, larger ones empty and smaller ones containing herbs both soaked and dried.
The initial part of the ritual involved dressing the children in a white, sleeveless, unhooded gown that reached down to their feet. Their fabrics were new but appeared worn, as if these could have been the children who had gone missing. When the head juggler began the incantations others began binding the hands of the children behind their backs.
The soaking herbs were then taken around and the hair of each child was then washed and drained over the bowls of dry herbs. The hair of the children was then cut with the golden hilted dagger and all placed in one of the large wooden bowls. Their bound hands were then strung together and they were led to a secondary and final location to finish the ritual.
The head juggler, along with the other handful of witches and the medicine man, led the children behind the barn where there was a set of seven stones placed in a circle. The medicine man placed the large bowls in the middle, and others placed the herbs on the stones around.
The male juggler stepped into the center and began an incantation which immediately brought on a chill so cold that it began difficult to breathe. Each one of the children stood facing one of the hooded witches, except the first one in line. The child was instructed to kneel over the empty bowl and close his eyes. The head witch then raised the blade and called out the name of the demon he intended to summon. As the medicine man watched silently in horror and disbelief, the child's mouth was then gagged and his eyes blindfolded.
The dagger was held over a flame as the witch spoke and held the head of the child. When he was finished speaking he looked at the child and slit his throat. Blood began rushing from the child and the bowl under him filled. The witches in the circle continued the incantations as each child met their fate one by one.
Each bowl was filled to the top with the blood of innocent children and their hair mixed into it. As each bowl was filled and the child expired, they removed the bodies and buried them in the woods except for the last one. The medicine man said the witches insisted they needed to be burned. Before they burned the final body, they began to fashion seven dolls from the bloodied hair of the children to represent the seven gates of hell. They believed that if they had an innocent soul to control each one they would be able to ultimately control the single demon they summoned.
As the ashes of the last child being cremated floated into the air a sudden breeze blasted over them as if large wings had just lifted a bird to fly. This to them signified the arrival of the demon and the binding of souls to watch over the gates.
A growling sound combined with a screech surrounded them as the heart of the fire turned blood red and the white hot flame turned purple. This was the event that summoned the demon we will only refer to as “M”. Although the healer did not participate in the ritual killing, he did use the incantations and scriptures that had been translated into Mohawk. The guilt plagued him so much he was compelled to come forward to Molly about the ordeal.
The fears of Reverend John Stuart had come true, there really was hell on Earth and he needed to do anything possible to stop it. It would damage the reputation of the church if people were to find out that these heathens were able to summon the divine, regardless if it is good or evil. The only ones to stand between the spiritual and the physical could be the chosen ones of God who preached and spread the word of the Bible, not these witches.
Stuart was furious as he stood at the front of the house pacing with his bible in hand, trying to comprehend what he had just heard. What he had overheard all those years ago was true, and he had only narrowly escaped being drawn into these practices himself after what little he had seen. He could recall different size bowls of the same description locked away at Johnson Hall, along with the same types of herbs and medicines used in the ritual the medicine man informed him about.
He remembered bits and pieces of the conversations and stories Joseph would pass on about different rituals his former brother-in-law Sir William Johnson had participated in before his passing in 1774.
After his bewilderment and frustration subsided Stuart began giving directions immediately, calling for an altar to be built one meter in from the trail that led up to the construction site of the stone church.
As they planned further, the growling outside the house became louder and a stench barreled down the chimney pushing soot into the room. A face then appeared in the fireplace with a long pointed chin, behind it were tattered wings that were moving in a different way than the fire flickered. A deep sinister laugh erupted and Molly threw a mixture of medicine into the fire pushing the demonic face back outside through the chimney.
Stuart and the healer wrapped themselves in their respective protections, one with a cross and bible, the other with words and medicines. They approached the altar site and began construction. It was then when the stench Stuart had previously smelled began to become more clear. It was the smell of rotting flesh. This, he knew, was a sure sign of a demonic presence. As they worked on their altar it seemed as though the small stones became heavy after they lifted them, and they would have trouble balancing the stones that needed to be stacked.
It was as if there was something trying to deliberately stop them from building the altar, although they finished it in good time under the circumstances. Upon completion they could hear the branches breaking again as they did when the Reverend had arrived earlier that night. They quickly began their ritual.
As they proceeded, Stuart instructed the healer to use the same book that he did before because it would be more effective in getting rid of the demon. Needing to put differences aside for the sake of time, and the community, the healer obliged. The presence began to contain itself to the area and was bound between two trees beside a small hill in what is now the cemetery behind present day Christ Church.
They disassembled their altar and scattered it in the woods, later returning to the house near the chapel. The two became furious with each other and argued into the morning that they had only bound it to the grounds and not banished it back to hell. Each blaming the lack of strength in the medicine of the other, enraged that it could still affect generations to come.
Sunday prayer was the next day, and to seem inconspicuous Reverend Stuart disguised his presence as a personal Christmas visit for a special sermon though it was still over a week away. The people gathered at the small wooden St. George’s church, just 500 meters from where they arrived permanently on their traditional hunting and fishing grounds just one year prior. The Reverend took his position at the head of the church and began to speak about the bible being the Absolute truth, and all who followed would be saved from their heathen ways.
When the healer burst in with a final warning, that we needed to stay true to our own ways or great evils could befall the people. The Reverend raised his bible and pointed at the healer, calling him a heathen and banishing him from the church with accusations of witchcraft and ignoring the absolute truth, the word of God.
He then laid blame on the medicine man for all of the evil and bad luck the community was having, stopping short of accusing him of child sacrifice and revealing the covens. This was something that Stuart would never compel himself to do, because among the names of those in the coven were the same of those he was in a fraternal order with.
Betrayed, the healer took to the woods where he set up a small camp for himself with the intention of personally watching over the area where the demon was bound. The next day he was discovered frozen to death. To protect himself from any accusations of wrongdoing or for being the cause of the healer's death Stuart went back to the garrison in Cataraqui, but a rotting stench followed that only he could smell.
The Reverend continued his missionary work but only monthly visitations at Tyendinaga, nothing more. Each time he returned he would see the soul of the medicine man and the shapeshifter watching him, and trying to speak to him. Stuart refused to listen, and when he passed away in 1811 his soul was bound with both men. And the demon.
There are local stories about the bodies of children still buried in the woods, and documentation of alleged witchcraft in the area. The souls of these people could still be bound there, and it would be up to the Anglican Church to exercise their Demon.
Sha'tekayenton Andrew Brant