Megapolensis, Joannes

Megapolensis, Joannes a minister of the (Dutch) Reformed Church, was the second clergyman sent out by the Classis of Amsterdam to this country, under the patronage of the Dutch West India Company and the patroon Van Rensselaer (in 1642). He was also the first missionary to the Indians, preceding the celebrated "apostle to the Indians," John Eliot, some three years. His original family name was VAN MEKELENBURG, which, after the pedantic fashion of the age, was Hellenized into Megapolensis. Leaving his two congregations in Holland, he engaged with the patroon to serve for six years, his outfit and expenses of removal to be paid, and at a salary of eleven hundred guilders per year ($440). In addition to the usual duties of a missionary pastor at an outpost of civilization, like Rensselaerwvck, he soon interested himself in the Indians who came thither to trade, and learned what he called "their heavy language" so as to speak and preach fluently in it. The early records of the First Reformed Church in Albany contain many names of Indians converted, baptized, and received into the communion of the Church under his labors. Thus completely were the home and foreign missionary work and spirit combined in this apostolic man. In 1644 he wrote a tract (which was published in 1651 in Holland) on the Mohawk Indians in New Netherlands, (now translated in the New York Historical Society's Collections, vol. ii, series i, p. 158). While our subject was residing in Albany, the celebrated Jesuit missionary, father Isaac Jogues, was captured on the St. Lawrence- by the Mohawks, and subjected to horrible cruelties by the savages. The Dutch at Fort Orange tried to ransom him. At length, escaping from his captors, he remained in close concealment for six weeks. During this time Megapolensis was his constant friend, and rendered him every kindness that was in his power. The Jesuit father was at length ransomed by the Dutch, and sent to Manhattan, whence he returned to Europe. But in 1646 he came back again to Canada, and revisited the Mohawks, who put him to a cruel death. Another Jesuit, father Simon le Moyne, who discovered the salt springs at Onondaga in 1654, also became intimate with the dominie of Fort Orange, and wrote "three polemical essays" to convert his ' Dutch clerical friend to the Romish doctrine." But the stanch minister wrote a vigorous and elaborate reply, which, however, was lost in the wreck of the ship by which he sent it to Canada. At the close of his stipulated term of service Megapolensis proposed to return to Holland, but governor Stuyvesant persuaded him to remain in New Amsterdam (now New York) as pastor of the Dutch Church. Here, for twenty years, he labored as senior pastor, being assisted from 1664 to 1668 by his son Samuel. He died in 1670. in the sixty-seventh year of his age, retaining his pastoral relation to the last. "He was a man of thorough scholarship, energetic character, and devoted piety, and he is entitled to a high, if not pre-eminent position in the roll of early Protestant missionaries among the North American savages. For nearly a quarter of a century he exercised a marked influence in the affairs of New Netherlands. He saw the infancy of the Dutch province, watched its growth, aid witnessed its surrender to overpowering English force. His name must ever be associated with the early history of New York, towards the illustration of which his correspondence with the Classis of Amsterdam, now in the possession of the General Synod of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, and his sketch of the Mohawk Indians, form original and very valuable contributions." See J. Ronevn Brodhead, in the N. Y. Hist. Society's Coll. vol. iii;, Revelation E. P. Rogers, DD., Historicale Discourse; Sprague, Annals, vol. 9:(W. J. R. T.)

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