Moravian missionary David Zeisberger forever changed the history of Ohio when he founded the state’s first town, Schoenbrunn, on May 2, 1772. In the village located near New Philadelphia, Ohio, Zeisberger and fellow missionaries built the first church and the first school where they ministered to Native Americans of the Delaware tribe.
Evidence of Zeisberger’s work remains today with six Moravian churches within Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and the state’s longest running outdoor historical drama, Trumpet in the Land. Other villages founded by the Moravian missionary are still active communities and include Gnadenhutten and Goshen.
The legacy left by Moravian Missionary David Zeisberger continues with a group of individuals, Moravians and others, who seek to better their communities and honor the area’s history by creating a new bicycle and walking trail and park system. The group, Zeisberger Trails and Parks (ZTAP), formed in January 2011.
In honor of Zeisberger
ZTAP is dreaming big, but will start small.
“Our plan includes trails in the Village of Tuscarawas, Warwick Township, the Village of Gnadenhutten, a connecting trail between the two villages and a new 25-acre park in the Village of Tuscarawas,” said ZTAP president, Joe Krocker. “Thanks to local donors who have contributed over $13,000, we were able to hire the Floyd Browne Group, a design firm that has developed much of the Towpath Trail in Ohio, to create a comprehensive plan.”
A 25-acre park will be constructed near the Snyder’s Landing Boat Launch, along the Tuscarawas River near the village of Tuscarawas, and will include a pavilion and picnic tables, fishing areas, restrooms and more. Later, two baseball fields, a multi-use field for football or soccer, playground, and other trails will be added.
ZTAP has partnered with many agencies to complete their goal including local government officials, the Friends of Tuscarawas County Parks and the Tuscarawas County Historical Society to name a few. The Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition has been working with ZTAP to develop the plan and will be assisting with the building process. OECC has worked with many communities to build the approximate 100-mile Towpath Trail, which has been recognized by the U.S. Congress as a National Heritage Area.
“We need to raise $100,000 in local grants and donations,” said Krocker. “This will allow us to apply for state and federal grants. With a lot of hard work from our volunteers, careful planning and successful grant writing, we will be able to build 2.15 miles of trail and start working on the 25-acre park in this phase.”
“Our overall goal is to create a network of trails and parks between New Philadelphia and Newcomerstown, linking the communities of Goshen, Wainwright, Tuscarawas, Gnadenhutten, Lock Seventeen and Port Washington along the way,” added Krocker. “This network will enhance recreational opportunities, tourism, healthy lifestyles and property values as already demonstrated in many communities across the country.”
Another project the group may focus on in the future is the extension of the Tappan-Moravian scenic byway to connect with ZTAP trails to highlight the Moravian history of the area. The Tappan-Moravian scenic byway currently encompasses 55 miles along roadways that wind through beautiful landscapes and around the 2,350 acre Tappan Lake.
ZTAP has also participated in the annual spring cleanup at the Goshen Mission Cemetery where Zeisberger is buried. They rode bicycles in area parades to gain public awareness and will be organizing several fundraisers in 2013.
Like Zeisberger, who persevered through many disrupting events to his mission work due to the Revolutionary War, ZTAP hasn’t let the dwindling economy deter them from their goals. Their most immediate concern is securing funds to have a stretch of potential trail surveyed so that work can begin.
About the authors: Cindy Davis and Teri Stein are sisters with an interest in history. They grew up in Tuscarawas County, Ohio near the final resting place of David Zeisberger in Goshen and the other towns he founded in the area including Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutten. They are members of the Zeisberger Trails and Parks group.
From the April 2013 Moravian Magazine