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Nathaniel Wood

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Nathaniel Wood, Sr., was the leader of a sect called the New Israelites, which was formed in Middletown, Rutland County, Vermont at the end of the 1790s. Wood emigrated from Newent Parish in Norwich, Connecticut to Bennington, Vermont. From Bennington he moved to Rutland County in 1761. Wood may have been influenced by the Newent Separates of Norwich, who believed in perfectionist immortalism and spiritual wifery, and the preaching of Rev. Joel Benedict, who taught that Hebrew was the angelic tongue.[1] Wood was excommunicated from the local Congregationalist church in 1789. Subsequently, he began to preach to small meetings whose attendees were mostly family and relatives.

Wood claimed literal descent from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and to possess the powers of revelation. After coming into contact with a treasure seer by the name of Justus Winchell, the New Israelites commenced looking for buried treasure and embarked on the construction of a temple. The group employed the divining rod for both treasure hunting and other forms of revelation. It was suspected that these efforts masked a counterfeiting operation. Wood predicted the arrival of a "Destroying Angel" that would bring down plagues and earthquakes upon the "gentiles." For this reason one might arguably call the New Israelites a Millennarian group. The locals were so alarmed that on the night in question the militia was called out. When this apocalypse failed to occur, Wood and his family moved to Ellisburg, Lawrence County, New York. This event was subsequently known as the "Wood Scrape."


  1. Brooke, 57-8. See divine language on angelic tongues.

External links


Brooke, John (1996). The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521565642. 

Frisbie, Barnes (1867). The History of Middletown, Vermont in Three Discourses, Delivered before the Citizens of that Town. Tuttle & Co.. OCLC 2390832. 

Quinn, D. Michael (1998). Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Signature Books. ISBN 1560850892. 

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