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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
History of the Moravians in North Carolina
Reichel, Charles Gotthold, 1751-1825
Volume 05, Pages 1144-1163

[Reprinted from Martin's History of North Carolina. Vol. 1. Appendix.]
Succinct history of the settlement of the Unitas Fratrum, or the United Brethren, in North Carolina.

The Unitas Fratrum, or the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United Brethren, commonly called Moravians, made the beginning of its settlement in North Carolina in the year 1753.

In the year 1735, some members of this church came from Europe, to settle in Georgia, on a piece of land, which was granted unto count Zinzendorf by the trustees of this province, for a settlement of the United Brethren. One of the principal motives for accepting this offer, was the hope, that thereby a way might be opened for the preaching of the gospel to the Indians, especially to the Creeks and Cherokees.

The first colony of brethren arrived in Georgia in the spring of the year 1735, and received in the summer of the same year a considerable increase. They built a large house in the town of Savannah, and made a settlement in the country. God so blessed their industry, that in three years they were able to pay off all the money advanced to them. They likewise erected a school house for the children of the Creek Indians, on the river Savannah, four miles above the town. Many Indians, and with them their king, Tomo Tschatchi, came to see the brethren, and to hear the gospel, or, as they expressed it, the great word.

There was a fine prospect, that this settlement of the brethren would prosper, and they would find entrance with the gospel among the Indians, and be blessed with success in the instruction of their children, as some of them had already learned to read English pretty well, and began to write; but, as a war broke out between the British and the Spaniards, in

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1737, and was renewed in 1739, the brethren, who were conscientiously scrupulous to take arms, were forced to do it contrary to the promise made unto them, of being exempted from personal military service, they saw themselves necessitated to abandon their well cultivated land and houses, and remove, after having defrayed all the expenses incurred on their account, in 1738 and 1740, to Pennsylvania; where they began the settlements at Bethlehem and Nazareth, and likewise missions among the Indians in different parts of Pennsylvania and New-York. God blessed their labor among these savages, in so eminent a manner, that by his grace many of them turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, and received forgiveness of sin and inheritance among those that are sanctified by faith in Jesus.

The various oppressions which the brethren and their missionaries among the heathen, had to endure, by ill disposed persons and other circumstances, gave occasion to the negotiations of the Unitas Fratrum with the British parliament. The result of them was, that after a strict examination into the origin and the present state of the brethren's church, the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, were declared by a public act of the parliament of Great Britain, to which the royal assent was given the 12th May, 1749, and which is entitled “an act for encouraging the people known by the name of Unitas Fratrum or United Brethren, to settle his majesty's colonies in America,” to be an ancient Protestant Episcopal church; that those who were settled in his majesty's colonies in America, had demeaned themselves there as a sober, quiet and industrious people, and that they shall be indulged with full liberty of conscience, and be exempted from personal military service for a reasonable compensation, and be permitted, instead of taking an oath, in cases where the laws require it, to make a solemn affirmation or declaration.

While these negotiations with the British parliament were pending, several lords and gentlemen became more intimately acquainted with the brethren, and made offers unto them of settlements on the continent of America and on the islands. Among all these offers, none came to effect but the purchase of a hundred thousand acres of land in North Carolina, in the territory of the earl of Granville, the president of the privy council. The view of this colony was, to give to such of the brethren's church and others, as should desire it, an opportunity of settling at a cheap rate, in a country as yet but little cultivated, to serve both in a temporal and spiritual sense the inhabitants, who were already settled there, and who should settle in their neighborhood, and to preach the gospel to them as well as to the Cherokees, Creeks and other Indians. The purchase of the land was made in the year 1751. August Gottlieb Spangenberg, one

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of the Bishops of the Unitas Fratrum, who then resided at Bethlehem, and had the superintendence of all the settlements and missions of the brethren in Pennsylvania, was commissioned to go with some brethren to North Carolina, in order to seek out, and survey the land. They departed in August, 1752, from Bethlehem for Edenton, and from thence with Mr. Churton, the general surveyor, to the headwaters of the rivers Catawba, New river and Yadkin, where they spent several months before they could obtain their aim; during which time they suffered much by sickness, cold and hunger, till the end of the month of December. After having surveyed several small pieces of land on Catawba and New rivers, and at the Mulberry fields, on the Yadkin, they were led by the good hand of the Lord to a large tract of land on the east side of the Yadkin, full of springs, rivulets and creeks, well timbered, and, for the greatest part, good for agriculture and raising cattle.

Bishop Spangenberg and the other brethren returned in January, 1753, to Bethlehem, having finished the survey of 73,037 acres, in fourteen numbers: to these, an additional survey was made by Mr. Churton, of 25,948 acres, in five numbers, in the same tract; making the total sum of 98,925 acres.

In conformity with an agreement made heretofore, between the right honorable John, earl of Granville, lord president of his majesty's most honorable privy council, sole proprietor of a certain district, territory or parcel of land, lying in the province of North Carolina in America, on one part, and the count Zinzendorf, lord advocate, chancellor and agent of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, on their behalf, on the other part; the aforesaid tract of land, in consideration of a certain sum of money to him, the said John, earl of Granville, to be paid, was granted and conveyed to James Hutton, gentleman, secretary of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, his heirs and assigns, in trust and for the use, benefit and behoof of the said Unitas Fratrum, to be set out and surveyed in convenient tracts and parcels, according to the option and direction of such person or persons, as should be employed for that purpose by the lord advocate, chancellor and agent aforesaid, to hold the same to the said James Hutton, his heirs and assigns, at and under a yearly rent to be annually paid to the said John, earl Granville, his heirs or assigns, &c.

The general deed for the whole tract was sealed and signed the 7th August, 1753. Besides it, nineteen special deeds were made for each number of the said tract. As count Zinzendorf had also the title of lord of the valley Wachau, in Austria, the aforesaid tract of 98,985 acres, was named Wachau, or Wachovia.

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In order to facilitate the improvement of the land, to furnish a part of the purchase money, and to defray the transport, journey and other expenses of the first colonists, a society was formed, under the name of The Wachovia Society, consisting of members of the brethren's church and other friends. The directors of it were bishop Spangenberg and Cornelius Van Laer, a gentleman residing in Holland. The members of it, who were about twenty, received in consideration for the money which they advanced, two thousand acres of the land. This society was again dissolved, in the year 1763, having proved very beneficial, and answered the intended purpose. In the Autumn of the year 1753, the first colonists, twelve single brethren,1 or unmarried men, came from Bethlehem to settle upon the land. They had a waggon, six horses, cattle and the necessary household furniture and utensils for husbandry with them. After a very tedious and fatiguing journey, by way of Winchester, Evan's Gap and Upper Sauratown, on which they spent six weeks, they arrived on the land the 17th of November, and took possession of it. A small deserted cabin, which they found near the Mill creek, served them for a shelter, or dwelling house, the first winter.2 They immediately began to clear some acres of land, and to sow it with wheat. In the year 1754, seven new colonists, likewise single brethren, came from Bethlehem. It was resolved, that on the same spot, where the first settlers had made already a small improvement, a town should be built, which was named Bethabara, (the house of passage) as it was meant only for a place of sojourning for a time, till the principal town, in the middle of the whole tract, could be built, at a convenient time. Bishop Bohler, who was here on a visit from Bethlehem, laid, on the 26th of November, the corner stone for the first house in this town, which was appointed for a church and dwelling house of the single brethren, with prayer and supplication to our Lord, that he might prosper the work. He likewise examined more accurately the greatest part of the Wachovia tract, divided it into proper parts for improvement, and gave names to several creeks, which are yet sometimes used, and are to be found in deeds and public records.

The Mill creek, on which Bethabara, or Old town, is built, was called Johanna, the Muddy creek, or Gargales, on which Bethany was afterwards

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built Dorothy, the Middlefork, on which now Salem, the principal town, stands, Wach, and the Southfork, which waters the Friedberg and Friedland settlements, Ens. In the year 1755, a mill was began to be built, on Mill creek, near Bethabara, which proved a great benefit to the settlement, and the circumjacent country, as more inhabitants soon settled in the neighborhood. In the month of May, bishop David Nitsehmann came on a visit from Bethlehem, and on the 11th of the same month, the first meeting house was consecrated, which solemn transaction was attended with a gracious feeling of the divine presence. Many travellers and neighbors have heard afterwards, in this house, the word of life, with joy and gratitude. The physician, or surgeon, soon acquired an extensive practice, which was a great benefit to this infant settlement. In the autumn of the same year, Wachovia was declared by an act of assembly a separate parish, and after the name of their governor, called Dobb's parish. The reverend Christopher Thomas Benzien, from Bethlehem, was commissioned to transact this business with the assembly. This regulation lasted to the year 1756. The reverend Jacob Rogers, who came in the year 1758, from England, was the first minister, or rector, of Dobb's parish. His ministry, as the preaching of the gospel by the brethren in general, was attended with great blessing to many hearers in the different places, on Muddy creek, Southfork, &c. where they used to preach, and particularly to a great number of people, who, on account of the war with the Shawanoes and Delaware Indians, in 1756, and the following years, sought, and found, refuge with the brethren. The latter enclosed their town, Bethabara, and the adjacent mill, near which some of the fugitives built houses, with palisadoes. As there was at the same time a great scarcity of corn in North Carolina and Virginia; for the crop of Indian corn, which is the chief support of the inhabitants, had failed, the brethren, who had reaped a great quantity of wheat and rye, were enabled to supply the wants, not only of the fugitives, but also of many other people.

In the year 1758, the Cherokees and Catawbas, who went to war against the Indians on the Ohio, often marched through Bethabara, in large companies, sometimes several hundreds at once, and the brethren were obliged to find them quarters and provisions for several days. The Cherokees were much pleased with the treatment which they met, and gave to their nation the following description of Bethabara: The Dutch fort, where there are good people and much bread.

As several of the fugitives, who had constantly attended the preaching of the gospel, and felt the power of it, asked leave of the brethren to stay with them and to settle on their land, it was resolved in the year

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1759, when bisbop Spangenberg and the reverend Mr. John Etwein, from Bethlehem, were present, to lay out another town, three miles to the north from Bethabara, on Muddy creek, in the northwest corner of Wachovia tract. This was done in the month of July, and two thousand five hundred acres of land assigned to the town lot, which the inhabitants of the town should hold for a certain yearly rent, after three years rent free for the first settlers. The town was called Bethany. It was laid out into thirty lots, fifteen of which in the upper part were assigned to the fugitives, and fifteen in the lower town were appointed for such families in Bethabara, (which settlement of late had received an increase of ten families from Bethlehem,) who might be inclined to begin husbandry and housekeeping for themselves; for, hitherto, everything at Bethabara had been done and laid out for the common good, as was the case in Bethlehem, in the first beginning of that settlement. Bethabara was visited in the autumn of 1759, with an epidemical disorder, of which eleven persons died, and among them the German minister of the place, the reverend Christian Seidel, and the surgeon, Mr. Kalberlahn.

In the year 1760, the devastations and cruelties of the Cherokees, who had now joined the northern Indians in their war against the white people, put the inhabitants of Bethabara and Bethany under the necessity of being day and night continually upon their guard. Hostile Indians came often very near their towns, with an intention to destroy them, and to kill the inhabitants or make them prisoners, but never ventured to make an attack. Often times, they were frightened by the ringing of the bell for the meeting at church, which meetings the brethren in both places kept regular on Sundays and every evening in the week. Many soldiers, marching against the Indians, attended divine services in both places. In Bethany, about four hundred were present at it, on Easter Sunday. Besides the meeting house, ten dwelling houses were, in April, 1760, already built and inhabited, in this new town.

When peace was established, in the year 1761, with the Cherokees, the settlements increased in the following years in numbers, by new colonists from Pennsylvania, and trade and commerce began to flourish. At the end of the year 1765, the number of inhabitants in Bethabara was 88, and in Bethany 78. The greatest part in the latter place were farmers, and in the former tradesmen, as taylors, shoemakers, carpenters, potters, tanners, milwrights, gunsmiths, &c. In the year 1766, the beginning was made to build Salem, the principal settlement of the Unitas Fratrum in North Carolina, five miles to the south east from Bethabara. Hitherto, all the brethren and sisters who settled in North Carolina, came from Pennsylvania. But in this year, the first company, consisting of

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ten persons, came from Germany, by way of London and Charleston. As bishop Spangenberg, who with unremitted zeal and diligence had superintended the affairs of these settlements, returned, in the year 1763, to Europe, Frederick William von Marshall, senior civilis of the Unitas Fratrum, was appointed in his place, in the year 1764. He laid out, in 1765, the town of Salem, went in 1766 to Europe, to transact there the necessary business concerning this new settlement, and returned in 1768, with several brethren and sisters. In the conferences, which he had during his stay in Europe with the elders of the brethren's unity, it was resolved, that Salem should be built in the same manner, and have the same regulations as Herrnhut, Niesky, Bethlehem, and other settlements of the United Brethren, wherein the unmarried men and boys, and the unmarried women and girls, live in separate houses by themselves. The house for the unmarried men, or single brethren, was built in the years 1768 and 1769.

In this and the following years, several families, chiefly farmers, from different parts of Pennsylvania, and the province of Maine, in New England, settled on the Wachovia tract, and in the neighborhood of it, with a desire that they and their children might be under the care of the brethren's church, and instructed by them in their way of life. Most of them were before in the connexion of the brethren, and had heard from them the gospel of our salvation through Christ's atoning blood and death, with a blessing for their souls. A part of the German families, who came from Pennsylvania, settled in the neighborhood of Bethany, where they attended regularly the meetings on Sunday; most of them having joined in the following time the brethren's church. Another part of said German families settled on the waters of the Southfork, in the southwest part of Wachovia. Several of these new, and some of the old, settlers in these parts, to whom the brethren had preached the gospel, since the year 1758, in the house of Adam Spach, were formed into a society of the brethren, and put themselves under their care in spiritual things. A meeting and school house was built on a piece of ground, consisting of seventy-seven acres, and consecrated for divine service on the 12th March, 1769. This settlement received the name of Friedberg. Another settlement in the south east part of Wachovia land, on the headwaters of Southfork and on the Middlefork was begun in 1770, by about fourteen German families, who in this and the year before arrived from Broad bay, now York county, in Maine, in the state of Massachusetts. The first company, consisting of six families, was shipwrecked on their voyage from Broad bay to Wilmington, in North Carolina, near the island of Roanoke, but no lives were lost, and most of their goods saved. They

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found for the first, winter quarters and provisions in Salem, and assisted in building several houses in the new town. When the second company, consisting of eight families, accompanied by their minister, the reverend Mr. Soelle, arrived, the farm lots of the new settlement were laid out, in November, 1770, and the settlement called Friedland. In the middle of it, a lot of thirty acres was reserved for a meeting and school house. In the year 1771, the inhabitants in all the Wachovia settlements, and especially those in Bethabara, were in great danger, on account of the regulators, who were very numerous in these parts, and several times threatened to destroy the settlements of the brethren, as they would not join them in their opposition to government. Governor Tryon, after having obtained a complete victory over them, and re-established order and peace, came with his army to Bethabara, to receive the oath of allegiance, and take the arms of all people in the neighborhood, who had opposed government. He and his army were highly gratified by the treatment they met from the brethren, and by their improvements and progress in agriculture and the mechanical arts. The brethren, on their part, acknowledged, with heartfelt gratitude, the mercy of God, in averting from them all evil in these perilous times, and in strengthening the arm of government for their protection.

In order to promote the internal and external welfare of the settlements of the brethren in North Carolina in general, and especially to assist in the regulations concerning the principal settlement at Salem, a deputation arrived this year from Europe, which was sent in conformity to a resolution, made in the general synod of the Unitas Fratrum, which was held in the year 1769, in Marienburg, in Germany. The deputies were two members of the elder's conference of the Unitas Fratrum, Christian Gregor and John Lorez, the first of whom was afterwards consecrated a bishop, and the latter a senior civilis of the brethren's church. Hans Christian von Schweiniz, Mr. von Marshall's son in law, one of the directors of the brethren's settlements in Pennsylvania, also assisted in this service. They arrived in September, 1771, from Pennsylvania, and having finished the work committed to their care, to the satisfaction of all the brethren and sisters, to whom this visit gave much joy and encouragement, they returned in November to Bethlehem. On the 13th of that month, the congregation and meeting house in Salem, to which the corner stone had been laid on the 17th April, 1770, was consecrated.

In the year 1772, several English families, who lived in Carrollsmanor, in Frederick county, Maryland, and had been many years in connexion with the brethren's church, came to North Carolina, and began a settlement

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in the southwestern part of Wachovia tract, on the waters of Muddy creek. This settlement, which in the following year was increased by several other families from Maryland, received afterwards the name of Hope. A number of English families, living on the Yadkin river and Muddy creek, had the gospel preached unto them, since the year 1758, by the Rev. John Ethvein, Rogers, Usley, and Soelle, and other ministers of the brethren's church, at stated times, in the houses of Christopher Elrod and Isaac Douthil, whereby they became connected with the brethren's church, and attended several years the meetings in Bethabara, Salem and Friedberg. Some of them became members of the latter congregation, the meeting house of which being the nearest to them. As these English families had a desire to have the gospel regularly preached unto them, in their own language, they, in conjunction with the English families arrived from Maryland, formed themselves into a society, with the intent to become in time a settled congregation of the church of the United Brethren, and to build a meeting house in the new settlement, wherein divine service might be held, and the holy sacraments administered unto them in their own language. Salem received this year an increase of above sixty persons from Bethabara and Pennsylvania; and Friedberg, its settlement and regulations as a congregation of the brethren's church, and the holy communion was held for the first time in the meeting house, which had been built in this settlement as early as the year 1769.

In the year 1773, Wachovia, formerly a part of Anson, and afterwards of Rowan county, became a part of Surry county. By an act of assembly, made in this year, it was confirmed to be a separate parish. A vestry was elected in April, consisting of twelve persons, and two church wardens were appointed. The Rev. John Michael Graff, minister of the congregation in Salem, to whom the Rev. Paul Tiersch, who came last year from Pennsylvania, was associated in this office, was on the 6th June consecrated in Bethlehem, a bishop of the Unitas Fratrum. He ordained, on the 17th October, in Salem, Ludolph Gottlieb Bachhoff and John Jacob Ernst, deacons of the brethren's church: this was the first act of ordination performed in Wachovia. The general direction of all the settlements and congregations of the brethren in North Carolina, was now committed to Frederick William von Marshall, senior civilis, and John Michael Graff, ep. for., to whom were associated Paul Tiersch, presbyter, and Richard Usley, deacon. They had to superintend all the general concerns, as well internal as external, and to deliberate on them in conference, under the name of the General Helpers' Conference for Wachovia.

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The special direction of the three congregations in Salem, Bethabara and Bethania, was vested in an elders' conference, consisting of the above named persons and all the ministers and elders of said congregations who met regularly once a week in Salem. Committees, elected by the church members, were anew appointed in every place to assist the elders' conference, in keeping good order, and in transacting the external affairs of their congregations. Similar committees were afterwards constituted in Friedberg, Friedland and Hope.

In the years 1774 and 1775, two faithful gospel ministers entered into the joy of their Lord, viz: the Rev. Paul Tiersch on the 16th October, 1774, and the Rev. Richard Usley on the 9th October, 1775. In the beginning of the latter, Frederick William von Marshall went to Europe, accompanied by his wife, and attended the general synod of the Unitas Fratrum in Barbey, in Saxony, as senior civilis and deputy of all the brethren's congregations in North Carolina. He took his way through South Carolina and Georgia, and visited the missionary settlement of the brethren, which in the preceding year had been commenced on general Habersham's estate, in Georgia, for the conversion of the negroes, and conducted unto the missionaries an assistant from Salem.

During the revolutionary war, which commenced in 1776, the settlements of the brethren in North Carolina, suffered great hardships and losses, but experienced at the same time many signal proofs of the gracious providence and powerful protection of the Lord, to whom alone they ascribed their preservation in these perilous times, and who inclined the hearts of superior and inferior magistrates, and officers of the armies on both sides, to interpose in their favor, oftentimes when they found themselves in the greatest distress and anxiety.

In 1778, several brethren were drafted for military service in the army, and each of them had to pay £25 North Carolina currency for a substitute: ill disposed persons took out warrants on the lands of the brethren. The system of parishes being abolished, the name of Dobbs' parish ceased of course. In the new county of Wilkes, the court house was built on a tract of land on Yadkin river, near the Mulberry fields, which had been granted in the year 1754 by lord Granville to Henry Cossart, in trust for the Unitas Fratrum, and on which certain persons had settled without leave. This occasioned in the following time a law suit, between the Unitas Fratrum on one side, as plaintiffs, and the persons who settled on the land as defendants.

In January, 1779, the Rev. Gottfried Præzel and Christian Heckwælder, were sent to the general assembly, then sitting at Halifax, with a petition, signed by the greatest part of the brethren in Salem, Bethabara,

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Bethania and Friedberg, praying to be exempted from taking the oath of abjuration, and for protection in the quiet possession of their land, as several persons had entered in the new established land office several parts of the Wachovia lands, and even the town lots of Salem, Bethabara and Bethania. Upon this petition, the general assembly made a law, that the brethren, if they should take the affirmation of allegiance and fidelity to the state of Carolina, and the United States, should remain in the quiet possession of their property, and be exempted from all personal military duties; provided they pay a triple tax. In conformity to this law, the brethren took the affirmation of allegiance and fidelity before a justice of the peace, and remained from that time undisturbed in the possession of their property, and of those privileges granted unto them by the before mentioned act of the British parliament and the assembly of this state.

A troop of light horse, belonging to general Pulaski's corps, were quartered in May of the same year, several days in Salem, and attended public worship, with great satisfaction. Their deportment was very civil, and they paid all their expenses. As one of them had lately recovered from the small pox, the town of Salem was infected, and forty persons got the disorder, of whom two died. Frederick William von Marshall returned, with his wife, from Europe, after an absence of nearly five years, being there so long detained on account of the war. They made the voyage from London to New York in company with bishop John Frederick Reichel, a member of the Unity's elders' conference, who was deputed by it to hold a visitation of all the brethren's settlements and congregations in the United States of America, and arrived, with his wife, in Salem, in June, 1780, with some assistants for the service of the congregations in North Carolina. During his stay, from the 15th June to the 5th October, he published the resolutions of the last general synod of the Unitas Fratrum, which was held in Barbey, in 1755, made the necessary regulations in conformity to them, ordained three deacons, baptised several adult persons, and strengthened the congregations and their divisions according to the different ages and sexes, by his public and private discourses to them in faith, love and hope. The Lord blessed his labor in a particular manner.

On the 20th August, he held the first holy communion, in Hope, in the meeting house in this settlement, which was built in 1779, and this congregation was now settled and regulated according to the tenets, rules and rights established in the brethren's church. The same was done by him in Friedland, on the 4th September, in which settlement the meeting house had been built already, in the year 1775. These transactions were

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blessed in both places with a gracious feeling of the presence of the Lord, and the members of the new formed congregations pledged themselves mutually, in a solemn manner, by grace to walk worthily their high calling in Christ Jesus, in truth and love. As the legislature of North Carolina had resolved to meet in November, in Salem, the governor, and several members of both houses, stayed there several weeks, but no quorum was formed. These gentlemen were much satisfied with the reception and treatment which they met. Salem became more known, and the brethren were regarded as a peaceable, industrious and benevolent society. In the year 1782, an act was passed by the general assembly of North Carolina, entitled, “An act to vest in Frederick William Marshall, esq., of Salem, in Surry county, the lands of the Unitas Fratrum, in this state, for the use of the said United Brethren, and for other purposes.”3

On the 29th of August of the same year, bishop John Michael Graff, entered into eternal rest and joy. The ministry of this meek and humble follower and faithful servant of Christ was blessed by his Lord in a particular manner to the congregation in Salem, and to all the brethren's congregation in North Carolina. The 4th of July in the year 1783, being set apart by the legislature of the state of North Carolina, as a day of prayer and thanksgiving, on account of the treaty of peace and amity between the United States and Great Britain, was celebrated in a very solemn manner in all the brethren's congregations in this state, with

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heartfelt gratitude towards the Lord, for his protecting care and help which they had enjoyed during the war, in hours of danger and affliction, and with fervent prayers for the welfare and prosperity of the United States in general, and the state of North Carolina in particular, to the glorification of His name, and the propagation of the Redeemer's kingdom.

On the 31st of January, 1784, the tavern in Salem took fire by accident, and the whole building was reduced to ashes. This, and a similar accident in Bethabara, where, in December, 1802, the distillery house was consumed by fire, were the two only cases of distress by fires in the settlements of the brethren in North Carolina. Salem received, in the year 1785, two fire engines from Europe, and a fire regulation was made in this town. Bishop Johannes von Wattewille, a member of the Unity's elders' conference, was deputed by the synod of the Unitas Fratrum, held in the year 1782, in Herrnhut, on a visitation of all the brethren's congregations in North America, and arrived, with his company, in May, 1784, in Bethlehem. They had a very tedious and dangerous voyage, and suffered shipwreck, on the rocks on the coast of the small island of Barbuda, near Antigua. The reverend Daniel Kœhler, appointed minister of the congregation in Salem, in place of the late bishop Graff, was in his company, and arrived, with his wife, and some assistants, in the month of October, in Salem.

In the same month of the next year, bishop Johannes von Wattewille came, with his lady, (daughter of the late count Zinzendorff,) to Salem, and returned to Bethlehem in May, 1806. His visitation of this and the other brethren's congregations in North Carolina, was attended with a particular blessing of the Lord. During his stay, the general helper's conference for the superintendence of all the brethren's congregations in North Carolina, was anew regulated, and the Baron Frederick W. von Marshall, John Daniel Kœhler, Godfrey Præzel and Christopher Lewis Benzien became members of it.

In the year 1787, a society was formed, under the name of “A society of the United Brethren, for propagating the gospel among the heathen.” The members of this society, who reside in Pennsylvania, New-York, New-Jersey, Rhode Island and Maryland, had their first general meeting on the 1st November, 1787, in Bethlehem, and those who reside in North Carolina, on the 19th June, 1788, in Salem.

In the synod of the Unitas Fratrum, which was held in the year 1789, in Herrnhut, and which the reverend John Ettwien and Jacob van Vleck attended as deputies from the brethren's congregations in Pennsylvania, and the adjacent states, and the reverend Christopher Lewis

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Benzien, as deputy from the brethren's congregation in North Carolina, the reverend John Daniel Kœhler, minister of the congregation in Salem, was elected a bishop of the brethren's church, and consecrated to this office on the 9th of May, 1790, in Litiz.

His excellency, general Washington, president of the United States, honored Salem, in the year 1791, on his tour through the southern states, with a visit, where he stayed two days, to the great joy and satisfaction of all the inhabitants, who paid him their regard in a respectful address, which he answered in an affectionate manner.

In the year 1792, Salem was afflicted by a malignant fever, of which fourteen persons died, all under thirty years of age, and whereby, for a time, all intercourse with the neighborhood was stopped. On the 9th of November, 1800, the consecration of a new church, in Salem, the corner stone of which was laid in 1798, was performed, in a very solemn manner. Most all of the brethren and sisters from the other settlements of the brethren in Wachovia, and a great number of neighbors and strangers, attended. All the transactions were accompanied with a gracious feeling of the divine presence.

On the 11th February, 1802, Frederick William von Marshall, senior civilis, was called into the eternal rest and joy, after a very laborious and useful life, of eighty-one years, of which he had spent more than fifty in the service of the Unitas Fratrum, and more than forty years in the service of the brethren's congregation in North Carolina, with great zeal and faithfulness, and under the blessing of the Lord, who crowned his undertakings with good success. By his last will, he devised to the reverend Christian Lewis Benzien the Wachovia and other tracts of land, which he possessed in trust for the Unitas Fratrum. As bishop Kœhler, who went, with his wife, at the end of the year 1800, to Europe, and attended the general synod of the Unitas Fratrum, which was held in the year 1801, in Herrnhut, as deputy of the brethren's congregations in North Carolina, received, in the synod, another appointment, the reverend Charles Gottheld Reichel, from Nazareth, in Pennsylvania, was called, in his place, to be minister of the congregation in Salem, and being elected, in said synod, a bishop of the brethren's church, he was consecrated to his office on the 6th December, 1801, in Bethlehem. At the end of May, 1802, he came with his family, and some assistants, to Salem.

In the year 1803, the general direction of the brethren's congregation in North Carolina was committed by the Unity's elders' conference to the brethren Charles Gottheld Reichel, Christian Lewis Benzien and Simon Peter.

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On the 17th November of said year, fifty years were completed since the arrival of the first twelve brethren from Bethlehem, who began the settlement of Wachovia. On this account, the day was celebrated as a jubilee by all the brethren's congregations in North Carolina, whose members met in Salem and united in solemn praises and thanksgiving to our gracious Lord and Saviour, for all the favors and blessings which he had bestowed, in such a rich measure, during this period of fifty years, and in fervent prayers and supplications for a new outpouring of the spirit of grace, love and truth upon each congregation.

From the 25th October, 1806, to the 11th February, 1807, the reverend John Renatus Verbeck, presb., and Charles von Forestier, senior civilis, two members of the Unity's elders' conference, were on a visitation in Salem, and the other brethren's congregations in North Carolina. The Lord blessed their labor abundantly, and strengthened thereby the bond of love and union between the brethren's congregations in America and Europe, and other parts of the world, in a particular manner. Having visited all the congregations of the brethren's church in the United States, and likewise the mission settlements at Goshen and Pattquatting, in the state of Ohio, and at Fairfield, in Upper Canada, they returned, in October, 1807, to Europe. On their voyage from Philadelphia to Hamburg, they were detained in England, from whence they went, by way of Gottenburg and Copenhagen, to Hamburg, where they arrived at the end of May, 1808, safe and well, in Berthelsdorf, a village near Herrnhut, in Upper Lusatia, where at present the elders' conference of the Unitas Fratrum doth reside.

The following table shows the number of persons under the care of the brethren's church in each of their settlements in North Carolina, children included, at the end of every decennium, from the 17th November 1753, to the 31st December, 1807.


The beginning of the first settlement was made on the 17th November, 1753, with twelve persons:

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Increase in the
ten years,
Increase in
fifty years,
four years,
Increase in
fifty-four years,

By the church registers, which are kept regular in each settlement, it appears, that in the period of fifty years, from the 17th November, 1753, to the 17th November, 1803, 1357 births and baptisms of children, and 665 deaths were entered; so that the number of births exceeds that of deaths by 692, which is more than one half: besides about 1300 births and baptisms of children, whose parents do not belong to the brethren's church are entered during the same period in the register.

Now follows a description of each settlement.

Salem, the principal settlement of the United Brethren in North Carolina, is situated in Stokes county, eighteen miles to the south from Germantown, the county town, and 110 miles to the south-east from Raleigh, in 36 deg. 10 min. north lat. and 3 deg. 15 min. lon. west from Washington. The town was laid out in 1765, after a regular plan, on a piece of elevated but broken ground, near the Middlefork or Wach, over which a bridge was built in 1771. The principal street in it is sixty feet wide, in a direction from south to north, leading from the south-eastern parts of the state to Virginia. This is intersected by a street 56 feet in width, from east to west, leading to the Shallowford of the river Yadkin, which is at a distance of 18 miles. The other streets are 40 feet wide. Nearly in the centre of the town is a square, 300 by 170 feet, surrounded with large catalba, sycamore, poplar and other trees. On the west side of this square, adjoining the main street, is a neat brick market house, which was built in 1803, and wherein also the fire engines of the town are kept in a separate apartment. The town lots are 96 in number, from 66 to 85 in front, and from 170 to 280 in depth. Some are larger. The public buildings are:

1. The church, an elegant brick building, 92 by 45 feet, on the northeast corner of the square. It was built in the years 1798 to 1801, and consecrated on the 9th November, 1801, for divine service, which is held not only on Sundays, but every evening of the other days, chiefly in the German language. On the gallery, to the west side in the church, is a beautiful organ of fourteen stops: it is supposed to be at present the largest organ in the whole state of North Carolina. In the steeple, on the west end of the church, is the town clock, which strikes hours and quarters.

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2. The congregation house, to the south of the church, wherein the ministers reside. In the upper story was the first meeting hall of the congregation at Salem, which is now used for children's and other private meetings. The house was built in 1771.

3. The single brethren's house, on the west side of the square, opposite the congregation house, wherein the large boys and unmarried men live and board. The northern part of this spacious house, which in front is two, and the back three stories high, was built in 1768, and the southern part, wherein apartments are for dining and sleeping, and for family worship, in 1786.

4. The single sisters' house, on the east side of the square, was built in 1785. The regulations are the same as in the single brethren's house. Some of the unmarried women and girls, who live and board in this house, get their livelihood by needlework, spinning, &c. The greater part of them are, in the day time, employed in the families with washing and other work.

5. The school house for the boys, on the north-west corner of the square, was built in 1794. The male children of the inhabitants of the town and of other members of the congregation, living in the neighborhood, receive from their sixth to their twelfth or fourteenth year, instruction in reading and writing German and English, cyphering, history, geography and some of them in the rudiments of the Latin language, drawing and music.

6. The school house for the girls, on the east side of the square, between the congregation and single sisters' houses, a neat and elegant brick building, 62 feet long and 42 feet deep, which was erected in the years 1803 and 1804. In the lower story are, besides a spacious entry, two large and some smaller apartments. In one of the first, the school for the female children in town is kept; the other is a dining room, for the young ladies who board in the house. In the upper story are three large apartments; in each of which, from fourteen to sixteen young ladies have room to live under the care of two tutoresses; a fourth apartment in this story, is to accommodate such as may become sick. Over and above these rooms, is a large hall, 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 14 feet high, wherein the young ladies sleep with their tutoresses. This seminary, which commenced in the year 1804, is under the direction of the minister and elders of the congregation in Salem, and under the special care and superintendence of an inspector, to whom all parents and guardians, who intend to put young ladies in this school for education, have to apply. The branches taught are, reading, grammar, arithmetic, history, geography, German if desired, plain needlework, &c. Music and fine

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needlework, such as tambour and embroidery, including drawing, are two extra branches, in which instruction is given, if expressly desired. From the beginning of the institution, in May, 1804, to the end of the year 1807, about one hundred and twenty young ladies from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, received their education in it, of whom, at the end of 1807, forty-one remained in the seminary.

7. The store, contains a good assortment of merchandise. The goods are partly imported from Europe, partly taken from the merchants in Fayette, Petersburg, and chiefly in Philadelphia. This house was built in 1774, on the south-west corner of the square, opposite to the single sisters' house.

8. The house of entertainment, or public tavern, at the south-west end of the principal street, was built in 1772. In the year 1784, it was destroyed by fire, the only accident of this kind in Salem, and rebuilt of brick, as most all the public buildings are.

Besides these public buildings, the following are to be noted, viz: the post-office; the house of the doctor, with an apothecary shop, an elegant building on an eminence; the pottery; toy shop; the tannery and leather dressery: a great quantity of deer skins cured and dressed here, are annually exported by way of Philadelphia to Hamburg. The other tradesmen and mechanics in the town are: shoemaker, taylor, baker, carpenter, cabinetmaker, glover, hatter, saddler, wheelwright, turner, tinner, gunsmith, blacksmith, silversmith, watch and clockmaker, tobacconist, &c. In the neighborhood of the town are several mills, built on the Middle or Brusky fork and other small branches, as paper, oil, saw, grist and merchant mills, and a cotton machine. The whole number of persons, belonging to the Salem congregation, children included, was at the end of the year 1807, 316, whereof 233, besides 41 young ladies in the boarding school, lived in the town, and 83 in the neighborhood on their farms; the greatest part of them are of German extraction. The number of dwelling houses in the town was about 40; the town lot belonging to Salem, contains 3440 acres. The town is provided with water from several springs, about a mile distant from it, the water of which is conducted through wooden pipes into the town, and distributed in such a manner, that the greatest part of the inhabitants are supplied with it: there are also wells of good water in the town.

Bethabara, the first settlement of the United Brethren in North Carolina, was begun in 1753. It is situated in Stokes county, five miles to the north-west from Salem, near the Mill creek. It has a handsome church, with a steeple, built of stone in 1788; a store, tannery and distillery,

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and several other houses, inhabited by tradesmen, viz: hatter, shoemaker, potter, turner, &c. The street on which the houses are built, in a direction from south-east to north-west, is 66 feet wide. On the Mill creek is a merchant and saw mill. The congregation at Bethabara consisted, at the end of the year 1807, of ninety-two persons, children included, all Germans; thirty-nine of whom lived in the town, and fiftythree on their farms, in the neighborhood, from a half to four miles distant. The town lot, belonging to Bethabara, contains 2118 acres.

Bethania, or Bethany, is situated in Stokes county, near Muddy creek, nine miles to the north-west from Salem, and three miles from Bethabara. The town which was laid out in 1759, of thirty lots, consists of a single street, 56 feet wide, in a direction from south south-west to north north-east. The houses are frame or log houses, most of them two stories high, and inhabited by farmers and tradesmen, viz: blacksmith, gunsmith, wheelwright, hatter, tanner, taylor, shoemaker, &c. As the church, or meeting house, in the middle of the town, which was built in 1771, began to be too small for the congregation, a new neat brick church, 62 feet long and 42 feet deep, with a steeple on it, was built in 1807 and 1808. There is also a good store, tavern and apothecary shop in the town, and near it a saw and grist mill. The congregation at Bethania consisted, at the end of the year 1807, of 306 persons, children included, all Germans; of whom 130 lived in the town and 176 on their farms in the neighborhood, from a half to ten miles distant. The town lot contains 2500 acres.

Friedberg settlement is situated partly in Rowan and partly in Stokes county. The meeting house, which was built in 1768, is in Rowan county, near the line of Stokes county, nine miles from Salem to the south-west, on a lot of seventy-seven acres, belonging to it. The number of persons under the care of the brethren's church, in this settlement, children included, were at the end of the year 1807, 346: they live on their farms, from one quarter to ten miles distant from the meeting house, where they attend divine service on Sundays, which is held in the German language.

Friedland, or Broadbay settlement, is situated in Stokes county. The meeting house, which was built in 1774, on a lot of thirty acres belonging to it, is five miles from Salem, to the east. At the end of 1807, the number of persons in this settlement, under the care of the brethren's church, was 183, children included. The most distant live five to six miles from the meeting house, where divine service is held every Sunday, in the German language.

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Hope, or Maryland settlement, is situated in Stokes and Rowan counties. The meeting house, wherein divine service is held every Sunday, in the English language, was built in 1779, and is eight miles from Salem, to the west, near Muddy creek, on a lot of thirty acres, belonging to it. The number of persons under the care of the brethren's church, were, at the end of 1807, 199, children included. The greatest part live on Muddy creek and its branches, and some on Yadkin river, into which Muddy creek empties itself about eight miles below the meeting house. Near the latter is a merchant mill, on said creek, and a toll bridge over it, and five miles from this, a bridge over Yadkin river.

About eight miles above the Hope meeting house, and ten miles from Salem, on the west side of Muddy creek, a meeting house was built in 1782, by a German Lutheran and Reformed congregation, wherein since the year 1797 divine service is held, by one of the ministers of the brethren's church, every fourth Sunday, in the German language.

The foregoing was received from the late major R. Williams, of Raleigh, and is believed to have been written by bishop Reichel.


1 Their names are: The reverend Bernhard Adam Grube, minister, Jacob Lash, warden, Hans Martin Kalberlahn, surgeon, Jacob Pfeif, shoemaker, Erich Ingelretsen and Henry Feldhousen, carpenters, Hans Petersen, taylor, Christoph Merkle, baker, Herrman Lash, miller, Jacob Lung, John Beroth and John Lisher, farmers.

2 On the spot where this cabin stood a monument was erected in the year 1806, with the inscription, Wachovia settlement, begun the 17th November, 1753.


It is as follows: “Whereas Frederick William Marshall, esq., of Salem, in Surry county, hath made it appear to this general assembly, that all the tracts of land in this state, belonging to the lord advocate, the chancellor and agent of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, have been transferred to him from the former possessors, in trust for the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren; and whereas doubts have arisen whether the said tracts do not come within the description of the confiscation act, and to quiet the minds of those to whom conveyances have been, or are to be, made, or any part, or parts, thereof:

“Be it, therefore, enacted, by the general assembly of the state of North Carollna, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that a certain deed of lease and release, dated the 27th and 28th of October, 1778, from James Hutton, conveying the tract of Wachovia, in Surry county, be hereby declared valid in law, and to be admitted to probate in the county of Surry, and registered in the register's office, agreeable to the testimonials thereunto pertaining; and that all lands which by a deed of bargain and sale of the 20th April, 1764, between William Churton and Charles Medcalf, registered in the county of Orange, in book No. 1, p. 106, and in Rowan county, in book 8, No. 5, p. 452, &c., were then conveyed to said Charles Medcalf, be hereby vested in the said Frederick W. Marshall, in trust as aforesaid, and all conveyances of the above mentioned lands, or any of them, made, or which shall be made, by the said Frederick W. Marshall, shall be as good and valid, to all intents and purposes, as if the confiscation act had never passed.

“And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid: that the power of attorney of Christian Frederick Cossart, dated the 3d November, 1772, empowering said Frederick W. Marshall to sell his lands, be admitted to probate and registry in the county of Wilkes, and be as good and valid in law, as it could or might have been, had the act of confiscation never passed.”

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: The notes in the text are part of Martin's History and were not added by the editors of the Colonial and State Records.