Tag Archive | Moravians

Women’s Education in North Carolina Began at Salem

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On May 16, 1804, Salem Academy opened the doors of its new dormitory, South Hall, to students and officially transitioned from a day school to a boarding school.

The Moravians had established the all-girls’ school in 1772 soon after the first women trekked 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to join the community at Salem. One of their number, Elisabeth Oesterlein, became the first teacher at the school. The unmarried women of Salem, known as “single sisters,” governed the academy during this early period.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The Moravians believed women and other disenfranchised groups of the time deserved an education. As early as 1785, records indicate the inclusion of African-American students, and in the 1820s, the daughter of a Cherokee chief attended the school.

By the late 19th century, Salem Academy began awarding college degrees. Eventually the academy and college split into two separate institutions, although they still share the same campus.

Salem Academy and College both remain all-female, though some continuing education programs for men over age 23 are offered. The American Council on Education recognizes Salem College as the oldest such institution strictly for women in the United States.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Moravian Tradition, the Sunrise Service

The Easter Sunrise Service at Bethabara Moravian Church in 1938. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

The Easter Sunrise Service at Bethabara Moravian Church in 1938. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On March 26, 1758, the first Sunrise Easter Service at Bethabara was held on Manakes Hill, north of what is now Winston-Salem. Though the sunrise service can now be found across many different Christian denominations, it got its start in Germany as a distinctly Moravian tradition.

An account of the time described the service:

The congregation was awakened early with music, and as they sang the sun broke through of black of clouds, throwing its clear beams upon the scene.

The typical Moravian sunrise service begins with a brass choir waking the congregation prior to the first part of the liturgical service, which was held in the church. The entire congregation then moves to a nearby Moravian cemetery where the second part of the liturgy is read while the sun rises over the graves as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.

A postcard showing the scene at a Moravian graveyard on Easter morning. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

A postcard showing the scene at a Moravian graveyard on Easter morning. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.

The Moravians had come to the area that is now Forsyth County in 1753 from Pennsylvania in search of a large tract of available land suitable for farming. They had settled in Pennsylvania after a failed settlement attempt in Georgia and after being largely forced to leave their ancestral homelands in central Europe.

Though they had planned a community centered around farms, their first settlement at Bethabara grew to a town that included a church, gristmill, saw mill, tannery, pottery, distillery and other crafts shops by the end of 1756.

From Bethabara the group quickly fanned out across today’s Forsyth County, establishing the settlements of Bethania, Salem, Friedberg and Friedland.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Wachovia Tract and Moravian Settlement in the Piedmont

A 1766 map of Wachovia. Image from The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina.

A 1766 map of Wachovia. Image from The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina.

On December 27, 1752, the survey for a Moravian settlement began in what is now Clemmons.

Bishop August Spangenberg led the frontier expedition that selected the land that became known as the Wachovia Tract. The original survey contained only about 73,000 acres, so five additional parcels were surveyed, bringing the total to just under 100,000 acres.

Spangenberg judged the tract to be about 50 percent good land, 25 percent medium and 25 percent poor. He was enthusiastic, however, about the numerous springs and creeks and the promise of potential sites for mills. He was satisfied that they had identified “the best land yet vacant” in the colony.

A page from Spratenburg's field notes.

A page from Sprangenberg’s field notes. Image from The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina.

A settlement in North Carolina offered Moravians the prospect of serving their neighbors, establishing “a town where the Moravian ideals of Christian living might be practically realized” and teaching Indians about the Gospel.

Spangenberg selected the name Wachau for the settlement in honor of Moravian leader Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinsendorf, whose ancestral estate in Austria bore that name. In North Carolina, the Latin form of the name, Wachovia, prevailed.

Today the original Wachovia tract encompasses much of the city of Winston-Salem.

Visit: Old Salem Museums and Gardens preserves and interprets the colonial town of Salem. The Moravian Archives, also in Winston-Salem, preserve the records of the church’s Southern Province.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Adelaide Fries and the Moravian Archives

On September 26, 1911, Forsyth County native Adelaide Fries was appointed Archivist of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church.

Born in 1871 and from a long line of churchmen, Fries graduated from Salem College with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Guided to research primary sources from a very young age by her father, Fries learned to read Old German script so that she could translate the diaries in which she was interested. The culmination of that education came in 1899, when Fries accompanied her father to Germany where she examined many of the earliest records of the church.

Fries’s work as archivist of the Salem church began very unofficially when someone suggested that she find a room somewhere to house all the manuscripts that she was collecting. After that, with no official sanction, she began an intense collecting campaign that resulted in the preservation of many valuable papers.

Fries held the official position of archivist for the rest of her life, while pursuing companion interests in genealogy and church history. A popular speaker and author, Fries received honorary doctorates from Wake Forest and UNC.

She died in 1949 and was laid to rest in the Moravian burying ground known as God’s Acre.

Other related resources:

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North Carolina’s “Year Without a Summer,” 1816

Mountain waterfalls in ice and snow, circa 1910. Image from the State Archives.

On August 22, 1816, a heavy frost was recorded in the state.

The unusually early frost was attributed to the Mount Tambora volcano eruption in Indonesia in April of the previous year. The eruption was the most powerful of the 19th century and is thought to have caused a number of strange weather phenomena around the world. Mount Tambora is still an active volcano to this day.

The year 1816 is often referred to as the year without a summer because of the unusually cold weather during the spring and summer months. The bizarre and destructive weather was the result of massive amounts of volcanic dust being thrown into the upper atmosphere by the eruption.

Much of what we know about the climate of the period comes from The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Those records indicate a fickle weather pattern of unusual heat in June, an abnormally stormy July, an early August dominated by drought and heat and the descent of the frost on the 22nd. The frost was followed by more drought, extended periods of rain and cold and raw weather from late September to the end of the year.

Many crops failed and others had dangerously low yields that threatened the livelihoods, and indeed, the lives of many North Carolinians.

For more, check out a guide on resources related to weather from the State Library.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Winston and Salem Merged, 1913

WSJHeadline

A headline in the May 11, 1913 edition of the Winston-Salem Journal announcing the consolidation of the towns. Image from the State Library

On May 13, 1913, the town of Salem and the city of Winston merged to form the new city of Winston-Salem through the election of a new unified city board.

The two municipalities that would eventually become Winston-Salem came from two strikingly different backgrounds. The town of Salem traced its lineage back to 1753, when it was established by Moravian Bishop August Spangenberg. Winston, named for Joseph Winston, was created in 1849 as the county seat for newly formed Forsyth County.

In 1879, the two towns attempted to unite through legislation passed by the General Assembly, but the use of the name of “Salem” as the city’s new name forced the citizens of Winston to withdraw  their support. In years following this first attempt at unification, the local post office was renamed “Winston-Salem” to reflect the closeness of the two communities.

In 1913, a second effort was made to unite the two communities through legislation and another referendum was taken to the voters of both municipalities. This second attempt proved successful, and Winston-Salem was formed in May of that year.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Survey for a Moravian Settlement Began

Moravian stars in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

Moravian stars in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

On December 27, 1752, the survey for a Moravian settlement began in what is now Clemmons. Bishop August Spangenberg led the frontier expedition that selected the land that became known as the Wachovia tract.

The original survey contained only about 73,000 acres, so five additional parcels were surveyed, bringing the total to 98,985 acres. Spangenberg judged the tract to be about 50 percent good land, 25 percent medium and 25 percent poor. He was enthusiastic, however, about the numerous springs and creeks and the promise of potential sites for mills. He was satisfied that they had identified “the best land yet vacant”  in the colony.

A settlement in North Carolina offered Moravians the prospect of serving their neighbors, establishing “a town where the Moravian ideals of Christian living might be practically realized,” and teaching Indians about the Gospel.

Spangenberg selected the name Wachau for the settlement in honor of Moravian leader Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinsendorf, whose ancestral estate in Austria bore the name. In North Carolina the Latin form of the name, Wachovia, prevailed. Today the original Wachovia tract encompasses much of the city of Winston-Salem.  Old Salem Museums and Gardens preserves and interprets the colonial town of Salem.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.