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Records of the Moravians in North Carolina
THE SPANGENBERG DIARY
Edenton, Sept. 10, 1752, new style. [Official copy.] Yesterday we arrived in Carolina. On the entire journey from Bethlehem the Lord has kept us in good health, and has guided us with His eye.
Letters from My Lord Granville10 to Mr. Corbin11 had given us good introduction, so that all were ready to welcome us so soon as we reached our lodgings. Mr. Corbin himself called on us, and told us he was ready and willing to give us all possible assistance. We delivered to him My Lord Granville’s letter, commending us to him, and also His Lordship’s Warrant.12 He stayed with us three hours, telling us many things that will be helpful.
On the journey from Bethlehem here we had good roads and fine weather, but we had scarcely reached Edenton when it began to rain, and it looks as though it would continue for some time.
Br. Antes, who was so ill with gall-stones three or four days before leaving Frederickstown, is quite well, and has had no return of the trouble. Our horses are in fine condition, though at times it has been hard for them, for in Newcastle, Kent and Sussex Counties, as well as in Maryland and Virginia, it has been very dry, so that everything is parched, pasturage was scarce, and at some places we could buy neither corn nor oats. Otherwise the road to Edenton is pleasant to travel, especially along the east shore of Chesapeake Bay, which is like a floor, so smooth and free of stones.
In Virginia the people were fairly courteous, in Maryland less so, but everything is more expensive than we are accustomed to in Pennsylvania.
Until we reached Cherristown13 we crossed no ferry, (for the small ones at the Skullkill and at Wilmington hardly count.) From Cherristown part of us went by boat to Nansimon, and part to Norfolk, taking our horses with us; it was 60 miles to Nansimon, and 40 to Norfolk. From Bethlehem to Edenton is about 450 miles, carefully reckoned.
Edenton, Sept. 12th, new style.14 [Official copy.] If I am to say how I find things in North Carolina I must admit that there is much confusion. There is discord between the Counties, which has greatly weakened the authority of the Legislature, and interferes with the administration of justice. The reason is this,—as I hear it from both sides: When the Colony was still weak the older Counties were permitted to send five men each to the Assembly. After a long time the Colony increased in size, and new Counties were formed, but were allowed only two representatives each. That continued until the newer Counties were numerous enough to have the majority in the Assembly; then before the older Counties realized what was being done, an Act was passed reducing the representation of the older Counties to two each also. This irritated the older Counties, and they refused to send any one at all to the Assembly, but dispatched an agent to England to try to regain for them their ancient rights, and meanwhile they declined to respect any Act passed by the Assembly. So in some respects anarchy reigns in these older Counties; there are many cases of murder, theft, and the like, but no one is punished. The men will not serve as jurors, so when Court is held for the trial of criminal cases no one is there. If a man is imprisoned the jail is broken open; in short fist law is about all that is left. But the County Courts are held regularly, and matters within their jurisdiction are attended to as usual.
Edenton, Sept. 12, 1752, new style. [Spangenberg Diary.] Land matters in North Carolina are also in unbelievable confusion, and I do not see how endless law-suits are to be avoided. A man settles on a piece of land and does a good deal of work on it (from the Carolina standpoint), then another comes and drives him out,—and who is to definitely settle the matter? There surely should have been a general surveyor from the beginning of the Colony, who should have had a map of the whole territory, and as from time to time land was surveyed, and the special surveyor made his returns, it should have been entered on the map, which would then have shown what land was vacant and what had been taken up. Unfortunately we can neither find nor hear of such a map.
The Patents from the Lords Proprietors should also from the beginning have been registered before passing into other hands, but either that was not done or the records have been lost. This much is sure,—My Lord’s Agent cannot now give a Patent without fearing that when the tract is settled another man will come and say That is my land. The General Assembly has made an effort to remedy this confusion, and in 1748 passed an Act requiring property owners to bring in their Patents for registration, under £5 penalty for neglect to do this. It was further provided that whoever did not register his Patent within one year from the date of the Act should lose his rights founded upon it. A man who had lost his Patent, through fire or other accident, was permitted to prove undisputed possession for twenty years. Orphans were permitted to register their Patents within one year after attaining their majority; and owners dwelling beyond the sea were allowed five years from the date of the Act to file their claims. When I asked Mr. Francis Corbin about a map he told me that he had been doing his best to have one made, and had given orders to the surveyor in each County to make a chart showing the land that had been taken up in his County. The line between Virginia and North Carolina has been run to the Blue Mountains; and the line between the Crown lands and the Granville District in North Carolina is now in hand, and will be run as soon as necessary information is received, though only by the one party, as the Crown commissioners are not assisting. When that is done there will probably be a map of the Granville District, from which one can see where the vacant land lies. Meanwhile there is neither a general surveyor’s map of the Granville District nor of the individual Counties. Therefore we do not know what land is vacant, and can only take for granted the word of the surveyor who says that such and such a piece has already been taken up. Mr. Francis Corbin himself does not know, and is still in the dark.
His suggestion is that we go to the Back of the Colony, that is west to the Blue Mountains, taking a surveyor, and that perhaps there we can find a suitable tract of land that has not hitherto been surveyed. We will see.
Edenton, Sept. l3th. [Spbg. Diary.] If, as I hope, we settle in North Carolina, it will be very important that from the beginning we have some one who will pay particular attention to the laws of the land, for from the law book I see that there are many rules and laws of which our Brethren would not think. For example:
If any one living within three miles of a public ferry takes a man, horse, or cow across the stream, receiving payment therefor, he must pay £5 for each man or animal so set across.
A man must have his marriage, or the birth of a child, or the burial of a member of his family registered by the Recorder, if there is no Clerk of the Church in the County; and he is fined one shilling, to be paid to the Recorder, for each month that he delays registration.
A man is fined £10 if he gives permission to a non-resident of Carolina to pasture cattle, horses or hogs on his land.
Any man who buys land from the Indians, without special permission from the Governor and Council, loses the land, and is fined £20.
Every third year a land-owner must have a certain person follow the bounds of his property, renew the marks, and register the same.
There is a penalty of £5 for killing deer between Feb. 15th and July 15th.
All marriages must be performed by a minister of the Church of England, or by a Justice of the Peace. If there is a minister of the Church of England in the Parish a Justice of the Peace cannot marry a couple without paying a fine of £5. To marry without a License, or without the Publication of the Bans three times, entails a penalty of £50.
A man wishing to marry must go to the Clerk of the County in which the woman lives and give a bond of £50 that there is nothing to prevent the marriage; then he takes the Clerk’s certificate to a Justice of the Peace, and he issues the License. The fees are 20sh. for the Governor, 5sh. for the Clerk, 5sh. for the Justice, and 10sh. for the Minister. If the Bans are published there is no charge for a License. If the marriage is not performed by the minister in the Parish where the woman lives he must still be offered the fee.
A man marrying a negress, indian, mulatto, or any one of mixed blood, is fined £50; the minister or justice performing the ceremony must also pay £50.
When the County Court appoints a man as Constable he must qualify within 10 days or pay a fine of 50 shillings.
If a man finds strange cattle in his cow-pen he must advertise their marks on the Church door or at the Court House of the County in which his cow-pen lies, or pay a fine of 20sh.
A man using weights and measures in business must have them marked and sealed according to the standard of the Court. Failure to do this entails a fine of £10, even though they are correct.
The man using a steelyard in trade must have it tested every year, and get a certificate, or pay a fine of 20s.
No Christian, brought into this land, can be a bond-servant, even though he has made a written agreement to that effect with some one.
Who buys from or sells to a slave, without permission of the slave’s master, shall lose three times the value of the article bought or sold, and pay a fine of £6.
Whoever gives assistance to a slave who is trying to run away shall serve the slave’s master five years as penalty.
A man who owns no land but hunts in the woods and shoots a deer shall forfeit his gun and pay £5, unless he can show a certificate from two Justices that the preceding year he had planted and cultivated at least 5000 hills of corn in the County where he is hunting.
Each house-holder, overseer, etc., whether summoned or not, must appear before a Justice each year before the 1st of May and give in an accurate list of the names and ages of all persons subject to tax, white or black, free or slave. Failure to do this entails a fine of 40s. with 20s. additional for each month’s delay.
There are other similar laws, not unreasonable, but if they are not known they might easily be broken. Here, as in all English countries, there are good laws that are not kept, but the Brethren can not act in that way.
Edenton, Sept. 14th. [Official copy.] Concerning the Government of North Carolina.—The first Proprietors were Edward, Earl of Clarendon; George, Duke of Albemarle; William, Earl of Craven; John, Lord Berkeley; Anthony, Lord Ashley; Sir George Carteret; Sir John Colleton; and Sir William Berkley.
These Lords received a Charter from King Charles II giving to them, their heirs and assigns, that part of America lying between the 29th degree and the 36th degree 30 minutes north latitude, that is a strip about 510 English miles wide, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea.15 All rights and privileges were included in the gift.
Under the present Monarch all the Proprietors sold their rights to the Crown except Lord Carteret; he preferred not to. As his one-eighth share he received the part lying next the Virginia line. He, however, renounced all matters of government to the King.
The King has now divided Carolina into three Provinces, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and My Lord Granville’s District belongs to North Carolina.
North Carolina is a rather large Province, and the condition of the inhabitants varies so greatly that often what is good for the southern part is bad for the northern, and vice versa, which leads to continual strife between the two sections. There is only one Governor,16 one Council, one Assembly, one set of Laws, for the whole Province, and that makes endless difficulties, and if we settle here I do not know what we will do, unless some convenient remedy can be found.
If My Lord Granville’s District should become a separate government there is danger that it could not support itself, for it is still young, and who except the inhabitants will pay the salaries of the Governor, Secretary, and other Officers?
Perhaps it could be arranged as in Pennsylvania, where there is one Governor over all the lands belonging to the Penn family, but the lower Counties, that is Newcastle, Kent and Sussex, have their own Assembly, and so far as I know their own Council, with laws; and the upper Counties, Philadelphia, Bucks, Lancaster, Chester, York, Berk, and Northampton, also have theirs. In this way each section can have laws to fit its circumstances.
If this could be done in North Carolina there could be one Governor over all, but the Granville District could have its own Assembly, Council, and laws to suit its needs; and the southern, that is the Royal District, could have the same, appropriate to its circumstances; and neither would interfere with the other.
This would remedy (l) the grievances of the five older Counties, which date from 1746, when an Act was passed reducing their representation in the Assembly from five to two for each County. (2) It would not be so hard on the Representatives. As it is a man from the west of the Granville District may have to go to a meeting of the Assembly at Cape Fear, or some other place lying to the south; and if the Assembly meets at a time of planting, or harvest, it means ruin for him to go;17 if he does not go it is bad for the Province, and subjects him to penalty. (3) Trade and commerce would be improved, for if each part of North Carolina could have laws to meet its own needs a very few years would show great improvement.
You know I am always a kind of patriot of the country in which I happen to be, so you will not consider these suggestions officious.
Edenton, Sept. 15th. [Spbg. Diary.] The Indians in North Carolina are in a bad way. The Chowan Indians are reduced to a few families, and their land has been taken from them. The Tuscaroras live 35 miles from here, and are still in possession of a pretty piece of land. They are the remnant of that tribe with which Carolina was formerly at war, and part of them went to the Five Nations,18 and united with them. Those that are still here are much despised, and will probably soon come to an end. The Meherrin Indians, living further west, are also reduced to a mere handful. It looks as if they were under a curse, that crushes them. Still further west live the Catawbas, who will probably be our neighbors. They are still at war with the Six Nations. (Marginal note, written Nov. 4th. The Catawbas and the Five Nations have made peace.)
South-west from here, behind South Carolina, are the Cherokees, a great Nation. I cannot ascertain definitely whether there is peace or war between them and the Six Nations. (Marginal note. The Tuscaroras say the Cherokees have made peace with the Five Nations, and the Cherokees say the same. I asked one whether the Five Nations were their brothers, and he crooked two fingers, linking them together like a chain. Br. Antes asked the same question of others, and one of them crooked his arm and linked it into that of the other, and then embraced him,—so is it between them and the Five Nations!) The Cherokees are in league with South Carolina, and once each year go to Charlestown to receive their presents.
[Official copy, Sept. 15.] As we came to North Carolina we spent one night with Mr. Heirs, a gentleman living in Virginia on the east shore of Chesapeake Bay. He said he was very sorry we were going to North Carolina instead of Virginia. Here, he said, there lies before you toward the west 400,000 acres of land, beautiful land! You can secure a Royal Grant, giving you the land free of quit-rents for ten years. You can have omitted the clause that requires the cultivation of a certain quantity of land within three years. The quit-rents can be made lighter for you, for nobody in Virginia pays more than two shillings sterling. In Virginia there are navigable rivers, which you will not find in North Carolina, etc. We listened in silence, but submit it for your consideration.
The custom in Virginia is this: A man selects a piece of land and takes out a right in the Secretary’s office, paying five shillings per 50 acres, and receiving a Warrant to the deputy surveyor. When the land is surveyed the Surveyor receives the returns, issues and registers the Patent. There is no restriction except that the King reserves the rights to all gold and silver mines, otherwise the owner has all rights and privileges, hunting, fishing, etc., and all copper and iron mines, etc.
I am speaking from hearsay only, know nothing more. The Lord will lead us in the matter. I would only ask,—Do not the French lay claim to the above-mentioned land?
So soon as we settle in North Carolina we will have to pay Poll Tax. It is required from all white men, masters or servants, from 16 to 60 years of age. Poll Tax must be paid on all negroes, male and female, from their twelfth year. If a man marry a Negress, Indian, or Mulatto, or anyone of mixed blood, his children to the fourth generation must pay the Tax from the 12th year on, and the Indian or Mulatto wife is also taxable.
This Poll Tax is collected by the Sheriff, and if anyone does not pay it the Sheriff must seize a sufficient amount of property, sell it at auction, take out his fees for the sale, and also the Poll Tax, and return the balance. The Sheriffs account to the Treasurer, and from these taxes the public expenses are met.
Each County has one or more Parishes, with Vestrymen for each, and the Vestry has the right to lay a tax (often not a small one) on each resident of the County, whether he belongs to the Church of England or not.
The Justices of a County may also impose a Poll Tax, the income to be used for the building of a court-house, jail, etc.
The Brethren, when they pay, must be careful to take and keep a receipt, or they may be obliged to pay one or more additional times,— the men of Carolina say this has often happened.
North Carolina in Granville County, 153 miles from Edenton, at the home of Mr. John Sallis, Sept. 25, 1752. [Spbg. Diary.] Here at the home of Mr. John Sallis the Saviour has stopped us for a little while, and four of our company have been in bed with a bad attack of chills and fever. All this section of North Carolina lies low, and there is much water, fresh and stagnant, which breeds fever every year, and many die from it. Br. Henry Antes, Johann Merck, Hermann Loesch, and Timothy Horsefield are now in bed sweating under the influence of a root that is here used as a remedy for the fever. I hope the Saviour will lay His blessing upon the treatment.
We believe that we caught the fever in Edenton, and brought it with us, for there is so much fever in that town that hardly anyone gets through a year without an attack. It lies low, surrounded by water, which has neither ebb nor flow on account of the sandbanks, which lie between North Carolina and the sea, and hinder the tide. For this reason the large rivers, e.g., the Chowan, Roanoke, etc., have no free outlet, and little return of water from the sea. Therefore North Carolina has less chance for trade than Virginia or South Carolina, for, accurately speaking, there is no navigable river in the part of the country belonging to Lord Granville. But to resume,—We plan to remain here until our men are again on their feet, and will then continue our journey.
We are staying with a man who spent a year and half alone in Guinea. The Captain with whom he sailed maltreated and then abandoned him. The negroes took him, bound him, and intended to kill him, but changed their minds, allowed him to live, and were good-natured and friendly. They wanted him to stay with them but he longed for home, and took the first good opportunity to return.
We are receiving much kindness in his house. He serves us like a brother, and his wife gladly does everything she can also. We wish the Unity to pray for a blessing upon them, that they may receive mercy even as he and his wife and children have shown it unto us.
Trade and business are poor in North Carolina. With no navigable rivers there is little shipping; with no export trade of importance the towns are few and small. Edenton is said to be one of the oldest towns in America, but it is hardly one quarter so large as Germantown, 19though it is well situated on a rather large Sound. There are other towns mentioned in the law books, but they have neither houses nor inhabitants, are towns only by Act of Assembly.
A good deal of tobacco is raised, but is generally taken to Suffolk or Norfolk in Virginia. There it is viewed by the Inspectors, that is the officers who must inspect all tobacco offered for export, and must burn all that is not merchantable. Then it is shipped by the Virginia merchant, and the Carolinian must accept whatever price he chooses to pay.
Many cattle are also sold outside of North Carolina, but the profit is in Virginia, not here. They are not killed, salted, and exported from this Province, but are driven to Virginia and sold on the hoof, at a loss rather than a profit, for the buyer only pays for the meat, by weight, when he has butchered, and does not pay for the hides, tallow, etc., although he takes them.
Hogs also are driven to Virginia and sold, and are there killed, salted, and exported as Virginia pork. The pork is shipped to the West Indies, rum, sugar, molasses, etc., being imported in exchange, and then these things are sold to the Carolinians for cash.
Of handicrafts I have seen practically nothing in the 150 miles we have traveled across this Province. Almost nobody has a trade. In Edenton I saw one smith, one cobbler, and one tailor at work, and no more; whether there are others I do not know. In 140 miles I saw not one wagon or plough, nor any sign of one.
We have now traversed several Counties of North Carolina, Chowan, Bertie, Northampton, Edgecombe, and Granville, that is so far as Mr. John Sallis, 153 miles. From here we go through Orange and Anson, which is the last County lying toward the west.
The land that we have seen is not particularly good, and yet we are told that it has all been taken up; I presume this is so, for otherwise people would not go 200 miles further west to settle.
In Chowan and Bertie Counties one can ride for three hours without seeing anything except Pine Barrens, that is white sand grown up in pine trees, which will hardly produce anything else. Yet we are told it is all taken up, and the people make tar, pitch, and turpentine, wherever they are near enough to a river to load the products on small boats and take it to a sloop or other small vessel.
Here and there are stretches of oak and other woods, indicating better soil, and here the farms are located, that is farms of a North Carolina kind, for with the exception of corn (of which a good deal is raised) and hogs (the chief support of most of the farmers) the work is poorly done.
Cattle and horses must look out for themselves in winter,—if they live, they live. No hay is given them, for no one makes meadows; fodder does not go far; and who could feed them on grain? So ordinarily in winter there is neither milk nor manure, and when spring comes the animals are so reduced by hunger and cold that they hardly recover before fall. So even in spring and summer they do the people little good. Probably this is the reason that horses and cattle are so small in the part of North Carolina which we have seen, not larger than English colts and yearling calves.
The best land lies along the rivers, for example the Chowan and the Roanoke, but it is always in danger of being flooded. The Roanoke often rises 25 ft. above its usual level, especially when the bank are high, as they generally are. But this too is all taken and we could not find 1000 acres there, not to speak of 100,000.
Granville County, N.C., Sept. 25th. [Official copy.] We have also had opportunity to see the principal rivers in the part of North Carolina belonging to Lord Granville, but we have not found one that could properly be called navigable.
The Chowan River is quite large and deep, but it has no tide, only freshets.
The Roanoke River runs far inland, but also has only freshets, no tide, is very crooked, and has such high banks that the wind does not touch sails. So they can only use periaguas or boats for going up stream, and it is hard work; if it rains they have to tie up, and cannot advance one foot, for the current is too strong. Going down stream is easier, but only small craft can be used.
The reason that these large rivers have no tides is because sandbanks lie between North Carolina and the sea, impeding the outflow of the rivers to a large extent, and entirely preventing the coming in of the ocean tides. Frequently there is a change in the Inlet, that is, the small passage by which ships come in from the ocean to this coast. This makes entrance difficult, for if a Captain does not know the coast he is liable to run his ship on a sand-bank, and even if he is familiar with the region the same thing may happen, for the sand does not stay in one place, but is moved about by wind and wave. Pilots are scarce, for so few ships come in that it is not worth a man’s time to stay at sea and wait for them.
I mention this because our Warrant says that we shall select land on a navigable river, and the men laugh at me and say, First show us a navigable river in this part of Carolina, for they know of none. Moreover it is not possible to find a Body of Land on one of these rivers.
The inhabitants of North Carolina are of two kinds. Some have been born in the country, and they bear the climate well, but are lazy, and do not compare with our northern colonists. Others have moved here from the northern colonies or from England, Scotland, or Ireland, etc. Many of the first comers were brought by poverty, for they were too poor to buy land in Pennsylvania or Jersey, and yet wished to have land of their own; from these the Colony receives no harm. Others, however, were refugees from debt, or had deserted wives and children, or had fled to escape punishment for evil deeds, and thought that here no one would find them, and they could go on in impunity. Whole bands of horse thieves have moved here, and constantly show their skill in this neighborhood; this has given North Carolina a very bad name in the adjoining Provinces. Other people move hither because they hear that it is not necessary to feed the stock in winter, and that pleases them; this brought in crowds of Irish, who will certainly find themselves deceived, for if they do not feed their cattle in winter, the animals will certainly be badly injured or will die.
I am told that a different type of settler is now coming in,—sturdy Germans,—of that we will know more later.
(P. S. Having crossed the length and breadth of North Carolina we have found that toward the west, nearer the mountains, many families are moving in from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Jersey, and even New England; in this year alone more than four hundred families have come with horse and wagon and cattle. Among them are sturdy farmers and skilled men, and we can hope that they will greatly help Carolina.)
We also visited the Tuscaroras, who live on the Roanoke. They have a tract of good land, secured to them by Act of Assembly; I should judge that it contains twenty or thirty thousand acres. It is twelve miles long, but not wide.
Their Interpreter, Mr. Thomas Whitemeal, was kind to us, took us to them, showed us their land, and introduced us to them. He was at one time a Trader among them, understands their language fairly well, and speaks it with ease. Now he is one of the richest men in the neighborhood, and is respected by everybody.
The Indians have no king, but a Captain elected from among them by the whites. There are also several Chiefs among them.
The Tuscaroras are few in number, and they hold with the Six Nations against the Catawbas, but suffer much on this account. They live in great poverty, and are oppressed by the whites.
Mr. Whitemeal is their Agent and Advocate, and stands well with them.
Hitherto no one has tried to teach them of their God and Saviour; perhaps that is well, for the Lord has His own time for all. If it will be the duty of the Brethren to work among them I do not know, but I rather think so, and should like to hear what the Brethren think.
They told us that if we saw the Catawbas we should tell them that there were plenty of young men among the Tuscaroras who knew the way to the Catawba town, and that they could go and return in about twenty days. That so far they had kept quiet and had not gone into the Catawba country except to hunt a little, and they would do no more unless they were disturbed,—then they knew the way to the Catawba town.
We were courteously treated by the Indians, and they sent greetings by us to the Shawanos on the Susquehannah.
Granville Co., N. C., Sept. 26th. [Official copy.] There is no map of North Carolina that is now at all correct, for it has changed much since passing into the hands of the King some twenty years ago. In 1729 the Crown bought from seven of the Lords Proprietors North and South Carolina, and Georgia, for £17,500 Sterling. And since the part next Virginia has been laid off for My Lord Granville it has changed still more, and in addition men have traveled more, and have learned more about it.
I will give you the Counties that at present form North Carolina. In My Lord Granville’s District,—Chowan, Currituck, Pequimon, Bertie, Tyrell, Pasquotank, Edgecombe, Northampton, Granville, Orange. In the King’s District,—Carteret, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow. Lying partly in each District,—Hyde, Bladen, Beaufort, Craven, Johnston, Anson.
The towns of any size are,—Edenton, in Chowan Co.; Wilmington, Cape Fear, and Brunswig, in New Hanover Co.; Bathtown, in Beaufort Co.; New Bern, in Craven Co.
[Spbg. Diary.] If we wish to become incorporated in North Carolina it will have to be as a Borough, Town, Village, County, or something of that kind.
In 1744 My Lord Granville resigned to the King all rights of government in his District, that is the power to make laws, to call Assemblies, to establish courts of justice, to appoint Judges and Justices, to pardon evil-doers, to open ports and harbors, to impose customs and duties, to erect new counties, forts, castles, to incorporate cities, boroughs, and villages, etc.
The Crown appoints the Governor and also the Council, which is composed of twelve men. The Governor is not permitted to start anything new without the consent of at least four of his Council. If the Assembly passes a law which is approved by the Governor and Council it goes into effect, though the King has the right, if he chooses, to repeal and annul it.
If we become incorporated in North Carolina it will have to be by Act of Assembly, approved by the King. In this connection I would remark that Gov. Johnston has recently died. Many regret his death, and speak of him as a fine man. Be that as it may, the sending of a new Governor will give a good opportunity for My Lord Granville, if he pleases, to give instruction about our matters. For instance that the Assembly should pass an Act to encourage the United Brethren to settle in Carolina, which should provide (1) for exemption from Poll Tax for several years; (2) permission to build a town, and to establish a county which should send one or two representatives to the Assembly; (3) it should grant to the Brethren, as an Episcopal Church, the right to have their own Parish, to support their own minister, not one of the English Church, to elect their own Vestrymen, Church Wardens, etc.
I shall not insist on these things if they do not meet the approval of the Brethren, but they seem to me important if our settlement in Carolina is to amount to anything.
North Carolina on the Catawba River, 300 miles from Charlestown, S. C., Oct. 28th. [Official copy.] Yesterday we arrived here from Edenton, which is more than 400 miles away. We have been long on the way, for the Saviour permitted us to be sick in Granville County. I was in bed with high fever, all the others had chills and fever except Joseph Müller, who was our faithful and unwearying nurse. John Sallis, a planter of the neighborhood, was our friendly host, and did everything for us that he could. The Lord and the Brethren will never forget him.
While we were sick there was much rain, and streams were higher than men have ever known them to be before. It is said that the Roanoke rose 25 ft. Houses and fences, even on the highest banks, have been swept away; many cattle have been drowned; and no one was able to travel. We have ourselves seen the results of the flood, as we came hither,—it is hard to believe that such little streams can rise so high. But the western part of North Carolina is all hills and valleys, and that pours the water together.
When some of us had recovered, and others were somewhat improved, we took up our journey, though it went poorly, especially for me. The first day we made no progress. The second day we tried it again, but had to rest frequently, for I could hardly ride an hour at a time. My fever had settled in my limbs, and was constantly with me. Br. Horsefield had a return of fever, and finally had to stop at the home of a certain Captain,20 where we could have good accommodations, and we left Br. Joseph Müller, our never-to-be-forgotten nurse, to take care of him. The rest of us went on, and are here21 preparing for our journey into the forest. I am taking as good care of my health as I can. Br. Antes is purchasing our needed supplies, for here we leave all roads and all men. We are taking along two hunters, partly to hunt for us (though there is little game to be found), and partly to carry the chains for the surveyor. May God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost direct us!
[Spbg. Diary.] I must now record some of the difficulties which our Brethren will have to face here.
They will settle in the western part, or in Anson County. Where remains to be seen. They will need salt, and other things which they cannot make or raise. Where shall they get them?
They must go from here to Charlestown, S. C., about 300 miles, and the length of the way is not the worst part, for there is little except bad water to be had, and there is danger of robbers; or else they must go to Bolings Point, Va., on a branch of the James River, about 300 miles from here. The latter is the way usually taken by the planters of this section, but it takes several weeks for the trip, and the road is bad, with many hills and streams. Or they could go down the Roanoke River, I do not know how many miles, to a point where salt can be brought up the river from Cape Fear, but there is as yet no road which a man can use.
But why do I so write? Who knows what the Lord will show us that we do not yet know?
Who waits until the Saviour leads,
Will see the joy intended;
No anxious questions will he need
With difficulties ended.
Perhaps a saltpetre factory would be of service to the Brethren and many other people here. That would depend on the blessing of the Lord, who might cause it to develop, if we do our part in bringing it about.
Nov. 4th. Forks of Little River, in the forest, Anson County, N. C., at the Brushy Mountains, about twenty miles from the Catawba, to the north-west, counting from the mouth of Little River. [Spbg. Diary.]
This is the first piece of land that we have taken up. It lies on the two branches of Little River,22 the one flowing south-west, the other south-east. Little River flows into the Catawba, about twenty miles above the land of Andreas Lambert, a well-known Scotchman. We have finished the survey today.
This tract contains 1000 acres, of 160 perches to the acre. The best part is the lowland that lies like an elbow in the angle between two hills. It is very rich, and is sometimes flooded by the river. The strip of lowland is about three miles long, and even at the narrowest place is much wider than the long meadow23 at Nazareth; and according to our judgment it contains 300 acres more or less. Most of it is already clear, and can be used part for a meadow, part for Indian corn, and part for hemp. Hemp will be particularly profitable, for it sells at a good price, and there is also a bounty on it, to encourage its culture.
The land lying next the lowland is dry, and about as good as that at Bethlehem,24 some of it a little better.
There is not much timber, but enough to serve for a while if we are careful. In the upper part of the elbow there is a small piece of good woodland, and on one side of the dry ground there are a number of fine young trees.
The tract is well adapted for the raising of cattle, and ten couples of our Brethren can make a good living here, though it seems essential that at first they should have a joint house-keeping. Any one who knows how, and is willing to work, can make good meadows here, and can care for the cattle through the winter, until the meadows are ready, by using the small reeds which grow in the lowland, and which stay green all, or nearly all, winter. Cattle, and especially horses, eat these reeds eagerly. The land lies so that neighbors cannot build near, and that guarantees the cattle a free range.
This tract is well watered. On the upper side there is a site for an overshot millwheel, and on the east branch a mill could be built with an undershot wheel. The banks of the streams are so high that a man could not ride across, had not the buffalo broken them down here and there. There are also good springs.
There is stone which can be used for building, and also sand, but no limestone, which is very rare in North Carolina, indeed there is hardly any this side of the Alleghanies. That is the reason for the poorly built wooden houses one finds everywhere.
Here is a plot, marked A, which the surveyor made in the forest, the day after he finished the survey.
I should add that we have done the best we could to cut out this tract from the adjoining barren land.
[This sheet is signed by Joseph Spangenberg,25 J. Henry Antes, Hermann Loesch, and Johannes Merck, each in his own hand. The following postscript is added.]
A settlement on this tract should be placed about in the middle, where the woods begin. There is a pretty little creek at hand, and the water from a spring in the hills runs down and forms a pool, where the buffalo probably bathed in hot weather, at least they have made a path around it. The path appears to lead to the hills on the east side.
Just beyond our line on the hills to the south Br. Antes found two stones which he thinks would make mill-stones, or at least that suitable stone can be found near by.
From here we sent a messenger to Mr. Morisen’s, where we hoped he would find the Brn. Horsefield and Müller, but after we had waited for two days he returned without them. Oh, how often our hearts are with them, and doubtless they also are thinking of us!
The line which I have marked B. C. on the plot was not actually run, and the trees are not marked. I mention this so that the Brethren do not waste time looking for the trees.
When the Brethren come they can, if they like, take up a couple hundred acres of good woodland above our tract; and below our tract there is a strip of lowland, about half a mile long but not wide, which they can also take up if they choose.
About fourteen miles from here live several families of Scotch-Irish, and one of them has a mill, but there is neither road nor path from here to them.
Nov. 5th In camp at the Forks of Little River, south of the Brushy Mountains. [Spbg. Diary.] It is important that I should mention certain things about surveying in North Carolina which will affect all the tracts we may take up.
The surveyors have strict orders from Lord Granville’s agent to run lines only north and south, east and west. The agent may have reasons for this which seem to him sufficiently important, and it may be practicable in the eastern counties where there are no hills, or only very small ones, but here it is quite different, and often inconvenient. If a strip of land lies north-west and south-east I have to include corners of land to finish out the north and south lines, even when the land is not worth a heller.26 I have spoken much about this to the surveyor, Mr. William Churton, an otherwise tractable man, but he insists that these are his orders and that he dare not disobey them. The only thing he will do is to make offsets in the lines where too much barren land would be included.
Another point mentioned for information.—When the Brethren come they would find it useful to employ the hunters, whom we have with us to carry the chains and to furnish us with game. These men could conduct them to this and the other tracts, and show them where our land lies. They are Henry Day, who lives in Granville Co., near Mr. John Sallis; John Perkin, who lives on the Catawba, and is acquainted with Andreas Lambert, a well-known Scotchman; and John Rhode, who lives about twenty miles from Capt. Sennett, on the road to Atkins. Of these I particularly recommend John Perkin, who is intelligent, best acquainted with the forest, industrious, a successful hunter, and I think fond of the Brethren. I suggest using these men because at this time practically no one lives in these parts, and no one else will know our tracts and their boundaries except the Brethren who are in our company, and they will quickly forget the forests, which are as trackless as the ocean.
In the third place I would mention that ordinarily our surveyor measures and marks only three sides of a tract. He considers it unnecessary to run the fourth side, and says it is here a lawful survey when only three sides have been measured. That the Brethren who come here may understand this, and not give themselves useless trouble seeking the unmarked trees, I will report for each tract which side is not marked, and indicate it on the map.
In the fourth place I would say that our surveyor has been very unwilling to measure out small pieces of land for us. With much difficulty we persuaded him to survey three tracts in the forks of Little River and on the Catawba, containing 1000 acres each. In the Warrant from Lord Granville it is stated that we are to pay £3 Sterling for the survey of each 5000 acres. He interprets that to mean that we must take tracts of that size, saying that Mr. Corbin had told him so. We would be only too glad if that were possible, but here at the edge of the mountains we could only do it by including many, and often barren, hills. There seems nothing else that we could do if we should take all our land in one tract.
Fifth. We have seen a number of small pieces of land, one, two, or three hundred acres, or even smaller, which we could not include in our tracts, although they touched our lines, because the surveyor made so many objections to anything that was not four-square. I have written to Mr. Corbin, asking that these pieces be reserved for the Brethren, and when they come, if they wish, they can have them surveyed, paying the usual costs.
Nov. 7. From camp on the second fork of Little River, about two miles from the first tract to the south-west, but on two other branches. [Spbg. Diary]. This is the second place where we have camped to take up land, attracted by the good lowland and the nearness to the first tract. [Then follows description of the tract, its water supply, etc. The tract contained 1000 acres.] On the north side we have a hill, with fertile soil, and covered with locust trees. From here we sent a messenger to Mr. Lambert, about forty miles from here, for our Brethren Horsefield and Müller. We had told them to follow us there as soon as Br. Horsefield was able to travel. We waited two days, but the messenger returned without them, and we take this to mean that Br. Horsefield has not yet recovered, and we will have to go on without them. [This sheet also bears the signatures of Spangenberg, Antes, Merck and Loesch. Spangenberg alone signed most of them.]
Nov. 11. From camp on the Catawba River, about forty mi1es above Andreas Lambert’s place, according to the judgment of our hunters. [Spbg. Diary. This sheet is marked dem Jünger, that is, for the specia1 consideration of Count Zinzendorf.27] I am sitting in the tent thinking about your Patriarchal Plan for the settlement in North Carolina, and considering it in view of the local circumstances. First, there are the Indians. Our land lies in a region much frequented by the Catawbas and Cherokees, especially for hunting. The Senecas, too, come here almost every year, especially when they are at war with the Catawbas. The Indians in North Carolina behave quite differently from those in Pennsylvania. There no one fears an Indian, unless indeed he is drunk. Here the whites must needs fear them. If they come to a house and find the man away they are insolent, and the settler’s wife must do whatever they bid. Sometimes they come in such large companies that a man who meets them is in real danger. Now and then a man can do as Andreas Lambert did:—A company of Senecas came on his land, injured his corn, killed his cattle, etc. Lambert called in his bear hounds, of which he has eight or nine, and with his dogs and his loaded gun drove the Indians from his place.
Every man living alone is in this danger, here in the forest. North Carolina has been at war with the Indians, and they have been defeated and have lost their lands. So not only the tribes that were directly concerned, but all the Indians are resentful and take every opportunity to show it. Indeed they have not only killed the cattle of the whites, but have murdered the settlers themselves when they had a chance.
There are other things to make life hard for those living alone and for themselves. For instance a woman is ill, has high fever,—where is the nurse, medicine, proper food? The wife of the nearest neighbor lives half a mile, perhaps several miles away, and she has her children, her cattle, her own household, to care for, and can give her only a couple of hours, or at most only one day or one night.
Another thing.—By the Patriarchal Plan I understand that each family would live alone, and work for its own support. What will happen to those who have not the necessary talents? How will it go with men and women brought up in our congregations, who I fear have little conception of the difficulties they will have to face? What will they do in circumstances where each must help himself as best he can? How bear the hard work necessary to success, when each must say with Jacob, In the day the drought consumed me and the frost by night?
To speak plainly:—Among fifty members brought up in our congregation, or who have lived with us some years, there is probably not one who could maintain himself alone in the forest. They have had no experience, and even those who have the intelligence do not know how.
I do not say this to throw difficulties in the way of your whole plan, on the contrary I consider it important, and believe the Lord through it will achieve His own ends, but I suggest consideration of the best method of attaining that end.
Perhaps it would be wise to settle six to ten families together, each in its own house, all working under a capable overseer; and after a time, if any wishes to settle on his own farm, as in Pennsylvania, then to try to arrange it for him.
But I desist. I know I may not have found the right solution of the problem; the Lord will show us how it may best be done.
Nov. 12. From the camp on the Catawba.28 [Spbg. Diary.] This might well be called an Indian Pass, and as we believe that the Saviour means to bless the Catawbas and Cherokees through our settlement in North Carolina we have decided to here take up our third tract.
It lies on the Catawba River, which is here about as large as the Lecha29 at Bethlehem, and is full of fish. On account of the high banks the adjacent meadows were not flooded during the last freshet, which was the largest ever known here. [Here follows a description of the tract.] On the west side there is a creek with a good fall, so well adapted for a couple of overshot wheels that Henry Antes is charmed.
The tract is about three miles long and half a mile wide, and includes part of each of the adjacent ten hills. There is not much hard wood, mostly pine. The forest could be much improved with care, for it has been ruined by the Indians, who are accustomed to set fire to large tracts to drive the deer to a given spot, and that keeps the young trees from growing.
At present the nearest house is that of Jonathan Weiss, commonly called Jonathan Perrot. He is a hunter, and lives about twenty miles away. There are many hunters here who work little, live like the Indians, shoot many deer, and sell their skins.
We came a roundabout way, for none of us knew a path, but we think this is about sixteen miles south-west of our first two tracts.
Could we have crossed the Catawba we would have taken up land on the other side also, but there is no canoe, and to ride across is too risky.
[The plot shows 1107 acres, on the north side of the Catawba, just above Andrew Hampton shoals.30]
Nov. 19th. From camp on the middle river of the three rivers flowing into the Catawba near Quaker Meadows,31 not far from Table Mountain. [Spig. Diary.] We reached here last Thursday, and made our camp, and went out to see the section, riding into the night. We found everything needed for a settlement,—very fertile lowlands, the best we have seen in North Carolina, which can be cultivated year after year without impoverishing them, for they lie at the foot of steep, rich hills, from which the soil washes down, enriching the meadows. Wheat and corn can be grown.
The tract is well watered, with springs, little streams, and creeks, and the water is as beautiful and sweet as one could wish. In the lower part of the tract we have the river,32 which is half as large as the Lecha. Above we have the two branches,33 forming a fork, each being perhaps twice as large as the Manocasy at Bethlehem. They are crystal clear, so that one can see the stones on the bottom even where the water is deep.
There are tall, strong trees; also young growth. There are good meadows for pasturage, and many reeds, which are still green,—otherwise our horses would starve. * * *
It is a pity that the fertile land does not lie in one piece, but scattered among the hills; a pity also that the rich hills cannot be cultivated because they are so steep, otherwise they would make fields as good as those at Oli.34 But such is the case, and we cannot change it; and it must be good, for the Creator made them, and who knows how the hills and the trees may serve the Brethren. * * *
This is our fourth tract. It lies seven or eight miles from the Catawba, but the land between here and the mouth of the river is already taken up. I think we are near the Blue Mountains, the ridge that in Virginia is called the South Reach to distinguish it from the North Reach, twenty or thirty miles distant. This is also Antes’ opinion, but the surveyor disagrees, and thinks these are the Brushy Mountains.35
So far had I written before we finished surveying. There is not much to add. The tract contains over 6000 acres, and there can be at least eight settlements of about ten families each, and each settlement will have enough water, wood, and good land.
How the road would run I do not know. We have come across high, steep hills. The path takes a general north-west direction,—but why speak of paths when there are none except those the buffalo have made? We reckon it about eighteen miles from the tract we took up on the Catawba. The hills come down close to the river,—but perhaps there is a way of which we do not yet know.
Our surveyor and his men met a party of six Cherokee Indians, and were stopped by them, but they soon became friendly. The woods here are full of Cherokees, and we see their signs wherever we go. They are out hunting.
[The next sheet, also dated Nov. 19th, is addressed to dem Jünger, and is largely a repetition of views already expressed concerning the need for better management of land entries, etc.]
Nov. 24th. From camp in the forks of the third river36 that flows into the Catawba near Quaker Meadows. Perhaps five miles from Table Mountain. [Spbg. Diary.] This is the fifth tract that we have selected, and contains seven or eight hundred acres,—a fine piece of land, lying on two creeks. * * *
The land is very rich, and has been much frequented by buffalo, whose tracks are everywhere, and can often be followed with profit. Frequently, however, a man cannot travel them, for they go through thick and thin, through morass and deep water, and up and down banks so steep that a man could fall down but neither ride nor walk! * * *
This tract lies not far from No. 4, perhaps a good mile to the west, and the way is not bad when one knows it. * * *
The wolves here give us music every morning, from six corners at once, such music as I have never heard. They are not like the wolves of Germany, Poland, and Livonia, but are afraid of men, and do not usually approach near them. A couple of Brethren skilled in hunting would be of benefit not only here but at our other tracts, partly to kill the wolves and panthers, partly to supply the Brethren with game. Not only can the skins of wolves and panthers be sold, but the government pays a bounty of ten shillings for each one killed.
Nov. 28. Old Indian Field, on the north-east branch37 of Middle Little River. [Spbg. Diary.] We reached here on the 25th of this month, camped beside the branch, looked over the land, and resolved to take it up. It is lowland, lying on two streams, the one somewhat larger, the other somewhat smaller than our Manocasy at Bethlehem. The water that we find in these mountains is excellent, better than the spring at Bethlehem. It looks as though there might be mineral springs about. The streams on this tract afford good mill sites, and apparently will neither go dry in summer nor freeze in winter, for they are fresh spring water. There are more than twenty springs on this tract, with little runs, beside which canes grow freely.
The land is rich, partly damp, which will make good meadows, and partly dry, where corn, hemp, tobacco, etc., can be grown. It is too rich for wheat, but perhaps after corn has been grown for some ten years wheat could be raised. * * *
This tract contains 2000 acres. We were obliged to include several mountains to get the lowland, but part of them are not too steep to cultivate, and there is an abundance of wood. * * *
The Indians have certainly lived here, perhaps before the war with the white settlers in North Carolina. There are remains of an Indian Fort, grass still grows on the site of dwellings, and the trees show also that men have lived here, but it may be fifty or more years ago. * * *
This tract adjoins the 6000 acre tract already taken up on Middle Little River, and is divided from it by an east and west line.
From Br. Cossert’s letter, which you read, and to which you added a postscript I see that you prefer to have a considerable portion of the land which is to be bought from My Lord Granville in one piece. I have had that desire constantly in mind, and already in Edenton inquired of Lord Granville’s Agent whether it would be possible to find such a tract of land not possessed of or claimed by any person whatsoever. He knew of none, and could not give me much help, for he did not have a surveyor’s map of a single County showing what land was vacant and what was occupied. Then I inquired of people in the country, but no one has been able to tell me of such a body of land. Mr. Corbin suggested that I consult the hunters so I inquired for those who were best known, and engaged three for our journey, selecting men who had the reputation of being best fitted for our needs. They were hopeful at first, but soon came to the conclusion that no such body of land remains, which has not been taken up, surveyed, or conveyed.
One man in Edenton suggested the Tuscarora land, which lies about 35 miles from Edenton, and introduced me to the Interpreter, Mr. Whitemeal. I took his suggestion into consideration, notwithstanding the Act of Assembly of which I send you a copy.
The land lies on the Roanoke, and can be reached by fairly large boats. * * * It is about 12 miles long, and of varying width, Mr. Whitemeal told me the greatest width was 6 miles. It probably contains 30,000 to 40,000 acres, though one estimate was 70,000 acres. Be that as it may, it is a considerable body of land. Some of it is very rich, lies low, and is covered with tall, strong canes, is however frequently flooded by the river. Part of it lies high, but is also rich, and the Indians plant it until the grass grows so freely that they cannot till their corn,—for they have neither plough nor harrow,—and then they clear and plant a new piece. About half of the land is barren, but has some trees on it. As everywhere in that section the water is bad, especially in summer. Perhaps wells would help the situation. It is said that the Indians are tired of living there, and not many of them are left. Many have gone North, and live, I understand, on the Susquehanna; others fell before the Catawbas, who some time ago attacked and killed many of them; others are scattered, as the wind scatters the smoke. A few people have grants from the Lord Proprietor, but Mr. Whitemeal says only to one or more small pieces.
I suggest that we secure from My Lord Granville a grant to this Tuscarora land, with the understanding that when the Indians leave the land of their own accord, or sell their improvements, or give their consent in consideration of a present, the Brethren shall take possession, and that meanwhile My Lord Granville shall accept one third or less of the usual quit-rent, which is one shilling per hundred acres. There is nothing in the Act of Assembly to forbid it. We would not buy from the Indians, who can not sell it, but from My Lord Granville. It would not wrong the Indians, who would receive remuneration for their improvements, for otherwise they will probably be driven away empty-handed by fear of the Catawbas. They are as uncertain as the fowls of the air. I believe Lord Granville could have the King annul the Act, as prejudicial to his interests. What authority has the Assembly to keep Lord Granville out of the quit-rents which he has a right to expect, or to appropriate the land to the Indians, who were living there only on sufferance?
I admit, that it would probably be some years before the Indians agreed to this,—good, we would meanwhile settle the other tracts and would let this one rest.
My reasons are (1) we are there not too far from the sea, and yet in the heart of the land; and who knows how many souls we might win there. (2) This settlement would assist that farther inland, and be in turn assisted by it. Otherwise how can the western settlements exist? They are too far from market, and men must go 300 or 350 miles for a bushel of salt. (3) We can there build a little town, and become incorporated.
I submit this for your consideration; may the Lord direct all according to His will.
You see from the enclosed Act of Assembly that the western part of North Carolina has been made a separate County and Parish, the County being called Anson. All of the land that we have taken up, and what we expect to take, lies in Anson County, and St. George’s Parish, and whoever settles here will have to pay the taxes imposed by the Vestrymen from time to time. This would be hard for our Brethren, who have their own teachers, churches, poor, etc., and leads to the question:—Could not an Act of Assembly be secured through My Lord Granville’s influence, whereby our rights as a Church could be established in this free country, and we be released from all taxes for the benefit of another Church?
Connecticut, in New England, has a Law, that whoever has no Church and no teacher, must contribute to the support of the Church and teacher nearest his home. Whoever, however, can prove that he is connected with a certain Church, and religion, and teacher, must pay the established taxes, but the constable passes them on to that designated teacher, etc.
Nov. 29. From the camp in the upper fork38 of the Second or Middle Little River, flowing into the Catawba, not far from Quaker Meadows. [Spbg. Diary.] We are here in a region that has perhaps been seldom visited since the creation of the world. We are some 70 or 80 miles from the last settlement in North Carolina, and have come over terrible mountains, and often through very dangerous ways. But, thank God, we are all well, cheerful, and content, and thankful to our Heavenly Father for His gracious protection and care, to our dear Lord for His presence and friendship, to the Holy Spirit for His unwearied workings, and to the Holy Angels for the guidance of which we have had many marked evidences.
From here we plan to go to the heads of the Atkin,39 a large river, but on account of its terrible falls and numerous rocks useless for commerce.
Now concerning the place where we are now in camp. It is a depression, a little Oli,40 the richest we have yet seen in North Carolina. Three streams flow through it, and there are many sweet springs. * * * There is an abundance of wood. Our horses find plenty of tender grass in the feeding ground of the buffalo, and around the springs, and they eat eagerly. * * * Hemp, oats, barley, etc., could be raised here, and good hay-fields made. There is no stone in the tract I have described, but plenty in the hills which surround it. (It is not surprising that I particularly note this fact, for in North and South Carolina there are stretches of a hundred miles or more where one can not find stone enough to build a foundation for a log house.) But even in these mountains there is not one-tenth as much stone as we find almost everywhere in Pennsylvania. * * *
Dec. 5th, from camp in an Indian field, on what we think is a south branch of the Atkin. [Spbg. Diary.] [We have found that it is either the head or a branch of New River, which flows from North Carolina into Virginia, and finally into the Mississippi. Marginal note.]
We have reached here after a hard journey over very high, terrible, mountains and cliffs. A hunter, whom we had taken to show us the way, and who once knew the path to the Atkin, missed the trail, and led us into a place from where there was no way out except by climbing an indescribably steep mountain.41 Part of the way we climbed on hands and knees, dragging after us the loads we had taken from the backs of the horses, for had we not unsaddled them they would have fallen backwards down the mountain,—indeed, this did happen once; part of the way we led the horses, who were trembling like a leaf. When we reached the top we saw mountains to right and to left, before and behind us, many hundreds of mountains, rising like great waves in a storm.
We rested a little, and then began to descend, not quite so precipitately. Soon we found water, and oh, how refreshing it was! Then we sought pasturage for our horses, riding a long way, and well into the night, but found nothing except dry leaves. We could have wept for pity for the poor beasts. It had become so dark that we could not put up the tent, and were obliged to camp under the trees. It was a trying night! In the morning we went further, but had to cut our way through laurel bushes and beaver dams, which greatly wearied our company. We changed our course, and leaving the ravine went up on the mountain, and there in a chestnut grove the Lord showed us a good spring, and forage for our horses. He also sent us two deer in our necessity, which were most welcome. Next day we went on, and came to a creek, so full of rocks that we could not follow it, and with banks so steep that a horse could not climb them, and scarcely a man. We ate a little, but our horses had nothing, absolutely nothing, and that distressed us. Presently one of our hunters, who had been up on the mountain, returned with the report that he had seen a meadow,42 so we cut our way through the bushes to it, reaching it by evening, to the delight of men and horses. We put up our tent, but had barely finished when there came such a wind storm that we could hardly stand against it. I think I have never felt a winter wind so strong and so cold. The ground was covered with snow; water froze beside the fire. Then our men lost heart! What should we do? Our horses would die, and we with them. For the hunters had about concluded that we were across the crest of the Blue Mountains, and on the Mississippi watershed.
The next day the sun came out, and the days were warmer, though the nights still very cold. Br. Antes and I rode over the tract, and think that it contains about 5000 acres. Much of it is already clear, long grass grows here, and it is all low-land. Three creeks43 unite in a river that flows into the Ohio, and with the Ohio into the Mississippi.
* * * There are no canes, nor any sign of them, but plenty of grass-land. * * * Corn, wheat, oats, barley, hemp, etc., will grow here. Of wood there is no lack; we have included in our tract a beautiful chestnut forest, and fine white pine. The water is clear and delicious. Among the various stones there is a variety which Br. Antes thinks the best for mill-stones that he has seen in America. * * * Many hundred, or thousand, wild apple trees, crab trees, grow here; probably vinegar and spirits could be made from them. * * *
From here we can see the Meadow Mountains,44 and think they are about twenty miles away. Therefore this tract is far to the west, and some fifteen miles from the Virginia border. We think this place is not so very far from Ohio or Alegene, one of the largest towns of the Five Nations, though we are not sure. Probably this would make an admirable place for an Indian Settlement, like Gnadenhütten45 in Pennsylvania, for it has wood, mast, game, fish, and is open in all directions for hunting. The soil is suitable for the raising of corn, potatoes, etc.
It is also admirably suited for cattle raising, with an abundance of meadow land.
Dec. 14th. From the camp on Atkin Waters, where a north and a south branch unite,46 forming the river which flows through North and South Carolina. Further down it is very large and wide, but here rather more than half the width of our Lecha at Bethlehem. [Spbg. Diary.] Here we are at last, after a difficult journey among the mountains. We were completely lost, and whichever way we turned we were walled in. Not one of our company had ever been there before, and path or trail were unknown,—though how can one speak of path or trail when none existed? We crossed only dry mountains and dry valleys, and when for several days we followed the river47 in the hope that it would lead us out we found ourselves only deeper in the wilderness, for the river ran now north, now south, now east, now west, in short to all points of the compass! Finally we decided to leave the river and take a course between east and south, crossing the mountains as best we could. One height rose behind the other, and we traveled between hope and fear, distressed for our horses, which had nothing to eat.
At last we reached a stream48 flowing rapidly down the mountain, followed it, and happily reached this side of the Blue Ridge. We also found pasturage for our horses, and oh, how glad we were! We again shot two deer, and having been very short of provision for many days, we were now much refreshed.
Now we are quite sure that we were recently on the head waters of New River, not of the Atkin. We thought the stream we were following out of the mountains must be either the north or the south branch of the Atkin, and find that it was the head of the north branch. We saw a couple thousand acres of good land, and made a note of it, but did not stop to survey it, being in a hurry to reach once more the home of some settler, not having seen any one for a couple of months. We thought we were about 120 miles from Morgan Bryant’s settlement, which was correct.
When we reached the Atkin, and found a good piece of land, comprising four or five thousand acres, we agreed to stop, and let the horses rest and feed on the canes, while we surveyed the tract. Br. Antes, however, has been quite ill. Some days ago he cut his hand, and on the journey the cold settled in his arm, giving him almost unendurable pain.
Here the Lord has given us great joy,—we have seen three white men. They were returning from a bear hunt, and rode along one side of the Atkin as we set up camp on the other. One was a man named Owen, with his son. They are of Welsh blood, and settled here last spring. He invited us to his house, and was very friendly, and we went the next day, setting up our tent near his hut, which was too small to take us in.
The land which we have taken up lies on both sides of the river, three or four miles from here, taking in the north and the south branch. Many streams flow through the low-lands, one large enough for a mill. Canes grow here, so that if a settlement is established the Brethren can feed their cattle on the canes for a couple of years. Meadows can easily be made, for some of the land is well fitted for it, and more can readily be enriched. There is also good land for fields. * * * The soil is sandy, not pure sand but mixed with red earth,—a rich, warm soil. Of the included hills some have good trees, some not. It lies well, though some of the low-land may possibly be flooded at times, I cannot tell. This is, taking it all in all, one of the best tracts that we have taken up.
Dec. 20th. From the camp on the Atkin opposite the Mulberry Fields, near Mr. Owen’s hut. [Spbg. Diary.] Through the goodness of God we have reached here, all well except Henry Antes, who has fever from the cold in his arm. We are the more glad to be here so that he can rest a little. The rest of us are busy surveying, for by Mr. Owen’s advice we have here taken up a valuable piece of land.49 It lies four miles down the river from the last tract, and is opposite the Mulberry Fields. These are old Indian fields, on which the Cherokees probably once lived. They have a pleasant situation and a rich soil. Morgan Bryant has taken them up, but no one lives on them. Our land, which is opposite, is not far from the tract we have already taken on the Atkin; Morgan Bryant owns the land lying between, on which Mr. Owen lives. If we could buy this plantation, and the Mulberry Fields, we would have the land for ten miles on both sides of the Atkin, for we have taken up a piece on the same side of the river with the Mulberry Fields, touching that on which Mr. Owen lives.
This tract is much like the other taken on the Atkin. Rich soil, mixed with sand,—the color of a mulatto. * * * On the hills are stones, which can perhaps be used in building. There is no limestone, but we are told that there is clay, which becomes hard as stone when exposed to the air. The truth of this remains to be proved. There is good wood on this land and on the hills that are included in our lines. The water is good, but not equal to that beyond the Blue Mountains. We are sixty miles from any house, Owen’s excepted.
Jan. 8, 1753. From the camp in the three forks of Muddy Creek, also called Carguels Creek. [Official copy.] It is the middle of winter, and the ground is covered with snow; but we are camping in the forest, well and content, under the wings of the Almighty.
Towards the end of the year we came into this neighborhood, and found a body of land50 which is probably the best left in North Carolina. If we had had a true account of this in the beginning, perhaps we would not have gone to the Catawba nor beyond the Blue Mountains to the New River, but doubtless the Lord ordained that in ignorance of this we should take up those other thousands of acres, which will in some way serve His purpose.
The land on which we are now encamped seems to me to have been reserved by the Lord for the Brethren.
It lies in Anson County, about ten miles from the Atkin, on the upper road to Pennsylvania, some twenty miles from the Virginia line. A road is being built from here to a Landing, to which goods can be brought in boats from Cape Fear, and then be hauled further into the country. It is said to be about 150 miles to this Landing,51 350 miles to Edenton, and 19 miles to the nearest mill.
This tract lies particularly well. It has countless springs, and numerous fine creeks; as many mills as may be desired can be built. There is much beautiful meadow land, and water can be led to other pieces which are not quite so low. There is good pasturage for cattle, and the canes growing along the creeks will help out for a couple of winters until the meadows are in shape. There is also much lowland which is suitable for raising corn, etc. There is plenty of upland and gently sloping land which can be used for corn, wheat, etc.
On part of the land the hunters have ruined the timber by fire, but this is no disadvantage, for a wise farmer will cultivate this part first, as it is already cleared, and will so spare the fine woodland.
There is also a good deal of barren land, and it would probably be correct to say that the tract is one half good, one quarter poor, and one quarter medium. But all the land in North Carolina is mixed this way, one can hardly find 600 acres that do not include some barren land.
There is also stone here, suitable for building purposes, and Br. Antes thinks mill-stones can also be found.
The tract is perhaps about like the Nazareth land, except that it has more streams and meadows.
The hills here are not large, and not to be compared with those in the other tracts we have taken up. Most of it is flat, level, land; the air is fresh and healthful; the water good, especially from the springs, which are said never to fail in summer.
The laws of this country reserve to us the rights of pasturage, hunting and fishing on our land, excluding all other persons. In the beginning we will need a good, true, untiring, trustworthy forester and hunter, for the wolves and bears must be exterminated if cattle raising is to succeed. The game which is found here, however, will help supply the table of the first settlers.
The entire tract, with which we here complete our allotment, contains from 72,000 to 73,000 acres. We have surveyed it in fourteen pieces, not of exactly the same size, and yet not very different. All these pieces are adjoining, and together are about ten miles long and eleven miles wide, the width varying somewhat with the windings of the Creek. Mr. Churton will make a map of these pieces when he returns to Edenton, and send them promptly. Each piece has water, wood, meadow, and farm land.
Everybody who knows the country says that this is the only place where we could find so much good land together, and decidedly the best land yet vacant. Our impression is the same.
Jan. 25th, 1753, Lüneburg County, in Virginia. [Official copy.] We are on the return journey to Pennsylvania, and hope with God’s help to reach there in three weeks, but I want to add a word about the land to the north and south of that which we have taken upon Carguels Creek.
Just above our land there are some 16,000 acres. Much is stony, much is hilly, and much has little wood. At the same time it is fairly well watered, and there are many pieces of fine lowland, much of it very rich, some medium. It would make grain fields, and not a few good meadows. There is also building stone.
Below our land there are nine thousand and some hundreds of acres. There are large, deep creeks, and the land extends to the forks where the North, South, and Middle Creeks come together, making the Muddy Creek, which ten miles further on empties into the Atkin. In this piece there are some thousands of acres barren and stony land, but the rest is nearly all fine meadow land.
With Mr. Francis Corbin’s permission the surveyor has included both the above mentioned tracts in our line, but they cannot be included in the Returns as that would exceed our Warrant for 100,000 acres. But if the Brethren decide to take these pieces, along with the 72,000 or 73,000 acres, and if My Lord Granville is willing to convey them to the Lord Advocate, Chancellor and Agent on the same conditions as the others, they are surveyed, and it will not be necessary to send some one expressly to North Carolina. If the Brethren do not wish them or My Lord Granville objects, no harm is done. This much is certain,—it is to My Lord Granville’s interest to sell it to the Brethren, for if others take it in small pieces they will pick out only the fertile land, paying quit-rent on that, while we take it all, good and bad alike, and pay rent on it all.
I will say no more, but give you the bare facts, leaving the rest to the judgment of my Brethren and the decision of the Lord.
I have been thinking that it would be a good thing if the Deeds which we will take from My Lord Granville should contain a name for each tract. I will suggest what seems to me an appropriate name for each, and then leave it to you.
The first tract on Little River we found in October, and it was still green with Maiden Canes, and has also good meadow lands;—it might be called Grünen.
The other tract there is of much the same kind, but I have thought that we might name it for our Br. Johann Merk, one of our company, and call it Merkfield.
The third tract is on the Catawba, and is a beautiful place;—it might be Schönthal.
The fourth tract is on the middle of the three Creeks, and has not only good lowland but also rich upland;—it might be Richmont.
The fifth tract is near by, on the first of the three Creeks;—I would name it Loesch Creek, for Br. Herman Loesch, who was of our company.
The sixth is an old Indian Field, much overgrown. There is a ruined fort, so it might be Monfort.
The seventh lies among the mountains and is an Oli, a hole, according to the Indian tongue.
The eighth is across the Blue Mountains, on New River. It is very lonesome, not one man lives there; it is truly a Freydeck.
The ninth lies on the Atkin, and includes the Forks of the north and south branches;—it might be Forkland.
The tenth is distinguished by the fact that there we heard of the land on Carguels Creek, and began to hope that there we would find enough land to fill out the amount specified in our Warrant;—it might be called New Hope.
The eleventh is the entire district of Carguels Creek, and is richest in water of any place I have seen, and well fitted for cattle raising. Why should we not call it Wachau,52 and so renew that name?
What we should call the fourteen pieces which compose the Wachau I do not yet know; perhaps we could use the names of the creeks in each piece.
Bishop Spangenberg to Francis Corbin
To the Honble Francis Corbin, Agent,
As this comes by the Hands of Mr. Churton, who hath been our good Companion till over the Ledge of Mountains, (where also he hath surveyed a Piece of Land for us, which we think is the very first surveyed in them Parts of your Province) and back again: I need not give you a particular Account of our Journey. He will tell you all you want to know.
So much I can say, the Carolina People, especially these to whom we were recommended by You, have used us well; and we have evidently seen that our good Lord and God hath had a special Care for us in all unforeseen and sometimes dangerous Circumstances.
We are now going back again to Pennsylvania, and if nothing stops my Designs I hope to go in March or April a. c. from thence to England. Could we have done sooner with our Survey we would have waited on you to return you thanks for so much Kindness bestowed upon us. But having lost Time, when taken Sick, and again, when being misled in the Mountains; and being charged with some Affairs, which require my speedy Return to Pennsylvania; I hope you’l excuse our not coming down back again.
We have done now as far as we needed with the Survey of the Lands granted by His Ldsh. the Earl of Granville to the Unitas Fratrum. All the Rest depends of you. We are pretty confident you’l do what you can to oblige both His Ldsh. the Earl of Gr. and the United Brethren in dispatching your returns soon.
We have desired Mr. Churton to act in our Behalf, and to inform us of all which concerns us, by His Letters, sent by the Virginie Post to Philadelphia, under Mr. Dan. Benezets Merchts. Cover.
He will tell you my Scruples about the Lines of the Lands surveyed for us; which running great Part over steep Hills and high Mountains make out the number of Chains, but not the quantity of Lands we are to have surveyed for us; the Chain not being carried strait, but up and down along, just so as the said Hills and Mountains bare up and down. As an Allowance upon that Account will be but just and right, and I may happen to request it when coming to England, all I desire of you is that you may hear Mr. Churton upon it, and that you may give your Opinion about it to His Ldsh. the Earl of Granville.
Mr. Churton will also give you the Truth as for some Entries on that Piece of Land surveyed for us on Muddy Creek, part of which being much later than either our Agreement with, or the Warrant from, His Ldsh. the Earl of Gr. can not in justice be prejudicial to us. And as for those Entries which have been made before the Gentlemen concerned know too well that they neither improving any of the said Entries, nor having them conveyed unto them, but keeping all along His Ldsh. from His Quit-rents, His Officers from their Fees, and every Body from taking up and settling the said Land; selling afterward the same for great Price to poor People, who hunt up and down the Country for some Land, cant hold them with any Pretence of Justice. And if they have leave to remove their Entries to other Pieces of Land, which I think you will grant them at their Request, they certainly have no reason to complain; there being abundance of Spots there abouts, very fit for good Plantations, without cutting this whole Tract in Pieces. But no Body of Land unsettled as yet, besides this I have mentioned, is to be found, as Mr. Churton, who has gone with us twice the N. C. East and West and v. v. and four times from South to North and v. v. knows very well. It surely would be a Hardship for us to take the said Body of Land, which we have run out just as it lay together, whether good or bad, and to have the best Pieces of it cut out by such Entries. It would neither be My Lords Interest, if for the sake of some Entries, or even Surveys, the rest of the whole Body of the said Land should lay vacant yet, I don’t know how many Years.
As I do know the Settling of those Things I have just mentioned will give you some Trouble, I being allready so much obliged to you, will show myself not ungratefull. In the mean while I sent you here inclosed, according to my Promise given you, three Bills of Exchange all of one Tenor payable at Sight by Mr. Dan. Benezet Mercht at Philadelphia, with three Letters of Advice to Him to the same Purpose. It just makes out Sixty Pound Sterling, which is the Sum due to you by My L. Gr. order for the Survey of our Lands.
Mr. Churton has run at the Head as well as at the Foot of that Tract of Land, surveyed for us, situated at the Muddy Creek, some thousand Acres more, which if My Lord Advocate hath a mind to take, and My Lord Gr. to grant, for the Unitas Fratrum; we will then also pay for the Survey of it. There being only, according to your Advice, one line run about the whole. In the mean, I desire, you would let the said Pieces lay, without granting them to others till you get a Resolution from England.
10 John, Lord Carteret, was born April 22, 1690. His father was Sir George Carteret, one of the eight Lords Proprietors of Carolina under the grant of King Charles II. Sir John therefore inherited a one-eighth interest in this large territory. Through the death of his mother in 1744 Sir John became Earl Granville. He held many important positions in the British Realm, and died Jan. 2, 1763. His son Robert inherited his interest in the Carolina lands.
14 The Reformed, or Gregorian Calendar, was adopted by Catholic Germany in 1583, by Protestant Germany and Holland in 1700, by England not until 1752. Spangenberg, as a German, naturally used the new style calendar, but thought it worth while to note the fact in dating his diary. The Gregorian Calendar is now in general use.
16 Gov. Gabriel Johnston died July 17, 1752. Nathaniel Rice, President of Council, became acting Governor, serving until his death in January, 1753, when he was succeeded by Matthew Rowan. Gov. Arthur Dobbs reached North Carolina, and took office, in Oct. 1754.
41 It is evident that they missed what is now known as Mulberry Gap between the head of Mulberry Creek and the Yadkin, and instead followed the main branch of Johns River up through the Globe to its head at Blowing Rock, Watauga Co.
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