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Last Updated 10/20/00

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, I, 80-87.
edited by Adelaide L. Fries and others


Bethabara Diary.

[Full translation.]

Nov. 18, Sunday. We arose in good spirits, although several of the Brethren had not been able to sleep for the cold, for our cabin is small, and the roof full of holes.

Several of the Brethren went hunting, and succeeded in getting a couple of wild turkeys, the first game we have had, for although on our trip we tried to secure some game this is the first we have shot. Otherwise we spent the day resting.

In the evening we had our first Liturgy,óthe “Ave Agnus Dei,”ó then evening prayer, and went once more to bed, lying in our blankets around the room, and Br. Gottlob in his hammock above our heads.

Nov. 19th, Monday. After morning prayer the axes and hatchets were sharpened, and other tools made ready for use. Br. H. Loesch took a couple of horses to Mr. Altemís to bring corn for us. We began to build a bake-oven, so that we might again have bread, of which we have had little lately. Our food has been largely pumpkin broth and mush, which has agreed with us very well.

The Brn. Nathanael and Jacob Loesch measured off eight acres of land, which is to be cleared at once, so that wheat can be sown. Others began to gather the dead wood, and build bonfires. The grind-stone was set up, a cooperís bench and wash-trough made. The Brn. Gottlob, Nathanael, and Grube laid a floor of clapboards in our cabin, for the better protection of our goods. In the evening Br. Grube held singstunde and evening prayer.

Nov. 20th. Br. Nathanael held morning prayer, and announced that the Lordís Supper would be celebrated this evening.

At noon Br. Hermanus returned, bringing the cornmeal and meat he had bought from Mr. Altem. Br. Feldhausen went hunting.

In the afternoon it rained, which interfered with our work. We baked Lovefeast bread in a pan, using cornmeal.

Br. Feldhausen did not return this evening. We blew our horn, and shot a couple of times, so that if he had lost his way he could come back to us. As he did not appear we were obliged to postpone the Communion until tomorrow.

Our dear Gottlob held the singstunde and evening prayer, and then we went peacefully to rest.

Nov. 21st. Br. Gottlob held morning prayer; then each went to his work. Merkli, Erich, Peterson, and Beroth began to clear the field; Br. Hermanus went seven miles to an Irishman to buy corn; the Brn. Gottlob and Nathanael burned out hollow logs to make barrels; and Br. Grube baked Indian bread in the ashes.

Br. Feldhausen also returned. He had not lost his way, but night had overtaken him. It was very cold, but on account of the rain he could make no fire, so had to keep in motion all night. The wolves and panthers made themselves heard around him. Toward evening Br. Hermanus came back, having shot the first deer on our land. It was very welcome, for we had little food left, and much work to do, and it is hard to clear fields on a diet of corn only.

In the evening we had a Lovefeast, with cornbread, and wished that our dear ones in Bethlehem could spend a short hour with us in our little cabin. Then preparation was made for the Communion. The Brethren seated themselves along two sides of the room, with the new little table between, opposite the chimney. Our dear Gottlob made a short talk concerning the Sacrament; then we knelt in spirit at the Saviourís pierced feet, and prayed that His pierced hands might be laid upon us in absolution. Finally we partook of the Sacrament for the first time in North Carolina. Our hearts were deeply moved by His grace, as we sang an appropriate hymn, and our love for one another was strengthened. Then we spread our blankets, and lay peacefully down in our little church,ó as the cabin seemed after the service.

Nov. 22nd. Our dear Nathanael held the morning prayer, and reminded us that this was the 32nd birthday of our dear Brother Jacob Loesch; we sang several verses for him, and wished him all happiness and blessing in his work in this land.

Lischer, Hermanus, and Haberland took the wagon to Altemís for meal, and for some pumpkins which he had offered us as a gift. Loesch and Feldhausen went hunting, but returned empty-handed.

We had a little Lovefeast in honor of Br. Jacob Loesch, and rejoiced with him over his call of grace. Br. Gottlob held the singstunde.

Nov. 23rd. Br. Gottlob held morning prayer, taking as his subject the sufferings and death of Jesus.17

Then all went to work. Gottlob, Nathanael, and Grube helped burn brush. In the afternoon the Brethren returned with the wagon, bringing meal, corn, pumpkins and turnips. Today was very warm. In the evening we had to lie down early because the room was full of smoke.

Nov. 24th. Br. Grube held morning prayer.

The Brethren were busy clearing land; Lischer and Merkli were not well. Two men came looking for strayed horses, one of them was Doctor Barker, who last year lived on our land but has now moved to the Etkin.

In the evening we read from the diary of the Single Brethrenís Synod, held at London; then closed the day with evening prayer, and went peacefully to sleep.

Nov. 25th. Sunday. We prayed the Congregation Litany, and at noon had the liturgy “Ave Agnus Dei.” The rest of the time we spent quietly and pleasantly with one another. Nathanael and Gottlob baked bread in the pan-baker. Evening we continued reading the Synod diary; Br. Gottlob held evening prayer.

Nov. 26th. We rose feeling well and happy. Br. Nathanael held morning prayer; then Gottlob, Nathanael and Grube went out to look over our land, and made a circuit of some five miles, finding plenty of good, fertile ground, and especially large meadows where fine pastures can be made.

After dinner we had our liturgy as usual. In the afternoon we selected a place for our garden. Mr. Altem and his neighbor came to visit us, and remained over night.

In the evening we had an English song-service, and Br. Grube read one of the Berlin sermons.18 Our sleeping quarters were very much crowded, as we had guests.

Nov. 27th. Br. Gottlob held morning prayers. Br. Kalberlahn bled Mr. Altemís friend and gave him some medicine, for which he promised to pay two bushels of corn.

After breakfast Gottlob, Nathanael, and Jacob Loesch, with Mr. Altem, went to the Black Walnut Bottom,19 to look over that section. They returned in the afternoon, well pleased with their survey; had found a good place for a mill, about four miles from here, counting straight through the forest.

We spent the evening quietly; Br. Nathanael held singstunde and evening prayers.

Nov. 28th. Br. Nathanael held morning prayers. After breakfast our Brethren Gottlob, Nathanael, and Jacob Loesch set out toward the south-west, in the direction of the Yadkin, to see our land on Muddy Creek. Br. Grube accompanied them several miles through the forest, returning in the afternoon. The Brethren at home were busy clearing land; Feldhausen finished making the first plough.

In the evening Br. Grube held the singstunde, and then we went peacefully to rest.

Nov. 29th. After morning prayers Br. Lischer began to plough, and it went better than we had expected. In the afternoon Haberland and Merkli finished the bake-oven. We were disappointed that our Brethren failed to return from the forest. Br. Grube held singstunde and evening prayers.

Nov. 30th. After morning prayers all went to work. Lischer and Haberland went to Mr. Altemís for two hogs. Br. Hermanus ploughed. In the afternoon Gottlob, Nathanael and Loesch returned, having been over a goodly portion of our land. They had found a good mill-site, with a stream half the size of that at Friedensthal. They had spent the night with an Irishman who is living on our land, and has cleared seven acres. He seems to be a decent man; has nine children. At first the family were frightened and shy, but the Brethren drew them into conversation, and they became friendly, expressed their regret at having to move, and asked whether they might not stay and raise one more crop. The Brethren did not know what answer to make to them. There is unusually good land in that section, especially fine meadows.

In the evening Br. Nathanael held the singstunde.

Nov. 31st. Br. Gottlob held morning prayers referring to the sufferings and death of Jesus.

Afternoon some of the Brethren went to the woods and burnt a circle, expecting to secure some game. Those who had gone to Mr. Altem returned, bringing two hogs.

Evening we sang the Passion Liturgy.

Dec. 1st. Br. Nathanael held morning prayers. We were busy clearing land and ploughing.

Dec. 2. The First Sunday in Advent. In the morning we prayed the Congregation Litany. It rained nearly all day. We spent the time quietly, read some of Christelís20 hymns, and parts of sermons. In the afternoon Hermanus shot a deer near here. It was very welcome, since we were short of food.

In the evening Br. Nathanael held the singstunde, and spoke touchingly on the Text for the day, concerning the incarnation of our precious Saviour Jesus Christ.

Dec. 3rd. Br. Grube held morning prayer. Lischer began to harrow the ploughed ground; and Haberland went six miles to a neighbor to buy wheat for seed.

Evening we continued reading the Synod diary; then went peacefully to our resting places.

Dec. 4th. Br. Nathanael held morning prayer. Br. Loesch sowed the first wheat on our land. The remaining Brethren burned logs, ploughed and harrowed. Br. Nathanael held the singstunde.

Dec. 5th. Br. Gottlob held a helpful morning prayer. Br. Loesch sowed the three-acre field in wheat. It is unusually warm today.

[Here follow four blank pages in the Diary. No explanation is given, and probably they were to be filled in from notes, and were overlooked.]

Dec. 18th. Br. Gottlob held morning prayer. During the morning several Brethren measured the fall in the creek that passes here; and found the site selected for the mill is several feet lower. We wrote industriously to our dear ones in Bethlehem and Europe; also conferred as to the necessary articles which must be sent to us.

Br. Nathanael held the singstunde, and expressed his heartfelt wish that all our lives might be ordered according to the mind of Jesus, and that we might live peacefully together; then in the name of Jesus we lay down to sleep.

Dec. 19th. Br. Grube waked the Brethren with several hymns. Our beloved Gottlob and Nathanael made ready for their trip to Bethlehem. A farewell Lovefeast was held, and we were happily together once more. Various last points were discussed, for example that at present it is not feasible to observe the Sabbath, while so much work needs to be done, but that now and then, when it suits, the rest can be taken, and Lovefeast held in the evening. It was remarked that Sunday must be strictly kept, that the World should have nothing against us. Also that the laws of the land must be carefully observed, and that Br. Jacob Loesch should acquaint himself with the laws and see that we keep them. We are not to undertake any building just yet, but push the clearing of land, that as soon as possible we may be able to eat our own bread. For religious purposes we were divided into two groups,ó the first, Jacob Loesch as leader, consisted of Grube, Beroth, Erich, Kalberlahn, Peterson, Hermanus; the second, with Grube as leader, consisted of Jacob Loesch, Pfeil, Merkli Feldhausen, and Lunge. Br. Gottlob spoke affectionately concerning the great pleasure it had given him to conduct us hither, and be with us for a while. He and Br. Nathanael wished for us that we might remain close to the Saviour, that His peace might remain with us, that our lives might honor the Lamb of God, and that we might remember the sufferings and death of Jesus, until we should see Him as He is. Our Lovefeast closed with the Cup of Covenant21 and the kiss of peace. We were moved, and thanked God that we had been able to have these dear Brethren with us.

Then Gottlob, Nathanael, Haberland, and Lischer set out, the Brethren all going with them a short distance. Br. Grube accompanied them to the borders of our land, where he bade them an affectionate farewell; Br. Jacob Loesch went on with them to Dan River. After seeing them off the Brethren busied themselves with clearing land and plowing. In the evening we had singstunde and evening prayers.

Dec. 20th. After morning prayers Hermanus and Merkli took five horses and went to the River Etkin for meal and corn. We were very conscious of the absence of our dear Gottlob and Nathanael, indeed quite lonesome. Toward evening Jacob Loesch returned, bringing hearty greetings from our dear Brethren. They had spent the night beyond Dan River at the home of Mr. Gest, a pleasant man, who had taken good care of them. Next day Br. Loesch went with them a little further, then turned back, calling again on Mr. Gest, from whom he purchased some cattle.

Br. Grube held the singstunde and evening prayers. It was Br. Feldhausenís birthday, so we sang several hymns for him.

Dec. 21st. We arose feeling well, and after morning prayers went to work. Toward evening Hermanus and Merkli returned from the Etkin, bringing meal and corn. Br. Grube held singstunde and evening prayers, and then we went peacefully to rest.

Dec. 22nd. In the afternoon an Irishman arrived, seeking counsel of Br. Kalberlahn. He begged to be allowed to stay several days in his care, and we could not refuse, as the poor man was in great pain, although it is not convenient for us with our small resources. Toward evening another stranger appeared and spent the night with us.

Dec. 23rd. Sunday. After morning prayers the second man went home. At ten oíclock we had an English meeting, and read the first Berlin sermon. Br. Kalberlahn bled his patient. In the evening Br. Pfeil was sick. Br. Grube held singstunde and evening prayers. Our groups met for the first time today; after them we had a house-conference, and Merkli was appointed room-superintendent, and Erich, Peterson, and Pfeil were selected to do the house-keeping, each a week at a time. Br. Kalberlahn was charged with superintending the expenses.

Dec. 24th. After morning prayers Hermanus set out, with two horses, for the home of Mr. Hikki, some 60 miles away, to procure several bushels of salt. It rained all days. Our neighbor, Mr. Macgaal, came to take our patient home, but finding him no better left without him.

At 9:30 P. M. we began the Christmas Eve Watch service. We read the story of the birth of our Saviour, and rejoiced that the Holy Child was born for the salvation of the world. We had a Lovefeast also, and soon after midnight closed our first Christmas Eve Watch meeting in North Carolina.

Dec. 25. Br. Grube held morning prayer. At noon he read for us a sermon preached by Count Zinzendorf on a Christmas Day, and we enjoyed it. In the evening we sang hymns relating to the Holy Christ-Child.

Br. Pfeil was again very sick with colic.

Dec. 26th. Br. Jacob Loesch held the morning prayer. Peterson and Merkli went some twenty miles from here, across Dan River, to Mr. Gest, to get several head of cattle.

Our cornmeal mill ran today for the first time. It was very cold weather. We had singstunde in the evening.

Dec. 27th. After morning prayer Br. Kalberlahnís patient returned to his home on the Catawba River, about eighty miles from here. He is fairly well now. The Brethren began today to split rails. In the evening an Irishman came from Dan River to have a couple of teeth pulled. He spent the night with us. Singstunde in the evening.

Dec. 28th. After morning prayers the stranger left, very thankful for his relief from toothache. At noon Petersen and Merkli returned from Dan River with the cattle Br. Loesch recently purchased there. Mr. Haltem came on a visit. The weather was very bad, with much glaze ice. Singstunde in the evening.

Dec. 29th. After morning prayers the Brethren killed two oxen, and spent most of the day in the work. Mr. Haltem went out with two of the Brethren and helped them set our beaver traps. Merkli looked for our horses, but could not find them. In the evening Br. Grube read the second Berlin sermon, and held an English song service.

Dec. 30th. At noon Mr. Haltem left, well pleased with his visit. Petersen and Erich Ingebretsen accompanied him to search for our cows and oxen, which strayed last night. Br. Loesch went after the horses, and found them in the large meadow; also brought in a beaver caught in one of our traps. In the evening Br. Hermanus returned from Virginia, bringing three bushels of salt which he had bought on Smith River. Singstunde in the evening.

Dec. 31st. Br. Loesch held morning prayer. At noon Petersen and Merkli returned with the cattle which they had found twelve miles away. We had expected to observe the Night Watch,22 but were prevented, for toward evening our neighbor, Mr. Banner, came, and a little later two hunters who had been across the Blue Mts., and still later three Irishmen on their way from Pennsylvania to the Catawba. Our little cabin was very full, and Br. Pfeil was still ill, and we were much inconvenienced. Three Brethren slept out of doors, and two sat up. We were sorry not to have our Watch Service, but what could we do,óand our dear Saviour knew our circumstances. [...]


FOOTNOTES

17 The Friday services usually touched on the sufferings and death of the Saviour.

18 The “Berliner Reden” were sermons preached in Berlin by Count Zinzendorf. They had been translated into English. We note the courtesy of the Brethren in holding their service in English for the pleasure of their English-speaking guests.

19 Near present site of Bethania.

20 Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf, son of the Count; born Sept. 19, 1727. He was a talented young man, much beloved by the Moravians, and deeply mourned when he passed away, May 28, 1752.

21 The “Cup of Covenant” or “Cup of Thanksgiving” was used by the Brethren as a pledge of allegiance to each other and the Lord. It was a religious service, but must not be confused with the Lordís Supper.

22 The Brethren were accustomed to hold the closing service of the year late in the evening of Dec. 31st, watching the old year out and the new year in.



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