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Last Updated 10/20/00

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, I, 122-129.
edited by Adelaide L. Fries and others


Bethabara Diary, 1755.

[Extracts translated.]

Jan. 1. Wednesday. Having been awakened by the blowing of the French horn we assembled in the presence of our Saviour, and with hymns worshipped Him in His beauty. About eleven o’clock we read a sermon preached at Marienborn on Jan. 1st, on the text: “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our Profession, Jesus Christ,” Heb. III, 1. We enjoyed the sermon, and then prayed the Litany. During the afternoon and evening we entertained ourselves by reading extracts from the Diary kept from the beginning of our settlement here to the present day. A poem composed for this New Year was also read, and we closed the day with Liturgies and evening prayer. Toward evening a Quaker, his wife, and two hunters arrived. As our cabin was so crowded they built a fire outside, staying by it until we went to bed. It was quite cold today.

Jan. 2. The Quakeress, who understands German, attended our morning prayers. Then we all went to work, some on the building of the new house, others sawing boards, and still others covered the new kitchen, and hung in it the meat which is to be smoked.

Jan. 7. The Brn. Loesch and Merkli rode to Mr. Owen and Mr. Altem, returning in the evening. They brought with them some of our cattle, which had wandered from the rest as far as the Town Fork. We hauled in fodder from the 2nd field, and hay from the meadow by the good spring. The Brn. Feldhausen and Pfeil worked in the tannery. Began to build a chimney in the new kitchen. For lack of vegetables we are now eating meat each day for dinner, which agrees with us well, and makes us feel strong for work. A stranger from Virginia came and spent the night.

Jan. 14. Two Brethren went to the mill with three bushels of wheat we threshed yesterday, bringing back the first flour from wheat we have raised in the Wachau.

Jan. 15. Br. Georg Schmid, who was shingling our new house, fell from the second story and dislocated his leg; Br. Kalberlahn set it without great pain, and then bled him. It was a great mercy that he was not worse injured.

Jan. 16. Mr. Ferry sent a man for the first barrel that our cooper has made for an outsider.

Jan. 27. Br. Loesch went beyond the Town Fork to buy bear fat from the younger Guest.

Jan. 30. In the afternoon it rained heavily, so we began to dig a cellar under our new house.

During this month the weather in general was mild and serviceable. There was rain on the 3rd, snow on the 8th, rain and thunder on the 17th, rain on the 30th, and rain and thunder on the 31st. The second half of the month was so mild as to be almost like spring.

Work on the two-story house and its cellar has already been mentioned. Plans were made for a mill, and trees felled for it. Advantage was taken of the good weather to lay off and clear a new eight acre field.

A little game was shot.—Two squirrels and a deer were killed during the snow. Eight ducks, the first the Brethren had seen in the Wachau, were brought from Mr. Altem. Two small deer were killed on the 11th.

Kalberlahn made professional visits to the Etkin and the Meho; and some persons came for medicine.

Feb. 2. Today we caught the first wolf in our wolf-pit.

Feb. 3. Monday. After morning prayers we went to work. The Brn. Ingebretsen and Beroth continued sawing boards for the mill; Christensen and Kobus squared timber for the mill, and as the moon is on the wane they will this week fell some more trees. Five Brethren cleared land. Toward noon four strangers arrived, bringing letters from Br. Matthew Hehl and Br. Christian Seidel to Br. Peter. They were written Oct. 14th of last year, and were sent by the so-called Catholic weaver, but he himself was not here. We read the letters in the evening, being much interested in the news they contained.

Feb. 7. Today Br. Loescb rode beyond the Etkin to take our taxes to the Justice. He took with him the scalp of the wolf we caught, and the Justice, having asked whether he could swear that the wolf was killed in this County, gave him a certificate without further formality. Today it was snowing and freezing. Two Brethren split wood on the cleared land; five dug in the cellar; Br. Kapp helped with the work on the mill; Br. Christensen made a turning-lathe. As we were out of salt, and could not well send to Virginia for more, we reclaimed some by boiling brine, and found it good and strong.

Feb. 8. For the first time we had Lovefeast bread baked half flour and half corn-meal. We caught another wolf in the pit.

Feb. 12. Toward evening a man named Georg Muller arrived. Some weeks ago he asked to be allowed to come here for treatment, or that Br. Kalberlahn would come to him; neither request could then be granted, but now he was brought by two friends, who remained over night. Three months or more ago the man was struck on the head with an axe by some one who wanted to kill him. A surgeon treated the wound, and it seemed to heal, but it has opened again, his mind is weak, and he suffers much pain.

Feb. 13. Br. Kalberlahn operated on the injured man, and removed a splinter of bone from the skull; has also agreed to keep him under his care for several days here.

Feb. 19. A man came yesterday to take away our patient, but he did not want to go, so the man returned without him, and we will try further whether he can be helped. He does not trouble us, being as obedient as a child.

Feb. 21. It was very cold last night, and we had to take into our little cabin one of our horses which was sick. This weather is hard on our cattle, and especially the calves, for it is cold and they find little to eat in the woods. Two carpenters came to sharpen their axes.

Feb. 26. Br. Georg Schmid can now walk without a cane. For two weeks he has been making baskets and sieves. On the 28th he began work on a pair of bellows for the forge.

Practically the entire month of February has been so cold that those who have lived here several years say it has been an unusually hard winter. It snowed four times, on the 6th, 7th, 20th, and 24th. Yet we can not imagine another winter when nearly all our cattle and calves and horses must be left to take care of themselves in the woods; nor another winter in such poor quarters, especially our sleeping room, which is of rails between which a man may thrust his hand. Yet with our blankets we have been able to stand it, so it can well be said that with fairly good accommodations the winter here is not to be dreaded.

March 4. Today we ate our first millet porridge; Br. Christensen has made a fine pestle for millet.

March 5. A stranger came and complained that we had taken away land he had taken up, and that he was not willing to let it go for nothing; we told him we could do nothing for him.

March. 6. Mr. Benner came for medicine. We burned charcoal again.

March 8. Br. Herman Loesch took the sick man [George Müller] home; brought him back again on the 10th. Two men came and bought axes.

Christensen and Kobus made several trips in the earlier part of the month, looking for stone from which millstones might be made. They finally selected some about ten miles away, near the South Fork, on our land. A road was cut to the place, and on March 15th the wagon took thither the bellows, iron for chisels,—and for lack of other iron we will have to use some grubbing-hoes and the like,—provisions, and other needful things. The Middle Fork was much swollen by rain, but was crossed in safety, and the wagon returned that evening, three men remaining at the South Fork to work on the stones, which were finished by the 27th.

March 17. The snow is eighteen inches deep. The fodder is nearly all used so we cut maple and other sprouts in the bottom and brought them in so that our milk cows could eat the buds. To these we added the straw and chaff from our bed-sacks, lest the cows, for lack of food, lose their milk. For this country the winter is lasting unusually long.

March 23. Sunday. The weather is much milder, and tonight we had the first dew. At morning prayers we were reminded that the Passion Week begins today, and the services would all touch on the theme of the Saviour’s sufferings. The sick man who has been with us for some time, asked to attend, and was permitted to do so.

March 24. The sick man has now reached a point where his treatment can be continued at home, and Br. Ingebretsen escorted him thither.

March 25. At morning prayer we were reminded of the Annunciation, and of the love of God, beyond man’s power to understand, which led the Creator to leave eternity for this passing time.

April 5. Today the smithy was roofed,—it was begun April 2nd. We brought in charcoal, also began to plough the 1st field. Nine strangers were here today, of whom one came for medicine, and two spent the night. Among them was Mr. Garder, [Carter], a prominent man in this County, and at present an Assembly-man. He said that he had taken up land quite near ours, but had not wished to complete the purchase until he knew whether we wished to take more land, and he asked to be informed if we should do that. He said also that while he belonged to the Church of England he thought a man ought to know the principles of other denominations, and he would like to be informed as to ours. We promised him that at the earliest opportunity he should receive one of our printed books, which would give the information he wished. He and other prominent men of the land have offered to help us whenever they can, and promised to be our friends,— the reason for this we do not know. Among the visitors was also Capt. Shephard, who brought us the first letter to come from Chelsea2 to the Wachau via Wilmington and the Cape Fear. It was from our dear Br. Lauterbach, who sent with it the Daily Word and Doctrinal Texts3 for this year, a printed sermon on Phil. III, 17, etc. We were very glad to receive this letter, and gave God the thanks and praise. In the evening we read the introduction to the Text Book, and Br. Lauterbach’s letter, and hoped that his good wishes for us may be fulfilled.

April 9. Begin to build a bridge across Lick Fork, near our houses, so that we can haul logs to the site for the mill.

On the night of the 10th there was frost; then it turned warmer, and on the 12th beans were planted, cucumbers and potatoes on the 14th, peas and beans on the 15th. On the latter day there was rain and hail, the first rain since April 2nd.

April 16. There was a light frost last night. Today the Brethren finished planting potatoes, and planted cotton-seed. The stone cellar-wall under the new house is not yet finished. The Brethren who have been cutting wood for the new mill think they have enough, and today put up a little cabin to shelter their tools at the mill-site.

April 18. Pumpkins, water-melons and cantaloupes were planted today. Corn planting began April 22nd.

April 27. Sunday. The usual services. Adam Spach was here in the afternoon. Toward evening several Brethren had to go to the 3rd field to guard the fence, which was threatened by fire in the woods near by.

April 28. There was so heavy a frost that the acorns were hurt. Br. Loesch rode to the Yadkin, and returning brought with him a letter from Chelsea to Br. Friis, under cover to Br. Cossart, and dated Dec. 16th of last year. Then our dear Brethren David Nitschmann,4 Benzien, and Stauber arrived from Bethlehem,—that was joy added to joy! We welcomed them with a little Lovefeast that evening, during which they told various pleasant things; and Br. Nitschmann closed the service with a short singstunde and evening prayer.

April 30. The cold has continued for this entire month, though now by day it is warmer. People here in Carolina say it has been a cold and extraordinary winter. Many of our Brethren have not been well, though none were confined to their beds.

Hitherto the names of the rivers and places have been written as well and as clearly as we could, but now that we know them better they shall be spelled and named correctly, for instance “Ten River” will hereafter be written Dan River, etc.

May 3. Letters were sent to a Quaker named Hannibal Edwards, living thirty miles from here, who has promised to forward them safely to Bethlehem. As Br. Stauber is not well, and there is a sick man in the Quaker’s home whom we would gladly serve, Br. Kalberlahn took the letters.

May 5. Br. Feldhausen and Br. Beroth began to dig a tanyard vat, which will take them three days. Br. Petersen, who has been busy with tailoring, will also help Br. Lung with the cows morning and evening. We hauled in boards for the new houses, and finished planting corn on the eight acres of cleared upland. Four strangers were here today, one to see the tailor, and one to get medicine for Mr. Altem. At night there was frost again.

May 7. Br. Loesch returned from the Yadkin and reports that he was able to engage 80 bushels of corn and 20 bushels of rye forty miles from here, but the man demands pay in hard money. It is fortunate that we have it on hand, but unfortunate that we will have to haul the grain so far through the forest. A cow which we bought this winter, and which is still rather wild, hooked Br. Peterson near the eye; we are glad that the eye itself was not injured.

May 8. At morning prayers we were reminded that this is Ascension Day.

May 10. Br. Nitschmann went with Br. Loesch to the Black Walnut Bottom. There the dogs treed a bear, which Br. Loesch shot; it was lean but eatable. Br. Kobus this morning shot a wild turkey. A man brought work from Mr. Ferry to the tailor, and brought a hide to the tannery, in which Br. Pfeil is just now very busy. We gave him a letter for London, under cover to Br. Van Vleck in New York who will send it on by ship. A man on his way to Dan River to buy cattle stopped over night with us.

May 11. Sunday. We wanted to have a Unity Day, and looked about for a place to meet, for the cooking fire made it too hot in our small house, as the days are now fairly warm. We were about to go into the wagon shed when it occurred to one of the Brethren that we might use the new house, although the floor was not yet laid, and we at once followed the suggestion. Br. Nitschmann opened the service with a hymn, then prayed earnestly to the Saviour that He would bless this house and all who should dwell therein. Various reports were read, and after dinner another session was held, with more reading. Toward evening we had a conference, and decided what most needed to be done this week. In the evening was Lovefeast, in view of tomorrow’s anniversary of the remarkable 12th of May,5—it was a great pleasure to have with us a Brother [Nitschmann] who could tell us what his eyes had seen and his heart had felt thirty-one years before. We must observe the anniversary today, for tomorrow Br. Nitschmann and others are riding out, and besides the farm work dare not be interrupted. Br. Friis composed several verses which were read at this service.

May 15. Mr. Altem came today to have a tooth pulled. Two others came from eighty miles away, one of them for medicine.

May 16. Last night a bear ate one of our best hogs. Br. Herman Loesch went to the woods today to drive him away, and if possible prevent further damage. The Brn. Petersen and Stauber who have been beyond Dan River for cattle returned today with eight cows and calves and five oxen.

May 18. Whit Sunday. At ten o’clock we prayed the litany, and there was an address on the Text for the day,—“Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost,” Acts I, 5. In the afternoon we read the account of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles,—Acts II,—and several appropriate hymns were sung. Then we held our usual conference. The day was closed with a liturgy and evening prayers.

May 20. Five strangers6 were here today, two for work at our smithy. They had shot a deer, of which they only cared for the skin, so they offered us the meat, which we took.

May 22. Today we finished laying the floor in the second story of our new house. Br. Nitschmann has helped with it all this week, and has also made a table for our assembly room. A stranger came to consult Br. Kalberlahn.

May 24. Saturday. Toward evening we had Lovefeast, followed by Communion,—the first in our new house.

May 29. It is so dry that we can neither plough nor plant until rain comes. In the afternoon the Brn. Nitschmann and Benzien returned. They went to Salisbury on the 26th, and had a satisfactory interview with Councillor Hasell. The letter which we sent to Mr. Ferry on the 10th of this month to be forwarded to London was returned to us as the man did not go to the Cape Fear as expected; it has now been entrusted to Mr. Hasell. Today five men were here from the Catabes7 and Virginia, three wishing medicine and one to have work done by our tailor. Three stayed all night.

May 30. We had a formal Congregation Council to consider the farm and how it can be improved, and also to consider where and how a new farm should be laid out in the fall. Br. Jacob Loesch has sent a detailed report of this to Br. Joseph. We were informed that Br. Nitschmann will leave for Pennsylvania next Monday. It was very warm today until it began to rain a little.

May 31. All who were not in the fields were busy with letter writing. It was an unusually cold day for this time of the year. Within the last two weeks we have lost some twenty hogs, large and small. In the evening Mr. Churton arrived; he will survey two Entries for Br. Cossart. We closed the day and the month with a liturgy and evening prayers.

This portion of the Diary will be sent by Br. Nitschmann next Monday. Thanks be to the Saviour for all the grace which we have experienced to this hour.


FOOTNOTES

2 Moravian head-quarters in London, England, were in Chelsea, where Count Zinzendorf had bought a house.

3 The New Testament texts for each day.

4At this time there were three David Nitschmanns, all prominent workers in the Moravian Church. This was Bishop David Nitschmann, “the carpenter,” who had been one of the first missionaries to the West Indies in 1732.

5 May 12, 1727, the Moravians in Herrnhut, Saxony, signed the “Brotherly Agreement,” the first great step in the re-organization of the Unitas Fratrum.

6 “Fremden” translated “strangers” for lack of a better term, did not always mean that the men were totally unknown to the Brethren. The Diarist uses the word to include all those who were not members of the Moravian Church, and were not intimately associated with them. “Freuden”—“friends”—was later used for those whom they knew well, and with whom they were on friendly terms; “Nachbarn” were “neighbors,” more or less friendly as the case might be.

7Catawba River.



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