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Last Updated 05/24/00

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina
edited by Adelaide L. Fries and others

An Historical Sketch.

Compiled by the Editor.

[In the spring of 1753 Spangenberg went to England, taking with him his report of the trip to Carolina, and the maps of the various tracts selected. It was, however, a time of great financial stress in the German and English Moravian Church, and it appeared simply impossible to raise the money for the purchase, and for necessary expenses in colonizing the land. Moreover the ten smaller pieces lay widely scattered, and the large tract on Muddy Creek was known to contain from one quarter to one third poor land.

In view of all this the Brethren decided to abandon the project, and asked Lord Granville to release them from their contract with him. He refused, being loath to lose promising settlers, but agreed to a new contract, containing somewhat more advantageous terms, and this was signed by the Earl and by James Hutton, “Secretary of the Unitas Fratrum,” in the presence of Benjamin Wheatley and of Arthur Dobbs, who was soon to go to North Carolina as the next Governor of that Province.

Having finally committed themselves to the undertaking, the Brethren carefully considered the tracts surveyed, and decided to give up the ten smaller tracts, and to take the fourteen which together made up the tract on Muddy Creek, adding to them the sixteen thousand acres to the north, and the nine thousand to the south, which had been tentatively surveyed. The northern piece was divided into three sections, that to the south into two, making a total of nineteen in the Wachau,—for Spangenberg’s suggestion as to a name was at once adopted. This gave them 98,985 acres, just about the amount originally intended.

On account of the expense of having nineteen deeds prepared the Brethren suggested that one deed be made for the whole, but their attorney advised against this on the ground that if at any time they failed in the payment of the quit-rents, and Lord Granville was obliged to take back a part of the land, it could be more easily arranged if there were a number of smaller tracts, and his advice was followed.

The new contract, or agreement, already referred to, and the nineteen Deeds, bore date of August 7, 1753. The Deeds were made to James Hutton, by advice of counsel, the Moravian Church not being incorporated, though some thought that it might have taken title under the Act of Parliament of 1749, which recognized it as “an ancient Protestant Episcopal Church.” The Agreement between “the Right Honorable John Earl Granville Viscount Carteret and Baron Carteret of Hawnes” and “James Hutton,”53 Gentlemen, Secretary to the Unitas Fratrum,” stated that “in consideration of the sum of Five Hundred Pounds Sterling,” etc., the land was conveyed to James Hutton, his heirs and assigns, “in Trust and for the Use, Benefit and Behoof of the said Unitas Fratrum,” a clause that was to stand the Unity in very good stead in the troublesome days of the Revolutionary War. The Moravians were to pay £500 Sterling within four years, four per cent interest being charged; also a yearly rent of £148, 9s, 2½d, (3 shillings per 100 acres). This quit-rent might be paid annually or semi-annually as preferred, but if it became six months overdue title to the land was forfeited.

In 1754 Earl Granville deeded to the Brethren the two tracts54 on the Yadkin, surveyed by Spangenberg just before he found the Wachau. Title was taken by Henry Cossart,55 and no additional charge was made, the purpose being to make good to the Moravians the poor land in the Wachau, of which the first settlers had found more than the estimated amount. The other eight tracts of the Spangenberg survey were permanently abandoned.

In addition to the £500 for the Wachau, and the annual quit-rent, it was now necessary to raise £193 for having the Deeds prepared, £223 for the expenses of the survey, and as much more as might be needed for the expenses of colonizing.

Several plans were proposed for raising the necessary funds, and that suggested by Jonas Paulas Weiss was adopted. It was neither more nor less than a land company, in which each share-holder was to pay a definite proportion of these initial expenses and the annual quit-rent, and was to receive 2,000 acres of land in the “Etablissement” in return. Weiss was a merchant of Nuremberg, who had joined the Moravians, and the success of this enterprise was largely due to him. A temporary loan was obtained from a Swiss gentleman, Rudolph Oehs by name, to cover immediate needs, and then plans for the land company were energetically pushed. Spangenberg and Cornelius van Laer were elected directors, the former as corresponding secretary and the latter as treasurer. Formal instructions were drawn up, and full powers of attorney for both were signed in London, December 18, 1753, by Count Zinzendorf, Henry 28th Count Reuss, James Hutton and Weiss. An office was opened in Zeist, Holland, with Weiss in charge, and members and friends of the Unitas Fratrum were asked to subscribe.

The first response came from Johann Christoph Sack, of Koenigsberg, who, with hearty approval of the plan, took the first share and sent his £68. Others followed until twenty-six shares had been sold, and by the end of 1757 the purchase price and other initial expenses had been paid, and certain sums advanced by the Unity or borrowed in 1754 had been covered by gifts from generous members of the Unity.

As each share was taken two papers were issued,—a Contract and a Certificate,—and a translation of No. 1 of each will serve to represent all.

Contract No. 1.

I, the undersigned, request that a lot of 2,000 acres may be granted to me in the settlement which the Unity of Brethren has undertaken in North Carolina. I promise to pay my yearly contingent thereto. I will moreover comply with any regulations which may at any time be made regarding it. To this end I have hereunto set my hand and seal, and have also sent____ Sterling to be entered to my credit.

Koenigsberg, Nov. 13, 1753.

                                                                                          Johann Christoph Sack.

Certificate No. 1.

Herr Johann Christoph Sack, in Koenigsberg. Whereas, he, in due form, has taken a share of one lot in the Brethren’s settlement in North Carolina, in America, and has paid his promised quota—

For purchase money ........................................................................... £18:

For the expenses of selecting and surveying the tracts and

          preparing the general deeds ..........................................................15:

          For first expenses in developing ....................................................30:

          For quit-rent for the first year to Michaelmas, 1754 ........................5:

a total of Sixty-eight Pounds Sterling, to Herr Cornelius van Laer in Amsterdam, authorized agent of the Society; therefore, to him above mentioned, in consideration of this and future regular payments, in order that he may be entitled to one lot of Two Thousand Acres belonging to the Brethren in North Carolina, this certificate is issued and delivered in the name of the Society.

London and Amsterdam,

          J. Spangenberg, mpp.                                                     Kornelis van Laer.

Registered Book A, page 13.

          Jonas Paulas Weiss.

Strangely enough, almost all the Contracts and Certificates issued by the company are preserved in the Herrnhut Archives, and it is possible to compile a list of the original shareholders, to note their places of residence, and the order in which they subscribed to “der Nord Carolina Land und Colonie Etablissement.”

 1.      1753. Johann Christoph Sack, Koenigsberg, Germany.

 2.      1753. Reinhold Gerhard Georgi, Koenigsberg, Germany.

3/1.    1754. Georg Gottfried Gambs, Strassburg, France. (1000 acres).

3/2.    1754. Johann Leonard Roederer, Strassburg, France. (1000 acres).

 4.      1754. Hans Ernst von Zezschwiz, Herrnhut, Saxony.

 5.      1754. Johann Steinhauer, Riga, Russia.

6/l .    1754. Traugott Bagge, Gottenberg, Sweden. (1000 acres).

6/2.    1754. Benjamin Bagge, Gottenberg, Sweden. (1000 acres).

 7.      1754. Cornelius van Laer, Zeist, Holland.

 8.      1754. Abraham Duerninger & Co., Herrnhut, Saxony.

 9.      1754. Johanna Sophia von Schweinitz, Herrnhut, Saxony.

10.     1754. Johann Casper Rosenbaum, Dantzig, Prussia.

11.     1754. Heinrich Giller, Herrnhut, Saxony.

12.     1754. Madtz Jensen Klein, Drammen, Norway.

13.     1754. Johann Steinhauer, Riga, Russia.

14.     1754. C. F. Martens (for Single Brethren’s Diacony), Herrnhut, Saxony.

15.     1754. Johann Hartmann, Hirschberg, Silesia.

16.     1754. Jean Jacque de Schwarz, Coire, Switzerland.

17.     1754. Christian Schmidt, Stettin, Prussia.

18.     1754. Jean Henri de Planta de Wildenberg, Coire, Switzerland.

19/1.  1754. Michael Zellich, Riga, Russia (1000 acres)

19/2.  1754. Johannes Andreas Schmutz, Strassburg, France. (1000 acres).

20.     1754. Friedrich von Wiedebach, Herrnhut, Saxony.

21.     1754. Gottfried Clemens, Barby, Saxony.

22.     1754. Johann Christoph Sack, Koenigsberg, Germany.

23.     1754. Johann Erhardt Dehio, Herrnhut, Saxony.

24.     1754. Friedrich Justin von Bruiningk, Livonia, Russia.

25/1.  1754. Hans Hermann von Damnitz, Guettau, Saxony. (1000 acres).

25/2.  1755. Johann Gustav Frey, Errestfer, Russia. (1000 acres).

26.     1759. Friedrich Heinrich von Bibra, Modlau, Silesia.

A map of Der Nord Carolina Land und Colonie Etablissement, dated 1754, shows the Wachau as divided into “Societaets Land,” (for the Land Company) and “Unitaets Land,” (for the Unity). For the time being it was considered that each Certificate carried with it the lot bearing the corresponding number, though an actual award of the lots was not made until 1767, by which time the map had been a couple of times redrawn to secure a more convenient partition of the land.]


53 James Hutton was born in London, Sept. 14, 1715, the son of genteel though not noble parents. A change acquaintance with the Wesleys led to his spiritual awakening; and after John Wesley returned from Georgia he introduced Hutton to the Moravians.

Hutton became a member of the Fetter Lane Society when it was organized in 1738; and of Fettler Lane Congregation when it was begun four years later.

He was a book-seller by trade. In July, 1740, he married Louise Brandt, of French Switzerland. He was ordained a Deacon of the Moravian Church in Sept. 1749; and in May, 1752, was appointed “Secretary of the Unity.”

He died May 3, 1795.

54 In 1778 these two tracts were sold, but men who had settled thereon without permission refused to give possession, and this led to the “Wilkes Co. Land Suit,” which dragged on through various stages until 1828, when the Courts rendered a decision in favor of the Moravians. Further difficulties with the purchasers continued until 1856, when the matter was finally closed.

55 Henry Cossart de Saint Aubin d’Espiez was born 1714 at Frankfurt on the Oder, his father having left France on account of religious persecution. He joined the Moravians about 1735.

As Agent of the Unity he shared with Zinzendorf and von Gersdorff in the purchase of Wachovia, and also took title to various tracts for the Brethren. He aided in this negotiations with the English Parliament in 1749; and in 1754 is mentioned as residing in the Island of Jersey. He made several important and dangerous trips for the Unity; and died at Herrnhut in May, 1763.

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