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Last Updated 10/20/00

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, I, 140-146.
edited by Adelaide L. Fries and others

Diary of the Little Pilgrim Congregation that on Oct. 2, 1755, left Bethlehem for the Wachau in North Carolina.

The members of this little Pilgrim Congregation were selected Sept. 11th and 12th. The next week four of them started with Br. Herman Loesch [on Sept. 18th], having partaken of the Communion the preceding day. Sept. 23rd the rest of the party bade farewell to Br. Joseph, who was leaving for New York on the morrow, and received from him the kiss of love and blessing; then they shared with the entire congregation in the harvest Lovefeast.

Sept. 29th was the birthday of our beloved and honored Father Nitschmann.13 A Lovefeast was given by the members of the congregation who were born in Moravia, and the Brethren and Sisters destined for Carolina were invited to attend, and hymns blessing them for their journey were sung, as well as hymns of prayer for Father Nitschmann.

Oct. 1. The company was commended to the Lord by the Congregation, and shared once more in the Holy Communion, at which an indescribable sense of God’s grace came upon them.

Oct. 2. After many tears and tender kisses the company set out, the Single Brethren with Br. Hoffman as leader going by way of Oley to Reddington and Warrick, and the married people with Br. and Sr. Christian Henrich, accompanied by the two baggage wagons, going by way of Maxedanien and Reddington to Warrick.

The Single Brethren stopped for bread and butter at Salisbury at nine A.M.; where Beringer called upon them. Having said farewell to Johannes Bonn and Friedrick Weber, who had accompanied them so far, they went on, and stopped for the night near the home of Jacob Lang, who made them welcome.

Oct. 3. Made an early start, and held morning prayers in the woods. Reached Oley at ten o’clock, where Br. and Sr. Moller supplied them with provisions prepared the preceding day for them. The Brethren wished that with every one hundred miles they might find such hosts, whom may the Lord bless as his own! At night they stopped eight miles from Redding at a mill kept by an Englishman, where they found good lodgings.

Oct. 4. After morning prayer in the woods again they breakfasted with young Mathaus Riem. At noon they stopped at David Bieler’s where they had milk, bread and butter; and at 3 o’clock reached Warrick School-house, where several Brethren and Sisters welcomed them, and gave them a cup of tea. Scarcely had they removed the dust of travel when the company of married people arrived; they had had trouble in finding lodgings the night before.

Oct. 5. Sunday. The day was spent at Warrick, where services were held.

Oct. 6. The Single Brethren set out for Lancaster, and while Passes were being obtained from a Justice most of the Brethren went to walk.

Oct. 7. They crossed the Susquehanna, meeting near the river the other wagons, which had gone by Peter Frey’s. At Yorktown Br. Soelle gave them tea, and they spent the next day in that town.

Oct. 9. At noon an Inn-keeper, hearing that they were bound for Carolina, gave them most distressing reports of Indian outrages on the Atkin, where forty persons were said to have been killed, and property burned.

Oct. 10. Spent this night at Frederickstown; and the next night in their tents, which they put up for the first time.

Oct. 13. Crossed the Potomac at noon. A heavy storm during the day and another at night, was uncomfortable at the time, and made travel difficult for the next day.

Oct. 15. Ate the last bread for breakfast; dined on dried biscuit and water. Two of the Brethren went ahead of the wagons to secure food, and were kindly received at a tavern, where the host killed a cow for them, selling them 193 lbs, at 2d. a pound. He also sent them a sheep by his negro servant.

Oct. 16. Spent the morning cooking meat and baking “Jannie Coks” [johnny cakes], starting again at eleven o’clock. Spent the night near a negro plantation, found the negroes polite.

Oct. 17. It had turned cold, and as the day was Sunday several Brethren went out at 3 A.M. to cut fire-wood. When the others were waked for morning prayers at five o’clock they found a good fire, and every one who had hands went to work to put the camp in good order for the day. The Sisters made us good coffee, and as it was the first we have had on the trip we enjoyed it greatly. Then different ones washed, shaved, darned, and mended. Some Sisters made dough from corn-meal, and the Brethren baked Jannie Coks. The stream of visitors, white and black, continued as it was yesterday; beginning early in the morning and lasting until late at night. We were surrounded on all sides by plantations, and the people gathered in and stood with mouths wide open, not knowing what they wanted to say. They particularly admired our strong horses, beside which theirs looked like colts. At noon a crowd swarmed in, begging to see our trumpets, over which they joked and laughed a long time. We let them alone, watching to see what they would do next, but they gave no trouble. At noon we ate beef, with corn instead of bread. Afternoon was mostly given up to the baking of Jannie Coks, from which we made our supper. We went to bed about eight o’clock, but about ten were awakened by a crowd of negroes who came with chickens, beans, chestnuts and apples for sale. Br. Christian Henrich, who was one of the watchman, questioned them closely as to whether the things were theirs or stolen from their masters; he also took them some distance from the tents, so that we should not be disturbed by their talking. As he was out of small coin and they could not make change he was able to buy only 18d. worth.

Oct. 20. We started again at four o’clock in the morning. At eight o’clock we overtook two wagons from Maryland, also bound for Carolina. It was one family, twenty people, with eleven horses. They did not at all like our passing them, doubtless thinking that we would take all the available provisions, and they would not be able to get any. There is much poverty here, and neither money nor good words can buy much. Br. Christian Henrich rode ahead to order provisions, and an Inn-keeper sold him 2 ˝ bushels of corn, advising him to take it on the cob, as the cobs could be shredded and fed to the horses, and it would be better for them than the corn alone. We made thirty-one miles today. Br. Christian Henrich, who was ahead, sent back word by a gentleman that we should stop for the night by a certain spring. It lay off from the road, and when we approached the place we found a sign fastened to a tree, telling us where to turn, and by the spring we found a fire ready started.

Oct. 21. Reached James River at noon. Here we were stopped by an English Quartermaster, stationed at the Courthouse, who demanded to know where we came from and whither we were going. We explained politely, and he said that at first he thought we were deserters from the army, and that he was placed there to arrest such, and though he was sharp at first he became pleasant and bade us a courteous farewell. The Brethren crossed the river on the ferry, the wagons went through the ford, a horseman riding ahead to pick a way among the stones. The ascent of the other bank was very difficult, as the road was narrow and steep, and the Brethren had to push and pull with all their might, but no accident occurred. At night the watchmen occupied themselves with baking and roasting food for the following day, as has become customary.

Oct. 23. This morning we passed another colony on its way to Carolina; they had two wagons. At noon the Sisters cooked potatoes, which we ate with the meat roasted yesterday. We liked them better than the German potatoes, they are large and sweet, almost like Basternadoes.

Oct. 24. We were uncertain which of two roads to take, both were bad. However next morning we were able to buy 100 lbs. of beef, by waiting until the animal was killed. Now we see why the Lord led us to take this road, which was not the one marked on our travel map.14 Had we taken the other road we might not have found food, and even if we had found it there might have been none left for the colony on our heels. Verily the Saviour has provided for us and for them, and we cannot sufficiently thank Him. Surely He is with us, He takes care of us, guards us, and watches over us; He stands always by us with His mighty power. Near our camp we found several grape-vines of unusual size,—the stock was nearly five spans in circumference, and the height above the tallest oak trees.

Oct. 26. We camped last night by a mill, but the water was so bad that Br. Christian Henrich decided we should make a very early start and go elsewhere before camping for Sunday. Five or six miles further on we found a good spring, and stopped by it. Another company was already there, and we set up our tent a short distance away in the woods. A rather amusing incident occurred. Several of the Brethren went to a neighboring plantation to buy milk. There they saw a negro servant who followed them back, bringing on his head a basket of potatoes. When he drew near he called us to come and buy, we replied that he should come to us. But when he saw how many of us there were he became frightened and ran away, potatoes and all, crying out “I am afraid of you, you can come to my master and buy there!” We had chocolate for breakfast. Br. Schaup, who is our best baker, made Jannie Coks today.

Oct. 27. We did not start until noon, as we had a chance to buy ten bushels of oats, which some of our Brethren had to thresh. We also bought three bushels of beans, and 40 to 50 pounds of tobacco. We again passed a large colony, three families, who have been four weeks on the road from Maryland. The road was very bad, and we could hardly have found the way to the Roanoke, had not a friendly man ridden with us as guide. We only made ten miles today, because after leaving the spring where we have camped we will find no water for seventeen miles. But near our spring we have entered Carolina.

Oct. 28. In spite of rain we made a long day’s march, camping for the night beside Tar River. After supper we lay down to rest, but had a bad night, for it stormed and rained so that the water ran through our tent and we were wet through and through. At midnight the wind struck us, the tent-pegs, already loosened by the rain, gave way, and the tent went down in a heap. So all night we had much trouble and little sleep!

Oct. 29. We rose early from our damp beds, wrapped the dripping blankets around us, and clustered around the fire to dry them, the Sisters on one side and the Brethren on the other. It was a funny sight! Any one seeing us would assuredly have thought it was a group of Indians! On account of the rain last night Br. Schaup could not bake Jannie Coks, so for breakfast we had potatoes baked in the ashes. We were visited by Capt. Sennet’s son, who lives here on Tar River; he recalled that some years ago Br. Horsefield stayed for some time with his father. We meant to make fifteen miles today, but four miles short of that found we could buy an ox, which had to be killed for us. The people were very kind and allowed the Sisters to cook and sleep in their house, and let the Brethren occupy a corn-crib. We secured 287 lbs. of meat, at one penny one farthing the pound. The drivers also bought corn fodder for their horses.

Oct. 30. We stopped at a plantation for cider. Some of the Brethren made a fire, others went into the house to warm. One of the people said that about four weeks ago Br. Loesch and his company had stopped there; also that when the Newbern Court was over the people who had been there reported that the Brethren in the Wachau had been granted all that they had asked. We made sixteen miles in the afternoon; had dumplings for supper. The night was very cold, and many of the party were disturbed by the terrifying howling of a wolf.

Oct. 31. The road was miserable, but we made 26 miles, crossed the Haw River, and camped near Drollinger’s. He was not at home when we arrived but returned late, somewhat intoxicated. He made a great stir when he saw that a fire had been built on his land, but when he learned who we were he excused himself, — “he was ashamed that he had drunk so much,—we should not think ill of him,—we were heartily welcome,—he was a poor fellow who could not help himself,—but he was at our service.” He soon went to his house, and we were well content. We nearly had a serious misfortune today, for fire was discovered in the beds in the Sisters’ tent. Fortunately it was found in time and extinguished. As the Brethren slept by the fire at night a burning log rolled toward them, but they were waked in time.

Nov. 1. Drollinger attended our morning prayers, and gave our drivers some hay, and went with us to a road leading to a mill. He was much ashamed of last night, and wished that we could spend the day with him so that he might kill a cow, and share it with us as a peace offering. We felt sorry for the poor man, for he seems to love the Brethren, and the Saviour will not let his willingness to serve us go unrewarded. After dinner Br. Sauter rode ahead to the Wachau; Br. Christian Henrich gave him a letter to the Brethren there announcing our approach. We had a fairly good night, but toward day the wolves waked us with their not particularly agreeable howling. Our Graff joined in the concert, but when the wolves heard the new voice they suddenly stopped.

Nov. 2. Sunday. We should have been in the Wachau today, and could have made it had we not been detained by the need of getting provisions, and if the English law did not forbid Sunday travel. We are now about forty miles from the Wachau. At noon we ate schnitz15 and pork. In the afternoon a boy brought us a bushel of corn-meal, which was very welcome, as we have been out of bread for several days. The boy was sent by a friend of the Brethren, Hannibal Edwards, at whose house Br. Sauter spent last night. The Sisters at once made dough and Br. Schaup baked Jannie Coks.

Nov. 3. We breakfasted on Jannie Coks and butter, starting on our way about five o’clock. It was hardly light, but the boy who came yesterday showed us the road, which is rough and rather dangerous. At noon we came to the home of Hannibal Edwards. He is a pleasant, friendly man, and he, his wife, and children treated us as if they too were Brethren. He is a Quaker, but often visits the Brethren in the Wachau. He invited us all to dinner, but seeing that he did not have very much we excused ourselves and told him we had dinner with us. This did not satisfy him, so Br. Christian Henrich arranged that the Sisters should dine with him and his wife. We gave him some tobacco and the hat that Br. Sauter had brought from Bethlehem for him, and Br. Fockel cut out a coat which his wife will make for him. We had hardly taken leave of him when we met Br. Sauter and Br. Jacob Loesch, and the latter greeted us heartily, and welcomed us to the Wachau with a kiss. He had brought bread with him, which we were glad to use at supper.

Nov. 4. Tuesday. After morning prayers we took up our last day’s journey toward the Wachau. It was only 20 miles but the road was very bad. We reached the boundary of the Wachau at 11 A.M.; and stopped at noon at Lischer’s Creek, where there is beautifully clear water. About five o’clock in the afternoon we met the first of the Brethren, Br. Lischer, and he was followed by Br. Friis. From our party Angst and Opitz rode ahead, blowing on their trumpets the verse

“Peace and health and every good be with you,”

and the Brethren of the Wachau were not slow to answer with their trumpets, and to welcome us from the peak of their new house. Then there was an affectionate exchange of greetings, letters and messages from Bethlehem were delivered. The little daylight left was spent in looking over the new house. After supper there was Lovefeast, with tea and bread, and the formal welcome was extended to the new-comers. Br. Friis began the service by singing the following verses:—
Welcome into Wachovia16

Dear Sisters and dear Brothers,

Our Great High Priest has led you here

As He has led the others.

Now rest the weary pilgrim feet

That hither bravely brought you;

The Lamb, Who gave your bodies health,

Has strength and courage taught you.

We thank our God, our hearts rejoice,

Oh company beloved;

In welcome we our Lovefeast hold,

To praise the Lamb we’re moved.

His bleeding wounds have saving power,

Today we feel their blessing;

He brought you to us, and you come

Faith in His Cross confessing.

Br. Friis then discoursed on the Texts for the day, and after the evening prayers we went to our rest.


13 “Father” David Nitschmann, a wheel-wright and joiner by trade, was an uncle of Bishop David Nitschmann. Father Nitschmann was one of the most influential men in the early history of Bethlehem, Pa., and the first of its members to become a naturalized citizen.

14 The “lower road” across Virginia can be followed on a modern map through the Counties of Loudoun, Fauquier, Culpepper, Orange, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Cumberland. From here one road, much used later, led across Prince Edward, Charlotte, Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry, and Patrick Counties, coming down to Wachovia through Stokes Co., N. C. This company kept on south from Cumberland, through Prince Edward, Luneburg, and Mecklenburg Counties, entering North Carolina through Vance Co., going west across Granville, Durham, Orange, Alamance, and Guilford, and entering Wachovia on the “Deep River Road” whose general course was directly east from Bethabara. The road taken on the 24th evidently rejoined the one given on their map.

15 Apples or peaches, sliced and dried.

16 This is the first time the name of the tract belonging to the Brethren is so spelled in the Diary. This spelling was first used in print in the Act of Assembly erecting Dobbs Parish. It was generally adopted, and excepted in the Diary superceded the German spelling of the name.

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