Monday, November 1, 2010

Choosing The Land

Excerpt from "Old Salem - The Official Guidebook" by Penelope Niven and Cornelia Wright (click on the link to purchase your copy). Visit the official website of Old Salem Museums and Gardens
"The history of the Moravians comes to life at Old Salem. A unique religious group, the Moravians made the town of Salem an oasis of beauty and order in the Carolina back-country. Today in the workshops, homes, and gardens of Old Salem, men and women carry on the daily tasks of living just as they were done in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - crafting beautiful objects, running households and businesses, and  engaging in artistic and musical pursuits. This guide will help you make the most of your visit to Old Salem, one of the most authentic living-history museums in the United States."
Choosing The Land

August Gottlieb Spangenberg
After a grueling climb on foot and horseback "over terrible mountains, and often through very dangerous ways, " Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg and his traveling companions set up a rough camp in Carolina wilderness on November 29, 1752. "We are here in a region that has perhaps been seldom visited since the creation of the world," Spangenberg wrote in his diary. "We are some 70 to 80 miles from the last settlement in North Carolina... But, thank God, we are all well, cheerful, and content, and thankful to our Heavenly Father...."

Spangenberg and his companions were Moravians, members of Unitas Fratrum, or the Unity of Brethren, as their church had long been known in Europe. The church was nearly three centuries old when John, Lord Carteret, Earl Granville offered the Moravians the opportunity to buy a hundred thousand acres of his land holdings in the Carolina Colony. Lord Granville was impressed with the success of the Moravian settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as were many others.

In London, Parliament passed an act in 1749 to encourage the Moravians to "settle in His Majesty's Colonies in America," promising that the Moravian settlers would "be indulged with a full Liberty of Conscience, and the Exercise of the Religion they profess...."

August Spangenberg, then the Moravian Vicar General of America, was put in charge of choosing the land for the  Carolina settlement. He was 48 years old when he made the treacherous, exhausting trip from Pennsylvania to Edenton, North Carolina, and then to the far reaches of the Carolina frontier. Born in Germany, Spangenberg had already served as a university professor in Europe and a pioneer tin America. He led the first Moravian colonists to Georgia in 1735, and was a force in establishing the Morvians in Pennsylvania.

Spangenberg was as much at home on horseback in Indian country in the American colonies as he was serving on the central boards of the Moravian church in Europe. He was a man who could lead a worship service; track buffalo; tramp unexplored woodland with a surveyor; plan a vast settlement; negotiate complex financial arrangements; write a lengthy diary and several books; and mediate religious and secular disputes. His versatility, vigor and vision made Spangenberg not only the ideal Moravian but the ideal citizen in eighteenth century America.

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