The Controversy Surrounding 'Rifle Gun Number 42.'        

(part II, continued 2)        



            The Salem Diary on December 18, 1781, noted that "Br. Jacob Loesch arrived, having been met by Br. Krause seven miles this side of Halifax."  (Fries v4, 1707)  As has been mentioned elsewhere, Loesch traveled to Salem from Christian's Spring where he had been master of the gun shop for approximately a year and half to two years prior to his journey.  This could have been considered something of a homecoming for Loesch, in a way, as his father Jacob Sr. was among the first group of men sent to found Bethabara in 1753.  Jacob Jr. was born there in 1760 but in approximately 1768 the family was sent back to Bethlehem.  (Lienemann)  It is unclear exactly by whom Loesch was trained, but standard practice of the time would dictate that he was bound into an apprenticeship at approximately twelve to fourteen years of age, or 1772-1774.  If at Christian's Spring, this would have been under Christian Oerter and if in Bethlehem, probably Daniel Kliest who was master of the lock-smith shop.  What is most interesting is that ca. 1779/80 Loesch was put in charge of the gun smithy at Christian's Spring (Lienemann), which would indicate certainly a good level of accomplishment of most if not all aspects of gun stocking and gun repair.  However, upon his arrival in Salem in 1781, the Aufseher Collegium noted that "The Single Brethren report that Br. Jacob Loesch, who recently came from Pennsylvania, will work as a lock-smith for their Diaconie, and the former grind-stone mill can be fitted up for his work-shop.  It will be well for the present that he does as little work as possible on guns."  (Fries v4, 1738)  The reason for the demand that Loesch refrain from working upon firearms is further clarified within the minutes of the Helfer Conferenz a few months later [March 5, 1782] wherein it states "Br. Jacob Loesch shall not do any more gun work at present, as otherwise he will be constantly called on for work for the public and it will draw too many soldiers to the town."  (Fries v4, 1802)

It would not appear that there are any surviving, signed rifles or other arms built by Loesch.  He finally was granted permission to commence gun work by the Aufseher Collegium in March of 1783 ["Br. Jacob Loesch asks whether he may now begin his gun-work.  At present there seems no danger that his work would be required for regular troops, or lead to quartering in the town, and at most there would be need only for the repairing of arms for the militia if they should be called out.  The Collegium therefore has no objections.  The shooting range can be in the back part of the street between the store and Heinzmann's, but there must be no betting on shots."  (Fries v4, 1849)] but it would appear he was already raising eyebrows amongst the elders; the minutes of the Aeltesten Conferrenz of the previous year [1782] noted on August 21 that "Br. Jacob Loesch is not satisfied with his circumstances, and he shall be advised to carry on the business on his own account."  (Fries v4, 1806)  This indicates that he no longer wished to work for the diaconie [and in fact many of the elders were probably in complete concordance with this desire].  Tradesmen who followed this course gave up much of the support of the church, but at the same time allowed more profit to be made as well as a greater freedom in terms of production.  While there is some question as to just how diligent a tradesman Loesch was, there is no doubt that he was quite the capable individual:  in September, 1782, it was noted that he would run the evening school for boys (Fries v4, 1807) and that he both sang and played the organ (Fries v4, 1825); later, in 1788, he was noted as playing the flute (Fries v5, 2251) and ran an "English school" for youths and boys (Fries v5, 2289).  During the period from December 1781 through March of 1783 whereupon he was encouraged not to engage in gun work, he was [in addition to his locksmithing duties] apparently initiating a bit of a conflict with Beck [at Friedberg] concerning who should have the rights to making pewter spoons:  "Br. Valentine Beck prefers that Br. Jacob Loesch should not pour pewter spoons, but leave it for him.  If Br. Beck will improve the form and make a good alloy there is no objection to his proposal, but he should keep some in Salem for sale at all times."  (Fries v4, 1803)  One possible interpretation of the wording within this notation [Aufseher Collegium, March 14, 1782] is that Loesch's spoons were better and undercutting Beck's sales.  [At the least, it can be said that Beck was doing something along with his ministerial duties.]

During a meeting of the Aeltesten Conferenz on August 18, 1784, the issue of an apprentice for Loesch was raised:  "It is suggested that Christopher Vogler might be placed with Br. Jacob Loesch to learn the trade of gunsmith; the matter will be further considered."  (Fries v5, 2036)  This followed an ill-fated trial of another boy named Gottlieb Fockel.  An interesting point regarding Vogler's consideration is that he himself was 18/19 years of age and already had been variously apprenticed to other trades.  By December of that same year, the Conferenz noted that "Christopher Vogler has now been with Jacob Loesch for three months, and an agreement should be signed for the remaining time of his apprenticeship.  Br. Loesch suggests taking him for five years; and that he pay him 14 sh. a week the first year, and 15 sh. a week thereafter, in place of any other demands, which meets the approval of the Collegium."  (Fries v5, 2044)  During this period, and in the years to come, the Salem Boards' opinion of Loesch apparently varied between hope and exasperation, and it would appear that he did not particularly care to bend very much to the will of the elders.  By March of 1787, another conflict was brought to the attention of the Aufseher Collegium, again involving Jacob Loesch:  "Br. Koffler reports that Jacob Loesch is repairing clocks, and thereby injuring his income.  Jacob Loesch has already been asked about this, and claims that he is only taking clocks which Br. Koffler does not want to work on, or clocks which people do not want Br. Koffler to fix."  (Fries v5, 2180)  A month later, Loesch was discussed yet again:  "For a long time the conduct of J.L. has distressed us, but we have had patience with him in the hope that would improve, but this hope is failing, and since he has an air rifle he is doing more harm to himself and others.  The officers of his Choir have advised him to give it up or put it away, but he has declared that in spite of everything he intends to keep it.  Under the circumstances it looks as though there was no other way except to send him from the town."  (Fries v5, 2181-2182)  [When discussing serious situations, it would seem that the elders preferred to use initials rather than one's name.  Possibly this was done in order to focus upon the undesirable actions or behavior, and a remedy, rather than the individual.  Looking back upon this particular situation, there was no other individual present in Salem with these initials who would have fit the parameters given.]  At that point, it is not clear exactly what was done with Loesch.  On May 8 of 1787, the Collegium met and "The question was raised as to whether Christoph Vogler, who has taken over the gunsmith business from Jacob Loesch, should conduct it on his own account or for the diaconie of the Single Brethren.  Collegium believes it will be best for him to take it on his own account, especially as he has not fully learned the craft and is not anxious to undertake it for a diaconie."  (Fries v5, 2182-2183)  Vogler had taken over the gunsmithing shop from Loesch, but where was Jacob?  It would seem he was to be sent from Salem, but it is not now clear if this action was actually taken.  Only four days later, a meeting of the Aeltesten Conferenz occurred and Loesch was again a topic of conversation:  "J.L. has begged that he may have another trial, and suggests that he will work for Br. Koffler or Abraham Loesch.  After careful consideration the lot was tried, and the affirmative was drawn:  The Saviour approves that J.L. may stay here on trial, if he can be provided for."  (Fries v5, 2183)  Later that same year, in November, it was noted that Loesch was sent to Hillsboro on business for F.W. Marshall, so it would appear that he had indeed been permitted to remain in Salem and was worthy of some degree of trust.  (Fries v5, 2190-2191)  As Vogler had taken over the gunsmith shop, however, it can be safely assumed that Loesch was no longer engaged in gun work.  If, as the aforementioned Conferenz memorandum noted, he was working for his younger brother Abraham Loesch, he would have been engaged in masonry work as Abraham was a master mason ["There is no objection to paying somewhat more to Abraham Loesch, who is an experienced mason and does more and better work than others..."  (Fries v5, 2182)]; conversely, if he was working for Adam Koffler it is not exactly clear what he would have been doing.  Koffler had come to Salem from Bethlehem where he was noted upon the 1759 trade distribution list as being a 'linen-weaver.'  (Moravian Archives)  There subsequently are numerous references to him throughout the Records... as performing a large variety of tasks, and as been previously mentioned he had already run into somewhat of a conflict with Jacob Loesch over the right of clock repair.  For the present time this must remain something of a mystery.

On August 10, 1789 that the Salem Diary mentions that "With the approval of the Aeltesten Conferenz nd the Bethania Committee, the single Br. Jacob Loesch moved to Bethania to live."  (Fries v5, 2269)  The Bethania Diary for the same day noted that "Jacob Loesch moved hither from Salem, and will have a small room to himself in Joseph Hauser's house."  (Fries v5, 2288)  Apparently his attitude had changed for the better, and shortly thereafter [February 28, 1790] he married Susanna Leinbach and on May 10 "Jacob Loesch had his house laid up, many people being present."  (Fries v5, 2314)  He was probably engaged once more in clock repair - amongst other pursuits - for an entry in the Bethania Diary of August 30, 1792 states that "Last night a thief broke into Jacob Loesch's house and stole five clocks.  It was not discovered until this morning, when the thief was pursued.  He was caught on August 31 and brought back, and Jacob Loesch recovered his clocks."  (Fries v5, 2375)

There has also been persistent mention over time that Loesch was a silversmith, although there does not seem to be much primary documentation to support this notion.  From the Aufseher Collegium minutes of August, 1789, "Br. Stotz mentioned that he had taken some silverware from Jacob Loesch to apply to his debt, and that he had given it to Br. Hanke to sell.  It will not be wise to hang out a sign concerning it, since the craft is not carried on there, but some of the pieces can be placed in the window for people to see."  (Fries v5, 2280)  It is not clear whether this was silverware that Loesch had made or simply owned, but the entry clearly states that the trade of silversmith was not carried out in Salem.  [What Loesch may have been doing at Bethania is anybody's guess.]  A few years prior, in fact, one of F.W. Marshall's letters to the Unity Elders Conference for July, 1786, lamented the lack of this trade:  "In this neighborhood we are greatly in need of master workmen, and would rejoice if now and then a Brother would come from Europe...A clock-maker and silversmith could find work enough; a coppersmith and pewterer the same."  (Fries v5, 2147-2148)    As many of the aforementioned documentation has shown, it can be seen that Loesch was dabbling in clock work as well as pewtering.  It would not be surprising if he was engaged in silversmithing, however I am currently unaware of any additional information which could bring more light to the matter.

According to a listing in Early American Tower Clocks by Frederick Shelley, Johan Jacob Loesch is credited with building a tower clock for the community house - or Gemein Saal - in Salem in 1797.  The North Carolina Records... verify this, as the Aeltesten Conferenz noted on August 2 of that year that "The house-fathers in Bethania have decided to repair their Gemein Haus...They will place on the steeple a small town clock made by Jacob Loesch."  (Fries v6, 2592)  Unfortunately, this clock has not survived.  Loesch was obviously a man of many talents, and the following year [1798] it was not clockwork but rather work upon an organ that drew the attention of the Aufseher Collegium on April 3:  "When our new organ is set up there shall be a raised platform for the musicians.  It is considered necessary that someone help Br. Bachmann set it up, and Jacob Loesch was proposed, so that in case repairs are needed he can assist."  (Fries v6, 2609-2610)  A few years later, in 1804, Christian Ludwig Benzien noted within his letter to the UEC yet another facet of Loesch's expertise:  "Probably the news has not yet reached Germany that for several months gold has been mined in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, about seventy miles southwest of here.  I have myself seen a piece of ore which was sent to Br. Jacob Loesch, in Bethania, to be smelted, and it was very rich."  (Fries v6, 2785)  A notation within the Bethabara Diary for October 10, 1804, again mentions Loesch relative to organ repair, and the Salem Diary entry for October 6, 1809, states that "Br. Jacob Loesch, of Bethania, and his son Heinrich Jacob, left today with an organ which Br. Loesch has made.  It has been bought by Pastor Storch, and will be set up in his house near Salisbury."  (Fries v7, 3085)  Tragically, Jacob's son mentioned in this instance, Heinrich Jacob, became ill during this trip to Salisbury and died upon his return.  (Fries v7)

  There were a few reports of "...unpleasant disorder..." in Bethania through 1813 and 1814 and it would seem that Loesch was at the center of the storm, although the nature of the 'distressing incidents' is not specifically mentioned.  (Fries v7).  The Records... are then largely silent concerning Loesch until an entry in the Salem Diary for May 5, 1819, states:  "The Single Sr. Susanna Elisabeth Losch entered the Boarding School as a teacher, having received permission to become a resident of Salem.  Her father, Jacob Losch, two or three years ago moved with his family from Bethania to Raleigh, to build a waterworks system there, but now he desires to return to a congregation here."  (Fries v7, 3399)  It is not clear whether Jacob Loesch had spiritually (as well as physically) left the congregation, but apparently he was permitted to return for the Collegium Minutes in 1820 mention that he was present and tuning organs.  (Fries v7, 3449)  The last mention of Loesch then is found within the Salem Diary on October 31, 1821:  "On the 8th of this month the married Br. Jacob Loesch, resident of Bethabara, passed away in Fayetteville, where he had been for some weeks on business connected with waterworks for that city..."  (Fries v7, 3474)