Moravian Artisans in North Carolina (cont’d)



            It is not clear just how much business the firearms trade was drawing to Wachovia, as entries in the Records... seem to give conflicting accounts.  In 1767, following an important visit to Bethabara, Governor Tryon was supplied with a number of items from that town:  "Four wagons from Bethania, one from Hans Shor, and two from South Fork, started for Brunshwig.  They took a windmill, 478 lbs. candles, 150 lbs. butter, six bee-hives, and a new gun, from here and three bushels of rye from Valentine Frey, all for the Governor, who ordered these things while on his recent visit here."  (Fries v1, 356)  Unfortunately the record does not indicate whether the 'new gun' was a product of Beck's shop or an imported piece sold through the store.  Given that the Brethren apparently supplied all of the other items themselves, and being as it was noted that the Governor "ordered" the new gun, it is likely that the piece was stocked by Beck.  If so, this must have seemed quite an honor; the Brethren found Tryon to be particularly sympathetic and friendly to their enterprise.

Conversely, in the latter part of 1768, Marshall noted in his report to the UEC that "...we have a ...gunsmith, black-smith, gunstock-maker...  Even if these businesses are not particularly profitable they are indispensible, and with them we can provide ourselves with most of the necessaries of life."  (Fries v2, 606)  One also recalls the aforementioned Collegium notation indicating that Beck could not supply an assistant, Peter Christ, with enough work.  It is possible that because of the somewhat specialized division of labor, a low demand for new-stocked arms may have funneled much of the gun business away from gun-stocker Beck [who as was noted in the list of 1766 (see elsewhere) as working as a 'tin-man' also] and into the shops of Muller, Lund and/or Schmidt. 

Blacksmith Schmidt was definitely engaged, at the least, in gun barrel manufacture.  In the Minutes of the Aufseher Collegium for March 1, 1775, it was noted that "George Schmidt is in pressing need of money to buy iron; we will buy the 80 rifle-barrels which he has finished, paying him in cash."  (Fries v2, 895)  This also raises an interesting question:  who was boring, rifling and finishing the barrels?  Schmidt?  This was gun-smith work, but the gunsmith Muller had departed Salem the year prior in 1774.  Were these new old-stock?  Within the papers of Traugott Bagge which have been preserved in the Salem Archives, an interesting letter can be found.  It was written by Archibald Cary in Virginia on February 6, 1776, and reads thusly:


"Sir,  I have not the Honor of being known to you, but perhaps from the public Character I have long moved in my Name you may have heard of.

I Am directed to purchase a Quantity of Arms, and having oft heard that Arms are made very good in your Town, have sent the bearer Mr. Hopkins, to purchase a large Quantity, and any Bargain he makes with you, assure yourself shall be fully and duly comply'd with.  I have given that Gentleman dimentions of the Arms I want, but have ordered him to purchase such Muskits as you may have should they not be exactly of the size I want others made to.  I hope Sir if it is in your Power to furnish me, you will do so And by that Means, lay this Country as well as myself under a great obligation. 

I am Sir  Your Hble Servt.  Archibald Cary"


Fortunately, Bagge made sure to maintain a copy of his response to Carey by writing it on the back of the original letter:


"Sir, As glad as I would be to serve you in assisting Mr. Hopkins in purchasing of Arms according to your request, as much it is out of my power; The Gunsmith who lived in this Town, moved from hence 2 Years ago, and carries on farming along with his business at present.  He also never professed the making of Barrels to any perfection, but as to fitting up Barrels for being stocked, especially rifling them, he is a good hand, tho' he has no journeyman nor Apprentice, & therefore never could undertake quantities to finish.  The same it is with the Gunstocker here in Town, who has nobody to work with besides himself. 

As the Militia in this & neighboring Counties is embodying, I doubt much whether this part of Carolina will have it in its power to furnish any assistance of the kind to a neighboring Colony.

Shall be glad to be serviceable to the Public & you in any other feasable Circumstance & am with regard  Your very hunmble Servt  Traugott Bagge

To Archibald Cary Esqr." 

(Fries v3, 1347-48)


Johanna Miller Lewis noted that Muller left in January of 1774 to marry outside of the congregation (Lewis 91), and as Schmidt was selling the barrels over a year later, it is natural to assume that there may have been someone else present, or possibly he himself, executing the finish-work.  Bagge noted (above) that there had been no gun-smith in the town since Muller's departure in 1774.

By 1775, the winds of change were blowing and many conflicts were subsequently destined to arise between the Brethren and the local militias.  On August 9, the Aufseher Collegium noted that "The guns which are in town should also not hang in sight , since we have conscientious scruples against bearing arms.  The Brethren who have guns in their houses shall be asked to keep them hidden."  (Fries v2, 898)  The Salem Diary mentioned on July 18, 1776, some arms were willingly sent to aid the local miltia:  "Several rifles were sent from here to Bethabara, for the use of Col. Armstrong; some were also supplied by the Brethren in Bethabara, at an appraised value."  (Fries v3, 1071)  The "several rifles" were likely personal pieces owned by various of the Brethren, although as Beck was still in Salem in the role of gun-stocker it is possible that he may have built some of them.  This assistance rendered by the Brethren was a response to Armstrong's letter of the previous day:  "To Mr. Traugott Bagge, Salem.  Sir, I came here last night and think Proper to acquent you that I think it will serve a good end To Let me have 2 or three Riffle guns from Salem, I will have them apraised, and if they are hurt or Damaged, they shall be paid for...Mart Armstrong"  (Fries v3, 1356)  Arms were also forcibly requisitioned by the militia as well:  in the Friedberg Diary for March 26, 1776, "A scouting party took rifles and flint-locks from those of our Brethren who lived in Rowan County" and the entry for the following day noted likewise that "The same was done with the Brethren living in Surry County, and John Hartmann and Isaac Pfaff were obliged to take the guns to Valentine Frey's."  (Fries v3, 1112)

In September/October 1776 as has been previously noted, Beck moved from Salem to Friedberg where he replaced Br. Bachhof as pastor of the congregation.  As people moving through Salem steadily increased and regional militias from Virginia to South Carolina mustered and sought to outfit their troops, Beck's business in gun stocking surely must have increased likewise.  A letter from Johan Michael Graff to Johannes von Watteville written in Salem the following February (1777) reads, "My dear Br. Johannes...For the time being we have sent Br. and Sr. Valentine Beck to Friedberg, where they have fitted in and made good, but our trade in Salem has suffered much thereby, for he was a good tinker and gun-stock maker who drew many people to the town...Br. Beck is caring for the little congregation and Society in Friedberg."  (Fries v3, 1407)  Unfortunately the generalized letter does not clarify which of these aspects of Beck's business was drawing the most people, but it was likely a combination of both.  Tin- and pewter-ware, being relatively inexpensive, was always in high demand anywhere along the frontier and among the 'common' farming folk.  Even more interesting is a letter also preserved within the Bagge papers which was written by one John Luttrell Esq. at "Chatham," a little investigation indicating that this would have been Colonel John Luttrell originally of Virginia and subsequently Hillsborough, Chatham County, North Carolina where he was "Clerk of the Crown" by 1770 and quite wealthy.  He served with the Ninth North Carolina Regiment during the Revolution and was wounded at Lindley's Mill in September, 1781, dying soon after.  [from Luttrell - Kentucky Ancestors, by the Rev. Terril D. Littrell, Ph.D.]  The letter reads as follows:


Dear Sir,

Sometime ago I recd. a letter from You informing me that my gun was finish'd and in your possession.  The bearer waits on You for it, pray my good Sir deliver him the Gun & he will pay You the 25:12 [pounds/shillings] that You write me I am to pay for the stocking etc.

I have been inform'd that the English hath left Charlestown.  I should be glad if You wou'd write me whether You know anything of the matter.

I am Yr Hble Servt  J Luttrell


Salem July 16th 1779.  Rec'd of Traugott Bagge the within mentioned Gun for John Luttrell Esq. by me


Test   George Bievighauss George McDaniel X his mark

(Fries v3, 1401)


Even given the rampant inflation of the war period, this would seem to have been an expensive gun.  What is extremely curious is that Luttrell specifically mentioned that the piece was new-stocked, which of course then begs the question:  Who stocked it?  In 1779, the only gun-stocker noted in the records was pastor at Friedberg. [Friedberg Diary, May 30, 1778:  "Muster was held, and some of our men attended.  One of them reported that my name was on the list, but as they did not know my first name it was read as Mr. Beck, the Moravian Minister."  (Fries v3, 1275)]  Is it possible that Bagge funneled this particular job to Beck in Friedberg, not wishing him to return as-yet to Salem?  Or could Bagge have obtained the gun elsewhere?  Was this a rifle or a smoothbore?  Unfortunately there is no way to determine the truth to this somewhat mysterious matter.

During the year of 1777, a flurry of people and letters flew back and forth between Pennsylvania and Wachovia.  The Brethren, a large number of them retaining strong ties with the Moravians in Bethlehem, made sure to keep abreast of what was happening there as the theater of the War moved from New England and the coast into  Pennsylvania.  Some of this information contained within the Salem Diary was of a personal and myopic level, as can be seen in a simple but sad entry for June 12, 1777:  "We hear that a young Johann Schneider, who was brought up in the School for Children in Nazareth, has been killed in service in Canada."  (Fries v3, 1153)  Other entries evidenced much concern for what was happening to the entire congregation in Bethlehem:  "Br. Heckewalder received a letter from Johan Muller, which reported that in Bethlehem the Single Brothers House had been cleared out for the chief army hospital; thirty Single Brethren had gone to Christiansbrunn and the rest were divided among the families.  One hundred wagons had come loaded with stores for the Continental Army, and 1500 men to guard them..."  (Fries v3, 1168)  A few days later, on November 11, they received additional confirmation of this:  "A gentleman came to our tavern last evening...He reports that three weeks ago he passed through Bethlehem, that he counted 1200 wagons in and near Bethlehem, that no more fences were standing in or outside the town, that all the handicraftsmen had stopped work, that nothing more could be bought there, in short that this hitherto fair town looked like desolation."  (Fries v3, 1168)  Six days later, November 17:  "A German from Allentown, near Bethlehem, confirmed the reports given under the date of the 11th."  (Fries v3, 1169). 

As has been previously discussed, Bethlehem's location and the importance of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, during the 1777-78 period probably rendered it a hotbed of all manner of activity.  Such martial activity was extremely stressful to the Moravians there, as was the local militia in Rowan County to the Moravians on the Wachovia tract.  July 18, 1778:  "This morning Philip Stolz' brother passed with his wagon; he said he passed through Bethlehem four weeks ago, but the Brothers House was so full of soldiers, Regulars and Militia, that the tavernkeeper Jost had advised him not to stop over night..."  (Fries v3, 1236)  It is somewhat ironic that much accurate information regarding what was happening in Bethlehem, approximately 500 miles north of Salem and a three to four week journey, should be contained within records kept in North Carolina.  This only serves to better illustrate the speed with which settlers, artisans and information traveled, even to and from a 'backwoods' location such as Wachovia.  As conservative as the Moravians were, they were not in any way an isolationist sect and would seem to have promoted a sense of high accomplishment and possibly even competition amongst their artisans.  Competition within the congregation themselves was of course strictly controlled:  "In a Gemein Ort [closed congregation town] no one can start a business, open a store, or begin a profession, until the Congregation has recognized and installed him as a Master-workman.  If a business, store, or profession, is already being carried on in the town all other Brethren who wish to work in it, whether they come from Europe or Pennsylvania or grow up here, shall be considered as journeymen under the Master-workman, and shall be personally responsible to him."  (Fries v2, 724)  [This philosophy would seem to mimic one of the stipulations set forth in a rather lengthy 'Brotherly Agreement' composed in Bethlehem in 1762, just as the first steps towards semi-privatization of the Oeconomy were being taken:  "No resident shall practice another trade than the one that he has begun with the knowledge and will of the Committee, nor shall he impinge on any other business in the settlement."  (Moravian Archives, Bethlehem)]However, it was not desirable to lose business to outside artisans and as the Records... have demonstrated, the artisans as well as the church elders did not take issue with utilizing the knowledge of traveling journeymen or others to better their commercial crafts provided the situation was monitored closely. 

Furthermore, as John Bivins has pointedly noted in Moravian Decorative Arts in North Carolina, "...here again a pitfall is opened before the student of decorative arts:  the irresistible urge to identify the material culture of the Moravians in some vague fashion with the social and religious mores that the ancient church had adopted over the centuries.  To be sure, the Moravians approved of restraint and conservatism in daily life...This does not mean, however, that because the Moravian artisans had accepted the doctrine of the church, they sought to embody stylistic restraint in their work."  (Bivins 3)  Bivins goes on to infer that the most essential force behind the growth of Moravian communities such as Bethlehem, Nazareth or Salem, was the constant drive for both self-suffiency as well as a thriving system of trade.  These craftspeople, most initially recruited from Europe, were paramount to the church goal of a series of congregational towns basically modeled after Zinzendorf's estate-town of Hernnhut; the products of their hands would thence be used to fund the towns themselves, to fund the German headquarters of the Unitas Fratrum and to fund the ever-expanding missions scattered around the world.  As is best stated by Bivins, "the ultimate result was a series of towns - often on the frontier where relatively few trades had been extant - that could boast of a full compliment of artisans prepared to fashion many articles that otherwise would have had to be imported."  (Bivins 3)  What the Moravians were able to accomplish, therefore, was to bring the initial light of accomplishment via well-trained artisans to otherwise marginal areas:  Northampton County, Pennsylvania ca. 1740 through the 1760s, Rowan County, North Carolina ca. 1750s through the 1770s.  These tradesmen, particularly in terms of the gun-smiths and gun-stockers, were likely not the only skilled men of their professions in either region [or at least we must assume, based upon a combination of tax and land records in conjunction with unsigned surviving pieces], but it is likely that the steadily-rising, good reputation of the Moravian products instigated a drive for accomplishment among local non-Moravian artisans who wished to remain employed by the local populace.   


Addendum:  curious notations found in Moravian records.

(not necessarily of any importance...)



From the Salem Diary.


April 19, 1777:  "Br. Peter Rose has seen signs these last days that evil persons must be lurking in the woods; a sheep and a lamb have been stolen from him, and last night his dog was very uneasy, and as Rose and his wife went out into the barnyard a large stone was thrown at them and hit the dog."  (Fries v3, 1148)


April 24, 1777:  "An amazing incident took place, for the wife of Peter Rose, from whom a sheep and cow have been taken into the woods, this afternoon saw a man and two dogs trying to drive their calf out of the meadow.  She went out to drive away the thief, he ran through Rose's house and took with him the stone which was recently thrown at them and which they had kept." 

(Fries v3, 1148)


From the Journal of the Commision of the Brethren in Bethlehem:


Friday 7th February 1752:   "As Bro. & Sis. Zangerhaussen have for some Time past given too much Cause to suspect they had enticed Single Brethren to frequent their House & we fear it may hereafter have some ill Effect, therefore Br. Brandmuller being having some Knowledge of the Matter, we sent for him & he said that several Single Brethren have in Time past, spent an Hour or two in Zangerhausson's House without any apparent Business: but that for the last Fortnight he had not observed it as formerly..." 

(MAB)


Wednesday 11 March 1752:  "Present the same Members as Yesterday Br. Richter being sent for & ask'd about the Cow Bell he formerly found—said
        That in the last Strawberry Season he being with the Sheep in the Old Field beyond J. Jones's found the s.d Bell amongst the Shrubs & that the Strap thereof was Broke & almost Rotten. He told Br. Grabs directly of it. That indeed J. Jones had been (in his Absence) 2 or 3 Times With Br. Grabs about the Bell & 1 or 2 Times with him (Richter) about it it: but he would not deliver the Bell to J. Jones and would (after he had shewn it to Him) carry it to the Owner J. Williamson in hopes of Drink Money. That He got 1/. for his trouble & the Owner was well satisfied & thank full. But that He (Richter) had done wrong in not making it more Public, after he had found the aforesaid Bell.  He required of J. Williamson 1/6 for Drink Money, & J. Williamson left 6d in John Jones's Hands for Richter besides the 1/. before mentioned.
        Br. Grabs being sent for—said to the same effect in almost every Particular—Only that he knew no other Matters of this kind relating to Richter, but contrarywise always found him diligent & obedient in his Business also the Ocasion of his hearing that the Bell belong'd to J. Williamson was this—He (Br. Grabs) had found a Bridle in the Woods, & as he came by J. Jones's He Wanted to Buy it of him, which Br. Grabs refused, saying perhaps somebody had lost it, & directly J. Williamson came & own'd it & offered Him drink Money, or Indian Corn for his Trouble which he refus'd tho J. Jones advis'd him to take it.
Agreed. That Br. Richter return J. Williamson the 1/. he rec'd for finding the Bell."

(MAB)


From the Minutes of the Aeltesten Conferrenz, Salem:


March 7, 1787:  "A letter from Pennsylvania reports the death of Br. William Henry of Lancaster, to whom the order was sent for a striking clock.  Now we will turn to Br. Herbst and ask him to order it or to have Dickert send the order." 

(Fries v5, 2179-2180)