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7: Conclusion

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Later Attempts in Georgia.


May 18th, 1740, John Hagen arrived in Savannah. He had come over intending to go as missionary to the Cherokees, and his disappointment in finding that the Moravians had abandoned Georgia is another example of the enormous difficulty under which mission work was conducted in those days, when the most momentous events might transpire months before the authorities at home could be apprised of them.

Hagen had become very ill on the way from Charleston to Savannah, and with none of his own people to turn to he bethought himself of Whitefield's offers of friendship, and went to his house. He was kindly received by those who were living there, and though he went down to the gates of death the portals did not open, and he rapidly regained his health.

Visiting Irene he found only a few Indian women, for Tomochichi was dead, and the men were all on the warpath. The opportunity of going to the Cherokees seemed very doubtful, for there were none living nearer than three hundred miles, and distances looked much greater in the Georgia forests than in his own populous Germany. So he concluded to accept the kind offers of Whitefield's household, and stay with them, making himself useful in the garden, and doing such religious work as he was able. Several Germans living in the town, who had learned to like the Moravians, asked him to hold services for them, to which he gladly agreed.

He was much pleased with the prospect for work in Savannah, where the people had been greatly stirred by Whitefield's preaching, and he wrote to Herrnhut urging that two married couples be sent to help reap the harvest, a request warmly seconded by Whitefield, who had returned to Savannah on June 16th. Whitefield reported the Moravians busily engaged in erecting a Negro school-house for him in Pennsylvania, and told Hagen he would like to have the two couples come to assist him in carrying out his large plans for Georgia.

But by the 14th of August this invitation had been withdrawn, Hagen had left Whitefield's house, and had been refused work on Whitefield's plantation, for fear that he might contaminate the Whitefield converts. The trouble arose over a discussion on Predestination,— not the first or last time this has happened,—and the two men found themselves utterly at variance, for Whitefield held the extreme Calvinistic view, while Hagen argued that all men who would might be saved. Hagen therefore went to the home of John Brownfield, who shared his views, and made him very welcome, and from there carried on his work among the residents of Savannah and Purisburg.

Whitefield returned to Pennsylvania in November, 1740, nursing his wrath against Hagen, and finding Bõhler to be of the same mind, he peremptorily ordered the Moravians to leave his land. Neighbors interfered, and cried shame on him for turning the little company adrift in the depth of winter, and he finally agreed to let them stay for a while in the log cabin which was sheltering them while they were building the large stone house. The opportune arrival of Bishop Nitschmann and his company, and the purchase of the Bethlehem tract, soon relieved them from their uncomfortable position, and later the Nazareth tract was bought from Whitefield, and the work they had begun for him was completed for their own use.

Whitefield, in after years, rather excused himself for his first harshness toward the Moravians, but a letter written by him to a friend in 1742, is a good statement of the armed truce which existed among the great religious leaders of that day. "Where the spirit of God is in any great degree, there will be union of avail, tho' there may be difference in sentiments. This I have learnt, my dear Brother, by happy experience, and find great freedom and peace in my soul thereby. This makes me love the Moravian Brethren tho' I cannot agree with them in many of their principles. I cannot look upon them as willful deceivers, but as persons who hazard their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Mr. Wesley is as certainly wrong in some things as they, and Mr. Law as wrong also. Yet I believe both Mr. Law and Mr. Wesley and Count Zinzendorf will shine bright in Glory. I have not given way to the Moravian Brethren, nor any other who I thought were in the wrong, no, not for one hour. But I think it best not to dispute when there is no probability of convincing."

Hagen remained in Savannah until February, 1742, when he went to Bethlehem, accompanied by Abraham Büninger, of Purisburg, who entered the Moravian ministry in 1742, and labored among the Indians, the white settlers, and in the West Indies.

Nine more residents of Georgia followed the Moravians to Bethlehem in 1745, John Brownfield, James Burnside and his daughter Rebecca, Henry Ferdinand Beck, his wife Barbara, their daughter Maria Christina, and their sons Jonathan and David, all of Savannah, and Anna Catharine Kremper, of Purisburg. All of these served faithfully in various important offices, and were valuable fruit of the efforts in Georgia.

John Hagen was appointed Warden of the Nazareth congregation, when it was organized; and died at Shamokin in 1747.


General Oglethorpe was much impressed by the industry of the Moravians in Savannah, and was sorry to see them leave the Province. In October, 1746, therefore, he proposed to Count Zinzendorf that a new attempt should be made further up the Savannah River. He offered to give them five hundred and twenty-six acres near Purisburg, and to arrange for two men to be stationed in Augusta, either as licensed Traders, for many Indians came there, or as Schoolmasters.

Zinzendorf thought well of the plan, and accepted the tract, which Oglethorpe deeded to him Nov. 1st, 1746, the land lying on the Carolina side of the Savannah River, adjoining the township of Purisburg, where Bõhler and Schulius had made many friends.

No colonists, however, were sent over, and the title to the land lapsed for lack of occupancy, as that to Old Fort, on the Ogeechee, had already done.


Early in 1774, Mr. Knox, Under-Secretary of State in London, asked for missionaries to preach the Gospel to the slaves on his plantation in Georgia. He offered a small piece of land, whereon they might live independently, and promised ample store of provisions.

This time the plan was carried into execution, and Ludwig Mueller, formerly teacher in the Pedagogium at Niesky, with John George Wagner as his companion, went to England, and sailed from there to Georgia. They settled on Mr. Knox's plantation, and at once began to visit and instruct the slaves, and preach to the whites living in the neighborhood. "Knoxborough" lay on a creek about sixteen miles from Savannah, midway between that town and Ebenezer. The land had been settled by Germans, Salzburgers and Wittenbergers, and Mr. Knox had bought up their fifty acre tracts, combining them into a large rice plantation. The homes of the Germans had been allowed to fall into ruin, the overseer occupying a three-roomed house, with an outside kitchen. Mueller was given a room in the overseer's house, preaching there to the white neighbors who chose to hear him, and to the negroes in the large shed that sheltered the stamping mill. Wagner occupied a room cut off from the kitchen.

In February, 1775, Frederick William Marshall, Agent of the Unitas Fratrum on the Wachovia Tract in North Carolina, (with headquarters at Salem) visited Georgia to inspect the Moravian property there, accompanied by Andrew Brõsing, who joined Mueller and Wagner in their missionary work. It had been suggested that the Moravians preach in a church at a little place called Goshen, near "Knoxborough", a church which had been built by subscriptions of Germans and English living in the neighborhood, and had been used occasionally by a preacher from Ebenezer.

At this time the Salzburgers were in a very bad condition. Bolzius had died in 1765, and Rabenhorst and Triebner, who shared the pastorate, were greatly at variance, so that the entire settlement was split into factions. Dr. Mühlenberg, "the father of Lutheranism in Pennsylvania", had come to settle the difficulties, and heard with much displeasure of the plan to have the Moravians preach at Goshen. He declared,— "I doubt not, according to their known method of insinuation, they will gain the most, if not all the remaining families in Goshen, and will also make an attempt on Ebenezer, for their ways are well adapted to awakened souls. I have learned by experience that where strife and disunion have occurred in neighborhoods and congregations among the Germans in America, there black and white apostles have immediately appeared, and tried to fish in the troubled waters, like eagles which have a keen sight and smell."

Dr. Mühlenberg was too much prejudiced against the Moravians to judge them fairly, for he belonged to the Halle party in Germany, and in Pennsylvania had clashed with Zinzendorf during the latter's residence there. The Lutheran Church was in no way endangered by the preaching of the missionaries, for their instructions were explicit: "If you have an opportunity to preach the Gospel to German or English residents use it gladly, but receive none into your congregation, for you are sent expressly to the negroes." "You will probably find some of the so-called Salzburgers there, with their ministers. With them you will in all fairness do only that to which you are invited by their pastor. You will do nothing in their congregation that you would not like to have another do in yours." Dr. Mühlenberg, therefore, might safely have left them free to preach the Gospel where they would, even to his own distracted flock, which was weakened by dissensions, suffered severely in the Revolutionary War, and gradually scattered into the adjoining country.

In accordance with his instructions, Mueller at once gave up all idea of using the Goshen church, and occupied himself with those who heard him gladly at Knoxborough. After a careful examination of the land, the Moravians decided not to build a house for themselves, but to continue with the overseer, who was kind to them, and gave Mueller the use of a horse for his visits to adjoining plantations.

James Habersham, who had come over with George Whitefield in 1738, was one of the most prominent men in Savannah at this time. In 1744 he had established a commercial house in Georgia, the first of its kind, to ship lumber, hogs, skins, etc., to England, and this business had been a success. He had taken a great interest in Whitefield's Orphan House, and had been active in governmental affairs, having served as Secretary of the Province, President of the Council, and Acting Governor of Georgia. For many years he had been the Agent in charge of the Moravian lots in and near Savannah, and now, in failing health, and a sufferer from gout, he asked that one of the missionaries might be sent to his three estates on the Ogeechee River, partly as his representative and partly to instruct the slaves. It was decided that Wagner should accept this invitation and go to "Silkhope", while Mueller and Brõsing remained at Knoxborough, Mueller preaching at "Silkhope" every two weeks.

Marshall was much pleased with the reception accorded him and the missionaries, and hoped the time was coming for again using the lots in Savannah, but the hope again proved to be fallacious. The missionaries all suffered greatly from fever, always prevalent on the rice plantations in the summer, and on Oct. 11th, 1775, Mueller died. The outbreak of the Revolutionary War made Wagner's and Brõsing's position precarious, for the English Act exempting the Moravians from military service was not likely to be respected by the Americans, and in 1776 Brõsing returned to Wachovia, where the Moravians had settled in sufficient numbers to hold their own, though amid trials manifold. Wagner stayed in Georgia until 1779, and then he too left the field, and returned to England.

The Savannah Lands.

In January, 1735, fifty acres of Savannah land was granted by the Trustees of Georgia to August Gottlieb Spangenberg, who was going to Georgia as the leader of the first company of Moravian colonists. Spangenberg had the habit of speaking of himself as "Brother Joseph" in his diaries, and in the records he sometimes appears as Joseph Spangenberg, sometimes as Joseph Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg, and sometimes by his true name only. According to custom, the fifty acre grant embraced three lots,—Town Lot No. 4, Second Tything, Anson Ward, in the town of Savannah, Farm Lot No. 2, Second Tything, Anson Ward, in the township of Savannah, and Garden Lot No. 120, East. (Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia, Book D of Grants, Folio 208.)

A few days later a similar grant was made to David Nitschmann, "Count Zinzendorf's Hausmeister", generally known as the Syndic from his office in later years, who had conducted the first company from Herrnhut to London. This grant consisted of Town Lot No. 3, Second Tything, Anson Ward, in the town of Savannah, Farm Lot No. 3, Second Tything, Anson Ward, in the township of Savannah, and Garden Lot No. 121 East. (Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia, Book D of Grants, Folio 207.)

When the Moravians left Georgia in 1740, these lots were placed in the hands of an Agent, probably James Habersham, who was acting as Whitefield's assistant in his hospital and charity school, the Moravian house being rented for the former purpose.

When the Trustees of Georgia surrendered their Charter to the English Crown in 1754, it was found that no formal deeds had ever been made for many of the tracts granted by the Trustees, and it was decreed that any who could legally claim land under grant from the Trustees should have their rights confirmed by royal grant upon application to the Governor and Council of Georgia, within a specified time, the land otherwise to be considered forfeited. In June, 1761, Habersham wrote to Bethlehem that the time for entering claim had expired, but that he had asked for and obtained six months grace for the Moravians, who had previously sent him a full power of attorney, which had failed to reach him.

A new power of attorney was at once sent, and on September 7th, 1762, royal patents were issued to Nitschmann and Spangenberg, for the Town Lots and Farm Lots above mentioned. (Register's Office, Book D, Folios 207 and 208.)

Meanwhile the two Garden Lots had been sold to Sir James Wright for 10 Pounds, and deeds, bearing date of March 15th, 1762, were made to him by Spangenberg and Nitschmann. The deeds to the Town and Farm lots were deposited in Bethlehem, and the Agent took his instructions from the Manager there.

In 1765 Bishop Ettwein went from Bethlehem to Savannah to look after the property. He found that the large house on Spangenberg's lot had been condemned as ruinous and pulled down. Some one had built a small house on the other end of the same lot, and it was supposed to pay 4 Pounds a year ground rent, but the family living there was very poor, and Habersham had been unable to collect anything. By permission a poor woman had fenced in the Nitschmann lot, and was using it as a kitchen-garden, rent free. The title to the farm lots was in jeopardy, for a certain Alderman Becker in London claimed that the Trustees had given him a tract, including these and many other farms, but the settlers thereon were making a strong fight to hold their property, in which they were finally successful.

At the time of Frederick William Marshall's visit to Savannah in 1775, the two farm lots were reported to have some good timber, even if they were not of much use otherwise, and the town lots had increased in value with the growth of the town. Marshall thought the latter could again be used for residence, and as a centre for such missionary work as was already begun by Mueller, Wagner and Brõsing, but the Revolutionary War put an end to their efforts.

At this point in the records appears a peculiar uncertainty as to the identity of the owner of the David Nitschmann lots. The fact that there were three David Nitschmanns in the active service of the Moravian Church during a number of years after its renewal in Herrnhut affords ample opportunity for confusion, but one would not expect to find it in the minds of their contemporaries. But even such a man as Frederick William Marshall wrote, "The Deeds to these two lots, Nos. 3 and 4, are kept in Bethlehem (one stands in the name of Brother Joseph, the other of Bishop D'd Nitschmann, who passed away in Bethlehem) and it would be well if something were done about them. I do not know what can be arranged with the son of the latter; but Brother David Nitschmann, who is now in Zeist, said when he was in America that he himself was the David Nitschmann in whose name the grant was made, because he was the one who had shared in the negotiations with the Trustees of Georgia." Bishop David Nitschmann had died in Bethlehem, Oct. 9th, 1772, where his son Immanuel lived until 1790. The David Nitschmann residing in Zeist was the Syndic, formerly Count Zinzendorf's Hausmeister, the leader of the first company to London, where he and Spangenberg had arranged matters with the Trustees, and had each received fifty acres of land in his own name. The Bishop had had nothing whatever to do with the matter, and this was the conclusion reached, for the title to the Town Lot No. 3 passed at the Syndic's death, March 28th, 1779, to his son Christian David Nitschmann.

June 14th, 1784, August Gottlieb Spangenberg and Christian David Nitschmann by deed transferred their title to the Savannah property to Hans Christian Alexander von Schweinitz, Administrator of the estate of the Unitas Fratrum in Pennsylvania.

The Revolutionary War had come and gone, and Von Schweinitz began again to investigate the condition of affairs in Savannah. Their Agent, James Habersham, had died in 1775, but his son James had kept up the taxes, so the title was intact. "But there is a matter," he wrote, "which it is necessary you should be made acquainted with. When the British Troops took possession of Savannah, they had occasion for a lot belonging to a Mr. George Kellar, for the purpose of erecting a fort on, it being situated in the outskirts of the town, and in order to satisfy this man they very generously gave him your two lots in lieu of the one they had taken from him, but very fortunately for you, our Legislature passed a Law rendering null and void all their acts during the time they held this country, and notwithstanding Mr. Kellar is perfectly well acquainted with this matter, he has moved a house on one of the lots, and on the other he has lately built another house, which he rents out, and holds possession—in defiance of me, as I am possessed of no power of attorney to warrant any proceeding against him." A power of attorney was at once sent Habersham, with instructions to evict the intruder, and rent, lease or sell the property.

A suit against the trespasser was won in 1794, but in 1801 his tenant was still in possession, poor, and refusing to pay rent. Habersham had meanwhile died, and John Gebhard Cunow, acting as attorney for Von Schweinitz, who had returned to Germany in 1798, requested Matthew McAllister to take charge of the matter; but McAllister, having made some inquiries, reported that the man named John Robinson, who lived on the premises, was likely to make trouble, and that as he himself was the only Judge in the district it would be better to put the case into the hands of some one else, and leave him free to hear it. Cunow therefore asked George Woodruff to act as attorney, to which he agreed, requesting that John Lawson be associated with him, which was done the following year.

Hans Christian Alexander von Schweinitz died Feb. 26th, 1802, the title to the Savannah Lots passing by will to Christian Lewis Benzien, of Salem, North Carolina, who however requested Cunow to continue to look after them.

The Agents had no light task in ejecting John Robinson and his wife from their abode, for he was "a foolish, drunken man," and she "a perfect `virago', and the Sheriff is really afraid of her," but on July 5th, 1805, Lawson wrote to Cunow,—"I am happy to inform you that after great trouble and difficulty we have this day obtained possession of Mr. Benzien's lots."

Feb. 17th, 1807, Christian Lewis Benzien, by his attorneys Woodruff and Lawson, conveyed Town Lot No. 4, Second Tything, Anson Ward, to Charles Odingsell, the consideration being $1,500, one hundred dollars in cash, the rest secured by bond and mortgage, payable in one, two, and three years, with 8 per cent interest from date.

In the same manner Town Lot No. 3 was sold to Worthington Gale, March 14th, 1807, for $1,450.

Owing to "the distress of the times," payment of these bonds was slightly delayed, but by June, 1811, both were cancelled.

Although the two Town Lots thus brought $2,950, they had cost a good deal in taxes and attorney's fees, and it is doubtful whether the general treasury profited greatly by the investment, and certainly the men who had lived and labored and suffered in Georgia were in no financial way enriched thereby.

Christian Lewis Benzien died Nov. 13th, 1811, and the two Farm Lots were transferred by will to John Gebhard Cunow of Bethlehem, Pa., who in March, 1822, deeded them to Lewis David de Schweinitz of Bethlehem, Pa.

And here the two Farm Lots disappear from the records. They had never been available for farming purposes, and by degrees the timber was stolen from them, so that it became wiser to let them go than to keep up the taxes with no prospect of return. In course of time the title lapsed, and the land passed uncontested into other hands.

  Arrivals, Departures, Deaths.

Arrivals in Georgia.

April 6th, 1735. August Gottlieb Spangenberg From Germany.
" " " John Tõltschig " "
" 7th, " Peter Rose " "
" " " Gotthard Demuth " "
" " " Gottfried Haberecht " "
" " " Anton Seifert " "
" " " Michael Haberland " "
" " " George Haberland " "
" " " George Waschke " "
" " " Friedrich Riedel " "
Oct. 11th, " John Regnier From Pennsylvania.
Feb. 17th, 1736. David Nitschmann, (the Bishop) From Germany.
" 23rd, " Christian Adolph von Hermsdorf " "
" " " Henry Roscher " "
" " " John Andrew Dober " "
" " " Maria Catharine Dober, " " (wife of Andrew D.)
" " " George Neisser " "
" " " Augustin Neisser " "
" " " David Zeisberger " "
" " " Rosina Zeisberger, (wife of David Z.) " "
" " " David Tanneberger " "
" " " John Tanneberger, (son of David T.) " "
" " " David Jag " "
" " " John Michael Meyer " "
" " " Jacob Frank " "
" " " John Martin Mack " "
" " " Matthias Seybold " "
" " " Gottlieb Demuth " "
" " " John Bõhner " "
" " " Matthias Bõhnisch " "
" " " Regina Demuth, (wife of Gotthard D.) " "
" " " Judith Tõltschig, (wife of John T.) " "
" " " Catharine Riedel, " " (wife of Friedrich R.)
" " " Anna Waschke, (mother of George W.) " "
" " " Juliana Jäschke " "
" " " Rosina Haberecht, " " (wife of Gottfried H.)
Sept. 16th, 1737. Anna Catherina Rose,
Maria Magdalena Rose, (daughters of Peter R.)
Jan. 28th, 1738. David Zeisberger, Jr. From Holland.
" " " John Michael Schober " "
Oct. 16th, " Peter Bõhler, From Germany. (missionary to negroes)
" " " George Schulius, " " (assistant missionary)
" " " Simon Peter Harper From England.
May 18th, 1740. John Hagen From Germany.
Autumn, 1774. Ludwig Mueller " "
" " John George Wagner " "
March 5th, 1775. Andrew Brõsing From North Carolina.

Departures from Georgia.

March 15th, 1736. August Gottlieb Spangenberg To Pennsylvania.
" 26th, " Bishop David Nitschmann " "
Dec. 2nd, " John Andrew Dober To Germany.
" " " Maria Catherine Dober " "
March 9th, 1737. George Neisser To Pennsylvania.
May 16th, " Christian Adolph von Hermsdorf To Germany.
Oct. 16th, " David Tanneberger To Pennsylvania.
" " " John Tanneberger " "
" " " John Michael Meyer " "
" " " Gottfried Haberecht " "
End of Jan. 1738. Gotthard Demuth " "
" " Regina Demuth " "
" " George Waschke " "
" " Juliana Waschke " "
" " Anna Waschke " "
" " Augustin Neisser " "
" " Gottlieb Demuth " "
" " David Jag " "
March 12th, " John Tõltschig To Europe.
Summer, " Matthias Seybold To Pennsylvania.
Winter, 1738-39. John Francis Regnier To Germany.
1739. Peter Rose To Pennsylvania.
" Catherine Rose " "
" Maria Magdalena Rose " "
" Simon Peter Harper Unknown.
Jan. 20th, 1740. John Bõhner To Pennsylvania.
Jan., " Judith Tõltschig To Germany.
" " Michael Haberland " "
April 13th, " Peter Bõhler To Pennsylvania.
" " " Anton Seifert " "
" " " John Martin Mack " "
" " " David Zeisberger " "
" " " Rosina Zeisberger " "
" " " David Zeisberger, Jr. " "
" " " Benjamin Somers " "
" " " James —— " "
" " " Johanna Hummel " "
Feb., 1742. John Hagen " "
" " Abraham Büninger " "
1744. James Burnside " "
" Rebecca Burnside " "
1745. John Brownfield " "
" Henry Ferdinand Beck " "
" Barbara Beck " "
" Maria Christina Beck " "
" Jonathan Beck " "
" David Beck " "
" Anna Catherina Kremper " "
1776. Andrew Brõsing To North Carolina.
May, 1779. John George Wagner To England.


Oct. 11th, 1735. Friedrich Riedel In Savannah.
March 19th, 1736. Jacob Frank " "
March 30th, " Henry Roscher " "
June 17th, " Rosina Haberecht " "
Oct. 3rd, " Matthias Bõhnisch " "
Sept. 30th, 1737. George Haberland " "
(Nov.?) " Anna Catherina Rose " "
Aug. 4th, 1739. George Schulius In Purisburg.
Aug. 10th, " John Michael Schober In Savannah.
Oct. 11th, 1775. Ludwig Mueller At Knoxborough.



From Europe 43
From Pennsylvania 1
Born in Georgia 2
From North Carolina 1


At Savannah 8
At Purisburg 1
At Knoxborough 1


To Bethlehem, Pa. 18
To other Moravian Congregations in America 3
To Moravian Congregations in Europe 8
Scattered 8

——— 47

Following the Moravians from Georgia to Bethlehem 13

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