Anson County

Broad Bay, Maine Families Migrating to North Carolina 1769-1770

Nestled among the banks of the Medomak River lives the past of long ago. The ruins of a small 1730 settlement were barely visible by 1735.(4) Death and loss remain upon the land after a devastating attack on the people by the Native Americans. Samuel Waldo inherited these lands known today as Waldoboro in 1732.(1) Hope existed once again to initiate a new settlement in the same area. The Brigadier General Waldo recruited immigrants from Wurtemberg and Palatinate to the then colony of Massachusetts. An agent of Waldo, Sebastian Zuberbuhler, begins distributing pamphlets offering transportation to America in the winter of 1741.(5) More than two hundred people sign up for the voyage.

The journey’s first stage launched on an early spring day in March 1742. Traveling the countryside throughout the summer season, the families continue onward with their few possessions. Five months later, during the second stage of the trip, they arrive on the coast of England. Their eyes meet the Atlantic Ocean and Captain James Abercrombie. For the third and final stage of the expedition, the families finally board the ship, Lydia. Seven weeks later, they reach Marblehead, Massachusetts. It is now October of 1742, and they are still a few weeks away from their final destination. By month’s end, they reach the lands known as Broad Bay and are shocked by its appearance. The Waldo pamphlets promised completed houses that were ready for families to eagerly move in. Other promises were a meeting house and a church.(5) None of these promises awaited the families at the time of arrival.

Parson Smith kept a diary of the event, and his words proclaimed eight weeks of fair weather to down trees, build shelters and prepare for the winter months.(5) The first year began with blustery winds, flying snow, and hope for the coming spring. Cabbage, flax, and rye planted along rows of newly cultivated soils were the first crops. But wood offered the residents supplies and open trade from Boston. The first church building completed in 1743 reassures the residents that the settlement was slowly growing. A new generation was born in the area, and the days of living in Broad Bay continue with harvesting crops, trading lumber, and worshiping GOD, their creator.

Maine coast line circa 1900 (courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The year 1760 is significant with the area for several reasons. The overwhelming growth of the colonies located south of Broad Bay was exciting and exhilarating, with new dreams of land and wealth. But, it seems that the Broad Bay residents were looking for a new direction. Barbara Hahn, the wife of George Hahn, was visiting the Boston area when she stumbled across George Soelle, a Moravian minister.(1) Soelle was educated in the Lutheran faith but joined the Moravians in 1748. He traveled to America and lived in Bethlehem while working as a teacher and instructor. Barbara Hahn begged the minister to accompany her to Broad Bay, and Soelle agreed. The trip upon the schooner was no less than five days until they reached Broad Bay.(1) This action signifies red alerts asking why Soelle would embark on such a trip with a lady he doesn’t know. The answer may lie in Bethlehem and the Moravians. New missions were thriving along the countryside of the middle and northern colonies during this time. The Moravians were in search of a new site for a settlement similar to Bethlehem. Perhaps, Soelle thought the prospects were worthy of inspection in Broad Bay. Soelle arrives to meet a large gathering, and the residents soon offer him to stay and establish a new church. George Hahn and others submitted a letter to the church headquarters in Bethlehem requesting the permanent position of Soelle in their community. By 1762, Soelle is in charge of the new Moravian parish in Broad Bay, and the local Lutheran church is very displeased.

The population of Broad Bay during 1762 has doubled within the twenty years of establishment.(3) A Lutheran church has been present and active since 1743. Johann Schaeffer, Lutheran minister during 1762, made life almost unbearable for Soelle and his followers. He even had Soelle kidnapped for a day before letting him return to the safety of his church and his members.(3) Soelle often requested dismissal of his duties in Broad Bay, and the Bethlehem Committee refused but sent Brother Heppener to assist him.(3) This action offered Soelle little comfort as he missed his friends and style of life back in Bethlehem. Moravian Bishop Ettwein visited Broad Bay in 1766. The conversations involved the settlement and support of creating a new Moravian community in Broad Bay like Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and Wachovia in North Carolina.

Marsh near Waldoboro, Maine (courtesy of Library of Congress)

Soon after Bishop Ettwein returned to Bethlehem, Soelle began writing letters to him in 1767. The letters display the morale and the conditions of his members. Soelle goes into great detail about the poor children with no shoes and just a shirt to wear during the winter.(1) The letters go on to declare the poor quality of the land and how much the families rely on the lumber trade. The following is one of these letters.

Soelle’s church members were moving from Broad Bay to North Carolina.(1,3) This decision was made by the Moravian Elders in Pennsylvania while corresponding with the Elders in North Carolina. Many of the families were reluctant to sell their lands and expressed this to the Moravian Elders.

The first six families left Broad Bay on October 12, 1769. Twenty-seven years after the original families left the ship, Lydia. The Moravians in North Carolina met the families and began searching for locations to set up a new community within the Wachovia tract. Fourteen additional families with Soelle left Broad Bay and shipwrecked along the coast of North Carolina. These families migrated from the seashore inland to Salem in 1770.(3) Evidence is emerging about another small group that left Broad Bay during the same period of the fourteen families and Soelle. These specific families migrated along the Great Wagon Road and arrived in Bethabara in 1770.

Moravian Church Members Roster 1764 Broad Bay Settlement
Michael and Catherine Rominger
John Phillip and Catherine Vogler
David and Catherine Rominger
Matthew and Susannah Seitenberger
Nicholas Orph
David and Catherine Holzapfel
Catherine Wagner
John Michael and Elizabeth Seitz
David and Margaret Kerbel
John George and Barbara Hahn
Adam Shumacher
Michael Jung
Willibaldus and Justina Castner
Peter and Elizabeth Kroehn
List obtained from notes taken from the Moravian Archives and sources 2,3 and 5 listed below

The above-listed families traveled to North Carolina during the years 1769-1770.(3) Additional families that migrated to the Wachovia tract are Peter Fielder, John Frederick Kuntzel, Anders Lauer, Jacob Reed, Melchoir Schneider, and George Williard. Less than half of these families decide to stay and reside on Moravian lands in North Carolina. Once the families arrived, the Elders separated 2,000 acres from the Wachovia tract and devised them into lots of 200 acres. The families who signed the Brotherly Agreement received lots in present-day Friedland, Forsyth County, NC.(2) The land company operated by the Moravians offered lease packages and sold acreage at times throughout this period.(2)

This segment will conclude here at the arrival of the families into North Carolina. Part two of this series will look more closely at the families who stayed and discover fascinating facts about the members who left the Wachovia area.

Sources:

  1. Goodwin, Grethe. “Moravians in Maine: 1762-1770.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 52, no. 2, 1979, pp. 250–258. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/364842. Accessed 2 May 2021.
  2. Surratt, Jerry L. “The Role of Dissent in Community Evolution among Moravians in Salem, 1772-1860.” The North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 52, no. 3, 1975, pp. 235–255. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23529693. Accessed 2 May 2021.
  3. Jordan, John W. “A Historical Sketch Of The Moravian Mission At Broad Bay, Maine 1760-1770”
  4. Waldoboro – Maine: An Encyclopedia (maineanencyclopedia.com)
  5. Sides Roxie “Early American Families” published Heritage Printers Charlotte, North Carolina 1963
  6. Graveyard Register of Friedland Moravian Church published 1989

2 replies »

  1. Thank you! This helps me to connect to the people who risked so much and had such a struggle. I enjoy reading your posts so much. You open a door to the past for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Soelle is mentioned several times in James Wall’s History of Davie County. He apparently was an itinerant preacher in the sense that he travelled around trying to convert people to the Moravian faith.

    Liked by 1 person

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