Theodor Schulz (1770-1850)
Theodor Schulz (1770-1850) was born December 17, 1770 in Gerdauen, East Prussia, one of the towns founded by the Teutonic Knights in the Middle Ages, and rich in history from that period. At fifteen he apprenticed himself to the chancery (administrative office) of Ernst Ahasverus Heinrich, Count of Lehndorf (1727-1811) at Steinort where he studied estate management, agriculture, and accounting. While there he met and became friends with Brother Rhenius, inspector of the Count’s chancery, and a member of the Moravians at Königsberg. He was admitted to the Moravian community at Gnadenfrei in 1795. In 1799 Friedrich Metz, Jacob Ertel, Georg Breutel and Schulz came to America en route to an assigned mission post in Surinam. They spent four months becoming familiar with all of the Moravian communities in the region surrounding Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Moravian American headquarters. Also, during this time, Schulz was married by lot1 to Susanna Catharina Elisabeth Loesch (1771-1885). The Schulzes were in Surinam from 1800 to 1806, during which time Theodor compiled a dictionary, hymnal, and a translation of the New Testament Epistles for the Arawak Indians. Due to his wife’s poor health, the family returned to Bethlehem in 1806. Until 1821 he was a pastor and educator to sparsely settled areas around Bethlehem. From 1821 to his death on August 4, 1850, Schulz was Unity administrator of all the Moravian Wachovian land holdings in North Carolina, as well as business manager of Salem, North Carolina. He is especially remembered for his beneficial influence on the missionary works to the Cherokees while serving in these posts.
1The Moravians drew lots for many purposes, among them the choice of a marriage partner. It was an unbiased way to “seek the will of God” without human interference.
The Theodor Schulz Diary, 1785-1844
The following excerpts of August 6, 1799-December 12, 1799 are presented here for the first time since Schulz wrote his diary, and in my translation. During the four months that Theodor Schulz spent in Pennsylvania, he may well have met Charlotte Sabine Schropp and Sarah Horsfield, both of whom were living in Bethlehem, and whose fathers were very well known within the Moravian community. Johannes Schropp was the business manager for Bethlehem, and Joseph Horsfield was Justice of the Peace and Notary Public. Also, the tours Schulz took of Moravian settlements such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Lititz, as well as cities such as Philadelphia with Moravian congregations, represent important places in the lives of both of these young women and their families. Schulz recorded what personally interested him, and reflected on matters close to his heart: the contemporary landscape, customs of the land, architecture, crops, commerce, weather, the daily and spiritual life of all the Moravian communities he visited, as well as that of his own.
6 August  At 6:00 a.m. we received permission from the quarantine medical doctors
(There was a yellow fever outbreak in 1799, and their ship was in quarantine at Mudfort just north of Chester, Pa.) that we continue our journey for which we were very grateful. At three o’clock in the afternoon, to our delight, we dropped anchor in front of Philadelphia. Brothers Meder and Boller picked us up, and the Philadelphia Moravian congregation warmly welcomed us. Along with them we thanked the Savior for his countless, and merciful support. It did us good just to be around them. After being at sea so long, it was wonderful to be on solid ground again and among our own Brethren.
Philadelphia is a lovely well laid out large city. The houses are almost all built of brick. The city itself lies on the Delaware River. The plan reaches as far as the Schuylkill River, but is not yet built up. The streets are laid out N-S, E-W, intersect each other, and are quite wide. Brick sidewalks for pedestrians are laid out on both sides. After sweating profusely—for it is exceedingly hot—and a most pleasant stay with the local Brethren there, we set out early on the
10 [Aug] tenth in the stage for our trip to Bethlehem, which is 56 American miles away from here. We thought the area would be empty and desolate, but it was just the opposite. We drove the entire day through plantations, small towns, and the beautiful forests of mighty oaks, beeches, and walnut trees in between. We were especially impressed with the fine roadways, and excellent taverns—the mannerly and fine service being quite unexpected. Thirteen English miles from Bethlehem Br. Cunow approached us, and then my faithful Br. Stadiger, and Br. Fischer. At 6:30 we arrived in Bethlehem, and got out in front of the Brothers House where everyone warmly greeted us. An hour later the Elders Conference welcomed us with a pleasant lovefeast, and along with us praised the Savior and thanked Him for our very beings. We were so embarrassed by the lovely and tender outpouring that our eyes overflowed with tears.
This lovely place is built on a mountain, at the foot of which the Monocacy and Lehigh flow by. Over the latter is a high bridge about 200 feet long. The beautiful mountains on which magnificent oaks and nut trees are growing, delight the eye with a charming prospect, and provide some pleasant promenades for the local residents. The islands in the Lehigh gave us frequent pleasure. Especially unusual for us were the field fences, which are unique to America, and which consist of eight to nine foot long split wooden logs, lying end on end on top of one another. Because of this one loses at least six feet of land on both sides. The mill building is beautiful. A lot of maize, field corn, and buckwheat, along with other European fruits, are grown on the rather good local farmland here. Locally it is bound to rain with an East wind, just like the Northwest winds will always bring good weather. Among the various trees were thirteen different types of oaks, walnuts, hickory, nut trees, good-tasting chestnuts, sassafras trees that produce berries, sugar maple, catalpa trees with long shadelike
leaves fruits—the leaves are similar to the maple’s, two kinds of hickory (shagbark and shellbark) that also remain green in winter,
15 [Aug] cedars, weeping or babylonica willows—On August 15th we went nine English miles with the stage to Nazareth, which is quite beautifully built on a very noble piece of flat land, and has some delightful panoramas. Nazareth Hall—the Gemeinhaus (Congregation House), Paedagogium (Boarding School), and Gemein Saal (Assembly Room)—is a lovely building, 3 floors high. One can see quite a distance from the gallery up on the attic—the Blue Mountains, Hoper Mountain [?], as well as the Delaware and Lehigh Mountains. We also visited the rural Moravian settlement of Schöneck near Nazareth.
21 [Aug] On the twenty-first of August many regional members of the Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, met in Bethlehem for their yearly meeting. We four brothers had the pleasure of being able to attend.
29 [Aug] On the twenty-ninth I
held celebrated this blessed festival for the last time in the midst of the Brethren. It was a blessing upon my heart, which will be present
30 [Aug] forever. On the thirtieth we visited Emmaus, and at
2 September Christiansbrunn (Christian’s Spring) and Gnadenthal (Gracedale). One finds fruit and peach trees at both locations. The grain here is usually threshed using horses. The barns are built on the hillsides, so that on one side, built into the foundation, are entrances for the animals to their stalls, and on the other side, above the stalls, is the threshing floor, across which one can drive. The way milk is kept here is also quite wonderful. By means of small water locks, clear flowing spring water can be fed at higher or lower levels into stone spring houses. The milk pans stand in this cold flowing water (Spring water has a constant temperature in southeastern Pennsylvania of 50-55o F.). Our return trip went by Nazareth, and Friedensthal where we took a look at Br. Eirly’s newly built mill.
11 [Sept] On Wednesday we were once again in Nazareth and on the
12 [Sept] the twelfth in Gnadenthal at noon. On the
13 [Sept] thirteenth Br. Reichel showed us around the place, and we were especially impressed with Br. Henry’s rifle manufactory, the lovely hatmaking workshop,and the metal workshop. In the afternoon we went to Br. Henry’s mill in Plainfield Township, about three miles distant from Nazareth, where his rifles are bored, smoothed, and polished. It was a superb walk northwards through pleasant chestnut and nut trees, and beautiful plantations—four miles from the Blue Mountains, which formed a magnificent vista. Here we tasted the wild, large wine grapes known as fox grapes, which, although very large in size—almost the size of plums—and therefore quite noticeable to us, were not to our liking. There is another type of wild wine grape in Pennsylvania, which is smaller than normal, but tastes very good.
14 [Sept] On the fourteenth we traveled to Easton. Six miles from Nazareth, it is a well laid out but still undeveloped town on the Delaware, into which the Lehigh and Bushkill flow, thereby making the little town of Easton into half of an island. The town is, as it were, enveloped by mountains, the lovely view of which can be seen from all the streets. The high rocky mountains along the
Schuylkill Bushkill on the way towards Friedensthal are especially beautiful. They’re building a new bridge across the Delaware, which connects New Jersey with Pennsylvania.
17 [Sept] On the seventeenth, while taking a walk, we took a look at Nain, which is
19 [Sept] well known because of the Indians. On the nineteenth Br. van Vleck recommended Susan Catharine Elisabeth Loesh to me for holy matrimony. She happened to be in Lititz for a visit. Br. Metz had to go to Lititz regarding his future wife so we four Brothers left from Bethlehem in the company of Br. van
21 [Sept] Vleck on the morning of the twenty-first during rainy weather. First we traversed the Lehigh River and its islands; then through the small Jordan Creek towards the little town of Allenstown (Allentown); through Cedar Creek at Trexlers. We breakfasted on the Little Lehigh and Large Spring. After that we went through the village of Cootstown (Kutztown), then the city of Reading. The latter lies in a charming area on a plain between rocky mountains, not far from the Schuylkill, over which we took a ferry. We traveled through the mountains on very stony paths, and several creeks. On the way we encountered a lot of undergrowth with ground acorns—thus, the saying that in America the swine eat the acorns from the trees. Then we went through the miserable little place called Adamstown, which probably got its name from the red earth, i.e. Adam’s earth. We came to Reamstown at noon, and afterwards past Ephrata where the German Seventh-Day Baptists have their colony and cloister. We
22 [Sept] passed through the Cocalico Creek towards Lititz, which lies sixty-four miles from Bethlehem. The place is rather nicely laid out, but the area roundabout is very simple. On the twenty-second in the evening
22 [Sept] I attended a child’s baptism in Warwick Township, which was performed by
23 [Sept] Br. Strohl. On the twenty-third we traveled eight miles with Br. Hübner to the attractive city of Lancaster, which after Philadelphia is the most beautiful city in Pennsylvania. Its layout is very regular. Along with Br. Ludwig Hübner—with whom we lodged—we visited most of the Brethren here. The city has some absolutely outstanding houses. From the
Customs Court House in the middle of the city, one can see through all the main streets towards the outlying areas. There are four churches here. From the tower of the Lutheran church we feasted our eyes on the excellent view in and around Lancaster. On
24 [Sept] the twenty-fourth Br. Metz became engaged to Sister T[s]chuddy. We were given a tour around the place, and were pleased to find so many Brethren secure in their faith. The main businesses to note here are the organpipe manufactory of David Tannenberg—who is considered the best organ builder in Pennsylvania. In the Brothers House is a potash works, and Br. Tschuddy fabricates many hats from wood shavings.
27 [Sept] On the twenty-seventh we arrived safely back in
1 [October] Bethlehem, glad to be healthy and well. During the night on the first of October
2 [Oct] came the first hoar frost. On the second the four Brethren Winkler, Helwich, Eberhard and Dalmann arrived safely from Europe. I became engaged on the
3 [Oct] third to the already mentioned Sister Susan Catherine Elisabeth Loesh, and on
6 [Oct] sixth we three pairs were married by Br. van Vleck during the Gemeinstunde (congregation service). As difficult as it was for me to give up my coveted bachelorhood, I couldn’t deny, how well my Savior and I know, the many tears shed at the conclusion of this event. He, Who is my only most trusted Friend, shall remain my support, my consolation, my one and only. Thus shall I go with Him alone towards that which His hand has laid upon me, and I look forward to Him making all things right, especially for those who follow Him blindly. On the
10 [Oct] eighth EL pp z M. The tenth we moved from the Gemeinhaus (Congregation House) to Brother and Sister Cunow. On the
11 [Oct] eleventh we all traveled to Nazareth, and the day thereafter partook of a blessed
17 [Oct] Holy Communion. On the seventeenth during the night came the first frost, the
3 November temperature being 28o Fahrenheit. On Sunday the third of November Br. Hübner ordained Brothers Metz, Ertel, and me as deacons of the Brethren
15 [Nov] Church in Bethlehem. The weather in this month was still fabulously warm.
17 [Nov] In Bethlehem on the seventeenth we attended for the first time a baptism of an
29 [Nov] adult negress Maria. On the twenty-ninth in the night the first inch of snow fell.
30 [Nov] On the thirtieth we finally received news from Br. Haga in Philadelphia that on the fourth of December two brigs were scheduled to leave for Surinam. Thus
1 December we took leave from all our dear Bethlehem friends on Sunday the first of December. Our parting with the Anstalt (House or School) children was especially touching. After the Brethren and we had uttered our prayers and remembrances in the Gemeinstunde (congregation service), we confessed the same once again with the local Elders Conference, and with the goblet of fellowship most tenderly promised to stay with Jesus, and to be joyful witnesses among the white, black and brown peoples, whereby heart and eyes overflowed.
2 [Dec] On the second we started on our trip to Philadelphia, and arrived there at nine o’clock in the evening. We discovered quickly that we would not be leaving this week, which we welcomed for we had various business matters to take care of.
8 [Dec] On the eighth we celebrated a blessed last supper with the Philadelphia Brethren, which Br. Meder held here for the last time—before leaving for New York on the eleventh—half in the German and half in the English language.
12 [Dec] On the twelfth in the afternoon we boarded our brig Nancy, commanded by Captain Simon Carter. Several Philadelphia Brethren accompanied us there, as well as Brothers Henry from Nazareth and Boe[h]ler from Bethlehem. Today’s daily texts were very encouraging, and the watchword was: “Leave joyfully, and be led in peace. He leads with the hands of a mother.” Further the text: “In the same way you have sent me out into the world, so I send them also into the world. May the path we take be blessed, and the words we sow, be brought to life…
Theodor Schulz wrote charming descriptions of towns, people, and countryside en route from his arrival in Philadelphia to Bethlehem, as well as of the various surrounding Moravian settlements. These are of special interest, not only for the detail of Moravian contemporary life depicted, but also for the general topography and history of eastern Pa. in the end of the eighteenth century.
Please be sure to visit our Facebook gallery for more images pertaining to these three Moravian manuscripts ~ Borneman Mss. 117, 142, 143.
For additional related Moravian resources, please visit the Moravian Archives website.
Preservation of the Free Library of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania German manuscript collection has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Pennsylvania German Collection,
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