Building Wachovia, Episode 3

The Father of Salem

By Maizie Plumley

Born on February 5, 1721, Fredrich Wilhelm von Marschall was raised in a military household with the expectation that he would join the military; however, he instead went on to join the Moravian Church in 1739. Eventually, he began writing his name using the English spelling and became known as Frederic William Marshall. After joining the Moravian Church, he began to travel to Holland and England in service of the church. In England, Marshall first dealt with matters relating to North Carolina. He showed exceptional skills relating to administration, finance, and ministry, which resulted in him being appointed senior civilis in 1761. This same year, he and his family took their first trip to America, where he supervised financial affairs for the Moravian settlements in Pennsylvania. Two years later, Marshall was appointed agent for the Unity in North Carolina and oeconomus of Wachovia. Arriving in Wachovia late in 1764, Marshall selected the location for the new central town of Wachovia and set to work planning the town of Salem.


Casey Landolf

Maizie Plumley


Stuart Marshall


Announcer/Reader: James Landolf

Frederic Marshall: Seth Payne

Researched by

Maizie Plumley



Transcript for The Father of Salem


Announcer: This is Moravian Mornings. A podcast discussing the history surrounding the Moravians who settled in Wachovia.


Casey:  Good morning everyone. Welcome to another episode of Moravian Mornings’ Building Wachovia series, where we present the biographies of individuals who were important in the development of Wachovia. Stuart Marshall is our guide today who will teach us about Frederic William Marshall, Oeconomus of the Wachu, or the chief administrator of the Wachovia settlements in North Carolina.


Maizie: Frederic Marshall is one of the main figures to help with the development of Salem, serving not just as the chief administrator of the settlements in Wachovia, but also serving in roles such as a town planner and an architect for Salem. Grab your coffee, and let’s talk about the man known as the “Father of Salem.”


Frederic William Marshall

Stuart: Friedrich Wilhelm von Marschall was born in February, 1721, in Stolpen, Upper Lusatia Germany and was the son of George Rudolph von Marschall. Eventually, he began writing his name with the English spelling, and became known as Frederic William Marshall.  Raised in a military household, Marshall was tutored at home with the expectation that he would hold a career in the military, and he attended universities in Leipzing and Herrnhaad, eventually joining the Unity of Brethren, or the Moravian Church, in 1739, when he traveled to Holland and England in service of the church.[1]


While in England, Marshall first dealt with matters relating to the future church in North Carolina, assisting in negotiations with Parliament. This eventually led  to the Act of 1749, which encouraged the Moravian Church to settle in the American Colonies, granting them freedom of conscience and religion, abstinence from military duty, and permission to affirm rather than swear an oath. After successfully settling in an area of Pennsylvania, the Moravian Church decided to colonize in North Carolina in 1753.

Marshall married Hedwig Elizabeth von Scherinitz on June 30th, 1750, and together they had three children: Maria Theresia, Anna Dorothea, and Christian Frederic. [2] A little over a decade later, in 1761, he and his family first traveled to America. Marshall was also appointed to the office of senior civilis this year, as he excelled in matters relating to administration, finance, and ministry. In America, Marshall first managed financial affairs in Moravian Settlements in Pennsylvania. In 1763 the Directorial Conference of the Unity of Brethren in Europe appointed Marshall agent for the Unity in North Carolina and Oeconomus, the manager or steward that oversees the finances of a religious group. He and his family arrived in Wachovia in 1764, where he assisted in choosing the site for a new central town. [3]


Reader: (1763, From the Wachovia Church Book.) “1763: Br. Frederick Marshall was put in charge of affairs in Wachovia by the Herrnhut Board, with Br. Ettwein as his local representative. The Board also instructed Br. Marshall to select a suitable site for a central town, and to desire whether work on it should be begun at once.” [4]


Stuart: Marshall went on to plan the town of Salem, believing a planned community was essential to avoid confusion, and foster religious community through creating a central religious town for Wachovia.


Frederic Marshall:Remarks concerning the Laying out of the new Congregation Town in the center of Wachovia. Bethlehem, July, 1765. “A Congregation-Town differs from other Congregations in that it is more like one family, where the religious and material condition of each member is known in detail, where each person receives the appropriate Choir oversight, and also assistance in consecrating the daily life. This must be considered in deciding the form of the town.” [5]


Stuart: Salem was designated the trade center of Wachovia by the Moravian Church, and the Church oversaw the secular and spiritual lives of Salem’s citizens. To further promote the Church’s aspirations for Salem, Marshall planned a central square that would be the focus of the community’s religious, commercial, and educational activities, with a church, workshops, and schools surrounding the square. Marshall’s plan focused on community requirements while blending appearance with practicality to prevent town sprawl and promote a cohesive aesthetic.


Frederic Marshall:Remarks concerning the Laying out of the new Congregation Town in the center of Wachovia. (Wa-kow-vee-uh) Bethlehem, July, 1765. Here in Pennsylvania it is customary in new towns to make each lot wide enough so that there may be an entrance beside the house to the yard behind, as most people do some farming, and the lots are deep enough that in addition to the yard there is a garden, which is very convenient for the owner; and the warmer the land the more comfortable this method is. Among us it is not only an economical arrangement, but particularly good for the children, who can thereby have room for their recreations under oversight.

On the other hand it must be remembered that the lots should not be made too wide, or the town will spread out too far, especially if the first thought is to occupy the land, and the family comes second, for it is not to be expected that the Choirs of Single Persons will be as large as they are in Europe, and consequently for a given population more family houses will be needed, with their lots, etc. The inconvenience of a wide-spread town is that the Brethren and Sisters can not so often attend the evening services or those of a day when there are many meetings, and the daily life of the Congregation, as one large family, can not be so well supervised by the ministers and other Congregation officers.” [6]


Stuart: Construction for Salem began in January 1766 and was established as a community by 1772. Marshall’s plan made Salem a functional congregation town and trade center. In addition to planning the town, Marshall served as Salem’s Oeoconomus and Administrator of Unity Property in Wachovia, establishing regulations for the sale and lease of lands in the newly reorganized plots. To preserve title to the property for the Moravian Church, Marshall preferred leasing, which also served as a way to keep out undesired settlers.

Following difficulties faced by the Moravian Church leading up to the American Revolution, due to their neutral stance, Fredric Marshall was called to a General Synod, the governing body of the Moravian Church in Germany in 1775. Marshall remained there for four years, unable to return as the American Revolution caused unrest. While absent, the American Revolution caused issues for the Moravians, without Marshall’s guidance concerning finances and land ownership.[7]


Reader: (Memorabilia of Salem, 1777) “1777: Because of the continuing war-unrest we have this year been quite cut off from our congregations in Europe, so that we received only the Wochentlichen Nachrichten for last year, 1776, and not all of that; and in the last month of the year one letter came, by way of Pennsylvania, from our dear Brethren of the Unity’s Elders Conference, and one tender letter from Br. and Sr. Marshall from Herrnhut.”


Stuart: One issue faced by the Moravians in Wachovia during the war and while Marshall was absent was the Confiscation Act of 1777, which allowed states to seize property belonging to individuals not living in America and not citizens of the state. At this time, the trustee of Wachovia was a British subject living in Great Britain, causing North Carolinians to seek seizure. In 1778, Marshall became the land trustee to prevent this. After returning to Salem in 1779, Marshall continued to work to safeguard the property in Wachovia for the Moravians, and by 1783, an act of the assembly recognized him as the trustee for all Moravian land in North Carolina and the authorized agent for the Moravian Church. In addition to representing Salem in political and legal matters and defending Moravian titles to land, Marshall supervised the Church’s business enterprises in Salem and continued to assist in Wachovia’s growth. Marshall drew up plans for the community store, the second tavern, the boy’s school, and the Bethabara Gemeinhaus. His final contribution was the plan for the Home Moravian Church in Salem. [8]


Frederic Marshall: “In a Letter to the Unity’s Vorsteher Collegium (Kuh-lee-jee-um), Salem August 1786. Salem again has reason to be grateful for the blessing which has rested upon this year, though the profits have been less than last year; and still less can be expected for the coming year, since there is a marked falling off in trade. If it had not been for the extensive building enterprises in Salem we would have felt it much sooner…

Our present Saal in the Gemein Haus is becoming too small for our general meetings, and we often speak of building a Gemein Saal or church, which according to the approved plan for Salem would stand between the Gemein Haus and the Sisters House. The school for little boys is increasing, and the snail is about to outgrow its little rented shell. As often as a Sister becomes a widow one is puzzled how to lodge her. All of these essential buildings call for outlay, which will curtail the investments in active business and produce no revenue.“ [9]


Stuart: Frederic Marshall died in Salem on February 11, 1802  and was buried in Salem’s God’s Acre. He was called the father of the community and was considered one of the leading religious figures of his era by Moravians as well as non-Moravians for all he contributed to Salem and Wachovia’s growth.


Reader: “February 14, 1802: In the afternoon at one o’clock was the funeral of our departed Br. Marshal to which came not only most of the members of our congregations but such an amazing number of friends from the surrounding country that our roomy church could not begin to contain them, though vestibule and stems were filled. The total number was estimated as twelve hundred persons at least. In the evening at six o’clock the entire congregation united in a lovefeast, in thankful remembrance of the faithful service of our departed Brother, and in solemn renewal of our communion with the Church Triumphant and especially with our Br. Marshall.” [10]



Maizie: Wow, as you can see, Marshall was instrumental in the development of Salem and the success of the settlements in Wachovia


Casey: Thank you all so much for listening. Join us next week as we continue our Building Wachovia series and learn about Christian Reuter, the surveyor of Wachovia.


Announcer: This has been an episode of Moravian Mornings, a Historic Bethabara Park podcast. If you have any questions or would like our hosts to discuss certain topics, please email us at or message us on our Instagram page, also titled Moravian Mornings. Thanks for listening. Auf Wiedersehen.




[1] Powell, W. S. (1991). Dictionary of North Carolina Biography : Vol. 4, L-O. The University of North Carolina Press, 221-222.

[2] Powell, W. S. (1991), 221-222.

[3] Powell, W. S. (1991), 221-222.

[4]Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I: 1752-1771 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1922), 264.

[5] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 312.

[6]  Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 312-313.

[7] Powell, W. S. (1991), 221-222.

[8] Powell, W. S. (1991), 221-222.

[9]  Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume V, 2148.

[10] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume VI, 2695.




Fries, Adelaide, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I. Edwards & Broughton Print Company. Raleigh, 1922.

Hutton, J.E., and M.A. Hutton,  A History of the Moravian Church. Moravian Publication Office, United States of America, 1909.

Podmore, Colin, “Zinzendorf and the English Moravians.” Journal of Moravian History. No. 3. Penn State University Press, 2007.

Shantz, Douglas H, An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2013.

Spangenberg, August Gottlieb, The Life of Nicholas Lewis Count Zinzendorf, Bishop and Ordinary of the United (or Moravian) Brethren. London, 1838.


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