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Building Wachovia, Episode 4

The Surveyor

of Wachovia

By Casey Landolf

Born on September 5, 1717, in Steinbach, Germany, Christian Reuter was born to a wealthy surgeon, but after he dreamt of wealth being a barrier to God’s true mercy, he and his family fell to an extreme level of poverty. The family traveled often, so as a child, Reuter was not able to attend a formal school. His dad attended his studies, teaching him mathematics. Around the age of 14, the young Reuter became apprenticed to Count Franz, a surveyor. After the death of Count Franz, Reuter became an apprentice to Franz’s brother, also a surveyor. After receiving his certification, he completed various contracts in the field, and at the age of 21, he received a commission as Royal Surveyor of Germany. This work took him near Moravian settlements, and this is how his relationship with the Moravian Church began. He eventually felt the need to join them and was received into the church in 1738. Reuter proved to be invaluable to the Moravian Church as he completed surveying work for them in Germany and took on multiple roles in Wachovia: surveyor, forester, superintendent, teacher of arithmetic and geometrical drawing.

Hosts

Casey Landolf

Maizie Plumley

Guest

Kait Dodd

Cast

Announcer/Reader 2: James Landolf

Reader 1: Maggie Pelta-Pauls

Researched by

Casey Landolf

 

 

Transcript for The Surveyor of Wachovia

Introduction

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. This currently is our last scheduled episode for Building Wachovia, but we really hope we’re able to continue at some point with this series! Kait Dodd is our guide today who will teach us about Wachovia’s surveyor, Christian Reuter.

 

Maizie: Reuter held a variety of different positions within the Moravian Church, and he played a crucial role in the evolution of Wachovia, including helping to found Bethania and Salem, so it only makes sense that we discuss him in our Building Wachovia series, so grab your coffee, and get ready to learn about Christian Reuter, the surveyor of Wachovia.

 

The life of Christian Reuter

Kait: Philip Christian Gottlieb Reuter was born on September 5th, 1717 in Steinbach, Germany. Christian Reuter’s father, Dr. Johann Reuter, had once been a wealthy surgeon, but after he dreamt of wealth being a barrier to God’s true mercy, he and his family fell to an extreme level of poverty. [1]  During his childhood, young Reuter found his father to be harsh, prompting the boy to often dream of his future and being able to leave his father.[2] The family traveled often, so he was not able to attend a formal school. Instead, he was homeschooled by his father, and it is through his homeschooling that he learned mathematics.[3] Reuter did not grow up in the Moravian Church. He was actually a Lutheran first, converting at age 14.[4] It was around this age that he became apprenticed to a Surveyor, Count Franz.[5] It would take Reuter an unusually long time, about five years, to complete his apprenticeship studies due to a few difficult situations.[6]

His time with Count Franz would be frustrating as Grim, another apprentice of the Surveyor, took a dislike to him, but this did not stop the new apprentice from becoming one of the most expert map-drawers among Franz’s apprentices.[7] His time with Count Franz also proved to be short-lived. The Count passed away before Reuter was able to complete his apprenticeship. This brought more difficulty to the situation, but his master did leave behind a letter of recommendation to his brother, who also happened to be a surveyor.[8] It is in this way that Reuter, now a young man of about 18, became apprenticed to another Surveyor Franz. Also completing his apprenticeship with the new Surveyor Franz was Grim, the apprentice who so disliked Reuter. Grim persuaded their new master that Reuter was not actually as talented as their previous master had said. This led to the second Surveyor Franz refusing to accept Christian Reuter as his apprentice unless he signed a three-year contract.[9] It is in this way that his apprenticeship studies took five years instead of the more usual three.

After receiving his certification, he completed various contracts in his field, and at the age of 21, he received a commission as a Royal Surveyor of Germany, which led to his career accelerating at such a rate that he had more work than he could even accept.[10] His work took him near Moravian settlements, and this is how his relationship with the Moravians first began. Eventually, he felt the need to join them as he saw that “their religious life was truer and more vital than he had seen elsewhere, but for some reason he thought that should he join them he would have to renounce his profession.”[11] This thought tortured him, and it would be a while before he made a decision, but he ultimately chose to join the Moravian Church, the Unitas Fratrum, receiving permission to join in 1738[12] and being received into the church by one of Count Zinzendorf’s sons, Christian Renatus.[13]

Reuter ended up being wrong about having to give up his profession, as the Moravians believed that he should use his God-given talent, and commissioned him to survey and plot Unity estates and even encouraged him to accept contracts from neighboring noblemen.[14] While working these contract jobs, Reuter was called by the Moravian Church to travel to North America. He was unable to go, however, as one of his contracts prevented him from leaving. In 1756, a second call came for him to travel to North America and Wachovia. With Zinzendorf’s blessing, Christian Reuter traveled across the ocean to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he would make his way down to North Carolina, but there was one big problem standing in his way: the French and Indian War.[15] Hindered by this war, he was not able to complete his journey to Wachovia, but the Moravians would make good use of Reuter while he waited.[16] For two years, he stayed and worked in the settlement, completing survey work and architectural tasks for the Pennsylvanian Moravians,[17] and in the summer of 1758, he was finally able to begin his journey to the backcountry of North Carolina. Arriving on July 21st, Reuter settled quickly in Bethabara and began his work just four days after his arrival.[18]

Wachovia came to be Reuter’s home, where he grew, continued to develop skills, and take on even more roles in this society. Within his first year of living in the town, he assisted in the development of a new town, Bethania, and he assisted in the development of paperwork related to this town.[19]

 

Reader 1: “July 8, 1759: A paper prepared by Brother Reuter was read, giving the contract which we will make with the families at the mill who wish to move to Bethania for some years.”[20]

 

Kait: Continuing to show the growth of Reuter’s importance in assisting the development of the area, just a little over a year after arriving in Wachovia, he would be given even more duties.

 

Reader 1: “August 18, 1759: Brother Reuter has been appointed forester and superintendent of hunters of Wachovia.”[21]

 

Kait: And on July 18, 1762, he married Anna Catherina Kalberlahn in Bethabara, becoming one of the first couples to be married in Wachovia.[22] The newly-wed couple would adopt a little girl that they would take care of for a few years until she was old enough to be sent to the girls’ boarding school in Pennsylvania. During this time Reuter began teaching arithmetic to the boys of the community and preparing monthly statements for the various Bethabara businesses.[23] After the French and Indian War ended, Reuter would continue to take on more roles in the community. He found himself assisting in the identification of the plant and animal life in the area, compiling a record of all flora and fauna of the region in 1764,[24] and he once again found himself planning a new town, but this time it was to be the new central town of Salem. Brother Frederic Marshall, the chief administrator of Wachovia, was instructed to begin searching for a suitable site for the central town in 1763,[25] and Christian Reuter had been selected to be one of the Moravian Brethren to assist in selecting possible town sites.[26] He and fellow Brethren began scouting for locations, which took more than a year, and by February of 1765, possible town locations were being put forth to the Lot.

 

Reader 2: “Feb 5, 1765: The Brethren Marshall, Loesch, Reuter, Frommelt, and Lorenz have yesterday and today looked at sites for the new central town. There is one site a half mile from the center of the Tract across the Petersbach and the Wach. It is narrow at the lower end, but broader and wood for building would have to be brought two miles. We asked with yes and no “Whether this place, east from the head of the Petersbach, was approved by the Saviour as the site for the town!” “No” was drawn. Then another place we discussed, lying in the forks of the Petersbach and the Wach. It is narrow at the lower end, but broader at the upper; water supply is not so good, but there are wood and meadow land convenient. It was asked “Whether the point where the Petersbach empties into the Wach shall be the site for the town?” Answer “No,” and so another place must be found.”[27]

 

Kait: More sites were scouted and presented to the Lot throughout the next few days with one finally being selected.

 

Reader 2: “Feb 14, 1765: We have looked over two more places, one next that which we called Gammern’s town site, and another nearer the Wach. Both were presented, as No. 1, No. 2, and a blank. No. 2 was drawn in the Lot.”[28]

 

Kait: It wouldn’t be until early the next year that Reuter would begin staking and designing a draft of a more specific town layout,[29] and he would continue his surveying duties for the next few years.[30] The family chose to move to Salem in 1772 to push the work of building Salem to completion. Once the initial building of Salem was complete Moravians moved into the new town, Reuter’s duties once again increased: he was appointed a member of one of the most important Church Boards, elected road-master and chief forester, became Church Warden, and was designated as a commissioner and the only surveyor by the Act of Assembly in 1773 to redraw the lines between nearby counties.[31]

He continued to teach arithmetic and even taught class in geometrical drawing. He continued his work as a surveyor, and prepared all types of documents, such as warrants, deeds, wills, bills of sale.[32] He really did everything and was a man of many jobs. It would be here in Salem that Philip Christian Gottlieb Reuter lived until his death in 1777. Shortly before he died, he made sure to accept and train a successor, as he was the only person with knowledge of land and forest affairs in Wachovia and did not want to leave the Moravians without a surveyor.[33] Thus Brother Carl Ludwig Meinung (My-nung) became one of the next surveyors of Wachovia and would continue working in this role for at least 14 years and eventually passing the trade to his son.[34]

 

Conclusion

Maizie: Reuter really did a lot for the development of Wachovia, and I think it’s important to note that he actually was afraid to move to Wachovia. It’s said that “he felt that he could not go to Wachovia, that in that wilderness he would lose his hold on God and all hope of his salvation. He even resolved to leave the Unity rather than longer endure the strain.” It’s mentioned that he had a dream in which God spoke to him, and this convinced him to continue his journey to North Carolina.

 

Casey: Wachovia being in the wilderness almost makes me wonder if his deathly fear of snakes played into his fear of moving to the North Carolina backcountry.[35] It’s also interesting to think how close he came to giving up his profession as a surveyor, which would have also most definitely affected the progress of Wachovia. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that Reuter played such a significant part in the growth of Wachovia that things might very well have turned out differently had he not been involved. Kait actually has a few words she wants to say!

 

Kait: Thank you for listening. My name is Kait, and I am one of the tour guides here at Bethabara. You can check out some videos about flax growing and the process of making linen fabric that I’ve been involved with on the Historic Bethabara Youtube channel or also on the Historic Bethabara website.

 

Casey: It’s really interesting watching Kait whenever she does a flax demonstration, so I definitely recommend checking out those videos. Thanks Kait for helping out with this episode! One thing I need to mention is that this is actually Maizie’s last episode as co-host for Moravian Mornings. It was a pleasure being able to start the podcast with her. The second season of Moravian Mornings has a tentative release date of August 5th. Make sure to check out Historicbethabara.org and go to Moravian Mornings under the Learn tab to stay updated or follow us at Moravian Mornings on Instagram. Thank you everyone for joining us for the first four episodes of Building 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 Moravianmornings@gmail.com or message us on our Instagram page, also titled Moravian Mornings. Thanks for listening. Auf Wiedersehen.

 

Notes

[1] Ed. William Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 200.

[2] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I: 1752-1771 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1922), 478.

[3] Ibid., 478.

[4] Ed. William Powerll, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, 200.

[5] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 479.

[6] Ed. William Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, 200.

[7] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I. 479.

[8] Ibid., 479.

[9] Ibid.,  480.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ed. William Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, 200.

[13] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 481.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ed. William Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, 200.

[18] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I. 190.

[19] Ibid., 206, 211.

[20] Ibid., 211.

[21] Ibid.,  212.

[22] Ibid.,  242.

[23] Ibid.,  482.

[24] Ed. William Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 5, 200.

[25] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I. 265.

[26] Ibid., 482.

[27] Ibid., 310.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 325.

[30] Ibid., 407.

[31] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I. 483; Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 331; Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume II: 1752-1775 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1925),  689, 753.

[32] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume II, 694-696, 827.

[33] Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume III: 1776-1779 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1926), 1120; Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume IV: 1780-1783 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1930), 1082.

[34] *The last entry I can find in the Records that states him as surveyor or him surveying is late 1792. Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume VI: 1793-1808 (Raleigh, NC: The North Carolina Historical Commission, 1943), 2438, 2462.

[35] Ed. Frances Griffin, The Three Forks of Muddy Creek. Volume I. (Winston-Salem, NC: Old Salem Incorporated, 1974), 12.

 

Bibliography

Fries, Adelaide, ed. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I: 1752-1771. Vol. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1922.

Fries, Adelaide. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume II: 1752-1775. Vol. II. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1925.

Fries, Adelaide. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume III: 1776-1779. Vol. III. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1926.

Fries, Adelaide. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume VI: 1793-1808. Vol. VI. Raleigh, NC: The North Carolina Historical Commission, 1943.

Griffin, Frances, ed. The Three Forks of Muddy Creek. I. Vol. I. Winston-Salem, NC: Old Salem Incorporated, 1974.

Powell, William, ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. 5. Vol. 5. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

 

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