Season 1, Episode 9
The Dutch Fort, Where There Are Good People and Much Bread
By Casey Landolf
The French and Indian War started in North America in 1754 and affected the development of Wachovian plans until its end. By an act of the English Parliament, the Moravians were released from required military service. Their ideology on warfare meant that they only participated in defensive warfare, and they took the steps necessary to ensure that their beliefs and distinction in warfare were not compromised during this time. During the time of the French and Indian War, Bethabara acted as a site of protection, taking in local refugees who feared attacks. They provided passing soldiers with supplies while also experiencing unnecessary treatment from them. Bethabara would come to be called “the Dutch Fort, where there are good people and much bread” by the local Cherokee. The war affected the development of the area by prompting a palisade to be constructed around the town and mill and by delaying the construction of the central town of Salem. Through a famine, a Typhus outbreak, fear of attacks, and the death of Count Zinzendorf, the Moravians stayed strong in their faith while continuing to develop the area of Wachovia.
Announcer/Reader 1: James Landolf
Reader 2: Seth Payne
Reader 3: Maggie Pelta-Pauls
Transcript for The Dutch Fort, Where There Are Good People and Much Bread
Announcer: This is Moravian Mornings. A podcast discussing the history surrounding the Moravians who settled in Wachovia.
Casey: Good morning everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of Moravian Mornings. Today we are going to discuss Wachovia during the French and Indian War. This war did not just significantly affect those living in the area, it also affected the development of the area. We usually don’t learn much, if anything, about this war in school so we think it’s a good idea to give a quick explanation of this war before discussing how it affected Wachovia.
Brief explanation of the French and Indian War and the Moravian’s Role:
Maizie: The French and Indian War is a part of a bigger conflict titled The Seven Years’ War, and in short, the French and Indian War is over expansion in North America. This feud was fueled by decades of previous conflicts between England and France, though other countries did take part, especially once the war became global. The event began in 1754 in North America and spread to Europe in 1756. You might have noticed that I said this conflict is between England and France, yet the war is called The French and Indian War. This is because the British saw themselves fighting against the French and Native Americans, which is why it is titled as such and since we were subjects of England, this is why it is referred to as such. However, the British would be allied at various times with some Native American groups, such as the Cherokee and the Iroquois.
Casey: Let’s also quickly discuss the Moravians’ role in this war and their beliefs. By act of English Parliament, Moravians were released from required military service. The Moravians saw a difference in offensive and defensive warfare, only participating in the latter. Fearing that they would be placed under military officials who would not honor their distinction in warfare, the Moravians successfully petitioned to have their own military watch, an “independent company,” that stood not under a colonel, but under the governor of North Carolina. This allowed the Moravians to defend themselves while not compromising their beliefs.
This belief would sometimes cause rumors that the Moravians were on specific sides of a conflict. New York authorities actually suspected Moravians had ties to the French at one point during the French and Indian War. Also, instead of signing papers relating to military matters, such as petitions, they would opt to pay fees instead. Now that we’ve given a brief description of the French and Indian War and the Moravians’ role during this conflict, let’s get started.
Wachovia during the French and Indian War:
Maizie: Having only been established a little under a year before conflicts ignited the French and Indian War in 1754, you can say Bethabara grew and developed around the war. This conflict affected not just the residents of the area, but also the development of the area. During this time, Bethabara, though only a few years old, acted as a site of protection for those in the area. They not only provided shelter for those fleeing in fear of attacks, but they also provided soldiers and Native Americans who were participating in the war with supplies, such as food and water. Through all of this, the Moravians stayed devoted to their faith and emphasized that prayer was their best safeguard against harm. Basically, as soon as this war began, the Moravians interacted with soldiers, who could sometimes create issues in the town. Muster, which is the assembly of troops, usually for inspection or to prepare for a battle, was often called in the Moravians’ fields when soldiers were camping around the town. This ruined their fields, which the Moravians then had to replant.
Reader 2: “On the morning of October 30th, Colonel Schmidt rode through our yard, and without permission held Muster in our meadow, for his five companies. We had planted the meadow with grass-seed in the spring, but it was so badly trampled that it will have to be re-sowed as soon as we can get more seed from Pennsylvania.”
Maizie: This was not the only type of havoc wreaked on the Moravians. The drumming from marching soldiers would disturb the horses. When the Moravians asked them to stop, sometimes soldiers would create an even bigger disturbance. Along with this, sometimes soldiers would drink after Muster, becoming drunk.
Reader 1: “November 7th, 1754: During dinner they passed through our yard and we asked that the beating of the drums cease because it frightened our horses and made them tear around the wagons. They not only refused our request, but began shooting in addition. Captain Hampy did not know the road through our farm, and when we offered to show it to him, he replied that he would ride where he pleased and make a way through our fences. After the Muster, the men were so full of whiskey that they fought each other until they were covered in blood.”
Casey: Despite the chaos of soldiers passing through, the Moravians still managed to safely continue on with their work. For soldiers and Native Americans, specifically Cherokee, who came to the area, the Moravians provided food and water, sometimes being so busy attending to them that they would be unable to provide church services throughout the day. A few years into the war, local Cherokee would come to call Bethabara “the Dutch fort, where there are good people and much bread.” You’ll probably notice that I said Dutch and not German. It’s noted in the Records of the Moravians in North Carolina that the word “German” was often “corrupted” into the word “Dutch” by the English-speaking neighbors in Wachovia. The English speaking people in Wachovia called the Moravians “Dutch”, and that is because the word for German in the German language is “Deutsche.”
By 1755, Moravians began offering shelter to those in need of protection, and it’s noted that conflict was currently worse in the northern colonies than further south, which sent a number of families to North Carolina seeking homes. By July 1755, Bethabara began offering protection for Mr. Benner’s family as rumors began to spread of residents leaving the area, and until the end of the French and Indian War, they would continue to offer protection to a growing number of refugees. Hearing rumors that there was peace in the area, refugees would return to their farms, but sometimes within days, they would return to the Moravians again seeking shelter. They would return due to another violent event taking place in the area, such as a neighbor being killed and proving rumors of peace to be false.
Maizie: Rumors during this time fed the fear that was spreading throughout the land. Incidents would be reported of some Cherokee and Shawnee attacking Yadkin River settlers, but sometimes no one knew if a specific event happened until it could later be confirmed. Along with rumors of nearby attacks, the Moravians were also hearing rumors that Bethlehem, PA was completely destroyed and Brethren were killed. This uncertainty painted the landscape that Bethabara was growing around. A night watch was also established to look out for approaching danger. About a month later, people from Town Fork approached the Moravians begging for shelter at Bethabara if danger continued to increase.
There had been a report of Native Americans in Virginia seizing a fort, where they killed the men inside and burned the nearby houses. Also feeding the fear was the rumor that the local Cherokee had joined the French, which we know to not be true since the Cherokee were allied with England at this time, not France. The Moravians also knew of the Cherokee’s alliance with England during this time, they just feared they were switching sides. Following the news of these rumored events, a conference for the Single Brothers was called. At this conference, it was decided that a palisade would be built.
Reader 2: “1756: At a Conference on the 5th. It was decided to protect our homes with palisades, and make them safe before the enemy should invade our tract or attack us, for if the settlers were all going to retreat, we would be the last left on the frontier, and the first to be attacked.”
Casey: All work, except harvesting, was dropped in order to quickly build this palisade, and it was built impressively fast. The conference was held on July 5th, and on July 23rd, it’s noted that the palisade was finished with only the gates needing to be completed. Offering so many refugees shelter, the Moravians’ small houses and cabins would often be filled. This led to the decision of allowing the refugees to build cabins by the mill.
Reader 1: “July 26, 1757: Yesterday and today, a number of families took refuge here, there being a new alarm of Indian trouble. All of our small houses and cabins are full again. August 2: 1757: Our refugees were given permission by the committee to fell trees and erect small cabins for themselves.”
Casey: I would say 1759 is a defining year for Wachovia. A lot happened this year. Bethabara would reach a population of 120 refugees in May of 1759, a few years before the war was to end. As we discussed in episode 3, this led to the creation of Bethania and allowing some non-Moravian, refugee, families to live in this new Moravian town, which is something Count Zinzendorf was not happy about. Residents within 100 miles would not just be affected by the fear of the violence occurring from the French and Indian War, they would also be affected by a food shortage.
Reader 3: “In the early months of the year there arose a great lack of food in the country for 100 miles around us, and our gracious Father in Heaven had so ordered it that we not only had enough food for ourselves but were able to help many hundreds of people who came to us from sixty miles away, and we were able to supply something to each one, and many a man thanked God that we were here.”
Maizie: As we mentioned, the palisade was constructed to help protect the town of Bethabara during this time of uncertainty and violence. During this year, there would be a Typhus outbreak. July of 1759, it’s stated that a “sickness broke out among the Sisters.” This sickness, which was sparked by the overcrowding, would last until around mid-November when it’s mentioned that some of the members are improving. Considering the population of Bethabara and Bethania at this time, which was around 81 people, only a small percentage of Moravians did not get Typhus as “Not more than 19 of them passed through summer unscathed.” A God’s Acre for Strangers would even be erected near the mill for those who passed from Typhus during their time while in the Moravians’ care. Before we go any further, a God’s Acre is what the Moravians called their cemetery. They had a very specific way in which they buried their departed, and non-Moravians could not be buried in their cemetery, which is why a separate one was created. Typhus would also ultimately take the life of Bethabara’s doctor, who was the only doctor within miles. Often, residents would travel up to 80 miles to see him which just shows how crucial the doctor was to the area.
Leading up to this year, there had been increasing tension between the Cherokee and the Carolina colonies, and rising conflict with Virginians would be the cause of sparking a Cherokee War. Virginia frontier forces failed to pay Cherokee mercenaries for their work resulting in the Cherokee of the area stealing food and stray horses from the Virginia settlers. This led to the Virginians retaliating. They began killing and scalping Cherokee who were returning to Virginia from military service. The Cherokee, having been allies with England, thus declared war on all subjects of England, putting the Moravians into more conflict, and with so many Cherokee living nearby, the violence would take place even closer to home.
Casey: 1760 really became the year where this violence occurred even closer to Bethabara and Bethania, sometimes taking place just a few miles away. Quite a few of their neighbors would even be killed. Bethania and Bethabara prepared to be attacked, and only a few weeks after preparation, they learned Fort Dobbs had been attacked. Fort Dobbs was the only inland fortification constructed by the colony of North Carolina. If need be, settlers in that area could flee and seek shelter at this fort. Bethabara and Bethania would never be attacked, and it’s fascinating to learn why.
Reader 2: “The Indians later said that they had tried to make prisoners here, but had failed; that several times they had been stopped by the sound of the watchman’s horn and the ringing of the bell for morning and evening service.”
Casey: 1760 is really a terrible year for the Moravians. They’re in constant fear of being attacked, and to make an already bad situation even worse, Count Zinzendorf dies this year as well. It’s not just Count Zinzendorf that passes. His wife also passes, and there’s a mention in the Records that “many of the ministers of the Brethren’s Church went home.” I know I would be exhausted from the mental toll of everything going on, but an excerpt from the year 1759 in the Records of the Moravians in North Carolina I think perfectly details the strength of the Moravians.
Reader 3: “The time of sickness in July, August and September, was also a time of special grace when the sincere love and friendship of the Brethren for each other, joy in and longing for the Saviour, flourished, and were plainly seen. And from this point of view, this year will remain a happy memory.”
Maizie: I could not imagine going through everything that they did and still remaining so positive and strong in my religion. I think that really just shows the strength of the Moravians. These events also limited the immigration and marriage to and within Wachovia. There were a good number of Single Brothers in Bethabara, but not many Single Sisters; however, there were a lot of Single Sisters in Europe. Just as church leaders decided that it was safe to bring Single Sisters to North Carolina, the Seven Years’ War started, which meant they could not send Single Sisters to North America for fear of risking their lives. Moravian church leaders also actually discouraged parents from bringing their children with them when moving to North Carolina during this time.
One of the last major effects of the French and Indian War is that there was actually a debate on whether Salem should actually be established or not in the 1760s. Due to the French and Indian War, the construction of Salem was delayed leaving Bethabara as the main trade center. Bethabara prospered during this time as the main town in the area, and due to this, there was questioning on whether the planned central town should be established. After all, many now were familiar with Bethabara, and it was proving to be a successful town. This matter was referred to the Governing Board of Saxony and they referred it to the Lot, where a “yes” slip was drawn. It is fascinating to think how close we came to not having Salem.
Casey: That’s all for this week’s episode! Thank you for joining us as we discussed Wachovia during the French and Indian War. Next week, we are speaking to staff over at Fort Dobbs State Historic Site to learn not just about Fort Dobbs role during this war but also to learn more about the connection between Fort Dobbs and the Moravian towns.
Maizie: Make sure to check out the virtual field trips on Historic Bethabara Park’s website, historicbethabara.org. We have a video about the 1759 Typhus outbreak and Fort Dobbs if you’re interested in learning more about those topic or other topics surrounding Bethabara.
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.
 Gerry Boehme, The French and Indian War (New York, NY: Cavendish Square Publishing, 2017), 5.
 Alfred Cave, The French and Indian War (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004), 51.
 Daniel Thorpe, The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina: Pluralism on the Southern Frontier (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1989), 169.
 Ibid., 168-169.
 Ibid., 180, 182.
 Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I: 1752-1771 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1992), 170.
 Ibid., 168.
 Ibid., 110.
 Ibid., 110.
 Ibid., 186.
 Ibid., 191.
 Ibid., 184.
 Ibid., 159.
 Ibid., 119.
 Ibid., 135.
 Ibid., 210-211.
 Ibid., 188.
 Ibid., 162-163.
 Ibid., 132, 135.
 Alfred Cave, The French and Indian War, 66-67.
 Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 158-159, 170.
 Ibid., 159.
 Ibid., 171.
 Ibid., 181.
 Ibid., 203.
 Ibid., 206.
 Ibid., 207.
 Ibid., 221.
 Ibid., 214.
 Ibid., 208.
 Ibid., 207.
 Ibid., 207, 213.
 Ibid., 86.
 Alfred Cave, the French and Indian War, 66-67.
 Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 227.
 Ibid., 229.
 Ibid., 119.
 Ibid., 227.
 Ibid., 228.
 Ibid., 228.
 Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Vol I, 207.
 Daniel Thorpe, The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina, 64.
 Daniel Thorpe, The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina, 45.
 Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I, 324; Ed. Adelaide Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume V: 1784-1792 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1941), 2133-2135.
Boehme, Gerry. The French and Indian War. Primary Sources of Colonial America. New York, NY: Cavendish Square Publishing, 2017.
Cave, Alfred. The French and Indian War. Greenwood Guides to Historic Events, 1500-1900. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004.
Fries, Adelaide, ed. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume I: 1752-1771. Vol. I. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1922.
Fries, Adelaide. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Volume V: 1784-1792. Vol. V. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print Company, 1941.
Thorpe, Daniel. The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina: Pluralism on the Southern Frontier. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1989.
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