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Celebrating 250 Years of Salem

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    It will be the sixth year that Old Salem has held a Naturalization Ceremony on the same spot where the first official July 4th celebration in the U.S. took place in Salem in 1783. Each year, dozens of people from 27 different countries have become new American citizens during the annual Naturalization Ceremony on July 4 in Salem Square.

    The Ceremony is conducted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services staff and begins at 10 a.m. with special music, the Pledge of Allegiance, and speeches by several dignitaries. This year the keynote speaker will be Kay Hagan, former United States Senator for North Carolina. Perhaps the most moving and inspiring part of the event is the administration of the Oath of Allegiance and the presentation of certificates to the new citizens.

    Admission to the Naturalization Ceremony is free. Streets around Salem Square will be temporarily closed to vehicles during the event.


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    From Relish (Winston-Salem Journal)
    Photo credit: David Rolfe/Journal

    Archaeologists digging for answers in Old Salem

    By Kathy Norcross Watts Special Correspondent                                                

    Two 5 foot by 10 foot excavation units being dug on Lot 38 in Old Salem hold artifacts that further document the innovative and artistic heritage of Moravians — and it is this heritage that forms the foundation for today’s “City of Arts and Innovation.”

    The work is meticulous. Archaeologists carefully remove the dark dirt with trowels and shovels, snipping roots along the way. Shovels full of dirt are sifted through screens to capture bits and pieces of history.

    “People think treasure is gold doubloons and things like that,” said M. O. Hartley, director of archaeology at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. “For an archaeologist, the treasure is in the broken fragments; the meaning is in all of those fragments and their relationship to one another. That’s why we take the ground apart so carefully. It’s in the relationships that the story is.

    “The reason we want to look at Lot 38 is because that’s where (Rudolph) Christ built his experimental kiln,” Hartley said. “He built several kilns over there. We’ve seen a part of one of them partially exposed in 1975 when they were reconstructing the Van Vleck house.”

    Early test excavations found kiln furniture, Hartley said. Part of the technology includes “setting tiles” which are flat tiles that have been ribbed so that the pots don’t adhere to the kiln during firing.

    “In the mix above where we think the floor is, they found a setting tile that has been salt glazed: salt glazing means stoneware,” Hartley said.

    Finding stoneware is important because records indicate one of Christ’s innovations in pottery was toward stoneware, Hartley said. But Moravian pottery before and after his time is lead-glazed earthenware. Hartley said that they hope Lot 38 will answer what Christ was doing…

    Read the complete story at journalnow.com


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    Town Builder Nils Petersen

    Born April 3, 1717, in Danish Holstein, Nils Petersen lived more than 87 years, and was the last of the Town Builders to die. In his old age he loved to tell the rising generation stories of the founding of Salem. He was the Town Builders’ cook and Diary writer back then in 1766, and together with Gottfried Praezel he held morning and evening prayers for the company.

    Petersen never married, but passed his days in the Brothers House, which he had helped to build, superintending the distillery, one of the industries carried on for the support of the house. When Salem Congregation was organized he was elected to the Aufseher Collegium (board of trustees) and “by the choice of his Brethren and of the whole congregation” he remained a member for 30 years. During the same period he was by turn business manager and spiritual leader of the Single Brethren, and “his industry, faithfulness, and punctuality” won for him the love and high esteem of all.

    In 1774 he was considered for ordination, but he lacked two skills essential for Moravian ministers at the time, for Br. Petersen had “no gift either for singing or speaking.” And so he remained a “silent, priestly Brother.”

    Though increasing deafness finally forced him to resign his official positions his general health remained good, and he rarely missed a church service, saying that though he could hear little “he could still feel the presence of the Savior, and could rejoice to be with the assembled congregation.” His last months were a gentle slipping away. “If weakness is illness then am I indeed ill” he often said with a smile, as he eagerly awaited the summons home, which came November 4, 1804.

    Pictured above: Gravestone of Nils Petersen in Salem God’s Acre

    Source: 250th Day By Day (Moravian Archives)


  • After spending the weekend in church services at Bethabara June 7 and 8, 1766, our Town Builders are back in Salem laying the foundation of the First House, and cutting timbers and sending them to the saw mill in Bethabara to be cut into boards and returned to Salem for the next stage in construction. It’s a slow, slow process. You can’t just email the local lumber yard for a shipment this afternoon when you must rely on horse-drawn wagons to deliver your supplies.
    250th Day By Day (Moravian Archives)


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    June 2, 1766

    Slowly, quietly our Town Builders have been gathering material for construction of the First House in Salem. That’s the one on Main Street, not the Builders Cabin. Now on June 2, 1766, one of Bethabara’s wagons brings stones for the cellar as well as more lumber for the house. We are about to have something big happen in Salem.

    Source: 250th Day By Day (Moravian Archives)


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    Medicine in Early Salem

    Today, the medical community in Winston-Salem is one of the largest employers in Forsyth County. The roots of

    this large and innovative community can be traced all the way back to early Salem. Medicine was an important and integral part of the Moravian lifestyle. A doctor, Dr. Hans Martin Kalberlahn, was among the first 15 men who settled the Wachovia Tract, which shows the importance the Moravians placed on medicine and healthcare. Moravians differed from others in the American colonies in their use of a highly organized health care system that reached across all stages of life.

     They established a holistic approach for health and spiritual care from birth to death. It is a complex and little-known story. Currently, Old Salem Museums & Gardens is reimagining the Vierling House, which was the home of Dr. Samuel Benjamin Vierling, as the Doctor’s House to tell the story of the Moravian approach to medicine creatively and insightfully. The Doctor’s House is scheduled to re-open in December 2016. In its revitalized incarnation, it will become a dynamic center where scientific exploration is examined and celebrated.

    Dr. Vierling, a skilled physician, surgeon, dentist, pharmacist, and veterinarian built a house in Salem (pictured above) in 1802 to accommodate his large family and a thriving medical practice. The house has been an exhibit at Old Salem for a number of years focusing on Dr. Vierling. The new exhibition will greatly expand the story to include the medical practice and unique Moravian system of health care from the earliest days at Bethabara to the mid-19th century in Salem. In addition to exhibiting important artifacts and medical instruments from the Old Salem collection, the exhibit will include interactive digital technologies and touchable models that will create a vibrant, 21st-century experience for visitors.


  • George Washington's visit to Old Salem

    From WXII last week, a bit more about Salem’s most famous visitor.


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    One of Salem, North Carolina’s most famous guests was President George Washington, who paid a historic visit to the town 225 years ago. In 1791, Washington toured the southern states to complete an inaugural promise of visiting every state that ratified the constitution. As part of the tour, he wanted to create a bond between citizens and the federal government. In an age long before phones, television, radio, and the internet, face-to-face interaction was essential. In addition, Washington felt that in-person visits were fitting for a President of a Republic, as a representative of the people, and were a way to distance the new government from a monarchy. As one of the newer states, North Carolina was an important stop on his tour.

    He arrived in Salem on May 31 and was greeted by a brass band—trumpets, French horns, and trombones. During his visit, he studied the waterworks system, visited the choir houses and schools and the “place of worship,” and spoke to the townspeople. Washington was familiar with the Moravians, two of his nieces attended the Moravian school in Bethlehem, and admired their order, discipline, structure and self-sufficiency.

    Old Salem is celebrating this momentous visit at their Spring Festival: A Visit with George Washington on May 21. There will be hands-on activities, historic demonstrations, and a visit with George Washington, himself, as re-enacted by Dean Malissa. Malissa is the official historical portrayer of George Washington at Mount Vernon. His scholarship and research about Washington, combined with his natural charisma, allow him to embody President Washington and bring the man and his history to life. In addition. Old Salem will have historic fire engine drills, hearth cooking, make and taste opportunities, and much more for the whole family! For more information, visit oldsalem.org.


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    Did you know?

    That Old Salem is growing a cucumber in its gardens from seeds that trace back nearly 150 years. Uncle Jim Schutt’s heirloom cucumber seeds were donated to Old Salem in 2014 by a family with deep Moravian roots. A family heirloom from at least the 1870s, and likely earlier, this cucumber has been grown over multiple generations. In this family, cucumber seed was saved at the end of the summer, and the seed cucumbers were “laid under a tree for a bit.” They didn’t realize it was special to save seed but “thought everyone did.”

    Seed saving is an important part of the Old Salem Horticulture Program’s commitment to sustainability. Traditionally seed saving was part of every growing season; however, lifestyle changes have diminished this ancient practice. Older plant varieties offer many advantages over the newer hybrids, including taste and scent. For example, many of the heirloom flower varieties have wonderful fragrance that has been lost in the process of hybridization.

    You can buy Heirloom Plants and Seeds at Old Salem’s Garden Shop at T. Bagge.


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    #moravianarchives #oldsalem25 #moravian #onthisday


Complete details about a fun-fulled weekend and July 4th in Old Salem can be found at www.oldsalem.org/?p=8613 ...

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A variety of music will be featured during our Independence Day Celebration & Naturalization Ceremony on July 4th in Old Salem.

At noon, a concert entitled “Celebrate America!” by baritone Leonard Rowe will be held at St. Philips African Moravian Church. Rowe will be accompanied by pianist David Pegg and perform music by Aaron Copland, patriotic songs, and spirituals.

At 2 p.m., the Psalm of Joy will be performed at Home Moravian Church accompanied by a Lovefeast—this commemorates the musical celebration of peace in Salem at the end of the Revolutionary War.

And later in the afternoon, join us on Salem Square to participate in a commemoration of the first July 4th celebration in Salem, including music from a Moravian Brass Band.

Details on these-and all of our Independence Weekend and Independence Day Celebrations-can be found at www.oldsalem.org/?p=8613

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If you have a 3rd, 4th or 5th grader looking for an immersive and fun experience this summer, it's time to register them for Old Salem Summer Adventures Summer Camp!

Spots are available in either of our two weeks dedicated to 3rd through 5th grade students (July 18-22 or 25-29). Details at www.oldsalem.org/events/event/summer_adventures_3_5/

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The Town of Salem

Experience early American history in the unique Moravian settlement of Salem. Original structures, gardens, tours, artifacts, hands-on workshops, fun family events and shopping.


Stroll through award-winning restorations that create a landscape reminiscent of early Salem where utility, practicality and beauty united. Tours, workshops and plants for your garden.


View history through objects and material culture. Tour a wide range of early southern artistry, craftsmanship and stories found in the world class collection of decorative arts from the early American South, 1660-1860.

Old Salem Museums and Gardens, 600 S. Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 Phone: 336-721-7300 | visitwinstonsalem.com