Old Salem Blog

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    February 20, 1782:

    “The meat-oven and raised hearth will be built in the Brothers House. The additional sleeping-hall can be secured to better advantage by using the top floor of the Brothers House, now a garret. The heat from the roof can be relieved by building dormer windows. It will be for the boys and supervisors.”

    Minutes of Salem Boards


  • On housing Freedmen after the Civil War:

    Board of Trustees, Salem Congregation, Sept. 8, 1868:

    “…the claims of a common humanity, not to say Christian duty towards fellow human beings, … would demand that we extend a helping hand to them in enabling them to provide suitable home for themselves and families in their new situation, and not to leave them, as is unfortunately the case in too many instances, at the mercy of individuals who ask rents for dwelling far beyond their ability to pay.”

    Source: C. Daniel Crews, Neither Slave nor Free: Moravians, Slavery, and the Church that Endures,1998 p.38


  • Striking Archaeological Gold in Old Salem

    Images of the newly discovered archaeological site in the yard of the Boys’ School from the Winston-Salem Journal


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    A surprising find

    As part of our Boys’ School Restoration Project, grading began on the area behind the school building where an out building and an outdoor classroom will be reconstructed. During the grading, a gold dollar from 1851 was found by a Frank L. Blum Construction Company employee, who alerted the Old Salem Archaeology Department. During the ensuing excavation, a historic privy shaft was discovered that is providing interesting archaeological information. So far, we’ve uncovered bottles (including one for Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, which was sold from 1849 until the early 1900s), slate pencils, animal bones, coins, and more. The items most likely date from the mid-19th century.


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    Wesley Washington Fries

    Wash Fries was born in Salem and enslaved to Wilhelm Fries. He was baptized August 5, 1845 at the African Moravian Church. Fries worked in the F. & H Fries Woolen Mill in Salem.


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    David Drake

    This jug was made by David Drake, one of the many slaves who worked on the pottery plantations of Edgefield County, South Carolina. Dave was first owned by Abner Landrum (1780-1859), who has been credited with establishing the first pottery, Pottersville, in the Edgefield district during the 1810s.

    Of the nearly 3000 enslaved craftsmen who have been identified by Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Dave is the only one whose work we can positively identify. Despite laws prohibiting literacy among slaves, Dave was taught to read and write. His pots–more than 150 signed examples are known–testify to both his literacy and his skill as an artist. Once freed at the end of the Civil War, he adopted the more formal appellation “David” and the last name “Drake,” after one of his earliest owners.

    See more at: http://mesda.org/item/collections/jug/21266/…

    Experience yourself: http://www.oldsalem.org/…/…/african-american-heritage-tours/


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    The Moravian brethren operated their own brickyard in town but found it cheaper to hire outside brickmakers than to designate one of their own in that capacity. Often, these brickmakers were enslaved African Americans who lived nearby. The 1,000 bricks listed in church records as being made by “Sam” in 1803 probably were used to build the original Market-Fire House. In 1786, enslaved (Peter) Oliver was appointed one of those to carry water in case of fire. It is interesting to note that some of the bricks used in the restoration of Old Salem in the 1950s were made by a well-known African American, George Black, who continued to make bricks in the traditional fashion all his working life.


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    One hundred years saw remarkable change in the Moravians’ attitude toward war. During the Revolutionary War, the pacifist Moravians remained officially neutral and even asked the gunsmith in Salem to change trades during the war years so the town would not be seen as approving violence to end conflict. By the beginning of the Civil War, the great grandchildren of Salem’s founders identified as Southerners (and in some cases, Northerners) and openly took political sides. While many Moravians were still pacifists and only participated in non-violent activities of the war effort as medics or band members, for example, others took up arms and faced each other across the battlefield on the front lines.


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    During the 1770s and 1780s, three African Americans, all enslaved, were members of the Single Brothers choir and either lived in the Brothers House, or at least participated in choir activities. Likewise, during the 1790s, at least one Single Sister who was African American lived across the Square in the Single Sisters choir house. The Single Sister was Anna Maria Samuel, daughter of Johann Samuel. The three Single Brothers were Jacob, who worked at the Tavern; Abraham, a tanner; and (Peter) Oliver, a potter.  Abraham was born in West Africa where he was a member of the Mandingo Nation. Peter Oliver pumped the organ there.


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    Built in 1823, the Log Church was the only known structure in the immediate area constructed specifically as a place of worship for people of African descent, enslaved and free. The white Female Missionary Society financed the project and African Americans provided the labor to build the church.  During the mid 19th century, worship at the African American log church was a major event. Following the Civil War the church served briefly as a freedman’s hospital and was later converted into a residence.  Reconstructed in 1999, the Log Church houses a multimedia exhibits designed by Warren Parker of Brooklyn, N.Y., meeting space, hands-on children’s activities, and African American genealogical research tools.

    (Pictured: Reconstructed Log Church)


The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts' upcoming Furniture Seminar is almost sold out. This event provides a biennial forum for collectors, curators, woodworkers, and conservators to explore a variety of topics related to the serious study of antique furniture. This year’s seminar will be a subject of national significance not examined carefully since the book Quaker Aesthetics by Emma Jones Lapansky and Anne A. Verplanck was published in 2002. ...

Friendly Furniture: The Quaker Cabinetmakers of Early America

March 24, 2017, 12:00pm - March 25, 2017, 5:00pm

The 2017 MESDA Furniture Seminar will examine the various Quaker connections in early American cabinetmaking from New England to Pennsylvania and down the Great Wagon Road into Virginia and North Carolina. The speakers include Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Alexandra Kirtley, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Lisa Minardi, Winterthur Museum; Nick Powers, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley; as well as June Lucas and Robert Leath of MESDA. Hands-on woodworking demonstrations led by Ben Hobbs and Mary May will focus on furniture carving throughout the Quaker network of cabinetmakers from North to South. While May will demonstrate the carving style of the Goddard and Townsend families in Newport, Rhode Island, Hobbs will examine their influence on carving by the Quaker cabinetmaker Thomas White of coastal North Carolina.

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This Thursday is the The 2nd Annual Meet Your Farmer and CSA Sign-up Day where you can meet some of the local farmers who produce vegetables, meats, cheeses, flowers and more.

This free event is organized by Forsyth County Cooperative Extension and Forsyth Community Food Consortium and hosted by Old Salem Horticulture in the James A. Gray Jr. Auditorium, Old Salem Visitor Center, 900 Old Salem Road. For more information, please contact Mary Jac Brennan at maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu or 336-703-2869.

Meet Your Farmer: CSA Sign Up

February 23, 2017, 11:00am - February 23, 2017, 2:00pm

Come meet some local farmers who grow and sell produce - Sign up for a CSA box - Find out about local farm activities - Learn where to buy local farm products This event is a collaborative effort between Forsyth County Cooperative Extension and the Forsyth Community Food Consortium. Thank you to Old Salem Museums & Gardens for hosting us! We hope to see you there! Inquiries can be made to Mary Jac Brennan at 336-703-2869 or by email maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu

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February 20, 1782:
"The meat-oven and raised hearth will be built in the Brothers House. The additional sleeping-hall can be secured to better advantage by using the top floor of the Brothers House, now a garret. The heat from the roof can be relieved by building dormer windows. It will be for the boys and supervisors."
- Minutes of Salem Boards

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On May 31, 1791, President George Washington arrived in Salem for a two-night stay. He requested music during his evening meal. #PresidentsDay

Painting: George Washington (1732-1799) by Frederick Kemmelmeyer. Courtesy of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

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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