Martin Lick

Born: November 11, 1759
Bethabara, N.C.

Died: January 4, 1834
Salem, N.C.
Martin Lick was a carpenter and cabinetmaker in Salem, North Carolina in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was born in Bethabara, North Carolina, on November 11th 1759. There is little mention of his childhood until he moved from Bethania to Salem and entered the Single Brothers House in 1772, to learn the profession of the joiner.[1]

After working for several years working in the joiner’s trade as an apprentice, Luck decided to pursue the carpenter’s trade. He was allowed to do this if he agreed to make the window frames for the Single Sisters House under Master Mason Johann Krause.[2] However, Krause did not wish to take an apprentice at that time, so Christian Triebel was consulted on the matter. Triebel was too old, so Luck was apprenticed to Frederick Beck, a master joiner.[3]

However, sometime between 1775 and 1780 Krause consented to taking Luck as his apprentice in carpentry. Luck worked as his apprentice until November 1780. On November 21st 1780 Luck and Krause went through the customary ritual of exchanging indenture papers, a show of a apprentice’s freedom from their master.[4]

In February 1781, Lick and Strehle were sent to help the Brethren in Bethabara, where General Pickens’ army was stationed. They were likely working on the wooden fortifications near the town as well as general work to support the colonial army.

Luck made several attempts at getting his carpentry and joinery work going strong in Salem. He often partnered with Rudolph Strehle, another woodworker who was released around the same time. They attempted to establish their own space around the Single Brother’s House, and were successful in building their own outdoor shed.[5]

An interesting note in Luck’s records was the compensation desired by carpenters in Salem for their tools. It was determined in Luck’s Case for the town that an establishment of a standard protocol was necessary. Henceforth carpenters were not paid for their hatchet, axe, adz, hand saw, and square. However any other tool needed for specialty work, that typically only a master could afford were paid in part by the community for acquisition and use. [6]

Lick was often in trouble for taking work outside of the community for rates higher than those approved by Salem. Lick was often in financial trouble throughout his life, and seeking work outside of Salem was his attempt to build a name for himself and his business. [7]

In August 1786 Lick and Strehle were given the task for making the roof spouts for the Gemeinhaus in Salem.[8] In the official records of Salem Lick was listed as a Cabinetmaker and Carpenter in the Single Brothers list in Salem, showing he kept his options open when working. In December of 1786 he was tasked with adjusting the roof elevation of his own home, which prompted him to request the right to build a house in Salem. He built what is now known as the Lick-Boner House as his personal residence for he and his family.[9]

The house Lick originally built was a log structure with a central chimney. Below there was one room at the north end which also served as the entrance. On the south end there were two rooms above was a loft.

The floor plans have been found in one other house in Salem. The Chimney house, built in 1789, the Lick house followed the same plan, just on a larger scale. The chimney girth

Lick was close to Johann Krause and likely worked alongside him on several projects doing whatever Krause did not. In 1788 Lick became the roadmaster in Salem. In early 1789 Krause planned on closing his brick kiln. Lick was asked if he would be willing to take up the job of making bricks and roof tiles in place of Krause. He initially agreed but a day later decided not to accept the position.[10] In April of 1789 Lick took over Krause’s position maintaining the water works in Salem.[11] Later that year he took over the position of Forester in Salem, making him responsible for all the cultivation of trees in Salem and the surrounding area.[12]

However continued financial problems forced Lick to move his family to Bethania in the 1790s. there they stayed for the rest of his life, though his children were admitted to the Salem community to pursue various jobs throughout the town. The last mention of Lick working as a Carpenter is in October of 1804 when he was employed to repair Brother Vierling’s parent’s house, as well as work on the Miksch House.[13]

Luck passed away in 1834 leaving a large volume of work in Salem and the surrounding areas.

[1] AC 14 Jan. 1772

[2] AC27 November 1784

[3] 30 March 1775

[4] AC 16 November 1780

[5] AC 12 October 1785

[6] AC 25 October 1785

[7] 29 November 1785

[8] 1 August 1786

[9] AC 5 Dec 1786

[10] AC 26 Jan 1789

[11] AC 24 April 1789

[12][12] 6 October 1789

[13] AC 23 October 1804