Salem Pathways

A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Experience

Launching after July 15, 2020!

Salem Pathways is an all new, all outdoor, landscape-based immersive experience where, for the first time, visitors will have full control over their tour. The Salem Pathways experience will let visitors follow the personal lives, achievements, and challenges of real-life individuals who lived in or visited Salem from the 1770s to 1970s. These characters will take you on a tour of Salem’s historic district through their eyes.  It’s up to you to choose what characters you follow and where you decide to go. Salem Pathways will be available to visitors 24/7 through their own mobile devices with a suggested donation of $20.

Old Salem and MESDA have taken advantage of the temporary closure brought on by COVID-19 by allocating additional time and resources towards their Study South initiative, allowing for extensive study of the historical records and material culture of the American South. Salem Pathways is a direct result of this additional research focus. Each pathway will be filled with historical narratives, artifacts, and other material culture related to each character and time period.

Salem Pathways observes how all of our lives are interconnected through the spaces we share, even across time. Even though each of these characters are vastly different and come from different time periods, the physical space of Salem acts as a confluence to bring them, and all of us, together.


The Characters

1770 Young Warrior: Headquartered at the Tavern

This story was researched and written by Cherokee Advisory Committee advisors Watson Harlan (CNO) and Malaciah Taylor (EBCI).

Cherokee have been in contact with the settlers of Salem and Bethabara about as long as there have been settlers in these regions. The first recorded visit of a Cherokee to the Moravians was in 1752. Many Cherokee attended church services while in the town as a show of respect to the people there. Although they attended the services, the first official conversion of a Cherokee to the Moravian faith wouldn’t occur until 1809, after a mission was constructed in 1805 in the Nation. Among the hundreds of Cherokee visitors and friends of the two towns, one particular visitor tells a story that, while not grandiose, exemplifies the complexity of international diplomacy and the importance of personal diplomacy in matters of both community and of state. Explore Salem as a “stranger” through the eyes of Young Warrior.

1771- Abraham- Headquartered at Salt and Academy Streets

As a Mandingo warrior in the Guinea area of West Africa in the 18th century, Abraham was caught in the turmoil of the times. Captured in battle and sold to enslavers, leaving behind a family and many children in West Africa, he endured the cruel Middle Passage to a life of slavery in the colonies. After his arrival on a French island in the West Indies, he was taken to Virginia. In 1771 his enslaver brought “Sambo,” as he was called, and another native African to Wachovia to sell. Follow his path as one of the first enslaved Moravian brethren in Salem.

1792- Martha Miksch- Headquartered at the First House

At her death in 1844, it was said that Martha had “left no written account of her passage through time,” expressing the desire that “as little as possible be said about her.” But time and circumstances placed Martha Vierling’s lifetime in Salem during the years when it was most actively operating as a tightly controlled Congregation Town. She epitomizes the little girls who grew up under that rigid discipline, who accepted without question the course which it set for their lives, and who became the strong, intelligent, conscientious and hard-working women on whom so much of the congregation town stability was built. For this reason, if no other, her “passage through time” should be recorded.- Martha Miksch Vierling: Girl and Woman of Salem by Frances Griffin

1826- Polly Steiner- Headquartered at MESDA

Maria Steiner, known as “Polly” to friends, had a long and distinguished career as an educator at the Girls’ Boarding School and also as a leader of the Single Sisters’ Choir in Salem. Her love of learning, highly inquisitive mind, and patient and kind disposition made her an excellent teacher, leader, and friend. The lively Polly was strong of character with a fiercely independent spirit, which at times caused her to bump heads with the town leaders, although this never discouraged Polly from voicing her opinion and seeking her own path. Come along with Polly as she navigates the streets of Salem in 1826.

1865- Richard Siewers- Headquartered at St. Phillips

Richard Siewers was born enslaved in 1835 in North Carolina. By the spring of 1865 the Civil War was ending. On April 10, Union General William J. Palmer stayed overnight in Salem. In the coming weeks, Confederates from General Robert E. Lee’s surrendered army passed through Salem daily. Certainly, news was circulating about the end of the war and hopes for freedom. At the Sunday service in the African Church on May 21, 1865 a large crowd gathered from Salem and the area. According to the “Negro Church Diary” for May 21: “The church was crowded with colored people, and a few whites, it having become known that the Rev. Mr. Clark, chaplain of the 10th Regt. Ohio Cavalry, would speak.” Richard Siewers and his neighbors were likely among the congregation that day who heard the Rev. Clark read scripture, deliver remarks, and read two general orders from General John M. Schofield, declaring the enslaved to be free. Follow Richard Siewer’s journey to emancipation.

1913- Gus Reich- Headquartered at the Zeveley Inn

The year is 1913. Winston and Salem have merged to become the brand new city of Winston-Salem. By this time, Gus Reich has lived a long, eventful life. At the age of 80, he reminisces about his youth, trading war stories from his experience with the 26th Regiment Band during the Civil War, and sharing the tale of his unorthodox career as a magician, puppeteer, necromancer, and illusionist. He has a few tricks up his sleeve.

1972- Flora Ann Bynum- Headquartered at the Miksch Garden

The year is 1972 and your guide will be Flora Ann Bynum, noted horticulturist, author, and historic landscape expert who served as the chairman of the Old Salem Landscape Restoration Committee for 30 years. According to her friends, “Flora Ann was always available to advise the humblest of individuals about their home gardens. Women and men often telephoned, wrote, knocked at her door or entered her garden seeking advice or inquiring about the name of a flower…Sharing the answer was for Flora Ann an act of graciousness and a small step in her mission to save the Southern landscape.” – Magnolia Bulletin of the Southern Garden History Society, 2006