Gradually the history of early Berks is being rounded out and the picture is taking form. Bit by bit we are recapturing the story of the past, even as the present is creating new history day by day. The latest contribution to come to our attention is the discovery by Dr. Adelaide Fries, archivist, of Winston Salem, N.C. that the Freeburg settlement of that state was originally settled by Moravians who left the Heidelberg settlement in Pennsylvania to take up new homes in North Carolina.
The story of the evolution of this discovery is an interesting chapter in and of itself. Last summer the tiny congregations of the Union Church of North Heidelberg celebrated their 200th anniversary of the founding of their church by the Moravian Brethren in 1744. In connection with their celebration the committee of the present congregations published a pamphlet containing the translations of the burial records of the old colonial church. The pamphlet found its way into the archives in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Dr. Adelaide Fries is librarian. The whole subject of the little church in North Heidelberg was a matter of deep concern to this scholar, for she had just published her “Road to Salem”, a diary-story about Catherine Antes, who had attended services in North Heidelberg before her family moved to North Carolina. Like the true scholar that she is Doctor Fries scanned the story told in the pamphlet and examined the names of the early burial lists which heretofore existed only in the German language.
There she found many names which are duplicated in the graveyards of the Freeburg Moravian settlement near Winston-Salem, N.C. Then she understood the controversy which she had found in the old records of the Freeburg congregation in which many of the members wanted to name their community Heidelberg. It was to be in honor of their home settlement in old Berks. The Heidelberg party was not successful, however, in having that name given. So much for the history as it concerns North Carolina.
What does it mean to Berks? Simply this , it goes a long way to disprove an old belief that the Moravians of Heidelberg migrated to Ohio, en masse, thus enfeebling the congregation to the point where the Reformed and Lutheran churches assumed the administration of the church property. Through another source it has been learned that some of the original Heidelberg families moved to Graceham, MD. this knowledge, too, came to us through the publication of the translated burial records published during the 200th anniversary. Perhaps some of the older families did move to Ohio and other points West but we have found that the trek was also to the South.
In this way Mother Berks is learning where her daughters are.
North Heidelberg Church. Source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#view=photo&position=23&with_photo_id=11491242&order=date_desc&user=1293576