William Cornelius Reichel.

A history of the rise, progress, and present condition of the Moravian seminary for young ladies, at Bethlehem, Pa online

. (page 1 of 41)
Online LibraryWilliam Cornelius ReichelA history of the rise, progress, and present condition of the Moravian seminary for young ladies, at Bethlehem, Pa → online text (page 1 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Rutgers JHttt^^rsttg

Purchased hy







ji{ ' .. DURING THE ",^-

^ -<'^;i^'*^ ..Annual Session, September, \%/\/ to July, \'i/y/f \

% Being one of the Room Company who merited the highest aver^ of testi- ?f

'\ menial numbers, the Principal and Teachers award her this Volume as a token %

'r';. of their entire approbation of her application to study and general deportment. ij;

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation

I^thklr^m ^pinarg J^attupr.














Cunitnuatifln of th fistorg anlj ^atnlogne k lire |mr IS70,







The object of this volume is to present to the friends
of Bethlehem Female Seminary, and the public generally.
a faithful record of whatever is of interest in connection
with this Institution from its original foundation down to
the present time. In order to do full justice to the sub-
ject, the author has found it necessary to connect with
the immediate history of the Seminary an account of the
town and community in the midst of which it was reared
and fostered, and under whose auspices, through the
divine blessing, it has prospered, and exercised its benign
influence upon the widely-extended circle of its pupils
and friends, through the lapse of upwards of threescore
years and ten.

The same spirit which prompted the original founda-
tion of the town of Bethlehem, and of other similar
establishments of the Moravian Church, also led to the
establishment of this Seminary, as well as of other educa-
tional institutions of a hke nature. And in either case,
whether with town or seminary, the main intention was
to implant into the human heart the vital principle of
true faith in Christ and then, in connection with a due
improvement of our various faculties and talents, to
cultivate and develop this principle by such means and
appliances as the Sacred Volume and a deep and varied
experience, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had
'suggested to the venerable founders of the Moravian
Church and their successors.


lu order to a correct comprehension of the original and
legitimate object of a Moravian town and a Moravian
seminary or boarding-school, it will be necessary to con-
sider them both from a strictly religious point of view.
And as both seminary and town, so far as regards the
principles which underHe their true design, are so inti-
mately connected with each other, it becomes necessar}-,
if we would give a correct account of the former, so to
entwine the history of both that the reader may at once
clearly apprehend the correspondence which exists be-
tween them, and thus be enabled to appreciate their
respective characteristics and objects.

The author is, at all events, confident that the present
volume will be a welcome acquisition to all those who
have been personally connected with this Seminary in the
capacity of pupils, and that it will revive and keep alive
many fond and endeared memories of youthful years spent
beneath the hallowed influences of Christian nurture.
Those, too, Avho have heretofore superintended the Insti-
tution and taught in it, will no doubt greatly enjoy the
numerous reminiscences which are here called up, and,
moreover, be enabled to transmit to their posterity, on
the pages of this Souvenir, a true and proper record of
their life and experience in this school. And those who
now compose the Bethlehem Seminary, in their several
capacities of principal, teachers, and students, when
they look upon the ancient landmarks as they are here-
with placed on record and preserved, and when they behold
how the Lord has hitherto blessed and prospered the
peculiar system of Christian education which others have
devised and in which they have embarked, will feel
greatly encouraged to a steadfast and consistent perse-


verance in this high and holy calling. And should the
information which this book may convey to the Christian
public concerning Moravian institutions be calculated to
enlarge their sphere of usefulness, there will be additional
cause for fervent gratitude to Him for whose cause and
glory they have been established.

A few words as to the sources from which the author
has drawn the details of this work.

Whatever relates to the religious labors of the Moravian
Brethren in this country has been derived from the exten-
sive and valuable archives of the Church of Bethlehem,
this place having been from the first the central point of
their operations, in its immediate dependencies through-
out the adjacent country and among various Indian tribes.
These documents also contain much information bearing
on the Female Seminary in its earlier years, which is no-
where else to be found. A large mass of papers has also,
during the lapse of almost three-fourths of a century,
accumulated in the school itself, consisting of the cor-
respondence of former principals, copious diaries com-
menced in 1788, continuously kept for several years, but
of late fragmentary, compositions, in prose and poetry,
by teachers and pupils, such as dialogues on religious and
other subjects, essays, &c. ; and also specimens of penman-
ship, drawings, and music, all of which were carefully in-
spected by the writer of this history, and have proved a
valuable means of enabling him to give not merely a
bare record of passing events, but to acquaint the reader,
in some measure, with the internal development of the
school, and also with home-life within its precincts, such
as it was in each successive period.

It is believed that the catalogue of pupils is complete


to the present da3^ For the large amount of personal
information which this volume contains, the author is
indebted to the exertions of several members of the His-
torical Society of Pennsylvania. The list of the earlier
teachers has, with the assistance of some of their number
who still survive, been correctly arranged, and, it is
thought, made complete. In the absence of a proper
record, no little difficulty was encountered in this parti-
cular, and some uncertainty may yet remain.

In conclusion, it is proper to explain that the present
work was undertaken by its author at the special request
of others. At a complimentary dinner given to the
Board of Trustees and other friends of the Institution, by
the principal of the Bethlehem Female Seminary, on the
completion of the new building at the close of the year
1854, the conversation turned on the present and past
condition of the school, and, with the aid of one of its
earliest principals who was of the company, a variety of
interesting matter in its history was brought up in review.
It was at once conceded that a written account of the
past sixty-nine years of the existence of this widely-known
Institution would prove welcome to the large number of
its surviving pupils, and meet with the favor of the
public. The execution of this labor was at the same
time proposed to the author of this volume. He hopes
that it may answer its intended purpose, and confer as
much pleasure and profit in its perusal as it has upon
the writer in its preparation. This object gained, the
time and labor spent upon it will be to him, in after-
years, but another pleasing " Souvenir." ,


The first edition of the Bethlehem Seminary Souvenir
being exhausted, and the number of those who might
be supposed to take an interest in the Institution having
greatly increased, it was thought desirable to reprint it,
with such additions as should be found necessary to
make it as complete at the present time as the original
work was in 1858.

The author being prevented by other engagements
from undertaking this work, it was intrusted to the
present editor. The exhaustive and attractive manner
in which the former had traced the history of the Semi-
nary from its original foundation down to the time of
publication in 1858, rendered any attempt at improve-
ment of that part of the work unadvisable. The labor
of the present editor has therefore been confined to
giving a continuation of the narrative, and to revising
and completing the Catalogue. In performing the first
part of his labor, he has, after correctness, aimed princi-
pally at brevity, in order not unnecessarily to increase
the size and cost of the book. In the arrangement of
the Catalogue, he has adopted a plan differing materi-
ally from that pursued in the first edition. The names
of the students are now arranged in alphabetical order
under each year. This arrangement he hopes will make
the Catalogue more interesting to former pupils, at the



same time that it will allow of annual additions being
made to it, if deemed desirable.

A careful examination of the original entrance books
of the Institution has supplied many data omitted in the
Catalogue of the former edition ; while the information
gained in answer to more than twelve hundred circulars
and letters sent out, together with many items of in-
terest furnished by occasional visitors to Bethlehem,
and carefully preserved by the Principals of the vSemi-
nar}', have enabled him to make numerous corrections
and additions.

Finally, he cannot refrain from publicly expressing
his acknowledgments to the lady, well remembered by
very man}^ former pupils — Mrs. Lichtenthaler — to whose
retentive memory and kind assistance he is indebted for
much information otherwise unattainable.

W. H. B.

Bethlehem, February, 1870.


Rev. Andrew Benade, Rev. Sylvester "Wolle,

" Henry Steinhauer, Mrs. Andrew Benade,
" Charles ¥. Seidel, Father Thomas.


Of the First Seminary Building.
" Second "

" Present "


Of Bethlehem in 1784.
" " " 1856.

Of the Pleasure-Grounds from Manokasy Bridge.

" Lehigh River from the Island.

" Moravian Church.



Eev. Andrew Benade l'*^

Mrs. Benade 1^^

Father Thomas ^^^

Eev Henry Steinhauer 190


Chas. F. Seidel

Sylvester Wolle 222

Francis Wolle 252

H. Stoltzenbach.


Of Bethlehem in 1784 • 28

t( u " 1856 238

Of the Seminary Building in 1786 32

" " 1790 92

" " 1826 .". 206

u " 1856 226

" " 1859 248

" " 1868 Frontispiece

" FROM the Pleasure-Grounds... 230

From the Monocacy Bridge 228

Of Lehigh River, near Bethlehem 112

Of the Moravian Church 148


ii|tltklt4m ^ijminHrg ^i)utii[nir.

The Church of the United Brethren, commonly
called Moravians, has distinguished herself peculiarly
in the work of missions and the cause of education.
In the former she engaged with a heroism unparalleled
in the annals of modern Christianity, — planting the
standard of the cross in the most distant and inhos-
pitable regions of the globe. The negro slave of the
West Indies, the Greenlander, the Indian, the Hot-
tentot, the nomad of Asiatic Russia, and the Copt of
Abyssinia, are among the number of those in behalf
of whom, and for the sake of the gospel, the intrepid
Moravian missionary endured voluntary exile, far from
the refinements of civilized life and the delights of
family and home.

While employed in sjDreading the knowledge of
Christ and revealing the glory of the Lord in the
habitations of spiritual ignorance and moral darkness,
she directed her attention, in an especial manner, to
the cultivation of an important religious field at home.
This was the education of children and youtli, — a
work to which the Brethren, as a Church, have devoted


a portion of their time and means now for more than
a century.

As is well known to the readers of their history,
the mission work was commenced in 1732, but a few^
years after the organization of the Moravian exiles
who had found an asylum on the estates of Count
Zinzendorf/ into a congregation of Christians, with
the discipline and ritual of the old Bohemian and
Moravian Church, styling themselves the United
Brethren. Coeval with this renewal of the ancient
Church, and the zealous activity of its members in
behalf of the destitute heathen, was the interest
manifested in the cause of education. Impressed
with the importance of training their children in the
way of the Lord, and preparing them for future
activity in His service, the Church took the little
ones of the flock into her especial keeping. In accord-

^ Lewis, Count Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman of wealth, talents,
and prominent piety, is held in grateful remembrance by the
Church of the Brethren, as having been the instrument, in God's
hands, for its renewal and reorganization. It was in 1722 that
he received on his estate, Berthelsdorf, in Upper Lusatia, a com-
pany of Moravian exiles, descendants of followers of the Reformer
and martyr John Huss, who had left their homes for conscience'
sake June 17th of the same year, and Herrnhut, the seat of the first
cono^reo-ation, was commenced. As the ordinances and discipline
of the old Church of the Moravian and Bohemian Brethren were
here retained, and thus perpetuated, the present Church of the
Brethren is a continuation of the former, and as such the
oldest of the Protestant Churches, referring to the 1st of March,
1457, as the day of its origin.


ance with the spirit of her social regulations, she
collected them into a separate body or class, intrusted
them to the care of pious superintendents, guided
their feeble footsteps to the house of God, and there
adapted the services to their tender understandings and
susceptible hearts. In the schools they were instructed
in the useful branches of learning, to the exclusion
of all vain and frivolous accomplishments. Very
high literary attainments were not the principal object
which the Brethren had in view. The aim of their
educational system was less ambitious, but not the
less noble. It was to develop the intellect by patient
and laborious teaching, to discipline the mind to habits
of reflection and self-control, to render knowledge sub-
servient to usefulness in society, and the religion of
the heart the crown of aU. Living, for the most part,
in settlements of their own, where the regulation of
society was at their disposal, the Brethren were
eminently successful in training their youth accord-
ing to the standard of excellence which they had pro-
posed. These advantages soon became so apparent
that ere long application was made to the Brethren
by many persons of other denominations, for the re-
ception of children into their schools.

Repeated requests of this kind, and the hope of in-
stilling lessons of piety and virtue into the hearts and
minds of those who at a future day would control the
welfare of society, induced the Brethren to open board-
ing-schools for the public in several of their villages


on the Continent of Europe, in England, and in the
United States. The Church has always kept these
institutions under her own charge, and has committed
their supervision to ministers of the gospel, being
desirous to inculcate lessons of heavenly wisdom
upon the heart whilst storing the mind with know-
ledge and forming habits of industry and order.
The existence of many of these schools for more
than eighty years, and the constant patronage
which they have enjoyed, certainly afford some evi-
dence of their excellence, and especially of the bless-
ing of God which has attended them, — this work
having been undertaken in his name and for his sole

Bethlehem, the first permanent settlement of the
Brethren in North America, was commenced, near the
close of 1740,^ by the remnant of a Moravian colony

^ On the 22d of December, 1740, a party of Moravian Brethren
left Nazareth (where they had been engaged since April in building
a large house for the celebrated George Whitefield, intended by
him for an asylum and a school for negroes) and commenced fell-
ing trees on the spot where Bethlehem now stands. Their work
was commenced amid many privations, the cold being intense, and
a deep snow covering the ground. A small log house was com-
pleted early in the nest year, and such preparations as the winter
season would allow forthwith made for the erection of a more com-
modious dwelling. By the end of June, 1741, the timber was squared,
and on the 28th of September the corner-stone of the "house at
the Lehigh in the Forks of the Delaware" was laid with appro-
priate solemnities. David Nitschman, the first bishop of the Re-
newed Church of the United Brethren, conducted the ceremonies,


which had been sent to Georgia in the spring of 1735.
It was originally intended as a central point for the con-

in the presence of seventeen Brethren and Sisters, whose names,
inscribed on parchment, were deposited in the stone on the south-
east corner of the building.

The first house stood until the autumn of 1823, when it was
removed to make room for the stabling of the Eagle Hotel, which
was opened, about that time, in the ''old stone building." A num-
ber of the sound timbers were reserved and used for joists in the
stabling. In 1846 several of these were taken out, and worked
up into canes, boxes, etc., which found ready purchasers among
the lovers of relics from the olden time. A faithful sketch, taken
before its demolition, furnished Grunewald, the Moravian artist,
matter for his much-admired little painting of the " First House in
Bethlehem." The second house is still standing: it is the west
wing of the old row in Church Street, next to the Moravian
Church. Its dilapidated condition bespeaks its antiquity. This build-
ing is unquestionably the most interesting of those few remain-
ing memorials of the past that have come down to us after the
lapse of a century. Associated as it is with the first labors of our
forefathers in the wilds of North America, it is invested with pecu-
liar interest. Here, as in a common home, lived side by side the
artisan and the man of leisiire, — a little company met together
from the various walks of life, self-denying and devoted men,
actuated by one spirit, and that the spirit of mutual love and love
for Christ. Here lived for a number of years the elders of the con-
gregation, its bishops and ministers. Here they met in conference
to deliberate on the condition of the Lord's work in their midst,
and abroad among the Indian tribes. Hither came, from time to
time, the joyful news of Bauch's successes among the Mohicans at
Shecomeko, the spread of the gospel eastward among the Wampanoags
of Connecticut, and westward through Pennsylvania, and beyond it
to the tributaries of the Muskingum: in short, the whole history
of the Indian mission, so strangely checkered with light and shade,
with alternating prosperity and reverses, quiet and persecution, is
associated with those time-honored walls. Thoy have echoed to
the voice of Zinzendorf, and for fifteen years were the home of


trol of the newly-organized mission among the Mohican
and Delaware Indians, affording a place of rendezvous

that great and good man, the worthy Bishop Bpangenherg. In the
little hall an the second floor, the place of worship for the congregation
as late as 1751, Spangenberg presided on two occasions at inter-
yiews with deputations from the rude tribes of Wyoming Val-
ley. Nanticokes and Shawanoes, dressed in all their savage finery
of feathers and painted deerskin, had come to see the home of the
intrepid missionary whose lonely canoe they had encountered on
the upper waters of the Susquehanna, to smoke the friendly
pipe and assure him of their good-will in a covenant of peace and
mutual friendship. Here also were welcomed the deputies from
the mother-Church in G-ermany, when they came on visitations to
advise and consult in reference to the interests of the American
daughter, to encourage the faint-hearted, to adjust matters of dif-
ference, to commend the faithful, and knit more closely that tie of
brotherly love which cements the Moravians from the four quarters
of the globe into a family of brethren.

Conspicuous for activity and great powers of endurance, qualities
so essential to the pioneer who would successfully cope with the hard-
ships incident to making a settlement in a wild forest-region, was
David Nitsehman, familiarly called Father Nitschman, to. dis-
tinguish him from the bishop. His" efficient services in building
up Bethlehem — more especially those rendered in the first ten years,
during which interval the ''old row" of massive masonry around
the little square east of the Moravian church was nearly completed —
won for him, among his associates, the title of the Founder of Beth-
lehem. On his tombstone is inscribed the fallowing record : —

"David Nitschman,
"Founder of Bethlehem, — who felled the first tree to build the

first house.
Born Sept. 18th, 1676, io Moravia.
Died April 14th, 1758.
This, the second memorial, was erected June, 1853."

A portrait of this worthy, who was the first custodian of the


for the missionaries, and an asylum for such of their
number as were disabled or infirm. This important
position it held for upwards of twenty years. In 1742,
on the arrival of the first^ of a series of colonists from

Unity's lauds in North America, is preserved in the office of its
Agency at Bethlehem.

^ It consisted of fifteen married couples, five widowers, and
twenty-two young men. On the latter it was expected the labor
and hardships incident to a settlement in a new country would
chiefly fall. Brother Peter Boehler led this first important colony
to Pennsylvania. Among the number were several who afterwards
became conspicuous as ministers and missionaries, e.g. Nathaniel
Seidel, Gottlieb Bezold, Frederick Post, David Bishop, and Joseph
Shaw. There were English as well as Grerinan Brethren in the
company. The vessel in which they sailed — the snow " Catharine,"
Captain Gladman — had been especially purchased and equipped for
the voyage.

Constant intercourse between the Brethren in Europe and
America, and the frequent transportation of colonists, rendered it
expedient for the Church to have a vessel at her control. Accord-
ingly, in 1743, the "Little Strength" was bought at London, and
fitted out for sea. She was succeeded by the snow " L'ene,"
built at New York in 1748. Nicholas Garrison, a Staten-Islander,
who had become acquainted with the Brethren, (having repeatedly
carried their missionaries in his ship from the West Indies to
New York,) and who joined their society in 1743, rendered the
Church of his adoption effectual service, as an experienced sea-
captain, for the space of thirteen years. He took command of
the "Little Strength," and afterwards of the "Irene," which latter
he navigated until 1756. A book of sailing-directions used on
board the Irene, kept in Low Dutch, is yet preserved in the
archives of the Church at Bethlehem.

November 20, 1757, the Irene, now under Captain Jacobson, cleared Sandy
Hook for the last time, for when ten days out she was taken by a French pri-
vateer. The latter, Avith her prize, made for Cape Breton; but owing to the
French captain's ignorance of the coast, on the 12tli of January, 1758,


Germany, it became the seat of a congregation, organ-
ized, after tlie model of those in Europe, by Count
Zinzendorf, at that time on a visit to this country.
A prominent featm^e in this organization was the
disposition of the sexes and various conditions in
life into classes or "choirs," who resided in separate
houses, and each in charge of a spiritual adviser se-
lected from its number. The promotion of personal
rehgion was the object of this regulation, as well as
that of other social peculiarities, all of Avhich could
easily exist in exclusive communities, as were those
of the Brethren. Until 1762 it was the centre of a
communistic association, in which the Brethren of
Pennsylvania were united for the furtherance of the

Online LibraryWilliam Cornelius ReichelA history of the rise, progress, and present condition of the Moravian seminary for young ladies, at Bethlehem, Pa → online text (page 1 of 41)