A memoir, by definition, is the historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. In other words, it’s a memorial in text form acknowledging a person’s life experiences. In researching our ancestor’s past, we may become excited to find a memoir written about them, giving details on how they lived, where, when and with whom. The Moravian’s of Germany were very keen on record keeping, especially during the mid to late 18th century. At a time when journals and diaries were not common, the followers of the Moravian faith were very careful to preserve their daily entries and memoirs for future generations.
Old Salem, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, founded in 1766, houses the Moravian southern province archives. Many of these documents are written in German, but translation is available for a fee. Read more about the archives here. Several years ago, I found myself at the archive building researching my family and was greatly surprised at the length of details these records contained. In looking through the memoirs index catalog, I located Adam Kramer, my 5th great grandfather. Already knowing that Adam was among the first settlers in Bethania, North Carolina, I was certain that his memoir would contain the same amount of details that I had discovered with my previous researches. To my surprise, only 2 1/2 pages held the biography of Adam Kramer but the details were definitely there.
“In Bethania, the widowed Brother Adam Kramer went home on the 28th of December, 1789. Since he left behind no written accounts of his course through this time, only the following from his oral accounts can be cited: He was born on the 6th of January, 1719 in Ober-Graz in Voigtland and was brought up by his parents in the Lutheran religion.”
Vogtland, Germany, pictured above, a small quaint region located southwest of Saxony. Nothing speaks of his childhood except for performing manual labor. Adam had his eye on a profession and so he learned the tailor’s handicraft. The completion of his apprenticeship allowed him to work in various places and in time he took up service with the nobility. Adam was popular and well-liked. His craft was sought and he progressed quickly. After some time passed, Adam moved to the area of Jena where he became acquainted with the Moravian religion. “He gave up being led by his own righteousness and as a lost sinner, found grace from the Savior.”
Adam arrived in Herrnhaag on the 16th of October, 1744 and joined the Moravian Church. He was not rewarded from his profession as before and he no longer strolled with nobles. This was a completely different world. He thought often of the money he was no longer making and this left him feeling miserable and filled with anguish. He spoke with his Choir Chaplain about his feelings and was comforted in knowing his good works with his fellow brethren would be rewarded through his faith in the Savior. Adam often reflected on this time period and shared it with many throughout his life.
Adam was received into the Moravian Church as a member on the 9th of January, 1746. He worked hard at every task that was given him. On the 13th of August in the same year, he was able to partake of the Holy Communion with the congregation. This was a day he never forgot and proclaimed it later as a special day. From there he serviced the children’s boarding school at Neusalz and in 1748, was asked to go to America. Adam went only as far as Zeist where he was assigned to work again among the children. In 1754, Adam crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Pennsylvania. He worked in Bethlehem with various duties until he was chosen to become part of a group to travel to North Carolina and help create a new settlement, Bethabara.
After arriving in North Carolina in November of 1755, Adam returned to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1758 and married Maria Barbara Eyrich. Together, they traveled back to Bethabara, NC and arrived on the 30th of May, 1759. On the 10th of April, 1760, the couple moved to Bethania, NC to a lot of land that was selected for them by the church. The memoir goes on to state that “the running of the tailor establishment was left to his one surviving son after his wife, Barbara died in 1782.” From his marriage, he lived to see three grandchildren, whom he loved very much and took great care that they were brought up for the Lord and prospered.
On the 20th of December, 1789, Adam attended church. He left telling everyone “All is well with me”. The following Tuesday, he felt a chill and had to retire to his bed. His illness grew worse and on the 28th of December at approx. 2am. , he died. Adam Kramer was buried at Bethania GOD’s Acre Cemetery.
The names of his children and grandchildren were not mentioned. As a researcher of genealogy, I was greatly disappointed with this but, was amazed at the details the memoir was able to provide about Adam Kramer’s life.