Wachovia Tract historical marker

Wachovia Tract (J-110)

On Dec. 27, 1752, survey for Moravian settlement began near here. Bishop August Spangenberg led frontier expedition that selected 98,985 acres.

Location: US 158 (South Stratford Road) in Clemmons
County: Forsyth
Original Date Cast: 2008

In 1751 John Carteret, Earl of Granville, eager to attract hardworking and virtuous people to his lands in North Carolina, offered leaders of the Moravian Church the opportunity to purchase 100,000 acres in order to establish a settlement such as the one in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A settlement in North Carolina offered Moravians the prospect of serving their neighbors, establishing “a town where the Moravian ideals of Christian living might be practically realized,” and teaching Indians about the Gospel.

Bishop August Spangenberg (1704-1792) was enlisted to lead a party from Pennsylvania to search for and survey land with fertile soil and access water sources. Granville’s surveyor, William Churton, traveled with them and three local men served as guides and chain-bearers. Spangenberg’s diary recounts an arduous journey through the wilderness in search of large tracts of unclaimed land.

In three months in the backcountry, the group experienced hardships and became discouraged about the prospects for finding contiguous parcels. After almost freezing to death in what is now Boone, the party retreated east. Finally reaching what was known as the “three forks on Muddy Creek,” Spangenberg declared, “The land on which we are now encamped seems to me to have been reserved by the Lord for the Brethren.”

Churton began surveying on December 27, 1752, on the west side of Muddy Creek (near the intersection of Stratford and Bryn Mawr in present-day Clemmons) and traveled north, then east, and then back around to the starting point, finishing on January 13, 1753. The original survey was contained only about 73,000 acres, so five additional parcels were surveyed, bringing the total to 98,985 acres. Spangenberg judged the tract to be about 50% good land, 25% medium, and 25% poor. He was enthusiastic, however, about the numerous springs and creeks and the promise of potential sites for mills. He was satisfied that they had identified “the best land yet vacant.”

Later that month, Spangenberg selected for the settlement the name Wachau in honor of Moravian leader Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinsendorf, whose ancestral estate in Austria bore the name. In North Carolina the Latin form of the name, Wachovia, prevailed. Today the original Wachovia tract encompasses much of the city of Winston-Salem.

Adelaide Fries, ed., Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Vol. 1, 1752-1771 (1968)
C. Daniel Crews and Richard W. Starbuck, With Courage for the Future (2002)
Chester S. Davis, Moravians in Europe and America, 1415-1865: Hidden Seed and Harvest (2000)
Levin T. Reichel, The Moravians in North Carolina: An Authentic History (1968)

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