New GeneaGem Found! Moravian Church Records, NC

The Moravian records of North Carolina aren’t a new resource to me (and we actually visited the community on a trip to the East Coast a number of years ago) but archive.org now has the volumes from the North Carolina Historical Commission digitized and free online.

The Moravians were well settled in North Carolina by the mid 1700’s and one of the most important communities was in Salem. These German settlers left excellent records about their daily lives, which included not only births, deaths and marriages, but even notices about weather and daily struggles of the people.

If you are thinking that you have ancestors in that area at that time, but they weren’t German so this information doesn’t apply to you, it is worthwhile to check anyway. My husband has two families in that area around the time of the American Revolution. The first is Frederick Alberty (sometimes Alberti), which definitely has an Italian flavor to the surname and John Douthit, who was an Irish immigrant.

Both families are mentioned in the Moravian records and, when John Douthit died, his Memorial was recorded in their records.

How would you like to find this obituary?

Memoir of the married Brother John Douthid, Sr.,
who passed away in Hope, Feb. 22, 1784.

He was born on May 9, 1709, at Coltrain, in the north of Ireland. His father was a Quaker, and his mother belonged to the Presbyterian Church in which he was baptised and brought up.

As he grew older he learned the trade of a weaver, and in his fifteenth year came to America. He worked at his profession in various places in New York and Pennsylvania, ultimately going to Manakosy in Maryland, where in 1738 he married Mary Wilson, now his widow. God blessed them with 7 sons and 4 daughters, by whom he had 36 grandchildren and one great-grandchild; all living except one son and one grandchild. Some of them belong to the Hope Society and the rest are friends of the Brethren.

In the year 1750 he moved with his family from Maryland to North Carolina, settling at the southwest corner of the land, known as Wachovia, which the Brethren took two years later.

When the first Brethren came, and the country was sparsely settled, he shared with them the surplus of the food supplies which his industry had earned for him; and when he saw that he was dealing with upright people he not only became a good neighbor but came to have a real love for them and trust in them. That was the reason that he sometimes attended the English preaching in Bethabara, where during a certain sermon preached by the now departed Br. Rogers the Saviour for the first time knocked at his heart. As he was by nature light minded and inclined to drink, the calls to grace always passed away, but the Good Shepherd, seeking His lost lamb, continued to follow him, until He found him. After a while he invited the Brethren to hold meetings in his house, and through them, and especially through the sermons of the now departed Br. Utley, he became more and more convinced that he needed a Saviour, and the Holy Spirit blessed to his heart the witness to the sufferings and death of Jesus.

When several families, who were acquainted with the Brethren, came from Carols Manor in Maryland to Hope he helped them in their outward affairs with word and deed, as he always gladly helped and served the poor. He assisted them in the building of a schoolhouse, and as more families gathered who loved the Brethren and united themselves in a Society he became a member thereof. When in the year 1780, at the time of Br. Reichel’s visitation, a small congregation of English-speaking Brethren was organized, he was glad and often spoke of the conversations which he had had with the aforesaid Brother. On June 10, 1781, he was received into the congregation. The Saviour now brought him to a full knowledge of himself; he sought and found grace and the forgiveness of his sins in the blood of Jesus; and while he had hitherto been much given to drink he turned entirely away from it, so that one could heartily rejoice over him.

On March 28, 1782, on Maundy Thursday, he partook with the congregation of the Holy Communion, and indeed for the first time in his life, which so excited him that he was like a happy child. He judged himself unworthy of the grace which the Saviour had given to him, and often said: “I came only in the eleventh hour, but the Saviour took pity on me, although I had distressed Him and had held His grace of little worth.

Although he was already old, and weakness was increasing, yet he never missed a service unless he must. He loved and was beloved, and his children, friends, and Brethren respected him as a father. the salvation of his children lay much upon his heart, and he often prayed earnestly for them, and we that that the Saviour will not let his prayers remain unanswered.

For several winters he has been sickly, and there were clear signs of consumption, so that last winter his home-going was expected, but last summer he again seemed well. This winter his illness brought much discomfort, so that man a day and night were sleepless, as he sat in his chair. But in spite of pain he was patient, speaking much with the Saviour, Who gave him peace, comfort, and encouragement when things seemed beyond bearing. When one spoke with him about the love of the Saviour for poor sinners, and His great mercy, he brightened up saying: “I rely only on Him and His Atonement, He has bough me, a poor sinner, with His blood, and I hope that He will have mercy on me and never cast me off.” When questioned he also spoke of his joy in looking toward the moment when he would be taken home to see Him on Whom he had believed; and refreshed himself on the hymns that were now and then sung for him.

The day before his home-going, he said: “The Saviour will soon put an end to all my misery, and will take me to Himself.” He was conscious to his last breath, and passed away gently and peacefully between four and five o’clock on the morning of the 22nd, after his life-journey lasted 74 years and 10 months.

If you would like to peruse these volumes yourself, you can find them at:

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 1, 1752-1771
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 2, 1752-1775
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 3, 1776-1779
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 4, 1780-1783
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 5, 1784-1792
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 6, 1793-1808
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 7, 1809-1822
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 8, 1823-1837
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 9, 1838-1847
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 10, 1841-1851
Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, volume 11, 1852-1879

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