22 March 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

"In the Hope of a Glorious Ressurection. Were laid to rest February 24, 1751 on this spot then the centre of this cemetery the mortal remains of Juliana Nitschmann whose maiden name was Haberland, wife of Bishop John Nitschmann and a distinguished deaconess of the church. She was born at Schoenauin Moravia July 30, 1712. A lineal descendant of faithful members of the Ancient Brethren Unity, the daughter of fearless confessors amidst bonds and imprisonment of the pure gospel of Christ fleeing for conscience sake to Herrnhut in Saxory. She served with singless of heart. Her God and the Church in Germany, England, and America, and died on the 22 of February 1751."

I took a walk after church service at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, PA. Walking on the road that winds its way through the cemetery, I found this one in the middle of the road. My mind said to itself, "AKWARD!" So, just like in any good old fashioned cemetery explorer way, I took a photograph.

Doing some extra investigating, I found the Bethlehem Digital History Project. There they have community records about deaths and anything else you can imagine about the history of Bethlehem. A copy of the death notice, translated into English from German, states:

Juliana Nitschmannin, born Haberland, our dearest and most true Mother of Pennsylvania, was torn from us in a sudden but very blessed death at about ten-thirty this morning here in Bethlehem, to our greatest sadness and general regret. Her flight home occurred quite quickly, and was, for us, very unexpected. She had been ailing for some time, but this morning she appeared to be well and went about her usual business. Just a few minutes before her blessed end she lay on her bed. As she bent her head, she ran her hand over her brow and said "Ey," (as if she wanted to say: "Ey, what’s becoming of me?"). With that she let her arm fall. The body was dead and the soul in eternal life, with the lovely reception-Loosung: "Hail! Come in the House!"

She was born in Moravia on July 10, 1712, in the village of Schönau, out of the remnants of Brother Riechlein, which had lain in the ashes over 100 years, and came as an exile with her parents and siblings into Herrnhut on June 14, 1728, after surviving many dangers and hardships. There, in the year 1729, she was confirmed—or taken into the Gemeine—according to the custom of the day, and soon thereafter, she enjoyed the body and blood of her husband* for the first time. She was hitherto a blessed little Choir-Heart in her Single Band, and decided, along with the small number of maidens who were then among us, to form the blessed Maidens-Band. In 1734, in October, she entered into marriage with our dearest heart Johann Nitschmann, according to the will of the Little Lamb and the advice of the Brethren. The Lamb granted them seven children, of whom four sons are still living; three children, however, have already gone to the Little Lamb.

In the years 1737-1738, until Easter 1739, she stayed with her husband in Jena, where he was sent with our dearest heart Christian Renatus for the service of the learned and the salvation of the same in the university. In 1739, she became an eldress in the Gemeine in Herrnhaag. She was with the Pilgrim-Gemeine in Geneva in 1741; after her return she was with her husband in Marienborn (where they helped initiate the marriages of the groups destined for Pennsylvania in 1741 and 1743), until in 1744 she was once again was installed as eldress of Herrnhaag. She moved there in 1745, where she remained with her husband for two years. In 1747 and 1748, she was with the Pilgrim-Gemeine in Hennersdorf, at the time that the royal commission was held there. From there she began her journey to Pennsylvania, via Herrnhaag, Zeist, and London. Shortly before her departure from London she was declared "Mother of Pennsylvania" by the Pilgrim-Gemeine. The embarkation from London occurred in February 1749, with a Sea-Congregation of some 120 Brethren, and in May she came here to Bethlehem with her dear husband and the remaining Brethren. Here, her first and principal work then was to introduce into marriage the little group who came with her, and they were married soon after their arrival. Almost all the time that she spent in this land she was weak and sickly in her body, which suffered from consumption, until finally the soul had to leave her and us, and suddenly flew to the cleft of the Little Lamb. Her soul-less and exhausted body was taken to our Hutberg at dusk on the evening of 13/24 February, amongst an unusually numerous company, and lowered into the cool earth.

Bethlehem is just becoming more interesting as I go along.

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