Moravian Diary Entries

Contributed by Annette Bramblett

The following data were taken from the loose papers in the Historical Society’s Garland Bagley Collection. It is believed that the material herein was obtained by Garland Bagley from translations in the Georgia Department of Archives and History.

Diary from Spring Place from January 1 to July 31, 1804

7. Today we finished wrecking our old house and shall use the lumber for building bins and sheds.

9. Lacking boards for covering our floors in the new homes, Br. Byhan and Martin Schneider went to the woods to cut some.

17. Mr. Byhan and Martin Schneider again went to help Vann in building his new home.

20. We finished cutting boards today.

26. Martin Schneider, who has been helping us for some time, set out for Salem. Byhan accompanied him to Hightower because the trail there is difficult to follow. Byhan spent the night with Mr. Hildebrand and called on the school teacher Black who recently arrived to start a school for Indian children. Hildebrand is building a school house for him. Until he completes a house for him to live in, he is staying with Mr. Hildebrand. He then will build one where the children will eat and sleep. At Hightower, Byhan bought corn from a Quaker and had it ground there because gathering and grinding it consumed too much time for us. The corn which he purchased was so much better than we can purchase here. Three Indians visited us and one of them had Wohlfart make a handle for a long knife, the kind they always carry by their side.

February

1. The Sisters Byhan and Wohlfart visited Maj. Lovely, who told them that the chiefs would put up with us if we would send each of them a keg of whiskey.

14. This afternoon Chas. Brown came with his wife to sharpen an ax.

19. The Indian, Big Halfbreed, who was drunk, came from Estanally and told us that he was sending two children to our school and that Vann was coming to tell us of it in the morning.

20. Two whites from Georgia stopped. They told us that Talks were to be held at Estanally in seven days to talk about the road which was to be built and that a number of Indians had banded together to kill those who had consented to its construction.

21. Mr. Geiger came and brought one of Mr. Will Hicks’ sons to attend our school. We will conduct such a school for the sake of Christ, though we know not where we will get the money for it nor how we will be able to do all the work that is necessary. May the Savior help us. Three Indians came to sharpen knives.

28. Lacking a school house, we decided to convert one of our old houses to serve the purpose.

29. Toward evening a man on his way from Kentucky to Georgia spent the night with us.

March

4. In the forenoon, Mother Vann was present at our prayer service and remained to have dinner with us.

5. Toward evening 11 Indians passed through our yard with a small keg of whiskey and were already quite gay. Several of them spent the night in our former cabin and the rest spent it at Mother Vann’s. They were quite boisterous throughout the night.

13. An Indian came to sharpen his ax and told one of our school children that he would send two of his children to our school and that Vann had told him and others that they might send children to us.

18. Realizing that we would be without an adequate supply of corn for bread, Wohlfart decided to go to Sumac to see whether he might buy a supply from Mr. Timberly. He found him at Vann’s and he promised to sell some. From there Wohlfart will go to Hiwassee to have it ground.

22. Two Indians came to Br. Byhan and demanded a keg of whiskey, which they said had been left for them. It seems a school child had told them that we had kegs in our spring house which we had locked. When Byhan told them that none had been left with us, one of them threatened to break open the door and get the keg. The other opposed this and said that they would ask once more and if we would not produce the keg, they would force the door and take the keg. When we objected, they told us that the land belonged to them, the Indians, and if they could have their way, they would chase us out of the country and with it the making of locks and keys would end. When we gave them a keg, they said it was the one left for them and went to Maj. Lovely with it. The day before this the child’s mother and sister came for a visit and, without our knowing it, went to Vann’s. The student and his sister returned to school the next day.

23. The child went home with her mother. Toward evening two drunk and very rude Creeks stopped, but fortunately they left before night. We later heard that they had purchased a house from Vann and paid him three kegs of whiskey and two arm bands for it.

28. Wohlfart went to Van’s on business and invited him to come and see our new quarters and that we would like to speak with him about the Big Talk to be held at Estanally, to which he agreed. We told him of the rumors we had heard. He told us to have no fear; nothing would be done to remove us before next Christmas. Wohlfart told him in such case we should be given previous notice.

April

1. Wohlfart went to see Maj. Lovely and asked him to present our case at the talks on April 4. This he promised to do. He said that he and Vann had talked about the matter and decided to tell the chiefs that they should not look upon us as other white folks who had come merely for selfish purposes.

8. This afternoon two Indians came and artfully surveyed our place and then departed for the blacksmith shop where work was being done for them.

10. On their return from the Talks, Col. Meigs, Maj. Lovely and the interpreter Mr. Riley, on their return from the Talk, stopped and had dinner with us. Col. Meigs, who seemed quite friendly toward us, regretted that the Indians were not willing to permit us to live here in peace. He said the chiefs had decided to permit us time until December 25 to start the school and should they find that we had made fair progress, we would be permitted to remain.

Wohlfart and Byhan went to Sumac to purchase seed potatoes. They found that the price had advanced to one dollar per half bushel because of the heavy spoilage in the winter.

May

2. An Indian brought a large quantity of venison. In two hours he had killed two deer. From here he went to his camp not far from here.

3. We heard that Mr. Bowen, Vann’s new overseer, plans to build a house for himself on our old place.

4. Toward noon a man on his way from Georgia to New Orleans stopped. He was on foot because he had lost his horse while on his way. After having dinner with us he went to see Maj. Lovely.

11. Mother Vann brought a boy who is to attend our school. For the time being he will board and room at Vann’s, who had completed his house. The boy is a nephew of chief Bark. He went home with Mother Vann, where he will stay until Vann’s return from Tellico.

June

5. On his way to the mill this morning Br. Byhan learned that the mill dam had broken and the mill was not in operation. He returned home on the morning of the 7th.

10. When Br. Wohlfart called on Maj. Lovely, who had returned from the neighborhood of Hightower with Vann, Lovely told him that Gent. Tom was thinking of placing a child in our school on his return from the Creek country.

17. In the afternoon, while on a visit at Vann’s, he was told that the Indian Chuleoa, also on his way to the Creek country, had said that as soon as he returned, he would send one of his children to our school. He was also told that Bill Hicks’ son would return to school and that Chief Barks great-grandson, who now rooms at Vann’s, would attend.

25. We started cutting our wheat and finished on the 27th.

27. Toward evening various groups of Indians came who seemed very hungry. We fed them as best we could with the supply of food we had on hand. When they had finished, they went to their camp on this side of our field.

July

5. Br. Byhan went to the mill at Hiwassee and returned the next day.

19. In recent days, many Indians have appeared in the neighborhood. Some have come because of business at the blacksmith shop, others have been driven by hunger to search for food. Famine conditions prevail in particular among the Lower Cherokees. Three Indians died of poisoning from eating poisonous berries or peas as they are called here.

28. We were favored by a visit by Br. Abr. Steiner and Nathaniel Schobar from Salem. They were on their way home after a visit with the Creek Nation.

29. In the afternoon Steiner, Wohlfart, and Schober went for a visit at Vann’s. He had gone to a ball game between his house and Sumac.

31. Steiner, Wohlfart, and Schober talked with Vann about the children who were to come to us to school. They told him we would be able to board them but that we could not see our way clear to keep them overnight. They were very unruly and the Missionaries could not discipline them. Thus far the sisters had been able to obtain very little help. Steiner then reported the expense the Mission had incurred.

(At the conclusion of the following section, the Diary from Aug. 1, 1804 to December 31, 1804, there is a gap which extends to 1813.       Dr. Marielshagen       December 12, 1961

Diary of our Br. and Sisters at Spring Place Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 1804

On August 4, we wished Br. Byhan much grace and blessing on his birthday. In the forenoon Byhan, Wohlfart went to Vann’s mill with grain. It is well enough along for grinding.

5. This was a day of thanksgiving. All of Vann’s Negroes were invited to attend our meeting, but only three attended.

6. We heard that our neighbor, Mother Vann, plans to build about three miles from here.

13. Today the chiefs assembled at Vann’s new house close by our place. They were lodged at Vann’s. They had come to decide when a Talk was to be held. Toward evening we were visited by Gent. Tom, Sour Mush, Hatchet, Showboat and three others. We were sorry not to be able to speak with them, but were only to communicate by means of signs. We cut several watermelons. When Wohlfart brought a basket full of peaches, he was told by a sign to place it in the center of the room so that each could help himself. Later they lit a pipe of their tobacco. Sour Mush was impressed by the painting of the crucified Savior on our wall. Showboat, who was married to a white woman, understood some English, interpreted as best he could what we said about the painting. All were very friendly. After they had surveyed our quarters, they left for their lodging at Vann’s. Major Lovely asked Steiner at his last visit here to attend the next Talk at which was to be decided upon by the chiefs assembled at Vann’s and to be held at his place. We surmised from the conversation that matters pertaining to us were to be discussed.

15. Many Indians came to attend the Talk. Indians who filled our kitchen and school house spent the night with us. Today the commission from Georgia arrived, but on the 16th most of them returned home because the commission from Tennessee was slow in coming. Only three Indians remained with us. The chiefs at Vann’s remained and went fishing with him.

17. A German from Georgia came today to secure permission for building an inn on the road through the Indian country. He established himself with us but left today. Heavy rains caused the dam at Vann’s mill to break in two places.

23. Byhan went to Vann’s mill with grain. We decided that with our supply of meal running low to go to the mill before the heavy rains prevented the mill from operating.

October

8. Gent. Tom quite unexpectedly came to see us with his wife and children. He said that he would leave his eight-year-old son with us to attend school. We talked with Vann about the matter. Gen. Tom told us that he wished to name his son Agaruk, meaning whirlwind. He told us that he was now on his way to Southpoint and on his return trip he would come to see us and then go hunting from which he would not return until spring. We were told to teach his son English and not German and asked us to be kind to his son. After breakfast they set out for Vann’s. The child would not go into the house with us but followed them to Vann’s. Wohlfart went there in the afternoon and brought the boy back with him. In the evening [ we received]another pupil, the grandson of Chief Bark, who had been at Vann’s for some time. So now we had two pupils for room and board.

12. Three of Vann’s Negroes ran away and were still in the vicinity. Lovely sent word that we were to watch our horses for fear they might take them to make their escape from here. This left us in a predicament, for our horses that usually returned every evening had not done so in two nights.

20. On his way to the mill, Wohlfart stopped at Mr. Bowen’s to borrow a horse for bringing in our grain from the field. We were glad to see our horses return and immediately returned the borrowed horse.

29. Gent Tom left four horses in our field for the night. Soon thereafter he went to his camp not far from here and took his son with him for the night.

31. As Maj. Lovely had not yet returned from where a treaty was being negotiated, we decided to help Mrs. Lovely, who was anxious to bring her corn from the field. We used our two horses and wagon to help her.

November

Big Halfbreed stopped without dismounting to tell us that he had three children to attend our school. When we told him that we already had two and could take no more than another two for room and board, he seemed dissatisfied and departed.

At times it seems as though we were running a guest house. Some days we feed from six to seven families. We hardly know where the money is to come from to buy meal and meat to feed them. Often there are so many Indians here as to crowd out the children and force them to sleep at Wohlfart’s house. Today three were here for the night while waiting to have work done at the blacksmith shop.

December

1. When Wohlfart was at Vann’s to speak with him about his trip to Charleston, Vann offered to rent to us a Negro maid. Being badly in need of help, we decided to hire her.

6. Gent. Tom stopped on his way to hunt. He did not stay with us, but went directly to Vann’s for the night.

( Dr. Marielshagen       December 20, 1961)