More than a year ago, I discovered a connection to a Shore (Schor) family—Moravians who emigrated from Switzerland in the 1700s.
Apparently, the Moravians were followers of a Czech priest named Jan Hus, who attempted to reform the Catholic Church about 600 years ago. Among the items on his reform list was the desire to read the Bible and say mass in his followers’ native tongue instead of Latin. For his heresy, Hus was burned at the stake in 1415. In about 1730, his religion—called United Brethren—spread to America where it became known as Moravian, after the region where it originated.
The Moravians bought 100,000 acres called Wachovia in North Carolina; in 1753 they built their first settlement called Bethabara, and in 1766, the town of Salem. Today, you can visit Historic Bethabara Park (a national historic landmark) and learn more about this interesting group who made such an impact on early North Carolina.
Fortunately, for those of us who want to do Moravian research, the Moravians kept excellent records. In fact, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History says “The Moravians. . . recorded not only the doings of their own religious body, but made note of the state of the weather, incidents of travel, prevailing fashions, and features of topography.”
If you’re just beginning your Moravian research, a good starting place is the Bethabara Park home page. From there, click on the link to The Moravian Story; this page contains great background information on the history of the religion and the North Carolina settlements.
Other sources include:
• The Moravian Archives
When you’re in the Winston-Salem area, drop by this repository for more than a million pages of handwritten documents dating from 1753. Volunteers will do some research for $15 an hour.
• North Carolina Marriages Database
This database is searchable by county or surname (you can use Soundex).
• Early Moravian Settlers in North Carolina
A list of names and links to Moravian settlers and their genealogy.
• Moravian Church Genealogy Links
This site is an exceptionally good jumping place with links to general Moravian research, as well as online databases and Moravian Church surname lists.
• Moravian Surnames A-L
• Moravian Surnames M-Z