A History of Friedberg, North Carolina

Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg led a party to survey a 100,000 acre tract of land in North Carolina, which came to be known as Wachau after an Austrian estate of Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf. The name, later anglicized to Wachovia, became the center of growth for the church in that region. Bethabara, Bethania, and Salem (now Winston-Salem) were the first Moravian settlements in North Carolina in the early 1750s.

The first settlers arrived in November, 1753, a group of eleven single men selected to provide the necessary skills for establishing a new community. Four others accompanied them on the journey but returned to Pennsylvania soon after. Additional settlers arrived beginning in 1754 and 1755, including the first women. The first community established was Bethabara, initially a stockaded fort protecting the neighboring farms. Never much more than a farming community in the early days, it is now within the city limits of Winston-Salem, on the northwest side of the city center.

In 1759, the site was selected for a second village, Bethania, about three miles northwest of Bethabara. The first houses were built in the summer of that year, just before an epidemic of typhus broke out that killed ten of the settlers. Bethania had its own church, still an active congregation, and supported the surrounding farms with basic goods and services. Families particularly associated with Bethania in the early days include Binkley, Conrad, Grabs, Hauser, Spainhour, Strub, Transou, and Volck.

In 1773, the fourth planned community of Friedberg was settled, in what is present-day Davidson County.

“Although at that time a meeting house had not yet been built here in Friedberg,” Maria Elisabeth Spach’s memoir relates, “for her and her husband it was not too much to make a trip of fourteen miles, and indeed often on foot, in order to attend the Sunday meetings of the Gemeine in Bethabara.”

That was in the 1750s, when Wachovia, the land the Moravian Church had purchased, was very much on the frontier, and most of the roads of the North Carolina colony were little more than paths through primeval forests.

With such dedication as Maria Elisabeth and her husband Adam Spach had, it was appropriate that the first preaching service the Moravian Church held “below the Ens” — or South Fork — was at their home on Tuesday, November 27, 1759.

It was several years before a meeting house was proposed, and several more years before it was built and first used with a lovefeast on March 11, 1769, and consecration of the building the next day. Several South Fork families were organized as a Moravian society on February 4, 1770. A school was begun, and the first Easter service on the graveyard was held that April 15. Three years later, on April 4, 1773, the congregation was formally organized with the name Friedberg — Hill of Peace. Maria Elisabeth and Adam Spach finally had a nearby church.

From its beginning, growth has been a hallmark of Friedberg. A second church was built and consecrated on March 12, 1788, and a third church consecrated on July 28, 1827. This one served through several renovations until it was removed in 1976 for the congregation’s current sanctuary, a handsome 600-seat structure that was dedicated in a week of services January 6-13, 1980.

Growth also came through the Sunday school. The Charity Sunday School was organized on September 30, 1827, and classes were held in the church until a large two-story Sunday school annex was added in 1921. A Christian education building was completed in 1967, and a splendid family life center was dedicated on October 31, 1999. Sunday school also had Friedberg growing beyond its walls, for both Enterprise and Advent Moravian Churches trace their beginnings to being Sunday schools of Friedberg.

Friedberg was granted a US Post Office on May 4, 1860, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Lewis Rights. It has been in continuous operation ever since.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved