God’s Acre Cemetery

Gravesite of Phoebe, an enslaved resident of Salem

Dr. Vierling’s Grave

Cedar Avenue is the pedestrian lane along the west side of God’s Acre. The graveyard fence along the lane has five regularly spaced gateways that enter the major east-west cross walks of God’s Acre. Moravian graveyards are rectilinear in design, and organized according to choirs (Married Brothers, Married Sisters, Single Brothers, Single Sisters, etc.)with burials arranged chronologically.

Each gateway has a wooden arch bearing a scriptural passage of hope and comfort. The middle gateway accesses the oldest section of the graveyard and the verse is “Blessed are the Dead which Die in the Lord.” This cross walk is the middle of God’s Acre—and to the north are women and to the south are men. They are further divided at the middle north-south walkway, married people to the west and unmarried people and children to the east.

Married Brothers Section (first section on right as you enter from the middle gateway)

This section is 6 rows of graves with 11 graves per row.

Peter Oliver is 4th row, 10 graves to the right.

Peter Oliver (1766-1810) was an enslaved worker who worked for Rudolph Christ first in Bethabara and later in Salem.  Eventually, Peter Oliver saved enough money to purchase his own freedom, marry, and raise a family on a farm near Salem.

Also in row 4 are Frederick William Marshall (1802) in the first grave and Matthew Miksch (1810) in the 8th.

Frederic William Marshall (1721-1802) was the chief administrator of the Wachovia settlements in North Carolina. He served not only in governance but also essentially as a planner and architect for the Moravian settlements in and around present Winston-Salem, with his best-known and culminating building Salem’s Home Moravian Church.

Matthew Miksch was trained as a gardener in Europe where he learned the skills to support his family by growing and selling vegetables, seeds and young fruit trees. He also processed and sold tobacco, and with his wife, Henrietta, baked and sold gingerbread. He served as the forester and assisted master surveyor, Christian Gottleib Reuter, with the survey of Wachovia.

In row 3 is Dr. Vierling (1817)

Dr. Vierling, who wasSalem’s doctor from 1790-1817, was a pioneerin figuring out the relationship of diet toillness. He suspected that the high incidenceof strokes in Salem might be related tothe high consumption of salt pork. At hissuggestion, the town established a central meatmarket so more fresh meat would be available.

In row 5 is Traugott Bagge (1800) and Abraham [enslaved at Tannery] (1796)

Traugott Bagge (1729-1800) was the proprietor of the Salem Community Store. He was born in Sweden and moved to Bethabara in 1767 and to Salem in 1772 to oversee all the trade and commerce flowing in and out of town.

Abraham (ca. 1730-1797) was born in West Africa and sold to European slave traders who took him to the West Indies before he was sold to a Virginian, H. Lyons.  Lyons sold Abraham to Salem’s tanner, Heinrich Herbst, in 1771.  Abraham worked for Herbst until his death and became quite skilled at tannery work.

In row 6 is P.C.G. Reuter (1777)

Christian Gottlieb Reuter’s (1717-1777) plans and maps provide important information about the early years in the Wachovia Tract.

Single Brothers Section

As you continue down the path from the middle gateway, the next section of graves on the right past the Married Brothers section is the Single Brothers section.

John Birkheadis the first person buried in God’s Acre). He is the first grave in this section on the right. (North West Corner behind the tree)

Married Sisters Section

This section is to the left as you enter God’s Acre from the middle gateway. This section includes: Elizabeth Oesterlein (1802) (who started the girls school and married Rudolph Christ), Anna Catharina Ernst (1810), and Elizabeth Marshall (1795 (wife of Frederick William Marshall).