Understanding North Carolina's Moravian settlers
In this lesson plan, students read a diary written by a young Moravian man traveling from Pennsylvania to a Moravian settlement in North Carolina in 1733. Students complete a graphic organizer with details of the journey and follow the route on a map.
A lesson plan for grade 8 Social Studies
In this lesson, students will read “Diary of a Journey of Moravians” — an excerpt from a diary written by a young Moravian man traveling from Pennsylvania to a Moravian settlement in North Carolina in 1733. As they read, students complete a graphic organizer with details of the journey and follow the route on a map.
- gain an understanding of the Moravian culture
- gain an understanding of the difficulties facing travelers in the colonial period
- read and interpret primary source material to gain a better understanding of a historical period
- use a graphic organizer to arrange and analyze information
- make inferences about life in the 18th century
- computer with internet access for each group of students
- outline maps of the southern and middle colonies for each group or an outline map of the 13 colonies for each group (these can be found on the internet, for example the “13 British colonies (no labels)” map on the Education Place website
- “Diary of a Journey of Moravians” graphic organizer
one class period (may vary depending on the reading ability of the class)
This can be done either orally or in written form. Ask students to imagine they are going on a two-week trip and they intend to keep a diary of the journey. What kind of things would they record in the travel diary? Why might travelers keep accounts of their trips? Explain that they will be examining portions of one such diary that was written in 1753 by a religious group that traveled down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Ask the students to predict five events/descriptions they might expect to read about in the primary source.
- Put students into groups of three or four.
- Read aloud, or have a student read aloud, the first three paragraphs on the page “Diary of a Journey of Moravians.” Discuss with the students why this group of people may have wanted to move to a new area. What are the push/pull factors? Students may mention that the Moravians might have been persecuted in Pennsylvania since they had moved from Europe for that reason. But this is not the case, as the charter for colonial Pennsylvania provided for religious freedom. You might ask the students what they know about the Pennsylvania Colony — they may know that it was settled by Quakers and that they were tolerant of other religions. You can help them understand that the Moravians did not leave the colony because they were being persecuted. (One of the largest concentrations of Moravians in America today is located in Bethlehem, PA.) Once the push factor of religious persecution is eliminated, the students can think of other reasons for the move. They should understand that the religious group had planned to start a new settlement to expand their congregation. The nearly 100,000-acre Wachovia tract was purchased by European Moravians. So the pull factors would include settling on a large tract of cheap, fertile land where they could worship as they wished.
Students may also have questions about the Moravian Church and the practices that are mentioned in the introduction to the source. You may direct students to the Old Salem website, which has a comprehensive section on the history of the town and the buildings.
- Give each group a copy of the outline map and the graphic organizer.
- Have the groups finish reading the page “Diary of a Journey of Moravians,” filling in the graphic organizer as they read. The time needed for this exercise will depend on the reading ability of the students.
- As they read the diary, have the students map the journey on the outline map, indicating the route they infer the men traveled. They will need to use a modern map to locate Bethlehem, PA and the Wachovia tract. They may want to refer to the article “Mapping the Great Wagon Road” as they match the diary journey to the description of the Great Wagon Road. (If time is an issue, you may choose to assign different groups to specific days and then have each group share their findings with the whole class.)
- After students have completed the map and chart, ask them:
- What was the most interesting aspect of the journey?
- What surprised you? Why?
- Do you think you could have attempted something like the journey of the Moravians?
- Is there a modern equivalent to this experience? How are the situations similar? Different?
Assessment for this assignment will be a teacher observation of class discussion in the preview activity, group activity section two, and the ending discussion and analysis. Also, the completed map and graphic organizer can be used as a group assessment.
Homework: The following homework assignment can be used to determine if students recognize the difficulties that colonial travelers faced. Also, students should exhibit some understanding of the Moravian culture.
Students are to assume the identity of one of the Moravian brothers — they may choose the diarist or one of the men he traveled with. They are then to write a letter back to one of the members of their choir still in Bethlehem, PA describing in a page (you may ask AIG students to write a longer letter) their journey. Students should include some of the information from their chart and map. They should use language that is representative of the Moravian culture as they read in the text.
Diary of a Journey of Moravians graphic organizer
|Geography||Basic necessities||Difficulties||Positives||People they met|
Diary of a Journey of Moravians graphic organizer (teacher guide)
|Geography||Basic necessities||Difficulties||Positives||People they met|
|October 8||Leaving Bethlehem, PA||Stayed at Missellimer Mill||They had to carry some of the luggage that the wagon had left behind when it had gotten stuck||Many of their friends went with them for this first day of the trip||Their friends from Bethlehem at first; the people at the Mill|
|October 12||Ended up one mile from the Susquehanna River, forest||Shot several fawns, partridges and squirrels; slept outside on blankets or in a hammock||A tree nearly hit their horses.||(Some students may mention that they ate well and got some sleep.)||Several young men who like Moravians; a drunken Irishman|
|October 19||Possibly near what is now Staunton, VA. Blue Mountains on the right.||Baked bread. Bought bread, hay, oats. Set up camp by a creek.||Didn’t get much sleep due to smoke. Very dark when they tried to set up camp. Lost some oats, but they were found.||Neuschwanger, a German provided them with hay and bread. Bought oats.||A man from London; some Germans; “some people”|
|November 2||Crossed rivers. Lots of hills, bad roads.||Lunch by a creek. Hard to start the fire due to rain.||Smoke was a bother again. Horses were sick. Road narrow, then sloped. Stuck in ditch. Unload wagon due to hill. Another steep hill.
Rain. No house on top of hill. Very cold.
|A little bit of good road.||“a man”|
|November 8||Hills, creeks, Smith’s river||Set up a tent near a plantation.||Trouble getting load up the hills. Trouble going across a large creek. Very bad road. Rain. Only went 7 miles.||People on a plantation.|
|November 17||Town Fork Creek. Near the Yadkin River.||Given pumpkins and turnips. Slept in their new home.||Cold night. Had to clear roads.||They had reached their land in less than 6 weeks. People were friendly. Took possession of a little house.||People at two plantations.|
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
- Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
- Objective 1.05: Describe the factors that led to the founding and settlement of the American colonies including religious persecution, economic opportunity, adventure, and forced migration.
- Objective 1.07: Describe the roles and contributions of diverse groups, such as American Indians, African Americans, European immigrants, landed gentry, tradesmen, and small farmers to everyday life in colonial North Carolina, and compare them to the other colonies.