Bethabara, North Carolina

Bethabara (from the Hebrew, meaning "House of Passage" and pronounced beth-ab-bra, the name of the traditional site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ) is a village located in Forsyth County, North Carolina. It was the site where fifteen men from the Moravian Church first settled in 1753 in an abandoned cabin in the hundred-thousand acre (400 km²) tract of land the church had purchased from Lord Granville and dubbed Wachovia.

Its early settlers were noted for advanced agricultural practices, especially their "Medicine Garden," which produced over fifty kinds of herbs. Bethabara grew slowly and today is known locally as "Old Town" [Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940] .

Although later parties of Moravians joined the first fifteen, including women and children, Bethabara was never meant to be a permanent settlement. It was intended to house the Moravians until a more suitable location for their central village could be found. In 1771, that place was completed: Salem. Many of the settlers moved to Salem, and Bethabara became an outlying farm to supply the residents of Salem and other Moravian villages with food.

In 1788, a slave, Johann Samuel, was named superintendent of the farm; he was freed in 1801, though he continued to rent the land from the church. However, Bethabara, as it existed, was no longer needed, and it fell into disuse. The original buildings collapsed, and their foundations were filled in to make more farm land.

Today, what remains of the village, including the excavated foundations of the original buildings, the restored Gemeinhaus, and the reconstructed palisade and colonial gardens, is a park and National Historic Site serving Forsyth County. All of the above can be toured for a small fee in the spring, summer, and autumn months. There are frequent festivals and reenactments on the weekends, such as the Independence Weekend Celebration held the weekend prior to or during Independence Day. Winston-Salem State University also runs a summer archeology program featuring on-site excavation.

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.bethabarapark.org/ Historic Bethabara Park]

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