Register - Marriages
The marriage records of the Moravian Church of Bethlehem, covering a period of one hundred and fifty years, were selected for transcription because they are complete and unbroken record of all Moravian marriages in Bethlehem, from the date of its founding in 1741. Many interesting facts relating to the persons married were recorded by the officiating clergymen. Usually the record included a full account of the parentage, origins, occupations and destined work, as well as details of any previous marriages, and other facts of Importance. All of this information has been made the basis for more extended biographical data, with the result that the complete work has more of the aspect of a biographical history (chronologically arranged), than that of a purely marriage record.
In consequence of the important position which Bethlehem occupied in the evangelization program of its founders, many events transpired here which had a far reaching effect upon the history of the community, and in the lives of the individuals themselves. The marriage ceremony played no little part in the furtherance of the objectives sought for, and the principals In these rites included many persons who attained honor and distinction, and whose memory is refered by church and state. A considerable number of persons temporarily located In Bethlehem, who were members of other Moravian congregations, and, during a later period, some who were not members of that faith, sought the aid of the pastors here to unite them in the holy bonds.
It will thus be seen that this work contains a wide range of information about the early people of this community, and It should prove to be a valuable supplement to the "Guide to the Old Moravian Cemetery of Bethlehem," prepared by the late Dr. Augustus Schultze, the first edition of which included the record of burials to 1897, and a later edition, to 1910. It should be borne in mind that, as early as 1864, Nisky Hill Cemetery began to supersede the old "God's Acre" on Market Street as a burial place for members of the local congregation. The first interment in the new cemetery was that of Matthew Krause, on May lst, 1864. In the present work the specific place of burial in Bethlehem is not stated, and, if not recorded in Dr. Schultze's record, it can usually be assumed that the interment, if made here, was in Nisky Hill Cemetery.
The genealogies of many of the present citizens of Bethlehem can readily be traced, due to the fact that successive generations of the same families were united by the local pastors.
The practice of numbering marriages was begun in 1865, when Register No. 6 was opened, beginning with number 820. A careful count of all the ceremonies recorded prior to that date, however, shows that this figure should be 831, so that the correct total of all marriages to June 17, 1892, was 1193 instead of 1182, as the records indicate.
Not all of the eighty-three ministers who officiated at these ceremonies were regular pastors, or assistant pastors of the local congregation, there being at all times present in Bethlehem ordained ministers engaged in various phases of church activity, as well as retired ministers and missionaries, and those engaged in educational work. The names of the officiating ministers, with the number of ceremonies performed by each, are given In an appended list. This does not include the names of clergymen of other denominations, who either officiated or assisted in the performance of the marriage rites recorded in the Bethlehem records. Outstanding among the pastors., appears the name of the Rev. Charles F. Seidel, who officiated at 145 ceremonies. It should be pointed out that in the ease of twenty-four marriages the records do not state the name of the minister.
Multiple marriages contribute much to the difficulties encountered by genealogists, and for that reason special mention is made of all other marriages in which any of the principals in the records participated.
A list of some of the more important works consulted for the biographical material which supplements the marriage records is also appended. In some instances the families themselves were appealed to for such data.
No weddings whatsoever are recorded during the period from December, 1775, until August 9, 1778. A possible explanation of this may be found in the fact that the stirring events occurring here during this, the period of the Revolutionary War, had the effect of delaying such ceremonies until peace and quiet were restored in the community.
Two indices, the one giving the full names of persons united, and the other, a list of all family names occurring in the records, will materially simplify research by the historian and genealogist using the work.
The early records were written mainly in German, but so well was the work executed throughout that little difficulty was experienced in their translation.
The undertaking of this work was made possible through an appropriation of the Works Progress Administration.
The editor takes this opportunity to express his deep appreciation and thanks to Miss Harriet T. Root, Librarian of the Bethlehem Public Library, for her kind cooperation and advice during the progress of the work, as well as to Rev. C. A. Meilecke, D. D., and the members of the Board of Elders of the Moravian Church, who courteously extended permission and afforded facilities for transcribing the records.
Clarene E. Beckel Editor
[Text above is from pages iii-vi of original]