Abraham Büninger (1720-1811)
This translation is provided courtesy of the Moravian Archives.
Short Biography of Abraham & Martha Bünninger
I was born Jan. 18, 1720 in Switzerland in the canton Zürich, in a village called Backen Bülach; it belongs to a little village call Bülach; there I was baptized by a Reformed minister by the name of Caspar Burkhart. I was raised in the Reformed religion. My parent's names were Abraham Bünninger and Verona born Utzinges. Six days before my birth my dear mother had an unfortunate blood letting [surgical], which caused her a fever sickness, so that I was born without her knowledge.
My dear mother first told me of the dear Saviour - that He had died for me. In my 8th or 9th year I became somewhat acquainted with the first Brethren who went to Georgia, among them our dear Joseph [Spangenberg]. On this journey I felt the first inclination and love to go to the Brethren. My dear mother died on this journey; she loved the Brethren, told me to join them when my father died.
In Carolina my father settled in Purisburg. In 1736 I went with my father to Friderike in Georgia and worked with my father as carpenter. In November of this year my father died. Before his death he gave me his consent to join the Brethren. From Friderike I went with my brother to Purisburg. In the year 1737 I worked at a mill in old Ebenezer in Georgia. In the year 1738 Bro. Pahler [Peter Boehler?] and Schulyres came to Purisburg. Through Bro. Pahler's sermon I was awakened and restless about my sinful heart; I would have liked to tell the Brethren about it but was afraid to do it.
Near the end of 1739 I worked for Mr. Whitefield. At this time I resolved to go to the Brethren but was hindered by a broken arm.
In the year 1740 I went to Mr. Whitefield's orphanage. In May with my brother to the siege of St. Augustine, a Spanish fort in Florida; at the end of this expedition I again went to Mr. Whitefield's orphanage. . In this year the dear Saviour led me to become acquainted with the dear Brother John Hagen.
In 1741, Sept 4, old style I left the orphanage, went to Savannah and lived with Bro. Hagen in Bro. Brownfield's house. In the following December I accompanied Br. Hagen to the Congregation (Moravian) in Philadelphia.
In 1742 Jan 9 I joined the Brethren in Philadelphia and near the end of February David Zeisberger took me to Bethlehem. At the first Holy Communion I was permitted to attend as a spectator I became certain in my heart that we were a people of the Saviour.
The early period of my living with the Brethren was a great blessing to me and I got rid of all my fear and received a tender and blessed hear in the blood and wounds of the Savior.
On July 22, 1742 Bro. David Nitschmann received me as a member of the congregation, Bro. Ludwig [Zinzendorf] delivering the address on the text for the day [Acts 2: 1, 2]. My heart melted in tears before the Lamb (Christ). I felt that all was forgiven, washed away in His blood.
I do not remember the month and the day when I was for the first time permitted to receive the Holy Communion but I think it was October 1742. In November I mad a visit in the country and mad arrangements for sermons by Brother Lischy.
The first use of the lot concerning me said the Savior intended me for service among the Negroes and to learn to know them I was to go to Bro. Bechtel in Germantown, living with him ? this was the year 1743. In Jan. and Feb. I visited the Bethlehem and this Negro appointment did not materialize, and I did not return to Germantown (I had met a number of Negroes).
In this year I also became a member of the Hourly Intercession. In 1745 I was seriously ill; in February most of my work was as carpenter in Bethlehem and Nazareth; was present also at the beginning of Gnadenthal for more than a year, cutting boards by hand. In 1747, June to September I serviced in the Amos place [?].
On Oct 16, 1746 I married my dear Martha. Brother Joseph delivering the address and prayed for us. Brother Martin Mack joined our hands.
Soon after the wedding we were sent by the congregation beyond the Susquehanna, where we kept school on the catores [?] in Leonard Gimmel's house, also visited our Brethren and friends who live beyond the Susquehanna, but in many things had to follow the instruction of Bro. Lischy.
In 1747, April we returned from the Susquehanna and remained in Bethlehem for three weeks. Then we went to the boarding school for children in the Great Swamp [on Broad Mountain in Monroe and Carbon Counties in Pennsylvania] and Joseph Mueller's house, and in June returned to Bethlehem.
On September 10, 1747 the Savior gave us a little son, Christian, baptized by Spangenberg. Twelve days later I remained on the Susquehanna alone for four weeks then returned to Bethlehem, and took my dear Martha and Christian, just a few weeks old, to a little catores[?] where we kept school this winter in the house of Bro. Peter Piregely, also visited our friends and members as formerly, but had no dealings with Lischy. This winter both Martha and Christian had measles, both were sick about three weeks.
In 1748, April we were again called to Bethlehem, and on June 7 were sent to the congregation at Tulpehoken. We visited them and at the same time kept school where we visited. As long as I was there I kept meeting every Sunday in Michael Ried's house. Most of the time we stayed with Bro. And Sister L_scher. In Oct. we came with our Christian again to Bethlehem. Synod was hold in Bethlehem on Oct. 12. It was decided we again should go beyond the Susquehanna and take car of the little group there as formerly; we went there but school was kept at the visits like in Tulpehoken. Most of the time we staid with John Heckedorn, there also kept the Sunday meetings, but at the visits no song service.
In May 1749 we got to Bethlehem and soon thereafter to Macungy [now Emmaus, Pennsylvania] to the boarding school there - almost two months.
On the 16th of September I went alone to Patgatgoch [2 miles southwest from Kent, Connecticut.] to our brown Brethren [Indians] to keep school for the children, visited busily and also the Indians at Wechguadnach [in Dutchess County New York and Connecticut] also kept services - and quarter hour meetings.
On Jan. 29 the Savior again gave us a little son named Abraham baptized by Bro. Camerhof. Near the end of February 1750 I again visited Bethlehem and remained till April, then again to Patgatgoch, where the little group was in my care, and told them of the Lamb and His wounds, and visited often in Wechguadnach and also Quanachtnok, Vesterinook and Stockbridge.
In July there was an epidemic which also struck me, the Brethren, and also thought I would soon go to the Savior. When I recovered I went to Bethlehem again for a visit and remained there to Feb. 1 then to Patgatgoch, in November was called home, where I remained as carpenter till June 27, 1751, then to, to keep school, several times visited Wechquetach and once Stockbridge, told our old friend Aron the Indian chief shortly before his death of our Lam and His atonement, who said he would live and die by that faith. I remained in Patgatgoch, till December 1751 then again to Bethlehem to my dear Brethren. In Patgatgoch, I built a little house in which Brethren can now live. My manner of life was most like the Indian. The Lamb has blessed it for me.
Received with his wife at the first Synod, in January 1788 which was held
in the Brethren's House.
[Ordained deacon May 25 1756 by Bishop Spangenberg and Hehl. Died March 1811, Salem, N.Y.]
Transcription and translation provided
by the Moravian Archives - Bethlehem, Pa.