Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor
IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN (APRIL 2, 1736-MARCH 25, 1790)
German-American Moravian Minister and Musician
JACOB VAN VLECK (MARCH 24, 1751-JULY 3, 1831)
U.S. Moravian Bishop, Musician, Composer, and Educator
WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 14, 1790-JANUARY 19, 1853)
U.S. Moravian Bishop
CARL ANTON VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 4, 1794-DECEMBER 21, 1845)
U.S. Moravian Minister, Musician, Composer, and Educator
LISETTE (LIZETTA) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG (APRIL 13, 1830-SEPTEMBER 19, 1914)
U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator
AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK (OCTOBER 18, 1835-AUGUST 20, 1929)
U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator
With this post I add six members of one family to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days. I had selected four people before I started taking notes. Along the way I found a fifth Van Vleck and added a Nitschmann. Reading about Immanuel Nitschmann has led led me to schedule another post–one about some of his other relatives, members of a leading family during the early period of the Renewed Moravian Church–for another month. One should try to stay focused in each post, after all.
We begin, O reader, with Immanuel Nitschmann, born at Herrnhut, in Saxony, on April 2, 1736. His parents were Bishop Johann (John) Nitschmann. Sr. (1703-1772), and Juliana Haberland Nitschmann (1712-1751), thus he came from a prominent family in the Moravian Church. Immanuel, a minister, emigrated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1761. Fortunately, he had plenty of time to devote to music. He played the violin and the organ, copied much music (including symphonies and string quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn) for the collegium musicum, led rehearsals of that ensemble, and arranged arias for three violins, viola, and figured bass. Our saint led the collegium musicum at Bethlehem from 1761 to 1773 and from 1780 to 1790. Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) led the fifteen-member ensemble from 1773 to 1780. Nitschmann died at Bethlehem on March 25, 1790.
Nitschmann married twice and had two children. His first wife was Maria Price (1740-1783). Wife number two was Maria Van Vleck (later Jones) (1757-1831), sister of our next saint, Jacob Van Vleck (1751-1831).
Jacob came from a Dutch family in New York. He attended school at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, before studying theology at the Moravian seminary at Barby, Germany. In 1778 our saint was back in the United States, serving as the assistant pastor in Bethlehem. Two years later he became the superintendent of the girls’ school there. From 1800 to 1812 Jacob served as the minister at Nazareth then at Lititz, Pennsylvania. Then, in 1812, he succeeded Bishop Johannes Herbst (1735-1812) as pastor at Salem, North Carolina. Three years later Jacob, a newly-minted bishop, returned to Bethlehem. He died there on July 3, 1831.
Jacob Van Vleck–minister, musician, and educator–contributed to the lives of his communities. He, a skilled performer of the violin and of keyboard instruments, led the collegium musicum at Bethlehem from 1790 to 1800, succeeding his brother-in-law, Immanuel Nitschmann. Jacob also taught at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school at Nazareth, from 1802 to 1809, and derived pleasure from studying the organ and playing for worship services. He composed few works due to the demands of church duties on his time. Nevertheless, Jacob’s compositions reveal his great talent. Jacob’s wife was Anna Elizabeth Staeheli (1764-1829). They had two sons, William Henry Van Vleck (1790-1853) and Carl Anton Van Vleck (1794-1845), both ministers.
William Henry Van Vleck, born at Bethlehem in 1790, was among the three original ministerial students at the Moravian Theological Seminary at Nazareth when it opened in 1807. (Peter Wolle was also in that class.) William Henry, ordained, served at Philadelphia, Nazareth, and New York City. He, a bishop from 1836, moved to Salem, North Carolina. He also served for a time a the Provincial Helpers’ Conference. He, the husband of Anna Elizabeth Kampman (1785-1865), died at Bethlehem in 1853.
Carl Anton Van Vleck, born at Bethlehem in 1794, was a minister, composer, musician, and music educator. He composed few pieces; his only known piano work was a brief rondo in F major. Other compositions included “The Hope, the Star, the Voice,” “The Watch-Tower Light,” and “Early Friends.” Our saint preferred, however, to teach music, so he focused on that activity. He did at Greenville, Tennessee, on December 21, 1845.
Carl Anton married Christiana Susan Kramsch (1797-1877) and had four children–a son and three daughters. After he died in 1845 Christiana and her children relocated to Salem, North, Carolina. Two of the daughters–Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck (1835-1929) and Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck (1830-1914)–became composers and music educators.
Rhode Island-born Lisette (Lizetta) was talented. She sang her first solo at age two, in her father’s church. Later she studied at the Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary, Bethlehem. In 1852, at Salem, our saint began to teach piano at the Salem Female Academy. Sixteen years later she resigned then married Alexander C. Meinung (1823-1908), also a skilled musician. The two of them taught music to many young people in Salem for decades. She died at the newly-merged Winston-Salem on September 19, 1914.
Lisette (Lizetta) was a capable composer. She wrote short pieces, such as polkas, waltzes, marches, and galops. Her works included the “Nettie Galop,” the “Military Parade March,” the “Hannah Polka,” “Our Words of Love,” “Annie Schottisch,” the “Annie March,” and the “Laura Polka.”
Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck, born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1835, was also a prominent musician, music educator, and composer in Salem (later Winston-Salem). “Miss Amy,” as people called her, matriculated at the Salem Female Academy in 1853. She taught there after graduating. For half a century our saint served as the organist at Home Moravian Church, Salem. She also composed many works, such as the “Irma Waltz,” the “Centennial March” (1871, for the centennial of the founding of Home Moravian Church), the “Salem Band Waltz,” “The Unknown Soldier Boy,” “My Dear One’s Waltz,” “The River Waltz,” “Waltz,” “The Sky Lark,” “The Rainy Day,” “Colonel Belo’s March,” and “Lullaby”–all short pieces. She died at Winston-Salem on August 20, 1929.
Music has long been one of the treasures of the Moravian Church. The six saints I have added in this post glorified God in their lives. Most of them did so, among other ways, via music.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 29, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:
Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants
Immanuel Nitschmann, Jacob Van Vleck, William Henry Vleck,
Carl Anton Van Vleck, Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck Meinung, and Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck,
may persevere in running the race that is set before us,
until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724
I corrected certain details on April 19, 2015. The Nitschmann family tree can be a difficult puzzle to solve, especially given certain contradictory information and the repeated use of some combinations of first and last names.–KRT