Feast of Henry Elias Fries and Rosa Elvira Fries (March 3)   1 comment

Fries Photograph 1917

Above:  Henry Elias Fries, 1917

Image Source = The Winston-Salem Journal, October 9, 1917, page 5

Accessed via newspapers.com

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HENRY ELIAS FRIES (SEPTEMBER 22, 1857-MARCH 3, 1949)

U.S. Moravian Industrialist and Hymn Writer

and his wife

ROSA ELVIRA MICKEY FRIES (MAY 24, 1860-AUGUST 7, 1938)

U.S. Moravian Musician

I do not know what or how much I will find when I begin to take notes on someone when considering him or her for addition to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  For example, will I find enough information for more than a blurb?  In the case of the Frieses the answer is yes.

Fries-Mickey

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Fries family has been in the United States of America since 1809, when Johann Christian Wilhelm Fries (1775-1866), a German native, arrived in North Carolina.  In 1811 he married Johanna Elisabeth Nissen (1787-1864).  The first of their children was Francis Lewin Fries (1812-1863), husband of Lisette Maria Vogler (1820-1903).  The sixth of their seven children was Henry Elias Fries (1857-1949), part of the third generation of Frieses in the United States.

Henry, who lost his father at age six, grew up to become a civil leader and a devout Moravian.  Our saint, a native of Salem, North Carolina, attended Salem Boys School then Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina.  Fries never graduated, for bad eyesight forced him to drop out of school after three years.  While he was still enrolled at Davidson College our saint took interest in a new Moravian Sunday School in East Salem.  The East Salem Sunday School had begun in 1876.  Fries, returned from Davidson, became the superintendent of that Sunday school in October 1877.  Four decades later he was still the Sunday School Superintendent at what that effort became–the Fries Memorial Moravian Church.

Upon withdrawing from Davidson College Fries embarked on his career in industry.  His first job was as manager of a family owned business, the Wachovia Mills, which produced flour.  Fries served as the secretary of the State Industrial Exposition at Raleigh in 1884.  The following year he organized the Southside Cotton Mill, Winston.  For years our saint served as president of that mill.  In 1897 he founded the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company, thereby pioneering electrical development in the environs of Winston and Salem.  By 1913 Fries was operating a streetcar system and providing electricity to homes.  In 1909 our saint and his brother, Francis Henry Fries (1855-1931), founded the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, of which Henry served as president for the rest of his life.  Our saint, who also operated the Forsyth Manufacturing Company and the Arista Mills, was a major figure in building up the industrial center of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Fries was also active in public life, with a strong emphasis on education.  In 1887 he served a term in the state legislature.  Other offices included positions on the Democratic National Committee, the Forsyth County Board of Education, the city council of Salem, the state Board of Agriculture, and the State Geological Board.  The three-term mayor of Salem was also a trustee of the Slater Industrial and Normal School (later Winston-Salem State University) and a founder of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later the North Carolina State University), Raleigh, for which he was a trustee for a decade.  Our saint, a leading advocate of the merger of the Cities of Winston and Salem in 1913, helped to organize the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of the Red Cross.

Fries Memorial Moravian Church 1917

Above:  Fries Memorial Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1917

Source = The Winston-Salem Journal, October 9, 1917, page 5

Our saint also wrote hymns.  I know of the existence of at least four such texts, but have located only two of them, both in the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969) and one in its predecessor, the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923).  Fries composed the text of “Come, Join the Throng on This Glad Day” for the dedication of the brick edifice of Fries Memorial Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, in 1915.  (The former building had ceased to be sufficient for the congregation.)

Church Dedication

The Winston-Salem Journal, March 9, 1915, page 6

Accessed via newspapers.com

Do shades of uniqueness exist?

Come Now, O Lord” originated on the afternoon of June 8, 1930, which was Pentecost Sunday that year, after an inspiring sermon by the Reverend Herbert B. Johnson at Fries Memorial Church.  Our saint shared the new text with Johnson early that evening.  The minister requested that Fries sing it for the congregation at the late service that day.  Our saint did do, performing it to the tune MORECAMBE, as his wife, Rosa, accompanied him.  A week later she composed a tune, PENTECOSTAL HYMN, for it.  That has been the tune paired with that text in Moravian hymnals since at least the Moravian Youth Hymnal (1942).

Rosa Elvira Mickey, born in Salem, North Carolina, on May 24, 1860, came from European Moravian Church stock.  She met Henry at the East Salem Sunday School, where she taught and he served as superintendent.  For half a century Rosa not only taught Sunday School but played the piano and sang soprano.  She and Henry, married in 1881, had one child, Anna Marguerite Fries (1892-1916), who died of scarlet fever.  Rose followed her daughter into death on August 7, 1938, at Cherry Lane, North Carolina, after a stroke.  She was 78 years old.

Henry lived to the ripe old age of 91 years.  On March 3, 1949, we went to his office.  Those who saw him recalled later that he seemed to be in good health.  There, at his desk, our saint died of a heart attack.  His work was done; Winston-Salem was considerably better off because of his professional contributions over decades.

To write about the holy lives of people without the either of prefixes “St.” or “Bl.” attached to their names is appropriate.  In the case of the Frieses germane factors include their marriage, which lasted for more than half a century, and their high level of activity in their congregation.  Such details require few words and little space to summarize, but the positive influences, both direct and indirect, of those details are great and span generations.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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POSTSCRIPT:

When I saw Rosa’s maiden name, Mickey, I wondered if she were related to Bishop Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr. (1908-1986), whom I have added to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days already.  Yes, she was a first cousin of his father.

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants

Henry Elias Fries and Rosa Elvira Mickey Fries,

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.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726

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One response to “Feast of Henry Elias Fries and Rosa Elvira Fries (March 3)

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  1. Pingback: Henry Elias Fries | GATHERED PRAYERS

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