Archive for the ‘Johann Nitschmann Sr.’ Tag

Feast of Johann Nitschmann, Sr., David Nitschmann, Jr., the Syndic; and David Nitschmann, the Martyr (October 10)   1 comment

Nitschmann-Van Vleck

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SECOND ENTRY IN A SERIES OF FOUR POSTS

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JOHANN (OR JOHN) NITSCHMANN, SR. (1703-MAY 6, 1772)

Moravian Missionary and Bishop

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DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC (SEPTEMBER 20, 1703-MARCH 28, 1779)

Moravian Bishop and Missionary

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DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR (DIED APRIL 15, 1729)

Moravian Missionary and Martyr

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The process of researching the Nitschmanns led me through a number of contradictory sources.  I paid close attention to minor details to determine relationships.  There were, for example, four David Nitschmanns (two of whom became bishops) and two Johann (or John) Nitschmanns (both of whom became bishops).  I am not surprised, therefore, that some writers whose work I consulted confused one Johann (or John) Nitschmann with another.  They were contemporaries (one born in 1703 and the other in 1712), after all.  Also, I am aware that, in the age of the Internet, I can gain easy access to more information easily from home than was possible with more effort not long ago.  Even with that ease of access to information I became confused along the way, until I checked details (such as birthplaces and geographical locations of certain people in specific years) again and again.  I admit the possibility that I have made some mistakes or at least arrived at some inaccurate determinations (given the material available to me as well as human imperfection), but I have tried to be as accurate as possible.

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I was able to draw a family tree for the saints I covered in the previous post.  In this post I cover three other Nitschmanns who were also foundational figures in the Renewed Moravian Church.  At least one of them was a distant cousin of the first five Nitschmanns of whom I wrote.  As for the other two Nitschmanns in this post, I do not know, for my searches yielded no such information.

Some of my sources confused the two Johann (or John) Nitschmanns, who were contemporaries and bishops about nine years apart in age.  I have, however, to the best of my knowledge, been able to distinguish one from the other based on details, such as geographical locations in specific years and birthplaces of children.  The previous post contains a summary of the life of Johann Nitschmann, Jr. (1712-1783).  Now Johann Nitschmann, Sr. (1703-1772), gets his turn.

Johann Nitschmann, Sr., was a prominent figure in the early life of the Renewed Moravian Church.  He came from a family of the Bohemian Brethren/Ancient Unity and emigrated to Herrnhut in 1725.  He became a trusted aide to Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), accompanying the Count on a “witness journey” through Switzerland and southern Germany in 1731.  Nitschmann traveled as far as Freiberg, Saxony.  Three years later Nitschmann married Juliana Haberland (1712-1751), one of the original members of thee Single Sisters’ Choir at Herrnhut.  Anna Nitschmann (1713-1760) and Anna Schindler (later Dober) (1713-1739) had founded the Choir in 1730, and the former led it.  (A choir was a communal group.)  Johann and Juliana had a son, Immanuel (1736), who married into the Van Vleck family, which became prominent in the Moravian Church, supplying ministers, bishops, musicians, and composers.  Count Zinzendorf trusted Johann Nitschmann, Sr., so much that he assigned him to supervise young Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf, a student a Jena.  Nitschmann’s other duties involved evangelism in Jena.

David Nitschmann (1696-1772) was a pioneer at Herrnhut.  In fact, three young David Nitschmanns were pioneers at Herrnhut.  A second David Nitschmann who arrived at Herrnhut 1724 was traveling through Austria in 1729 when authorities arrested him.  He died in prison on Good Friday, April 15, 1729.  Moravian Church records refer to him as David Nitschmann, the Martyr.  A third David Nitschmann, who also settled at Herrnhut in 1724, was David Nitschmann, Jr., the Syndic (1703-1779).  The native of Zauchtenthal , Moravia, was a weaver by trade and a distant cousin of the five Nitschmanns of whom I wrote in the previous post.  David, Jr., was “the Syndic” because his duties included conducting negotiations on behalf of the Renewed Moravian Church.  His first wife, Anna Helena Anders, died in 1734.  Eventually he married a second time, to Rosina Fischer.  The Syndic served as one half of a missionary team to Ceylon from 1739 to 1741.  The other half of that team was a physician, one Dr. Eller.  The two had to return to Herrnhut in 1741 because certain Dutch Reformed clergymen, hostile to the Moravian missionaries, interfered with the mission station.

1741 was an eventful year for the Renewed Moravian Church.  Polycarp Muller and Johann Nitschmann, Sr., became the third and fourth bishops, respectively.  (The David Nitschmann who lived from 1696 to 1772 had become the first bishop of the Renewed Moravian Church in 1735.  Count Zinzendorf had become the second bishop two years later.)  In September 1741 Chief Elder Johann Leonhard Dober (1706-1766) resigned.  The job of leading the Renewed Moravian Church was too much for one person, he said.  There were also concerns that the Chief Eldership might turn into a Moravian Papacy.  The decision of the Synod of 1741 was that Jesus Christ would serve as the Chief Elder and that a three-member committee, the General Conference, would make decisions for the Church.  Two of the original members were the newest bishops.  The third original member was Friedrich von Watteville, who became the fifth bishop in 1743.

The Syndic, a bishop since 1746, served God via the Moravian Church until the end.  The Synod of 1764 reorganized church government, creating three committees:

  1. the Directory, which provided general oversight;
  2. the Board of Syndics, which handled diplomacy and constitutional affairs; and
  3. the Board of Wardens, which handled finances.

The Syndic served, not surprisingly, on the Board of Syndics.  He also traveled widely on official business.  The Syndic died at Zeist, The Netherlands, on March 28, 1779.

Johann Nitschmann, Sr., also continued to serve, sometimes more effectively than others.  From 1749 to 1751 he was the presiding bishop in America.  At that time Nitschmann was, unfortunately, stubborn and strict in his interpretation of his orders from the Directory.  The economy at Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania, suffered as a result.  Before he left America Juliana died on February 22, 1751.  The widower bishop returned to Herrnhut, where he became the pastor.  He died at Zeist, The Netherlands, on May 6, 1772.

These saints served God the best way they knew, devoting their lives to the Almighty.  One died because of that dedication.  They were, for all their human flaws, devout and excellent servants of God.

Here ends the second installment of this series of posts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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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

Johann Nitschmann, Sr.; David Nitschmann, Jr., the Syndic; and David Nitschmann, the Martyr;

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 724

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Feast of Immanuel Nitschmann, Jacob Van Vleck, William Henry Van Vleck, Carl Anton Van Vleck, Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck Meinung, and Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck (July 3)   2 comments

Nitschmann-Van Vlecks

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN (APRIL 2, 1736-MARCH 25, 1790)

German-American Moravian Minister and Musician

brother-in-law of

JACOB VAN VLECK (MARCH 24, 1751-JULY 3, 1831)

U.S. Moravian Bishop, Musician, Composer, and Educator

father of 

WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 14, 1790-JANUARY 19, 1853)

U.S. Moravian Bishop

brother of

CARL ANTON VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 4, 1794-DECEMBER 21, 1845)

U.S. Moravian Minister, Musician, Composer, and Educator

father of

LISETTE (LIZETTA) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG (APRIL 13, 1830-SEPTEMBER 19, 1914)

U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator

sister of

AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK (OCTOBER 18, 1835-AUGUST 20, 1929)

U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator

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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

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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

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.

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 724

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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

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