Take a Step Back in Time...

Schoenbrunn Village stands today as a partial reconstruction of an 18th century Delaware Indian mission town.  It was founded on May 3, 1772 by missionaries of the Moravian church.  The Moravians were from Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic.

This was a time of turmoil and upheaval in the colonies with the fight moving toward independence from Great Britain.  The Moravians were pacifists, however, their sympathies were with the colonists.  The Moravian and Delaware leaders agreed to relocate missions from Pennsylvania to the more peaceful Tuscarawas Valley in the Ohio territory.  The land, near a large spring, was given to Reverend David Zeisberger by the Delaware Chief Netawates, whose name means "Newcomer."  It was called "Welhik T'uppek" in the Delaware language and Schoenbrunn, meaning "Beautiful Spring" in German.

On May 3, 1772, Zeisberger and his party, consisting of 28 men, women, and children and a herd of cattle arrived.  Their first task was not building cabins, but planting crops to sustain them through their first winter.

 Zeisberger's Cabin was the first built, followed by the school.  At its greatest size, Schoenbrunn had a population of 400 Christian natives, mostly Delaware Indians, and included in its buildings, the first school and first Christian church built in Ohio.

Early Moravian mission settlements were laid out in the form of a cross, the main street running east to west, with the church at the center.  Schoenbrunn, however, was laid out in the form of a "T"; because the topography would not allow a cross.  The church was in the center of the "T" and from Zeisberger's diaries, we know there were several more streets, and approximately 60 buildings.

After a few short years, the mission's neutrality was questioned and Zeisberger was urged to move closer to Coshocton.  So, on April 19, 1777 he destroyed the church so it couldn't be used by non-Christians and the whole village moved to Lichtenau, near Coshocton.  That, effectively, was the end of Schoenbrunn.

In the early 1920's a Moravian minister, Reverend Joseph Weinland from Dover, sought to memorialize Schoenbrunn.  Research from the Moravian archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, planning and digging continued and in 1927, the first log cabin and the school were reconstructed.  

Today, Schoenbrunn has over 16 buildings including the Church, School and David's cabin on their original sites.  There is also a visitor center that has a gift shop, museum and theater. 

Admission into the village is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (55+), $4 for children (7-17), and under 7 is FREE!

Brief History of the Moravian Church:

For over five centuries the Moravian Church has proclaimed the gospel in all parts of the world. Its influence has far exceeded its numbers as it has cooperated with Christians on every continent and has been a visible part of the Body of Christ, the Church. Proud of its heritage and firm in its faith, the Moravian Church ministers to the needs of people wherever they are.

The name Moravian identifies the fact that this historic church had its origin in ancient Bohemia and Moravia in what is the present-day Czech Republic. In the mid-ninth century these countries converted to Christianity chiefly through the influence of two Greek Orthodox missionaries, Cyril and Methodius. They translated the Bible into the common language and introduced a national church ritual. In the centuries that followed, Bohemia and Moravia gradually fell under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome, but some of the Czech people protested.

The foremost of Czech reformers, John Hus (1369-1415) was a professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague. The Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, where Hus preached, became a rallying place for the Czech reformation. Gaining support from students and the common people, he led a protest movement against many practices of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. Hus was accused of heresy, underwent a long trial at the Council of Constance, and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.

Organized in 1457

The reformation spirit did not die with Hus. The Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), as it has been officially known since 1457, arose as followers of Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church. By 1467 the Moravian Church had established its own ministry, and in the years that followed three orders of the ministry were defined: deacon, presbyter and bishop.

Growth, Persecution and Exile

By 1517 the Unity of Brethren numbered at least 200,000 with over 400 parishes. Using a hymnal and catechism of its own, the church promoted the Scriptures through its two printing presses and provided the people of Bohemia and Moravia with the Bible in their own language.

A bitter persecution, which broke out in 1547, led to the spread of the Brethren's Church to Poland where it grew rapidly. By 1557 there were three provinces of the church: Bohemia, Moravia and Poland. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) brought further persecution to the Brethren's Church, and the Protestants of Bohemia were severely defeated at the battle of White Mountain in 1620.

The prime leader of the Unitas Fratrum in these tempestuous years was Bishop John Amos Comenius (1592-1670). He became world-renowned for his progressive views of education Comenius, lived most of his life in exile in England and in Holland where he died. His prayer was that some day the "hidden seed" of his beloved Unitas Fratrum might once again spring to new life.

Renewed in the 1700s

The eighteenth century saw the renewal of the Moravian Church through the patronage of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a pietist nobleman in Saxony. Some Moravian families fleeing persecution in Bohemia and Moravia found refuge on Zinzendorf's estate in 1722 and built the community of Herrnhut. The new community became the haven for many more Moravian refugees.

Count Zinzendorf encouraged them to keep the discipline of the Unitas Fratrum, and he gave them the vision to take the gospel to the far corners of the globe. August 13, 1727, marked the culmination of a great spiritual renewal for the Moravian Church in Herrnhut, and in 1732 the first missionaries were sent to the West Indies.

Moravians in America

The Moravians first came to America during the colonial period. In 1735 they were part of General Oglethorpe's philanthropic venture in Georgia. Their attempt to establish a community in Savannah did not succeed, but they did have a profound impact on the young John Wesley who had gone to Georgia during a personal spiritual crisis. Wesley was impressed that the Moravians remained calm during a storm that was panicking experienced sailors. He was amazed at people who did not fear death, and back in London he worshiped with Moravians in the Fetter Lane Chapel. There his "heart was strangely warmed."

After the failure of the Georgia mission, the Moravians were able to establish a permanent presence in Pennsylvania in 1741, settling on the estate of George Whitefield. Moravian settlers purchased 500 acres to establish the settlement of Bethlehem in 1741. Soon they bought the 5,000 acres of the Barony of Nazareth from Whitefield's manager, and the two communities of Bethlehem and Nazareth became closely linked in their agricultural and industrial economy.

Other settlement congregations were established in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. They built the communities of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Lititz, and Hope. They also established congregations in Philadelphia and on Staten Island in New York.All were considered frontier centers for the spread of the gospel, particularly in mission to the Native Americans .Bethlehem was the center of Moravian activity in colonial America

Bishop Augustus Spangenberg led a party to survey a 100,000 acre tract of land in North Carolina, which came to be known as Wachau after an Austrian estate of Count Zinzendorf. The name, later anglicized to Wachovia, became the center of growth for the church in that region. Bethabara, Bethania and Salem (now Winston-Salem) were the first Moravian settlements in North Carolina.

In 1857 the two American provinces, North and South, became largely independent and set about expansion. Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem in North Carolina became the headquarters of the two provinces (North and South)

The Southern Province grew mainly in Forsyth County, but over time established congregations in Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington, Raleigh, and Stone Mountain, Georgia. Moravian churches in Florida are growing with the influx of immigrants from the Caribbean basin.

The Northern Province expanded with the influx of immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia into the upper Midwest in the late 19th century. It now reaches both coasts and as far north as Edmonton, Canada. Green Bay, Wisconsin, was founded by Moravians. Such wide geographical spread caused the Northern Province to be divided into Eastern, Western and Canadian Districts.

After World War II, strong pushes for church extension took the Northern Province to Southern California (where only an Indian mission had existed since 1890) as well as to some Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian sites. The Southern Province added numerous churches in the Winston-Salem area, throughout North Carolina and extended its outreach to Florida and to Georgia. In North America, the Moravian Church has congregations in 16 states, the District of Columbia, and in two Provinces of Canada.