|Peek inside and find two Moravian ladies hard at work.|
In my recent posts, we learned about the origins of the Moravian Church (The Unity of the Brethren). Moravians followed the convictions of Protestant reformer John Hus and expanded from the Saxon Herrnhut estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf to missions around the world. They also established trade towns in America—especially Pennsylvania and North Carolina—to support missionaries to the American Indians.
We also discovered that while Moravians embraced many traditional Protestant beliefs, during the formative years of the mid-1700s, they engaged in some unique practices. One of these involved the choir system, and another involved the use of the lot.
|Tubes in a Salem lot bowl.|
Church authorities used the lot for choosing a pastor or missionary candidate, a building site, an occupation, or a marriage partner. In the case of marriage, a man might bring the name of a potential candidate before the elders. If they elders thought the man at a suitable stage in life to begin a family, and found the woman suggested an appropriate choice, they would take her name to the lot. If the answer came in the affirmative, the woman’s choir helper (spiritual advisor to the single or widowed sisters) would then let her know of the proposal. She then had the option to accept or decline. As you can imagine, ladies rarely declined, believing the affirmation of the lot to indicate God’s approval.
|A young lady could decline the lot - but did she?|
This news was greeted with special joy by John Vogler, a watchmaker and silversmith in Salem, North Carolina. In 1814, he’d sought to marry Christina Spach, only to be declined by lot. After that, he made six other marriage proposals regarding five women. The only proposal not rejected by the lot was declined by a single sister who lived in Pennsylvania. In 1818, John hastened back to the Elders’ Conference to renew his request for Christina. The request was approved, and Christina accepted immediately.
You can learn more in Old Salem: The Official Guidebook, by Penelope Niven.
Do you think the Moravian practice of marrying by the lot makes good fodder for a novel? I did too. Check out my marriage of convenience that led to an adventure in the Cherokee Nation in my upcoming novel, The Witness Tree (Smitten Romance, September 2019).
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