Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/854

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
836
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

years, performing the duties of his clerical office and teaching the boys of the community who were destined for learned professions.

In 1812 Mr. von Schweinitz, being then thirty-two years of age, was appointed general agent of the Moravian Church in the southern United States. Before starting for this country he married, at Niesky, Louiza Amelia Le Doux, who belonged to a French family residing at Stettin. The continental system of Napoleon rendering direct communication with the United States extremely hazardous, Mr. von Schweinitz and his wife were compelled to go through Denmark to Sweden and embark there. The trouble of making this roundabout journey was, as it chanced, not without its compensation. The travelers were obliged to make a stay of some length at Kiel, in Holstein, during which von Schweinitz formed an enjoyable acquaintance with several of the professors in the university there. His attainments, moreover, so impressed the authorities of this seat of learning that they conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy. When, at length, the voyage was begun the United States had declared war with England and the sea swarmed with privateers. The passage abounded with thrilling adventures and providential escapes. While still in European waters the vessel fell in with a French privateer and narrowly avoided capture by taking refuge under the guns of a Danish fort. A fierce cannonade between the Danes and the Frenchman followed, many of the balls passing over and through the ship. Later it was actually captured by a British frigate, but escaped in the darkness and fog of a stormy night. Much tempestuous weather was met with, and the climax came in a terrible storm which dismasted the vessel. Nevertheless, it finally entered port in safety, being the only one of fifteen or twenty American vessels sailing from Sweden on the same day that ever reached America.

The principal church settlement of the district to which von Schweinitz had been assigned was at Salem, N. C, and there he took up his residence. Although not a native of North Carolina, he had a strong predilection for that State, having often heard his father and grandfather speak of their visits to its early settlements. His official duties were very arduous. He was a member of the Governing Board of the Moravian Churches in North Carolina, a trustee of the Salem Female Academy, the administrator of the very large landed estates owned by the church in the State, and he frequently preached in Salem and other places. Yet he found time to continue his botanical researches, which he could now carry on in a dominion, scientifically speaking, all his own. On one of his exploring trips he discovered among the Sauraton Mountains, in Stokes County, a most beautiful waterfall, which still bears his name. Among his scientific correspondents at