Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1741 by a group of German Protestants known as the Unitas Fratrum – The Unity of the Brethren. Original­ly from Bohemia and Moravia, in what is modern eastern Czechoslovakia, they became known simply as Moravians. They emigrated to Saxony, Germany, where, on the estates of Count Nicholas Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, they estab­lished the community of Hernnhut. From there they came to America to preach the word of God to native Americans, to former black slaves and to German Protestants without an established church in the New World.

At the confluence of the Monocacy Creek and the Lehigh River. the Moravians planned their community. Selected craftsmen were sent from Europe to fill the needs of the new community and the town was laid out with a clear division between labor and home. The noise and odor of the industrial quarter on the Monocacy was separated from the communal residences atop the Church Street hill. Germanic style buildings separately housed the unmarried men, the single women and small children, the married couples and widows.

For the first twenty years Bethlehem operated under the “General Economy,” an economic structure within which everyone labored for the community. Instead of wages, laborers received food, clothing. shelter, education, health care and cultural benefits. After 1762, that concept was altered whereby the church retained ownership of the land, buildings and tools which residents of the community rented.

During the eighteenth century. Bethlehem flourished in spiritual, cultural and technological areas. Visitors were drawn from everywhere. Lafayette, Washington and other luminaries or the Revolution visited Bethlehem at one time or another. John Adams marveled al the technological achievements of the industrial quarter in a letter to his wife. Abigail dated February 7, 1777: “They have carried the mechanical arts to greater perfection here than in any place which I have seen.”

The growth of the small planned frontier community is well-documented in contemporary town views. According to I. N. Phelps Stokes and Daniel C. Haskell in their book American Historical Prints, Early Views of American Cities, Bethlehem, “because of its early importance, has been more often pictured than any other place in Pennsylvania except Philadelphia.”

The production of prints during the eighteenth century consisted of two basic methods – relief and intaglio. By using the relief process the printer carved away, on a block of wood, those areas of the picture he wished to show white. Ink was rolled on the high or relief areas remaining after the wood was carved. A rubber stamp or a piece of typeset employs the same principle.

The intaglio processes – engraving, etching, dry paint, stipple, mezzotint and aquatint – used a copper plate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a steel plate in the nineteenth century. The design was created by making en­graved or incised lines or crevices on a metal surface. These lines and crevices were filled with ink. Damp paper was then pressed to the inked plate creating the impression.

In the nineteenth century, with the invention of lithog­raphy, printers were slow to give up the old ways. By the 1840s, lithography began to gain acceptance, This process utilized a two to four inch slab of limestone which had been highly polished. The design was drawn directly on the stone with a greasy pencil or crayon; ink was applied to the stone, adhering to the crayon, and then transferred to the paper.

The earliest view of Bethlehem was probably printed one hundred years after the date it depicts. The 1755 view by Fuchs and Duval was actually lithographed in 1858 or 1859 and was based on a Map of Bethlehem and Land Surveyed and Drawn by W. T. Roepper in 1848. A copy of this map in the archives of Historic Bethlehem Incorporated shows the 1755 view as an inset in the lower left corner.

The artist, Feodor Fuchs, worked with his brother Theo or Theodore as a lithographer in Philadelphia between 1856 and 1859. Peter S. Duval came to Philadelphia in 1835 as a lithographer and worked with others of his trade until 1858 when he began the firm of P. S. Duval & Co.

The view (4-1 /2 x 5 inches) shows the town’s four major areas as if seen from a balloon-( I) the clustered agricultur­al buildings to the north (2) the industrial area below (3) the residential district and (4) the Horsfield House. The latter. near ”God’s Acre” burial ground in the northeast corner, is separated by green fields with their neat, sym­metrical rows of trees. Israel Acrelius, provost of the Swedish churches in America, likened this view of Bethle­hem to the glory of Konungahof, the summer residence of the King of Sweden.

The source of the 1848 map and 1858-59 view of “Bethlehem, 1755” was probably Nicholas Garrison’s engraving of 1757 which is in fact the earliest print of Bethlehem produced. All three are essentially the same with the exception that the later “map-type” representations have a higher perspective and are much cruder in feeling.

The Garrison view measures 17-1/2 by 22-3/4 inches. The title margin bears the legend “A View of Bethlehem, one of the Brethren’s principal settlements in Pennsyl­vania, North America,” in English and French. It was published by Robert Saver, 53 Fleet Street, London, en­graved on copper by T. Noual and drawn by Bethlehem resident Nicholas Garrison, Jr.

Garrison was the son of a Moravian shipowner who settled in Bethlehem after trying his hand as a sailor on his father’s ships. The Frenchman, Chastellux, visited Bethle­hem in 1780 and described Garrison as “a seaman who imagined he had some talent for drawing, and amused him­self with teaching.” In May 1757, he sketched Moravian Pennsylvania churches in Donegal (near Harrisburg), Lancaster, Lebanon, Lititz, Warwick, Salisbury, Allemangel, Oley and Heidelberg. His original drawings are owned by the Moravian Archives and are reproduced in Bethlehem of Pennsylvania: The First One Hundred Years.

In 1758 Garrison married and moved to Philadelphia. In 1762 he became a merchant and suffered through the Revolution until he returned to Bethlehem in 1780. Four years later he produced a second view simply titled “A View of Bethlehem in North America” (7-1/4 x 9-1/2 inches). It is not as flowing or alive as the 1757 view and offers a perspective from the southwest rather than the south. Garrison has included himself in the lower left corner with tricorn hat, tails, breeches and sketch pad. Johann David Schoepf visited Bethlehem in the same year and described in words that which Garrison sketched­ – “approaching, the place shows to great advantage” after trudging the “tedious” forest with its “mean cabins.” To Schoepf it was an “astonishment to see all at once rising up, one above another, lofty buildings in this presumptive wilderness.”

Another visitor, Thomas Pownall, an Englishman of many talents, was also an artist and author. As a colonial administrator in ew York, the Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey and Governor of Massachusetts, Pownall supplemented his reports and writings with his own maps and drawings. “A View of Bethlehem, the great Moravian Settlement in the Province of Pennsylvania,” medium folio (14-1/8 x 20-7/8 inches) was published in Scenographica Americana in 1768. The London publication contained twenty-eight to seventy-four engravings drawn by other British officials.

Pownall had sketched the view four years earlier and described the scene in his Topographical Description of North America: The Administration of the Colonies:

Coming out from amidst a wilderness of woods through which I had been travelling some daies (sic) all at once at the top of a hill and viewing hence this cultivated populous settlement and its cluster of college-like buildings, large and spacious all of stone … my eye was struck with unexpected pleasures. The place itself makes a delightful landskip … and thus seen in the center of a wilderness, derives unusual beauty from the contrast and surprise with which it presents itself. I made here a sketch of it after a draw­ing from which an engraving has been made and published.

Using Pownall’s sketch, Paul Sandby first painted then en­graved the view on steel or copper. In doing so he took con­siderable artistic license with a place he probably never saw. The enlarged hill to the left and the regular undulations of a serpentine Monocacy Creek are artistically pleasing but his­torically inaccurate.

Another writer-traveler, although not as famous as Pownall, was Isaac Weld. His Travels Through The States of North America and The Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada During The Years 1795, 1796, and 1797 was published in 1798 by John Stockdale, London. “A View of Bethlehem – a Moravian Settlement” was a woodcut en­graved by I. Dudley. It is nearly an exact repro­duction of Garrison’s 1784 view. The town had changed little in fourteen years. Weld merely reversed the direction of the boatman on the Lehigh River, a large tree has ap­peared on the left and Weld has replaced Garrison and his dog as the artist in the lower left hand corner.

With the advent of the nineteenth century and the com­mercial adaptation of lithography, the interest in town views, as pointed out in American Historical Prints, “steadily increased until it seems to have become a universal hobby – almost a mania.” In “no other country, at no other time, were so many views of cities produced as in America during the five decades between 1825 and 1875.” Bethlehem was no exception. There exist views of South Bethlehem, West Bethlehem and “The Bethlehems,” all produced during the nineteenth century. The history of these works and their eventual extinction with the advent of photography de­mand their own telling.

 

Salvatore G. Cilella, Jr., recently became the Director of Development and Membership at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Before accepting that position, he served as the Director o the Northern Indiana Historical Society. Registrar and Assistant to the Director of the New York State Historical Association and, most recently, as Executive Director of Historic Bethlehem Incorporated.