Butchering at Christian's Spring

Butchering was primarily done in the winter months, so the meat could be kept cold before it was preserved by drying, salting, or smoking. The back and forth transportation of large herds between Christian’s Spring and Bethlehem indicates that the brethren were busy with managing their livestock.

We know of at least two butchers who resided at Christian’s Spring, Joshua and Michael Ruch (1718-1790). Joshua arrived at Christian’s Spring on March 5, 1752. Joshua was born in Nigeria, Africa. At the age of 14 he was captured and sold into slavery, eventually becoming one of two enslaved people owned by Timothy Horsefield. When the Horsefields moved from New York to Bethlehem, Joshua came with them and in 1750, he was baptized into the Moravian Church. There are few records about him and it is unclear if he was free or not during his time at Christian’s Spring. In May of 1761 he died from smallpox at Christian’s Spring and is buried in the Moravian graveyard in Nazareth, among the single brethren.

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The Christian’s Spring diaries report:


February 1, 1758: the sawmill is still frozen. We have butchered pigs today.


February 5, 1759: today we butchered also one of the draught-ox which has been fattened and which has a weight of over 900 pounds.


March 15 1759: today we butchered the second of our fattened draught-ox, he weighed 976 pounds.


November 16, 1758: we gave to Bethlehem 19 heads of cattle for butchering there and we received from there 23 calves for the winter. At the same time brother Abraham Hut is staying with us in order to take care of those calves.


November 17, 1760: after the breakfast several of our brethren went to Bethlehem and took there 40 heads of cattle.