Johann Andreas Albrecht (1718-1802)

Johann Andreas Albrecht was a European-trained gunstocker, who emigrated in 1750 to the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After initially being deployed as a music teacher and a tavern keeper by the Moravian community, Albrecht established a new gun shop at Christiansbrunn in 1763, which supplied arms to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. At Christiansbrunn and later at Lititz, another Moravian community where he lived the last three decades of his life, Albrecht trained a new generation of gunsmiths, including Christian Oerter and William Henry Jr.

Updated: February 23, 2016


Johann Andreas Albrecht (born April 2, 1718, near Suhl, Electorate of Saxony, Holy Roman Empire; died April 19, 1802, Lititz, PA) was a European-trained gunstocker, who emigrated in 1750 to the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Albrecht had little opportunity to flourish in his profession, however, because the coordinated economies of the Moravian settlements had little need for a full-time gunstocker and so, for much of two decades, authorities deployed Albrecht as a music teacher and a tavern keeper. Nevertheless, it was Albrecht who in 1763 established a new gun shop at Christiansbrunn, which supplied arms to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. At Christiansbrunn and later at Lititz, another Moravian community where he lived the last three decades of his life, Albrecht trained a new generation of gunsmiths, including Christian Oerter and William Henry Jr.

Albrecht’s experience reveals the constraints that religious convictions and, in particular, membership in the Moravian Church in early America placed on the pursuit of profit. Recent work on Moravian communities has shown that church authorities worked hard to ensure that their unusual economies earned a much needed profit, which was used to finance the Moravians’ ambitious missionary projects around the globe.[1] But the church could count on this profit only if many individual tradesmen and craftsmen, whose labors produced the surplus that the church appropriated and redeployed into mission work, made no claims upon those funds. For two decades after he immigrated to America, Albrecht opted out of the colonial economy in which some individuals thrived and others struggled. Perhaps if Albrecht had lived in a city, town, or frontier community where a gunstocker could flourish, he would have leveraged his training and talents into financial success. Instead, he chose to live in Moravian communities that discouraged worldly ambition, entrepreneurial risk, and the accumulation of individual wealth. That he lived in these communities contentedly reveals how much religion, rather than a desire for individual profit, shaped Albrecht’s long career.

Early Life and Wartime Service

Johann Andreas Albrecht was born near Suhl, Electorate of Saxony, on April 2, 1718, the eldest son of Michael and Margaretha Elisabeth Albrecht. His parents raised him as a Lutheran and apprenticed him to a gunsmith at the age of 13 in 1731.[2] Gunsmithing in Suhl had begun as early as 1535, fueled by the rich iron ore – from which workers had been producing pig iron, ideal for gun barrels – in the Thuringia Mountains that surround the town. By 1553, eight gunsmiths worked in the town that had a population of about 4,500, and the gunsmiths of Suhl established a guild a decade later. In 1631, Suhl’s gunsmiths produced nearly 29,000 muskets and business boomed throughout the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), when the region supplied weapons to Denmark, Belgium, and Austria, among other combatants. Many of these were simple guns, but others – as surviving examples demonstrate – were superbly carved and engraved. In the 1730s, during Albrecht’s apprenticeship, the Suhl gun industry produced rifles not just for the European market but also for the transatlantic trade. Caspar Wistar, who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1717, imported more than fifty rifles, many especially tailored for the American market, from gunsmiths in Suhl and Rothenberg between 1731 and 1745. An assessment of the population, who suffered greatly after a devastating fire in 1753, revealed that some 82 gunsmiths, 60 gunstockers, and nine gun barrel makers practiced their trades in the community. The fire marked the peak of Suhl’s gun industry, however, as the trade did not recover from the conflagration.[3]

Albrecht’s master trained him as a gunstocker. While the term gunsmith might describe men who repaired guns, produced specialized gun parts (such as barrels or locks), or created an entire gun from scratch, the term gunstocker, the profession associated with Albrecht throughout his career, describes the craftsman who would carve and shape the stock of a rifle and assemble the other components – the gunlock and the barrel – into a finished product.[4] A gunstocker might produce a plain, unornamented stock or he might craft a highly ornate, carved stock, perhaps with inlaid wire or other designs. Albrecht completed his apprenticeship in 1738, at the age of 18, at which point he became a journeyman gunstocker. Young gunsmiths who had completed their apprenticeships typically undertook a Wanderjahr, traveling from place to place to hone their skills and learn varied styles or techniques. Albrecht worked first in Halberstadt (some 100 miles north of Suhl in the Kingdom of Prussia) and then, in 1739, accompanied by another gunsmith, he relocated to nearby Wolfenbüttel, where he returned the following year to “do work for the soldiers.” By 1741, the Silesian War had begun and Albrecht, attached to a regiment as a “gunmaker,” was encamped at Brandenburg. He soon joined the Anhalt-Dessau regiment and with it he spent winter quarters in Berlin. He traveled with this regiment to Halle, near Leipzig, the following year at the end of the war.

In Halle, Albrecht first encountered the Moravians. Albrecht had long struggled spiritually, but after hearing a lecture by Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), the leader of the renewed Moravian Church, he found his spiritual home. With a fellow Soldatenbruder he traveled to the Moravian settlement at Herrnhaag in 1742 or 1743, and he later testified that the time he spent there was an “unforgettable blessing.” Albrecht wished that he could “live among such a group of people” and “enjoy their beautiful worship services,” but in 1744 he went again to war.[5] Albrecht wrote to the Moravians that, as he marched with his regiment, he could find “rest and satisfaction” only when his “Heart lies completely” at the Savior’s “feet and I tend to his wounds”: only then “anxiety and hurt leave me, and I am happy.” “My whole heart,” Albrecht assured his brethren, “lived and loved and had enjoyment in His Wounds.”[6] He carried to war a small book in which Moravian authorities specified a watchword (Losung) for daily devotion. Albrecht fought in the Battle of Soor, at which Austrian forces surprised the Prussian Army on September 30, 1745. “Whoever could flee, fled, myself included,” Albrecht wrote, escaping the “shining sabers” of the Hussars “without the slightest damage to my body.” Several of the Moravian brethren with whom he served were injured or killed, one shot through the head, but the survivors “couldn’t think of anything but the Lamb and Blood.“[7]

Albrecht’s commander rejected his request to be released from military service when the Second Silesian War ended in January 1746. Albrecht remained in Halle with his regiment until his request was finally granted in 1748: “the next day,” Albrecht stated, “I left for Herrnhaag.”[8] The bonds that Albrecht formed during his years at war remained important to him. He signed a 1752 letter to Zinzendorf as “former gunsmith for the Anhalt-Dessau Regiment in Halle,” and he remained close to one of his Soldatenbrüder, Carl Gottfried Rundt (1713-64), after both had immigrated to America. Albrecht sang a composition written by Rundt for the single brethren’s festival in Bethlehem in 1755 and he penned a poem to celebrate Rundt’s birthday in 1763.[9]

Albrecht arrived in Herrnhaag in September 1748, joining the community at a moment of profound transformation (or crisis). The Moravian Church embraced a radical form of pietism that made other denominations uncomfortable. They focused their devotions on the bloody side-hole of Christ on the cross as the source of the grace that redeemed humankind; they believed men had female souls, which enabled them to imagine their love for Christ in very sensual imagery; and they insisted that believers experienced direct union with Christ not only during communion but also during sexual intercourse. During the mid-1740s, the Herrnhaag single brothers, led by Zinzendorf’s only son, Christian Renatus (1727-1752), took these radical beliefs further than others had before.[10] The single brothers at Herrnhaag contended that they had achieved perfection, a “state of blessed union with the divine”: they so embodied Christ, Christian Renatus stated, that their physical embraces were the embraces of Christ himself. He announced these lessons at a single brothers’ festival in Herrnhaag on May 2, 1748, and then repeated them to the men at nearby settlements: the sacrament of communion, in effect, was no longer necessary because perfected brothers could enjoy Christ “every day, every hour, and every moment.” From this point on, as Paul Peucker describes, believers “could freely act out what they believed to be ways to actually experience and enjoy nuptial union with Christ.” In a festival on December 6, 1748, Christian Renatus declared “all brothers to be sisters.” Having transformed into “maidens who could lie in the arms of the husband” [i.e., Christ], these single brothers felt that they were witnessing the start of a new era: each believer’s mystical marriage with Christ was not a future event to be longed for but was occurring in the immediate present. Reports from Herrnhaag told stories of illicit sexuality between single men and both single and married women. In February 1749, Count Zinzendorf issued a strong rebuke to the single brothers to reign in behaviors that his own teachings had inspired, and he summoned his son to London.[11] Christian Renatus left Herrnhaag on May 9, 1749.

There is no reason to doubt that the community’s enthusiastic religious devotions resonated with Albrecht’s own spiritual feelings. He remained in the Moravian community during the most extravagant excesses of the “Sifting Time.” His writings in the 1740s express this enthusiasm and his writings in America suggest that he never abandoned it. Albrecht left the German lands for America with a large cohort of Herrnhaag single brothers, who chose to abandon the settlement in early 1750 after the new count of Ysenburg and Büdingen, the region in which Herrnhaag lay, demanded that each Moravian renounce Zinzendorf and swear loyalty to him. Among the eighty single brothers who traveled to Pennsylvania on the Moravian ship Irene was “Joh. Andr. Albrecht,” identified as a rifle maker (ein Büchsener) from Brandenburg.[12]

Bethlehem and the Communal Economy

In June 1750, Andreas Albrecht arrived in Bethlehem, a Moravian community that was less than a decade old. But already it had about 15 buildings, including an enormous residence completed in 1748 for single men into which Albrecht moved, as well as nearly a dozen other industrial structures along the Monocacy Creek, including mills and a tannery. Three hundred men, women, and children lived in Bethlehem: 55 married couples, 12 widows and widowers, 118 single men, 50 single women, and 65 children of various ages. In the nearby communities of Nazareth, Gnadenthal, Christiansbrunn, Friedensthal, and Gnadenhütten – all of which were knit together with Bethlehem in a unified and coordinated economy – another 320 people lived, 138 of whom populated a Native American congregation at Gnadenhütten. A 1752 list identifies 36 different trades in which these men and women worked. In some trades, several workers labored – there were three shoemakers, three silversmiths, and three blacksmiths, for instance – while in others only one individual practiced the craft: Albrecht was the only gunstocker. Bethlehem and the nearby Moravian settlements shared a communal economy: laborers received the necessaries of life (food, clothing, housing, medical care, and child care), rather than wages, in exchange for their work. Bethlehem’s authorities likened this arrangement to that of a family: “The Number [of settlers] at first being but small, the Beginning difficult & in great Poverty, there was no other Way to subsist but by continuing as it were in one Family. The Method of Supporting it was, that every ones Labour and what he earned, was for the Use of all the Brethren united in this Work, and was laid out for their general Support.”[13] Albrecht brought with him 500 German guilders (about £82 in 1750, or approximately £11,500 or $17,500 in 2014[14]), which the community banked for him in an account from which he could draw.[15]

Albrecht had decided to join the Moravian community at Herrnhaag for spiritual reasons. But this decision altered the trajectory of his career as a gunstocker. Albrecht probably practiced his trade while he lived in Herrnhaag’s Single Brethren’s House.[16] Immigrating to Bethlehem in 1750, however, he left behind the economic opportunities that his training typically afforded. He would never produce guns in large quantities for the military, nor would he produce fine arms commissioned by aristocrats. Albrecht would never again serve as an armorer in a military unit, nor could he expect to operate a gun shop in a town that could attract local clients or government contracts. None of these ways to make a living, to achieve comfort and perhaps even wealth, would be available to him in Moravian Bethlehem. Albrecht not only gave over his spiritual life to his Savior but he also gave over his economic life to others, to church leaders who selected the trade that church members would practice and where they would practice it . He joined a church and community that disdained worldly wealth, as a 1752 conference in London reminded artisans who had been sent to Bethlehem: they must abandon the “principles of gain” and the effort to “becom[e] rich,” which would “[allow] the devil in… by a back door.” In January 1758, the Trade Conference at Fulneck in the United Kingdom affirmed that “it cannot be a Principle of a Brother in Trade to become rich.” Bethlehem’s communal economy, as Moravian Bishop Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg stated, ensured an equality of condition by appropriating the surplus wealth that the Moravians’ “diligence” generated: without such a system, “the danger to become rich might indeed be great.”[17] Albrecht embraced this system wholeheartedly.

Not everybody was content with this system. Several men who “rebelled against the ways of the church and especially against the Economy” were expelled from Bethlehem in July 1759. One of these men, Johann Musch, a shoemaker, sued the church on the grounds that he should have been paid for his labor during the communal period. But, as those (Albrecht included) who had traveled from Europe with him testified at the trial in 1766, Musch had known before emigrating that in Bethlehem’s “joint Oeconomie” an individual would receive “no Wages for his Labour, except his Clothes, Victuals & Drink,” and a year after his arrival Musch had reaffirmed his desire to stay “upon the Conditions known, of having no Wages.”[18] Albrecht himself expressed complete satisfaction with this communal housekeeping. In 1758, Bethlehem’s men reported their feelings about the Economy. Albrecht declared that:

Concerning the common Oeconomie, the first thing I must honestly say for my part is that I did not come to the Gemein [i.e., Moravian congregation] to achieve external advantages. I was sought out by the Savior and chosen and called for blessedness. When I heard of the Gemein and got to know it, I knew right away that that was where I belonged, that I would be safe there and in that way could flee all the misery and danger to my soul. This outweighed everything for me. For I had decided that outside the Gemein I would be an unhappy person this is the reason I said at the beginning that I had not come to the Gemein for the sake of external advantages and also for this reason have not thought much more about external matters for my person than always to desire that I would not be a burden to the Gemein. And for this reason the Oeconomie has never repelled me nor been against me and I have never considered how to get out of it because of any of the difficulties that might be connected with it.[19]

Albrecht identified his priorities clearly: his soul, not “external advantages,” mattered, and his soul was safest when he lived in a Moravian community and not in the world. Albrecht knew that the spiritual, social, and economic system within which he performed all his labor in America would limit his capacities to concentrate on his profession, let alone to expand his trade. Albrecht not only, as he wrote, submitted his will to his Savior; he also placed his talents in His hands. Church authorities determined the profession in which Albrecht worked, and Moravian Bethlehem needed him for other things. Shielded from the world by the Moravian Economy, Albrecht drew on his European training as a gunstocker only irregularly during the years that he would have been most productive, his thirties and forties.

There was limited work for a gunstocker in Moravian Bethlehem in the 1750s, except during the French and Indian War. In 1750, the gunstocker earned only £0.3.0 (approximately £21 or $32 in 2014). But the following year, with additional work mostly for Native Americans, the trade earned £4.3.3½ in cash (as well as over six pounds sterling worth of venison, deer skins, and butter, with which some customers paid); in 1752, it earned £11.4.8 in cash (approximately £1,497 or $2,274 in 2014).[20] A document that records the “distribution of trades” in Bethlehem in January 1759 identified seven tanners, four nailsmiths, ten linen weavers, three glovemakers, eight shoemakers, four bakers – and only one gunstocker, Albrecht.[21] The authorities that managed the unified economy that knit Bethlehem together with its surrounding communities regularly moved individuals into and out of trades as changing needs required. In the early years of the American Revolution, for instance, when Christian Oerter (1747-1777) supervised the Christiansbrunn gun shop, Moravian authorities moved the single brother Nathanael Hantsch (1749-1821) from Nazareth to help Oerter – who already had an apprentice, Jacob Loesch Jr. (1760-1821) – “in the gunstocker manufactory on account of much ordered work.”[22] In the 1750s, however, Bethlehem was trying to figure out what to do with its gunstockers – what else they could do, that is, besides stocking guns.

The community needed a gunstocker, even if he would have only limited opportunities to practice his trade. A gunstocker was most valuable for the services he provided to the community’s neighbors, particularly the Native Americans who frequently came to Bethlehem. Indeed, the Native Americans who had invited Moravians to live among them often asked authorities to send somebody who could, in the words of Daniel Kliest, who replaced the blacksmith Anton Schmidt in Shamokin in 1753, “serve the Indians… by keeping their guns repaired.” Most of the earliest instances of gunsmithing work captured in Bethlehem’s financial ledgers note work done for Native Americans. Augustus owed £0.5.0 “to Stocking & Smith, [for] work on his Pistol” in January 1752, Mary Ann owed £0.13.0 (approximately £90 or $135 in 2014) for having a gun stocked for her son, Lucas, in February 1753, and Nicodemus owed £1.12.0 (approximately £225 or $340 in 2014) to the “Locksmith for stocking… a Gun” in March 1753. The leader of the Shawnees recalled that Andreas Albrecht had “stocked his gun… to his complete satisfaction” in Bethlehem in 1752.[23] Albrecht also stocked a gun for Richard Shackleton in this period, so his work was not entirely for Native Americans.[24]

These financial accounts make several things clear. First, Bethlehem’s accountant recorded Albrecht’s gunstocking work in the Locksmith’s account, as when Nicodemus owed the “Locksmith for stocking… a Gun.” Bethlehem’s financial journals and ledgers include a separate account for the “Gun-Stock Maker” only from 1750-1752. After 1752, the Diacony Ledger D included a “Lock Smith & Gun Stock Maker” account, which shrank to just “Locksmith” when the account was transferred to another page: but, even with this change of title, this account continued to include the gunstocker’s charges and credits. Indeed, Albrecht’s charges and credits appeared on the locksmith’s accounts until 1762, several years after he had left Bethlehem. Some work on guns may have been obscured, that is, in charges to the locksmith for work whose details simply weren’t specified in the journals. It is impossible to know what portion of the locksmith’s annual earnings noted in the Diaconat summaries – £76.6.6 from 1756-57 (approximately £10,700 or $16,250 in 2014), £194.3.9½ from 1760-61 (approximately £27,280 or $41,450 in 2014) – relate to work that the gunstocker performed.[25]

Second – and more important – the gunstocker’s labor served those outside Bethlehem. Authorities did not (yet) conceive of the gunstocker as a craftsman who made products to sell to the general public or the surrounding community. Nor did the surrounding community look to Bethlehem as a source of rifles, even after the Stranger’s Store opened in 1753 to enable neighbors to buy some products that Bethlehem’s craftsmen produced. The gunstocker worked largely on demand (in economists’ terms, according to a “made-to-order” model): he would repair guns that were brought to Bethlehem and occasionally stock a rifle, using salvaged or new locks or barrels, when a friend or neighbor requested it. There is no indication that he produced rifles in anticipation of a future order or customer (a “made-to-stock” model). The gunstocker labored, that is, when somebody brought him work or requested a newly stocked rifle. Albrecht often repaired or restocked a rifle or fowler using barrel, lock, and furniture provided by the customer. One Native American who arrived at Bethlehem in October 1758, for instance, brought “both Lock & furniture” and needed a “new Stock”; another, who came with a “Barrell & Lock,” received a “plain Stock without furniture.”[26] The “Locksmith and Gun Stocker” account includes purchases of gun locks and gun brasses (cast brass buttplates or triggers guards, for instance), which may have been used in newly-stocked guns or as replacements in damaged guns.[27] The volume of his labor depended entirely on how much work those outside Bethlehem brought him.

How did Bethlehem’s authorities decide to employ this European-trained gunstocker? Albrecht began working in his trade soon after he arrived in Bethlehem in June 1750, performing the limited activity recorded in the community’s ledgers. Twice in early 1752, Bethlehem’s Single Brethren’s House Conference sent Albrecht looking for “Sugar & Walnut Trees for Gun Stocks” or, the next month, for “some Trees to make Gun-Stocks.”[28] In1755, however, Albrecht was “assigned charge of the children,” teaching them music. He had been involved in the community’s musical life from the moment that he arrived in Bethlehem.[29] Albrecht played the traverse flute at Gnadenhütten in January 1752, and the next month at a birthday celebration of Nathanael Seidel, Bethlehem’s leader, he played the harp. In June 1752, he traveled with three other musicians, including his friend Carl Gottfried Rundt, to celebrate the completion of a new Moravian church in New York. A few months later, in December, he provided music again at Christiansbrunn to celebrate the third anniversary of the single brothers’ arrival at that small settlement.[30] The children he taught, “Brother Albrecht’s little musicians,” often played at love feasts or the funerals of other children in the 1750s. In November 1756, “Albrecht with his music scholars performed” at an event at which nearly 200 boys and girls in the community’s schools were examined in their studies of the previous year.[31]

The December 1756 township tax list declares that Albrecht (along with many others) was “wholly employed” among the children.[32] Another man, Joseph Haberland (1726-1782), is identified as the gunstocker at that time. Haberland, whose parents immigrated to Saxony in 1727, arrived in Bethlehem in late 1753 on the Irene. He was identified as a mason on the ship’s manifest and in Bethlehem’s membership catalogs – but in two such catalogs the word Maurer is scratched out and Büchsenschäfter written in its place.[33] Haberland was probably tapped to satisfy the relatively infrequent gunstocking requests when the community assigned Albrecht to the school.

The outbreak of the French and Indian War, however, altered this calculus. By late 1755, Bethlehem erected palisades and armed its men to protect itself. The Moravians “have established Military Watches in all their Places,” county officials reported to provincial authorities in summer 1757. Five men at Bethlehem kept an armed “Night Watch” and an additional “44 single men and 25 married… have Arms,” while at Christiansbrunn “18 of the Singlemen have arms” and joined “some of the Indians… in ranging Parties, for several miles round the neighborhood… to see that no Indians are lurking about.” Albrecht and Haberland, however, did not produce the “Arms and Ammunitions” with which the Moravians went to “a very great Expense in providing themselves”: they were purchased in New York.[34]Bethlehem’s Moravians sent to New York “to purchase some small arms & to borrow as many more as they could.” With “about 60 small arms, 7 or 8 Blunderbusses & 2 Wall-Pieces,” the merchant Dirck Brinkenhoff added in December 1755, “they are determined to make a vigorous Defence.”[35] No discussion about producing arms at Bethlehem to meet this crisis seems to have occurred.

Provincial troops began to request gun repairs at Bethlehem as early as July 1756, and this circumstance must have required Hablerland or Albrecht to devote more of their time to gunstocking. Many of these repairs – such as requests to mend gun locks for Captains Arndt’s and Wetherhold’s companies – could have been satisfied by Bethlehem’s locksmith, Daniel Kliest (1716-1792), or his several assistants.[36] But other requests, such as “stocking Sam. Evans his gun,” would have required Albrecht’s or Haberland’s labor. Initially these requests were few, but in the summer of 1757 they increased and authorities may have returned Albrecht, at least part time, to the gun shop. An August 1757 charge from the joiner to the locksmith however, hints at Albrecht’s and Haberland’s unavailability: why would the locksmith recruit the joiner for “Stocking 2 Guns” if either of the gunstockers could have undertaken the job? Albrecht was certainly back at work by March 1758, when he broke his arm in the shop.[37] On the November 1758 provincial tax list, he is again identified as the “Gun Smith.”[38] Albrecht appears as a Büchsen-Schäfter, too, in a January 1759 list that identifies the trades for all of Bethlehem’s men.

Albrecht was busy during wartime – but he performed his work within the constraints of the Moravian communal economy. This system limited Albrecht’s freedom to pursue opportunities that other gunsmiths recognized and seized during the conflict. The career of William Henry (1729-1786) of Lancaster, for instance, reveals what an entrepreneurial gunsmith could accomplish. Henry served as an armorer during the French and Indian War (as Albrecht had during the Silesian War), accompanying Pennsylvania troops to repair their arms in 1756 and 1758. Henry leveraged the networks he formed in these years to catapult himself out of manual labor altogether by 1760. Two decades later, Jacob Dickert (1740-1822) realized the opportunity that wartime production offered: he emerged from the Revolutionary War as the largest producer of arms in Lancaster County.[39] Such transformative success was not, of course, the fate of every Pennsylvania gunsmith. But, for Albrecht, it was not even a possibility. He subordinated any desires he may have had for economic advancement, as we have seen, to the needs of his community (and his soul). He lived in a community that, under ordinary circumstances, had little need for a gunstocker: there was no internal market for his work. And so the work Albrecht performed in these war years did not advance him in his profession. When the war ended in Pennsylvania in October 1758 with the Treaty of Easton and the need for a gunstocker in the community diminished again, Albrecht probably spent most of his time teaching music to children.

Christiansbrunn and the Expansion of Gunmaking

In December 1755, Moravian authorities had evacuated the girls’ school and nursery from Nazareth.[40] With the restoration of peace in late 1758, they decided to move the boys’ school, 111 children in all, back to Nazareth. The historian J. M. Levering wrote that a “procession” of children and single brothers to establish Nazareth Hall in June 1759 was “headed by the orchestra of boys with their instructor Albrecht.” But if Albrecht led his music students to Nazareth Hall, he returned to Bethlehem to live. It was only on August 30, 1759, that “Br. Albrecht moved up to Christiansbrunn to be closer to his music students.”[41]

A small Moravian community composed nearly entirely of single men and boys learning trades, Christiansbrunn (Christian’s Spring) was about eight miles north of Bethlehem. In 1760, Albrecht was one of 42 single men, along with eight young men and 23 boys, who lived there.[42] The decision to move was not Albrecht’s; nor was the decision about what trade he would practice. He moved, as the Bethlehem diary indicates, not because of his profession of gunstocker but because of his role as a music teacher: Christiansbrunn was close to Nazareth Hall, where Moravian boys were educated until they were apprenticed to a trade. As late as 1764, church officials at the American Provincial Synod in Bethlehem, reaffirming that the “congregation still considers music a great benefit to our liturgy” and that “our young people should profit from it in the school,” identified Albrecht and James Noble as the two “music docents.”[43] The Christiansbrunn diary tracks Albrecht’s movements back and forth to Nazareth Hall to teach children or conduct services. Albrecht had been consecrated in Bethlehem as an acolyte on August 19, 1755, which recognized his lifetime commitment to service within the church and licensed him to assist the pastor in distributing elements of Holy Communion.[44]

Albrecht continued to work at Christiansbrunn as a gunstocker, when there was work. Bethlehem’s Gemein Conference described carefully the arrangements:

Albrecht has moved to Christian’s Spring, in part to instruct the children in music as he has [already] begun [to do] and [in part] to continue in gun making, however in such a way that the main thing will continue to be produced here. Now he has been given Peter Rice in order to teach him the trade.[45]

This memo indicates that Albrecht would work as a gunstocker at Christiansbrunn (and train a boy in the trade), but other work related to gun production would continue in Bethlehem. The barrel and lock forging equipment, boring and rifling benches, and perhaps other tools needed for some aspects of gun repair and production remained in Bethlehem until 1764. Albrecht himself probably traveled to Bethlehem to perform some of this work. Even after his move to Christiansbrunn, Albrecht’s activity continued to appear on Bethlehem’s books until the end of the communal economy in May 1762: an October 1759 credit to the “Locksmith and Gun Stockmaker” for “repairing a gun,” a January 1760 credit to the Locksmith for “Stocking a Gun,” a July 1760 charge to the Locksmith from the Tanner for “2 lbs. Glue for Albrecht,” and a May 1762 credit to the Locksmith for “Stocking a Gun in the best Manner” and “for Stocking two Pistols genteely & mounted in the best Manner.”[46] It seems, all in all, a small amount of work. The re-assignment to Albrecht of Peter Rice (b. 1743), who had been learning the tailoring trade at Christiansbrunn, indicates that no matter how little work there was for a gunstocker, authorities recognized the importance of training the next generation to ensure that Moravian communities could count on these skills.[47] When Rice left Albrecht after a short time, he received another student, Christian Oerter (1747-1777), who moved to Christiansbrunn on January 15, 1760, when he was 12 years old. It is unclear when Albrecht began to train Oerter.

Albrecht’s relocation to Christiansbrunn ensured that he remained in a communal economy even after authorities dismantled Bethlehem’s communal economy in 1762. Beginning in June 1762, Bethlehem’s craftsmen earned wages and from these wages they had to purchase housing, food, clothing, and education for their children. The Bethlehem tradesmen alongside whom Albrecht had worked either purchased their trade outright or became salaried employees of church-run businesses. Daniel Kliest, for instance, the locksmith with whom Albrecht had worked closely, purchased his business for £117 (approximately £15,600 or $23,700 in 2014). He did not pay cash for this business: a debt was registered in the congregational accounts and carried over each year. Kliest was required to pay interest on this debt each year: six pounds sterling for the stock and, separately, five pounds for the use of the shop itself. Kliest also owed six pounds each year for the education of each of his children in the community school. In the seven years that followed his purchase of his trade, Kliest did not manage to reduce his debt, which rose slightly to £122. The stability of this debt, however, reveals that his income from his trade did manage to cover the interest due on his debt and the Kliest family’s yearly expenses.[48] At Christiansbrunn, Albrecht did not need to purchase his trade and did not experience any of the economic anxieties and uncertainties that participation in a wage economy brought. Christiansbrunn’s communal economy persisted until June 1771, and there Albrecht continued to perform his varied forms of labor in exchange for the necessities of life.

In May 1762, as church authorities prepared to dismantle Bethlehem’s communal economy, inventories were produced of all the holdings at Bethlehem and the Upper Places. An inventory was taken of the Christiansbrunn “gunstocking manufactory” or “gunstocking shop” (Büchsenschäfterey), as the document called the small operation that Albrecht had supervised since he arrived in there in 1759. The inventory marked the financial separation of gunstocking activity from the locksmith shop, since the gunstocker’s activities remained on the community’s ledgers while Kliest’s did not after his trade had been privatized. But it did not mark any transformation of gunstocking activities.[49] This May 1762 inventory reported 316 gunstock blanks (of walnut, maple, and birch), along with iron and brass wire, a few trigger guards and buttplates, and a small amount of steel.[50]The large number of gunstock blanks were on hand because gunstockers would set aside logs of fine wood whenever they were found, have them cut into proper sized planks at the Christiansbrunn sawmill, and then leave these planks to cure and dry (which could take years).[51]

The minimal demand for the work of a gunstocker left Moravian authorities puzzled about what to do with another European-trained gunstocker, Johann Valentine Beck (1731-1791), who arrived in Bethlehem on October 21, 1761. Beck “worked at [his] profession for a while” in Bethlehem – perhaps releasing Albrecht from traveling to Bethlehem for some gunmaking activities for a time – and then, Beck recalled, he “went to Nazareth to serve the children in the boarding school [Anstalt].” Both Beck and Albrecht, living at Christiansbrunn, worked primarily among children. While Beck would have had the opportunity to work alongside Albrecht and his apprentice Oerter – this would have been an impressive gathering of talent – authorities treated this concentration of gunstockers not as an opportunity but as a problem: too many men in a trade for which there was little work. In March 1762, authorities proposed moving Beck from Christiansbrunn to Bethlehem to work with the children – and, at the same time, pondered “carrying on the gunstocking shop here [i.e., Bethlehem] in the future.”[52] Beck, however, remained at Nazareth Hall with the children he taught.[53] Such calculations about where to assign manpower within the coordinated economy subordinated individual desires and ambitions to the needs of the overall “family.” It was impossible within the Moravian economic system to permit Beck, or Albrecht, to work in the profession in which he had trained (unless circumstances changed and a full-time gunstocker became needed). Beck found work with the children “burdensome… in the beginning,” but he accepted his assignments. Authorities continued to search for a place where Beck could “earn a living” as a gunstocker. In February 1764, they assigned him to Lititz (to which he never moved, because a replacement at Nazareth Hall could not be found) and later they sent him to Bethabara, North Carolina, where he arrived in October 1764 and set up as a gunstocker.[54]

The most valuable aspect of Albrecht’s European training, for Moravian authorities, seems to have been his ability to train young boys as gunstockers. When Peter Rice didn’t work out, as we have seen, they speedily assigned Oerter to Albrecht. But this arrangement, too, met with difficulties, which involved Albrecht’s expectations regarding the binding of his apprentices. When Oerter left Albrecht’s supervision after several years (for unknown reasons), church leaders quickly worked to restore the relationship. In July 1763, they asked Jeremias Denke, Christiansbrunn’s leader, to “help the boy Oerter return to his master Albrecht as soon as possible.” Albrecht, they added, “doesn’t want to take him on.” But Albrecht would agree to do so, they continued, “only if [Oerter’s] father will agree to bind him [verbinden], which [the father] will gladly do.”[55] Apparently Oerter’s apprenticeship agreement did not conform to regulations that had been established in July 1762: before this time, apprentices were not bound to their masters (so that, if a master chose to leave Bethlehem, he could not take an apprentice against his will), but the new arrangements required that “all apprentices would be bound to a master by their parents.”[56] Related issues arose in 1771 when William Henry, the former gunsmith who was now a prominent Lancaster merchant, apprenticed his eldest son to Albrecht: “because [William Henry] intends to place his son in an apprenticeship with [Albrecht], we thought that it would be good to speak directly and honestly with Henry, so that he consider it carefully, so that we should not get the blame and Henry should not be offended.” Here, too, authorities seem concerned about the conditions under which Albrecht would train Henry’s son. A third instance in which a committee reports on Albrecht taking an apprentice again emphasizes legalities. On July 18, 1774, Lititz authorities recorded that the boy Georg Weiss (1758-1811) “was bound out to our Br. Albrecht by means of a [Indenture] according to the law of the land in the presence of his father Mattheus Weiss and afterwards, with a sincere admonition from the Collegio, given over to Br. Albrecht.”[57]

Why did authorities pressure Albrecht to accept Oerter back “as soon as possible” in June 1763? Oerter finally returned to Albrecht on September 5, twelve days after construction had begun on a small gun shop in Christiansbrunn.[58] The decision to build this gunstocking shop in Christiansbrunn likely stemmed from concerns about a new Indian War, the first salvo of which had occurred on May 9, 1763, with Pontiac’s siege of Fort Detroit. By June 2, Native Americans had seized five colonial forts and Bethlehem’s authorities discussed the issue on July 1, worrying that “the Indian war may become universal” and pledging to “make preparations so that we can be ready in case of emergency.” They directed the locksmith Kliest to “immediately begin working on rifles remaining here from the previous war, inspecting, cleaning, and where necessary also repairing them,” and asked Timothy Horsfield to “make inquiries” in Philadelphia “as to whether we can obtain several guns from privateers.” It was at this moment that they began to work to restore Oerter to Albrecht. Bethlehem’s authorities inventoried the guns on hand: 88 in all, 19 “provincial guns” stored in the Brethren’s House, 41 guns with Andreas Weber (steward of the boarding school), 11 guns with Kliest, nine guns possessed by married men, and eight guns possessed by single brothers. On August 10, authorities assigned people and guns to different locations – the tannery, the waterworks, the stable, the tavern – and established two companies that would have no fixed location but “rather will rush to help where they are most needed.”[59] Later that month, construction began on the gunstocking shop in Christiansbrunn.[60] The completed structure – a one-story, log building, 25.5 feet by 20 feet, with a small smithy (a surviving plan of a Moravian gun shop is surely Christiansbrunn’s shop) – permitted work that Albrecht could not have undertaken in Christiansbrunn before.[61] On January 31, 1764, the locksmith shop in Bethlehem transferred tools, including boring and rifling benches, to Christiansbrunn now that the new gun shop had room for them. With this equipment and after setting up a forge, a master could train his apprentice to produce every aspect of a rifle: to forge and finish barrels and locks, to cast mounts, and to stock up the complete arm. In November, Bethlehem’s authorities sold some guns to Christiansbrunn that they had purchased from overseas in 1761; these were delivered to Albrecht.[62]

During the nearly three years that Albrecht supervised the new gun shop at Christiansbrunn – he departed in November 1766 for an assignment back in Bethlehem – its activities changed. It began to produce new rifles for sale, and it expanded and diversified its customer base. Production levels were likely minimal until the American Revolution, when, under Christian Oerter’s management, the shop contracted to provide 500 muskets to the new state of Pennsylvania.[63] Nevertheless, this shift to producing new rifles and counting on a market for them is significant – and it happened on Albrecht’s watch (though it is impossible to know whether he initiated it). Yearly inventories give a glimpse of the developing capacity of gun making in Christiansbrunn under Albrecht’s supervision. A June 1762 inventory reveals the tools and equipment that Albrecht possessed before the new building was raised: saws, axes, planes, carving tools, hammers, drills and drill bits, and a large bench with a screw vise. As Bob Lienemann points out, these are the tools of a woodworker or gunstocker. A March 1766 inventory of the “newly acquired” tools and equipment in the gunstocking shop, includes, along with the rifling bench and boring wheel, the tools to furnish a smithy, including a bellows, an anvil, a sledge hammer, and four pairs of tongs.[64]

These inventories confirm that Albrecht and Oerter began to make new rifles in Christiansbrunn. The gun shop had between four and eight finished or “new rifles” in stock when inventories were taken in 1764, 1765, and 1766. The term “new” designated a rifle made in the shop: the same “new” rifle might be counted in the stock for several years if it did not sell. (All “new” rifles in these years were valued at five pounds [approximately £670 or $1,020 in 2014).)[65] It is important to recognize that these figures reveal only how many rifles were on hand at inventory time, not how many rifles Albrecht and Oerter had produced. The two men may have produced and sold many more in a given year or they may have produced four rifles and sold none.[66] These inventories make no attempt to record all the work that the gunstockers undertook: they aim only to calculate the assets of the shop at the end of the fiscal year. Even debts, which sometimes appear in inventories, only hint at the work performed in a previous year, since they capture only the work that had not been paid for. In addition, debts would be carried on inventories from year to year until they were discharged: in December 1759, Walker Miller’s wife paid a debt for “Stocking & Repairing a Gun for her Husband in November 1755.”[67]Only a journal or daybook of the gun shop would reveal how much work and the sorts of work these men undertook in the 1760s.

Albrecht’s gun shop, too, diversified its clientele. Native Americans continued throughout the 1760s to bring their rifles to Christiansbrunn: in early January 1766, for instance, 13 Native Americans arrived at Christiansbrunn “because of the violent weather and because they had some work for the gunstocker.”[68] But two lists of outstanding debts to the Christiansbrunn gun shop reveal that, while Native Americans still constituted a significant percentage of the gun shop’s customers, the shop served white neighbors as much if not more than it served Native Americans. A 1767 list of outstanding debts records 29 individuals, 15 of whom seem to be Native Americans. A 1769 list records 39 individuals, separated into 16 Native Americans and 23 whites. Most of the debts on both lists involve gun repair, although 10 of the 68 debts amount to four pounds or more and so could have been for a new rifle.

It is impossible from surviving records to measure the amount of work that the Christiansbrunn gunstocking shop under Albrecht’s management performed: the quality of the work is also difficult to assess, since no products of the shop have been identified for certain. Many rifle collectors believe that an impressively-carved rifle – called the “Edward Marshall” rifle – was produced by Albrecht in the 1750s or 1760s; the Moravian Historical Society possesses a near twin of this rifle, more simply decorated but with an identical stock profile. These attributions arise, in large part, because several surviving signed and dated rifles by Christian Oerter contain accomplished carvings on their stocks. One such rifle, dated 1775 on the barrel and called the “griffin” rifle because of the extraordinary creature carved behind the cheekpiece, is celebrated as “the most elaborate of all the known Moravian guns.” Since Oerter must have learned his carving skills from Albrecht, the logic of attribution goes, these earlier rifles with similarly impressive carving are probably examples of Albrecht’s work.[69] Such attributions, however, remain speculative. Whether or not Albrecht produced the rifles attributed to him, it certainly seems that Albrecht successfully transferred the skills he had mastered in the German lands to a new generation of American gunsmiths. Albrecht could not, within the Moravian system, use those skills to climb the economic ladder in early America, but he willingly passed them on to others. It was to his apprentice Oerter that Albrecht turned over the Christiansbrunn gun shop on November 24, 1766.[70] Albrecht had an assignment back in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem and Lititz: Economic Realities

Albrecht became a wage laborer for the first time when he assumed the position of tavern keeper at the Sun Tavern (later the Sun Inn), a large hostelry on the northern boundary of Bethlehem on which construction began in 1758 and in which guests were entertained for the first time in September 1760. By August 1762, the inn contained three English and three German double bed-steads, as well as six single bed-steads. Its cellar contained 20 gallons of Madiera wine, 10 gallons of Teneriffe wine, two quarter casks of white Lisbon wine, 109 gallons of Philadelphia rum, 64 gallons of West India rum, eight gallons of shrub, 40 gallons of cider-royal, four hogsheads of cider, and one barrel of beer. (The cellar stocked only a small amount of beer because the brewery at Christiansbrunn could quickly supply more: visitors consumed 38 barrels of beer at the Sun Inn in 1762.)[71] In April 1766, seven months before Albrecht became innkeeper, Moravian engineers pumped running water to the tavern. Albrecht took over management of the tavern from Jasper Payne (1708-1779), who left to manage the congregational store in Lititz, on December 9, 1766. Albrecht’s yearly salary was £25 (approximately £2,870 or $4,360 in 2014), and his compensation included food.[72]

Albrecht could not be assigned to the Sun Tavern until he was married. “Brother Albrecht was proposed for our Tavern,” Bethlehem’s Elders’ Conference noted on October 9, 1766, “and to this purpose he should marry.” A marriage for Albrecht had been proposed in 1759 with a single sister from Philadelphia, Sally Price (1738-69), but this union never occurred and Price remained a single sister until her death. In 1766, authorities first proposed Sister Magdalena Graff (b. 1742), but she declined. After considering several other single sisters, they proposed Elizabeth Orth (1739-1830). Although Orth had been proposed a year before for another marriage, the need to find Albrecht a partner led authorities to consider her, instead, for him. On November 19, 1766, the two wed.

The Albrechts served as tavern keepers for four-and-a-half years. It was not an easy job. In December 1770, some farmers who lived in the “drylands” between Bethlehem and Nazareth complained to Bethlehem’s authorities that Albrecht had treated them “very coarsely” when they tried to enter the tavern at night, and they threatened a lawsuit. An investigation revealed, however, that it was the farmers who “treated Brother Albrecht badly… [throwing] him on the floor without provocation.” Such incidents were surely more common than records preserve. Albrecht had difficulty speaking English, as was evident at a trial in which he testified in October 1766, which likely complicated his interactions with the many English speakers he dealt with as a tavern keeper. In early 1768, Albrecht discontinued “the German News Papers,” but continued to subscribe to the “English News Papers,” at the Sun Tavern.[73] 

It is hardly surprising, as a Bethlehem committee discussed in January 1771, that “Brother and Sister Albrecht have repeatedly requested to be released from their tavern duties.” Albrecht was “of a mind to practice his profession [as a gunsmith] and to this end build a small house.” Albrecht’s proposition, however, puzzled authorities: he “requests that his work be so arranged as it was before in Christiansbrunn, including Brother Oerter, who has up to now been running the [gun]shop [in Christiansbrunn] as its master.” Authorities were sure that Oerter, “who is now a master, will [not] want to return to being an apprentice of Brother Albrecht’s.” So authorities rejected Albrecht’s request “that the tools for the gunsmith shop in Christiansbrunn, as well as young Brother Oerter, who has been serving as the master, be allocated to him.” But they considered an alternative possibility: Albrecht might be able to “practice his profession in Lititz,” a Moravian community about eight miles north of Lancaster, since “Brother William Henry in Lancaster wants to arrange plenty enough work for him from Pittsburgh.” In addition, “the tools of a gunsmith who died in Lancaster” – Matthias Roesser had died on January 26, 1771 – “are supposed to be sold this month.” Albrecht thought the proposal had merit and visited Lititz to investigate the possibilities.[74]

In June 1771, the 53-year-old man, with his wife, left the tavern to move to Lititz. Moravian authorities offered him a £20 gratuity to “ensure his total satisfaction and to prevent any future claims.” They added that future tavern-keepers should be paid “£30… plus a portion of the profits to encourage thriftiness and more attention to detail,” which suggests some dissatisfaction with Albrecht’s tenure at the Sun Tavern.[75] Albrecht had lived in the Lehigh Valley, either at Bethlehem or Christiansbrunn, for over twenty years. He was not only leaving behind a familiar region. He was also leaving behind the economic security that he had enjoyed first as a member of the communal economy and, later, as a waged employee of the church to which he was devoted. In Lititz, he knew, he would “live and work for [him]self” for the first time since he had left Europe.[76]

In Lititz, Albrecht resumed his trade as a gunsmith. He moved into the home of Joseph Ferdinand Bullitschek (1729-1801), a carpenter who had himself left Bethlehem in 1759 to help build the new community. Bullitschek married in 1762, and, until the family moved to the new Moravian settlement at Bethabara in North Carolina in May 1771, raised his growing family in a stone home a block from the center of Moravian Lititz. The Albrechts moved from Bethlehem into this home,[77] in which they would raise five children: Andrew (1770-1822), who worked as a tanner before serving as a state representative and state senator; John Henry (1772-1845), who became a gunsmith; Jacob (1775-18??), who worked as nailsmith and a blue dyer at Ephrata; Susanna Elizabeth (1778-1865), who married the widower Johann Philip Bachman, an organ-builder, in 1800; and Gottfried (1782-1835), who worked as a milliner.[78] 

Albrecht’s activities in Lititz were as varied as they had been during his Bethlehem years. He continued to play music: Lititz membership catalogs list Albrecht among the violinists. (The inventory of goods produced after Albrecht’s death lists “one Fiddle with a Case.”) He served on various committees or accepted assignments from them. The Lititz Aufseher’s Collegium assigned Albrecht, along with David Tannenberg, to investigate whether Brother Andreas Horn sold “fake” rum to Henry Marck (the rum was “found to be quite good”). At another time, Albrecht – along with Brothers Christoph Franke and George Geitner – made a three-hour visit to the blacksmith shop of John Henry Rauch, who had promised to improve the venting of the smoke from his chimney: when they found that the venting still left the shop vulnerable to fire, Rauch promised to “regulate the emissions better.”[79] These tasks, like his testimony in the Musch lawsuit in 1766, demonstrate that church authorities had confidence that Albrecht would represent the community’s best interest fairly and that he had earned the respect of his peers.

Albrecht’s home probably had a workshop, as Bob Lienemann notes, since Bullitschek had been a carpenter or joiner. In addition to his work as a gunstocker, Albrecht seems to have produced coffee mills, one of which – signed “A. A. 1772” – survives at Lititz.[80] Albrecht quickly took on an apprentice, as we have seen: William Henry Jr. (1757-1821), who had been studying the piano in Lititz, began as Albrecht’s apprentice. His second apprentice, the boy Georg Weiss, was “bound out” to Albrecht three years later on July 18, 1774. A third craftsman, Joseph Levering (1755-1797), was sent from Christiansbrunn to assist Albrecht on October 14, 1776.[81] All these men – Henry, Weiss, Levering – would later serve as masters of the Christiansbrunn gun shop that Albrecht had established.

Most authorities date the sole surviving rifle with Albrecht’s signature on the barrel to these early years in Lititz. The rifle, which has some simple carving (double C-scrolls), resembles the profile typical of Lancaster County rifles, a style that Albrecht presumably adopted after his move to Lititz. The barrel signature reads “A  ALBRECHT.”[82] Several other rifles have been attributed to Albrecht during this period, one on the basis of a wooden patch box that closely resembles the sliding door on the 1772 coffee mill. This rifle has an unusual figure – a two-tailed dog with claw-footed legs – carved behind the cheek piece. A second rifle, likely from the same period, also features a striking carving, this time of a lion with similar claw-feet. For some who have studied these rifles, the unusual creatures on these two rifles so resemble the griffin on Oerter’s 1775 rifle that the craftsman who carved the lion and two-tailed dog must have been the man who taught young Christian Oerter: that is, Albrecht.[83]

Evidence suggests that Albrecht’s hopes of conducting a successful trade as a gunsmith at Lititz met with hard economic circumstances. He was training young gunsmiths; but little trade patronized his shop. He had moved to a region known for its accomplished gunsmiths, many of whom (Jacob Dickert, Peter Gonter, John Graeff, George Rathvon, John Henry, Jacob Messersmith, George Frederick Fainot) labored only a few miles away in Lancaster, while others (John Newcomer) worked elsewhere in Lancaster County. William Henry’s attempt to secure work for Albrecht from Pittsburgh must have failed. “Concerning Br. Albrecht's lack of work,” the town’s overseers’ committee minutes of July 1772 record, “it was suggested that he should have his work advertised. Also, he should take a trip to visit a certain Lowry, who is an Indian trader and sells many guns, in order to introduce himself.”[84] The suggestion that Albrecht contact Alexander Lowrey (1725-1805) showed worldly sense on the part of Lititz’s authorities. Albrecht had not had to worry about placing his product for nearly twenty-five years. His labor had been a service for others in the communal economies of Bethlehem and Christiansbrunn: he had never worked for himself, dependent, as he was at Lititz, on a market for his products.

Several membership catalogs produced at Lititz, while always identifying Albrecht’s trade as a gunstocker, reveal that in 1777 or 1778 he worked as a Pfeiffenkopfmacher, a pipe head maker.[85] This detail from the late 1770s suggests that it was Albrecht who had been involved in the extensive pipe head production out of the locksmith shop in Bethlehem in the 1750s. In March 1756, for instance, the Locksmith supplied 4 dozen pipe heads to the Strangers’ Store. In March 1759, Bethlehem’s Potter “burn[ed] pipe heads” for the Locksmith, who, in subsequent months, sold very large quantities of pipe heads to the Strangers’ Store: 400 in April 1759, 100 more in August, and 50 more in October.[86] Soon after, Albrecht was assigned to “make the new machine to produce pipe heads” out of brass. The gun shop that Albrecht turned over to Oerter in November 1766 contained a pipe head press and several molds. The emendation to the Lititz membership catalogs suggests that this trade constituted a significant portion of Albrecht’s activities, and he continued it beyond the 1770s: the inventory of goods produced after Albrecht’s death lists more than 2,000 pipes (“fifteen Gross Smoak Pipes”).[87]

It is possible that pipe head making was Albrecht’s primary occupation during these war years.[88] By April 1777, Albrecht had lost all his apprentices. William Henry Jr., left in August 1776, having been banished from Lititz to the Christiansbrunn’s gun factory after sexual improprieties got him in trouble. Levering left Albrecht less than six months after he arrived in Lititz, returning to the Christiansbrunn gun shop on April 4, 1777. Georg Weiss left Lititz on April 10, 1777, and joined Henry, Levering, and the teenaged Jacob Loesch at the gunstocker factory on August 27. Authorities recalled Weiss and Levering because Christian Oerter had been ill for months and unable to work in the gun shop: Henry was made its master in late April. More generally, Moravian authorities were transferring men and boys to Albrecht’s old shop so it could meet the extraordinary demands of wartime.[89] The small operation that Albrecht had begun was now able, as Henry recalled twenty-five years later, to put “four, five, and sometime six” men to work at “finishing 500 stand of Arms for the State.”[90]

Lancaster County gunsmiths were put under extreme pressure during the early years of the Revolutionary War. In November 1775, the local Committee of Observation resolved that, if “any of the Gun-Smiths in the County of Lancaster… shall refuse to go to Work and make… [the] Firelocks & Bayonets required for this County by the Honorable House of Assembly,” these gunsmiths shall be deemed “Enemies to this Country,” their “Tools… shall be taken from them,” and they “shall not be permitted to carry on their Trades.”[91] The Moravian community in Lititz felt particularly vulnerable because its members refused to serve in the voluntary militias organized in 1775 – or later, after March 1777, when Pennsylvania’s legislature made militia service compulsory. Nor did most Moravians take the oath of loyalty that Pennsylvania’s new government required in June 1777. These decisions resulted in substantial fines and, according to law, could have extended to confiscation of property. On October 21, 1777, a troop of armed patriots forcibly removed fourteen men, ten single brothers and four married men, from Lititz, hauling them to Lancaster’s jail.[92] Did Albrecht voluntarily remove himself from the profession in which he had been trained to avoid being compelled to produce weapons of war? A document dating to early 1776 indicates that Albrecht received 11 proved gun barrels – but delivered no muskets to the local committee of observation. Substantial records survive of gun purchases by William Henry (by this time a chief procurement officer) from Lancaster County’s gunsmiths: Andreas Albrecht’s name does not appear at all.[93]

After the war, Albrecht trained his son Henry as a gunsmith. Such training would have begun in the mid-1780s, when he was thirteen or fourteen. But Albrecht’s own economic uncertainty in his gunsmith trade seems to have led him to think twice about preparing his son as a gunsmith. When Henry Albrecht was sixteen, his father sent him Nazareth to work under his own former apprentice, William Henry. But the younger Albrecht did not arrive in Nazareth in March 1789 to apprentice as a gunsmith: William Henry had been serving the Nazareth community as a “joiner” and Albrecht learned from Henry “the joiner’s trade,” or, as the notice in the church burial record states, “that of cabinet-maker.” After three years, in March 1792, Henry Albrecht left Nazareth. He did not return directly to Lititz, travelling instead to Lancaster to work with Jacob Dickert, a fellow Moravian and an established gunsmith with a large manufactory. Albrecht remained with Dickert for more than six months before returning to Lititz on October 14, 1792.[94] Presumably working with his father, each of these gunsmiths supplied a dozen rifles to General Edward Hand in 1794. Henry Albrecht married outside the church in 1794 and soon left Lititz to work for over a decade in western towns: Chambersburg (1796-98) and Shippensburg (1798-1808) in Pennsylvania and Gnadenhutten (1808-1809) in Ohio. He returned to Lititz in 1809, perhaps living with his widowed mother until in 1813 he built a home for his large family outside the town of Lititz itself, about a half-mile from where his father had lived. He left Lititz in April 1816 to return to Nazareth.

By the time Henry Albrecht left his father’s Lititz gun shop in 1789 for Nazareth, Andreas Albrecht was nearly 71 years old. Only two men in Lititz, tanner George Geitner and warden Ferdinand Detmers, were older than him. Albrecht probably did not work as a gunsmith any longer. The memoir read at his funeral noted that some years before his death his “strength continually lessened and he eventually had to give up his craft.” The 1798 direct tax revealed that Albrecht’s property included an “Old Gunsmiths Shop” about 15 feet by 12 feet, made of logs – and that this shop had been “out of use these ten years or more.”[95] Albrecht was assigned to the boys’ school in Lititz, which he supervised from 1791-1793. By the turn of the century, he had grown deaf and had become so weak that he could no longer leave his house for religious services. Confined at home, Albrecht read the Bible and reports from other Moravian communities until blindness made this, too, impossible. His faith, which had drawn him to the Moravian Church in the German lands more than a half-century earlier, never left him, and conversations about the love of the Savior prompted him to “express himself quite vividly.” Albrecht made his will in March 1800. He celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday on April 2, 1802, and soon after, as his memoir concludes, he prepared to “go home.” He grew weaker, losing consciousness on April 16, and died on April 19, 1802, the second day of Easter.[96]

The inventory of the “Goods and Chattels, Rights and Credits of the personal Estate” of Andreas Albrecht contains, for the most part, ordinary household items: ladles, forks, a teapot and six pairs of tea cups, a fire shovel, a large pan, a walnut table, eight chairs, a large arm chair, and a desk. Two “Silver Spoons,” four “Silver Tea Spoons,” and a “Silver Watch with the Box” (valued at £3, or approximately £240 or $365 in 2014) were the only high-end items. Albrecht possessed two coffee mills – perhaps of his own making – and, as we have seen, “fifteen Gross Smoak Pipes.” All these household goods, supplemented by a cow (valued at £4.10), were valued at about £29 (approximately £2,310 or $3,509 in 2014). Albrecht also held seven bonds that were valued at £508.10 (approximately £40,500 or $61,500 in 2014). The inventory contained no hint whatsoever that, for much of his career in various Moravian settlements, Albrecht had been a gunstocker.

It is as a gunstocker that Albrecht has been remembered. But Albrecht brought his profession of gunstocker to a Moravian community that provided no market for, and had limited need for, the rifles he had been trained to produce. In these early years, the gunstocker’s activity probably contributed more to supporting mission work than it did to the General Economy itself. Albrecht worked at his profession only irregularly. Shortly after Albrecht, along with a talented apprentice, began to produce rifles for sale at a new gun shop at Christiansbrunn, Moravian authorities asked Albrecht to leave his shop and serve as a tavern keeper. When Albrecht did finally set up a workshop for himself in Lititz, he had trouble finding customers. Only one – relatively modest – rifle survives with his signature, but it seems certain that Albrecht was, as historians and collectors believe, a “most accomplished craftsman.”[97] His greatest legacy lies in the talent he trained, including Christian Oerter and William Henry Jr., to whom he passed on the skills that he had learned first at peace and then at war in the German lands.


[1] Katherine Carté Engel, Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

[2] November 19, 1766, Church Register of the Moravian Congregation at Bethlehem, Vol. 2, 1756-1801, ChReg 11, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem (hereafter, MAB); Addendum to the Lititz Diary of April and May [1802], [hereafter, Albrecht Lebenslauf], MAB [trans. Edward Quinter]. Albrecht described his early life in this Lebenslauf, a memoir that he, like most Moravians, wrote as a spiritual exercise and a template from which a funeral discourse could be crafted. Albrecht probably wrote his shortly after he arrived in Bethlehem, perhaps in 1752. A slightly different version of the Lebenslauf, translated by Lothar Madeheim from the 1803 Gemein Nachrichten [Beilage No. 11.2.1, MAB], appeared in William S. Bowers, Gunsmiths of Pen-Mar-Va, 1790-1840 (Mercersburg, PA: Irwinton Publishers, 1979), 8-10. For the Lebenslauf tradition, see Katherine Faull, Moravian Women's Memoirs: Related Lives, 1750-1820 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997), and Thomas J. McCullough, “’The Most Memorable Circumstances’: Instructions for the Collection of Personal Data from Church Members, circa 1752,” Journal of Moravian History 15, no. 2 (2015): 159-76.

[3] Peter Ravn Lund, “Gunmaking in Suhl,” in Christoph Funk, Gewehrfabrik, Suhl (Denmark, 2012), 11-15; “A History of Gunmaking in Suhl,” (accessed October 13, 2015); Rosalind Beiler, Immigrant and Entrepreneur: The Atlantic World of Caspar Wistar, 1650-1750 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 145-146.

[4] The Lititz Diary memoir twice uses the term “gunsmith” (Büchsenmacher) where the Gemein Nachrichten memoir uses “gunstocker” (Büchsenschäfter).

[5] Albrecht Lebenslauf, MAB.

[6] Andreas Albrecht to the Potsdam Brethren, August 19, 1744, in “Die Potsdamer Soldatenbrüder,” Der Bruder-Bote (1866), 66-67 [translated by Stefan Harrigan].

[7] Andreas Albrecht to Unknown, copy, October 2, 1745,, Unity Archives, Herrnhut [hereafter, UA] [translated by Stefan Harrigan].

[8] Albrecht Lebenslauf, MAB. 

[9] Andreas Albrecht to Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, May 2, 1752, R.14.A.30.90, UA [trans. Del-Louise Moyer]; Andreas Albrecht to Carl Gottfried Rundt, May 30, 1763, PP Carl Gottfried Rundt, MAB, 4; August 29, 1755, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB.

[10] Paul Peucker, A Time of Sifting: Mystical Marriage and the Crisis of Moravian Piety in the Eighteenth Century (University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 2015). 

[11] Peucker, Time of Sifting, 80, 84, 114, 117; Craig D. Atwood, “Zinzendorf's 1749 Reprimand to the Brüdergemeine,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 26 (1996): 59-84.

[12] Catalog of Brethren who Traveled on the Irene to America, May 1750, in Hellmuth Erbe, Bethlehem, Pa.: Eine kommunistiche Herrnhuter-Kolonie des 18. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart, 1929), 153.

[13] “General Table,” 1752, BethCong 424, MAB; see also “Specification of All Our Buildings and Lands,” May 31, 1758, BethCong 565, MAB; “Essay on the State of the Economy,” March 26, 1763, UVC.X.143.a, UA. For the communal economy in Bethlehem, see Erbe, Bethlehem; Engel, Religion and Profit.

[14] To calculate 2014 figures, I have relied on Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, "Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present," and Samuel H. Williamson, "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to Present," MeasuringWorth (, October 2015.

[15] Albrecht appears among those to whom a debt is due “for Monies deposited with the Diaconat without Interest.” The credit steadily declines (from £75.4.6 in 1752 to £22.10 in 1765) as Albrecht withdrew small amounts every month or so, which can be traced in his account in Ledger C of the Diaconat at Bethlehem [January 1, 1749, to November 1, 1755], 131; Ledger D of the Diaconat at Bethlehem [November 1, 1755, to June 1, 1762], 111; Ledger E of the Diaconat at Bethlehem [June 1, 1762, to May 31, 1771], 5; and by date in Journals of the Diaconat in Bethlehem, vols. 2-6, MAB. Stan Hollenbaugh mistook the yearly credit to Albrecht recorded in the Diacony Extracts as payment he received for work (“Additional Information: Bethlehem and Andreas Albrecht,” in the Kentucky Rifle Bulletin 20, no. 3 [2003]).

[16] For two other tradesmen at Herrnhaag around this time, Johann Valentine Haidt and Abraham Roentgen, see Vernon H. Nelson, John Valentine Haidt: The Life of a Moravian Painter, ed. Paul Peucker (Bethlehem, PA: Moravian Archives, 2012), and Lindsay Boynton, “The Moravian Brotherhood and the Migration of Furniture Makers in the Eighteenth Century,” Furniture History 29 (1993), 45-58, and Christopher Gilbert and Tessa Murdoch, John Channon and Brass-Inlaid Furniture, 1730-1760 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).

[17] Erbe, Bethlehem, 80, 168; Minutes of the Trade Conferences, Fulneck Congregation, January 12, 1758, quoted in Geoffrey Stead, The Moravian Settlement at Fulneck, 1742-1790 (Leeds: Thoresby Society, 1999), 93.

[18] July 31, 1759, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB; July 30, 1759, Journal of the Commission, Bethlehem Digital History Project, (accessed October 13, 2015); “Declaration made by some of Musche’s Fellow Travelers now living on the Nazareth Tract,” in Box: Court Cases I, Musch Trial, MAB. Albrecht signed this declaration. Musch’s lawsuit went to court in October 1766, and Albrecht traveled to Philadelphia to testify with other brethren on behalf of the Moravian church.

[19] Opinions of the Single Brethren on The Economy, in Box: Termination of the Economy, 1758-1764, MAB [trans. Roy Ledbetter].

[20] Gun-Stock Maker Account, in Book of our Trades Earnings [1750-53] in Box: General Diacony, Trades, MAB; December 31, 1750, December 31, 1751, December 29, 1752, in Journal of the Diaconat, No. 2, unpaginated.

[22] August 2, 1773, December 27, 1775 (my italics), Nazareth Diary, MAB; September 7, 1773, Nazareth and Upper Places Memorandum and Pricebook, Folder A735, Moravian Historical Society, Nazareth, Pa. [hereafter, MHS]. Hantsch had moved to Christiansbrunn on August 21, 1765, to learn a trade. He had moved to Nazareth (from Bethlehem) four months before authorities sent him again to Christiansbrunn. In October 1778, Hantsch was asked to leave the Upper Places, encouraged to travel to Lancaster to work with a gunsmith there—probably Jacob Dickert (August 14, 1775, Nazareth Diary; October 8, 1778, Nazareth Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB).

[23] February 16, 1752, March 1, 1752, in [Single Brethren’s] House Conference, 1750-1752, BethSB 8, MAB; Daniel Kliest to Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, September 1, 1753, R.14.A.30, UA [trans. Del-Louise Moyer]; January 30, 1752, February 19, 1753, March 25, 1753 in Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 2 [March 17, 1749 to August 31, 1753], unpaginated, MAB; Shamokin Diary, April 18, 1754, MAB. A group of Shawnees visited Bethlehem on July 10, 1752 (Bethlehem Diary, MAB).

[24] Shackleton had at least six guns stocked at Bethlehem between 1752 and 1759, usually for other men: Richard Shackleton account, Ledger C, 319; Ledger D, 82, MAB: December 14, 1752 (for Wm. Macalister), March 24, 1755 (for Fred. Klein), July 30, 1757 (“Stocking &c. 2 guns”), September 12, 1758 (for John Cains), July 14, 1759 (Isaac Wains), October 30, 1759 (for Isaac Wains). See corresponding dates in Journal of the Diaconat, Nos. 2-4.

[25] Box: Extracts of Bethlehem Accounts, 1747-1765, MAB.

[26] John Hughes to Timothy Horsfield, October 23-24, 1758, Box: Revolutionary War Documents, MAB.

[27] The Locksmith shop also purchased guns between 1757 and 1761, presumably to repair them so they could be used. See Locksmith & Gun Stock Maker account for purchases of gun locks (December 12, 1755, April 30, 1756, May 11, 1756, June 30, 1756, October 18, 1756), of gun brasses (December 15, 1755), and of guns (September 30, 1757, December 21, 1761), Ledger D, 7-8, 223, MAB. The Strangers’ Store purchased a half-dozen gun locks on September 23, 1755 (Rees Meredith Bill, in Merchants Book [March 30, 1754-June 14, 1757], in Box: General Diacony, Merchants, MAB) and George Klein purchased three more in Philadelphia on August 21, 1758 (George Klein’s Account of Sundries paid & Bought in Philadelphia, in Merchants Book [June 14, 1757-August 11, 1759], in Box: General Diacony, Merchants, MAB).

[28] January 12, 1752, February 16, 1752, March 1, 1752, in [Single Brethren’s] House Conference, 1750-1752, BethSB 8, MAB.

[29] He performed other services for the Bethlehem community: he traveled from time to time to nearby Moravian communities such as Gnadenhütten or Meniolagomekah to deliver letters or the current Gemein Nachrichten, the newsletters that were read aloud in different communities and helped knit together the far-flung Moravian communities: see March 30, 1753, Gnadenhütten Diary, MAB; August 1, 1755, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB.

[30] June 13, 1752, December 17, 1752, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB. See also Stewart Carter, “Trombone Ensembles of the Moravian Brethren in America: New Avenues for Research,” in Brass Scholarship in Review, ed. Stewart Carter (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2006), 82-83 n. 24.

[31] September 22, 1758, March 11, 1759, Bethlehem Diary, MAB [trans. Del-Louise Moyer]; November 1, 1756, Bethlehem Diary, quoted in “Extracts from the Diary of the Bethlehem Congregation, 1756,”The Penn Germania 2, no. 3 (1913): 92.

[32] Bethlehem Township Tax Return, December 9, 1756, Box: Administration Taxes, 1757-1790, MAB.

[33] Membership Catalog, Bethlehem and Christiansbrunn Single Brethren and Older Boys, 1743-1755, BethSB 47, MAB; Membership Catalog, Bethlehem Single Brethren, 1756-1769, BethSB 48, MAB; John W. Jordan, “Moravian Emigration to Pennsylvania, 1734-1765,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 33, no. 2 (1909): 241.

[34] Alterations in the Return of the United Brethren residing in Bethlehem,” July 26, 1757, in Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 3: 242; Levering, History of Bethlehem, 399.

[35] Dirck Brinkenhoff to Nicholas Garrison, December 18, 1755, R. 14.A.30, UA. Another letter to Garrison reported that church members from New York traveled to Bethlehem in late 1755 “with arms, Ammunition, &c. as many of the Brethren, who name no Scruple, are determin’d to defend Bethlehem &c. against such wicked Murderers.” He added that Bethlehem would be grateful is “some in England would make the Brethren a Present of some good Muskets, Powder, & Ball” (Henry van Vleck to Nicholas Garrison, December 18, 1755, R.14.A.30, UA). See also December 20, 1755, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB.

[36] “The Accounts of the Moravian Brethren… with the Commissioners of the Province of Pennsylvania,” in Memorials of the Moravian Church, ed. William C. Reichel (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1870), 245.

[37] “The Accounts of the Moravian Brethren” in Memorials, 315-16, 356-58; August 31, 1757, Journal of the Diaconat in Bethlehem, No. 3 [September 1, 1753 to November 30, 1757], 513; March 14, 1758, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB. Haberland travelled frequently, visiting Philadelphia in November 1757 and touring country congregations in September 1758 before he left for Europe on missionary work in October 1759.

[38] Provincial Tax Return, November 16, 1758, Box: Administration Taxes, 1757-1790, MAB.

[39] Scott Paul Gordon, "The Ambitions of William Henry," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 136, no. 3 (2012): 253-284; Gordon, "Jacob Dickert,” in Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 1, ed. Marianne S. Wokeck (accessed October 13, 2015).

[40] Joseph Mortimer Levering, History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1892 (Bethlehem, Pa.: Times Publishing Company, 1903), 329; Mabel Haller, “Early Moravian Education in Pennsylvania,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 15 (1953): 18-19. 

[41] Levering, History, 366; August 30, 1759, Bethlehem Diary, MAB [trans. Paul Peucker], see also August 30, 1759, Christiansbrunn Diary, MAB. Most sources, misled by Levering, state that Albrecht moved from Bethlehem in June 1759. No description of the departure of children and single brothers to Nazareth Hall mentions Albrecht: see June 6, 1759, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB; June 6, 1759, Bethlehem Diary, MAB.

[42] August 29, 1760, Memorabilia of Christiansbrunn and Nazareth Hall, MAB.

[43] American Provincial Synod Report, April 26-29, 1764, MAB.

[44] August 19, 1755, Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB; Faull, Moravian Women’s Memoirs, 149.

[45] September 3, 1759, Minutes of the Gemein Conference, MAB [trans. Paul Peucker].

[46] October 30, 1759, January 26, 1760, July 31, 1760, in Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 4 [December 1, 1757 to March 30, 1761], 305, 338, 425, MAB; May 3, 1762 in Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 5 [March 31, 1761 to June 29, 1763], 244, MAB; see also Ledger D, 223. 

[47] For Rice, see Membership Catalog, Bethlehem Boarding School, BethCong 485, MAB; James Henry, “Christian’s Spring,” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 1, no. 2 (1868): 74. Rice later moved to Bethlehem (not from Christiansbrunn but from Gnadenthal) to study organ building with David Tannenberg (July 19, 1762, Nazareth Diary, MAB).

[48] Kliest accounts in Ledger C, 202; Ledger D, 233; Ledger E, 366; see also Extract of the Bethlehem Accounts from the June 1, 1761, to May 31, 1762, in Box: Extracts of Bethlehem Accounts, 1747-1765, MAB. Kliest paid off the entire debt incurred at the purchase of his shop by May 31, 1771. For the transition from a communal to a wage economy, see Engel, Religion and Profit, 161-81.

[49] The May 31, 1763, summary of the value of each of the Upper Places notes, for the first time, that the sum for Christiansbrunn “include[es] the Gunstockmaker,” since it was only during the previous year (May 1762-May 1763) that Albrecht’s activities were separated from Kliest’s accounts (May 31, 1763, Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 5, 328, MAB).

[50] Inventory, Nazareth Stock, May 31, 1762, Box: Documents and Letters, MHS. This inventory is reproduced in part in Robert Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking: Bethlehem to Christian’s Spring,” in Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution (Trappe, Md.: Kentucky Rifle Association, 2010), 28.

[51] W. C. Reichel states that Friedensthal’s mill was busy cutting curly maple, “whose timber was coveted by the gunstock-maker” at nearby Christiansbrunn, but he does not date this comment or indicate whether this is a fanciful remark or something he found in a diary (Friedensthal and Its Stockaded Mill: A Moravian Chronicle, 1749-1767 [Nazareth, Pa.: Moravian Historical Society, 1877], 20).

[52] John Valentine Beck, Lebenslauf, Moravian Archives, Southern Province, Winston-Salem, NC; March 22, 1762, Minutes of the Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Conference, BethSB 10, MAB.

[53] In June 1764, Valentine Beck listed among single brothers at Nazareth Hall, while Albrecht listed among single brothers at Christiansbrunn. In 1762, Albrecht and Beck were both at Christiansbrunn (BethSB 49, MAB).

[54] February 21, 1764, March 12, 1764, Minutes of the Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Conference, BethSB 10, MAB.

[55] July 5, 1763, Minutes of the Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Conference, BethSB 10, MAB [trans. Paul Peucker].

[56] July 10, 1762, Minutes of the Bethlehem Aufseher’s Collegium [trans. Jeannette Norfleet], MAB.

[57] May 6, 1771, July 18, 1774, Minutes of the Lititz Aufsehers’ Collegium, MAB [trans Anne Schmidt-Lange].

[58] September 5, 1763, Memorandum and Pricebook, Folder A735, MHS.

[59] July 1, 1763, August 1, 1763, August 10, 1763, Minutes of the Bethlehem Aufseher’s Collegium [trans. Jeannette Norfleet], MAB.

[60] In February 1763, after a visit to Philadelphia, Albrecht traveled to Lancaster where he “spent most of his time” with the gunsmith Mattheus Roesser (1708-1771) “on the affairs of the craftsmen” (February 25, 1763, Lancaster Diary [trans. Roy Ledbetter]). It is possible that, even this early, Albrecht was consulting with Roesser about the plans for a new gun shop as early.

[61] “Inventory of Buildings built since 1760,” in Upper Places Inventory, March 31, 1766, Box: Diacony Inventories, Nazareth, 1760-1790 [MHS 54], MAB; Plan of a Gun Shop, DP f.029.12, MAB.

[62] December 21, 1761, Locksmith Account, Ledger D, 233; November 29, 1763, Christiansbrunn Account (“Guns &c. del. to Andr. Albrecht, which Jon. Paul Weiss had bought in the Year 1761”), Ledger E, 51; Extracts of the Bethlehem Accounts, 1763-1764, 9 (“Guns for Christiansbrunn”), Box: Extracts of Bethlehem Accounts, 1747-1765, MAB. For the transfer of equipment, see Receipt, Box: Upper Places: Misc. Bills, 1762-1799 [MHS 52], MAB. These identical items show up the May 31, 1764 summary of charges from Kliest to Christiansbrunn (Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 6 [July 1, 1773-August 25, 1766], 203) and in a March 1766 inventory of the furnishings of the Christiansbrunn gun shop [Box: Upper Places: Misc. Inventories: Upper Places, 1762–1775 [MHS 39], MAB].

[63] Only one letter document this contract: William Henry to Andreas Busse and C. G. Reichel, March 9, 1801, Box: Nazareth Elders Conference, 1791-1801, MAB. Oerter delivered 50 muskets by May 13, 1776 and the shop delivered 150 more muskets by October 1778: see Memorandum and Pricebook, Folder A735, MHS, and, for a more detailed report of one charge listed in this volume, see “Account of 50 Guns delivered to Jacob Opp,” May 13, 1776, in Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution, 9.

[64] Christiansbrunn Inventory, June 1, 1762, Box: Nazareth Upper Places Agreements and Inventories, 1762-1800, MAB; Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking,” 28; “In the gunstocking factory, newly acquired,” in Upper Places Inventory, March 31, 1766, Box: Diacony Inventories, Nazareth, 1760-1790 [MHS 54], MAB.

[65] Yearly inventories show, for instance, that in 1762 the shop possessed 316 gunstock blanks; in 1763, 283 gunstock blanks; in 1764, 233 gunstock blanks; in 1765, 193 gunstock blanks; and in 1766, 173 gunstock blanks. This steady decline seems to suggest that Albrecht and Oerter were using approximately 35 gunstock blanks yearly (with one year as high as 50, another as low as 20). But, while the difference of 20 gunstock blanks between the 1764 and the 1765 inventory might have resulted from the consumption of 20 gunstock blanks, the shop was probably producing additional gunstock blanks in these years. If it produced 50 additional blanks, for instance, the difference of 20 blanks from 1764 and 1765 would have resulted from the consumption of 70 gunstock blanks. Indeed, in May 1767, the shop possessed 240 gunstock blanks, which shows that in the six months since Albrecht had departed Oerter had produced at least 67 gunstock blanks.

[66] In May 1764, the shop had four “finished” rifles; in May 1765, eight “new rifles”; in May 1766, six “new rifles”; and in November 1766, when Oerter took the shop over, four “new rifles”: Gunstocking Factory Inventory, May 31, 1764, in Box: Upper Places and Nazareth Agreements and Inventories 1758-1770 [MHS 45], MAB; Inventory, May 31, 1765; Inventory of Diaconat Accounts of Nazareth, May 31, 1766; “Andreas Albrecht’s Specification of the Finished Work in the Gunmaking Shop at Christiansbrunn that he turned over to Oerter,” November 24, 1766, in Box: Nazareth Upper Places Agreements and Inventories, 1762-1800, MAB. Some of these inventories are reproduced in part in Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking,” 31-32.

[67] December 13, 1759, Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 4, 322, MAB.

[68] January 2, 1766, Christiansbrunn Diary [trans. Roy Ledbetter].

[69] Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution, 64. A 1776 Oerter rifle has been described as “the finest example of the Revolutionary period Pennsylvania flintlock rifle extant” (The Picket-Post: A Record of Patriotism 39 [Valley Forge Historical Society, 1962]: 18). For the Marshall rifle, see George Shumway, Rifles of Colonial America, 2 vols. (York, PA: Shumway Publishers, 1980), 1: 178-81; for the Moravian Historical Society rifle, see Kevin J. McDonald, “The 1740 Whitefield House Museum and Its Early Longrifle,” Kentucky Rifle Association Bulletin 33, no. 2 (2012): 10-14; for the griffin rifle, see Moravian Gun Making, 63-75. For other rifles with engraved creatures, see Patrick Hornberger and Joe Kindig, III, Masterpieces of the American Longrifle: The Joe Kindig, Jr. Collection (Trappe, MD: Eastwind Publishing, 2015); Moravian Gun Making, 51-63

[70] Andreas Albrecht’s Specification, November 24, 1766, Box: Nazareth Upper Places Agreements and Inventories, 1762-1800, MAB.

[71] W. C. Reichel, The Old Sun Inn, at Bethlehem, Pa., 1758, now the Sun Hotel: An Authentic History (Doylestown, Pa.: W. W. H. Davis, 1876), 16.

[72] His salary for his first partial year (the Moravian fiscal year began in May) was £10.16.0.

[73] December 10, 1770, Minutes of Bethlehem Elders’ Conference [trans. Del-Louise Moyer], MAB; Account of the Musch Trial, 25-27, in Box: Court Cases I, Musch Trial, MAB; February 10, 1768, Journal of the Diaconat in Bethlehem, No. 7 [August 25, 1766-February 10, 1770], 265, MAB.

[74] January 28, 1771, March 16, 1771, Elders Conference, MAB.

[75] April 1771, Minutes of the Unity Administration Conference, 1770-1783 [trans. Del-Louise Moyer], MAB; see also May 7, 1771 (“a Gratuity given unto him by the Diaconat besides his Salary, being in full of all Demands to this day”), Journal of the Diaconat in Bethlehem, No. 8 [February 12, 1770 to May 31, 1771], 205, MAB.

[76] In anticipation of the dismantling of the economy, each individual signed a document witnessing that he or she “shall for the future live & work for myself” and that “henceforth the Oeconomy hath no Demand on me, nor I on the Oeconomies of Bethlehem Nazareth or elsewhere.” Samuel Saxon signed this particular testimony (in English) on March 1, 1762, in Box: Transition Period, Individual Agreements, 1762-1765, MAB.

[77] Both Albrecht’s lease and Bullitscheck’s original 1762 lease can be found in Box: Leases and Counterpart Leases, Lititz Moravian Church and Museum [hereafter, LMC].

[78] Membership Catalog, Lititz Single Brethren Young Men, Boys, and Little Boys, May 1791 [Andrew Albrecht and Jacob Albrecht]; Membership Catalog, Lititz Single Brethren Young Men, Boys, and Little Boys, March 1802 [Gottfried Albrecht] in Box: Old Catalogs, LMC. See below for Henry Albrecht.

[79] September 15, 1772, November 3, 1780, Minutes of the Lititz Aufsehers’ Collegium [trans. Anne Schmidt-Lange], MAB.

[80] Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking,” 35. For this coffee mill, see Wendy A. Cooper and Lisa Minardi, eds., Paint, Pattern, and People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 50-51; Lienemann, “Moravian Gunmaking,” 35-36.

[81] For Henry, see January 18, 1771, June 27, 1771, Lititz Diary, MAB; for Weiss, see July 18, 1774, Minutes of the Lititz Aufsehers’ Collegium [trans. Anne Schmidt-Lange], MAB; for Levering, see October 14, 1776, Nazareth Diary, MAB.

[82] Shumway, Rifles of Colonial America, 1: 198. The rifle, after a restoration, can be seen in Roy F. Chandler and James B. Whisker, Behold the Longrifle (Bedford, Pa.: Old Bedford Village Press, 1993), 44-45, and in Patrick Hornberger and John Kolar, The Lancaster Long Rifle (Trappe, MD: Eastwind Publishing, 2012), 10-11.

[83] These rifles are pictured in Moravian Gun Making, 50-61.

[84] July 19, 1772, Minutes of the Lititz Aufsehers’ Collegium [trans. Anne Schmidt-Lange], MAB.

[85] Membership Catalog, Lititz Congregation, July 1779, Box: Old Catalogs, LMC.

[86] Locksmith and Gunstock Maker Account, Ledger D, 7; March 31, 1759, April 30, 1759, August 31, 1759, October 30, 1759, in Journal of the Diaconat at Bethlehem, No. 4, 214, 226, 279, 306, MAB.

[87] December 9, 1760, Diacony Conference, BethCong 238, MAB; Inventory of the Stock and Tools of the Upper Places, March 31, 1766, Box: Diacony Inventories, Nazareth, 1760-1790 [MHS 54], MAB; Inventory, Andrew Albrecht, Inv 1802 F002 A, Lancaster County Historical Society.

[88] Joseph Levering, who arrived to assist Albrecht in October 1776, presumably as a gun stocker, had been assigned to make pipe-heads when he was a boy: see November 9, 1767, Christiansbrunn Diary, MAB.

[89] August 5-28, 1776, Lititz Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB; Lititz Diary, August 28, 1776, April 10, 1777, MAB; September 2, 1776, Nazareth Diary; May 23, 1777, August 1, 1780, Christiansbrunn Diary; April 28, 1777 (“the inventory in the gun manufactory was made and Wm. Henry jun. took over as master”), Upper Places Daybook, 1777-1800, Box: Upper Places, Account Books [MHS 53], MAB. Henry turned the gun shop over on July 31, 1780, to Jacob Loesch Jr.; Loesch turned it over on October 23, 1781 to Levering; Levering turned it over on March 17, 1785 to Weiss, who managed the gun shop until it closed and John Bonn, the warden of Christiansbrunn, assumed its outstanding debts on April 28, 1789: see Christiansbrunn Gunmaking Shop Inventory, July 31, 1780, and October 23, 1781, and Christiansbrunn Gunmaking Shop Inventory, March 17, 1785, in Box: Nazareth Upper Places Agreements and Inventories, 1762-1800. Henry opened a gun shop in Nazareth in 1780, but neither Weiss nor Levering would continue to work as gunsmiths. Weiss moved to Bethlehem to work as a clockmaker and in the boys’ school, while Levering, forbidden by Moravian authorities to work as a gunsmith while William Henry was doing so in Nazareth, took up the trade of tinsmith. For Levering, see February 11, 1789, April 22, 1789, Minutes of the Nazareth Aufseher’s Collegium, MAB.

[90] Henry to Busse and Reichel, March 9, 1801, Box: Nazareth Elders Conference, MAB.

[91] November 10, 1775, Lancaster Committee of Observation Minutes, Peter Force Collection, ser. 8D, item 86, Library of Congress.

[92] For the Revolution in Lititz, see Scott Paul Gordon, “Patriots and Neighbors: Pennsylvania Moravians in the American Revolution,” Journal of Moravian History 12, no. 2 (2012): 111-142.

[93] [List of Muskets Furnished], Lancaster County Papers, 1724-1816, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Albrecht wounded his hand in 1777 (“The wound on Brother Albrecht’s hand looks very dangerous”: August 2, 1777, Lititz Diary, MAB), an injury that could have resulted from any sort of manual labor.

[94] March 27, 1789, March 20, 1792, Nazareth Diary, MAB; October 14, 1792, April 4, 1816, Lititz Diary, MAB; Nazareth Church Register. For William Henry as joiner, see January 25, 1794 ("No more opportunity to learn carpentry with Brother William Henry in Nazareth, as he plans to make guns in future”), Bethlehem Single Brethren’s Diary, MAB, and Scott Paul Gordon, “‘A Considerable Building on the Bushkill Creek’: William Henry of Nazareth at Jacobsburg,” Jacobsburg Record 37, 3 (2010): 5-8.

[95] Bowers, Gunsmiths of Pen-Mar-Va, 11.

[96] Albrecht Lebenslauf, MAB; Lancaster Will Book H, 179-80, microfilm, Lancaster County Historical Society.

[97] J. Wayne Heckert and Donald Vaughn, The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle: A Lancaster Legend (Ephrata, PA: Science Press, 1993), 63.


Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Johann Andreas Albrecht." (2018) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved February 18, 2018, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship:

Chicago Style

Gordon, Scott Paul. "Johann Andreas Albrecht." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 1, edited by Marianne S. Wokeck. German Historical Institute. Last modified February 23, 2016.

MLA Style

"Johann Andreas Albrecht," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2018, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 18 Feb 2018 <>

Bethlehem, one of the Brethren’s Principal Settlements, in Pennsylvania, 1757

  • Coffee mill believed to have been constructed by Andreas Albrecht in Lititz, Pennsylvania
  • Coffee mill believed to have been constructed by Andreas Albrecht in Lititz, Pennsylvania
  • View of barrel signature on Andreas Albrecht rifle
  • Andreas Albrecht rifle

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