Hidden Collections

Joseph Powell Papers

Archival Description

Title: Joseph Powell Papers
Dates: 1756-1774
Quantity: 5 folders
Identification: PP PJos
Language of Material: German; English
Location: Moravian Church Archives
Alternate View: View Moravian Archives Finding Aid


Joseph Powell was born in Shropshire by White Church in England (on the border of Wales) to parents Caleb and Ann Powell on October 8, 1711. Since his father was a farmer he was raised in that occupation and his mother was a devote Presbyterian he was raised with knowledge of the Lord and the Gospel. At the age of 19 when his brother expressed a desire to remain on the family farm Joseph moved to London. He worked as the assistant of a tradesperson for nine years until 1730 during which time he became acquainted with Whitefield and Wesley (in his "Lebenslauf" Joseph refers to this period as his awakening). In 1741 Joseph volunteered to be part of a group of Moravians being organized under Count Zinzendorf to emigrate to America. Prior to emigrating he married Martha Frichat in February, 1742. The newlyweds departed for Pennsylvania from Gravesend, England on March 19, 1742 reaching Philadelphia on June 7, 1742. Powell worked to establish the Moravian Church in the Philadelphia area for several years and then in 1747 was stationed as a missionary in Shamokin (now Sunbury, Pa.). On May 24, 1756, he was official ordained in Bethlehem, Pa., as a deacon of the Moravian Church. He spent the next several years of his life as a missionary among Native Americans in Bucks County, Staten Island, Long Island, Conneticut, and Carroll's Manor, Maryland. He and Martha also spent six years (1759-1764) performing missionary work in Jamaica. In 1772 Joseph's wife Martha fell ill while they were living in Carrol's Manor and the family decided to return to Bethlehem. Martha died two years later on May 6, 1774, from her illness. He was transferred shortly after his wifes death to Nine Partners (Sichem), NY where the Moravians had a church and a mission. Some of his family accompanied him in May of 1774 and Joseph intended this to be his final home. Joseph died shortly after arriving on September 23, 1774. Joseph Powell was 64 years old and the time of his death and left behind his children, Joseph, Martin and Stephen Powell. In 1859 the Moravian Historical Society erected a monument on his grave honoring Joseph Powell.


This collection contains letters written by as well as received by Joseph Powell, travel documentation for Joseph and Martha Powell, notes from scripture and sermons given by Joseph Powell, receipts from purchases made, recipes for ointments, and inventories of Joseph Powell's estate recorded by the County of Northhampton after Powell's death.



Custodial History

The papers were given to the Moravian Archives at an unknown date, probably during the 18th century. This collection was organized by Katey Fardelmann (CLIR project) in August 2011.

Related Material

travel diaries by Powell in collection of Journey Diaries; MissJmc


Joseph Powell Papers
1. Correspondence, received by Joseph and Martha Powell
Date: 1759 - 1770
Physical Description: Letters are fragile; some are in protective covering
Scope/Content: Includes letters from: - Martha Thurston, London, England (September 16,1759) - Caleb Powell, London (April 5, 1765) - Sarah Duckett, Enoree River, South Carolina (May 11, 1767) - Mary Trippet and Polly, Lititz, Pa (April 25, 1768) - Matthew Hehl, Lititz, Pa (October 23, 1768) - instructions for Powell authorized by Synod - Nathaniel Seidel, Bethlehem, Pa (January 11, 1769) - Friedrich Schlegel (two letters), Carmel (January 28, 1766) and Carmel (February 20, 1770) - Mary Magdelen and Mary Penry (5 letters), Lititz (December 1, 1767), (March 20, 1768), (June 3, 1768), (October 23, 1769), (March 5, 1770) - Mary Penry and Mary Magdelen both seem to live in the Choral House in Lititz; the Powells sent Mary Penry to Lititz for this purpose - Daniel Sydrich, Lititz (March 5, 1770)
Note: - organized by letter author and chronologically
2. Letters received by Joseph Powell (1771-1774)
Date: 1771 - 1774
Physical Description: Letters are fragile; some are in protective covering
Scope/Content: Includes letters from:
- J. Friis, Philadelphia (June 5, 1771)
- Richard Owen, and Jacob Stoner (June 25, 1771)
- T. Horsfield (2 letters), Bethlehem (October 19, 1770) and (May 15, 1772) - Horsfield seems to be a legal or financial consultant for the Powells, the letters detail a financial matter regarding the inheritance of a family estate
- Sarah Perry (January 6, 1772)
- Christian Gregor, Bethlehem (April 28, 1772)
- Sarah Pedoycoart, Carroll Manor (October 12, 1773)
- Mary Milleni (March 13, 1773)
- Daniel and Catherena Smith, North Carolina (June 29, 1773)
- Widow Goslin's Eldest Son, Salem, NC. (February 3, 1774)
- Joseph Johnson (3 letters), Carroll's Manor (1767 and undated) - includes the "Last Will and Testament of Joseph Johnson; letters regard a legal issues regarding Joseph Johnson's son supposed inappropriate relations with a girl in the community
- letters from an unknown author (N.D.)
Note: - organized by letter author and chronologically
3. Letters sent by Joseph Powell (1767-1773)
Date: 1767 - 1773
Physical Description: Letters are fragile
Scope/Content: Includes letters to:
- "Dear Loving Friends," (two letters) Carrol's Manor (December 19, 1767) and (August 2, 1772)
- Worshipfull Justices (two letters) Carrol's Manor (September 5, 1768) and (March 16, 1771) - regarding the requirements of paying taxes for a clergyman
Note: - letters in chronological order
4. Misc. Items
Date: 1756 - 1771
Physical Description: Items frayed around the edges, fair condition
Scope/Content: Includes:
- Travel Document (May 5, 1756) - written by lawyer Timothy Horsfield acknowledging for the Province of Pennsylvania the legality and purpose of the Powell's travels
- Acknowledgement of Legal Representation - Timothy Horsfield (1767) - regarding the attainment of T. Horsfield for legal representation regarding the inheritance of a relative
- Church Material: Notes from Scriptures and Sermons (1765, 1769, 1771, undated)
- Receipts (May 23, 1771 from Brethren's Widow Society) and (undated) regarding the purchase of food and basic necessities
- Recipes for ointments
5. Inventory of Joseph Powell's Estate
Date: 1774
Physical Description: Fair
Scope/Content: Includes:
four copies of "Account of the Goods and Effects of Joseph Powell late of Bethlehem in the County of Northhampton" taken by Andreas Weber and Christian Frederick Oerter
[two copies are in English and two in German; they are not identical copies]
Note: - inventory was taken after Joseph Powell's death - inventory was taken to place a value on and appraise J.P.'s estate