6 Facts You May Not Have Known About Black History in Salem

Did you know that Salem was home to one of the oldest African-American churches in the nation, in addition to the oldest women’s institution? As many events occurred throughout the nation, there were several interesting instances in Black history that happened right in Salem, North Carolina.


  1. During 1785, Anna Maria Samuels, daughter of Johann Samuel, the first baptized African Moravian in North Carolina, was admitted into the girls’ school in Salem and was the first African-American to move into the Single Sisters’ House.
  2. African-Americans worked in the Tavern when George Washington stayed in Salem for two nights in 1791. Also, those who knew German and English were requested to assist in translating when travelers arrived.
  3. In the 1700s African-American marriages were consented by the Moravian communities, though they were not legally recognized at the time in the South.
  4. Philips Church in Old Salem is the oldest African-American church in North Carolina. In fact, a Union Cavalry Chaplain announced the freedom to the enslaved community of Salem from the pulpit of the church in 1865. As part of the Old Salem Museum, the church is available to tour with a ticket.

    Phillips Church. Photo Credit: Camel City Dispatch

    Phillips Church.
    Photo Credit: Camel City Dispatch

  5. Members of the African Moravian congregation formed the first African-American schoolhouse in Forsyth County in the 1870s. It was open to all African-Americans rather than only residents of Salem.
  6. Elias Vogler, son of John Vogler (for whom the J. Vogler House in Old Salem was named), was the superintendent of the African Moravian church and contributed to the establishment of Happy Hill, the first African American neighborhood in Winston-Salem.

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