Mapping the Payne and Froehlich Journey

Throughout the last week, we have been playing around with a map of the travel route of Jasper Payne and Christian Froehlich on ArcGIS. The software allows us to add insightful layers to the map, like Native American paths, slave plantations, and several others. Mapping the travel route for this journey has helped me to better visualize how far they actually traveled. As David Bodenhamer states in The Spatial Humanities, “We are inherently spatial beings: we live in a physical world and routinely use spatial concepts of distance and direction to navigate our way through it.” (Bodenhamer 14) Thus, being able to spatially visualize this Moravian journey helps us to better relive their experiences.

Mapping their journey also revealed some interesting facts. When I turn on the Native American Paths layer, I can see that the Manocacy Path lines up exactly with the destinations that Payne and Froehlich visited in Pennsylvania. This is very interesting because the Native American trails were some of the only “roads” or ways of travel back then. Once the journey progresses into Maryland, I can turn on the Wagon Map to see how they traveled along the wagon road. When I turn on the Slave Density layer, I can clearly see that they are moving straight into the most dense area. The layer called “Plantations Prior to 1770” shows slave plantations in Maryland and Virginia prior to 1770. Turning this layer on shows that they visited plantations in an area where there were less plantations in one area, whereas there were some areas with big clusters of plantations.

I wondered to myself why they would not go to the area where there is a big cluster of plantations to spread the Word of the Lord. Then I turned on the Moravian Itinerant layer which revealed something important to me. This layer shows where there are areas of Moravian preaching and where there are Moravian congregations. Viewing both the Plantation and Itinerant layers together, I realized that those big clusters of plantations were already in an area of occasional Moravian preaching. It was clear that Jasper Payne and company were traveling away from areas where active Moravian preaching was occurring. This proves how determined and dedicated they were to spreading the Word to “uninformed” people.

Using the Measure tool on ArcGIS I could measure the distances between the points of their daily destinations. I tried to measure the exact path that they took as much as I could. I found that on average they traveled distances ranging from about 10 miles to 18 miles a day. Some days they travel farther than other days. In the beginning they had plans to stay with specific people who they knew, so the locations of their homes may have determined how far they traveled that day. They also tend to stay longer with people who they knew or when there is bad travel weather. As you can tell, there is so much information to be learned from mapping the journey that can’t be learned from just reading the journal. I really liked using GIS for mapping. I agree with Bodenhamer when he says, “GIS provides a way to manage, relate, and query events, as well as to visualize them, that should be attractive to researchers.” (Bodenhamer 22) I think the Map Journal that I made using GIS looks awesome.

In my Map Journal I have four slides. I touch on Payne’s journey through Pennsylvania, into slave country, and I talk about why he chooses to go the route that he goes.

Click on this image to go to my Map Journal.
Click on this image to go to my Map Journal.

The most fascinating idea that occurred to me from doing this mapping is that these places still exist today and each of these places has “seen” so many different stories. People a long time ago spoke and wrote about the same places that we talk about today.  It’s like Bodenhamer wrote, “[spaces] are not passive settings but the medium for the development of culture.” (Bodenhamer 16) It makes me feel some kind of respect towards these places, such as the ferries, the school house in Oley, the wagon road, and the Native American trails. I want to acquire the knowledge that these places hold.

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Suné

I am a sophomore computer science major at Bucknell University. I am taking this digital humanities course because it sounded very interesting when I heard about it. I have always been interested in the history of people and places around the world. I want to learn more about certain historical events/people/places but also learn how to present what I've learned in an interesting way. That seems to be what this course is all about!

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