Search billions of records on

(This Page Was Last Modified Wednesday, 06-Apr-2011 15:39:52 MDT.)

Search John's Notes, or This Entire Web Site.

This is the SIXTH page of John BLANKENBAKER's series of Short Notes on GERMANNA History, which were originally posted to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Discussion List.  Each page contains 25 Notes.

(See bottom of this page for Links to all Notes pages.)
This Page Contains Notes 126 through 150.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 6

(If the text on this and other pages on this website isn't large enough, click here to see how to increase the size.)
(If you wish to print only part of this page, and not the entire page, click here for instructions.)

Nr. 126:

What are the Germanna Colonies?  The term has never been defined precisely and different individuals would define it differently.  I am defining a Germanna colonist as a person of at least partial Germanic extraction who lived in the modern Virginia counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, and Rappahannock.  The earliest ones also lived in other counties, generally on a temporary basis.  It is important to note this as some records are to be found in Essex, Spotsylvania, Orange, Stafford, and Prince William Counties.

Some of the Germanna colonists came directly to Virginia, but others came by way of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, the Carolinas, or even Georgia.  One of the lessons we learn is that there was more communication among the citizens of the different colonies than we have thought.  They were not isolated.

While the primary emphasis is on the Germanna colonists as defined above, I hope these notes might be interesting to others who may have a knowledge of some of the individuals, especially as they may have lived in a geographical area outside the narrowly defined one above.

Sometimes a topic can be made to be of interest to both Germanna descendants and to others.  If it can be, then all the better.  For example, the information described in recent notes on the Hebron Lutheran Church Register are typical of what may be found in other church records; however, caution is advised before applying the results described for the Hebron Register to other churches.

The primary emphasis of these notes is the Germanna Colonies, but the opportunity to describe a broader situation is welcomed, especially within the context of the Germanna people.

Many of the Germans married outside their race and language at a very early date.  Apparently, not many years after her immigration to Virginia, Catherine Tanner married Richard Burdyne who, himself, is not thought to be of German origin.  Her descendants qualify as Germanna colonists, I would say.  There were many mixed language marriages and many people qualify as a Germanna descendant even though their name may not be a clue to these origins.

There were differences in the English and German immigration patterns as to the type of people who came, their sex, family status.  These differences are one of the reasons that there were so many mixed marriages.

Nr. 127:

There were differences in the immigration patterns of the English and the Germans who came to Virginia.  Some of the information on the English can be derived from the head rights shown in Nell Marion Nugent's "Cavaliers and Pioneers", volume 3 (1695-1732).  This period of time overlaps the arrival of the earliest Germanna settlers.  Using the surname, Thomas, as a selection guide, there were 36 different male Thomases who were claimed as head rights.  This is a lower bound as some who came and perhaps paid their own way may never have claimed their headright to fifty acres of land.  From the names in the lists surrounding these 36 Thomas men, one would judge that the source was Great Britain.

During this 37-year period, 13 male Thomases patented land.  Within these 13, there were only eight distinctive first names so the 13 is an upper limit on the different individuals who patented land.  But using the numbers 13 and 36 though, only 36 percent of the male Thomases made land claims resulting in Virginia land patents.  And the 36 percent should probably be smaller as the number 13 should be smaller and the number 36 should be larger.  One concludes that the majority of the English immigrants to Virginia were not interested in land.  Perhaps they followed trades and jobs which did not require land.

In the same time period of 1695 to 1732 there were only 13 female Thomases.  If this ratio holds true for all surnames, then approximately three English men came for every woman.  One has to conclude that most of the English Thomas men did not have a wife when they came.

Now let us look at the situation among the Germanna settlers.  Of the Germans who came in 1717 (the Second Colony), 48 names are given as head rights by Alexander Spotswood.  Exactly 24 of the names are males and 24 names are female names (if I counted correctly).  There were definite families, some with three generations, but most commonly with a husband and wife and children.  Every family that we can trace eventually owned land, usually by the patent process of taking virgin land from the crown.  Several of these individuals had known trades in Germany such as Matthias Blankenbaker, who was a master tailor.  Yet he took out patents on 470 acres of land.

We have another excellent sample among the Germans, which overlaps the previous data, in the Spotsylvania Co., VA, proofs of importation, the first step in procuring head rights.  Of the twelve men here from the First Colony, all except one named a wife.  The exception named his mother.  Three families had children.  Now, at the actual time of importation in 1714, not all of these men were married, but their wives came at the same time in other families (it is believed, though not proven).  Every one of these men became a landowner.

To summarize, the Germans were much more family oriented than the English.  It was not an unusual motive among them to seek a better life for their family with an emphasis on their children.  The Germans definitely saw land as a part of this process.

It should not be a surprise that German women often found a marriage partner from among the English.  Perhaps it would be better to say that the English men found the German women to be attractive.  They emphasized family values and the German women were good workers who would help outside the home.

Nr. 128:

What is evidence?  A school and office dictionary says, "Something that makes another thing evident, a sign, or a statement of a witness or an object bearing on the point in question."  So let's look at some booby-traps in the field of evidence.

The first example I have alluded to very recently.  On 2 Jun 1724, John Hoffman appeared in the Court of Spotsylvania County and testified that he and his wife Katrina came to Virginia.  The purpose of this was to obtain two head rights good for 100 acres total of the Crown's land.  If you inferred from this that John Hoffman was married in 1714 when he came to Virginia, you would be in error.  The fact is, John Hoffman married Anna Catherine Häger, the daughter of Rev. Henry Häger, on 7 Nov 1721, as recorded in his family Bible.  Katrina (Anna Catherine) did come in 1714, on the same ship as John Huffman.  So John Hoffman's statement about his wife meant only that in 1724 she was his wife.  We may have read something into his statement that he did not say.  She was entitled to fifty acres herself and the claim of John Hoffman did nothing in violation of law.

Another one that I alluded to in the past is the baptism of Johannes Becker.  The record in the Hebron Church Register does not say that Johannes had the surname Becker.  John and Elizabeth Becker are listed as the parents and the child was simply Johannes.  We assumed that Johannes was their son until Baumgardner researchers found that the previous husband of Elizabeth Becker was Adam Baumgardner.  Adam died and Elizabeth married John Becker before Johannes was born (6 Jun 1769).  The pastor officiating at the baptism may have been aware of all of the facts but did not feel it was necessary to record the data.  What was important was that Johannes was baptized and John and Elizabeth Becker were going to be raising him.

The will of Christopher Barlor/Barlow is recorded in Madison Co., VA, Will Book 2, on page 249, on 20 Jun 1810.  The assumption that Christopher Barlow died in Madison Co. is false.  Most of the time, wills are filed in the same county as where the death occurs.  But this same will is also filed in Boone Co., KY, in Will Book A, on page 82.  So we now have three choices, Madison Co., Boone Co., or still another county.  Boone Co. seems to be the rational choice as that is where an estate sale is to be found for Christopher Barlow.  So why would the will be filed in Madison Co.?  Christopher originally did live in Madison Co. and that is where the witnesses to the will were still living.  So the will was filed where the witnesses could appear and testify that it was the will of Christopher.  Then a copy of their oaths and a copy of the will could be forwarded to Boone Co. in KY.

When the ship, "Pennsylvania Merchant", arrived at Philadelphia in 1731, the passengers included Frederick Gybert, Catrina Gybert, Elizabeth Gybert, Julian Gybert, Barnet Gybert, Sabina Gybert, and Mathias Gybert.  When the names in the church of Schwaigern, Germany, were examined, it was found that the surname of Julian and Barnet was not Gybert/Gebert but was Reiner.  They were stepsons of Frederick, not sons of Frederick.  (This family is of interest to Germanna researchers because Catrina Gybert was the stepdaughter of Johann Michael Willheit, early Germanna pioneer.  Born a Boger, Catrina married a Reiner, and then Frederick Gybert.  There are also Reiners among the Germanna settlers, the earliest of whom came in 1717.  If anyone knows what became of the Gebert family in the colonies, I would like to know.)

If you have some booby-traps, you might send them along.  Perhaps others would be interested in them.

Nr. 129:

In the last note, some particular pieces of evidence were examined.  They seemed to say one thing, but other evidence showed that the first reading, or the more obvious interpretation, was not true.  In some cases the fault was ours for assuming something.  In at least one case, the original record was simply in error.  This points up that any piece of evidence might be in error for a variety of reasons.

Given the less than perfect reliability of evidence, what is the impact on the final outcome?  When compounded over several generations, the chance that a particular sequence of events is true starts falling very rapidly.

For example, a birth recorded in the Hebron Church Register is assumed by most people to be true, i.e., in a thousand cases, it will be correct one thousand times.  But yesterday we discussed the case of Johannes Becker whose father was not the man that we would normally assume from the record.  If, in one thousand births, the recorded event is true nine hundred and ninety-nine times, we could assign a probability of 0.999 to the event being true.  Seldom is evidence this good.  This is actually a high probability.

Suppose that we have a chain of events, say male ancestors back for eight generations.  Say the probability that each male is correctly identified is 0.999.  What is the probability that great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather has been correctly named?  The probability is quite high, still better than 99 out of 100 (or 0.99 plus).

But a probability of 0.999 is extremely high.  In many of the generations or steps backward to an eighth ancestor, the odds are quite low.  Many times, the evidence that can be accumulated in any one generation would warrant odds no better than 0.8, i.e., in ten similar cases the facts would be true only eight times.  If these odds were applied to each of the eight generations, the chance that the sixth great-grandfather has been identified correctly, falls to slightly less than 0.17.  Or stately differently, it is rather unlikely that he has been correctly identified.  Out of eight similar cases, only one of the eight would be correct.

The point is that the odds compound.  At each step, the chance that the sequence is correct weakens.  Considering that some of the best evidence is not as good as a first glance might indicate, it becomes important to find new or improved sources or data to buttress the case.

There are a lot of guesses floating around in the world of genealogy.  A lot of these guesses do not even rate an assignment of 0.05 for being correct.

The old adage that "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link" is true.  But in genealogy the problem is even more difficult.  We not asking if there is one rotten apple in the barrel.  We are asking if there are any rotten apples.  There are many different ways that the chain can be broken.  Some of the events are not what they seem to be.  The probability that a fact is true should never be assigned as a rating of certainty, i.e., a probability of 1.0.

Nr. 130:

In volume 7, the number 1 issue, of "Beyond Germanna", there was an article by Nancy Upshaw entitled "What is Truth?".  This had been reprinted with permission from the "Bulletin of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon" with their permission.  An edited version is included here:

"Truth is a matter of perspective.  As a scientist, I have been trained to doubt all conclusions.  Why?  Completeness, lies, mistakes.  This means constant digging for more evidence, that either falls in line with current assumptions, or which may cause a conflicting view of the event.  There is a limit to this as with everything, and at some point you have to decide, "I have enough."  Later, you may uncover material that reopens the case.

"In the absence of direct evidence, or, in addition to direct evidence, a compilation of circumstantial evidence is acceptable.  Enough of it can be considered equivalent to direct proof if no conflicts exist to cause doubts.  In most cases, one cannot prove the event happened; it can only be proven that is very likely that it happened.

"Genealogy is not a philosophy; it is an earnest search for facts using the scientific method.  People may be philosophical about the subject, but the subject itself is not a philosophical one.

"If a tree falls in the forest and someone finds the remains of the tree rotting away, this is evidence that a tree once grew there.  To a high degree of certainty, a tree once grew there, fell, and began to rot.  Maybe the stump is still there and maybe the tree can be connected with the stump.  This increases the odds of the tentative conclusion as opposed to the thesis that the tree was dumped there (which is possible).  The evidence today is not first hand knowledge that a tree did grow there, but is reliable knowledge of the best sort.

"The most important thing for a researcher to do is to say, "I found a rotting tree lying on the ground in the forest.  Also, I found at the larger end of the tree, a stump, which seemed to be an equal diameter and of a form which suggested it fit the end of the trunk exposed at that end.  From the evidence, I surmise that the tree once grew here, then fell."  To future readers of the researcher's work, it is as important to record the reasons for the assumption of a fact, as to record the fact itself.  Later, if other evidence comes to light, than it can be meshed with existing known evidence or it can be examined for conflictual impact.

"There is always a likelihood of some degree that records have innocent mistakes in them.  People do lie.  Perhaps, even more commonly, people are misunderstood, or they misunderstand things themselves, and report these things as they (mis)understand them.  This is why the search should be on searching for all of the evidence, not just the "surface" proof of a point.  It is best to have multiple pieces of independent evidence to cross-verify each other.

"In the process of finding and evaluating evidence, truth will tend to survive and lies will tend to die.  Given conflicting evidence, we must sort and search for more.  Given weak evidence, we can form hypotheses, but not draw conclusions.  Given strong evidence, we can form hypotheses and offer proposed conclusions.  Usually, we fall somewhere in the middle."

Nr. 131:

This note will examine a case from my personal experience.  I had a copy of the marriage license of my great-grandparents, Julius Blankenbigger and Mary Garr Finks, from 1842 in Audrain Co., Missouri.  The spelling as Blankenbigger isn't a distraction; by now, I've learned that is about as close as one ever finds.  The problem was in finding the parentage of Julius whom one could assume was born in the early 1800's.  Mary Garr Finks was no problem as her Germanna history could be traced back to many members of the Second Germanna Colony.

The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies has a published Blankenbaker genealogical history but there was no Julius in it.  The name Blankenbaker (or its many variations) is decidedly a Germanna name.  About all that I could be confident about was that Julius was of the Germanna folk but there was no clue as to his parentage.

One item in the published Blankenbaker history was suggestive.  The family of Aaron and Eliza (Utz) Blankenbaker included Julia F. about whom there was no further information.  Perhaps the Julia F. was a misreading of Julius, especially if Julius had been written in error with a long "S" on the end.  Someone else might have read this long "S" as an "F".  At this point, the odds that the parents of Julius were Aaron and Eliza were about 0.25, only one chance in four.  This is not enough on which to bet the farm.

All of the Blankenbakers in the 1810 and the 1820 censuses were examined.  The family of Aaron showed an interesting distribution.  First, according to the Germanna Record, the family had three sons and four daughters.  In the census in both 1810 and in 1820, the distribution is consistent with four boys and three girls, but not with three boys and four girls.  All of the other children have indicated marriage partners in the Germanna Record which leaves Julia F. as the odd child out.  That is, her sex is wrong.  Suddenly the odds that Julia F. was really Julius have jumped to something like three chances out of four or perhaps even better.

I was now at the position that I could draw a proposed conclusion while I searched for evidence which proved or disproved the hypothesis.  Very luckily, the evidence came, though not immediately, from another person who might not have even been aware of my desire for more evidence.  Mary Ellen Clore Henson sent a copy of the information in the Ellen Francis (Blankenbaker) Clore Bible.  Ellen Francis was the youngest child of Aaron and Elizabeth.  The information recorded there shows that Julius Frederick Blankenbecker and his twin sister, Martha Julian Blankenbecker, were born on the 14th of April in 1814.  The distribution of children agrees with the census as to their sex.

The odds that Julius, who married Mary Garr Finks, was the son of Aaron and Elizabeth have jumped to about 0.98.  It is not a certainty as there may have been two Julius Blankenbakers.  Though only one is known now, the possbility still exists of there being two men named Julius Blankenbaker.

There was another problem in the Germanna Record pertaining to the parents of Julius.  They have incorrectly identified the wife of Aaron.  In this case it is a problem of mixing up two Elizabeth Utzes.  This type of problem is a perennial bug-a-boo of genealogists.

Nr. 132:

Finding people who should be present in a neighborhood is sometimes a challenge.  In recent weeks, several individuals have been mentioned who have only one or two mentions in the records.  The case of George Trumbo was mentioned; he appears only in a baptismal record as a parent.  But, thanks to a fellow researcher, he was identified.  He was not a resident in the area associated with the Germanna people and we will not find many records for him in the courthouses where Germanna people usually leave their traces.

Thanks to Barbara Vines Little and Nancy Dodge, I have just learned that a record has been found for an individual for whom I had been looking for years.  In this case the search was more difficult because the recorded name bears little resemblance to the true name.  One could read the recorded name ten times and never suspect what the underlying name was.  When I learn more, the family will be discussed.

All of this preamble is an introduction to the 1787 tax lists for Virginia.  In 1786, the Virginia Assembly mandated that the tax commissioner should call upon every person in their district who was subject to the tax, i.e., they owned personal property.  The data to be gathered included the name of every free male more than 21 years of age who was subject to the tax.  The commissioner was to call upon the people at their home.  He was also to note the number of white males between 16 and 21.  The law was repealed in the fall of 1787 and so the type of data collected that year is unique.

In the original data, the information was arranged in two ways.  First, it was given in an approximate alphabetical order.  Second, it was arranged by the date that the commissioner called upon people.  This second list shows the neighbors since the commissioner was apt to call upon people in the same area on the same day.  From day to day, the commissioner did not travel far.

In 1787, Culpeper Co., VA consisted of the three modern counties, Culpeper, Madison and Rappahannock.  Three commissioners took the data and their respective areas correspond, at least approximately, to the modern counties.  Even more interesting is the fact that one can approximately identify the neighborhoods that the commissioners were in on each day.

A sample will show the information that was taken.  Henry Aylor, Sr. had no white males aged 16 to 21 in his household, but he had three blacks more than 16 years and six blacks less than 16 years.  He had six horses and eight cows.  Three other Aylors are in the list, Henry, Jr., Abram whose tithe was paid by Henry Aylor, Sr., (he had no property himself), and Jacob.  The commissioner visited all four of the men on April 13 and the physical area is close to Haywood.  Other Germanna names that the commissioner visited on this day include Daniel Lipp, Henry Lipp, Benjamin Rowe, Jesse Wilhoit and Tobias Wilhoit.

Fortunately, Netti Schreiner-Yantis and Florene Love have published this "1787 Census of Virginia" as a series of booklets, one per county.  In 1787, Virginia included also most of today's Kentucky and West Virginia.  If you are studying the community, the books are a necessity.  If I am asked if I have heard of a name in this time frame, I consult this census.  Sometimes the information is helpful, sometimes not.  It is a fast way of getting a look.

Nr. 133:

The last note examined the 1787 tax list of Culpeper Co., Virginia, as a source of information.  From this same time period, there is another list of names for Culpeper Co. which is also useful.  These are the so-called Culpeper Classes, a list of the militia in January of 1781.  Each of the 106 classes is composed of thirteen or fourteen names.  Thus, these lists furnish about fourteen hundred names of males, aged 16 to 50.

From the earliest colonial times, military service by the able-bodied males was compulsory.  The age range was from 16 to 50.  Men were organized geographically under designated, commissioned officers.  To be an officer, especially in a higher rank, was much prized.  One was entitled to be addressed by his military rank, e.g., Captain Mark Finks, of the Germanna family.

Toward the end of 1780, the Revolutionary War was heating up in the Southern colonies, and Virginia was in danger, and, a resource of manpower.  To provide men, a draft was instituted in Virginia.  The quota was divided among the counties, and Culpeper Co. was assigned to supply 106 men.  Culpeper did this by dividing the militia into 106 classes and then one man was selected (drafted) from each class.

Provisions were made for the drafted person to be replaced by another person.  One could hire a substitute.  Some classes avoided the draft altogether by collectively hiring a man to serve as the draft from the class.  In some cases, it appears that a relative served in place of the drafted person, most likely because the drafted person was married or essential at home.

There has been some argument as to the significance of a name appearing in one of these Culpeper classes.  For a while, some patriotic organizations took the appearance of a name in these lists as meaning the man did service for the cause of the Revolution.  At other times or places, the opinion has been the lists are an "inventory" of middle-aged males in Culpeper County.  One had no control over whether his name was entered there or not.  In theory, one could have been a Tory and opposed to the Revolution while still appearing in the lists.

For historians and genealogists, the lists are valuable because they are names, a fairly complete list of names at that.  Also, like the tax data discussed in the last note, the names are arranged geographically.  One can often assign a geographical area from the names, e.g., this is the Little Fork area of northern Culpeper (present day Jeffersonton).

Unfortunately, there was probably leakage.  People avoided enrolling in the militia when they became 16.  Or, those of age for the militia found excuses, perhaps semi-medical, to be exempted.

The rolls of the Culpeper classes are on microfilm in Richmond, with perhaps copies at other locations.  The Library of Virginia has a card index by name (accessible by computer).  Unfortunately this has lost the geographic information (the names of the other individuals in the class).  The DAR has published a printed list but it has many errors in it.  Even the card index has a few errors, some of which are subtle.  For example, a Garr is given as Carr.  Other German names have similar problems.

Nr. 134:

The discussion of the Culpeper Classes continues.  The only county I know of that had Classes of this type is Culpeper Co., in Virginia.  Whether it is the only county to save the working sheets (the lists of names), or whether it was the only county to use this method is unknown to me.  Any amplification would be welcome.

I have a note on the result of selecting one man from each class.  Four men were retained for the War.  Forty-seven were entered for 18 months.  Twenty-nine were drafted.  Twelve refused to serve.  Twelve absconded.  Two were sick.  Of the twelve who absconded, two came in and were sent to the Army.  If this is taken as a measure for the support for the Revolution, almost 25% of the men refused or absconded.  I take it that being "entered" meant the person enlisted after being selected.  This would be opposed to the "drafted" category where the person was compelled to go.

Here are a few classes: In number 76 the names were Moses Broyles, Cornelius Carpenter, William Carpenter, Sr., Michael Carpenter, Sr., Michael Broyles, John Milbank, John Blankenbeker, Zacheriah Broyle, John Carpenter, Jr., Joseph Bledsoe, John Bledsoe, Joshua Wayland, Daniel Broyle.  Except for the Bledsoe and Milbank names, all of the names are from the Germanna families in the Robinson River Valley.  Even John Milbank married a Germanna woman, Mary Barlow.  Within these thirteen names, John Blankenbeker was the draft, but Lewis Nunnimaker substituted for him.  In one sense, Lewis was logical as he was the brother-in-law of John Blankenbaker, having married John's sister, Barbara.  But it seems strange that Lewis, a married man would go in the place of John.  Very often the substitute for the selected man is related.  In some cases, the deal may have been strictly monetary.  Men would go in the place of another for a fee.  In case you have the impression that the Blankenbakers avoided the war, in class 71, Nicholas Blankenbeker was selected and he served.

Class number 34 is rich in Germanna names: Joseph Coones, Jr., John Fishback (son of Jacob), Jacob Fishback, Jr., James Blackwell, John Spillman, John Matthais, James Burdett, Frederick Coones, John Young, Jr., Frederick Fishback (son of Fred), John Coons, Peter Kamper, William Button, and Harmon Button.  In the selection process, Frederick Coones was the draft, but Thomas Blackwell substituted for Fred Coones.  In this case, I do not know if there was any relationship between the Coones and Blackwell.  These names come from around Jeffersonton in the Little Neck district of Culpeper Co.

Class 70 contained John Hughes, Paul Leatherer, Joshua Leatherer, James Rush, Benjamin Hanes, Tobias Wilhoit, Jonathon Garriott, Michael Klugg, John Yowell (son of James), James Yowell (son of James), Michael Leatherer, James Yowell (son of David), John Yowell (son of David), Samuel Leatherer.  No name is indicated as a selection, but John Hughes was a substitute.  This perhaps may mean that rather than hold a draft, the members of the class agreed in advance to pay one person to serve for the class.  In this case, he happened to be a member of the class though he did not have to be.  Note that the information in the list contains some genealogical information, in this case, far more than most.

I would welcome comments on the subject of the Culpeper Classes.

Nr. 135:

Recently, we have been talking about lists of names that may prove helpful in research.  In this day's note, we'll look at a source of information for Fauquier County.  This is the book, "Fauquier Families, 1759-1799" by John P. Alcock.  It consists of comprehensive indexed abstracts of tax and tithable lists, marriage bonds, minute, deed and will books, and other sources.  In its 400 plus pages (large sized pages), a coding scheme has been used to report ten of thousands of names.  If a man lived in Fauquier County in the period from 1759 to 1799 and did not leave a record of some sort, then he was probably in an institution.  Even then there is probably a court order which committed him to the institution.

Fauquier Co. is very much a Germanna county as it is the area in which the First Germanna Colony made their permanent homes.  When they moved from Germanna in 1719, the area was Stafford County and then later was Prince William County.  In 1759 it became Fauquier County with the same boundaries as it has today.  The Germans, who moved to Germantown in 1719 in what became Fauquier County, were very likely the first settlers of the future Fauquier Co.

Fauquier Co. has been very stable.  Essentially, all of its original records have been maintained without loss to fire or war.  (The same cannot be said for Stafford or Prince William Counties.)  Much of the growth within Fauquier Co. occurred after 1759, so the Fauquier records represent a good part of the history of the people who settled and remained in that part of the country.

Fauquier Co. has always been considered a part of the Northern Neck and within the domain of Lord Fairfax, the last of the proprietors.  Much of the land in Fauquier Co. had been granted by 1750 by Lord Fairfax.  Lord Fairfax became the owner of 120,000 acres by direct title.  Within this Manor of Leeds, he leased land and thereby started a sub-history to the general history of the county.

In 1760, at its founding, Fauquier Co. is estimated to have had 3500 residents.  By 1775, the start of the Revolution, the population had more than doubled to 8000 to 8500.  Within this influx of new citizens, there were still Germans whose stories have been imperfectly and very incompletely told.  In the next ten years during the war, the population was static.  After the war, another boom brought the population to 15,000 by the turn of the century.  The population peaked out at 30,000 about 1830, not to be exceeded for than a century.

Quite early in its history, there was an outflow from Fauquier Co. At first, the more popular destinations were the Valley and the interior of the Carolinas with some to southern and southwest Virginia.  A "Carolina" road ran down the middle of Fauquier Co. After the war, the popular destinations were the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  The latter region, a part of Virginia until 1792, was popular with veterans of the Revolution where they could have land for their war service.

The author of the book, "Fauquier Families", lives in the county in a home where the original house was built in 1768.  So his book is a labor of love for Fauquier Co. as much as anything.  If you are interested in the book, you may contact him (John P. Alcock) at 3910 Lea Road, Marshall, VA 22115.  John has written several articles for Beyond Germanna which have clarified and corrected several aspects of the Rector family history.  In the next note, I will talk more about the book.

Nr. 136:

The amount of information that the residents of a county can generate in forty years, even with a population numbered in the thousands, not the ten-thousands, is fantastic.  Searching through this information for names of individuals is not easy.  That is why special seats of honor go to the people who go through the records, extracting names, making sense out of the data, and putting it into a form for others to use.  John P. Alcock has done this for Fauquier Co., Virginia, in the forty years after its founding in 1759 to form an almost complete record of Fauquier's eighteenth-century official history.

Let's take one record as an example.  Martin Whitescarver (a Germanna name) is listed with the following information (the only Whitescarver to be listed):

97W/Henry Carter - 98W/Thomas C. Dickerson.

The numerals refer to the year so there are records in 1797 and 1798.  The letter "W" refers to the tithables list where Joseph Withers was responsible (in the Northwest District) for the records.  In this case, Henry Carter paid the tithe in '97 and Thomas C. Dickerson paid the tithe in '98.  This pattern is typical of younger individuals who often lived with another family.  Whether Martin Whitescarver remained in Fauquier Co. isn't evident since we have approached the end of the book in time.  (The name Whitescarver is usually given as Weissgerber in German; in America, it often appears in the form Wisecarver.)

The first part of the book is in alphabetical form under the family name of the individual to whom the information was judged to be most relevant.  When the abstract contains references to individuals with surnames different from the principal actor, those names are cross referenced in the second section of the book.

One of the bug-a-boos of eighteenth-century records is the wide variation in spelling.  Numerous variations of almost all family names were written into the records by the clerks and the owners of the names.  Different individuals had their own rules for phonetic spellings.  It is impossible to distinguish between eighteenth-century Robinsons and Robertsons, Glascocks and Glasscocks, Austins and Ostins, or Cannadays and Kennedys.  Mr. Alcock, to make efficient use of the pages, uses a standardized spelling for each family name which is usually a common modern spelling.  For example, Holtzclaw is how the name is spelled for one Germanna family name even though there are equally good variants such as Holsclaw.  The forms Carnes, Kearns, Keirnes, Kerns, and Kirns, with or without the "s" are all placed under Kearns.  But the author warns that the user should check for himself.

The book is meant to be a guide to finding the original records of interest.  Information contained in the abstracts is lean, but some genealogical relationships are included.  On one occasion, after the book was published, I asked Mr. Alcock about the sons of Harmon Rector.  By consulting his own book, he was able to answer that one son was John, an attribution that had not been made before.  More generally, the original records will have to be and will want to be consulted.

Unfortunately, not all records were able to be used.  Since the book appeared, the staff at the court house has found and indexed some loose papers.  Within these loose papers, Mr. Alcock was able to answer another Rector question.  But still, life is a lot easier for having books such as "Fauquier Families".

Nr. 137:

In 1727, Hans Jorg Dieter and his wife Maria Margaretha Luttman of Schwaigern wanted to emigrate to Pennsylvania.  They went to the police court to get permission and to pay the necessary taxes.  There an inventory of their possessions was made.  The list is interesting for what it contains.  At the time Hans Jorg was in his late twenties and Maria Margaretha was in her middle twenties.  They should have had one child, Johann Michael, at this time.  The court minutes state that, "Hans Jorg Dieter, son of Schwaigern Mayor Hans Michael Dieter, has decided in furtherance of his expected success to render himself to Pennsylvania under Royal British Sovereignity."

They did arrive in Philadelphia later in the year and lived for a time in Lancaster County in PA.  By 1736, he has taken a land patent for 200 acres in the Robinson River community among the Germanna people.  The choice of the location is not unusual as Schwaigern was the home of several Germanna families.  In the colonies, he became known as George Teter but he should be distinguished from the George Teter who lived at the same time in Opequon.

Returning to the possessions, the value is quoted in two denominations, Gulden and Kreuzer.  I do not know the relative or the absolute value of either of these.  But in the list below, values will be quoted in Kreuzer except those which specifically say Gulden (G).  More to the point is what they did own:

George's property included a black coat (3G), a new gray parker (10G), a pair of leather trousers (2G).  This is the only pair of trousers that he owned.  Quoting now in Kreuzer, George also owned a hat (30), two pairs knitted white stockings (30), a cotton necktie (15), three shirts (15 each), and two working shirts (40 each).  He also owned a book given to him by his father.

Mary's property made a longer list: one good brown skirt (1G), one worn out skirt (30), a red bodice (50), a medium brown hat (40), a heavy cap (50), a cotton Schurz (15), a white one of the same kind (20), a black Damst(?)(25), white worn sewed up cap (15), another of the same kind (10), three good skirts (30 each), two bad skirts (20 each), two good veils (30), a white neckcloth (11), pair white woolen stockings (15).

Note that no shoes are listed for either of them.  Household property was listed by name but not value.  That sub-list included: linen, tin pans and pots, copper pans and pots, iron pots to prepare cakes, wooden pans and pots, a bed, tables, kitchen furniture, one chair.  Two new church songbooks were also included.

More of their assets were in livestock and feed: one brown cow was worth 18 Gulden, one pig at one G, one male sheep at 20 G, four zentner of hay at 2 G and 40 bands of straw at one G.

There should have been clothing for Johann Michael, the young son, but none is listed.  Perhaps he had died which would be consistent with a lack of records for him in America.

Richard Phares was helpful in providing information about the family.

Nr. 138:

The last note commented on Hans Jorg Dieter who became George Teter in Orange Co., VA.  The changes in spelling are a problem in understanding names.  Several rules help us, such as "P" and "B" are often interchanged and "D" and "T" interchange.  But still, finding a name can be difficult, to say the least.  Recently, one case in which I have been interested for years has been solved.

The will of John Garrett, the will of Michael Myers and the will of Mary Myers in Rowan Co., NC plus other information helps establish several things.  Though the will of John uses the spelling Garrett in the body of the text and the will itself is filed under the name, Garrett, the signature at the end is clearly Johannes Gerhard.  John had a daughter, Mary, who married, first, George "Blankenbaker" in Orange Co., VA.  George died after siring a son, John, and the mother Mary married Michael Myer/Mier/Moyer of the Germanna community.  The will of Mary makes it clear that the first marriage to George Blankenbaker was very probably in Orange Co., VA.

Therefore, there should have been a Gerhard family in Orange Co.  But through the years that I have had my eyes open for such a possibility, none showed up.  Garths and Garretts were there.  And later there was a family of Garriotts which might have been derived from Gerhard.  The name Garriott drew the most attention because there were several marriages later with the Germanna families.  Still, though Ambrose Garriott had a child baptized in the Hebron Lutheran Church, he was not himself a member.

Recently, the Gerhard family was found by Nancy Dodge.  Actually the family had been uncovered for several years, since the family is in the Orange County, VA, Order Books.  Barbara Vines Little had abstracted these books in the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, v.26, 1988, n.1-4, p.177.  The problem was that the spelling of the name made the task of identification harder.

In the Order Book 2, p.160, for 22 May 1740, an entry reads:

John Carehaut a German . . . imported himself, Mary, Elizabeth, and Daniel and Catherine Carehaut, immediately from Great Britain into this Colony at his own Charges.

When one pronounces Carehaut aloud, the resemblance to Gerhard is heard.  The lesson for us is that one must be very open minded about the possible spelling of a name.

The names of the children with John Gerhard correspond to the later known history of the family.  Apparently he was a widower when he came.  He probably came just before the 1740 date since he had paid his own transportation and so could obtain head rights at the first opportunity.  He probably lived in the Robinson River community which was a part of Orange Co. at the time and was heavy populated with Germans.  It remains to be seen whether he had land in Virginia or not.  After a few years, he moved with the members of his family, some of whom were now married to Germanna residents.

In North Carolina, another spelling change took place of a different type.  John, son of George Blanckenbuehler (the way the name was spelled in some records in Germany just prior to emigration) and Mary Gerhard, had four sons.  These were the only ones of the family name in North Carolina and they agreed to simply the spelling.  Harking about to the spelling in Austria (before Germany), they kept only the latter part of the name, Pickler.  None of the Blanckenbuehler names in America are any more correct than any other.  Branches have chosen to spell the name differently.  So we have the Picklers, Blankenbakers, Blankenbekers, Blankenbecklers, Blankenbeclers, Blankens, Blanks and, of course, Bakers besides the "who knows".

Nr. 139:

Thomas Harriott published the second edition of his book describing Virginia in 1590.  The book is now found only in rare book collections.  Dover Publications has reprinted a copy found in the Rosenwald Collection. Excerpts follow from:

A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia [by Thomas Harriott]

The First Part, Of Marchantable Commodities

Silke of grasse or grasse Silke:

Here is a kind of grasse in the countrey vppon the blades where of there groweth very good silke in forme of a thin glittering skin to bee stript of.  It groweth two foote and a halfe high or better: the blades are about two foot in length, and half inch broad.  The like groweth in Persia, which is in the selfe same climate as Virginia, of which very many of the silke workes that come from thence into Europe are made.  Here of if it be planted and ordered as in Persia, it cannot in reason be othewise, but that there will rise in shorte time great profite to the dealers therein; seeing there is so great use and vent thereof as well in our countrey as els where.  And by the means of sowing & plating in good ground, it will be farre greater, better, and more plentifull then it is.  Although notwithstanding there is great store thereof in many places of the countrey growing naturally and wilde.  Which also by proof here in England, in making a piece of silke Grogran, we found to be excellent good.

[Though this sample does not prove the case, it amazes me that Virginia was better known than I had thought.  Of course, I grew up thinking it all began in 1607 but the book tells us that Virginia had been explored in some depth by then.  The spelling here is a shock to us but someday others may think we were atrocious spellers.  The one word above that may be prove to be a puzzle is 'vent' and I take it that it means 'selling' as in 'vending'.  What I cannot do readily is show the use of the long "esses" which look like "f's".  (Note here from the Webmaster:  The German "s" that John is describing is "ƒ" in German.)  They tend to slow down the reading.  For example, 'alfo' is to be read as 'also'.  Also, one tends to get the feeling of the King James Bible with all of those 'groweths'.]



There are two sortes of Walnuttes both holding oyle, but the one farre more plentifull than the other.  When there are milles & other deuises [?] for the purposes, a commodity of them may be raised because there are infinite store.  There are also three several kinds of Berries in the forme of Oke akornes, which also by the experience and use of the inhabitantes, wee finde to yeelde very good and sweete oyle.  Furthermore the Beares of the countrey are commonly very fatte, and in some places there are many; their fatnesse because it is so liquid, may be termed oyle, and hath many speciall uses.

[Other sections talk about Flaxe and Hempe; Allum; Wapeih; Pitch, Tarre, RoZen and Turpentine; Sassafras; Cedar; Wine; Furres; Deare skinnes; Ciuet cattes; Iron; Copper; Pearle; Sweet Gummes; Dyes of Diuers kindes; Oade; and Sugar Canes.]

Nr. 140:

Some of the questions in the last note were answered by Thom Faircloth (and distributed by the list server).  I was surprised that the hickory was considered a walnut.  In the land patent descriptions with which I have worked, many of the marker trees are black walnuts and a few are white walnuts.  I would presume that the white walnut is what we call the English walnut.  A major export to England from Virginia in 1740 was walnut planks which I am guessing would be black walnut lumber which had been roughly cut.

More selections from "A Briefe and True Report of The New Found Land of Virginia" by Thomas Harriott follow:


In two places of the countrey specially, one about foure score and the other six score miles from the Fort or place where we dwelt: wee founde neere the water side the ground to be rockie, which by the triall of a mineral man, was founde to holde Iron richly.  It is founde in manie places of the countrey else.  I knowe nothing to the contrarie, but that it maie be allowed for a good marchantable commoditie, considering there the small charge for the labour and feeding of men: the infinite store of wood: the want of wood and deerenesse thereof in England: & the necessity of ballasting of shippes.

[One of the places where the iron ore was found was near to the present site of Richmond.  Eventually this land came into the hands of the Byrd family.  When Alexander Spotswood arrived in Virginia in 1710, Col. Byrd told Spotswood about the deposits and Spotswood proposed the Colony of Virginia establish an iron furnace to exploit the deposit.  The project came to naught.  Later, about 1716 or 1717, Spotswood started a search on unclaimed lands near his own lands using the First Germanna Colony people and found commercial deposits of iron.  But the quotation from Harriott shows that iron deposits were known before Jamestown was founded.]


A thing of so great vent and use amongst English Diers, which cannot bee yeelded sufficiently in our own countrey for spare of ground; may be planted in Virginia, there being ground enough.  The grouth thereof need not be to be doubted when as in the Ilands of the Asores it groweth plentifully, which is in the same climate.  So likewise of Madder.

[I included these comments about Oade as a challenge to the reader.  I have no idea what Harriott is talking about except Oade seems to groweth in the ground.  Give me your thoughts and I'll report again.  At the same time, you can send your comments on the following.]


Wapeih, a kinde of earth so called by the naturall inhabitants; very like to terra figillata: and hauing been refined, it hath beene found by some of our Phisitios and Chirurgeons to be bee of the same kinde of vertue and more effectuall.  The inhabitants use it very much for the cure of sores and woundes: there is in diuers places great plentie, and in some places of a blewe sort.

Nr. 141:

In the last note, the word "Oade" is known to us as "woad" and, if that does not ring a bell, then the scientific name is "Isatis tinctoria".  Oade is a plant from which a blue dye is obtained from the leaves.  "Madder" or Rubia tinctorium is another dye source plant used for orange to reddish colors.

In addition, oade is a medicinal plant as the leaves are astringent and styptic.  It was used as a wound herb.  Ancient Britons dyed their bodies with oade.  The plant is not native to Britain being more commonly found in eastern Europe but it spread in prehistoric times to all of Europe.  So maybe your ancestors helped carry it to the north and west in their migrations (I had to get the genealogical aspect into this discussion).

The plant was so obnoxious in its odors that Queen Elizabeth gave an order that no woad growing or processing was to take place within five miles of any her residences.  All the more reason to grow it in Virginia.

"Wapeih" is a form of clay.  It has use in cleansing the skin of surface greasiness and may be used as a calamine lotion for rashes.  A related form of clay, kaolin, is used in antidiarrheal medications.

All of the above I learned from Susan, who wrote "Hurray! At last the chance to use my Botany degree in genealogy."  Actually she wrote quite a bit more than I have quoted here and I would hope she can be encouraged to send the full text to the list.  Among other names, she is researching Michaels, Bauers, Muellers, Griesbaums.  Apparently she has not identified the national origins of her Bowmans who might be Baumanns and her Springers.

Bob England writes with respect to the kinds of walnuts, "Another species of walnut that exists, and was referred too as 'white walnut', is Butternut.  It is more pale, and a softer variety of walnut."

New subject.  The newspaper has reports of the "union" of the Episcopalians and the Lutherans.  Going back in time to the eighteenth century, the Episcopalians in Virginia were then the Church of England, sometimes called the Anglicans.  At that time the Lutherans and Anglicans regarded themselves, collectively, as the true church.  The Lutherans were the German branch and the Anglicans were the English branch.  But because Virginia was an English domain, the established or state church was the Church of England.  Using the power of the state, taxes were collected for the support of the Church of England.  Usually, the Germans had to support the English church in addition to their own church.  This was a bitter pill to them.  But in no way did this weaken the view that the English church was a valid church.

In the early 1700's, the number of pastors in the English church throughout Virginia was something like twenty, that is "two zero".  One parish might cover more than one county.  Attending church was not easy, of course.  And on occasions, a parish might not have a pastor.  On many occasions the German pastor, the Rev. George Samuel Klug, who served the Robinson River Germans from 1739 to 1764, also served the English community when they did not have a pastor.  In other words, he was accepted by the English community as a valid pastor.  His services to the English were so appreciated that the Assembly of Virginia passed a resolution of thanks with a large monetary award to him.

Nr. 142:

Jeanne B. Cox, a Germanna descendant, asked if I could pinpoint the location of Culpeper Classes 25 and 27.  In general, I can't give the locality of the names.  I can find some.  In class 27, there was a name that I recognized immediately and that was Reuben Zimmerman.  I also happened to know that he lived in Stevensburg, a small village along Virginia State Highway 3, the Germanna Highway, a few miles east of the town of Culpeper and not far from Mt. Pony.

Out of the people in the two classes, there is only the one German name, Zimmerman.  Why they happened to be there is not entirely known.  In the late 1720's and early 1730's there were a few German families living in the area southeast of Mt. Pony.  But most of them moved away until only two families were left, the Zimmermans and the Kablers.  Records indicate that both Christopher Zimmerman and Frederick Kabler were coopers.  Also both families were known to each other in Germany, in particular around Sulzfeld.

Possibly, there were good stands of trees which would yield the material for building barrels.  Christopher Zimmerman took out several land patents so that he ultimately owned several hundred acres of land.  If it were for the purpose of having raw materials, he would have been a very busy cooper.  Another reason for living apart from the main body of the Lutherans may have been a marketing decision.  Being in the Robinson River community would have been at the extreme edge of the market as the Blue Ridge mountains to the west would not have had many customers for the barrels.  Being located at Mt. Pony may have been closer to the center of things.

Other early residents of the Mt. Pony, such as Amberger (Amburgey) and Bloodworth moved closer to the Robinson River community.

One of the lessons of a very small ethnic community such as the Germanic Mt. Pony settlement is that the values of the larger community quickly become the values of the smaller community.  The smaller the community is, the quicker the process.  Large ethnic communities maintain their values (language and religion, for example) for longer periods of time.  The Robinson River community was still holding church services in German nearly a hundred years after the founding of the church.  The influx of new people who had not left Germany long before helped to maintain the old order.

The Zimmermans and the Kablers quickly adopted the English church and language and married the English.  Before long they were not to be easily distinguished from their neighbors.  Reuben Zimmerman was the grandson of the immigrant, Christopher Zimmerman.  He kept an inn, or ordinary, in Stevensburg which was widely accepted as the place to meet.  In fact the Church of England Vestry used to hold their meetings at Zimmerman's ordinary.

So we can say that Culpeper Class 27 is to be identified with Stevensburg.  Near numbers to 27 were probably not far away.  I have good ideas about the location of the "Madison Co." and the Little Fork classes.  If any of you have ideas about the location of classes, I would like to know your thoughts.

Nr. 143:

Christopher Zimmerman, see the last note, was married twice.  From the first wife, Dorothy Rottle, there was one surviving son, John.  Christopher married again in Sulzfeld, Baden, and came with his second wife, Anna Elizabeth Albrecht, and the son, John.  Later in Virginia, Andrew, Frederick, Barbara, Christopher (Jr.), Elizabeth and Katherine were born.  The last of these births was probably around 1730.

The eldest son, John, may not have gotten on well with his stepmother for he moved out of the Mt. Pony area to the Robinson River community where he married Ursula Blankenbaker.  But maybe the sequence was just the opposite, to find a wife, he had to go to the Robinson River community.  Then he stayed there taking out a land patent in 1734 when he was 23.

John and Ursula (Blankenbaker) had seven children, John, Dorothy, Elizabeth, Christopher, Mary (did not marry), Margaret (marriage unknown) and Rosanna.  Generally the children married Germans such as Tanner, Holtzclaw, etc.

In the second family:  There is no record for Andrew after 1717; Frederick married Sarah ___, and they had three children; Reuben may have married Mary Yates Carter, Frederick who married Judith Bourne and moved to Kentucky in 1792; and Christopher (no further information).

Also in the second family, Barbara married Leonard Ziegler, but details past this point are scarce.  Still in the second family, Christopher, Jr. did not marry, but he had close relationships to the Brown and Kabler family to judge by his will.  The families for Elizabeth and Katherine are not clear, even starting with their husbands.

The great-grandchildren of the immigrant Christopher through the son, John, who lived in a Germanic community, married these surnames: Huffman, Penager, Ziegler, Ziegler, Scott, Ziegler, Fewell, Chilton, and Sutton.  Also, House, Tanner, Rouse, Crigler, Crigler, Rouse, Beeman, Crisler and Taylor.  This does not trace out the descendants of Dorothy (John, Christopher) who married Jacob Tanner or Elizabeth (John, Christopher) who married Joseph Holtzclaw.

The great-grandchildren through the second family include ones who married Carter, Felder, Somergall, Twisdell, Twisdell, Bourne, Jennings, Dinwiddle, Coiner, Combs, and Lessly.  Thus, when the great-grandchildren of the immigrant married, the choice of the spouse was reflected strongly by the nature of the community where they lived.  Some of these choices were reflected in the first generation after the immigrant where there was a split in the nationalities.  In the second generation, the differences are more pronounced and by the third generation after the immigrant, the choice is not based on origin but on the current community.

But this process is strongly influenced by the character of the community.  In my own personal case, my grandfather, who died in 1918, was descended only from the Germanna people.  Up to his birth, the community contained a large percentage of Germans.  But when he was married, he was living in a community which was decidedly English so he married a woman of English descent (a Mayfield).

There was a real effort to hold the immigrants' culture for as long as possible.  It amazes us how long this process can go on.  Klaus Wust recounts the internal cultural battles in his excellent book, "The Virginia Germans".  One German man in his will offered fifty pounds to a son if he married a German woman.

Nr. 144:

The last note touched on changing cultures.  The rate of change of a culture is directly proportional to the percentage of other or different cultures which surround the given one.  Thus the Mt. Pony Germanic culture changed very rapidly because they were a small minority in their neighborhood.  In the Robinson River community, which had a large percentage of Germans, change occurred much more slowly.  For example, William Carpenter became the pastor of Hebron Lutheran Church in 1787, which was sixty years after the founding of the church.  He suggested that some of the services might be held in English.  The elders of the church told him to stick to German and that he wasn't even to speak English in the community.  It was almost another thirty years before the first communion service was held in English.

Klaus Wust has published a book describing the Germans in Virginia.  Simply enough, the book is called "The Virginia Germans" and it has won awards for the excellency of the research plus the presentation.  First published in 1969, almost thirty years ago, my copy is from the third printing of 1984.  If you had German ancestors anywhere in Virginia, you should have your own copy.

Anyone who has tried to count just how many Germans there were in Virginia (a number which varies by the year), has been frustrated by several factors.  They did not hold still, but on the contrary were moving in and out of Virginia constantly besides just moving around in Virginia.  There were no census lists which asked where the people were born or where their fathers were born.  All that we can do today is to take the census lists where they exist and try and estimate which names were German.  First, these lists seem to be incomplete in light of today's knowledge.  But the bigger error is recognizing the origin of the names.  A Carpenter could be either a German or an Englishman.  Since most of the list takers were English, they tended to write names which were the closest to the English names they knew.  Thus a Preiss would be down as Price and thereby obscure for us the true nationality.  Recently, a report was made on the will of Johann Gerhard which is filed as John Garrett.  This same man is reported in another place as Carehaut.

From the studies of this question, loaded with uncertainties of course, it is conservatively estimated there were 25,000 Germans in Virginia by the Revolution.  This was about 5 percent of the population.  The density varied widely though.  In many regions they were the dominant culture and in others they were a definitely a minority.

Never did the Germans express solidarity with European Germany.  There was no European Germany; there was instead a collection of fiefdoms.  The Germans here were glad to be here and little sympathy for what they had left behind.  Family and friends were treasured but the concept of a German nation was not developed.  Maintaining the German culture was not a question of loyalty to abstract concepts; it was the culture of the people here who wished to maintain what had worked for themselves.  German was spoken, not because it was a superior language, but because it was what was known.  The larger the community in which a culture existed, the more it tended to persevere.  If you are the only one in a crowd speaking German, then it does not work for you to speak German.

Nr. 145:

What was the attitude of our Germanna people toward alcoholic drinks?  There is no question but that they partook and enjoyed it.  Alcoholic drinks could be made readily on the farm where the fruits and grains were grown.  Some of it was made by fermentation and, if you had the necessary containers, it could be made by most anyone.  Some of the drink involved distilling for which more elaborate equipment, a still, was necessary.

Apples were favorites with which to start.  Every respectable plantation had an orchard numbering in hundreds of trees.  (One of the requirements to prove a patent was an orchard.)  The season for fresh apples is relatively short, where, if stored in the coolness of the cellar, they might last a few months.  Many apples were cut into pieces and dried in the sun and such dried apples were a staple of the diet.  Perhaps even more apples were cut and pressed to make cider.  There were several options as to what was done with the cider and not all of them resulted in a soft drink.

Our Second Colony Germanna people came from a wine region and probably several of them were experienced in the vineyards.  Michael Clore was listed, I believe, as a vineyard worker.  In Virginia, Robert Beverley, one of their first sponsors, was devoted to wine production and he encouraged the Germans to raise grapes.  Whether this carried over to their permanent homes is unknown but probably they did have vineyards.

In the Hebron church financial account, alcoholic beverages are mentioned several times.  When the church bought land in 1733 from William Carpenter on which to build the glebe house, the bargain was sealed with "drink" in the amount of eighteen shillings and six pence.  This sounds as if every member of the congregation had a hand in sealing the bargain.  The account doesn't state what kind of drink was involved.  Every time they had communion, they had to purchase one or two quarts of wine.  A typical price seemed to be around one and a half shillings per quart.  This makes the confirmation of the land purchase look as if it took all afternoon.

Stronger drinks than wine and beer included brandy and rum, the latter being imported from the Caribbean.

Christian Herr, in Lancaster Co., PA was a Mennonite minister who farmed, had an apple orchard and two stills when he died, in 1750.  Though the Mennonites are thought of a conservative people, they used alcohol in the eastern United States until late in the last century.  By then the western Mennonites had decided that the use of alcohol was not wise and they prevailed upon the eastern Mennonites to adopt the same view.  To promote unity, the view was universally adopted about one hundred years ago among Mennonite congregations.

Drinking was an unquestioned practice among Germans until at least the second quarter of the eighteenth century.  It was probably a common practice far beyond that time.  Sorrow, grief, and labor were drowned in brandy or whiskey.  Klaus Wust quotes Lutheran candidate Joel Swartz, who spoke of the "genuine, life-giving apple brandy, without which we could not have reaped our harvest nor sawed our winter wood".

Nr. 146:

Recently notes have talked about cultural aspects of the Germanic groups and this note is a little variation on that theme.  Tomorrow, I will be at the Hans Herr House in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania where I am a volunteer tour guide.  This house was built in 1719 and is the oldest building in Lancaster County.  But perhaps it is more important as the oldest Mennonite meeting house in the Americas.

Hans Herr was a leader (Bishop, it is said) of a group of Mennonites who came in 1710.  Upon landing at Philadelphia, they marched west until they were beyond European civilization and well within the Indian civilization.  They went this far because they wanted lots of good land.  They were not afraid of the frontier, a characteristic also displayed by the Germanna settlers.

In 1719, Christian, the son of Hans, built the large home known now as the Hans Herr House.  They did not copy any of the styles to be found in America.  Christian copied the designs of medieval southwest Germany architecture.  Even down to the present, cultural change has come very slowly in this area, known as Pennsylvania Dutch country.  Characteristics from Germanic life of several centuries ago are still to be seen.

One of the elements that is remarkable is the cooperation of the family in which all members contribute as they can.  Some of these efforts amaze us, the outsiders.  I have seen teenage girls, barefoot but in long dresses, driving a team of mules to harrow the ground.  People work where the effort is needed.

As I take visitors through the house, I ask the younger generation if the Herrs had running water.  The answer I usually get is, "No."  Then I say, "Take these buckets and run down to the spring and get some water."  This usually gets a chuckle but it doesn't take much to amuse some of us.  On this same theme, I cite the harvest where even the youngest children may have the job of carrying water to those who are working hard, especially those swinging the scythes.  Children would have the job of gathering up the cut grain into bundle-sized lots.  More skilled children would tie these bundles with some of the grain itself and put them into a shock.  Later, the bundles are taken to the barn to be threshed the next winter.

Some of the slightly older boys would cut up the larger pieces of wood for the fireplace and the "Stube" (stove), and keep a pile beside the fireplace ready for use.  Girls would be helping in the kitchen by preparing food and tending the fire.  Butter had to be churned.  Milking was probably done by the girls.  The boys had to round up the cows and bring them in.  Spinning was a time-consuming art.  In the late summer and fall, food had to be prepared for the winter.  Apples were cut up for drying, spread in the sun and turned.  Someone had to watch that the livestock did not get into the apples that were spread out.  The common theme is that everyone helped out.

It is said that German women were popular with the English as wives just because the German women were willing workers in all kinds of situations.  They did what had to be done.  When the Germans first settled in Schoharie in New York, they had no draft animals.  To plow the land, they tied ropes or vines to the plow and the women, in mass, pulled the plow.

If any of you are going to be around the Hans Herr House tomorrow, do drop by and take the tour.  It is worth your time.  We even get many visitors from Germany who have heard that it is worth seeing.

Nr. 147:

In note 105, I thought that Conrad Kepler was an unknown.  Roberta Isaacs corrects me by saying that Conrad was a Kabler of the Mt. Pony Kablers.  Spellings of the name include Kepler, Cobler, Kobler, Cabler besides Kabler.  It shows that recognizing a name is not always easy.  In Germany, the spelling included Kappler.  Conrad, with his brothers Nicholas and Christopher, is mentioned in his father's (Frederick) will.  Frederick's land patent in Culpeper Co. is southwest of the road intersection of 661 and 662 south of Stevensburg.

Today is a hot July day, so talking about Christmas may cool us off.  We know that Hebron church members celebrated Christmas with a church service complete with communion.  This was held on December 25 regardless of the day of the week.  Klaus Wust writes in the Virginia Germans that it was more than a solemn church affair.  Worldly additions worried the clergy including a growing "manger" cult which was considered as idolatry by some.  Paul Henkel was more disturbed by what was happening outside the church where people spent the day in playing, drinking and feasting.  Gift exchanges were common and the Henkels printed pious children's books to give to children.  Christmas trees were a long way into the future and are dated by some to 1855, when Frank Prufer, a recent German immigrant, displayed a Christmas tree which attracted curiosity.

The Henkel family is almost a Germanna family for there were four marriages in one generation between the Germanna family of George Teter and the family of Johann Justus and Maria Magdalena (Eschman) Henckel.  The Teter family was from Schwaigern and probably came to the Robinson River on the basis of news received from Schwaigern emigrants who were already in the Robinson River area; however, the Teter move was not immediately from Schwaigern to Virginia but occurred over a period including a few years in Pennsylvania.

On other occasions, a favorite activity was dancing which was an occasion to dress in one's best finery.  Some observers have noted that festivities, once launched, did not end on the day they were started.  Wust notes the Piedmont Germans, who included many who came directly to Virginia, probably had the purest form of German culture in their early years.  They simply did not know any other way of living.

An old German custom of drinks all around was honored in 1734 at the raising of the house for the Rev. Stoever.  Michael Clore supplied the brandy and he was reimbursed two shilling and six pence by the church for two quarts of brandy.  (Brandy was less expensive than wine.)  The custom being honored called for treats to the workmen when the frame of the building is completed.  The custom continues unto today in the raising of a flag over the building.

Decorated and inscribed lintels were common among the early Fauquier Germans where an early sample lasted for two centuries.  Over in the Valley, the Germans there had usually lived for a while in the colonies and they made some adjustments in their cultural practices.  But the First and Second Germanna Colonists were right off the boat and into a culture which remained largely German.  Barn raisings, corn huskings, apple butter boilings, and huckleberry outings lent themselves to the natural desire for a social time.

Nr. 148:

We cannot be sure that within the Germanna Colonies speech developed in the way to be described, but it is extremely probable.  Examples from several regions show that this to be the pattern.  In one region, the Pennsylvania Dutch country, the process is still going on.  The original language was German.  Even though not all Germans spoke exactly the same dialect they did understand each other.

The biggest change was away from the standard German, especially in speech.  With each year, the language within the home grew further away from standard German.  The written language remained fixed, anchored by the printed word, especially of the Bible.  This standard German is sometimes called High German with a reference to the elevation of the locality in which it was dominant.  Thus High German was the language to the south, toward the Alps.  Low German was the language toward the north, along the coastal or low lands.  Low German is more akin to English.

In the Amish country today, the children must learn three languages.  The spoken language of the home is nonstandard.  Derived from the German, words have been altered and the grammar has been changed.  Some English has been mixed in.  Speakers of traditional English and German must smile a bit on hearing this.  High or standard German must be learned for formal writing and for the reading of the Bible.  To be able to exist comfortably in the world around them, the Amish also learn English.  In my conversations with a limited number of Amish, their English was in no way inferior to mine.  And they learn all this in eight grades of school.

This process has lasted for more than two and a half centuries and is still going on because the Amish are surrounded by, or immersed in their own culture.  Outside contacts are minimal.  In our Germanna families, the process varied depending on the size of the community.  The Mt. Pony families became English very quickly because the German community was very small.  Recently we recapped the Zimmerman family where one member moved to a more Germanic community and the process of acclimation slowed down.  The Germantown community was not large and the conversion to English was fairly rapid.  In the Robinson River community, though, it was not exclusively German, the process took longer.  Even here it varied with the commitment of an individual family to the German cultural institutions such as the school and the church.  While the Lutheran church was still using German and believing that it would last forever, the Baptists were preaching in English.  Probably some decisions as to which church to attend were based on language.

But regardless of the decision outside the home as to which language to speak, the language in the home tended to change even more slowly.  Often the homes had an older generation in them who knew only the original language.  To accommodate them, the other members spoke their language, in this case, German or a derivative.  Borrowed words found their way into the spoken word and the grammar became mixed.  There was no day when a family could say they stopped speaking German and started speaking English.  People became accustomed to both languages.  At the church, services might be held in English on one Sunday in each month, then on two Sundays and finally entirely in English.  Usually an official switch of this type was completed in a few years whereas the switch in the home started sooner and lasted longer.

Perhaps in your own family history you have knowledge of the conversion which you could relate here.

Nr. 149:

Paula S. Felder wrote "Forgotten Companions" which was published in 1982.  The book is subtitled "The First Settlers of Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg Town", which gives a good clue toward what it is all about.  The book makes excellent reading, but, unfortunately, it is now out of print.  The good news is that Paula is at work again and, should you see future books by her, investigate them with a view toward purchase.  I consider a few of the statements in Forgotten Companions to be in error but Paula is no worse than the general historian and probably better.  She is certainly more entertaining.  She has been very gracious to me in some of my writings.

Spotsylvania County had its origins in Col. Alexander Spotswood who was appointed Lt. Governor of Virginia in 1710.  To gain some idea of the scale on which he operated, we have the letter of 31 March 1710, from the four Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, who signed an order to the Captain (Robinson) of the "Deptford" to carry Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, Esq., together with Mr. Cocke, his physician (who was distinct from Mr. Cocke), and 15 servants to Virginia from Spithead, giving the Lieutenant Governor the best accommodation the ship will afford.  As Lt. Governor, Spotswood had to split his salary with the Governor of Virginia, Lord Orkney who remained in England.  According to Paula, the split was 1800 pounds to the Governor and 1200 pounds to the Lt. Governor.  Living on the scale that he did, it is no wonder that Spotswood occasionally needed partners who could help with the financing of his enterprises.  The trip to Virginia must have started soon after Capt. Robinson had his instructions, for Spotswood wrote a letter to Robinson of the "Deptford" from Williamsburg on 30 June 1710 thanking him for the "Civilitys received from you during my Voyage."

Not long after Spotswood took up his duties in Virginia, the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State, wrote from Whitehall to him, on 14 April 1711, to the effect that the Council at St. James confirmed that land in Virginia should be granted in the future as provided by the Charter and Laws of Virginia with care being taken to insist that every patentee should be obliged to cultivate three acres in every fifty within three years of his grant, under penalty of forfeiture of that land.  The Assembly of Virginia was to be permitted to embody these provisions into a law for which Her Majesty's confirmation was promised.

We see that Virginia had considerable independence to set their own laws.  The inhabitants were aware of this and were becoming accustomed to thinking of themselves as a law unto themselves.  They were thinking, "There is an English way and there is the Virginia way."  Spotswood, who came as the agent of the Queen, found himself in conflict with the locals who thought of themselves before thinking of the Queen.  We also see that Virginia legislation was subject to review and possible rejection by the Crown though the Crown did not reject many of the legislative acts.

Nr. 150:

Paula Felder helps set the tone for understanding Virginia in the early 1700's.  Quoting from the Forward in "Forgotten Companions":

"Plantation" was merely a term used to denote the home tract of a landowner or planter, as opposed to "quarter", a separate and sometimes distant tract of land which he farmed.  Rid your mind of images of stately mansions and luxurious hospitality.  This was the frontier.  And the first gentry who came here did so precisely because they did not have wealth.  They were the younger sons in a colony which adhered to the rule of primogeniture -- inheritance of the family estate by the oldest son.  Forget about accessibility or convenience in your living arrangements.  Life in the new country was a very isolating experience.  In the harsh winter months, even the court could not meet.

"There was only one road -- the River Road -- when (Spotsylvania County) was formed.  If you were a new settler, the most important priority was to get your tobacco dry to the wharves on the Rappahannock River in the fall for shipping.  And so the first new roads were rolling roads, so that planters could hitch their hogsheads of tobacco to a horse or a mule for pulling to market.  [Wagons were not used; the hogsheads or barrels containing the tobacco were actually the vehicles themselves as they were turned on their sides and rolled to market.]

"Rid yourself of the image of a close knit band of settlers united in battling the hardships of the frontier.  Sparse as the new county's population was, there were factions from the very beginning.  And there was politics.  Spotsylvania had perhaps the most unusual origins of any county in the colony because of politics."

Our German ancestors were not typical of the person that Paula writes about.  The Germans came as families and very often in groups with common bonds.  The First Germanna Colony was from a close neighborhood (they had all been in Siegen on many occasions) and they were related.  The Second Colony was from a close geographical region and many were related also.  Additional Germans were typically related to someone already here.  So as a group, they did tend to be united.  But the Germans probably did not vent their feelings strongly outside of their community.  To do so would have required the English language.

But the Germans did use the English system when they could.  When Spotswood sued many members of the Second Colony, they appealed to Williamsburg.  In doing this, they were taking advantage of the English politics.  After Spotswood was removed as Lt. Governor, the new administration was not Spotswood's best friend.  So the Germans allied themselves, so to speak, with Spotswood's enemies.  When the Second Colony wanted to send fund raisers to Germany, they went to the County Court and asked for a letter of recommendation to the Governor.  With this in hand, they obtained a letter of recommendation from the Governor complete with his signature and the seal of Virginia.  So they were savvy enough to use the system when they could.  They didn't fight the system though nor did they engage in politics in the early days.

We also know that they found the court could be used to sue each other.


(To see John & Eleanor Blankenbaker's May, 2000, and May, 2002, Germany and Austria photos, click here.)

(To see maps of villages in Germany and Austria from which our Germanna ancestors immigrated, click here.)

(This page contains the SIXTH set of Notes, Nr. 126 through Nr. 150.)

John and George would like very much to hear from readers of these Germanna History pages.  We welcome your criticisms, compliments, corrections, or other comments.  When you click on "click here" below, both of us will receive your message.  We would like to hear what you have to say about the content of the Notes, and about spelling, punctuation, format, etc.  Just click here to send us your message.  Thank You!

There is a Mailing List (also known as a Discussion List or Discussion Group), called GERMANNA_COLONIES, at RootsWeb.  This List is open to all subscribers for the broadcast of their messages.  John urges more of you to make it a research tool for answering your questions, or for summarizing your findings, on any subject concerning the Germanna Colonies of Virginia.  On this List, you may make inquiries of specific Germanna SURNAMES.  At present, there are about 1200 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.

If you are interested in subscribing to this List, click here.  You don't need to type anything, just click on "Send".  You will shortly receive a Welcome Message explaining the List.

(GERMANNA History Notes, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John BLANKENBAKER.)

(GERMANNA History Web Pages, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 George W. DURMAN.)

This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, with the permission of John BLANKENBAKER.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further.

Index Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES and Genealogy Comments

INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES
Pg.001-Notes 0001-0025
Pg.002-Notes 0026-0050
Pg.003-Notes 0051-0075
Pg.004-Notes 0076-0100
Pg.005-Notes 0101-0125
Pg.006-Notes 0126-0150
Pg.007-Notes 0151-0175
Pg.008-Notes 0176-0200
Pg.009-Notes 0201-0225
Pg.010-Notes 0226-0250
Pg.011-Notes 0251-0275
Pg.012-Notes 0276-0300
Pg.013-Notes 0301-0325
Pg.014-Notes 0326-0350
Pg.015-Notes 0351-0375
Pg.016-Notes 0376-0400
Pg.017-Notes 0401-0425
Pg.018-Notes 0426-0450
Pg.019-Notes 0451-0475
Pg.020-Notes 0476-0500
Pg.021-Notes 0501-0525
Pg.022-Notes 0526-0550
Pg.023-Notes 0551-0575
Pg.024-Notes 0575-0600
Pg.025-Notes 0601-0625
Pg.026-Notes 0626-0650
Pg.027-Notes 0651-0675
Pg.028-Notes 0676-0700
Pg.029-Notes 0701-0725
Pg.030-Notes 0726-0750
Pg.031-Notes 0751-0775
Pg.032-Notes 0776-0800
Pg.033-Notes 0801-0825
Pg.034-Notes 0826-0850
Pg.035-Notes 0851-0875
Pg.036-Notes 0876-0900
Pg.037-Notes 0901-0925
Pg.038-Notes 0926-0950
Pg.039-Notes 0951-0975
Pg.040-Notes 0976-1000
Pg.041-Notes 1001-1025
Pg.042-Notes 1026-1050
Pg.043-Notes 1051-1075
Pg.044-Notes 1076-1100
Pg.045-Notes 1101-1125
Pg.046-Notes 1126-1150
Pg.047-Notes 1151-1175
Pg.048-Notes 1176-1200
Pg.049-Notes 1201-1225
Pg.050-Notes 1226-1250
Pg.051-Notes 1251-1275
Pg.052-Notes 1276-1300
Pg.053-Notes 1301-1325
Pg.054-Notes 1326-1350
Pg.055-Notes 1351-1375
Pg.056-Notes 1376-1400
Pg.057-Notes 1401-1425
Pg.058-Notes 1426-1450
Pg.059-Notes 1451-1475
Pg.060-Notes 1476-1500
Pg.061-Notes 1501-1525
Pg.062-Notes 1526-1550
Pg.063-Notes 1551-1575
Pg.064-Notes 1576-1600
Pg.065-Notes 1601-1625
Pg.066-Notes 1626-1650
Pg.067-Notes 1651-1675
Pg.068-Notes 1676-1700
Pg.069-Notes 1701-1725
Pg.070-Notes 1726-1750
Pg.071-Notes 1751-1775
Pg.072-Notes 1776-1800
Pg.073-Notes 1801-1825
Pg.074-Notes 1826-1850
Pg.075-Notes 1851-1875
Pg.076-Notes 1876-1900
Pg.077-Notes 1901-1925
Pg.078-Notes 1926-1950
Pg.079-Notes 1951-1975
Pg.080-Notes 1976-2000
Pg.081-Notes 2001-2025
Pg.082-Notes 2026-2050
Pg.083-Notes 2051-2075
Pg.084-Notes 2076-2100
Pg.085-Notes 2101-2125
Pg.086-Notes 2126-2150
Pg.087-Notes 2150-2175
Pg.088-Notes 2176-2200
Pg.089-Notes 2201-2225
Pg.090-Notes 2226-2250
Pg.091-Notes 2251-2275
Pg.092-Notes 2276-2300
Pg.093-Notes 2301-2325
Pg.094-Notes 2326-2350
Pg.095-Notes 2351-2375
Pg.096-Notes 2376-2400
Pg.097-Notes 2401-2425
Pg.098-Notes 2426-2450
Pg.099-Notes 2451-2475
Pg.100-Notes 2476-2500
Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025

INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GENEALOGY COMMENTS

(As of 12 April 2007, John published the last of his "Germanna Notes"; however, he is going to periodically post to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List in the form of "Genealogy Comments" on various subjects, not necessarily dealing with Germanna.  I'm starting the numbering system anew, starting with Comment Nr. 0001.)

Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025

This Page Contains Notes 126 through 150.

Go To

  [Back to John's Notes Index Page]

  [Germanna Colonies Home Page]

  [GERMANNA Home Page]