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This is the TWENTY-THIRD 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 551 through 575.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 23

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Nr. 551:

This is the start of another half-century of notes and it is customary to review their purpose.  There were, in Virginia, to the east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Germans who arrived as a consequence of unusual events.  Reviewing their history and the individuals who were a part of the immigration is a major purpose of these notes.

These Germans came directly to Virginia by intention and by deceit.  Some came indirectly from other American colonies.  Starting to come in 1714, they continued to come until during and after the Revolutionary War when Germans, who were in the armies hired out to the British, elected to stay in America (including Canada) after the war.

The Piedmont Germans were not isolated; they were in contact with other Germans up and down the Atlantic seaboard.  Though the geographical region of the Germanna people is very limited, they were involved in a much larger area and the events common to all of the English colonies are a part of the story.  The Moravians, based in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, passed through Virginia and left detailed descriptions.  The wars were common to all of the colonies.

As a consequence of these considerations, I take a liberal view toward these Germanna people and write, on occasion, about the larger scene including Germany.  At the same time, I devote a large fraction of these notes to a detailed study of the people properly called Germanna citizens.  Recently, many of these notes have been devoted to the history of the earliest Germanna people.  There are lessons to be learned from this which are specific to Germanna or which may be generalized to all people.

In spite of the large quantity of Germanna history, much of it has been told incorrectly.  Tracing these errors is instructive toward correcting history and to getting a more accurate view of what actually happened.  The study is also instructive as it informs us of how views of history can be mistaken.

I appreciate the efforts of George Durman who maintains the list service which makes these notes possible and who keeps them in archival storage.  We both appreciate the comments that some of you send through.  Perhaps it would be better if you sent more questions or counterpoints.  Also, you might send suggestions for discussion.  I wish that I could discuss the families in more detail but that task is beyond me.  But, please remember that the list is open to all for just that reason.


Nr. 552:

One of the first histories of Germanna was written by Rev. Philip Slaughter in the middle of the 1800's.  This was incorporated into "Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia" by Raleigh Travers Green in 1900.  When Slaughter wrote about Germanna, he was familiar with several documents which pertained to Germanna, but still his knowledge was limited.  We can judge the extent of his knowledge by the following quotations from him,

"Our Germanna was settled under the auspices of Governor Spotswood in 1714, on a peninsula of 400 acres of land on the banks of the Rapidan.  These Germans came directly from Oldensburg, or were a remnant of a settlement planted under the auspices of the Baron de Graffenried in North Carolina, many of whom were massacred by the Tuscarora Indians, as related by Governor Spotswood in a letter of October 1711, which is published in Perry's Collections from the archives of Fulham and Lambeth. . . . .

"That these Germans might have been the survivors of the massacre in North Carolina is a mere conjecture, suggested by the fact that De Graffenried was the leader of both parties. . . .

"These Germans landed at Tappahannock, and a dispute arose between them and the captain of the ship in which they sailed, about the money for their passage.  The captain refused to deliver their effects until his demand was satisfied.  Governor Spotswood being present, proposed that if the Germans would settle on his land and remain long enough to instruct some of his young men in mechanical trades, he would pay the bill.  They consented and hence the settlement at Germanna. . .

"These Germans [from Germanna] were probably the founders of Germantown in Fauquier.  [Many First Colony names are given from the records of Fauquier including a specific mention that Peter Hitt married Sarah James and Jos. Hitt married Mary Coons.  Why these marriages were singled out for a mention is not clear.]. . ."

Slaughter's knowledge was not the best.  He knew the Germans came in 1714 from a letter of Spotswood but their origin was a mystery.  He was clear that the possible origin in the North Carolina Germans was speculation.  He failed to understand the role and motivations of Graffenried.  Four hundred acres for the size of the Germanna tract is grossly in error.  Though others have mentioned that the ship called at Tappahannock on the Rappahannock, it would seem that if they were using Slaughter as their authority that the fact is not to be trusted.  It also seems that he has confused events between the First and Second Germanna Colonies.  It is curious why he singled out the Hitt marriages.


Nr. 553:

R. T. Green's book, "Notes on Culpeper County," incorporates Dr. Slaughter's comments on St. Mark's Parish.  But, it is impossible to tell, with certainty, the exact contribution of Slaughter, as his remarks are not set off in a clearly defined area.  Apparently, Green took some written notes of Slaughter and included them in his text.  Therefore, the authorship and the date of some of the statements are not clear.  What is clear is that by the time that Green published his book, another book had appeared with comments on Germanna.  Therefore, Green could have been influenced by Slaughter, and by Willis Kemper, who was the lead author in the second book.

Slaughter had been born in the early 1800's and ill health toward the middle of the century forced him to leave the pulpit.  He went to England and, while there, he did a little research on the history of Virginia.  On his return, he established a private chapel on his family's farm, and during the Civil War he ministered to troops.  He was active in researching the Parishes of Virginia, and published some of the results of his research.  While he did research St. Mark's Parish, which at one time filled Culpeper County and more, he did not publish these notes.  Therefore, the history in the last note was not made generally public.  Rev. Slaughter died in 1890.  [If anyone can correct and add to these comments, I would like to hear from them.]

In the history of Germanna, it seems that from the earliest days, perhaps starting with Rev. Jones (1724) and Col. Byrd (1733), the First and Second Germanna Colonies were confused.  Typical of this was the previous comment that the Germans and the captain of the ship fell into an argument over the passage money.  Slaughter implied this was the First Colony but the circumstances seem more appropriate to the Second Colony.  As to the landing at Tappahannock, where it was said that Gov. Spotswood happened to be, this was very unlikely, as the Gov. stayed in Williamsburg except when duty took him away, and Tappahannock was not a likely place for him to be.

Up to about 1900, the history of Germanna was very confused and incomplete.  The origins of the Germans and their motivations in coming to Virginia were completely misunderstood.  Slaughter even speculated, though he really did not believe it, that the Germans might have come through North Carolina.  He gave Oldenburg, a town in the far north of Germany close to Bremen, as their home.  His source for this statement leaves us mystified.

Slaughter and Green are almost silent as to what the Germans did for Spotswood.  It is noted, quoting from a letter of Spotswood, that the Germans were miners and that they had examined the purported silver mine.  Beyond this, they say very little.


Nr. 554:

After some more study, I believe I can clarify the contribution of Rev. Slaughter to Green's "Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia".  Slaughter published a book of about one hundred pages in the 1880 time frame.  By the 1900's, Green conceived the idea of extending Slaughter's remarks, to make them current, and of adding some other information.  The final book is in two parts, the first being largely Slaughter's original work, the second being collections of information that Green added.

Apparently, the modifications to Slaughter's work were in two areas.  The history of St. Mark's Parish, the subject of Slaughter's original work was brought up to the present time starting with information from 1878.  This must have been about the time that Slaughter published his book.  Green advertised for corrections to the genealogies.  The number and extent of these are impossible to tell without a detailed comparison to the original genealogies in the Slaughter work.

From 1880 to 1900, the most information to that time on Germanna was Slaughter's work.  He quoted from John Fontaine's Diary, from Rev. Hugh Jones, from Col. Byrd, and from Spotswood's letters.  The Fontaine, Jones, and Byrd writings were no more or less than we have today.  Today, though, we have many more of Spotswood's writings, especially some of the more significant ones.

Missing from Slaughter is a complete lack of understanding of the motivations of Graffenried, of George Ritter and Company, and of Michel.  Slaughter does not mention a single quotation from Graffenried, but depends entirely upon what Spotswood says about Graffenried.

Probably as a result of his researches in England about 1850, Slaughter was aware of the petition made by the Germans to the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts.  This petition was made in 1719 and highlights from it include the following.

There were thirty-two Protestant German families, of whom, twelve families, numbering about fifty people, arrived in April of 1714.

These families were settled near to the Rappahannock River.

In 1717, twenty Protestant Germans families, consisting of about fourscore people, came and settled down near their countrymen.

Many more Germans and Swiss are expected to come.

A minister is needed to help Rev. Häger, who came with the first group and is growing old.

Mr. J. C. Zollicoffer, a Swiss, has been empowered to seek subscriptions and a minister in Germany to help.  But more help is needed and the Society is implored to help.

For the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Slaughter's work was the best account, in one place, of the Piedmont Germans who lived at or near to Germanna even though his account was very incomplete.


Nr. 555:

The first major Germanna genealogy book was "Genealogy of the Descendants of John Gar, or More Particularly of His Son, Andreas Gaar Who Emigrated from Bavaria to America in 1732".  This was published in 1894 and was the work of two men, John Wesley Garr and John Calhoun Garr, who were father and son.  The research for the book started about 1850 and went on for decades.  Unfortunately, the father never lived to see the finished book.

Very little history of a general nature is included.  The book concentrates on the sixteen thousand descendants of Andrew Garr/Gaar who had been identified at the time of the book.  One page is included on "The Old Dutch Church", which has comments on the church we know as Hebron Lutheran Church.  There are some errors in these comments.

It says the title deed for the church property was made in 1720.  Actually, no deed was executed for the property until about fifty years after the church was built in 1740.  In the late 1700's when the church was being extended and restored, it was noted that there was no deed to the property.  It stood on the original Kerker property which had been inherited by John Carpenter.  The trustees obtained a deed from Michael Carpenter, the nominal owner of the property.

The Garrs observed the pipe organ in the rear of the church which they said was presented to the church by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden.  The organ, they said, was made at Lutzen, Sweden, under the direction of the King, expressly for this church and was transported from Philadelphia by wagon.

Wondering where the idea of a Swedish origin arose, I consulted the works of Rev. Slaughter, but I cannot be sure who was the first to arrive at this erroneous conclusion, Slaughter or the Garrs.  Both probably gained their knowledge from an oral tradition.  Slaughter does say that the organ was purchased with money raised in Europe, including that raised in Sweden, where the King had contributed.

Dr. Andrew Grinnan of Madison, Virginia, added corrections to Slaughter's work in Green's book.  He doubted the story of the origin of the organ and quoted, from memory, a New York newspaper saying the organ was built in Listy, Pennsylvania by John Thornburg, a German, in 1760, at a cost of $300.00.  This was a little closer to the truth but still it was far from being correct.

The organ was built by David Tannenburg in Lititz, Pennsylvania, and was installed in 1802 at a cost of $200.00 for the organ, plus the costs of installation and hauling.  Everyone agrees that the organ was brought by wagon from Pennsylvania.  It is hard to say where the money for its purchase came from, for the money raised in Europe during the 1730's was put to work to purchase a farm and laborers, not a church organ.

(NOTE: From the Web Manager of these pages.  As an addendum to John's Notes, here is an article concerning the organ in the Hebron Lutheran Church.  You may see photos of the church, outside and inside, and the cemetery, on the Hebron Church Photo Page.)

"Those Wonderful Old Pipe Organs", in Commonwealth magazine, April 1980, pp 36+ by Frances Hallam Hurt:

     "Just a stone's throw to the west of rip-roaring U.S. 29, some 30 miles north of Charlottesville near Madison on 231, lies a magically still and tranquil valley settled in 1717 by indomitable, God-fearing people.

     "Their spirit pervades the valley, centered in the little Hebron Lutheran Church which looks out across lush lowgrounds to White Oak Run.

     "Scarcely larger than a hand-span, tailored as it was to the timbers they felled in 1740 to build it, the church is nonetheless big enough to house one of the treasures of this nation - a Tannenberg organ of 1800.

     "It is impossible to overestimate its significance," said William Van Pelt of the Organ Society of America, the good shepherds of old organs.  Their goal is to rescue them from the valley of the shadow, and find green pastures for one and all.

     "The Tannenberg has one of the few existing 18th-Century wind systems in the entire world," according to George K. Taylor, organ builder who restored the instrument in 1970.

     "The Madison Tannenberg is one of the earliest organs made in America and the largest one unaltered since its creation by David Tannenberg of Lititz, Pennsylvania.  A few Hebron Lutherans brought it home from Lititz by ox cart in 1802 and installed it on the brief ledge of loft under the barrel-vaulted ceiling, and there it has remained.  It has never been moved.

     "A testimonial to the German virtue of using and taking care of whatever is at hand, the organ is played every Sunday.  It has always been played every Sunday, with Clores, Yowells, Utzes, Criglers, and other direct descendants of those first 17 families singing with it today, as they have for 178 years, Martin Luther's own hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

     ...
     "Somehow the Tannenberg that came to Hebron Lutheran Church in 1802 seems more of an event, for the men who commissioned it were not emperors but German immigrants still wresting a living from the land.  Their hardships seemed to whet their dedication to God.  Seventeen families had left Alsace near the Seigen Forest in 1717 as religious persecution against Protestants intensified.  After building their church in the new land in 1740 and enlarging it in 1790, they resolved to purchase an instrument suitable for the worship of God.  They knew about David Tannenberg of Lititz, the first professional American organ builder.  Originally a cabinet maker, Tannenberg worked with sometime-organ builder Gottlob Klemm, who had learned the craft in Germany.  Tannenberg apparently was guided in the fine points by a hand-copied treatise on organ building by a European, Georg Andreas Sorge.  Tannenberg built 48 or 49 instruments, and the Hebron treasure is one of his last.  The church's pastor, William H. Hall II, knows the history of the organ and the church as well as church order, for he has soaked it up for 10 years, ever since his graduation in 1970 from the Southeastern Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbia, S.C.

     "Tannenberg himself was a Moravian and built organs principally for Moravian congregations. One such is the Single Brothers House in Old Salem, N.C., but is was not blessed with the hands-off policy of the Hebron Lutherans, as a result much of the original mechanism and pipework have been replaced.

     "In 1799 Hebron Church opened negotiations for the organ. It dispatched a delegation 200 miles to Lititz to talk to Tannenberg who agreed to build the organ for 150 Pounds Sterling.  In 1802 men from Hebron returned to Lititz with an ox cart to trundle the organ home.  Tannenberg sent his son-in-law, Johann Philip Bachmann, back home with them to install the organ properly.  (There should be a better word than "properly" for a job that has lasted almost 200 years.)  The Moravian diaries of Lititz note that Bachmann returned from his assignment in December, 1802.

     "The charmed life of the Tannenberg even brought it unscathed through the Civil War when the metal pipes of other organs were ripped out to melt down for bullets.  The pewter pipes of the Tannenberg were not touched.  The church itself was not so lucky.  It caught the eye of an Italian band leader in the Union forces, named Odina, who in 1868 devoted himself to decorating the ceiling in the Victorian manner.  The original barrel vault with its massive exposed beams had been covered over by a low ceiling (except for the organ loft), giving Odina a splendid expanse for his anachronism.

     "The incredible Tannenberg epitomizes the near-immortality of a fine-crafted mechanical tracker system, according to the Organ Clearing House, and from tracker systems they take their text. The tracker is the wooden linkage between the keys and the pipes (to oversimplify) which can always be kept in repair.  In 1960, for example, the first time the Tannenberg was ever worked on, a major part of Tom Eader's job was not installing new parts but removing a bees' nest.  When the organ was restored in 1970, it needed only cleaning and releathering the twin bellows.  The bellows were lined with David Tannenberg's German newspapers published in Philadelphia - one in 1769 and one in 1772. They are displayed in the church hall.

     "Apart from the fact that now and then the D-sharp acts up, or the pipes vibrate, Mrs. Elvin Graves, organist, gives high marks to the Tannenberg after playing it 15 years.

      ...
     "As for the incredible Tannenberg, it may be heard any Sunday in the Hebron Lutheran Church raising hymns to the glory of God as it has each Sunday for almost two hundred years."

(end of article)


Nr. 556:

We might try a generalization as to what goes wrong with history.  In the beginning, when events are fresh in everyone's mind, there seems to be no need to write anything down.  We all know it.  Before long, we do not all know it.  More and more, the remembrance is not first hand, and lore is created to fill the need for information.  As the lore is made up, there is a tendency to embellish the facts; especially, where one's own family and friends are concerned, the story may become very embellished.

In the last note, after the origins of the organ at Hebron Lutheran Church had been lost due to the death of the original participants, later generations mixed some facts with fancy.  There was the vague remembrance of the money which had been raised in Europe and somehow the King of Sweden was added to the story.

When Lewis Fisher of the Germanna group died, he said that his estate in Germany, should it ever be recovered, was to be divided among all of his children.  Over the course of the next century, he became a Baron who owned Hanover.  When you start making up your "facts," you may as well do a good job of it.

The second major Germanna genealogy was "Genealogy of the Kemper Family in the United States", written by Willis Kemper and Harry Wright, and published in 1899.  There are many examples of how history is reported incorrectly in this book.  Kemper did try to locate some original documents and he succeeded in finding some.  He misinterpreted a lot of what he found and he made up a lot of his facts.  Following notes will look at this early history.

The immigrant ancestor of the Virginia Kempers was Johannes, who was born in 1692.  No marriage record is known for him in Germany and he is believed to have been a bachelor when he came to Virginia.  To my knowledge, no record in Germany states his occupation.  His father was identified as a church elder, and his grandfather Kemper was said to have been a smith (blacksmith).  For these statements, I am using the genealogy reported by B. C. Holtzclaw, who had the assistance of people in Germany.

Here is what Willis Kemper says about these individuals:

The father is a skilled mechanic and employed about the (iron) mine in some way.  He was a worker in iron, a blacksmith by trade, and perhaps had charge of the tools about the mine.  His sons, John (the immigrant) and Henry, followed in their father's trade and were employed about the mine.  John, especially, was evidently a skilled miner, and it was this that brought about his emigration to America.

These claims are the only "evidence" that Willis Kemper offers (see page 9 of the book), and they are not confirmed by Holtzclaw's statements.  On the whole, it seems that Kemper has made up a lot of history which is not supported by documented facts.  If anyone knows of documentation on the subject, please speak up.  I can only report what I find, or don't find, in Kemper's book.


Nr. 557:

The last note closed with an example of how Willis Kemper (and his co-author) let their imagination go to work when they had no facts.  I will continue with Kemper and discuss his (erroneous) version of Germanna history.

Kemper notes that Alexander Spotswood was appointed Governor of Virginia in 1710.  (More correctly, he was appointed Lt. Governor.)  The story continues, "It was not long until he discovered evidences of iron ore in districts toward the Blue Ridge."  The facts are that there is no evidence that at any time did Spotswood discover any iron.  From the justification for his expense reports, there is no mention that he was near, or even in the vicinity of, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the months following his arrival.

In the first few months, October, to be more exact, he did write to the Council of Trade and tell them he would propose that the Colony start an iron works to be based on the iron mines lately discovered.  In doing this, Spotswood was in error (as his later writings show).  Iron had been known in Virginia for over a century, and a smelting furnace had even been built in 1622.  This was on land belonging now to Col. Byrd, which was located on Falling Creek, where it flows into the James River (a few miles below Richmond today).  It was known in England that Virginia had good sources of iron, and this knowledge had appeared in books in England published before 1600.  The "iron mines lately discovered" were the iron mines of a century earlier.

Kemper says that Spotswood urged, in numerous letters, that the Lords of Trade have the Queen take up the iron project, after the Assembly in Virginia had given it a "thumbs down".  Actually, there is only one letter from Spotswood on the subject; the other letters were on a different subject, silver, not iron.

Kemper came to erroneous conclusions because he did not understand, or chose to ignore, or was unaware of, Graffenried's primary purpose in being in America.  First and foremost, Graffenried's motivation for coming to America was to engage in silver mining, not to start a colony in North Carolina.  Graffenried undertook the North Carolina work because, in doing so, he obtained free transportation to America for his Swiss colony.  When this colony was in place, he planned on going to Virginia and starting work on the silver mines.  He had already made plans for this by sending Johann Justus Albrecht to Siegen to recruit miners in 1710.

When Graffenried came up to Virginia in 1712, one purpose of the trip was to locate the silver mines.  He made an active physical exploration of the upper Potomac watershed.  This was NOT at the request of Spotswood, as Kemper says, but something that Graffenried did on his own initiative and in accordance with his plans he had made in 1710, before he had left England and before he met Spotswood.


Nr. 558:

Continuing with Willis Kemper's history of the Germanna Colonies, he writes:

"Spotswood's letters do not say so, but is apparent that he entered into some negotiations with de Graffenried, and authorized the latter to procure 'skilled workmen out of Germany to open mines in Virginia' . . . .  When de Graffenried's relatives and agents were looking for 'skilled miners out of Germany' to work Spotswood's iron mines, where they more likely to go than to the mining district about Siegen, near to, and on the way from Switzerland to America?  And when there, what is more likely than that they should seek to induce the eldest son of the man who had charge of the tools about the mine to go with the colony?"

Spotswood's letters do not say that he authorized Graffenried to procure German workmen, because Graffenried had undertaken to obtain the miners before he left London in 1710.  He sought these miners for his (George Ritter and Company's) own projected silver mine.  Spotswood did not have iron mines until very late in the decade, many years after he came to Virginia.  Willis Kemper gave no evidence that John George Kemper (the father of the immigrant) had charge of the tools about the mine; in fact, he gave no evidence that John George Kemper was associated with any mine.

Willis Kemper had seen at least portions of a copy of the "autobiography" of Graffenried.  He quotes Graffenried's comments on his return to London in 1713, when he found the miners were there. Graffenried says, "I could give them no better advice than to return home."  It should strike one as very odd that Kemper could say that Graffenried was recruiting workmen for Spotswood, when Graffenried, with the miners in London, writes that he advised them to go home.  Instead of trying to resolve the dilemma of conflicting evidence, Kemper is so anxious to put forth his version of history that he ignores any evidence which does not agree with him.

Graffenried noted that his advice to the miners to return home displeased them very much.  The Germans "preferred to serve for four years as servants in America."  It was the determination of the Germans to go on that was responsible for there being a Germanna.  Once the miners were in London, the following events were due more to their fortitude than to Graffenried and Spotswood.  There is praise to be heaped on the Germans for their strength in this situation.

Graffenried implies that the willingness of the Germans to serve as servants for four years was the key to the successful outcome of the adventure.  At no point does he suggest that the four years became anything else.  Four years would be appropriate since the Germans paid a portion of their passage money, and Spotswood paid a little less than four Pounds per person.  Typically, servants served for about one year for each Pound of the passage money.  The phrase, "serve four years as servants in America", serves to tell us the status of the Germans in America, and when the Germans could be expected to leave Germanna.


Nr. 559:

After the Germans agreed to serve for four years in America in return for their transportation, Graffenried went to work for the Germans to find someone who would take the other side of the bargain.  His search brought him to Col. Blakiston, agent for Virginia, who was thoroughly familiar with Spotswood's hopes for his silver mine.  Though Spotswood and Blakiston had not been able to get the Crown's share of gold and silver mines determined, Blakiston saw the Germans as an opportunity not to be missed.  Therefore, Blakiston committed Spotswood, without having Spotswood's approval, to paying the one hundred and fifty Pounds needed for the Germans' transportation.  The Germans were on the sea and nearing Virginia before Spotswood knew that he was the their employer.

Both Blakiston and Graffenried wrote to Spotswood and broke the news to him, that he was now the employer of the Germans.  Graffenried, in his letter, suggested, "These good people should be sent as a colony to the land, which we conjointly own in Virginia situated not far from the place we found raw minerals (by which we presumed we had silver mines there) . . ."

Willis Kemper, while noting the above, made no comment about the mention of land that Spotswood and Graffenried owned together which was thought to be associated with silver.  Kemper insisted throughout his book that iron was the reason the Germans went to Virginia, and this piece of evidence did not agree with his presentation, so he skipped over it.  And, since Kemper seems to be unaware that silver was the primary interest of Graffenried and that he initiated the recruiting of miners in 1710 for this purpose, he completely missed the reasons behind the emigration of the Germans.

Kemper insisted strongly that the reasons for the miners leaving were completely different from the reasons for the large scale emigration of 1709.  He put it as, "Our Colony did not leave their homes not knowing where they were going, nor because they were compelled to.  They were engaged to go, and knew where they were going, and what they were to do.  No doubt they went to better their condition, but they were not indigent or homeless."  If one looks in on the Germans when they were in London, they were in trouble, lacking funds and any semblance of a permanent home.  Their condition at this time approached the problems of the 1709ers.  Despite the extreme difficulty they were in, they hung together and found a solution.

They did have a reason and a purpose in mind when they left Germany, but Kemper failed to find what this reason was.  They left expecting to mine silver for George Ritter and Company, as represented in person by Johann Justus Albrecht, and by the letter proxies of Graffenried.  This was their reason in leaving.


Nr. 560:

There is one more point on the errors and misrepresentations of Willis Kemper that I wish to make.  Speaking of the first and second groups of Germans, Kemper wrote:

"The remarkable thing is that these Reformed and Lutheran brethren were dwelling together in harmony, and Pastor Hager was 'ministering to them in common.'  This did not long last, as will soon be seen."

The first group, from the Nassau-Siegen area, was Reformed, while the second group was mostly Lutheran, who came from southwestern Germany and Switzerland.  While individual people had their preferred choice in the matter of religion, it was not typical of the Reformed and Lutheran members to hold antagonistic views of the other religion, and there is no evidence this was so in this case.  Willis continued:

"Perhaps the antagonism between the Reformed and Lutheran broke out; whatever the reason, certain it is that the Germans left Germanna and the members of the Reformed faith, 'our colony,' of twelve families, went north about twenty miles into the Northern Neck, into Stafford county, and engaged in agriculture; while the larger body, the Lutherans, soon after went west, also into the Northern Neck, on Robinson's River, into what is now Madison county.  The latter seemed to have held on to the contributions from Europe.  They built Hebron church, still in existence, and still have an organ and a communion set contributed by their European friends."

There are several errors and misrepresentations in this statement.  First, the harmony has been changed to antagonism.  Within a few years of the move to the Robinson River Valley by the Lutherans, they were joined by John Hoffman of the Reformed Germans.  Two sons of Jacob Holtzclaw and a Fishback moved to the Robinson River also.  This hardly supports the idea there was antagonism.  At the time the Lutherans moved, the Robinson River Valley was not defined to be in the Northern Neck.  Land there, at the time, was from the Crown, not from the proprietors of the Northern Neck.

The reason that Lutherans moved to land in Spotsylvania County, which included the Robinson River in its entirety, was that it was free.  Kemper shows no evidence that he was aware of this fact, and, instead, seeking an explanation, he made up the fiction that the groups were antagonistic to each other.  There were at least two reasons that the Lutherans did not join the Reformed that had nothing to do with religion.  As noted, the land was free in Spotsylvania County.  Second, there was a lack of land adjacent to the Reformed colony because others had taken up this land.

While it is true that both groups had made a joint appeal in 1719 or 1720 in Europe for money and a pastor, there is no evidence that anything was obtained as a result.  The Lutherans alone in the 1730's did do extensive and successful canvassing in Germany, and from this they purchased a farm and built the Hebron church.  Kemper mixes up the two appeals, one unsuccessful and one successful, and falsely accuses the Lutherans of keeping the money from the unsuccessful appeal (which probably raised nothing).

To summarize the history of the Germanna Colonies as written by Kemper, one would do better not to believe any of it.  Unfortunately, he wrote at an early date, and it was picked up and repeated by following writers to the detriment of all of Virginia's early eighteenth century history.


Nr. 561:

R. T. Green published "Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia" in 1900, after Willis Kemper had published the "Genealogy of the Kemper Family".  Green included comments on Germanna.  The first section was short and appears to have been written without any knowledge of Kemper's writings.  The opening sentence started, "On a peninsular of 400 acres of land on the banks of the Rapid Anne, which was settled by about four-score Germans, whom he [Spotswood] brought thither to conduct his iron manufactories; . . ."  The "400 acres of land" can be traced to the writings of Col. Byrd in 1732, though the actual land on the peninsular was nearer to 1300 acres.  The fourscore of Germans that Green mentions would normally be the second group of Germans but they were never at Germanna.  It was the first group of Germans of about forty-two people that was at Germanna.  The implication that the Germans were brought thither to run the iron manufactories is incorrect, as they were settled at Germanna to search for silver.  The iron works were never at Germanna.  When the iron works did exist, which was several years later, they were thirteen miles away from Germanna.

It is ironic, but Green never recognized that the fourscore of Germans were the first settlers of Culpeper County, about which he was writing.

At the end of Green's work, he notes that Willis Kemper had visited Germany (in 1900).  He quotes Kemper then at some length.  These statements are much the same as the ones discussed here in recent notes.  Using just the opening statement of Kemper as quoted by Green:

"Several years prior to 1714 Gov. Spotswood discovered deposits of iron ore on the large tracts of land he had entered, where Germanna was afterwards located, in Spotsylvania (now Orange) county.  He spent much time arranging his plans to work this one, and in getting the Queen's (Ann) permission, and in having the royal share determined.  After these matters were adjusted he needed iron miners and iron workers, to mine the ore, and build the furnaces and run them, and there were none in Virginia. . . [Graffenried] arranged to get miners for him from Germany. . ."

There are at least eight errors in these statements which have essentially been covered in recent notes.  The important point to make now is that the mistakes of a family genealogy and its associated historical background are entering into the general history of Virginia.  Green's work and writings were accepted more widely than Kemper's comments might have been. "Notes on Culpeper County" has been reprinted several times, at least in 1958, 1964, and 1971.  So the Germanna errors, some of which were published by Slaughter, but the more serious of which originated with Kemper, have received wide circulation.


Nr. 562:

In 1907, W. W. Scott wrote "A History of Orange County, Virginia".  His credentials were good as he was a very senior librarian for the state of Virginia, and a member of the State Historical Society.  One of the twenty-four chapters is devoted to Germanna, and two other chapters are related.

On the whole, the history of Germanna is improved as compared to some of the works we have been examining, such as Slaughter's and Green's.  Scott, along with many others, mentions three German colonies, but, as everyone else fails to do, he does not give any details of the 1719, or third colony, which was nonexistent.  (It would be interesting to see how this false idea originated.)

By this time, some Germanna history was appearing in the "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography", and Scott references this publication.  One of the writers in this journal was Charles E. Kemper of Staunton, Virginia.  (I will not be examining these articles at this time.)

Scott, basing his conclusions on the records of importations used to obtain headrights, concludes, as others have done, that the bachelors in the first group of Germans were married when they came.  (Several of the men were bachelors when they left Germany, and remained so until after their arrival in Virginia, but the proofs of importation are ambiguous as to when they were married.)

Scott used material from Willis Kemper, which is not identified as such, and thereby makes his first serious mistake.  This unidentified material says:

"These colonists were induced to leave their homes in Germany by the Baron de Graffenried, acting for Governor Spotswood, who was then making preparations to develop his iron mines in the vicinity of Germanna, and this business enterprise of the Governor was the sole cause of their coming to America and Virginia."

A casual reader might assume that this statement originated with Scott, and never know that it came from Willis Kemper.  Again, this is part of the process by which the errors of a family historian crept into the general history of Virginia and received the stamp of approval of a non-Germanna descendant.

In speaking of the second group of Germans, Scott says they came from Alsace, the Palatinate, and adjacent districts in Germany.  He was not alone in saying this, as the Rev. Stoever of the early 1700's was the source.  The Reverend was simply in error, and it shows, as several other examples given here also show, that the early people were not always correct.

Scott tells that he had read the "Kemper Genealogy", which, he says, is the best account of the German's history.  He even quoted from it without telling us so.  The sentence in the paragraph above shows that Scott did not know and understand the reasons that the Germans came to America.


Nr. 563:

By 1907, Rev. W. P. Huddle, then the pastor at Hebron Lutheran Church, wrote a history of the church which was published in 1908.  (In 1905 he had published a shorter article on the subject in a church magazine which was found to contain several errors.  He returned to the search with a determination to uncover the facts.)  About thirty pages of history prior to 1740 are given in the book.  He summarized the difficulties as:

"Many difficulties have had to be met, owing to the lack of early records.  Mistakes may be expected, especially in the early history which is very misty and hard to clear up.  There were missing links which I could not find.  However, I have done my best with the material at hand, trusting that wherein I have failed the future historian will succeed."

He cites many references that he consulted, which were original or very early.  He even obtained a few documents from the Public Record Office in London.  Still, he refrained, for the most part, from making any suppositions where the records were silent.  The net result is that he has only a few errors, and he cleared up one major error of confusion.  The final result was that his history of the second group was the best to that time and still worth consulting.

As to the errors, he says that the second group of Germans, the Lutherans, lived on the south side of the Rapidan River.  Since the first group, the Reformed people, were on the south side at Fort Germanna, his supposition was reasonable.  He also says that the second group worked in the iron business of Spotswood, which is another error.

Huddle very strongly makes the point that the second group of Germans was not at Germanna, but near Germanna.  He noted that Col. Byrd counted a baker's dozen of houses at Germanna, which would have been far from sufficient for the combined first and second groups of Germans.  The second group was spread out for two to six miles (from Fort Germanna), and on the opposite side of the Rapidan River.

The point that Huddle cleared up was the source of the organ.  He wrote to people in Pennsylvania and his questions were referred to the Moravians who kept excellent records.  They told Huddle who the builder was and when it was installed.  (Huddle noted, in 1907 that, with proper care, the organ would last another century.  That century has almost gone by and the organ is still being used every Sunday as the principal source of instrumental music in the church.  Within a few years, the organ will start its third century of service in 2002.)

Huddle noted that Rev. Stöver gave the origin of the first members as Alsace, the Palatinate, and neighboring areas, but he hesitated to put his endorsement on this statement.  Huddle did note that the Moravians said the majority of people were from Württemberg, and concluded the question was still open.

The book is "History of the Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison County, Virginia from 1717-1990" and was written by Rev. William Peter Huddle.  It was reprinted with an Epilogue by Margaret Grim Davis, and is available from the Hebron Church, PO Box 120, Madison, VA 22727.


Nr. 564:

[In note 562, I gave a quotation from Scott and it might be inferred that it was a quotation from Willis Kemper's book, "Genealogy of Kemper Family".  Though every thought in the quotation is included in Kemper's work, and the expression of the ideas is typical Kemper writing, the quotation itself seems to have come from another source, probably a letter from Kemper.]

Willis Kemper wrote another book, without a coauthor, entitled "Genealogy of the Fishback Family in America", which was published in 1914, two hundred years after the arrival of the first Germanna group in Virginia.  The ideas in this book are so similar to the "Kemper Genealogy", in which there was a coauthor, that Kemper is often given as the sole author of the Kemper book.  One difference between the two books was that Kemper had been to Nassau-Siegen after the "Kemper Genealogy".

On page 1 there are two errors.  Speaking of the First Germanna Colony, he says it was "brought to Virginia to exploit her iron mines for the benefit of her rulers".  Then, in the second paragraph he says that the group was "the first organized German colony to come to the territory, later to be known as the United States of America".  The first error is repeated on page 12, when he says they "came at the request of the rulers of Virginia".

On page 13, writing about Spotswood's letter to the Council of Trade, dated 24 Oct 1710, Kemper claims that Spotswood uses the phrase "towards the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia". This was the letter in which Spotswood (erroneously) mentions the newly discovered iron mines.  A search of the Spotswood letter that Kemper cites shows that it does not contain the phrase that he claimed.  In fact, one should have been suspicious that Kemper erred because the phrase "Blue Ridge Mountains" was not used in 1710.

Though I am no fan of Graffenried, I must defend him against a charge that Kemper makes against him.  Kemper says Graffenried abandoned his colony in North Carolina and came up to Virginia.  Actually, one of Graffenried's purposes in the trip to Virginia was to see if he could find homes there for the members of the colony.  The answer was affirmative, but none of the North Carolina colonists wished to move.

In another place, Kemper again makes a letter of Spotswood say something that Spotswood did not write.  Kemper mixes statements from Graffenried and Spotswood together and implies by his citation that Spotswood was the source of all of the comments, see page 14 of Kemper.

Kemper wondered why most of the First Colony people did not apply for headrights until ten years after they came to Virginia.  He concludes that they applied because Spotswood insisted they apply and assign the headrights to him.  The truth is that they were not more diligent in applying, because in the Northern Neck, where their permanent homes were, they could not use headrights.  Outside the Northern Neck, headrights fell in value, because land was free in Spotsylvania County, the location of the most active land development.  Later, the head rights had some small value outside the Northern Neck, and, in fact, several of the colonists did sell their headrights.  For example, Lawrence Crees, on the Robinson River, purchased some of these headrights and used them to pay for his land.  The value of a headright was only a few shillings, and it hardly paid going to court to get them.

Kemper notes that the chief miner, Johann Justus Albrecht, seems to have disappeared and says that he did not come to Virginia.  There is a record of Albrecht in the Virginia courthouses but his eventual fate is unknown.

Some of the mistakes of the "Kemper Genealogy" are repeated (not mentioned here), others do not appear in "Fishback Genealogy", and some new ones appear.


Nr. 565:

To honor the coming of the 1717 German Colony at the end of two hundred years, A. L. Keith wrote a three-part article for the "William and Mary Quarterly".  The genealogy which he included was the first comprehensive look at the colony, though it did follow the Garr Genealogy.  Some general history, which is the concern here, is included.  Keith repeats, following Rev. Stöver's original remarks, that the origin of the group was Alsace, the Palatinate, and the vicinity.  He adds Hesse to the list because the naturalization of Nicholas Yager indicates he was from there.  But Keith does not mention Württemberg, which the Moravians had noted, correctly, as the source of many or most of the Second Colony.  Keith was aware of the work of Huddle, as the reference list which Keith gives is almost identical to the reference list of Huddle.

Keith was not entirely convinced that the Captain of the ship bringing the Second Colony was Scott.  Once, when he mentions the Captain he adds "(Captain Scott?)".  Perhaps he read the proof of importations in which the statement is "in Capt. Scott" and had his doubts.

Keith repeats Stöver's comment that many people perished on the ocean crossing.  While death nearly always accompanied the voyage, comparing those who left with those who arrived shows that the death rate was not very high.

Keith says that the entire colony moved in 1725 to the Robinson River, near the foot of the Blue Mountains.  In saying this, he failed to note that some of the families moved to the Mt. Pony area, less than ten miles from Germanna, and only a few miles from their first home.  I was the first to note and write about this Mt. Pony area and that was only ten years ago.

Keith comments that the relationship with the 1714 colony was "purely accidental".  I believe that Spotswood abetted Capt. Tarbett in his crimes, and so the connection was not entirely accidental.  Spotswood liked the first group of Germans and wanted more Germans for his vast landed empire which was in formation.  Capt. Tarbett obliged him with the shipload of Germans which became the Second Colony.

A major advance of Keith was, "Now as regards the so-called third colony I find no substantial evidence of is existence."  Unfortunately, modern writers have failed to justify their statements as to the third colony and they continue to write of it.

[Keith erred in reading the will of the immigrant George Utz, and found a daughter Barbara.  She has been said to be the wife of Jacob Blankenbaker.  (This error is still being repeated today, as I just received advertising from the people in Bath, Ohio, for a Blankenbaker book, and they cite this erroneous marriage as an example of the data to be found in a projected book.)]

The efforts behind the Garr genealogy, which covered many families, and behind Keith's work, launched and provided the basis for much of the future genealogies of the Second Colony.


Nr. 566:

In 1926, Claude Lindsay Yowell wrote "A History of Madison County, Virginia".  It is a broadly based book and only a fraction of it treats the German element of Madison County  This element is much the same as the second group of Germans, plus many later additions.

Yowell's language is confusing when he refers to the original distribution of land in Madison.  He says, "Later, Governor Alexander Spotswood patented land in what is now Madison County to Germans settlers, believing this land to be his by a grant given him by Queen Anne."  Spotswood never patented any land to the Germans as he was out of office before they acquired their land.  Furthermore, Spotswood owned no land in the Madison County area.  Yowell notes that Lord Fairfax and the Virginia government contended as to who owned the land in the Great Fork of the Rappahannock.  He declares that when the question was decided in the 1740's in London that the decision declared the Germans' patents were to remain valid.  Noting the confusion of Yowell about land, I would like to see the original decision before I duplicated the statement of Yowell.

Yowell repeats that Spotswood used the second group of Germans in his iron mines near Germanna, which is not true; however, he was not alone in making this statement.

The first set of German families to Madison included, according to tradition, Carpenter, Finks, Hoffman, and Souther.  Some of these families were early, but they were not in the first wave to Madison County.  (Madison County did not come into existence until 1792, but it is used to define the geographical area more sharply.)

The Hebron Church was organized, according to Yowell, by a colony of Germans who had emigrated from Germanna, and a few years before from Holland.  Perhaps Yowell was confused by the common name for the church which was the "Old Dutch Church".  In general though, Yowell follows Huddle on the history of the church.  He misled his readers by stating the church farm of 685 acres, purchased from Thomas Farmer, was at a cost of only five shillings.  This implied that the farm was a gift.  Actually, the five shillings arose from the peculiar way in which Virginians transferred land in a two-step process.  He also stated that Hoffman Chapel, a German Reformed church, was built with some of the funds from the Lutheran's appeal for funds in the 1730's.  This is probably not true.

In noting that James L. Kemper was one of the most famous men to have lived in the county, Yowell states, following Slaughter, that the Kempers came from Oldenburg.

On the whole, Yowell's writings are not very insightful and they depend too much on tradition.  He consulted very few original records and used secondary sources or oral reports.  (This comment is aimed at the role of the Germans in Madison County.)  This is very little in the book that one would want to quote though it is of interest to read.

[I believe that the book has been reprinted; maybe a reader could provide us with details.]


Nr. 567:

In discussing books which are relevant to the history of the Germanna Colonies, I have followed a rough chronological sequence.  One book that I failed to mention is "The Official Letters of Alexander Spotswood", in the Collections of the Virginia Historical Society, New Series, vols. 1 and 2 (1882.  R. A. Brock was the editor of this book.  It does not contain the complete set of Spotswood letters; some of the omitted ones have the best stories for us.  Still, this is the easiest way to read most of the letters in one place.

In 1932, the book "Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Colonial Virginia 1710-1722", by Leonidas Dodson, appeared.  This is considered by many the best of the Spotswood biographies.  Dodson shows more insight into the motives of Spotswood than anything else we have considered.

Dodson recognizes the role of Graffenried and his motives.  He recognizes that Spotswood's early mentions of iron mining in Virginia were as public enterprises.  Even as a public enterprise, the Board of Trade in London told Spotswood that a project to stimulate iron mining would not be encouraged  The governor was told not to assent to any act for encouraging iron mines without a suspending clause.  That is, if the colony undertook any action collectively, it must be prepared at any time to suspend it if word to do so was received from London.  Thus, it would have been extremely dangerous to one's financial health to engage in any such activity.

Dodson detects that Spotswood, Graffenried, and probably Lord Orkney were partners in a mining venture, probably silver, but he was unaware of the purported mine near the future Germanna.  The documents which tie several people into this, including the three above, was a series of obscure deeds in Essex County.  Dodson gives, as one of his many references, the "Kemper Genealogy", but he does not subscribe to the ideas in it.  Still, he shows that it may have influenced him some.  For example, Dodson does believe that the early work of the Germans was toward developing the silver mine, but he says it may have been a cover for iron, a point that I do not believe.

Dodson notes the importance of naval stores during the administration of Spotswood.  As a class of trade, this expanded greatly during Spotswood's time in office and contributed several thousand of Pounds of Sterling annually to the trade of Virginia.  This is an activity in which the second group of Germans was engaged.

Dodson sees the west, i.e., the Piedmont of Virginia, as important in Spotswood's private and public plans.  In June of 1716, the Rangers had found a pass over the mountains, and in August Spotswood led a group of 65 men to "have a look".  Spotswood would probably have established the counties of Brunswick and especially Spotsylvania earlier but the assembly was not cooperating with him.  When Spotsylvania was started, the assembly voted fifteen hundred Pounds to Spotswood to erect a courthouse and a church, and to procure arms for the militia.  Spotswood prepared rooms in his house for the use of the court, so that, at least on a temporary basis, the colony was helping him build his house.  Most of the men in the second group of Germans were sued by Spotswood and the cases would have been heard in the building later called the "Enchanted Castle."


Nr. 568:

Continuing with the biography of Alexander Spotswood, by Leonidas Dodson, he gives one of the best accounts of the law passed by the Virginia assembly creating Spotsylvania (and Brunswick) County.  This was the law that specified that land would be free, though it was subject to final approval in England.  The process of interpreting this law and getting the provisions clarified went on for several years and caused much grief for Spotswood.

As an example of how the English authorities could intervene with legislation passed in Virginia, Dodson cites the law which said no convicts could be exported to Virginia.  In England, this law was disallowed because the people in the business of transporting convicts to Virginia said that it would put them out of business.  This was the climate that existed when the Board of Trade told Spotswood that, if an iron smelting business were started in Virginia, it might be suspended.  Spotswood would hardly have put any money into any business that was as tenuous as this.  In the decade starting in 1710, Spotswood put far more of his money into naval stores than into the iron industry.

Again, as an example of how Spotswood proposed and secured legislation which helped him financially, the assembly passed his proposal for a bounty of six thousand pounds on naval stores.  This was in 1722.  A proposal for a bounty on pig iron was not passed at this time.  Spotswood's iron furnace was just coming into steady production.  The previous year, Col. Byrd had informed the Board of Trade that Spotswood was producing iron at his works.  To judge by the comments of other people, apparently the iron works had some problems at that time.

Dodson certainly found many documents in England which helped him but he did not search as thoroughly in the courthouses of Virginia.  He claimed the Germanna tract was Spotswood's first land acquisition, but the deeds in the Essex courthouse show that Spotswood became a partial owner, in 1713, of the 4,020 acre tract which was thought to contain a silver mine.  These deeds show who the others were that were associated with Spotswood in this venture.  Dodson did suspect that Spotswood, Graffenried, and others were involved and he was correct.

Dodson had serious errors in his dates.  He failed to convert old style dates to the new calendar and reported the year as though it were new style.  Thus, he says that Sir Richard Blackmore wrote in February 1717 that he intended to establish an iron works in Virginia.  This date, though, was old style, and Dodson reported it as a new style date.  By our calendar we would say it was in February of 1718.  Dodson errs in a similar way on the date of the iron mine patent, which he says was February 20, 1719.  Without any qualifications, he should have said it was February 20, 1720.  That the 1717 date was old style, is born out by Spotswood's statement that the letter came about the time that the second group of Germans came.  The patent date can be verified by consulting the original patent.


Nr. 569:

Spotswood was very adept at recasting a situation to make himself look as if he were an angel.  Thus, he generally described the arrival of the first group of Germans as abandoned people (by Graffenried) whom he saved from servitude.  After he was replaced as governor, he informed the Board of Trade that, to avoid all appearances of interfering with the new administration, he removed himself as far as possible from the seat of government and devoted himself to the production of naval stores.  This would be in the fall of 1722, when the construction of his new home at Germanna was going on.  Dodson, in his biography of Spotswood, is surprised at this statement for it does not mention iron.

At this time, iron was not yet a sure thing.  His mines and efforts were beginning to yield some iron but the commitment was tentative and the success of the iron enterprise was not assured.  Spotswood was, at this time, more heavily involved with land and naval stores.  And the site of his new home reflected this.  Once before, Spotswood's enterprising efforts had been overturned in England.  This was still a possibility with the iron so it was better to concentrate on land, a proven technique to wealth in Virginia, and on naval stores, an endeavor which was encouraged in England.

Dodson got tangled up in his dates and failed to appreciate the difference between new style and old style dates.  Thus he says that Spotswood was involved in exploiting Virginia's iron deposits as early as 1717.  Spotswood himself says that he put his Germans to work searching for iron ore in February of 1718 on the new style calendar.  The iron mine patent did not result until 1720 on the new style calendar.  By then, his German workers had left and he had to employ other workers to construct the iron furnace.  This, and the need for partners with money, delayed the program.

The Rev. Hugh Jones left Virginia in 1722 and wrote a book in England in 1724 which described Virginia.  Most people assume he was describing Virginia in 1722, the last time he saw it.  In it, he described Spotswood's undertakings with the zeal of a promoter.  "This Iron has been proved to be good, and 'tis thought, will come at as cheap a Rate as any imported from other Places; so that 'tis to be hoped Col. Spotswood's Works will in a small Time prove very advantageous to Great Britain, which undoubtedly will be carried to greater Perfection and universal Benefit, by his skillful Management and indefatigable Application . . ."  His use of the future tense gives the impression that the iron works was not running on a sustained and successful basis.

Spotswood's successor, Lt. Gov. Drysdale, wrote to the Board of Trade in 1723, "I judge it part of my duty to inform your Ldspps. of an affair, that is at present the common Theme of peoples Discourses, and employs their thoughts.  Coll Spotswoods Iron workes; he had brought itt to that perfection that he now sells by publick auction at Wms:burgh, backs and frames for Chymnies, Potts, doggs, frying, stewing, and baking panns . . ."  This statement shows that the iron works was in production but still a novelty.

Dodson shows the best understanding of any writer up to 1932 of the economic enterprises of Spotswood.  He found and cited an extensive collection of documents in England which support his story.  His weakness was a failure to find and use documents from Virginia.  He avoided the conclusions of earlier authors.  Certainly he did not endorse Willis Kemper whose first book is listed in the bibliography.


Nr. 570:

Lester J. Cappon, of the University of Virginia, wrote a note on Spotswood's iron furnace in 1945, entitled "Iron Works at Tuball":

"Spotswood's inclination toward private investment, taking advantage of his strategic position in high public office, was demonstrated soon after his coming to America.  His interest was a combination of land speculation, with iron mining and manufacturing.  Only after ten years of persistent planning and opportunism stemming mostly from frontier circumstances, did the iron venture begin to show some favorable results.  Even then its success remained in doubt for some time and brought better returns to his children and grandchildren."

Cappon displays no understanding of the motivation of Graffenried and his interest in silver.  He ascribes the recruitment of the first Germans as a favor of Graffenried for Spotswood and overlooks the statement of Graffenried that he advised the Germans in London to "go home".

Cappon also makes the mistake of Dodson in confusing the years.  They both say the Mine Tract Patent was issued in 1719, when a much better statement would be 1720.  Cappon also says that Spotswood imported seventy Palatine Germans to serve as indentured servants and to replace the German Swiss, who left to occupy lands of their own in [now] Fauquier County.  The use of the word "Swiss" harks back to earlier writers and confuses the various groups that were associated with Graffenried.  To accept that the second group of Germans replaced the first group requires ignoring the statements of Rev. Jones and of Spotswood himself.

Cappon says, "It is not definitely known when Tubal Furnace, built of rough stone, a few miles below the confluence of the Rapidan and Rappahannock, was put into operation."  But, he immediately adds the statement of Drysdale in 1723 that the furnace was working, without offering any counter evidence.

In 1725 the Iron Mine Tract, with six plantations, houses, furnace, dams, and other improvements was appraised by county officials at about seven thousand pounds.  The year before, Spotswood had returned to England where he stayed about five or six years.  During this time, his furnace operation was mismanaged and failed to produce the output of which it was capable.  It was not until the 1730's that the Tubal furnace reached a sustained and profitable output.

Cappon fails to add anything new to what Dodson had written, except to give the details of the lease on the Tubal furnace that Spotswood offered in 1739.  Before a lease was executed, Spotswood died and the furnace remained in the family for many more years as the cornerstone of the family's fortune.


Nr. 571:

An extreme example of how history can go wrong is furnished by the work of Ralph C. Meima who wrote a booklet entitled "Spotswood's Iron", which was published in 1993.  In the preface, he says that Alexander Spotswood erected Tubal furnace in or before 1715, an idea that harks back to Willis Kemper in 1898.  Such a claim ignores the statement of Spotswood made in 1716 that the Germans had done no work for him in the two years they had been here.  It also ignores the statement of Lt. Gov. Drysdale, made in 1723, which implies the furnace was newly built.

I wrote to Mr. Meima and highlighted the several things he said which were at variance with original documents.  His reply as much as admitted that he had done no original research but he had copied statements from a trade journal.  As we have been seeing, many erroneous statements were floating around and an article for a trade journal could have picked up any number of these errors.  Apparently, Mr. Meima added a few of his own.

Mr. Meima was very careless in his quotations.  He shows the picture of Germanna drawn by C. H. Huffman, saying it was drawn from a description by John Fontaine, who visited the site in 1714.  Obviously he had not read Fontaine's account, a basic book for understanding Germanna.  Mr. Meima also attributes the claim of a furnace in or before 1715 to Spotswood who never made any such statement.

Mr. Meima makes the claim for authenticity (in his letter to me) from an endorsement by the chief historian of the National Park Service.

The mention of an "85,000-acre iron empire" shows a lack of understanding of Spotswood's other economic interests, which, until about 1730, were more important than iron.  The claim that Spotswood discovered iron ore (shades of Kemper) while exploring in the west is entirely unproven.

A claim, that I have never seen anyone else make nor is there any evidence in the record, was that Spotswood wrote to the Lord Commissioners in London and asked that workmen and materials be sent to Virginia to begin an iron industry.  This statement is simply false and takes only a few pages of reading in Spotswood's letters to see that it is false.

The statement that Spotswood led the Germans to Germanna in 1713 is obviously false.  Another gross error is that Palatine German iron workers replaced the first comers who migrated to Fauquier County near Winchester to start an iron works of their own.  Germanna students ought to be able to find five errors in this one statement.

There is an obvious lesson from this.  Don't write your history or genealogy by copying.  Doing so only creates more errors. Do your own research.  Consult the original records.


Nr. 572:

On April 24, 1949, about 85 people met at the ruins of the "Enchanted Castle" for the First Public Basket Picnic Party.  Minutes of the meeting were prepared by Rhetherford B. Martin, who had been instrumental in organizing the meeting.  The spring day was marred by high winds and a chilly air.  Rather than hold a formal meeting, R. B. Martin mingled among the crowd, and, as a result, the name "Society of Germanna Colonists" was chosen, bylaws were adopted, and interested persons were made directors.

A large percentage of the people were descendants of John Kemper, including R. B. Martin.  It was decided to publish a Journal and the first pages, of about a hundred pages, were prepared by R. B. Martin, himself a descendant of the Kempers.  As might be expected under these circumstances, references were made in the Journal to the work of Willis Kemper, though he was seldom identified as the source of the material.  We have already been through the books of Willis Kemper, so I will not repeat the errors here.

One statement, which did not come from Willis Kemper, was, "After four long years of hot summers and cold winters of servitude, the colony [First Germanna Colony] disagreed with Governor Spotswood's principles.  They held a pow-wow among themselves and decided to leave."  While I believe that statement is correct, I doubt the following continuation, "Not owning animals, they built carts from hickory and pine and wheeled their earthly possessions 18 miles to Germantown, Virginia . . ."  I believe they did own animals such as cows.  [Beef was mentioned as a food by John Fontaine.]  Spotswood made it a practice to place cows with the people on his land.  The people tended the cows and, at the end of the relationship, cows equal to the original cows plus one-half of the increase were returned to Spotswood.  The people could keep one-half of the increase.

Quotations from W. W. Scott in his book, "History of Orange County, Virginia", which was published in 1907, carried forward the ideas of Willis Kemper, which are repeated under the guise that they originated with Scott.

Though the "Society of Germanna Colonists" adopted bylaws, the group was never a formal legal entity.  During the first year, the expenses of the Society were paid largely by R. B. Martin while several other people contributed services.  Of the five officers elected at the first meeting, four of them had a Kemper connection, and two had a Hitt connection.  (The secretary was a descendant of Peter Hitt, and she had married a Kemper descendant).  The Kemper connection is more evident in the original invitation to the meeting which said, " . . . the descendants of John Kemper 1st submit this invitation to the descendants and friends of any and all of the [Germanna] colonists to bring their luncheon baskets and join us in a picnic at Germanna Ford, on April 24, 1949, at 11:00 A.M."

R. B. Martin made one statement that I have not seen elsewhere.  He states the Germans tried to recover gold from the deposits in the veins in the area but they were unsuccessful.  Gold was later mined successfully in the area of Germanna but I have never seen any evidence that the Germans tried to recover it.  According to Spotswood, they did try to recover silver from the mine of which he was a part owner.  In fact, that was the reason they were in Virginia.


Nr. 573:

The Journal for the Society of Germanna Colonies, which was issued after the Second Public Basket Picnic Party, and all of the remaining Journals list Brawdus Martin as the Chairman.  Rhetherford B. Martin is never mentioned again after the first issue of the Journal.  The second picnic was held later in the year, June 18 (1950), perhaps in an attempt to avoid another chilly and windy day in April.  The change in the date, and probably an improvement in the publicity, resulted in an increased number of people, perhaps 350, who attended.  A much broader representation from the different Germanna families was obtained; however, the best representation continued to be from the Kemper, Hitt, and Martin families.

The preparation of the Journal was the work of Brawdus Martin.  In the second issue, he is listed twice as a Martin descendant and once as a Kemper descendant.

The history of the Germanna Colonies which is given in the Journal contains some errors.  Citing a few examples,

"Spotswood was the first Virginia Governor who went through [the] legal procedure of contracting for emigrants. . . .The Colony of 1714 came over to America as mechanics to work the Spotswood iron mines. . . .They [Colony of 1714] came under a special Virginia assembly enactment. . .The Second Colony took their place and lived along Cherry Tree Row [i.e., at Germanna]."

In discussing Spotswood's home at Germanna, which Col. Byrd visited and wrote about, the statement is made, "It was probably here at breakfast that the final arrangements were made for the 'Golden Horseshoe Trip' in opening up the Shenandoah Valley."

The problem in this statement is that the house was not in existence until about six years after the trip.

Financing for the Society was proving to be a problem.  The expense of the Journals, even though a very limited number were produced, was heavy and the sale of them did not cover their cost.  Many people contributed services and goods which were a help, especially at the picnics.


Nr. 574:

The third Picnic Party of the Society of Germanna Colonies was held on 15 July 1951 at the grounds of Spotswood's "Enchanted Castle".  The third number of the Journal which was issued after the meeting was prepared by Brawdus Martin.  It is hard to follow the history of the Germans that he gives because he is thinking out loud and he is confused.

Before we begin the discussion of his thoughts, a review of the geography is helpful.  Spotswood's home was in the area where State Highway 3 crosses the Rapidan River.  Most people considered this to be Germanna.  The fort was usually placed in this same vicinity though no definitive location could be given.  The iron mines and the furnace were thirteen miles down the Rapidan River and past its confluence with the Rappahannock River.  The physical remains of Spotswood's home and the furnace were testimony as to their location.

What troubled Martin were Willis Kemper's statements that Spotswood had iron mines and he imported German miners to work these mines.  The problem was the miners were not located or placed at the mines but were located thirteen miles away which was not very logical.  But Martin was reluctant to come to the conclusion that Kemper was in error, which is the obvious answer borne out by many other statements and events, but instead he sought other answers, none of which came easily.

He said there were three possibilities as to where the German miners were first settled.  One was at "Douchertown", a slangy name for German Town which, was an alternative name for Germanna.  Douchertown was about one-half mile up the Rapidan from the site of the future "Castle".  Martin said that he had found a copy of an old map which located Douchertown there.  A second choice was closer to the "Castle".  That this was a possibility was indicated by Byrd's remarks in "Progress to the Mines" where he speaks of the Castle as facing a baker's dozen of ruinous tenements across the street where German workmen had lived.  The third possibility was that the miners were actually settled at the mines, thirteen miles away from Germanna.

Martin was least inclined to accept the Castle location, i.e., across the street.  He found it hard to believe that Spotswood would build so close to the houses that were primitive.  Also, he was looking for nine houses, not thirteen, since John Fontaine found nine houses at Germanna.  So Martin concluded that the thirteen houses were at Douchertown which was half a mile away.  (He ascribed Byrd's description of the location to poetic license.)  There were thirteen houses because the larger second group of Germans had replaced the smaller first group.

Still, he was not happy with the idea that the miners were at Douchertown because that went against the implications to be drawn from Kemper.  Martin tried the idea that the miners were at Douchertown and working on gold mines at first.  And a variation of this is that they were settled first at Douchertown where they produced a sample of iron but never went into production.

Martin seemed the happiest with two Germannas and two forts.  One Germanna and one fort were located on the site of the furnace.  Very few people really believed this and it was a hard sell.


Nr. 575:

Starting with the last note, some ideas are given which are not proven and are contradictory to known facts  They originated with Broadus Martin and are given here in the spirit of showing how erroneous ideas, many of which started with Willis Kemper, can lead to further errors.

The fourth Annual Picnic (of the Society of Germanna Colonists) was held 6 July 1952, but no Journal was issued in the year following  The fifth Annual Picnic was held 7 June 1953, with both picnics at the site of the ruins of Spotswood's home  Following the fifth picnic, a Journal was issued which was intended to cover both years.

Martin suggested more definitely that there were two Germannas  The first Germanna was located near the furnace  He also suggested that the "Germanna" tract of 1716 included this site  The "Wilderness" tract of 1719 was the site where Spotswood built his home  Spotswood moved the name "Germanna" from the first site to the second site  The only Germans at the Spotswood home site were the second group of Germans  The first group of Germans was located only at the first Germanna.

Martin boldly struck out at the recent writers who, in writing about the first group of Germans, were "confused"  By this, he meant that everyone else was confused  According to him, there was a fort, which he called Spotswood's Fort, near the fork in the Rappahannock River  (This would put this fort much closer to the iron mine.)  It was here that the First Colony was settled; it was here that Fontaine, Clayton, (and Beverley) visited in 1715; it was here that the trip across the Blue Ridge Mountains started in 1716  The blockhouse, where the First Colony held their church services, was at Fort Spotswood  The Spotswood Fort was ten miles away from the site where the picnic was being held at the ruins of Spotswood's home.

If students of Germanna history have a hard time swallowing these ideas, they could try the following quotation from Martin in the Journal:

"The first Germans (1714) the twelve ironworking apostles by 1718 had become dissatisfied for they had felt that their contract with the Governor included them as participants in his Iron venture and sued the Governor for a copy of the contract  The court ordered the Governor to give them a copy which as far as the records showed, the Governor never relinquished."

There are several ideas in this last quotation for which there is no evidence  Martin applied some ideas which pertained to the second group of Germans to the first group but in doing so he made errors  (No Germans sued Spotswood but Spotswood did sue many members of the second group.)

One begins to wonder if it wasn't Broadus Martin who was confused.

 


(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 TWENTY-THIRD set of Notes, Nr. 551 through Nr. 575.)


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 551 through 575.


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