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This is the TWENTY-EIGHTH 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 676 through 700.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 28

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Nr. 676:

The last note closed with the concept of processioning and processioners.  It was a requirement by law that all boundaries between properties would be walked by the processioners and the property owners.  Thus, in essence, the property owners would be saying, "This is the line that divides us."  The processioners were witnesses to this.  The objective was to forestall litigation between property owners, by affirming where the property lines were.  Thus, the Church of England was an arm of the civil authority.

There were conflicts between civil officials and church officials.  Who had the right to appoint pastors?  This question also involved a conflict between the central civil authority, in Williamsburg, and the local parish.  For a period, all pastors had to come from England, as there was no school for training pastors in Virginia.  This made it very difficult to obtain pastors, as they had to be hired in England.  More and more, the local parishes wanted "Virginia men", meaning they did not want someone from England.  And, the parishes wanted local election and rejection of the pastors.

In the Church of England, there were bishops who governed the church.  Virginia had no bishops in residence, probably because no bishop wanted to live in Virginia.  (Originally, there were so few people in Virginia that a bishop for Virginia did not seem warranted.)  For governing the church, the Bishop of London was the nominal head of the church in Virginia.  Since he did not come to Virginia, he appointed a commissioner in his place.  Often, there was a conflict between this commissioner and the civil authorities, especially as represented by the governor.  In theory, the Crown was the head of the Church of England, throughout the lands of England.  The governor of Virginia was the agent of the Crown.  The commissioner was the agent of the Bishop of London.  Who controlled the church in Virginia?

Some say (the whole subject is murky) that Lt. Gov. Spotswood was removed from the post because of conflicts with Commissioner Blair.  The commissioner carried his contentions back to England, where he was able to get the Governor of Virginia, Lord Orkney, to remove his agent, Spotswood.

A common theme between the European civil and religious leaders was to regard the people in the New World as second class or nonexistent citizens.  The people in Virginia detected this and it led to their thinking of themselves as Virginians, not Englishmen.  As one reads the early eighteenth century history, one detects that the seeds of revolution were being sown, long before actual hostilities broke out.

As a final example, in the Church of England, bishops confirmed the youth as members of the church.  There were no bishops in Virginia, so that a youth who wished to be confirmed had to go back to England.  This was totally impractical for the general citizen.  Therefore, what developed was the "Virginia way", which was to be distinguished from the "English way".  In this case, the Virginia people went without confirmation of their membership in the church.


Nr. 677:

In the first years of its existence, the vestry of St. Mark's parish was mostly concerned with the physical plant of a new church.  They purchased a farm for the pastor.  They built a glebe house for him.  Repairs were made to the church at Germanna and to the chapels.  And it was decided to build a new church.  The area to the west of Germanna was filling up with people, so the new church was located further out.

A year and a half after the parish was formed, the vestry met at John Finlason's Path on Germanna Road.  (Notice the reference to a path, which is a commentary on the roads.)  It was at this meeting that the vestry ordered a new church to be built "convienent to the two Springs".  The availability of water was always a factor in locating churches and chapels.  The nails of the burnt church were ordered sold.

In October, the Vestry met to lay the parish levy.  Before computing the levy, bills were paid, which seem to be mostly of a mechanical nature.  Francis Kirtley was paid 375 pounds of tobacco for meat, corn, and service.  Probably, he had taken care of the sick or poor and he was being reimbursed.  Henry Field, a warden, received a larger payment, probably for similar reasons.

The Vestry was charged with watching the morals of the citizens, and perhaps taking action.  At this meeting, John Coalt, a bastard child, was bound over to Francis Kirtley until he (the child) was 21 years old.

Payments were made to Rev. Debuts for thirty sermons, to include, with the 9,240 pounds of tobacco, "Chask and Convenienece".  [The word 'chask' is a misspelling of cask, but the meaning of 'convenience' escapes me.  I suspect it means the tobacco was to be delivered, not to Rev. Debuts, but to a warehouse.  Does anyone have a thought on this?]

The levy was 69 pounds of tobacco per tithable.  There were 755 tithables.  The previous year there were 704 tithables, and they were levied 35 pounds of tobacco.  So people were in for a shock when the tax bill for the parish came; it had nearly doubled in the year.  The population had grown by about 7 percent in the year.  Among the Germanna citizens, we know there was a small boom in the early 1730's as several people came from Germany then.

The next meeting, after the fall meeting for making the budget and laying the levy, did not come until the next May.  A statement, which covers much of what was written in the last note, was, "It is ordered that the Reverend Mr. John Becket being Recommended to us by the Governour and Commissary we doe Entertain him as Minister of our Parish and that he is to be paid as the Law directs."  It was also ordered that the Rev. Becket was to live on the glebe land, in the house which was being built (to which he agreed).  It is not entirely clear who was doing the "ordering," but it appears that it was meant to reflect the vote of the Vestry; however, the vestry had the "recommendations" of the Governor and the Commissary.  The Rev. Mr. Debuts was discharged as of the last service in April.


Nr. 678:

The previous note had references which require an explanation.  On 16 Mar 1732(NS), the St. Mark's vestry met at Germanna church and ordered that the doors of the church at Germanna be repaired.  On 30 Jun 1932 the vestry met on Germanna Road and gave orders to build a church.  They also ordered that the nails of the "burnt" church be sold.  In between these two dates, some dissatisfied citizens burned down the Germanna church in an attempt to get a church that was closer to them.  So reported Byrd in "Progress to the Mines".  The vestry minutes made no mention of the arson, only the reference to a "burnt" church.

About sixteen months later, the vestry ordered the wardens to offer Col. Alexander Spotswood his choice of a place in the new church to seat himself.  Also, in 1733, there is the first mention of a Germanna citizen in the minutes.  It was ordered that Frederick Cobler have David Jones bound to him to learn the trade of a cooper.  The Cobler and the Zimmerman families were two of most prominent German families in the Mt. Pony area, and both were coopers.  (Probably, they were busy making casks in which to pack the tobacco.)  This was the general region of the new church.

In 1733, there were 816 tithables, who were each to pay 85 and a quarter pounds of tobacco as the parish levy.  The high levy reflected the cost of the glebe farm and house and the cost of the new church.

An unusual item in the minutes was the decision to move the north door of the church to the south side and to set the church east and west (the church was already built).  One of the problems which the vestry continually faced in these early years was to find workmen who could do a good job and could complete work on schedule.  More than once the vestry threatened to sue the workman.  Part of the problem may have lain with the vestry itself.  In December of 1733, they decided to erect a chapel and instructed Benjamin Cave to find the cheapest man to do the job.

At the spring meeting in 1734, it was ordered that Michael Holt be paid sixty pounds of tobacco for an overcharged levy.  At the fall meeting in 1734, the number of tithables was 981, and the levy was set at eighty and a quarter pounds.  Growth was very rapid in these years.  Thomas Stanton, Gentleman, was paid 832 pounds of tobacco for nursing a bastard child.  It was ordered that the child be bound to Thomas Stanton, Junior.

The name Francis Michel occurs in the minutes and in the Spotsylvania County records earlier.  This was the name of Graffenried's partner, and it isn't clear whether we are talking about the same individual.


Nr. 679:

Through the years, new vestry men had to be selected to replace others.  The most common reason was death.  Another common reason, for which there was no need up to 1740 or so, was the subdivision of the parish.  After subdivision, some of the vestry no longer lived in the parish.  The minutes of the parish seldom note that a vestryman resigned.

At the 13 Jun 1739 meeting, there was a jarring element.  The church wardens were ordered to take all evidence to prove the allegations against the Rev. Mr. John Becket.  A copy was to be forwarded to the Governor and to the Commissary and a copy was to be given to Mr. Becket.

At the fall meeting in 1739, the parish levy was fixed at twenty-two pounds of tobacco per levy.  According to the civil records given to the vestry, there were 1,904 tithables.  So, in ten years, the population of St. Mark's parish had more than doubled.

At this same meeting, the wardens were instructed to approach the Rev. Mr. MacDonald to see if he would be the supply minister.  Failing a positive answer from Rev. MacDonald, the wardens were to search for another man, but in no case was Mr. Becket to be chosen.

At the spring meeting, in 1740, it was noted that the Rev. Mr. John Thompson was recommended to the vestry by the Governor and the Commissary.  The vestry decided to accept the recommendation and the Rev. Thompson became the pastor for St. Mark's parish.  He is the pastor who is perhaps best known to students of Germanna history, for he is the man who married the widow of Alexander Spotswood.  He also built Salubria for their home.  Anyone who studies much of the land history in the Great Fork (of the Rappahannock), will recognize the name as he acquired many acres in several different tracts.

At the fall meeting, the levy was twelve pounds of tobacco for each of the 2,107 tithables.  The rate was down considerably from the earlier years because the major building was complete and the number of tithes had increased sharply, which reduced the load on any one person.


Nr. 680:

I have been noting, as we have gone through the minutes of the meetings of the vestrymen of St. Mark's Parish, the growth in the number of tithables.  I will give these numbers in a more systematic way.

  • In 1731, the levy was 35 pounds of tobacco on each of the 704 tithables.
  • In 1732, the levy was 69 pounds of tobacco on each of the 755 tithables.
  • In 1733, the levy was 85.25 pounds of tobacco on each of the 816 tithables.
  • In 1734, the levy was 80.50 pounds of tobacco on each of the 981 tithables.
  • In 1735, the levy was 38 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,112 tithables.
  • In 1736, the levy was 22.5 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,317 tithables.
  • In 1737, the levy was 19 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,527 tithables.
  • In 1738, the levy was 15 pounds of tobacco on each of the 2,507 tithables.
  • In 1739, the levy was 22 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,904 tithables.
  • In 1740, the levy was 12 pounds of tobacco on each of the 2,107 tithables.

The growth rate for the first six years was about 23% compounded.

The drop in the number of tithables from 1738 to 1739 could have come about because St. Mark's was divided.  There is no mention of any such event in the minutes of the vestry for 1738 or 1739.  In 1740 there was a division of St. Mark's parish with St. Thomas being the new parish.  The impact on the parish of St. Mark was very noticeable.

  • In 1741, the St. Mark's parish levy was 53 pounds of tobacco on the 979 tithables.
  • In 1742, the levy was 40 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,067 tithables.
  • In 1743, the levy was 45 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,141 tithables.
  • In 1744, the levy was 44 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,200 tithables.
  • In 1745, the levy was 26 pounds of tobacco on each of the 1,271 tithables.

In 1752, St. Mark's was divided again, with the new parish being Bromfield parish.  At the same time some of the boundaries of established parishes were changed.  The Robinson River Germans were then in Bromfield parish as this new parish consisted of present day Madison County, most of Rappahannock County, and a small fraction of Culpeper County.  The Mt. Pony and the Little Fork Germans remained in St. Mark's parish.

The collection of the parish levies was done by a man appointed by the vestry to do the work.  He was paid a small percentage for his efforts.


Nr. 681:

To wrap up the discussion of the vestry minutes of St. Mark's parish, we'll take a look at the few mentions of our Germanna people.  Already, we have noted that Frederick Cobler had David Jones bound to him to learn the trade of a cooper.  In 1734, Michael Holt was to receive sixty pounds of tobacco for an overcharged levy.  The minutes give only the final action and omit the underlying reasons.  We are left to guess at the reason.

The next mention of a Germanna person was ten years after the founding of St. Mark's.  In 1741, it was ordered that "the church wardens pay thirty shillings to Thomas Wayland's wife, a like amount to Margaret Wright, when they receive it out of the money for the use of the poor due to the parish."  In interpreting this order, remember that the vestry never paid money directly to the needy or to the sick.  There was always an intermediary who performed some services at some trouble and expense to themselves.  The best interpretation is that Thomas Wayland's wife had performed some service for the benefit of the poor.

In 1746, Mathas Plancit Pecker (Blankenbaker) was discharged from paying the parish levy.  He was, at this time, 62 years old.

In 1750, Jacob Fishback was excused from paying the parish levy for the present year.  Legitimate excuses that exempted one from the levy were old age and infirmity.  Another cryptic order states that Frederick Zimmerman be paid three hundred pounds of tobacco that had been due to William Royles.

Jacob Hold Claw was refunded 29 pounds of tobacco for an over charged levy.  Christopher Kabler was paid 50 pounds of tobacco for keeping James Cole one month.

In 1765, the vestry met at the house of Frederick Zimmerman.  How are we to interpret the meaning of "house?" Since the Zimmermans kept a public house, the reference probably means this public house/tavern/inn.  At this meeting, Frederick Kepler was discharged from the payment of the parish levy for the future, for he was very old and infirm.  The vestry met at Frederick Zimmerman's on several occasions after this, until 1777, when they met at Reuben Zimmerman's place.

In 1766, Conrad Cabler, was paid 600 pounds of tobacco for boarding and clothing David Wright.  In each of the next two years he was paid a like amount for the same reason.  In 1768, Frederick Kabler was refunded one tithe which he had paid in the previous year.  In 1778, John Cobler and John Woolfenbarger were refunded monies for overpaid tithes.


Nr. 682:

Starting with Christmas in 1775, there are lists of communicants at the German Lutheran Church (Hebron) in today's Madison County, Virginia.  One can look at these lists of names as boring reading, or as a gold mine.  I prefer the latter interpretation.  After a few readings, I was struck by the high probability, especially among the singles, that the Reiner and Cook names would be associated.

In 1775, the seating in the church building was divided into three sections (this was before the church was extended to the south).  On the main floor, the seating was used by married couples who came as a couple.  Above the main floor, there were two balconies, one at each end of the building.  (The pulpit was in the middle of one of the longer sides.)  When communion was held, the first group of people to go to the altar was the married people.  Then the single men went to the altar followed by the single women (the order of the single men and single women might be reversed).

The communicants were in the order of their seating and this was strongly influenced by family relationships.  For example, the members of the Weaver family might sit together.  During the communion, people went to the altar, pew by pew, in an orderly way.  Now look at these subgroups of communicants.

  • Group 1 (Christmas 1775):
    • Mary Reiner,
    • Susanna Perry,
    • Margaret Cook,
    • Eva Bohm,
    • Barbara Cook.

  • Group 2 (also Christmas 1775):
    • Magdalena Cook,
    • Barbara Cook,
    • Veronica Hirsch,
    • Elizabeth Reiner.

  • Group 3 (Pentecost 1776):
    • Magdalena Cook,
    • Elizabeth Reiner.

  • Group 4 (Easter 1777):
    • John Cook,
    • John Reiner,
    • Eberhard Reiner.

  • Group 5 (also Easter 1777):
    • Barbara Cook,
    • Magdalena Cook,
    • Mary Reiner,
    • Barbara Cook.

If you spot a Reiner, you are apt to find a Cook also.  Or if you find a Cook, the chances are good that you can find a Reiner nearby.  Without any information from Germany, one cannot define a relationship between the Reiners and the Cooks.  The occurrence of the names together at church certainly suggests there was a relationship.

In the German church records for Schwaigern, we find that Maria Barbara Reiner married Johann Michael Koch in 1716.  Michael Koch (Cook) was an immigrant to Virginia in 1717.  So, there was a Reiner presence in Virginia from the time of the Second Germanna Colony.  Then 33 years later, Mary Barbara Reiner's brother Johann Dieterich Reiner, with his family, immigrated to Virginia.  There must have been communication between the brother and sister.


Nr. 683:

The Second, or 1717, Colony contained a Reiner but she was hidden from view as she was the wife of Michael Cook.  Thirty-two years later (in 1749), her brother, Johann Dieterich Reiner, with his wife, Maria Margaretha Schleicher, and their children came to Philadelphia on the ship Fane.  Information on the family was published in "The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine," v.XXI, n. 3, p. 242, 1960.  The church records in Schwaigern tell a lot about the family.  Their eleven children were:

  1. Hans Dieterich, b. 21 Sep 1716, d. 5 Oct 1719,
  2. Johann Christian, b. 10 Apr 1718,
  3. Maria Magdalena, b. 21 Sep1720,
  4. Maria Margaretha, b. 12 Feb 1723,
  5. Maria Sara, b. 21 May 1724,
  6. Georg Philipp, b. 30 Jan 1727, d. 31 May 1729,
  7. Anna Maria, b. 9 Jun 1728, 9 Jun 1729,
  8. Johannes, b. 13 Jul 1730,
  9. Eberhardt, 23 Mar 1733,
  10. Johann Georg, b. 20 Apr 1736, d. 1 Sep 1738, and
  11. Maria Barbara, b. 3 Dec 1738, d. 8 Dec 1738.

The civil records from Germany state that the parents and children numbered here as 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 emigrated; however, there is no record of Johannes in America, so it is presumed that he died during the trip. 

For the children, Christian was 31 years old, Magdalena was 29, Margaret was 26, Sarah was 25, and Eberhard was 16.  This was not a typical family, because the children were essentially adults by this time and at least four of the "children" were of an age that they could be thinking about marriage.  I have wondered whether marriage might have been a motivation for moving from Germany to America.  From Philadelphia, the family moved at once to Virginia.

In Virginia, seventeen year old Eberhard purchased a 530 acre farm from Ambrose Powell in 1750.  Before 1764, this land was divided between Eberhard and Christopher.  The father never purchased land.  The girls were married very quickly.  (I have wondered whether the people in Virginia had not written "home" to the Reiners and told them that the marriage prospects were very good.)  The overwhelming sense of the emigration of the Reiners is that it was a deliberate, planned trip.

Johann Christian, the eldest son, was known in Virginia as Christopher.


Nr. 684:

When the Reiners reached Virginia, either in late 1749 or early 1750, they rapidly went about establishing families.  Of the three girls, Mary Sarah married George Cook, her first cousin.  Mary Magdalena married Nicholas Smith.  Mary Margaret married a man of whom we know next to nothing.  The only reference to him is in the will of Margaret's brother which names her as Margaret Withauer (or something similar to this name).

The Reiners arrived at Philadelphia in the fall of 1749.  Mary Sarah Reiner married George Cook and they were having their first child baptized in September of 1751.

Only one of the two boys married and this was Christian who is usually found in the civil records as Christopher.  He married Elizabeth Fleshman.  So, the Reiner surname survives in America through his descendants.  Eberhard never married, and his will of 1802 left his property to his siblings.  It is from this will that we know Margaret married a Withauer or Witham.  By this time, she was 80 years old.  Our evidence that Eberhard never married is the omission of any wife at church and the omission of a wife or children in his will.

In the record of baptisms at the German Lutheran Church (Hebron), the wife of George Cook is named as Mary Sarah, born Steiner (according to the translation of the "Register").  That Steiner was a mistaken reading for Reiner is shown by the baptisms.  For the six children of George and Mary Sarah Cook, Christian Reiner is a sponsor on three occasions.  Magdalena and Nicholas Smith alternated in being sponsors for the children (excepting only the infant Dorothy, when they both missed).  A similar pattern was started with Philip Snider and his wife Margaret, but Philip dropped out after the first child was baptized and Margaret was a sponsor for all of the rest.

The six children of George and Mary Sarah (Reiner) Cook who reached adulthood were:

  1. Mary Barbara, b. 24 Sep 1751, m. John Blankenbaker,
  2. Margaret, b. 14 Dec 1753, m. Christopher Tanner,
  3. Magdalena, b. 20 Mar 1756, m. John Huffman,
  4. Elizabeth, b. 7 Mar 1758, no marriage, and she died before her uncle Eberhard did,
  5. Dorothy, b. 30 Aug 1762, no marriage, and
  6. Lewis, b. Nov 1768, m. Mary Yager.

There was another child, Diana, who died when quite young.  The mother, Mary Sarah Reiner, died between the birth of Lewis, in 1768, and the appearance of George Cook, with Anna Maria (Huffman) as his wife, at the baptism of their son Ambrose in 1775.


Nr. 685:

Only one of the two surviving Reiner sons married, namely Christian.  Anyone who has the surname Reiner, or its variants in spelling, would also be a descendant of Christian's wife who was Elizabeth Fleshman.  She was the daughter of Peter Fleshman (Sr.) and his wife.  Peter was the son of Cyriacus Fleshman and Anna Barbara Schön.  (Recently, there were comments about the number of people and/or families who were descended from Anna Barbara.  We can include essentially all of the surname Reiner in this group.)

The daughter, Mary Magdalena Reiner, married Nicholas Smith.  Nicholas was not yet born when his parents left Gemmingen in 1717.  Magdalena was born in 1720, and Nicholas was probably of a similar age.  Since the Reiners came to America in 1749, probably both Nicholas and Magdalena were about thirty years of age when they married.  That they did marry is borne out by the sponsorships at the German Lutheran Church.  They were sponsors for George and Mary Sarah (Reiner) Cook in 1751, 1753, 1756, 1758, and 1768.  The two wives were sisters.

Nicholas and Magdalena were communicants in 1775 and 1776.  Nicholas died in 1797 and his will left his property to his sons, John, Nicholas, Michael, and Godfrey.  In addition to these four sons, there may have been daughters.  Tentatively, I have entered Barbara as a daughter of Nicholas and Magdalena.

Though it is a digression from the main theme of the note, it is noteworthy that Matthew Smith, the immigrant, had a joint land grant with Christopher Barlow.  In the 1787 tax list, Michael Barlow was in the household of Nicholas Smith, Sr.  There may be complications in the Smith ancestry that we do not understand.

Very little is known about Mary Margaret Reiner except that her brother's will (written 1803) refers to her as a "Withauer" or "Witham."  This brother was Eberhard, who never married.  He left property to Margaret Witham (50 acres), and to his nephew Peter Witham (215 acres).  In 1789, Peter Witham was a second tithable in the family of Eberhard.  Peter Witham and his wife, May, deeded away, on 28 Aug 1806, the land that his uncle left him.

Reiners are to be found in the church records of Schwaigern, back to about 1600.  Zimmerman and Cerny in the Before Germanna booklets have more information on this early history.


Nr. 686:

The only Reiner son of Johann Dietrich Reiner, the immigrant, to have children was Johann Christian who is sometimes called Christian or even Christopher.  Johann Christian married Elizabeth Fleshman, daughter of Peter Fleshman.  He wrote his will on 3 Sep 1777, though it was not probated until 1783.  In the will he mentions his wife Elizabeth, his sons, John, Daniel, and Christian (noted as the youngest), and his daughters Mary, Elizabeth, and Sarah.  Executors were his wife, Elizabeth, John Fleshman (Elizabeth's brother), Jacob Mosley, and his (Johann Christian's) son John Riner.

The son, John Reiner, was born about 1755 to 1760 and he died in Madison County, VA about 1820.  His wife was named Lydia.  She and the children moved to Monroe Co., VA (now WV) after John Reiner's death.  Apparently John left no will, and the distribution of his estate was made by the court.  Lydia Riner ("Riner" is a popular spelling variation) was to receive one-third of the property and the remainder was to be divided, in equal parts, among Simeon; Elizabeth; Hannah; Polly; Zachariah Broyle, from the rights of his wife Susanna Riner; Absalom Broyles, from the rights of his wife Lucy; John McDaniel, from the rights of his wife Sally; Fanny; and Pheba.  Five of the daughters were not married when their father, John Reiner, died.

The son, Daniel, of Christian Reiner, and brother of the John in the preceding paragraph, married Elizabeth Fleshman, his first cousin.  (She was the daughter of John Fleshman and Elizabeth Blankenbaker.)  Daniel was born about 1761, as he was confirmed at church in 1785 at the age of 23.  In the census of 1850, Elizabeth (Fleshman) Reiner was still living in Madison Co., and she gave her age as 94.  This would put her birth at about 1756, making her about five years older than her husband.  While this is possible, it should also be taken as a warning that some of the dates may not be correct.  The will of Daniel was dated 1839, and probated in March 1839.  In the will, the wife Elizabeth is mentioned, plus the son Jacob, and the daughter Margaret Riner.  Other children are John, Aaron, and Ephraim.  Though the daughter Sarah is not mentioned in the will, her birth is recorded at the Hebron church on 29 Nov 1791.

In the family of Daniel, above, Margaret Reiner is in the 1850 census, in her mother's household and unmarried.  She was born in 1788, according to the church records, so it appears she left no descendants.  Ephraim was also in his mother's household, in the 1850 census.  There is no known record of a marriage of Ephriam.  (There was a Nancy Reiner, age 25, in the household of Elizabeth Reiner in the 1850 census, who was possibly a granddaughter of Elizabeth, but her line of descent is unknown.)

The note today repeats some of the information that Dan Cook submitted recently.


Nr. 687:

The information that I have been presenting on the Reiners comes from many sources.  I have been trying to mention some of these as I go along.  Dan Cook asked for the source for some of the statements that I made in the last note.  I do have in my possession a copy of notes written by B. C. Holtzclaw on the Reiner family.  The originals are in the possession of the Germanna Foundation, but they have never been published by them.  Much of what I have been presenting is available from sources much closer to the events than Prof. Holtzclaw was; however, in the last note there were statements made by Dr. Holtzclaw which are not widely known.  He writes:

"John Reiner (Christian, Johann Dietrich) was born about 1755-60 and died in Madison Co., VA probably ca. 1820-21.  His wife was named Lydia.  She and the children moved to Monroe Co., VA (now WV) after John Reiner's death.  On Oct. 25, 1821, in a chancery suit, Riner vs. Riner, the Court of Madison Co., VA ordered that the commissioners appointed allot to Lydia Riner, widow of John Riner, decd., 1/3 of the property, and that they divide the remainder into equal parts to Simeon Riner, Elizabeth Riner, Hannah Riner, Polly Riner, Zachariah Broyle in right of this wife Lucy Riner, John McDaniel in right of his wife Sally Riner, Fanny Riner and Pheba Riner."

In substance this is what I gave in the last note.  I have not myself seen the court decision cited but it should be possible to find it easily, given the information from Prof. Holtzclaw.  Perhaps we can have a follow-up report at a later time.

The son Daniel, of John Christian Reiner, was mentioned in the last note.  His family remained in Madison Co., VA, for a longer period.

There was a third and youngest son, Christian, of John Christian.  His fate is less certain, but there was a marriage in Gloucester Co., VA, 14 Mar 1787, of Christian and Rhoda Dudley.  I have a rough note that says that Christian was disinherited by his father.  This branch has not been researched.

The daughter Mary, of John Christian, may have married George Ryan, 6 Apr 1797, in Rockingham Co.; however, another marriage in Madison Co. in 1803 (bond dated 8 Feb), would be more likely.  In this marriage Polly Reiner/Riner married Martin Flynt.

Prof. Holtzclaw suggested that Elizabeth, daughter of John Christian, may have married Richard Thurman.  I will show that she was married to Jacob Blankenbaker.


Nr. 688:

Prof. Holtzclaw had some information on the later generations of Riners, most of it from correspondents.  We are now in the fourth generation from Johann Dietrich, the immigrant, who is the first generation.

Simeon Reiner (John, Christian, Johann Dietrich) was born in 1799 (by the census), and died after 1850 in Monroe Co., now a part of WV.  It is said that he went to WV with his mother and seven sisters.  He married, first, Mary Thompson and, second, Jane Brown in 1847.  By the first marriage he had eleven children.  One of these, a girl, married Allen Fleshman.  By the second marriage there were three children.  In the 1850 census, the family was:

  • Simeon Riner (51),
  • Jane (30),
  • Catherine (23),
  • Nancy (18),
  • John (16),
  • Samuel (14),
  • Lewis (12),
  • Emeline (11),
  • James (9), and
  • Henry (1).

Other children were Jureta, who married Allen Fleshman (John, Peter, Peter, Cyriacus), and three more from the first marriage, whose names are unknown.  From the second marriage, there were Henry and two others, names unknown.

John Reiner (Daniel, Christian, Johann Dietrich) was born 8 Jul 1789, in Madison Co., VA, and died 4 Oct 1872, in Franklin Co., KY.  He served in the War of 1812.  He married, first, in Orange Co., VA, Frances Ann Overton (14 Aug 1798), on 12 Dec 1817.  She was the daughter of Obadiah and Eleanor (Crow) Overton.  John married, second, in Franklin Co., KY, Mrs. Elizabeth Kephart, a widow formerly of Maryland, by whom he had no children.  Issue of John Reiner and Frances Ann Overton:

  1. Horace Madison Reiner, b. 24 Feb 1819, m. Lydia Lecompte,
  2. Mildred Ellin Reiner, b. 4 Jan 1821, m. George Lusby,
  3. James Albert Reiner, b. 4 Aug 1823, m. 8 Feb 1849, Angelina Gibson,
  4. Louisa Elizabeth Reiner, b. 1 Nov 1825, m. Sim Buford,
  5. Jane Amady Reiner, b. 4 Mar 1827 (the last child born in VA), m. John E. Wright,
  6. John Monroe Reiner, b. 14 Mar 1829 in Franklin Co., KY, m. 15 Dec 1863, Margaret A. Smither,
  7. America Frances Reiner, b. 7 Dec 1831, m. 27 Dec 1855, Robert F. Penn,
  8. Sidney Reiner, b. 1833 (some say she was a twin of James Albert), m. Matthew Clark,
  9. Thomas Davis Reiner, b. 7 Dec 1835,
  10. Charles Noah Reiner, b. 28 Oct 1840, m. Mary E. Johnson.


Nr. 689:

Another Reiner family for which there is some information is the family of Aaron, who descended from Daniel, from Christian, from Johann Dietrich.  Aaron was born 30 Jan 1794 (Hebron church records, the last Reiner recorded in the extant records of the church).  Aaron died in Greene Co., VA, some time after 1850.  He first married Polly Blankenbaker (Madison Co. Marriage Bonds, page 266), in 1819, with the bond on 30 Nov.  By the 1850 census, his wife was Catherine, and it is not clear when this second marriage occurred.  In Greene Co., in 1850, there was only one Reiner family consisting of Aaron, aged 52 (should have been 56), Catherine, aged 52, William 26, Martha J. 23, David 21, Elizabeth 19, Jacob 20, and Robert Ryner 5.  There was also an Albert Ryner in the family of Joah Core, age 76.  The interpretation of this data, depends on how Martha is treated.  If she is the wife of William, then Robert is probably their (William's and Martha's) son.  This seems to be the most likely event, as Catherine is almost too old to be the mother of Robert.  It is not certain who was the mother of Aaron's children.

Dan Cook writes that he seems to be the only serious Reiner researcher on the list here.  If there are more of you working on the line, Dan would surely like to hear from you.  Dan writes that the phrase which has been interpreted as "disinheriting" Christian was, "Son Christian Riner not to have any part of the land unless older brothers and his mother think proper."  Interpreting such a phrase is risky.

Dan also writes that interpreting the death and movement of John Reiner and his family is fraught with possibilities for error.  I reported that John died in Madison Co., VA, about 1820.  It is a recorded fact that members of his family were engaged in business deals at this time in Monroe Co.  Later, the widow and children were living in Monroe Co.  So the move of the family from Madison Co. to Monroe Co. may have been underway before John died.

Perhaps next time, I can show how close Daniel Reiner (father of Aaron) and Jacob Blankenbaker were.  They sponsored the children of each other on several occasions.  I have an ulterior motive in doing so as this Jacob Blankenbaker is a mystery.  After appearing frequently in the records, he just disappears.


Nr. 690:

My attention was drawn to Jacob Blankenbaker upon reading the information about him in Germanna Record 13.  Of the two Jacobs in the eighteenth century Virginia, this was the younger one, a nephew of the other.  It did not take long to realize that the information about him in the Record was incorrect.  He did not marry Elizabeth Weaver, and he did not move to Kentucky (that was his uncle).  Looking in the German Lutheran church records (now called Hebron), one is struck by the close association between Jacob and the Reiners.  And so, my first introduction to the Reiners was made.

When Daniel Reiner and his wife Elizabeth had four children baptized, from 1788 to 1794, Jacob Blankenbaker was a sponsor on three occasions, and once he was joined by his wife, Elizabeth.  In fact, on this occasion, they were the only sponsors.  Then, for the baptism of Mary and Daniel, the two children of Jacob and his wife, in the Register, three of the five sponsors have the name Reiner.  (At these baptisms, the wife of Jacob is not named, but we know she was Elizabeth from the recording of her name at the baptism of Aaron Reiner.)

Daniel Reiner married Elizabeth Fleshman, which is an easy claim to believe, since the Fleshman name is common at the baptism of Daniel and Elizabeth's children.  This leaves the best probability to be that Jacob's wife was Elizabeth Reiner.

As we have been looking at the Reiners, we observed that the Reiners and the Fleshmans were on friendly terms.  Since the Fleshman and the Blankenbakers share a common ancestor (Anna Barbara Schön), it is not surprising that the Reiners, Fleshmans, and Blankenbakers were well acquainted with each other.

When the Reiner history is consulted, Daniel does have a sister Elizabeth.  So Daniel Reiner and his wife Elizabeth Fleshman, and Jacob Blankenbaker and his wife Elizabeth Reiner, made a cozy group with common bonds of ancestry and age.

Finding the correct wife for Jacob was the key to correcting several other errors in the Germanna Record in the Utz, Weaver, and Blankenbaker families.  That was a satisfying part.  The frustrating part is that I have never learned the eventual fate of Jacob, Elizabeth, and their two children, Mary and Daniel (named for his uncle).


Nr. 691:

Charles II was very grateful for a few friends when he had no throne.  In gratitude, he gave a little bit of Virginia to the friends, namely, the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.  No further description clarified the actual extent of the land; the simple statement, that it was the land between these two rivers, sufficed.

After a half century of settlement, it began to be more important to define more exactly the area that he had given away.  Taking the Potomac River, for example, the start of it was well defined, as it had been known for a long time.  It started at the Atlantic Ocean and was so broad that ocean going vessels could easily navigate for a long distance up the river.  But, after a while, the river became much smaller, changed its name, and divided into other streams which were known by other names.  Something quite similar occurred also with the Rappahannock River, which had a major branch above the future town of Fredericksburg, one branch being called the North Branch and the other the South Branch.

When Alexander Spotswood came as Lt. Gov., he changed the name of the South Branch of the Rappahannock to the Rapidan, and the northern branch became just the Rappahannock.  I have often wondered if this was not an attempt to define more narrowly the region between the Rappahannock and the Potomac by fiat.  Just simply by renaming the branches, he was reducing the area under the control of the proprietors of the Northern Neck, as the region, which Charles II had given away, was called.  It is possible that Queen Anne, who sat on the throne at the time, was behind this maneuver, but I suspect Spotswood did it on his own initiative as a way of currying favor.  The area between the northern and southern branches of the Rappahannock is the modern counties of Madison, Rappahannock, and Culpeper, so quite a bit of land was involved.  The Colony of Virginia took control of this area and issued the original deeds to the land as patents.

As the eighteenth century progressed, the proprietors of the Northern Neck became more aggressive in asserting their claims.  They said that the southern branch of the Rappahannock, now called the Rapidan, was the larger of the two branches and that the Rappahannock should be judged, not by the names which were arbitrarily bestowed, but by the amount of water which flowed in the stream.  Commissions were appointed, surveyors measured the water, and testimony was taken.  William Russell testified, for example, that he had hunted through the area where the branch, now called the Rapidan, flowed but he had known the river as the South Rappahannock.  Thus he was helping to establish that the Rapidan originally had the name of Rappahannock.

The Colony of Virginia, on behalf of George I and George II, used other arguments.  They said for example that the extent of the Potomac was limited to the region where the name applied.  Since the name changed to other things, the extent of the Potomac was limited to the part of the river where the name "Potomac" was actually used.  The surveyors submitted their report on the flow of water in the Rappahannock's branches and it was decided that the north branch of the Rappahannock was the larger.  Round one went to the Throne.


Nr. 692:

The Northern Neck was at least broadly defined by Charles II in the middle of the 1600's, and its existence as a proprietorship extended to the time of the Revolution War.  During this time, there were different proprietors, but by 1730 Thomas Lord Fairfax, as the legitimate sole proprietor, began to exert his claim to the land in the Great Fork of the branch of the Rappahannock River.  What was at stake was the right to sell the land and to collect quit-rents yearly on the land which had been sold.  To us the quit-rents seem quite low but when one multiplies the rate by a million acres, it begins to count up and is significant.

In the Northern Neck, the full authority of the Colony of Virginia, as the government, was never in doubt.  What Charles II had done was to transfer the ownership of the land from himself to the Northern Neck proprietors.  As land owners, they could sell the land, and, as a part of the bargain, ask for a payment each year forever (quit-rents).  The crown collected these quit-rents in the normal course of events, on the land outside the Northern Neck, and they were applied to the costs of running the Colony of Virginia.  As such, they look a lot like real estate taxes.  In the Northern Neck, the Colony of Virginia was the loser.

After Lord Fairfax lost the first round (about 1743), in which it was decided that the Northern Neck did not extend to the south of the northern branch of the Rappahannock River, he appealed to the Privy Council of King George II.  There he won his case and there were no further appeals.  So in 1743, it was decided that the land that now constitutes the modern counties of Rappahannock, Madison, and Culpeper was a part of the Northern Neck.  While the discussion, or more exactly the arguments, went on, the people in the Great Fork had been very nervous because they had taken their title from the King directly.  But if the Northern Neck proprietor won, then their titles would be in doubt.  The decision though protected the people in their rights to their land; however, many of them took out grants with Lord Fairfax to secure a new, fresh, clean title to their land.

There was another reason that many of them took out new grants for their land.  They had been sitting on land and claiming it as theirs, but the legal description in the patent (essentially a deed) did not cover all of the land that they had been claiming.  So many of them, in taking their new grants with Lord Fairfax, found that the resurvey disclosed there was a lot more land than they had previously been claiming.  After the boundaries of the Northern Neck were decided, our Germanna people were all living in the Northern Neck.  The people at Germantown had always been in the Northern Neck, and there had never been question about from whom they secured their title.  All of the others had thought at first that they were outside the Northern Neck, and they had bought their land from the King.


Nr. 693:

Let's try to describe the full extent of the final Northern Neck in Virginia.  The southern boundary starts at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay.  It follows the stream up the river past Fredericksburg, which was not included because it was on the south side of the river.  Shortly thereafter, the river branches, but the boundary follows the Rapidan River and flows past Germanna (again not included because it is on the south side of the river).  In the upper reaches of the Rapidan River, it branches and acquires new names.  The branch which determines the boundary is the Conway River, which originates high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Let this be point A.

The northern boundary starts with the Potomac River at the Chesapeake Bay.  The Potomac at Harper's Ferry (as we now call it) acquired a series of new names.  Though the Colony of Virginia had argued briefly that this was the full extent of the Potomac, they agreed to follow the largest stream to its source.  Calling this source Point B, then a line was to be drawn from B to point A.  All of the land bounded by the two streams and this line was to be included in the Northern Neck.

Point B was well into the present state of West Virginia.  Thus, a large part of the Northern Neck was west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  In this area, there was much confusion.  Lord Fairfax had not begun to assert his authority there yet while settlers were coming in and taking up land.  Out of the disputes which arose, we have the famous lawsuit between Fairfax and Jost Hite that went on past the deaths of both of the men.  Jost could claim that the Colony of Virginia had given him a patent for the land and if Fairfax had an objection that he should take it up with the Colony.  From such cases, we see how confused the geography of the region was.

When Louis Michel was exploring the Shenandoah Valley about 1706 and asserting that he had found silver, the proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, besides the Northern Neck proprietors, all protested saying they felt that Michel's project was in their area.  But Queen Anne issued a letter to the Lt. Governor of Virginia, newly appointed Alexander Spotswood, saying that he should arrange for land for the colony in this area that Michel and Graffenried proposed to settle.  All of which shows that no one understood the situation.

One problem for the Northern Neck proprietors was that much of the Tidewater land, i.e., land close to the rivers and the bay, had already been settled when they received their land from Charles II.  The settlers there did not take to the idea too well.

East to west, there were Tidewater lands, the Piedmont lands, the Valley lands, and the lands into the Allegheny Mountains.  Geographically, it was quite varied.


Nr. 694:

Quite early in the history of the Virginia Colony, the crown assumed ownership of the land in the Colony.  They (as in the Royal We) did want the ownership to be widely distributed and they wanted people to move to Virginia.  So they hit on the idea of head rights.  For every person who entered Virginia, black or white, fifty acres of land could be claimed.  For several decades, this was the only way to obtain land.  The policy did not achieve its objective of widespread ownership among many small landowners.  The people who had more assets bought slaves, and with the slaves came their head lights.  Thus, large slave holdings went with large land holdings.  Slaves or indentured servants were relatively expensive to buy or import and the price of land was relatively high.  More people than not came as servants, who yielded up their head right in return for their transportation.

Very early in the eighteenth century, the system was changed.  One could buy land for just five shillings per fifty acres.  This policy was very effective in expanding Virginia, especially the area under cultivation.  It fostered large estates and the western expansion of the colony.

In recent notes, I have discussed the Northern Neck which was the gift of millions of acres to a small group of men.  These proprietors, especially Lord Fairfax when he was sole proprietor, sold this land to the public.  Mostly it was sold as smaller farms though some large blocks were sold.  Both the crown and the proprietors sold land for an initial payment and the annual payment forever of a quit-rent.

One difference between the crown and the Northern Neck proprietors was the proprietors would not honor head rights.  Head rights amounted to giving the land away and the proprietors were not about to do that; however, the law of Virginia said that anyone who came into Virginia could claim a head right.  But one could not use them in the Northern Neck.

Several writers have said that the reason the First Germanna Colony went to court to obtain their head rights was so they could buy land from the proprietors.  Of course, that is false because the head right was worthless in the Northern Neck, where the First Colony bought the initial land.  Its only value was when it was sold for use outside the Northern Neck.  One head right could be used to purchase fifty acres of land from the crown.  Five shillings would do the same thing.  So the value of a head right, when sold for use outside the Northern Neck, was just under five shillings, and in some periods much less.  The First Colony members sold some of their headrights to people in the Robinson River Valley.  Most of the First Colony headrights went unused though.  We are greatful that they did obtain these headrights because the act of going to court and having the proceedings recorded in the court minutes has preserved for us the names of many individuals who came in the First Colony.  We would wish that they all had done so.


Nr. 695:

In the last note, I discussed that the First Colony procured their land by cash on the barrel head to Lord Fairfax.  Perhaps I should issue a disclaimer and say that I do not know whether they paid by cash or by an IOU.  If anyone should have definite information on this, I would appreciate knowing.  In the Northern Neck this was the only way to obtain land.

Outside the Northern Neck, on lands of the crown, in the time frame about 1718, there were two ways of paying for land, head rights (fifty acres per head) or cash (five shillings per fifty acres).  From time to time, there was a third way.  Sometimes in specified regions the crown gave land away to encourage settlement in that area.  Usually these "special offers" were for short periods of time and on the surface they do seem to be for the purpose of promoting settlement on frontier lands.

The legislation creating Spotsylvania County in late 1720 contained a section in which it was declared that the land would be free for ten years.  In itself, this was not a novel idea because it had been used before.  It was to encourage settlement, but it seems a stronger motive for its inclusion in the law was to allow the creators of the law to obtain large blocks of land for free.  The very day that the Assembly passed the law, Spotswood and his friends filed for large tracts of land.  This seems to indicate that as much as anything the law was to benefit them.  Originally, it was hoped that the law would allow free land and no quit rents for ten years, but in the end it was cut back a bit in England.

The law was still fresh on the books when the members of the Second Colony were looking for their land, and they were aware of the free land.  Rather than move to the approximate vicinity of Germantown where the First Colony was, they opted for the free land.  Until about 1729, head rights had little value because they were competing against free land.  It would have made sense for the First Colony to abandon Germantown and move to the free land, which they could have acquired in a larger measure than they had at Germantown.  But who wants to clear fields of trees and build new houses?  Actually, Jacob Holtzclaw did take advantage of the free land offer and he procured some of the free land in the region, which became known as the Little Fork.  Later he sold this land to new immigrants, so his venture had multiple motives, but probably not as a home for himself.

I have heard of several reasons that the First Colony moved to the Northern Neck, as opposed to the lands of the crown.  But none of them seem to me to be valid.  Perhaps the best reason of all was they liked that location better than any other.  But I have never heard this given as their reason.


Nr. 696:

The recent discussion about the departure of Virginians for new homes in the west has omitted the emotional side.  Charles F. Bryan, Jr., the Director of the Virginia Historical Society, wrote an article in Beyond Germanna based on an earlier talk in Tennessee, where he had lived.  This captures the human drama of moving west.  It is a factual story as it is based on the diary of a twenty-year old woman who made the trip.  She was Elizabeth McClure, to use her name after she married James McClure in 1846.

Elizabeth has grown up in Carroll County, Virginia, the daughter of a land owner of some means and a public office holder.  Though she was one of ten siblings, all had received good educations, especially for that time.  She grew up with plenty of schooling, spinning, sewing, and other household chores.  Many weekends were taken up with camp meetings and church.  The family was close and affectionate.

In the fall of 1844, she met a blue-eyed young man named James McClure, who wanted to attend college.  But after a year of courting Elizabeth, James set aside his college plans and married Elizabeth on February 15, 1846.  The couple were urged to acquire property in Carroll or a nearby county.  No desirable land could be found after constant looking.  With no land in Virginia available to them, and with reports that Kentucky and Tennessee were filled up also, James and Elizabeth decided that the newly created state of Texas was for them.

Since the late 1820s, thousands of other people from the Old Dominion had been streaming to the western states.  Stephen F. Austin, a Virginian himself, sent back glowing reports of that state.  By the end of March in 1846, the McClures announced they would be leaving.  It was not an easy decision for Elizabeth.  She told her diary that she wanted to go to Texas, "But it seems like it would break my heart to leave all my friends behind."  A few days later she recorded, "I am fixing to go to Texas . . . but to leave my DEAR old native land for a new and untried place, to quit my OLD, TRUE friends for new and untried love and friendship, makes my spirits dark and gloomy."

Despite these foreboding thoughts, the couple prepared for the journey.  As they approached the day of departure, April 9, James and Elizabeth began to say their goodbyes.  On April 8, "Many of our friends came by to see us start, and oh, how solemn was the scene.  How hard it was to part, next to death, but we tore away."

The next day they took their loaded covered wagon and traveled to Elizabeth's parents' home where they spent the night.  James went into the town to collect some money.  Elizabeth's mother and sisters sat around and sewed quietly.  Her brother read a book aloud and her father nervously fumbled through some papers.  The next morning everyone got up before dawn and ate breakfast.  After hugs, kisses, and goodbyes were exchanged amidst tears, Elizabeth and James started their 1200 mile trip to Texas.  Elizabeth recorded, "It seemed like breaking my heart to leave my poor mother and father and grandmother, who had been always so kind, and loved me so well.  I fear it is a sin to break off so abruptly — if so, may the Lord pardon us."


Nr. 697:

(Continuing with the article of Charles F. Bryan, Jr. in Beyond Germanna entitled, "Away, I'm Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement.")  Traveling anywhere from 15 to 20 miles a day, within a few days the McClure's wagon moved onto the Great Road which ran the full length of the Shenandoah Valley into East Tennessee and branched north into Kentucky.  On this road they joined an almost continuous stream of humanity, most of whom were heading south and west.  They saw large families traveling in two or three wagons.  They saw four or five families grouped together on foot or horseback.  And they frequently observed men transporting groups of Virginia slaves to be sold for handsome prices in the deep south and beyond.

Many travelers headed toward the Cumberland Gap.  A week after leaving home, the McClures entered Tennessee.  They worked their way on the Great Wagon Road through Knoxville, onto the Cumberland Plateau, and then into Middle Tennessee and Nashville.  Elizabeth recorded seeing the fattest hogs she had ever seen and good-looking farmland.  When they approached the Tennessee River, they were astonished to see their first steamboat, the "Vista".  Every night they set up camp with other travelers.  All along the route they continued to see groups of slaves who were being transported to new plantations.

Some two weeks into the trip, Elizabeth began to show signs of doubt about this venture.  One night around the campfire, James read about the impending war with Mexico and trouble in Texas.  The farther west they traveled, the gloomier the news got.  Heavy spring rains dampened spirits and James caught a bad cold.  Worst of all, however, were the serious bouts of homesickness that afflicted Elizabeth.  Within ten days of their departure from Carroll County, Elizabeth recorded her sadness at having left home, "I think about HOME and what they are doing there."  The following week near Memphis, she wrote, "I think of home and tears come thick and fast.  We have come a long road and we have a long and difficult one yet to go, but I like no place I have found yet."

After going through Memphis and traveling along the Mississippi River toward New Orleans, even James began to have mixed feelings.  While Elizabeth was sick, he recorded two entries in her journal.  One day he wrote, "Going-going to Texas, I think to do well after awhile and make money aplenty."  Yet the following day he noted, "I feel bad, weary, out of spirits, for I fear I cannot like Texas — a long road yet to go."

Once in New Orleans, Elizabeth expressed feelings of the dilemma she and James were in, "I don't know what we had better do.  I fear to go to Texas, but dread to go back home — hope we like it."  Their concerns were not eased.  James became sick again and then Elizabeth caught a bad cold.  On the last day of May they finally entered Texas.  The people seemed unfriendly, but the mosquitoes, gnats, and oppressive heat were even worse.  Elizabeth spilled out her emotions, "I am truly homesick, heartsick.  I rue the day we ever thought of Texas.  Oh home!  How dear thou art!  I want to go back to Virginia."


Nr. 698:

(Charles A. Bryan, "Away, I'm Bound: Virginia and the Westward Movement", Beyond Germanna, v.6, n.2)

After staying only a few days in Texas, the McClures abandoned their plans to settle in the Lone Star State.  Instead, they decided to reverse part of their course and to go to Missouri, where Elizabeth's older brother lived. "I believe we will like Missouri," a hopeful Elizabeth wrote in her diary.  Making their way back to New Orleans, James and Elizabeth boarded a crowded, dirty steamboat and headed up the Mississippi for St. Louis, stopping briefly at Belmont, Kentucky, and Cairo, Illinois, along the way.  From St. Louis they took another steamer up the Missouri River for Independence.  James became sick again and Elizabeth's thoughts turned to home.  "I want a drink out of my father's spring worse than ever," she lamented. By the end of June, they made it to Independence.  Almost penniless and worn out, the couple lived with her brother's family for a few weeks.

Although her brother, who owned a clock shop, and his family were exceedingly kind and generous to the young couple, Elizabeth and James were not completely happy with their lot.  James found a part-time teaching job, but continued to battle ill health.  And, neither one of them could erase their old homeland from their minds.  Even James began to thoughts of going back to Virginia and trying again to find suitable land.  But they stayed on in Independence.

Except for periodic bouts of sickness, both began to teach at various country schools on a regular basis as they settled into a new life.  Elizabeth was deeply grieved in April when word reached her of her father's death a month earlier.

I wish that I could tell you that Elizabeth and James finally settled down, had children, and grew to love their new home in Missouri, or returned happily to Virginia.  Alas, on March 17, 1848, Elizabeth came home with a high fever.  She had enough strength to write in her diary, "I feel like I should die."  James rushed to her side and kept vigil over her for eleven days.  He took over the diary.  "Elizabeth sick of slow typhoid fever.  God of heaven have mercy on her," he wrote on March 18.  A few days later a weakened Elizabeth picked up a pencil and tried to write, ". . .in a terrible . . . feel doubtful . . . of whether I can . . . though the Valley of Death . . . help James if I die."  Finally, on March 29, 1848, James wrote, "This journal is done.  The author being Elizabeth A. McClure died March 28, 1848.  She was 22 years, 7 months, and 12 days old."


Nr. 699:

David Meade, born in Nansemond County, Virginia, in 1744, is an example of a Virginian who prospered by taking up a new life out west.  He came from a family well-enough off to educate him in England, and it seems that David Meade could have spent his life successfully in the Old Dominion.  He married into a prominent family, served briefly in the House of Burgesses, and inherited his father's large plantation in Prince George County.  David Meade seemed to be established in Virginia in contrast to James and Elizabeth McClure who had hardly made a beginning.

Yet, in 1796, at age 52, David Meade picked up the family and many of his slaves to head west, specifically in the infant state of Kentucky, where he had purchased 370 acres a year earlier.  With the exhausted soil of his plantation yielding less and less every year, combined with a general economic decline in Virginia, Meade was easily persuaded by the glowing reports of fertile land and prosperity west of the Appalachians, as told by a son who went ahead of him.  Loading his family, slaves, and worldly goods onto three wagons, Meade left his native land in early June for the month-long journey to Kentucky.

Meade faced different problems in traveling than the McClures did.  Expenses were much higher than he had expected, into the thousands of pounds.  In Kentucky he rented a home for ten months while building a log home to serve his immediate needs.  He prospered and began to recover his expenses.  As time went by, he made his place into a showcase.  He lived for another twenty-five years and became a devoted propagandist for Kentucky, and urged his friends in Virginia to make the move.  Meade's move had been the right decision for him.  He bettered his lot in life, unlike the McClures.

David Meade was not alone.  Virginia lost some of its best people such as George Rogers Clark, Lewis and Clark, William Henry Harrison, Henry Clay, Stephen Austin, Sam Houston, Jim Bridger, James Denver, Jesse Leo Reno, Cyrus McCormick, and George Caleb Bingham to name a few.  Or, consider Abraham Lincoln, a Virginia farmer in Rockingham County.  He beget Thomas, who beget another Abraham within the framework of western movements.

One historian has called this great migration the "Bleeding of Virginia".  Starting with Jamestown, the more ambitious and aggressive settlers pushed west.  Alexander Spotswood, and the Germans that he imported, were a part of this, too, as they occupied the extreme frontier positions at times.  Kentucky and Tennessee were the immediate result of this western expansion of Virginia.

[Charles F. Byran, Jr., "Away, I'm Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement," Beyond Germanna, v. 6, n. 3]


Nr. 700:

Elizabeth McClure and David Meade have served as proxies for the thousands who left Virginia for the western areas.  By 1850, more than 400,000 former white citizens of Virginia were living in other states.  The drain of this many people, many of them from the ranks of the ablest citizens, affected the state of Virginia.  Not just by numbers (one in three of the people born in Virginia around 1800 left the state) but by quality of the people also.

Because most of the emigrants left their communities to build new homes under virtual frontier conditions, they tended to be the younger and more vigorous elements.  With their energy and vigor, went talent and leadership.  Of men born in Virginia prior to 1810, 227 of them served in the legislatures of other states.  Ten of the first fifteen governors of Kentucky were born in Virginia.  (Germanna students are aware of the contributions made by Germanna people as governors of other states.)

The state's rank in population among all the states dropped steadily.  Until 1820, Virginia was the most populated state in the Union.  By 1860 it had skidded to fifth, when Kentucky's population almost exceeded Virginia's.  From 23 members in Congress, Virginia fell to only 11 in 1860.  One of the motivators for this mass exodus was the promise of rich, virgin soil to replace the worn out soil of Virginia.  In general, one could say that limited opportunities led the McClures and Meades to emigrate.

Especially in the Tidewater and the Piedmont areas, travelers reported poverty and wasted lands, poor crops, and feeble livestock.  Albemarle County was described by a British visitor as, "Worn out, washed, and gullied, with the rivers carrying off the topsoil like a torrent of blood."  In 1810, members of the Virginia legislature were lamenting that, "Many states have been advancing in wealth and numbers . . . the Old Dominion has remained stationary.  How many sad spectacles do her lowlands present of wasted and deserted fields, of dwellings abandoned, of churches deserted."

For nearly 300,000 Virginians, the decision to emigrate was completely out of their hands.  These were the blacks who constituted nearly one-third of the western movement.  As with the whites, many blacks in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, or Texas can trace their roots back to Virginia.  Elizabeth's McClure's diary records the heavy traffic in slaves to the southwest.  No longer useful in Virginia, the surplus was sold to till the new lands in the west.  Some of the slaves went with their masters, as with the Meades, but a significant number of the slaves were for the purpose of sale.  The words, "I'm bound away," had a double meaning for many.

The period of decline lasted into the twentieth century, when a new force emerged to reverse the picture.  Since World War II, there has been a strong increase in the population, which in part is attributed to the growth in the national government, especially in northern Virginia area.  The new people are descendants of the people who had moved away three and four generations previously, but many of the names are different from the earlier names who left.

Virginia is not alone in these cycles of growth, decline, and growth.  Other states, on a different time scale have been going through the same cycle.

[The response of readers to this "miniseries" has been very favorable.  I would add that the thoughts have come from Charles Bryan, as published in Beyond Germanna.  I have only edited his thoughts for brevity without, hopefully, any change in his intent.  It is to him that we should extend our thanks.]

 


(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-EIGHTH set of Notes, Nr. 676 through Nr. 700.)


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.

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(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 676 through 700.


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