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This is the THIRTY-SEVENTH 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 901 through 925.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 37

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Nr. 901:

It is customary at the start of the half-century and century marks in this series to write a little bit about what the notes hope to achieve.  Not everyone has been reading them from the first.  Almost daily someone writes to say they have just "discovered" them.

First, and foremost, the objectives of these notes are to promote the Germanna Colonies discussion list.  As a discussion list, the rewards for the readers are proportional to the number of readers.  So, I hope to lure readers in who will become participants in the discussions.

How does one lure people in?  You should tell me what attracts you.  I assume that a mix of facts and interesting tidbits is the essence.  As to the subject matter that I write about, I am easy going on the definitions.  What I write about is not necessarily the same as the subject matter of the Germanna Colonies discussion list.  The Germanna Colonists were people of German extraction, at least in part, who lived on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  Now, many of the people lived other places before or after their habitation in Virginia, so the geographical limitation on the discussions should not be strict.

These people had a history before they came to Virginia, and that is a valid subject, because this history may tell us why they came to Virginia.  (Recently, I explored some of the events in Austria, from centuries ago, which had an impact on why people came to Virginia.)  The majority of the people who qualify as Germanna Colonists left Virginia, which means that the majority of the readers are not Virginians.

My recent trip to Germany and Austria tells me that the family connections are deeper than we have imagined.  Acting as a group, and not as individuals, extends back in time for centuries.  It is instructive and fun to trace these connections.

I try to be accurate in these notes, but they are not always in the category of being extensively researched.  I usually don't have references for everything that I write.  I urge readers to verify things for themselves and not accept what they read here or anywhere else.  I do not regard the notes as academic studies, but neither do I regard them as fiction.  I am pleased when someone adds to what I have written, whether it is negative or positive.  I am not ashamed when I make an error and I am pleased when an error is corrected.  (I do try to minimize the number of errors.)

Let's try to write our history correctly.  Much that has been written about our Germanna history is in the realm of fiction, not fact.  Correcting this, plus extending the history into new areas, can be our mission.
(14 Jun 00)


Nr. 902:

Leaving Sulzfeld, or more particularly, Ravensburg, with the tower, we went to Zaberfeld, the home of the Käfers.  From there, it was a few miles to Schwaigern.  So, we had done a loop during the day, visiting a lot of places where I had ancestors.  Schwaigern itself, Gemmingen, Neuenbürg, Oberderdingen, and Zaberfeld were ancestral homes.  But, my favorite was Ravensburg, with the view.  The driving had not been hard, and we had gotten out of the car and walked around quite a bit.

The next morning we set out on another loop, one that generally went south and then west.  The first stop was Brackenheim.  The church there was typical of many, in that it has evolved over time, until it is hard to identify just what was original, and what was added.  St. Jakobus, the church, was said to have been built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as a chapel.  The last work was a major renovation in 1965.  They have preserved a fresco, which seems to be very old.  The parish house bears the date 1692 over the door.  There are a lot of beautiful half-timbered structures in the town.

Almost next door is Botenheim.  I looked to see if any Schneiders or Öhlers (Aylors) were coming or going to church, but I did not see them.  A couple of miles down the road is Bönnigheim.  They still have a portal from the wall around the town, with a watch tower above.  One realizes how small these villages were in previous times, because these sections of the old wall are usually right down town.  A marker notes that the church was first mentioned in 1100, so they can look down their noses at those upstart people from Brackenheim.

We could go into the church at Bönnigheim, which is fanciful but very nicely done.  The organist was practicing, and the man who takes care of the bell-ringing mechanism was there.  He didn’t speak English, but he wanted me to climb up into the tower so he could show me the mechanism.  Overall, it looks much like the works of a clock, though a bit more elaborate.  In fact, it is a clock which rings the bells on the hours and the quarter hours.  The attendant oils and cleans it, and checks that it is on time.  Probably, the mechanism was made in the nineteenth century.  Prior to that, someone pulled on the ropes.  Anyway, the inspection of a bell-ringing mechanism had not been on my list of things to see, but it was fun.  The church itself looked very old in the design.

Usually, the major church in town has a war memorial for the two world wars of the twentieth century.  Typically, every name is given, and curiosity compels me to read the names.  (Back in Schwaigern there were Reiners, Bogers, Willets, and Baumgartners.)  Here, there were a Sautter, Späth, and Wieland.  The town also has its watchtower.  Just south of town there were Disney-like castles, complete with water slides.

Cleebronn is close by.  Its church has been repaired in a major way, perhaps due to damage in WW II.  There was no attempt to hide the repairs, and perhaps it is a deliberate reminder of the evils of war.
(15 Jun 00)


Nr. 903:

I spoke of eating informally on a bench in the church yard.  Sometimes we ate a bit more formally at noon, and selected food from a Speisekarte (menu).  One lunch so impressed Eleanor that she took a picture of it.  It was a salad, and the Germans do good things with them.  We were there during Spargel (asparagus) time.  If you go in May, Spargel is a word that you will soon learn, because a madness falls over the Germans to eat white asparagus.  Restaurants post special signs letting the world know that they have asparagus.

Our next stop after Cleebronn was Gross Sachsenheim (Germans spell it as one word).  The church, though there was no question about its being a church, was done a bit differently.  There is even a medieval-looking round tower at one corner.  One date seemed to say MCCCCLXXXIIII (1484) and another AD1718.  In the written record, the earliest mention is 1265.

On our next stop, we thought we had reached Ötisheim (See Ötisheim Photos), which was a reasonable deduction, because there was a roadside sign, official looking, which said Ötisheim.  We had great fun at the church, and in the Friedhof.  Their war memorial had a Fink and a Scheible.  Most of all we got a kick from a life-sized statue of Pfarrer Henri Arnaud (1643-1721), who was being honored because he was the first to plant potatoes, a daring move at the time.

As we traveled on across the railway tracks, we discovered that we were just approaching the real Ötisheim.  Previously we had been in a suburb called Schönenberg.  As is typical, the church is right downtown.  Because it is on a rise, we could get respectable pictures of John and Ursula Broyles as they came out.  (Well, we could have, had they been there.) One date carved in the stone read 1562.  The Friedhof had a Scheible.

Ötisheim had a more interesting Wappen than most towns.  A Wappen is the symbol, or shield, that denotes the town.  Some of them are old, while others were generated just yesterday.  The one for Ötisheim looks old as it consists of a lizard crossed with a key or pin.  Maybe it has a meaning for the residents, but it escaped me.  The May Pole was the best that we saw in Germany.  The guilds and trades, which are usually represented on the May Pole, were carved figures at work, not just painted signs.
(For more on the history of May Poles (Maibaums, or Maibäume) and how they are raised, and to see some great pictures of them, go here.)

This concluded most of the villages that we could easily reach from Schwaigern.  We omitted villages west of the Rhine River, or which are now in Stuttgart.  This had taken us two days.  We did visit a few villages on the way from Heidelberg.

We observed the rather standard practice for announcing deaths and funerals.  Typed notices will appear around the town on bulletin boards and in windows.  For example, one from Ötisheim told us that Herrn Rolf Mauch, 44 Jahre alt of Ötisheim, Enzberger Straße 13, had died.  His service would be (more exactly, was) held on Tuesday, 16 May 2000, at 13:00 at the Friedhof in Enzberg.  Every Friedhof has a building, usually just a room, for holding funeral services.
(16 Jun 00)


Nr. 904:

We finished at Ötisheim on a Thursday, and we did not plan on leaving Schwaigern until Saturday.  We had done the villages that we had planned, so we decided to go to Heilbronn.  It takes no time to get there; in 1717 it would have been a day’s trip.  Probably, Heilbronn would have been the point of departure for many people, as they could catch a boat there which would take them to the Rhine and hence to Rotterdam.

We spent about an hour there and decided that we were small town people.  One problem in larger cities is how to get out of the town.  Where does one find the road that goes to, say, Bad Wimpfen?  Our usual method is a bit of trial and error, and sure enough we did eventually get on the road to Bad Wimpfen, which is down the Neckar River.  Bad Wimpfen is a colorful city, even German tourists are attracted to it.

Our attention was drawn to the "Blue Tower", which promised a good view.  The number of steps exceeded Ravensburg, but at least they were better constructed.  About one hundred steps up, a woman popped out of a door to collect admissions.  It turned out that she lived there with small children.  With another fifty steps we obtained a good view of the Neckar River, the town, and one or two castles, one of which was in ruins now.  The Blue Tower was recently reconstructed, as a couple of decades ago lightning struck it and set a massive blaze a going.  Looking down, we could see a barge (self-propelled) carrying scrap metal down the river.

We had a bite of lunch and continued on down the river.  Several miles farther along, John, who was navigating, said "right", when he meant to say "left".  It turned out the road to the right soon ended at a set of locks for river traffic.  We hated to waste a chance to learn something new, so we got out to inspect the locks, and right away a barge approached, going down the river.  We saw that it was the scrap metal.  A crew of two were manning it at the time, the Captain in the wheelhouse, and a deck hand, who was a young woman.  She had to man the ropes (or does she woman the ropes?), while the barge was being lowered.  We quickly found out that she normally worked in a doctor’s office, but she was on vacation, and helping her father who was the Captain.  On some barges, cars are carried along for the crew.  Our scrap barge did not have a car, but it had a flower garden and a chicken pen.  I presume that they liked eggs for breakfast with a fresh rose on the table.

Barely had the scrap metal left, when sand and gravel came into the lock going up-river.

A little farther down the river, we came to Guttenberger castle.  This was constructed along the lines of a medieval castle, and it was good condition.  A family still lived in one part, and another part was turned into a museum, with some interesting exhibits, especially dioramas.  One showed the castle being stormed by soldiers, and how the defenders were protecting themselves.  In fact, though, the castle was never taken or destroyed throughout its life.  It, too, had a tower, which set a new record for the number of steps.

On the way back to Schwaigern, we stopped at Bonfeld for a few pictures.
(17 Jun 00)


Nr. 905:

We left Schwaigern on a Saturday morning with the objective of reaching Illenschwang and finding out what the schedule for Sunday services was.  Churches do not always have services on every Sunday (Sonntag); some do have them every Sonntag, some every other Sonntag, and some have services only once in a Monat (month).

On the way, we wanted to visit Waldbach (just east of Heilbronn), where there is a record of Thomas Wieland in the church records.  (Thomas Wieland’s family could have moved from Austria to Franken, and then more westerly, but not as far west as the majority of the people who were making a similar move.) It was no problem getting to Waldbach, as it was on our natural route.  The church has dates of 1616 and 1748 in stone.  By style, I could believe the 1616 date was when it was built.  Incidentally, all of the churches that we saw were in excellent condition.  There is no standardized style for decoration.  Each one seems to be the continuation of its particular historical pattern.

It was not difficult to reach Illenschwang by early afternoon.  (See Illenschwang Photos)  The bulletin board, which every church must have, told us that there would be no services on Sunday.  So we took our mandatory photos and then I got up my nerve to knock on the Pfarrer’s door.  Most of the time he lives next door to the church.  While I did not know his name, the nameplate on the door said Pfarrer.  The door was answered by his wife.  We quickly established that her English was better than my German.  We learned that the Pfarrer was on vacation.

I explained that I was a descendant of Andreas Gar and that Illenschwang was famous in the history of the Gaar/Garr family.  She recognized the name and said that it was not unusual to have descendants of Andreas Gar stop by.  She volunteered to open the church.  She came over with us and talked a bit, but then she excused herself, saying that she had a child who should not be left alone.  We did discuss the painting that Andreas Gar had sponsored (one of the twelve apostles), but she was not sure which one it was, and they were too high on the wall to take them down.  She expressed some interest in learning more about Andreas Gar, so I have mailed her copies of pages from the "Garr Genealogy".

The countryside around Illenschwang is much flatter than the average land in Germany.  Except for the major river valleys, where there are vestiges of the flood plains, there is not much level land in the parts of Germany that we had been traveling through.

Illenschwang is small, fewer than three hundred inhabitants, and definitely it is a village of farmers.  Not many miles away is Dinkelsbühl, which is much larger and would have places to stay.  Our original plan had been to spend the night there, but we had second thoughts when we found there was no Church Service the next day in Illenschwang.  Coupled with higher prices than we had been paying, plus a swarm of tourists, we conceived, and put into action, Plan B.  One always wants to have some flexibility.
(18 Jun 00)


Nr. 906:

When we found there would be no Church Service in Illenschwang on Sunday, we put Plan B (for Blankenbaker) into action.  We were not far from Mittelfranken, where there were mentions of Blankenbakers in the last half of the seventeenth century.  I had a list of the place names from Cerny and Zimmerman, and we set out for these places.  From the map book, I could see that these were not big places.  My ancestors must have inherited a preference for small places from me.

It turned out these locations were not far from Dietenhofen, but we knew nothing about Dietenhofen at that time.  On the final twenty miles, we took what we call the back roads.  More than once we committed ourselves to a road only to discover that it was not what we had intended.  It was common in our travels, while searching for some village, say, Kleinhabersdorf, that we would come to a junction in the road, and other towns would be listed but not Kleinhabersdorf.  What would be listed were the towns farther on down the road.  While I frantically searched the map for a clue, I would urge Eleanor to stop.  But she would say there was traffic coming.  So, our route was not always direct, but it was fun.

At Unterschweinach and at Oberroßbach, we found only a few farms.  Herrnneuses was a little larger, with a church.  Emskirchen and Markt Erlbach were slightly larger villages.  We omitted Dottenheim, but later visited it.  We learned nothing at any of these places.  But, then, what is a vacation for?  Very near by was a still larger town, Neustadt a. d. Aisch (i.e., Neustadt on the river Aisch), where we decided to spend the night.

Driving into town, we found a nice open space right downtown where we thought we could park.  Almost immediately, a man came up and said that cars were not allowed in the Platz.  We apologized, but before leaving we asked him if he could tell where we could get a room for the night.  A discussion ensued, and he said he would go with us down to a Gästhaus that he could recommend.  That was a failure for some reason, so he said he would take us to another.  We went several blocks, and we did find one that was very nice.  We then volunteered to drive him back downtown, but he said it would be no problem to walk, and he insisted on doing that.  Such helpfulness is common in Germany.

We were stopped by the police twice on the same day.  On one of the excursions from Schwaigern, the police had a road block, and were taking a survey of where one came from, and where one was going.  Two policemen were in charge, but a Fräulein was actually taking the data.  In answer to where we were coming from and to where we going, we said Schwaigern and Schwaigern.  Thereupon she said, "What are you doing here?"  Then we said we really were from the USA but that was not one of the towns on their list.  Now we should have been the ones who were flustered, but the poor girl was a total loss as to what to do.  So, she sought advice from one of the policemen, and he simply waved us on with a hearty smile.  The second road block was quite similar, but we had caught on to what was happening, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  We simply did not fit the pattern they were expecting.
(19 Jun 00)


Nr. 907:

Before I can properly explain the activities on the Sunday following our stay in Neustadt a. d. Aisch, I must go back more than a year.  I received an email from a gentleman in Germany who had noted that I had mentioned a Tillman Gudelius in writing, in these notes about, the emigration from Freudenberg.  There was a big coincidence in his message, as his name was Gudelius also.

He wondered if I knew more about the Gudelius family.  I wondered if he knew anything in particular about Tillman Gudelius, who was on the ill-fated ship Oliver in 1738.  So, with questions on both ends of the wire, it was not hard to keep the conversation going.  The answers were negative, but the conversation kept going.

Jost (using his first name) had just about tracked down every Gudelius in the world except those in the U.S.  He had a family history which extended twenty generations from his children to the most ancient ancestors.  This had been summarized in a book written in German.  He wished now to translate the first chapter into English, so that it could reach the English speaking world.  He asked if I might help him a little bit on the translation, and I said, "Sure."

He sent the English version by an email attachment which I printed.  I saw that a little work was needed, but I plunged in and marked the copy and sent it back to him.  The second version came and I marked it up, but it didn’t take nearly as many marks.  With the third version, I could send a few electronic comments.  By now our topics of conversations had ranged rather freely, and we were becoming acquainted with each other’s family.

Jost’s family was from the Siegen area; in fact, his mother still lives there.  Jost, his wife, and four children live in Jachenau, which is in southern Bavaria.  When Jost learned of our proposed trip to Germany, he invited us to stop by his home.  At first, I demurred, but then I thought about Andrea Gar at Illenschwang, which was in Bavaria, if only barely.  Then I thought about Austria, but I hesitated to make that a formal part of the trip.  In the end, we committed ourselves to going to Jachenau, and so I wrote Jost that we would arrive late in the afternoon on Sunday, May 21.  I had told him that we would be going to church in Dinkelsbühl (I figured Illenschwang was so small that even a German would not know where it was), and we would start after the service.  Jost sent us driving instructions and said it would take about five hours.

We got started early from Neustadt, which is a little farther away than Dinkelsbühl, but not much.  And Jost did not know how fast Eleanor would drive.  (Our VW had BMW genes in its oil.) The net result was that we were arriving much too early and so we had to stall some toward the end.  Late in the afternoon we arrived at the home of the Gudelius family.  The youngest son, Axel, was outside the house and, when he saw us coming down the driveway, he went running into the house.  I knew then that the visit was going to be a success as children are the same the world over.
(20 Jun 00)


Nr. 908:

Jachenau, the home of the Jost Gudelius family, is a very pretty place.  Just to the south is the range of mountains which separate Germany and Austria.  Cross the mountains into Austria and you will be in Innsbruck.  Jachenau itself is the valley of the Jachen River.  For an introduction to the Jost Gudelius family, see their web page at http://www.gudelius.de/.  For a web page on Jachenau itself, see http://www1.jachenau.de/.  (The symbol after the www is a "one", not an "L".)  Though the language is German, there are lots of pictures to read, and one hardly needs words.  Be sure and explore all of the subpages.

On Monday, Jost, Eleanor, and I went on a tour of the area by car and by foot.  The pace was slow and the scenery was enjoyable.  The views would have been improved had it not been threatening to rain, but none fell.  We were in parks, around lakes, and into the town of Mittenwald, which is almost on the border between Austria and Germany.  Jost might have enjoyed the day’s outing more if we had been more adventurous.  He would point to a mountain, which looked as if it had a vertical face, and say that he had skied down it.  (I could ski down a vertical face myself.)  There are many trails to walk and bike in the summer.  In the winter, locomotion switches to skis for downhill and cross country runs.

The Gudelius family is new to the area; they have been there only about thirty years.  So, they are in the category of a newcomers.  Now, the Sachenbachs, another family, are beginning to be accepted.  They have lived on the same place for eight hundred years.  Their intentions are clearer.

Jachenau, as a town, is more of a concept than a concentrated place.  We stayed with a farmer, next door to the Gudelius family, where they keep a dairy herd and tourists.  The cows readily accepted us.  The yellow pages in the Jachenau web site give many businesses, but I had to ask Jost where were the businesses, as I didn’t see them.  He told me that most of them operate out of homes, without any sign announcing their presence.  The computer store, for instance, is run by the forester in the evening from his home.

We had decided before coming to Jachenau that we would go on to Gresten, Austria.  The success of the visit to Jachenau built our confidence that such a venture would be fun.  Getting from Germany to Austria is a nonentity.  We were hardly aware when we crossed the border while traveling on the Autobahn, but we did stop to get some Austrian schillings to spend, and benzine to propel the car.  Incidentally, though we think gasoline prices are high here, benzine, the lowest grade of gasoline, costs about one dollar per quart in Germany or Austria.

One of the hardest things in Austria was to remember that it is a separate country from Germany, and should be treated with the respect due to a sovereign nation.  To say that we were vacationing in Germany is poor taste.  We were vacationing in Germany and in Austria.  When you pay for something, it is brought home clearly that there has been a change.  I almost had a heart attack when I asked the price of a room for one night in Austria.  I was told 700 and I fainted away.  Actually, that was a good price, as there are 14 Schillings to a dollar, so it was only fifty dollars, and "frühstuck was inklusive" (breakfast was included).
(21 Jun 00)


Nr. 909:

In Gresten, Österreich (Austria, literally, Eastern Empire), one often sees a sign which says, "Eisenstraße," which means Iron Street.  Gresten-Land, the larger region around the market town of Gresten, was the center of a well organized iron industry.  Some people did the mining, others made the charcoal, and the output from the foundry was worked with large water powered hammers, which were centered at Gresten town using the water power of the Kleine Erlauf River (Little Erlauf River).  All of the workers in these industries needed food, so yet other people worked in agriculture.

The food had to come to where it could be distributed as to its need.  The ore and charcoal had to move to the furnace.  The cast iron had to move to the hammers.  A well-developed system of roads existed to move all of these goods.  Many of those roads, often through the hills, have been preserved.  Today many of them are paved and serve as an extensive network of bicycle and walking trails.  Collectively, they are known as "Proviantweg" or the provisions road.  The roads wind through the hills, and in some cases are the only access to a farm.  Therefore, autos may be present on some stretches.

We walked over some portions, some that are very rich in history.  Very frequently, along the way one will encounter historical markers that are the counterparts of the roadside historical markers we have in the States.  The other thing that one is apt to find are chapels, usually devoted to a Saint, and prompted by an event in history.  The chapel that was most interesting to us was on the farm Gseng, which had been the home of the farmer who was the leader of the rebelling farmers in 1597.  The story of the rebelling farmers and the reaction of the authorities was told in words and pictures in the chapel.

Some of the markers have no great import.  One innocuous one pertains to a "Heuwagon" (pronounce it aloud) which is made available for fun by the Familie Scheiblauer.  This name of the family is of some interest to me because there is a Scheiblau farm not more than a quarter-mile from the Plankenbichl farm, where, apparently, the ancestors of the Blankenbaker family lived.  If one remembers that the Scheibles lived in the same village in Germany as the Blankenbakers did, and both families came at the same time to Virginia, then one pays attention to things like this.

St. Wolfgang Chapel marks the farm which has the oldest record in Gresten history.  The farm was without a formal name; it was merely noted that someone lived on Grästenberg (literally, Grästen Mountain) in 1274.  It is from around these years that the first written records have been preserved.  There is an earlier history which may go back to the Romans around the time of Christ.  The Romans were in the neighborhood then, not more than 15 miles away.
(23 Jun 00)


Nr. 910:

The Romans were present in the area just to the north of Gresten by the time of Christ.  The area settled by them was along the south shore of the Danube River.  At Gresten, the Danube is only about 15 miles north, but the extent of the Roman province Norikum, east and west, is not clear.  The earliest positive evidence bearing on the presence of Romans at Gresten is the discovery of two coins with the Emperors Gallienus (260 AD) and Valentianus (364 AD).  Even these might have been lost by transients.  Since the natural state of Gresten is hilly and forested, the level and better lands along the Danube were probably favored over Gresten.

After the demise of the Roman Empire, successions of foreign people moved into Lower Austria (the lands along the Danube) from the north and the south.  During the 6th century, the Slavs occupied the region.  Many of the geographical names in Lower Austria, along the Danube, can be traced to Slavic words.  Gresten defies being identified with a Slavic word, but it is thought to have a Slavic origin.  Earlier forms of the name include Grostain, Grosten, and Groesten.  Whatever the spelling, the early references are always to a region, not to a specific locality.

The Avars, from the east, conquered the Slavs.  Their dominion extended to the border of Germany, at the Enns River.  Emperor Charlemagne crushed the Avars in a series of campaigns around 800.  Following this, the Bavarians settled in Lower Austria.  With the Bavarians, Christianity was restored to the region after being introduced by the Romans.  The Emperor created the Dukedom of Austria in 1156, but this was in name only initially.  Many of the minor entities maintained their independence.  The first written record mentioning Gresten can be dated to this time.

Government, in general, followed the principle of vassalage.  The rulers of the country received their properties and titles from the Emperor.  The rulers gave properties, while reserving some for themselves, to noble families as fiefs.  They in turn subdivided their properties into farmer's fiefs.  A fief has the inheritable right to the land, but does not technically own the land.  The feudal tenant or vassal had to pay taxes in annual payments of money or goods.  They often also had to supply labor, horses, and oxen as required.  In this hierarchy, the lessor noble families usually lived on their land, near to the farms they were supervising.

The Hungarians were temporally in control of the Dukedom, but they resisted the Emperor, who overthrew them.  The Emperor was Count Rudolph of Habsburg.  With the victory of the Count, the Habsburg Reich came into being.  The other powerful influence in the area was the church.  In 1295, the Abbey of Mondsee owned one-third of Gresten.

What this means is that I should count a few Romans, Slavs, Avars, and Bavarians among my ancestors.

(Elke Hall helped me in writing this material which is based on a book by Otto Seefried.)
(24 Jun 00)


Nr. 911:

I have probably spent enough time on our trip to Germany and Austria.  However, if some questions were sent to me, I might answer them publicly.  To us, it was a thoroughly enjoyable three weeks which we would like to repeat, but one learns more by doing something new.  To me, the hot items now are the church records in Dietenhofen, and perhaps records outside the Catholic church in Austria.

Sgt. George is bringing up web pages which will be devoted to some of the photographs that Eleanor and I took in Germany and Austria.  These will take a while and you might want to look in several times.  Even if you think you have seen all of the photos for a given village, I may find more photos and the text may change.  Oberfischbach is the first village to come up, and I have already sent some photos for Illenschwang and Ötisheim.  George will probably be making an announcement and he is doing most of the work in making them available to you.

(Note from SgtGeorge:  The pages for Freudenberg, Illenschwang, Oberfischbach, and Ötisheim are now active.  Just click on "Germany-Photos" after the last Note on this page to go to the Index Page for John and Eleanor's photos.)

You may make a print of a photo for your own enjoyment but remember that the photos are copy righted and may not be used for commercial purposes.

I have mentioned our visit to friend Jost Gudelius.  I thought I would spend a few paragraphs on the family here in America.

The name Gudelius could be considered a Germanna name.  Had it not been for unusual conditions of the year 1738, we would have had a Tillman Gudelius living in the Germanna community.  A relative of Tillman, Johann Peter Gudelius, did come to America and start a branch of the family in America; however, Johann Peter lived in Pennsylvania, and his descendants spell the name as Gutelius.  (This merely shows that we should be liberal in interpreting how definitions of "Germanna" should be applied.)

Johann Peter Gudelius was born in the period 1708 to 1711, at Niederholzklau, in the heart of the region from which the Nassau-Siegen immigrants came.  He was the son of Christoph, born at Dirlenbach, about 1664, and of Elisabeth Magdalene Baum, born at Eisern, about 1674.  The exact date of birth of Johann Peter is not possible to ascertain, because there are gaps in the church records at Oberholzklau.  But, census data and records of sponsorship help fix the date.

There is a record of two illegitimate sons of Johann Peter, one born in 1743, and one 1745.  After 1745, Johann Peter Gudelius cannot be found in any record in the Nassau-Siegen area.  Johann Peter Gutelius arrived at Philadelphia on 31 Aug 1750.  This same ship brought several other people from the Nassau-Siegen area, such as Tilman Creutz, Johannes Jung, Dilmanus Weissgerber, and Johan Henrich Jung.

The last will of Johann Peter Gutelius, of 5 Aug 1773, records his name in that form.  His tombstone is written in German.  He lived in German surroundings where there was a German Reformed Church.  There must be several million Americans who wish that their German ancestors were as well documented as Johann Peter; however, not all of the Gutelius family members accept the German origins of Johann Peter.
(26 June 00)


Nr. 912:

Not all of the people in the American Gutelius family believe that Johann Peter Gutelius was a German.  First, the name is deceptive in that it does not sound or look German.  It is hard to say how an alternative theory as to his origin developed but it has been proposed that he was the son of Adam Frederick Gutelius, and a Frenchman, and an army surgeon for the French.  As former physician to the Queen of France, he was banished from the country because he married out of his station.  He married Anna Maria Deitzler from Holland and joined a ship there going to America.

This information, of unknown origin, was published in the United States in a book in 1916.  Those of us who were around then will remember the hysteria that engulfed the nation then.  Everyone whose name was Schmidt became a Smith.  Towns formerly named Berlin became Berwin.  The last thing that anyone wanted to be was a German.  It would seem to me that Johann Peter became a Frenchman to escape the aura that would have befallen on him for being of German origin.

By several counts, the Gudelius/Gutelius family has a claim to being at least an allied member of the Germanna community.  In my estimation, they come from the same region, share many ancestors, and excepting problems of 1738, would have been members of the Germanna community.  I believe the Gutelius family would go further in their European research if they accepted their German origin and worked with known sources of information.  In fact, a lot of it has been worked for them already.

In the Germanna community, we have some fanciful stories pertaining to some of the immigrants.  The first that comes to mind is Ludwig Fischer (Lewis Fisher).  The story varies slightly but sometimes he is a Baron, sometimes he is just a nobleman, sometimes he is the owner of half of Germany.  He had to come to America because he killed a deer in a royal park.  It didn't help to restrain the story that his will mentioned "my estate in Germany".

I can't remember which family it was, but there is a story that runs something like, "Two sisters were visiting a ship and it sailed before they could get off so they had to come to America."

My wife, Eleanor, and Sgt. George have an ancestor in common, Michael Garoutte.  Some fanciful stories have been told about him.  He was a friend of Lafayette and went to school with him.  He was only one step removed from the royal family in France.  He came to America to help them in their fight for independence, and he brought his own ship which was used to help the Americans.  He did not get a pension from the U.S. because the records were lost.  He married an innkeeper's daughter in New Jersey.

I did some research on the few known facts and they indicated to me that Michael did bring his own ship and he intended to be a privateer.  Unfortunately, the ship was burned by the British, and Michael was wounded and left to die, but a Quaker innkeeper brought him home, where his daughter Sophia nursed him back to health and married him.  Anyway, I used to tell my mother-in-law that she was descended from a pirate who married the bartender's daughter.  She had the knack of turning off her hearing when she did not want to hear anything, and so she never heard the whole story.  Her version and my version weren't all that much different, just a few nuances here and there.
(27 Jun 00)


Nr. 913:

I have mentioned the Guttenberg Castle which we visited.  (See Guttenberg Photos)  I will now spend a little time on talking about various aspects of life in a castle, especially the Guttenberg Castle.  I make no claims that any ancestors lived there, but considering its age, it is entirely possible.  It could have been that the ancestor was an owner, more likely it was a cook or a guard, and the most probable is "all of the above".

Many of the castles were built along rivers, because the rivers provided transportation.  (This is the situation that existed in Virginia in the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century.)  So, the river (the Neckar in this case) provided transportation, and the castle could control this "road".  However, a castle was primarily a defensive measure, because it was fixed to one spot.  Defensively, it depended upon several things, but especially on its thick stone walls; but, even these were no match for gunpowder.  So, the true defensive castle was significant for only a few centuries.

Guttenberg Castle was built circa 1200 to help protect the imperial palace in Bad Wimpfen.  Therefore, it was important to communicate with other elements of the imperial infrastructure.  This was most easily done by having the castle, to which a tower was added, located on a higher elevation.  The tower, besides being a part of the communications system, was useful as an outlook for unusual activity in the neighborhood.  That is, it was supposed to be a part of an early warning system.  An alarm system is good only if it is used, so it was necessary to have people who were on continuous duty as sentries.  They lived and worked in the tower, even if they were bored to death.

The original owners of the castle, the Lords of Weinsberg, lived in, and governed from, the castle until 1449.  Then it was bought by Hans "The Rich" von Gemmingen, for 6,000 Rhenish Gilders, and has remained in possession of the Barons von Gemmingen for 550 years.  Members of the family still live in the castle today.

The castle had most of the elements that one studies in grade school.  The innermost structures were living and working quarters for a select group of the owners, their immediate servants, and the soldiers.  A shielding wall surrounding this inner group, with the walls of buildings being a part of the wall.  The tower was incorporated into this structure.  All of this was surrounded by another wall, and the space between the inner wall and the outer wall formed an outer courtyard.  Access to the castle was by a drawbridge over a moat into the outer courtyard, and through another gate into the inner courtyard.  Another set of structures was outside the outer wall, and this is where there were servant living quarters and stables for the animals.  Two other outside structures were the well house and the chapel.  Provisions were made for emergency water supply within the confines of the castle itself.

The arrangement of the buildings was dictated, in part, by the geography of the location.  The castle sits on a hill top, and this was both an advantage and disadvantage.  The defensive advantage was that potential attackers would be working uphill and be at a disadvantage in attacking.  Being on hilltop limits the geography available for building, and that was the disadvantage.
(28 Jun 00)


Nr. 914:

In the middle ages, the Staufer emperors ruled the Holy Roman Empire.  One of these emperors, Barbarossa, built his imperial palace in Bad Wimpfen, a short distance from Guttenberg Castle.  As protection for the imperial palace, Barbarossa set up several minor castles along the Neckar River.  This is how Guttenberg Castle came into being in the 12th century.  The initial phase was simpler than today; the inner wall was initially the only major barrier.  The tower was not built until the 13th century.

The Staufer emperors installed the Lords von Weinsberg in the Guttenberg Castle, as administrators.  At first, their ranks were that of Knights, but they achieved higher honors by diligent work.  Engelhard von Weinsberg became an Elector and Archbishop of Mainz.  He endowed a chapel in 1393, under the castle.  Still later, another ring wall was built around the castle, with five guard towers in it.  Konrad von Weinsberg, Castle Administrator, was appointed as Imperial Treasurer, or Finance Minister, for the Emperor.  His job, in part, was to collect money, in the form of taxes, and it was harder then than today.  He went out on a limb and pawned Guttenberg Castle to raise the money to pay the Emperor's debts.  This was not a wise decision, as the administrators of his estate had to sell it to pay his debts.

Hans von Gemmingen paid 6,000 Rhenish Guilders for the castle, and it has remained in his family ever since.  Hans lived in the Kraichgau, in the village of Gemmingen, where he was born 1394.  The family owned property around Gemmingen, and performed services for the Emperor.  Hans studied hard and became a Doctor of the University of Heidelberg and later became a Judge.  He was not well endowed financially, as his family was modest, and he shared the ownership with his brother.  Hans was lucky, though, in his choice of a wife.  Katharina von Steinach was from the richest family in the area.  Her family gave Hans a tremendous dowry, which he invested, in 1449, in Guttenberg Castle, with all of its surrounding villages and rights.  Thereafter he was known as Hans "The Rich".  He was at this time 55 years old, but he lived for another 41 years to enjoy his investment.

Parts of the castle are now 800 years old.  What were the techniques that they used?  The bulk of the material is cut stone.  For a binder they used unslaked chalk.  No cement was used.  The principal trade in the construction was that of stone mason.  The individual masons cut their own symbol into the blocks they dressed.  The same symbols are often found in neighboring castles, and they have been found in Stauferian castles as far away as southern Italy.  Much of the labor was supplied by the men of the villages.  In Guttenberg Castle, more than 35,000 cubic yards of stones were used, which had to be quarried, transported, cut to measure, and laid.  Now consider that between 1200 and 1230, more than one thousand castles were built in this area of Germany.  There were no unemployed people in the area, though there may have been underpaid workers.
(29 Jun 00)


Nr. 915:

At the time Guttenberg Castle was built, in the 12th century, a proper gentleman wore a suit of armor forged very carefully from iron.  It took many trips to the tailor before the suit was finished.  After it was done, woe to the man who gained weight.

The people who wore the armor were the Emperor's prime battlefield soldiers.  They needed practice, and, at the same time, they didn't want to get their clothes dirty, bent, or rusty.  To get some serious practice, the Emperor would set a time and place for a jousting tournament, which would become a grand event, something to be likened to Olympic contests.

The first tournament to be recorded in the book of the Emperor's contests was held in 936.  The last, 36 Imperial Tournaments later, was held in the year 1487.  By then, armor was obsolete, due to the use of gunpowder.  Maximilian, who was Emperor then, called himself the last Knight of Germany.

The central events of a jousting tournament were duels between two Knights.  In full armor, they sat on their horses, armed with shields and blunt wooden lances.  They rode at full speed toward their opponent, and tried to push him out of his saddle.  The one who fell off was the loser.

Prior to gunpowder, castles and city walls provided excellent protection if the two sides were otherwise matched evenly.  The high point of castle construction was in the 13th century.  Fortresses replaced castles in the 16th century.

Early firearms were very primitive, not much more than an iron tube similar to, but smaller than, a cannon.  The rate of fire was very slow, as the tube got hot and one could not reload until it cooled down.  As defensive measures in the castle, other techniques were used also.  Throw-stones were stored on the top of the wall and towers, and one threw these at any enemy who approached too closely.  Because the stone was thrown downward, it gained velocity and became a very powerful missile.

Guttenberg Castle was never seriously involved in any attack, and, therefore, it has survived almost intact.  In part, this was due to luck, but the owners were also careful in their preparations.  During The Thirty Years' War, they took out insurance by buying protection from both sides.  The insurance was effective and the castle survived.  Gemmingens still live in one part of the castle, while another part has been converted to a museum.  Also on the grounds is an activity devoted to helping hurt birds of prey, eagles especially, recover.
(30 Jun 00)


Nr. 916:

We have done enough fighting for one day; it’s time to eat.  The kitchen staff has been at work for a while now preparing the food.  Nothing fancy in the way of equipment.  Basically, water for washing, and knives for preparing the venison or scaling the fish.  Chicken feathers were plucked by hand.  Cooking is done in a large fireplace.  One tool is a mortar stone for grinding the spices used for the seasoning.  The stone is a large cube that sits on the floor and on each face there is an indentation, one for each of six different herbs.  The venison comes from the forests and fields, the salmon from the Neckar River, and the chickens are raised on the site.

In the farmer’s homes, the meals are simple:  soup for breakfast, porridge for lunch, bread and milk for dinner.  On some occasions, there is a piece of meat, usually salmon.  Popular beverages are cider and wine.  A person may consume two liters (quarts) per day!  Within the castle kitchen, labor is cheap and the meals can be quite sumptuous.  Bread is baked in "washtub" sized lots.  The oven is a large chamber, which is heated first by a fire, which is removed when the walls are hot.  The bread goes in then.

The chapel is close to the castle, but outside it and down the hill slightly.  Originally, of course, the religion was Catholic, and the design reflects Catholic practice.  Later the Gemmingens adopted Protestant thought and practice, but they kept the Catholic images and figures, especially the altar piece.  Catholic pilgrims come and pay tribute to the "Abandoned Mother of God".

***

Not long after the Guttenberg Castle was acquired by the Gemmingens (Hans The "Rich"), the Gemmingen estates were divided into three parts.  Dietrich inherited Guttenberg, Wolf received the home place at Gemmingen, and Philipp obtained the newly acquired Fürfeld estate.  Dietrich was of a spiritual nature and followed the religious discussions closely.  It may be that he attended Luther’s debates in Heidelberg.  He was impressed and set his life in a new direction.  He and his brother Wolf were among the first to introduce the Reformation into the region.  He used missionaries, young men who had been evicted from the standard schools, to spread the thought of the Reformation.  At times, he had up to twenty of these men in his employ.  In Heilbronn, in 1525, Luther and Zwingli met to debate the interpretation of the Holy Communion.  The Emperor, Charles V, disliked the whole idea so much that he personally went to Heilbronn to persuade the Gemmingen brothers to desist in their endeavors.  The brothers held that their highest duty was to God and not to the Emperor.  The Emperor never forgave them, and, in 1545, put Wolf under an imperial banishment.  With this in effect, anyone could kill him and not be punished for the act.  There was a counter action that Wolf used.  He ransomed himself for 3,000 Florins.  The Emperor always needed money, so he could tolerate Wolf for a while, at least.  Dietrich missed all of this excitement because he had died much earlier.
(01 Jul 00)


Nr. 917:

In 1497, Blicker von Gemmingen obtained the "High Jurisdiction" for the Guttenberg dominions from the Emperor Maximilian.  This gave the Gemmingens the right to erect stocks and gallows.  The fact that the Gemmingens did obtain this right meant they were subject directly to the Emperor and to no other Lord.  Thus, their dominions were independent and subject only to the oversight of the Emperor.  The import of this award is that the Gemmingens could decide life and death for of their subjects.  The legal procedures took place at Hüffenhardt [where later George Utz and Johann Michael Volck attended church].  Even today there is a residue in the street names which read "At the Gallows" and "Place of Execution".

This right of jurisdiction existed for 300 years, until Napoleon’s new judicial laws took effect.  Many of the court records still exist from the earlier times.  There is also an employment contract for the executioner, which specified his wages.  He was paid by the piece.  It did not matter whether he axed, chopped, strangled, cooked, quartered, or fried the culprit, he received the same amount per head.  The job was not a full time job, and the executioner was forced to take other part-time work.  Usually the man was hired from Wimpfen [as in Bad Wimpfen].

It was considered very important that the accused person confess his crimes.  People who did not confess their sins spent lots of time in purgatory.  If one confessed his sins here on earth, it would shorten his time in purgatory.  So the accused was encouraged to confess.  One way of encouraging confessions was to use a rack, a flat bed-like structure in which the head was held in place by a yoke while ropes attached to his feet were used to stretch the person.  A lever arrangement multiplied the force.  Sometimes it was not easy for the accused to talk because water was being poured down his throat.  But what he did say was recorded and used in his trial as evidence.  Typically he would be found guilty on the basis of his confessions.

Just in case they are needed again, the Guttenberg castle maintains a rack and an executioner’s axe and sword.

The Thirty Years’ War started in Bohemia in 1618, but the battlefield shifted to the Neckar Valley when General Tilly pursued the Palatine troops of the Elector Frederick into their home territory.  On 6 May 1622, a decisive battle was fought near Wimpfen, close to Guttenberg Castle.  More than 36,000 men took part in the battle.  (Guttenberg represents this in a Diorama, but uses only ten percent of that number in painted, tin soldiers.)  The day was exceedingly hot.  At noon, a rest break was called in the battle, and it resumed later in the day.  At the end of the day, each side had lost 5,000 men.  A great misfortune overtook the Electoral troops when their main ammunition wagon exploded at 4:00 PM.  Running out of firepower, the Electoral troops began to withdraw.
(03 Jul 00)


Nr. 918:

I have dwelt, and I’m not finished, on the Guttenberg Castle, because it is in good condition, and it was very close to where a number of Germanna people lived.  For several of them, it would have been a subject of conversation.  In the last note we read that Hüffenhardt was the place for trials and executions.  This was the home of George Utz and Michael Volck (Folg).  Several of the events which had an impact on Guttenberg Castle would have been noted by our ancestors.  One such event was The Thirty Years’ War and, in particular, the battle fought nearby, in 1622.

When the ammunition wagon of the Protestant forces exploded, their hopes and their ability to fight went up in smoke.  After the battle, Tilly of the Catholic forces attacked Heidelberg, plundered it, and burned it, though Heidelberg Castle itself escaped unharmed.  Guttenberg Castle also escaped unharmed, even though their sympathies and some of their men were with the Protestants.

Another event that never did any damage to the castle was lightning.  This was an extreme case of luck for the castle sits on a hill, and the tower stands 40 meters higher than the ground.  The owners take no special credit for the survival of the castle; they are honest enough to admit that it was a lot of luck.

Another time of extreme danger was during the French invasions of 1688.  The French armies were ordered to destroy all castles they could find.  Guttenberg came close to being destroyed because it was sieged and the attackers were using fire torches, which were lobbed onto the roofs.  In this case, a courageous carpenter climbed up and tossed the firebrands down.

The father of Friedrich Christoph von Gemmingen was taken prisoner during the war, and the son exchanged himself for his father’s freedom.  Later he was ransomed.  He died in battle against the French in 1702, in the Spanish War of Succession, at the ripe old age of 32.  His son Philipp started a magnificent library, which included Philipp’s own writings.  Another son of Friedrich Christopher, Carl Reinhard, was in the employ of major dukedoms and principalities as a finance minister.

In the Guttenberg library, there is one (of two Known sets) of "wooden books".  The Guttenberg set has 93 volumes, which look like books, but, in reality, are wooden boxes.  Each volume describes a particular tree or shrub.  The box is made from the wood of this species.  The cover is made from the bark.  Fungi and lichen which are typical to the species are included with the bark.  The name of the species is inscribed twice, once in German on green leather and once in Latin on red leather.  Inside each box, branches, leaves, petals, fruits, and a sprouting plant are placed.  Roots are braided into a wreath.  Two samples of the wood are displayed, once as a cross section and once as radial cut.  A piece of charcoal and a wooden cube that allows the density to be measured are included.  A hand written description is included and, of course, seeds.  (to be continued)
(04 Jul 00)


Nr. 919:

The wooden book set at Guttenberg Castle was created 200 years ago by Carl von Hinterlang, who was a Professor of Forest Botany at the University of Linz in Austria.  A similar set by him exists in the observatory at Kremsmünster in Austria.  Other botanists have created similar sets.  All of the sets were created around 1790 at a time when there was a concern about forests.

A surviving relic of bygone ages is a collection of children’s toys mostly from the 19th century.  There is a toy kitchen with a stove, tin ware, and a waffle iron.  A miniature cook book with recipes for dolls is included.  There is a doll shop with laces, frills, and hats, and, of course, there are dolls.

When you have a whole castle to live in and the staff is reduced due to a change in life style, it leaves a lot of space to store that "stuff" one never had time or the desire to throw away.  Previously one had guards on continuous duty in the tower, but with more peaceful times they were redundant.  So the Gemmingens held on to the rack and a suit of armor.  Who knows?

In times past, the guards did many things, but one of the most important was to watch for fire.  When they spotted a fire, they blew on their biggest horn, so as to wake and alert as many as possible.  In general, though, they watched all activity within view, day and night.  They ate food from the castle kitchen.  To keep warm in cold weather, they had to carry wood to the top of the tower, where there were two fireplaces.  The tower itself was open, as there was no glass in the openings.  Truly, a guard might say that he felt a draft.  The two fireplaces allowed one to choose the one which was the best protected from the wind.  Obviously, the "room" was never heated; one could only hope that by getting next to the fire that part of the chill might be taken off.

From the tower, which at one time was higher than it is today, one could signal to four other castles, including the imperial castle at Wimpfen.  This added height was achieved by a pointed steeple-like structure of wood, but it was removed due to maintenance problems.

I have been quoting from a booklet, "Life in Guttenberg Castle", which appears to have written by the owner of the castle, Christoph Frieherr von Gemmingen-Guttenberg.  If you are ever in the vicinity of Hüffenhardt (Utz and Hoffman descendants), or at Schwaigern (Willheit, Cook, Baumgartner, Reiner, and Lederer), or even if you have no ancestors in the area but are close enough to swing by, I recommend you take about two hours and visit.

Eleanor and I wondered if there was a connection to the Gutenberg of printing fame.  Our references could not answer the question definitely but there seems to be a chance that the printer was descended from a family who was allied to the Gemmingens.
(05 Jul 00)


Nr. 920:

This is the time of the year that the history of the Germanna Colonies is often reviewed.  I thought that we might start with some of the statements made by Willis Kemper in "Genealogy of the Kemper Family in America", published in 1899.  To set the tone for the type of statements that he did make, I quote from his page 9:

"John George Kemper was a skilled mechanic, and employed about the 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 and Henry followed 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."

Four things are said about John George Kemper.  He was 1) a skilled mechanic, 2) employed about the mine in some way, 3) a blacksmith by trade, and 4) perhaps had charge of the tools about the mine.  No evidence is offered for any of these statements.  The son John is said to have followed his father's trade (whatever that was) and he was a skilled miner.  It was these skills in the son John that brought about his emigration to America.  [Editor's note: At the time of emigration, John was nineteen years old.]

The only statement concerning an occupation or an assigned duty that I have ever read about John George Kemper is that he was an elder in the church.  I have never seen or heard any statement of an original nature about the occupation of John Kemper, the nineteen-year old emigrant.

From these statements, one learns the type of history that Willis Kemper wrote.  In short, he wrote fiction.  The two sentences quoted above should put one on guard against believing anything that he wrote, unless one can find a collaborative statement from another source.  Usually it is easier to find evidence that he was in error.

Still on page 9, Kemper wrote in the next paragraph:

"It was not long until he discovered evidences of iron ore in the district toward the Blue Ridge."

The "he" that Kemper refers to is Alexander Spotswood.  "Not long", by implication in additional statements, was within four months of his arrival in Virginia.  For his evidence, he cites a letter of Spotswood to the Council of Trade, but he misinterprets the statements.  Also, from later letters of Spotswood, Kemper should have known his interpretation was false.

Spotswood did mention in his letter of 24 Oct 1710, "...the iron mines lately discovered in Virginia."  Never did Spotswood claim, in any way, that he had discovered the iron mines.  In a letter two months later, he identified the iron mines as the mines which were being worked in 1622, so they were not "lately discovered", as he had mistakenly written earlier.  Taken all together, Spotswood never, in any way, claimed to have discovered any iron himself.
(06 Jul 00)


Nr. 921:

I continue with Willis Kemper’s Germanna History taken from his 1899 book, "Genealogy of the Kemper Family in the United States".  He writes (page 10) that de Graffenried abandoned his colony in North Carolina.  That is not a fair statement.  De Graffenried did go to Virginia from North Carolina for the purpose of finding an alternative home for the colonists.  He spent some time searching for a settlement site and had one picked out.  However, none of the people in North Carolina wanted to make the move.  So rather than saying he abandoned them, it would be more correct to say he was trying to improve their lot.

Kemper says that Graffenried examined Virginia, at Spotswood’s request, with a view to locating mines.  Graffenried did examine Virginia to satisfy himself concerning the silver mines and to find a home for the North Carolina contingent.  But this was not at Spotswood’s request.  Kemper might have asked himself why Spotswood would have asked Graffenried to find mines if he (Spotswood) had already found mines as Kemper said he had.

Kemper adds that, "...it is apparent that he (Spotswood) entered into some negotiations with de Graffenried, and authorized the latter to procure 'skilled workmen out of Germany to open mines in Virginia'."  Now, when Kemper uses the words "apparent, evident, obvious", one should be cautious, for what it means is that he doesn’t have a shred of evidence.  Spotswood did not authorize Graffenried to recruit workmen.

Almost three years earlier, Graffenried and Francis Michel had hired Johann Justus Albrecht to recruit miners in Germany.  This had nothing to do with Spotswood or iron.  It was for the purpose of developing the silver mines which Michel thought he had found.  Kemper completely ignores the original motivation of Michel and Graffenried.  This all started in 1710.

Kemper again reinforces the idea, on page 11, that Spotswood had iron mines in 1713.  This is after he just said, on page 10, that Spotswood had Graffenried look for iron mines in 1713.  And Kemper had said that Spotswood found iron in 1710, on page 9.  Consistency is not a hallmark of Kemper’s writing.

Kemper summarizes his findings (page 11) as, "When de Graffenried’s relatives and agents were looking for 'skilled miners out of Germany' to work Spotswood’s iron mines, where were they more likely to go than to the mining district about Siegen . . .And when there, what is more likely than that they should go to the most celebrated mine in the district, to Müsen, 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 this mine to go with the colony?"

More fiction.  And add the word "likely" to the red flags.
(07 Jul 00)


Nr. 922:

Willis Kemper quoted from the "autobiography" of Christopher von Graffenried [page 11 in K.]:

"On my arrival at London I was extremely surprised to learn that the master miner [this would have been Albrecht] had arrived with 40 other miners.  This caused me much trouble, care, concern, and expense, since these people came so inconsiderately, without orders, in the opinion of finding everything necessary for their maintenance as well as work in the mines, but there was nothing for them to do, and my purse was so empty that it was with difficulty that I could supply my most urgent necessities, having used all my money in America, and being as yet without a bill of exchange from Berne.  Thus it was impossible to assist so large a number, and the reader can easily conjecture what care and embarrassment all this caused me, since these people were persuaded that according to the agreement, I was compelled to assist them.  This would have been so, had they come at my order.  I theretofore wrote them several letters from America, in German, of which they received some, in which I had advised that the master miner should not come until new orders were received and saying that there was nothing for them to do as yet by reason of the unexpected Indian War in Carolina, and that M. (Michael or Michel) had not yet indicated the place, but that if the master miner nevertheless wished to come alone or in company with one or two he could do so but merely to see the place.  But without paying attention to what I had just written him he made preparations and came to London with his company and all their baggage."

In the last note, Kemper was quoted as saying that Spotswood had requested Graffenried to obtain miners out of Germany.  The comments above by Graffenried do not sound like the comments of a recruiter or man who is hiring for another person.  Even if you believe only half of what Graffenried has written, it makes Kemper's claim sound ridiculous.  One mystery to me is how Kemper could read the statement above and make the claims that he did.

Graffenried goes on to write:

"But what was there to do?  I could not give them better advice than to return home." [This is the voice of a recruiter?]

I do wish that we understood how the situation in the first quotation here did come about.  Was Graffenried just not telling the truth when he wrote?  Did the Germans, in particular Albrecht, not get some of the key letters?  Or did they not correctly understand what was written?  Someone had to say something very positive to induce forty people to leave their homes.  What was said and by whom?  It does not seem to me that Spotswood was responsible.

Albrecht had been in London for a period of time.  Did he meet Col. Nathaniel Blakiston, the agent for Virginia, who was working with Spotswood and trying to get the question of patents for silver and gold mines resolved?  Blakiston knew that Spotswood was very excited by the prospect of silver mines.  Did Blakiston meet Albrecht and say something that made Albrecht think that Spotswood had a silver mine?  Did Blakiston know that Graffenried was a one-sixteenth owner in the purported silver mine?  That hardly seems possibly, as not enough time had gone by.  Did Albrecht try to anticipate that there would be a need for miners shortly?

[I won't be writing another note until Sunday night.  I would like to hear your suggestions as to how the situation in the first quotation could come about.]
(08 Jul 00)


Nr. 923:

For an explanation of how the situation in London in 1713 came about, which Graffenried described in the last note, I have no authoritative answer, nor does anyone else.  Regardless of how it did come about, it makes Kemper's statements ridiculous.  My estimation is that the situation in London came about because there were mistakes in the communication across the Atlantic.

Everywhere that we turn in Kemper, we see that he started with a misconception as to the nature of the events.  From this he tried to put everything into his framework, regardless of whether the evidence supported him or not.  He had the knack of reading a statement saying "X is black" and at the same time saying "X is white". The sad thing is that people believed him, and started quoting him.

Kemper says that the group from Germany, "...were master mechanics, and were an intelligent, progressive set of people."  I have not seen any evidence that they were mechanics, and, in particular, master mechanics.  The only two occupations that I know are a pastor and a schoolteacher.  It would be nice if someone who may have the information would come forth and tell us.  I have no reason to doubt that their intelligence and progressiveness, but again I would ask how Kemper knew this two hundred years after the fact.

Kemper claims that the group knew what it was going to do when it left Germany.  What they thought they were going to do is quite different from what Kemper thinks they thought.  They thought they were going to mine silver for the George Ritter and Company.  Kemper says they thought they were going to mine iron for Spotswood, but he errs concerning the iron and concerning Spotswood.

They had not been engaged to perform any task for Lt. Gov. Spotswood when they left Germany.

Kemper never seems to have doubted that the Tubal furnace was built about thirteen miles from Fort Germanna.  The iron mines would have been close to the furnace.  If Spotswood did have iron mines when the Germans came, why did he settle the Germans thirteen miles away from the iron mines?  Were they to take the Autobahn to work?  The whole scenario of where the furnace was eventually built, and where the Germans were first settled in Fort Germanna, is enough to tip one off that there were no iron mines when they came.  And this also ignores the fact that Fort Germanna was much nearer to another purported mine, one thought to contain silver.
(10 Jul 00)


Nr. 924:

Alexander Spotswood clearly tells how and when the iron mine came into existence.  He told his story in a letter to Col. Nathaniel Harrison, the Deputy Auditor of H.M. Revenue.  This was written in 1724:

"In Feb. 1717 [since he wrote under the old style calendar, this would be February of 1718 by our calendar] Sr. Richard Blackmore writes to Mr. Secretary Cock to engage me to favour a design, which he, with several considerable men at home, had to set up iron works in Virginia, and desires people might be imply'd to find out the oar, and some thousands of acres taken up for that purpose.  Accordingly I set my Germans to work to look for such oar, wch. search cost me upwards of three score pounds.  But about two years afterwards I recd. a letter from Sr. Richard telling me he had at length considered that he was advanced in years, that his health was of late impaired, and that the undertaking was at too great a distance, and therefore he was determined to drop the project.  Whereupon, rather than enter into a contention for my reimbursements, I chose to joyn in with several Gentlemen here, who were willing to carry on the project, and bear their proportion of the charges I had already been at; and so the mine tract, consisting of 15,000 acres of land, was in 1719 [by the modern calendar, early 1720] taken up by nine or ten Adventurers."

This statement, by the main actor in the play, is the best starting point that we have.  Still, there are minor points where it appears that Spotswood's memory might have been faulty.  He did make the letter from Sir Richard and the arrival of the Second Colony be "at the same time" [at another point in the letter to Harrison].  Since the Second Colony could only have arrived in late 1717 or early 1718 (NS), the formal search for the iron ore must have started about when he said.  Spotswood said that Sir Richard dropped out in about two years.  By this time the Germans had probably left for Germantown, since that move looks as if it took place about January of 1719.

Another clue in his statement is the amount of money that was spent on the project before Sir Richard dropped out.  This was upwards of sixty pounds.  Anything in this range would have been totally insufficient to have built a furnace.  The goal that was reached by the Germans was the development of the mines without any furnace.  The Germans left Spotswood's employ before the iron furnace was built and they had no part of the iron furnace.

Spotswood did not have an iron mine when the Germans came.  He did not even let the Germans work on the silver at first.  The Germans were busy farming.  Clearing ground, planting, and harvesting kept them very busy.  They also had to build roads so they had plenty to do.  Still, in their off time, I believe that they explored the country side and found iron, which they told Spotswood about.  He perhaps let them do a little work on the prospective mines.  I believe, that by the time Sir Richard wrote his first letter, Spotswood knew he had excellent prospects for iron.  By the time the Germans left, the mines were in good shape.
(11 Jul 00)


Nr. 925:

The earliest record of Spotswood's iron furnace, written contemporaneously with the furnace, comes from Hugh Jones.  The Rev. Jones lived in Virginia from 1717 to 1722, when he returned to England.  In 1724 he published a book in London, which is believed to describe conditions in Virginia in 1722.  He wrote, speaking of the furnace:

"This iron has been proved to be good, and it is thought, will come at as cheap a rate as any imported from other places; so that 'tis to be hoped Colonel Spotswood's works will in a small time prove very advantageous to Great Britain . . "

Thus the furnace was reported to be in production in 1722, though the observer seems to imply the work is in an early state, with some uncertainties in the process.  One uses the word "hope" when the wrinkles are not all ironed out.

Another contemporary, Lt. Gov. Drysdale, Spotswood's successor as governor, 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 thought.  Coll Spotswood's Iron workes: he had brought itt to that perfection that he now sells by public auction at Wm:burgh, backs and frames for Chymnies, Potts, doggs, frying, stewing and baking panns."

It appears the "iron workes" was a novelty, but a production system.  Spotswood shipped 20 tons of pig iron to England that year.  This would have been only a sample; his later objective was to ship 1,200 tons of iron to England each year.

To recapitulate the dates and events:

1717 - iron ore is discovered near Germanna (probably by the Germans);
1718 - the ore is developed and proven by December of this year;
1720 - the iron mine tract is patented and the construction of the furnace begins;
1721 - trial runs occur at the furnace;
1722 - production commences;
1723 - the furnace is in regular and consistent operation.

This time table required examining the contemporary records (and rejecting the later secondary records, which were false, and for which there was no evidence to support them).  With this schedule (giving or taking a few months here and there), all of the events connected with the entry of Spotswood into the business of producing iron fall into place.  The records are now meaningful, and people mean what they say and write.

The first major economic enterprise of Spotswood was land.  The iron came later.  The First Germanna Colony probably found the iron, but they did not build the furnace, and they did not run the furnace.  I would welcome anyone to a debate on this question, if they will use rational thought, not the output of fiction writers.
(12 Jul 00)


(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 THIRTY-SEVENTH set of Notes, Nr. 901 through Nr. 925.)


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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 901 through 925.

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