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This is the FORTY-FIRST 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 1001 through 1025.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 41

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Nr. 1001:

At the start of the half-centuries in this series that I have been writing, I usually give a short comment on my objectives.  This one is also the start of the second millennium, which might seem to be of some special significance, but I will merely note that it now takes four digits to write the number of the note.

Much misinformation is circulating in the field of history.  I have been amazed, when I look in detail at the evidence, at the false conclusions which have been drawn.  This applies to general history as well as to family histories.  That family histories do have errors is not surprising, as the evidence is sparse.  But general history has much more evidence.  In spite of this, false conclusions are drawn.

A tentative conclusion is that all writers are prone to making their people look better than they actually were.  Perhaps one should never trust a history written by anyone who has a personal stake in the interpretation.  A second conclusion is that historians spend more time copying each other than in researching the facts through original documents.  And, many writers simply make up "facts" to support their arguments.  So, sorting through all of the misdirections takes some effort to find a closer approximation to the truth.  I never claim to be absolutely correct, just better.

But why did I choose to write in this particular field?  My experience prior to the start of the series told me there was a lot of false information floating around in the area of the Germanna Colonists.  So, I have set out to correct what I can.  My only disappointment is that some people are deaf, but I will continue, hoping to reach more and more people who might appreciate the truth.

My special delight is in the finding of a new family who should be included in the Germanna Colonists, but who have been previously overlooked.  In such a search, I am helped tremendously by others.  I can merely give some publicity to the findings.

I cannot do much with individual family histories.  There simply is too much research involved for me.  This is where you, the reader, can contribute.  Of course, you are welcome also to contribute to the general history.

Besides writing these notes, I teach three courses at a University, and I publish a newsletter.  For my future genealogical research, I am trying to learn some German.  For my health, I engage in physical activity.  Many days I do not have enough time to do everything that I should do that day.  I do try not to ignore anyone, but some of my replies are much briefer than I wish they were.  I do choose to invest a major part of my time in these notes, just because there is a fair sized audience for them.

I thank George Durman and Gene Wagner who help, tremendously, to bring these notes to you.  It is a big effort on their parts.
(12 Oct 00)


Nr. 1002:

The process of acquiring and interpreting historical information is not always straight forward.  It was about 1980 that I first read about New German Town in the Great Fork of the Rappahannock River.  It fit with nothing that I had read before and was difficult to interpret.  So I filed it in one of my favorite places, the fly leaf in the back of the book where I had read it.  About ten years later, I was studying a map of Culpeper County and saw Fleshman's Run and German Run, which were more evidence.  Eventually, the story fell into place.  Paula Felder's writings were a help.

I want to look, in this note, at another piece of information which had struck me as odd.  Now it is perfectly logical.  John Fontaine, in the diary which he kept of the trip across the Blue Ridge Mountains, said that on the first day they left Germanna that they traveled three miles and camped.  The group consisted of 63 men, and going just three miles does not sound like an efficient way to run an expedition.  Incidentally, the place they camped was called Beverley Camp.  The second day, Fontaine mentions the silver mine, and says that they made six miles.  But he does offer the excuse that Spotswood's horses had strayed in the night and it took a while to find them.

After learning more about the plans of Spotswood and Beverley for the development of the western lands, one realizes that the delay in moving forward was in part due to the time that Spotswood spent in exploring some of the 13,000 acres that Beverley proposed to put into the land partnership with Spotswood.  The naming of the camp as Beverley Camp was simply because they were on the land that Beverley had staked out.  Whether Fontaine understood this aspect of the first days is not clear.  But the party went along both sides of the Rapidan River to the Robinson River.  This was the future extent of the Spotsylvania Tract on the south side of the Rapidan River.

In total, about three days were spent traversing Beverley's land, but a part of this time was spent along the north shore of the Rapidan River.  This later area would be in the area which became a part of the expansion area that was added to Beverley's tract to form the Spotsylvania Tract.  I bet that Spotswood and Beverley spent some time discussing a future partnership, including where they were going to get the settlers for it.  Spotswood and Beverley both probably recognized that Germans would be an excellent solution.  The Germans at Germanna had worked out very well.  But Spotswood probably suggested that 13,000 acres in a partnership would probably not be enough for two men, who were as ambitious as they were.  He probably even suggested that they look at some at the land on the north side of the Rapidan River.  Before the trek was ended, the two men, and perhaps some others, had probably reached a tentative agreement.

In justifying his expense account, which included this trip, we read that Spotswood gave, as the reason for the trip, the fact that he wanted to see the western area.  He certainly did, but not for official purposes.  He saw that his personal future lay in this area.

There is some debate as to whether the party went to the Blue Ridge by the Robinson River, or by the Rapidan River, after they arrived at the junction of the rivers.  It is not an argument that I am making, but it is noteworthy that the Spotsylvania Tract ran up the Robinson River to Meander Run.  Considering that a major purpose of the trip was to look for land and that the bounds of the tract that Spotswood obtained did lie along the Robinson River, it is support for the argument that the party went by the northern route, along the Robinson River.
(13 Oct 00)


Nr. 1003:

When I became convinced that I had, at least approximately, located the general site of the Second Colony's first homes, I wanted to walk over the ground.  I had bought my topo maps so I thought that I knew the geography of the area.  I contacted the Culpeper County tax assessor and obtained a plot of the land tracts today, plus the addresses of the owners.  I wrote to the owners and asked if I could visit the property, telling them why I wanted to do so.  I invited them to come along.  I made arrangements with Doug Sanders of the Center for Historical Preservation to attend as an observer.  On the appointed day, about eight of us met at Germanna Community College and reviewed the proposed plan of action for the day.  We then went to one of the properties and started our walk from there.

Not surprisingly, we found nothing in our walk, but we did spend two or three hours in the general vicinity.  We discussed some areas which seemed like they might be prime locations.  We then retired to one of the buildings at the site of the "Enchanted Castle" site, and we reviewed what we had seen.  In all, it was a very enjoyable day for me.  The weather, which had started off on the brisk side, was cool enough to keep us alert, while not causing us any discomfort.

Since that day, two things have happened that I know of.  First, Doug Sanders, with some students from Mary Washington College, visited the site in a more serious way, and did find one location which had evidence consistent with eighteenth century use.

Then, as I have recounted here, Joy Stearns found information which showed that the homes were spread out more then we had initially envisioned.  In fact, one of the leases she found even gave the locations (in the form of a drawing) of where two of the homes were located.  So, if a search were to be extended, this would provide two prime locations to concentrate on.

So far as I know, this is where the physical examination of the ground stands today.  It is to be hoped that someone takes up the search in a serious way including measures to protect the sites, should something be found.

It has not been proven, and may never be, but I believe there is a possibility that these homes were the first in modern Culpeper County.  Thus, Germans may have been the first settlers of the area now known as Culpeper County.  But claims such as "first" are always hard to prove, for evidence may become available later that refutes the claim.  I would be interested in hearing from anyone who claims to have evidence of a settlement before 1718, the year that the Germans settled in.

I think it is a shame that Fleshman's Run has been renamed, and think that it would be appropriate to restore the original name to recognize one of the earliest settlers of the county, if not the first.  It would also be appropriate to set a historical marker along Route 3 to mark the general area.
(14 Oct 00)


Nr. 1004:

One of the men who, at least implicitly, had an interaction with the Germanna citizens was Robert Beverley II.  More generally, he is distinguished from his father, another Robert, by the appellation of "Historian".  The father came to Virginia about 1663 and, having some capital, purchased land and took an active role in government.  By the time he had died, twenty-four years later, he held more than fifty thousand acres of land, chiefly in the frontier counties.  His life was to be the model for his son, Robert.

The father, or Major Beverley, held public office.  He incurred the enmity of his own class, while having loyal supporters among the smaller planters.  He helped to suppress the Bacon rebels, led a riotous group himself, and was once committed to prison.  It might be said that he was a Whig among Tories.

His life was very active.  He left a family of nine children, by two wives, with Robert (Jr.) being the second son by the first wife.  He was clerk of the House of Burgesses in 1670, and a justice of the peace in Middlesex County.  For a while, he was a member of the Council, and a strong supporter of Governor Berkeley.  He led a troop into the field to suppress Bacon's Rebellion.  The Royal Commission which investigated afterwards commented that he had been too vigorous in his pursuit of the rebels.  But Major Beverley failed to support the governors after Berkeley, and became a leader of the "people's party", as opposed to the "party of the crown".  He led the House of Burgesses to protest the action of Governor Jeffreys in a resolution of remonstrance, which aroused King Charles himself.  The Privy Council in England ordered Beverley's removal from the Council, because of his "evil fame".  Later, Governor Culpeper, sensing the trend of public opinion, persuaded the English government to reinstate Beverley.

When tobacco prices fell in the spring of 1682, a movement grew to curtail production, by not growing tobacco for one year.  Major Beverley led the small planters in support of this.  When the government failed to sanction this action, a group of planters set out to cut down all tobacco that they found growing.  For his part in this, Major Beverley was arrested and imprisoned on a ship as a prime actor in the plant cutting.  When transferred to the Sheriff of York, Beverley escaped and returned to his home.  Once more he was taken into custody.  The result of all of his actions was that he was forced to plead on a bended knee for the forgiveness of the Council.

Written documents remain of his beliefs in which he wrote,

"My heart hath been filled from my youth with loyalty to my king and duty to his ministers."

He states that he stood accused of unspecified misdemeanors, and pleads his innocence of the vague charges that he was "disloyal, tumultuous, or disobedient".  Apparently logic was on his side, for the Governor and Council refused to hear him.  The truth is that Beverley was hostile to the governing clique.  When he drank too much, he often uttered things which would have best left unspoken.

Robert Beverley II saw his father in action for fourteen years, and it seems as though it made a deep impression on the son.
(16 Oct 00)


Nr. 1005:

The younger Robert Beverley ("the historian") was born about 1673.  His mother was the daughter of a merchant of Hull and the widow of George Keeble, pioneer settler of Middlesex County.  Young Robert was sent to school in England, but just which school is unknown.  In 1694, his father's executors paid Micajah Perry (one of the Perrys who often testified before the Board of Trade and Plantations) the sum of forty pounds "for entertaining and accommodating Major Beverley's sons, Harry, John, and Robert".  Shortly thereafter, Robert returned to Virginia.

To learn the ways of Virginia law, he became a volunteer scrivener in the office of the Colonial Secretary of State, Christopher Robinson, who had been a friend of his father.  He learned quickly, and within months he was petitioning the House of Burgesses for reimbursement in this work.  This set a life pattern in which he performed work for the colony and asked for payment.  Delays in the receipt of these fees were a lifelong anxiety of his.  Very quickly he became the Secretary for the Committee for Public Claims, Clerk of the General Court, Clerk of the Council, and Clerk of the General Assembly.

Robert Beverley inherited a plantation from his father, to which was added six thousand acres, when his younger half-brothers, John and Thomas, died.  In this way, he acquired Beverley Park in King and Queen County.  He liked to be closer to where things were happening, so he bought a lot in Jamestown and fixed that as his residence.  Because he did own property in King and Queen, he obtained the post of Clerk of the County there.  In the same year, he was elected to the House of Burgesses from Jamestown.  At this time, he was barely twenty-five years old.  Jamestown was too poor to pay their representative, so Beverley took legal action and won his case.  (In the next session of 1703 to 1705, Jamestown decided not to send a representative.)

In 1697, Robert Beverley married Ursula Byrd, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the first William Byrd.  This helped to secure his social position.  Ursula had the advantages of an English education, and was more English than Virginian, since she lived twelve of her first sixteen years in England.  Sadly, she lived only one year after her marriage and died in giving birth to William, the only heir of Robert Beverley.  William attained a prominent role in Virginia politics, and was a successful planter.  Robert Beverley never remarried.

Instead, Robert Beverley concentrated on increasing his estate.  (He must have turned many a head among the ladies.)  He added lands and houses in Elizabeth City.  It could hardly have been foreseen, but this was to lead to his political downfall, and to the history of Virginia that he wrote.

His title to an Elizabeth City property was contested and he lost in the Virginia Courts.  So he went to England to prosecute an appeal to the Privy Council.  He remained for eighteen months and lost the suit; however, he was busy there, as he wrote his history while in London.
(17 Oct 00)


Nr. 1006:

While Robert Beverley was in London, he was not idle.  He meddled in Virginia politics by writing satirically about Gov. Francis Nicholson and Robert Quarry, the Surveyor-General of Customs.  His attacks were not just whims; Beverley believed that the actions of Nicholson and Quarry were against the liberties of Virginians.  He wished to arouse the House of Burgesses to the dangers that he saw.

Beverley saw Nicholson and Quarry as Englishmen who were opposed to any independent action by Virginians.  Beverley cited slanderous remarks against himself, Robert Carter, Philip Ludwell, and William Byrd, from letters the two men had written to England.  He quoted them as saying the Virginians were "obstinate people of Commonwealth principles", who "must be corrected and lowered in time".  Beverley was particularly opposed to efforts to establish a standing army.  Nicholson was furious.

Beverley cut himself off from the seat of power in Virginia by these actions.  The Governor removed Beverley from the office of Clerk of King and Queen County.  When Beverley did return to Virginia, he spent the remainder of his days at Beverley Park.  He did sit one more term in the House of Burgesses, but generally he shook the dust of Jamestown, and the new city of Williamsburg, from his feet.

While Beverley was still in England, he wrote his history of Virginia, published in London in 1705.  This work, as much as anything, has distinguished him from his fellow Virginians.  How the book came into being was told by Beverley in the second edition of the history, written in 1722.

"In the year 1703, my affairs called me to England.  I was soon informed by a bookseller that he was preparing a history of all of her Majesty’s plantations in America.  The publisher desired me to look at it, before it went to press, and I agreed to look at the section on Virginia."

The bookseller brought six sheets of paper with his history, which Byrd saw as sparse and inaccurate.  Instead, Beverley offered to write a new history himself.  By his experience in the field, and in the halls of government, he was well prepared, since he had been making notes of what he had seen and heard.  He finished the work quickly and published it as "The History and Present State of Virginia".  The book attracted considerable attention in England, in Virginia, and in France.  Within two years a French version was published.  Pirated printings also appeared in French.

Some of the people in Virginia read the book with more wrath than favor.  Beverley’s caustic irony makes the book eminently readable today, but, at the time, it was unpleasant reading for the ruling clique in Virginia, as well as some of the more complacent planters.  Beverley spared no energies in his criticism of almost everyone he wrote about ­ except the Indians.
(18 Oct 00)


Nr. 1007:

From his early manhood, Robert Beverley had taken an interest in the history of Virginia.

"My first business being among the public records of my country, the active thoughts of my youth put me upon taking notes of the general administration of the government, but with no other design than the gratification of my own inquisitive mind."
Besides taking notes on the government, he recorded his observations of the natural history of Virginia, and of Indian life.  Widely read in the literature of travel and history, he could draw comparisons of Virginia to the world at large.

"The History and Present State of Virginia", his book of 1705, drew considerable attention in Virginia, as well as in England and France.  In Virginia, one's view of the book was perhaps flavored by whether a specific person was criticized or not.  In Beverley's mind, if a person was portrayed unfavorably, it was only because he deserved it.  Whether he liked some of the individuals or not, he felt that he was writing in defense of his native Virginia.  The phrase "my country", which was used frequently by him, meant only one thing, Virginia.  He balanced his recognition, that he was a subject of the English sovereign, with the thought that he was a free citizen of Virginia.

His book was divided into four parts:

The settlement of Virginia, up to his time,
A natural history,
An account of the Indians, and
A discussion of the form of government.
In the last part, he gave the most offense to his contemporaries.  The natural history, and the discussion of the Indians, are the best parts, but his style throughout the book makes it an entertaining and amusing book.

On his return to Virginia, he settled down at Beverley Park, on the frontier.  (This was in 1705, and the future Germanna was still a two-day ride to the west.)  Beverley's lifestyle was as different as his opinions of his fellow Virginians.  Whereas, his brother-in-law, William Byrd of Westover, was attempting to turn his establishment into an English Lord's estate, Beverley was content to dwell in austere simplicity, ignoring fashions and trends.  His idea of a place to sit was a stool that had been made on his plantation, probably little different from what the slaves were using.  Beverley felt that Virginia was overrun with wood, and that it was unnecessary to buy one's furniture from England.

Though Beverley apparently had no plans to remarry (he had only the one son, William), he labored to increase his estate by land speculations, and the thrifty operation of his plantations.  He could be sharp in his business practices, yet capable of convivial gaiety as a host.  When Alexander Spotswood came as the new Lt. Gov. in 1710, the two young men struck up a friendship.  Spotswood was able to steer some minor appointments to Beverley, and Beverley was able to give Spotswood some pointers on land acquisition.

As a part of his plan to increase his land holdings, Beverley had 13,000 acres of land surveyed along the south side of the Rapidan River, but he did not take out a patent, because he would have been required to pay a fee then.  He discussed the problem of finding settlers for the western lands with Spotswood, and suggested that Spotswood join him in a land partnership.  Spotswood could see that the surest road to wealth in Virginia was land, and Beverley's proposal struck a responsive chord in Spotswood.
(19 Oct 00)


Nr. 1008:

When Alexander Spotswood scheduled the trip across the Blue Ridge, he invited Robert Beverley to join the party.  The motivation for the invitation is clear.  Spotswood wanted to see the land along the south side of the Rapidan, on which Beverley had a reservation .  The number one priority of the whole trip, for several of the participants, was to look for land they could "take up".

As Spotswood traveled from Williamsburg to Germanna, he stopped with his traveling companion, John Fontaine, at Beverley's home, Beverley Park.  Fontaine merely tells us that they were well entertained, and spent the night there.  The entertainment was perhaps along the lines of Fontaine's visit a year earlier.

"We drunk very heartily of the wine of his own making, which was good."  (Though the wine did not appeal to Fontaine's taste.)

From his trip to Germanna, in 1715, Fontaine told us that Beverley had a vineyard of about three acres, where he grew an assortment of vines.  That year, he made four hundred gallons of wine.  He had a large bet with several other planters that he could, within seven years, make seven hundred gallons of wine in one year, and Fontaine fully expected him to win the bet.  For making the wine, he had a cave and a wine press.  All of this had cost him a fair amount.

On this same trip, Fontaine tells us something about the life style of Beverley.

"This man lives well, but has nothing about his house, but just what is necessary, tho' rich.  He had good beds in his house but no curtains and instead of cane chairs he hath stools made of wood, and lives upon the product of his land."
On this earlier trip, Fontaine had stayed several days with the Beverleys, father and son, because the weather was bad, and Robert Beverley would not allow Fontaine to go on.

Beverley tells us, at another time, that he spent no money.  A coin in his pocket was apt to remain there for months on end.  "Be self-sufficient" might have been his motto.

Even though he had enough for his needs and the needs of his one son, William, he was aggressive about adding to his estate.  As a consequence, he had started to acquire 13,000 acres, but he stopped short of paying the patent fees because of the lack of potential settlers for the land.  The visit of Spotswood was very important to Beverley because he was hoping that one outcome would be a workable plan for obtaining settlers.  His desires coincided with Spotswood's.  Spotswood, though, wanted to see the land, and to look for more land to add to that which Beverley had, and was willing to put into a partnership.

Though Fontaine was discreet enough not to say so, this was the major purpose of the expedition, which had been cast as an official trip of the Colony of Virginia.  The trip was very successful in locating land, and within eighteen months, Spotswood had found the settlers.  And, so, Robert Beverley, the historian, became one of the sponsors of the Second Germanna Colony.
(20 Oct 00)


Nr. 1009:

The partnership of Alexander Spotswood and Robert Beverley, and probably a few other minor partners, became active when the ship "Scott" arrived with seventy-odd Germans, in either late 1717, or early 1718 by the modern calendar.  The figure of seventy-odd Germans was Spotswood's accounting; the Germans put the number at eighty, and the two numbers are not that much dissimilar.  We know that Spotswood paid the transportation of forty-eight of these people.  Since the partnerships were often based on "halves" such as one-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, etc., we look to see what fraction Spotswood could have had.  If he had five-eighths, the number of Germans could be placed at seventy-eight.  So Beverley and the other partners might have three-eighths.

Whereas the names of the Germans, for whom Spotswood paid the transportation, are known, the names of "Beverley's" Germans are unknown, except for George Moyer.  That we even know George Moyer's name comes about because Robert Beverley had died by the time that Spotswood sued some of the Germans.  Spotswood bought out the inherited interest of William Beverley, Robert Beverley's son, and thereby acquired the interest in the German's contract.  George Moyer was sued, and William Beverley was called to testify at the lawsuit.  The reason that William Beverley would have been involved was that his father originally had paid Moyer's transportation.

Since William Beverley put up his original 13,000, acres and the tract was extended to 40,000 acres, it might be argued that William Beverley was a one-third partner and Spotswood was a two-thirds partner.  This ignores the smaller partners.  Conceivably, Beverley had paid the transportation for up to about twenty-four of the Germans.  It would be good to know these names.  Perhaps combing the Spotsylvania County Court records might disclose other cases where William Beverley testified.

After the Germans were settled, Beverley encouraged the Germans to grow grapes for wine.  We get this bit of information from Rev. Jones.  At the same time, Spotswood was encouraging the Germans to work on naval stores, but much difficulty was encountered in this work.  It is unknown who was the active leader of the work of the Germans.  Someone would have been giving them directions on a frequent basis.

Basically, Beverley lived his life quietly at Beverley Park, graciously entertaining all who came that way.  When Fontaine was staying a few days with Beverley, in 1715, a Sunday came to pass and they all rode by horseback to church, at a distance of seven miles.  Though Beverley flouted some of the conventions of his classes, he observed the proprieties of religious worship that would have been expected of a country gentleman.  He did advocate temperance in all things, while praising friendship, hospitality, and being a good neighbor.

Fontaine's account of his visit to Beverley Park would suggest that hunting was a major activity, but Beverley himself said he was a "small sportsman", who did, on occasion, hunt ducks, turkeys, deer, and, perhaps, bears.  The most exciting of his hunts was to ride after wolves through the woods.  He actually seems to have enjoyed fishing more than hunting.  On the whole, Beverley enjoyed the outdoors, and envied the Indians.
(21 Oct 00)


Nr. 1010:

Robert Beverley, the historian, found a delight in the observation of nature, and devoted a good part of his history to a description of Virginia and its inhabitants, especially the Indians.  His estate, Beverley Park, was already developed when he settled on it, so he could devote his efforts to adding to the natural beauty of it.  While we do not have a detailed description of his gardens, he was almost lyrical in his praise of Virginia gardens, and the "merry birds" that make up a "rural consort", especially the mocking birds, "Who love society so well, that whenever they see mankind, they will perch upon a twig very near them, and sing the sweetest wild airs in the world."

"Have you pleasure in a garden?"  Beverley asks, and then answers by describing the perfection of Virginia gardens, which any man must love.

"You can't walk by a bed of flowers but besides the entertainment of their beauty, your eyes will be saluted with the charming colors of the humming bird which revels among the flowers, and licks off the dew and honey from their tender leaves on which it only feeds."

Beverley was aware that he lacked botanical or zoological training, and he wished that he had more scientific training.  As a consequence of what he felt were his shortcomings, his treatment of the natural of Virginia was briefer that he wanted.  He only hoped that his writings would give others a handle to a more complete undertaking.  His curiosity led him to examine the world around him.  His willingness to experiment led him to eat a rattlesnake on one occasion, "Which was dainty food," he assured us.  He thought the beaver was a particularly shrewd creature, with a form of government something like a monarchy.

During his last years, which came in his forties, he busied himself with the pleasures of his own realm, and with a revision of his history.  Experience had mellowed him, and he set out to remove those remarks from his first edition, which had given so much offense.  He avoided comments on the personal life styles of the participants.  This second edition was published in the year of his death, 1722, when he was 49 years old.  Perhaps it is not as entertaining as the first edition, but all agree that it shows a commendable sense of fair play.

Another project of Beverley's last years was a compilation of the Laws of Virginia.  This, too, was published in the year of his death, by the publisher of his history.  This little book (it was an abridgement) was dedicated to Alexander Spotswood, in words that praised him in the highest terms for protecting the laws and liberties of the country, suppressing the pirate Teach ("Blackbeard"), reviving the College of William and Mary, encouraging teachers to instruct the Indians in religion and letters, and extending the frontier settlements.  (I do not know if Beverley went into the details of his partnership with Spotswood in extending the frontier settlements; probably he did not.)
(23 Oct 00)


Nr. 1011:

Robert Beverley died on 21 April 1722, just a few months before his friend and partner lost his job as Lt. Governor of Virginia.  Unfortunately, his will and inventory of property have been lost, along with other records of King and Queen County.  It is known, though, that he passed on a large land estate to his son, William.  Whether his work in acquiring this estate was avarice, or a desire to protect the property, is debated.  It does appear that he wanted to keep the land in the hands of the family.  When John Fontaine asked about buying a tract of three thousand acres on the Rappahannock River, Beverley refused to sell, but did offer Fontaine a nine hundred and ninety-nine year lease.  (Fontaine thought the offer was peculiar and wanted no part of it.)

One of the saddest things about the lack of an inventory is that we have no feeling for Beverley's personal library.  His own writing is marked by a grace which probably came from his reading.  His history is filled with allusions showing that he had read widely in travel, geography, and history, including modern and ancient writings.  He is reminded, by the eating habits of the Indians, of the strange foods sold in the markets of Fess, and of the diet of the Arabians, Lybians, Parthians, and Ethiopians.

Besides his references that came from reading, he engaged in field research, especially with the Indians.  He visited their villages and won their friendship.  When he had difficulty in learning about their religious beliefs, he plied an Indian with hard cider until his tongue was loosened.  To Beverley, the usual English attitude toward Indians was abhorrent.  He commended them for their virtues.  He thought there should be more marriages between the settlers and the Indians.

Beverley was not at all convinced that the coming of the white man had brought any improvement to the North American continent.  Beverley's brother-in-law, William Byrd, and also the Indians and Spotswood, received praise from him.  In particular he praised Byrd for his generosity toward the Huguenot refugees.  It appears, though, that he never doubted his own Anglican church, as he obliquely expressed in his statement, "Those counties where there are Presbyterian meetings produce very mean tobacco."

Beverley was devoted to Virginia even though he had been exposed for a number of years to England.  He never doubted the goodness of the land, even if he did have some doubts about a few of the citizens.  Beverley did admit that Virginians tended to be lazy, but he said that God had been very generous in providing for them, so that they did not have to work very energetically.

With his brother-in-law, William Byrd, the two were the most vigorous and gifted writers that Virginia produced in the pre-Revolutionary period.

I have been following "The First Gentlemen of Virginia", by Louis B. Wright, published by the Huntington Library, in 1940.  I will continue to use this book in talking about William Byrd.
(24 Oct 00)


Nr. 1012:

When Alexander Spotswood came to Virginia as Lt. Governor, in 1710, he quickly made friends with William Byrd.  Byrd had a suggestion for Spotswood, which appealed to the Lt. Gov.  On his land, near the future site of Richmond, Byrd had iron ore.  He was willing to give it over to the colony of Virginia, if they would give him a responsible job in return.  The idea of Virginia manufacturing iron appealed to Spotswood, because it did make sense.  Virginia had all of the requirements that were needed ­ iron ore, wood, and water power.  England itself was not as rich in these resources as Virginia was, especially with regards to wood.  This was the basis of the proposal that Spotswood laid before the House of Burgesses, and, after they rejected it, he suggested that the Queen herself might like to sponsor the project.  The Board of Trade and Plantations reminded Spotswood that the proposal was against the trade patterns between England and its colonies.  The proposal died.

[Willis Kemper completely misinterpreted these events, saying that Spotswood had found the iron.  Spotswood himself did make an error, and said that the iron was newly discovered, which it was not.  The particular bed of iron ore had been known for a century, and a furnace had even been built in 1622, which was overturned by the Indians.  Byrd wanted to reestablish this furnace on the James River.]

Within a few years, Spotswood and Byrd had a falling out, and became enemies.  Byrd even went so far as to go to England, where he testified against Spotswood.  But the Board of Trade and Plantations told Byrd to patch things up between Spotswood and the Council (of which Byrd was a member), or they both might be out of a job.  Byrd did return to Virginia, and he was able to report that a reconciliation had been worked out.  Eventually, Byrd and Spotswood became friends again, and Byrd could ask Spotswood for advice, and he was welcomed in the Spotswood home.

Altogether, there were three William Byrds, which we might call I, II, and III.  We are primarily concerned with Byrd II, who is the son of I, and the father of III.  Byrd I was the founder of the family fortune, starting with an inheritance, which he augmented by shrewd business acumen.  In doing so, he established the family as a power in Virginia.  Byrd II was the ornament of the family, and shrewd enough to preserve, and add to, the family fortune.  He did commit one business error, which was to haunt him for the balance of his life.  Byrd III, by his vices and bad management, squandered the family's fortune.

William Byrd I was the son of John Byrd, a London goldsmith of moderate means.  John married Grace Stegg, daughter of Captain Thomas Stegg, a merchant and ship captain, engaged in the Virginia trade.  Capt. Stegg was so heavily committed to the Virginia trade that he had residences on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  Thomas Stegg, Grace’s brother, inherited his father’s possessions, and William Byrd I went to live with his uncle Thomas as an older youth.  Thomas Stegg made William Byrd I his heir, and William inherited rich properties in Virginia, including the site near where Richmond was to stand someday.
(25 Oct 00)


Nr. 1013:

William Byrd I inherited estates in Virginia from his uncle, Thomas Stegg, who had already made a good name for himself in Virginia.  Stegg's friends reached to the highest level in the government.  Byrd made a good marriage to Mary Horsmanden (Horsemanden, Horsemonden), in 1673.  Their son, William (II), was born a year later.  Of the four siblings of William the younger, one, Ursula, married Robert Beverley, the historian.  William Byrd, the younger, was the only male to survive childhood.  Mrs. Byrd died in 1699, and five years later her husband died.

Returning now to William Byrd I, his inheritance at the falls of the James River had a store of trading goods used in traffic with the Indians.  At that time, the Stegg plantation was a distant outpost within the range of Indian forays.  The elder William further developed the Indian trade that his uncle, thomas Stegg, had started, and for thirty-five years, the plantation was the center of the Indian trading.  The pack trains carried blue cloth, kettles, hatchets, rum, guns, and ammunition to the Indians, and they brought back furs, deerskins, rare herbs, and minerals, that Byrd hoped might prove to be of value.  Byrd worried little over the exposed position that he was in, even though he was supplying the Indians with guns, ammunition, and rum.  He reasoned that he if did not, someone else would.

His other business activities included trading in tobacco, importing slaves and indentured servants, and supplying goods from England to other planters.  He ordered, from Boston, a shipment of rum, sugar, Madeira wine, turnery, earthenware, or most anything else that was available, except fish.  He was very insistent on the fish; he wanted none of their codfish.  The quantities were large.  In one letter, he ordered 4,000 gallons of rum, 6,000 pounds of sugar, 5,000 pounds of muscovado, and eight or ten tons of molasses.  The best profits were in slaves and rum.  In all things he tried to supply the best quality that could be obtained.  He complained to his agents about the goods they shipped, and he reported all attempts to overcharge him.  At the same time, he brought to the agent's attention any goods that were shipped but not invoiced.  By the time he was thirty, he was a leading business figure in Virginia.  He sent for an apprentice bookkeeper to help him with the paperwork.

Byrd held political office from time to time.  In part, he earned good pay this way, but he also considered it his duty to serve the colony.  By 1677, he was a member of the House of Burgesses, and six years later he took a seat on the Council, and became president of it in 1703.  In 1687, he went to England to seek the lucrative post of auditor-general of Virginia (which he obtained).  He was an Indian negotiator, a member of the building committee of the new William and Mary College, and the chief contractor on the college chapel.  While all of this was going on, he was adding land to his holdings, until they reached 26,231 acres at the time of his death.  His house at the falls of the James was Belvidere, but his pride was the house he built at Westover.  The latter home was well furnished.  He took a special delight in the gardens, with plants and bulbs from England.  Botany was a serious hobby of his.

Late in life, William I took a delight in his library, and ordered many volumes, especially of a practical nature.  He laid the foundation for the Byrd library.
(26 Oct 00)


Nr. 1014:

The elder William Byrd was concerned enough for his children's education that he sent them to English schools.  As infants, William, Susan, and Ursula were sent to England.  The planned return of the children was delayed by war with France.  Susan became old enough that she married, and settled in England.  Ursula returned to Virginia just after her sixteenth birthday, and very soon married Robert Beverley, the historian.

William II was placed under the care of a famous schoolmaster, Christopher Glasscock, the headmaster at the Felsted Grammar School in Essex.  By 1685, William was progressing nicely in his studies; however, the father wanted his son to learn some of the practical aspects of the world as well, so he was sent to Holland to one of the business enterprises the father dealt with.  But this position was not to the liking of William II and he returned to England, where he was placed with the firm of Perry & Lane.  The father was well aware that William II would have a sizeable estate to manage someday.  The father's plan to leave his entire estate to William II led to the desire that William II be a practical person besides an academic.  William II's two surviving sisters received only a few hundred pounds each from the estate, and William received the rest.  William II lived up to his father's expectations.

When William II inherited his father's holdings, William had already served in the House of Burgesses, and been the agent of Virginia in England.  So when he came into his expectations, he was already an accomplished gentleman who was at home in both London and Virginia.  On his return from Holland in 1690, he was two years in the commercial world in London.  Then, he entered the Middle Temple and was admitted to the bar.  When he returned to Virginia in 1696, for a visit, he was elected to the House.  In this same year he was elected, at the age of 22, to the Royal Society, an honor that probably no other American of his age had attained.  He became acquainted with many Lords, Earls, Marquis, and a Duke, besides some plain "Sirs".

After the election to the House in 1696, he returned to London and represented the colony before the Board of Trade.  This only lasted a few years, because Byrd presented a petition to the King without the permission of the Governor of Virginia, which resulted in his losing the job.  Shortly after this, he returned for good to Virginia on his father's death, Byrd was elected to the Council and served there until his death.  His influence was also able to earn him a lucrative appointment as receiver-general for Virginia.

In 1706, one year after returning permanently to Virginia, Byrd married Lucy Parke.  Her father, killed in the uprising at Atigua in 1710, left his estates to his eldest daughter Frances, wife of John Custis, while bequeathing Lucy a mere thousand pounds.  Parke's debts were to be paid by selling some of the estate.  Byrd, looking for land, agreed with Custis, the executor, to take over the lands that would have to be sold, and to assume Parke's debts.  These debts were much larger than anyone had realized, and Byrd was continually strapped for cash during the latter part of his life.

So, William Byrd, as he entered married life, could already say, "Been there, done that."
(27 Oct 00)


Nr. 1015:

After William Byrd (the II) married and had a young family, he hoped to settle down to a peaceful life at Westover.  When Alexander Spotswood came in 1710 as the new Lt. Gov., Byrd made his acquaintance, and followed with the proposal for developing his (Byrd's) iron mines.  But he soon came into a conflict with Spotswood over at least two questions.  They disagreed over how quit rents were to be collected.  Also Spotswood wanted to set up new courts of oyer and terminer in a way that weakened the power of the Council (of which Byrd was a member).  (oyer and terminer:  1. A hearing or trial.  2. A court of general criminal jurisdiction in some states of the United States.  3.a. A commission empowering a judge in Great Britain to hear and rule on a criminal case at the assizes.  b. The court in Great Britain where such a hearing is held. [Middle English, partial translation of Anglo-Norman oyer et terminer, to hear and determine:  oyer, to hear + terminer, to determine.]  GWD)

In 1715, Byrd went to England, partly on private matters, but also to oppose Spotswood before the Board of Trade and Plantations.  [I have reported some of the appearances of Byrd before the Board in earlier notes.]  He stayed five years, and the battle between Spotswood and Byrd continued; but, when Byrd went home in 1720, he had clear instructions from the Board to patch things up.  They did exactly that and became friends again [and kept their jobs for a while].

Spotswood represented the Crown and the royal prerogative.  Byrd represented the interests who put Virginia first and the Crown second.  Byrd would have denied that he was against England or against the Crown.  It was just that he put Virginia first.  The struggle between the Lt. Gov. and the council could be viewed as a Crown vs. Colonial fighting.  [It must have hurt Byrd deeply that so many of the laws passed in Virginia were upset in London.]

If Byrd had thought that he could return to peaceful life at Westover when he came home again in 1720, he was mistaken.  Virginia appointed him as Colonial Agent, with instructions to go back to England.  He stayed there until 1726, which meant that he had spent more than two decades in London.  He made friends in England easily and was widely known, but he grew tired of London and very happy to return again to Virginia.

He was quickly caught up in public duties, and was back again on the Council.  When the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina had to be settled, he was chosen to head the Virginia Boundary Commission.  His racy account of the survey in "History of the Dividing Line" assured his place as a Colonial writer.  His work on the survey was so satisfactory that he was chosen for the survey of the Northern Neck in 1736.  He quickly became the most distinguished and experienced of Virginia's elder statesmen.

Byrd had a private life also, and sought to recreate at Westover the aristocratic life that he had observed in many homes in England.  He rebuilt the home at Westover and equipped it with the finest furnishings that could be seen in Virginia.  He even had a portrait gallery, where not only the family portraits were hung, but those of many of his friends in England.  To the end of his days he kept up a correspondence with his friends in England, and recounted their past experiences together, along with a description of life at Westover.  He even wrote to Sir Robert Walpole, the great Prime Minister, and advised him about running England.
(28 Oct 00)


Nr. 1016:

The correspondence of William Byrd furnishes us with a picture of life in Virginia at the level of a leading politician, and perhaps the wealthiest individual of his time in the colony.

"I have a large family of my own, and my doors are open to everybody, yet I have no bills to pay, and half a crown will rest undisturbed in my pocket for many moons together.  Like one of the patriarchs, I have my flocks and my herds, my bondmen and bondwomen, and every sort of trade amongst my own servants, so that I live in a kind of independence of everyone but Providence.  However, this sort of life is without expense, yet it is attended with a great deal of trouble.  I must take care to keep all my people to their duty, to set all the springs in motion, and to make everyone draw his equal share to carry the machine forward.  But then 'tis an amusement in this silent country and a continual exercise of our patience and economy.  Another, my lord, that recommends this country very much:  we sit securely under our vines and our fig trees without any danger to our property.  We have neither public robbers nor private, which your lordship will think very strange when we have often needy governors and pilfering convicts sent amongst us . . .  Thus, my lord, we are very happy in our Canaans, if we could but forget the onions and fleshpots of Egypt."

In a later letter, Byrd repeated the above comments and added others,

"We are all of one religion and one party in politics . . .  The merchants of England take care that none of us grow very rich, and the felicity of the climate hinders us from being very poor."

Even after his return to Virginia, Byrd never forgot he was a member of the Royal Society.  He sent plant samples to England and submitted articles for the benefit of the other members.  He was never a professional scientist, but he should be regarded as a serious amateur.  Another active interest was in literature.  Even at Westover, he pursued his studies.  His secret diary, kept in a shorthand, reveals a typical day.  He rose early, said his prayers, read a chapter of Hebrew, a hundred verses from Homer, or perhaps a chapter in a Greek version of Josephus.  On occasions he mentioned Latin readings, Italian, geometry, or law studies, or perhaps a sermon.

His library was large, thirty-six hundred volumes, the largest in Virginia and equaled only by Cotton Mather in Massachusetts.  Eventually it was necessary to employ a librarian, William Proctor, to look after the library.  Though there is much evidence that he used his library extensively, he seems not to have quoted widely from it in his own writings.  The classification of books in his library was revealed in the sale catalog of 1777.  The first four cases were two and fifty works of history, biography, voyages, and travels, and often in the editions of the best quality.  There was an extensive law collection, and more than one hundred and thirty medical works.  The section entitled "Entertainment, Poetry, Translations" was one of the largest sections.
(30 Oct 00)


Nr. 1017:

As we continue our walk around William Byrd's library, we observe more than one hundred and fifty works of divinity.  The religious works include many sermons and books of devotion, and several Bibles in Greek, Latin, French, Dutch, and English.

There were many books in French, especially in the area of "Entertainment".  Perhaps there are two hundred of these, mostly novels, plays, poetry, and translations of the Classics.  In the Greek and Latin section, in the original languages, there are nearly three hundred works.  In the miscellaneous case, there are scientific and mathematical treatises, and books on architecture, drawing, painting, collections of music, including operas, philosophy, gardening, agriculture, distilling, cooking, and logic.

Perhaps because Byrd's land including iron deposits, there are several books on minerals.

The range and extent of the library were not matched anywhere else in America.  The library had an influence beyond Westover.  First, visitors observed and perhaps used it.  Many visitors set out to emulate the Byrds, perhaps not in numbers but in spirit.

Byrd himself wrote little.  His "History of the Dividing Line" was never finished by him.  He had set out to revise this work, but never finished it, and it was not published for another hundred years.  A private version of this work describes his compatriots on the survey in more detail with disguised names.  Knowledge of some of his writings leaked out and he was urged to publish, but he declined saying he was too busy, "...for I am always engaged in some project for improving our infant colony."

Among his projects were founding a city at the falls of the James River.  He planned to settle Switzers on his large tract on the Roanoke River, and as a consequence we have one of the interactions with the Germanna colonies.  The people from Switzerland had arrived at Rotterdam, where the ship "Oliver" was chartered by the emigration society that had recruited the people.  It was judged to have room for more people, and a large group from Freudenberg was taken on.  The voyage itself was disastrous and as a consequence, what would have been a major expansion of the Germanna Colonies, became only a handful of people.

Later he wrote "A Journey to the Land of Eden, Anno 1733" and "A Progress to the Mines in the Year 1732".  Both of these are pleasing works.  Byrd also wrote for only his own eyes as an exercise in composition, and he appears to have used real people to populate his stories and sketches.  In one of these epistles, he appears to have been writing to a prospective father-in-law, and he gives an account of his income and net worth.  In 1717, he put his income at around seventeen hundred pounds per year and the value of his Virginia property at thirty-three thousand pounds.  He mentions two hundred and twenty slaves.
(31 Oct 00)


Nr. 1018:

In this note, I will detour slightly, using information given by Klaus Wust in "The Virginian Germans".

William Byrd had a large conditional grant from the Colony of Virginia.  He secured the rights in 1735 to a 100,000 acre tract on the Dan River, on condition that, within two years, at least one family be seated on every 1,000 acres.  Byrd felt this would be an easy condition to meet because he had contacts with a Swiss promoter, John Ochs.  The first attempt to induce settlers to move to Virginia ended in failure in 1736.

Byrd then turned to Samuel Jenner of the "Helvetische Societät" in Berne.  To promote the scheme, Jenner and Byrd put their efforts together and composed a booklet of information about Virginia and the adjoining regions.  It appeared in Switzerland in 1737, under the title of "Neu-gefundenes Eden" ["New Discoveries in Eden"], which, while delightful to read, was not always truthful in describing Virginia.  An appendix contained the sales contract for 33,400 acres of Wilhelm Vogel’s land (i.e., William Byrd’s land).  Dr. Samuel Tschiffeli, the Virginia agent for the Helvetian Society, arranged this sale with Byrd in January 1737.  Armed with a document showing the Swiss agents were serious, Byrd obtained an extension of the time limit.

Everything seemed perfect when news was received in November of 1738 that the ship was on its way with a considerable number of Switzers on board.  The vessel arrived at Lynnhaven Bay on 3 January 1739.  Before the vessel could discharge its passengers, a violent storm sank the ship with a great loss of life.

This ship was the Oliver, and, in addition to the Switzers, it carried several tens of people from Freudenberg; but the Freudenberg people were not to have been a part of the colonization project of Byrd.  It just happened that, when the Freudenberg people arrived at Rotterdam, there was a ship going to Virginia.  Most ships went to Philadelphia, and ships traveling to Virginia from Rotterdam was rare.  Even though there were factors against the Oliver ­ it was small and it was overloaded ­ the Freudenberg people elected to go with it.

Altogether, more than two out three people on the Oliver perished, either due to privations at sea, or the storm off the Virginia coast.  The ship had left Rotterdam for the first time in June.
(01 Nov 00)


Nr. 1019:

We are indebted to William Byrd for information about Germanna and the iron industry of Alexander Spotswood.  The success of Spotswood with iron, that was evident by 1730, prompted Byrd to visit Spotswood for the purpose of learning more about the business.  Byrd had the raw material, and he needed only to pull it all together in a working enterprise.

On 18 Sep 1732, Byrd left Westover to visit experienced people in the business, including Spotswood.  First, there was a visit to Mr. (Charles?) Chiswell, a manager of a furnace company.  From there, he rode on to Germanna, at a distance of more than thirty miles.  His visit was captured in his notes which were entitled "A Progress to the Mines".

He observed that Germanna consisted of Col. Spotswood's enchanted Castle on one side of the street, and a baker's dozen of ruinous tenements on the other, where so many German families had dwelt some years earlier.  These Germans were now ten miles higher in the Fork of the Rappahannock, on land of their own.

These statements of Byrd's have caused a lot of confusion.  Which Germans was he referring to?  Because of the thirteen houses, some have said that it could not be the First Colony, which were said, by John Fontaine, to have nine houses.  Also, the First Germanna Colony was not living (when they were at Germantown) in the Fork of the Rappahannock River.  Could the Germans referenced by Byrd be the Second Germanna Colony?  Thirteen houses are not enough for them, though they are clearly indicated as being in the Fork of the Rappahannock; however, they were living, in 1732, for the most part, in the Robinson River Valley, at a distance more like twenty-five miles.  So they do not fit that description too well.  At a distance of ten miles, and in the Fork of the Rappahannock would more closely fit the Little Fork Group, but they were never at Germanna.

With recent archeological finds, and some general information, it is probable that Byrd simply made a few mistakes, and the thirteen houses did apply to the First Germanna Colony.  The increase from nine to thirteen probably occurred as a result of marriages of some of the single people.  In addition, Francis Hume was placed as an overseer of the Germans by Spotswood, and he probably had his own house.  It is even possible that the number of workmen, when the "Enchanted Castle" was being built, required still more houses.  So the number thirteen hardly is significant.

The evidence today is that Spotswood tore down Fort Germanna to have a building site for his home.  This would place the First Colony homes next to the future "Enchanted Castle".  Since anyone who was telling Byrd about the Germans might have mixed elements of the different groups of Germans together, it is likely that Byrd was simply confused about the different details.
(02 Nov 00)


Nr. 1020:

Col. Byrd, in his description of Germanna, as it existed in 1732, noted that a chapel had stood at the end of an avenue of cherry trees, about a bowshot away from Spotswood's home.  Some pious people had burned it down.  While this seems strange, it was the result of the dissatisfaction of the citizens of Spotsylvania County with the location of the county seat and the parish church.  Spotswood had placed the county seat at the extreme western edge of civilization, excepting a few Germans, in an attempt to draw attention to his large land holdings to the west of Germanna.  Some citizens voted against this idea by burning the chapel down, in the hope that it would be rebuilt nearer to the center of the population.

When Byrd arrived at Germanna, only Mrs. Spotswood was home at the "Enchanted Castle". She welcomed Byrd, and invited him in.  The only other guests were a pair of tame deer who had the freedom of the house.  One of these tried to jump over the tea table, which stood under the mirror.  The result was shattered glass, one surprised deer, and two frightened people.  But Byrd noted that she bore the disaster with moderation and good spirits.  As to why there were deer in the house, they apparently had been raised as pets from fawns to help amuse Mrs. Spotswood.  After all, there were very few human visitors.

Soon Col. Spotswood and Mrs. Spotswood's sister, a Miss Theky, came in.  Spotswood was coming from the iron mines, and Miss Theky had ridden out to meet him and accompany him to the house.  The men talked, then ate dinner about nine in the evening with the ladies, and then talked with the ladies until Byrd felt it was time to retire.  Spotswood focused loving attention on his children.  This so struck Byrd in comparison to Spotswood's previous attitudes that he kidded Spotswood about it.  But Spotswood said that in such a lonely place it was important to show lots of attention to the women and children.

Miss Theky was up early the next morning as the house manager, but the others slept until nine in the morning.  After breakfast, Spotswood and Byrd talked.  Byrd opened the discussion by saying that he came to be instructed by so great a master in the mystery of making of iron.  It was he (Spotswood) who had led the way, and was therefore the Tubal Cain of Virginia.  Spotswood corrected him there, saying that he was more than the first in Virginia, as he was the first in North America to have erected a regular furnace.  He stated that they ran bloomeries in New England and Pennsylvania until they had seen what he had done, and then they converted.

[Bloomeries did not melt the iron to the state where it could be poured into a mold.  A bloomery succeeded by burning and melting away the impurities that were with the iron ore.  What was left was a sponge-like mass of iron.  After it was removed from the furnace, it was heated and beat repeatedly until it was workable iron.]  Spotswood claimed that Pennsylvania had too few ships for sending the iron to England, and they had to do the finish work themselves.

Virginia, in 1732, had four furnaces, and they added greatly to the economy of the colony.  England benefited herself, because she no longer had to import so much iron from Spain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Muscovy, which had, at one time, amounted to 20,000 tons per year.  The iron imported from those countries was only bar iron, whereas the iron from Virginia was sow iron [cast iron].
(03 Nov 00)


Nr. 1021:

[With Byrd and Spotswood in 1732], Spotswood said that he had iron in several parts of land, but he was using a mine thirteen miles below Germanna.  This ore was a mile from the furnace.  After the iron was cast, he had to cart it fifteen miles to "Massaponux" on the Rappahannock River, where it could be loaded on a ship.

Spotswood went on to say that, while he was absent from Virginia, and in England, the mines and furnace had been in the hands of Mr. Greame, as Byrd spelled the name.  According to Spotswood, the mine, furnace, and plantations went downhill during his absence.  [Spotswood seems to ignore that iron production increased significantly while he was in England.  The last year, 1724, that Spotswood was in Virginia, he shipped about 202 tons of cast iron to England.  In the following years, the shipments were 137 tons, 263 tons, 407 tons, 643 tons, 852 tons, and more than 1526 tons in 1730, which was about the time that Spotswood returned to Virginia.]

Byrd and Spotswood talked until dinner (the mid-day meal).  After dinner they talked with the ladies, and walked about the grounds.  The Rapidan River was said by Byrd to be so rapid that it was necessary for the ferry to be secured by a chain.  He also stated the river obtained its name from the rapid currents.

On the third day Byrd and Spotswood talked more about iron, and apparently Spotswood offered to be as helpful as he could.  Spotswood even went so far as to suggest they might form a manufacturer's association for their common advantage.  In particular, they might set a pay scale for the workmen at what was just and reasonable.

Spotswood believed that a complete operation would take one hundred people to raise the provisions for themselves, to feed the cattle, and to do the other labor in the total operation.  He suggested that a furnace might be built for seven hundred pounds if the mistakes of others were avoided.  [This number is totally inconsistent with the costs that others reported.  The furnace in 1622 on the James River had been built with a subscription of five thousand pounds.  Mr. Chiswell, experienced in mine operations, set the figure even higher.] Spotswood noted that the cost of cartage was exceedingly burdensome.

Several wagons with iron (rimmed) wheels and many oxen would be required to cart the wood to the point where charcoal was made.  The wagons were also needed to take the cast iron to where it could be distributed, and to bring back necessities such as limestone.  Many more wagons were needed for the wood than for the iron, because it took about fifty pounds of wood for every pound of iron that was produced.  [If the furnace produced three tons of iron per day, one hundred and fifty tons of wood would have to be brought to where the charcoal was made.]
(04 Nov 00)


Nr. 1022:

[Alexander Spotswood advised William Byrd] that a number of specialized people were necessary in the iron operation, viz., a founder, a mine-raiser, a collier, a stock-taker, a clerk, a smith, a carpenter, a wheelwright, and several carters.  The cash salaries for the named occupations would be about five hundred pounds a year, according to Spotswood.  The head collier headed a large crew of people, who made the charcoal.  Labor for all of the duties was supplied by slaves.

To ship a ton of iron to England, and to pay customs there, would take about 27 shillings per ton; but, that the merchants were always finding new ways of adding to the charges, was the complaint of Spotswood.  Together, the expenses in Virginia, plus the cost of getting a ton to England ready for sale, amounts to about three pounds per ton.  This was the "cost of the goods", and the overhead in Virginia for lands and servants had to be paid out of the selling price of about six pounds per ton.

The group (the Spotswoods, her sister, and Byrd) ate a goose for dinner, and spent the afternoon walking over the area around Spotswood's home.  Byrd noted it was a peninsula, but he erred badly in the size of it, as he estimated it contained about 400 acres.  It would have been much closer to four times this amount.  The Germanna patent was for a still larger quantity, but about half of the land was on the other side of the Rapidan River.  In passing, Byrd noted that the Rappahannock River forked downstream from Germanna, with the northern branch, called the Rappahannock, being larger than the southern branch, the Rapidan.  Therefore, the Northern Neck did not include the land between the Rapidan and the Rappahannock Rivers.  [Byrd may have been correct about the larger river, but the Northern Neck proprietors prevailed in their contention that the Rapidan was the southern boundary of their grant.]

On the fourth day, the group took to their horses in the morning, forded the Rapidan, and rode upstream about six miles.  [IF this were along the Rapidan River, it would have been over the area where the Second Germanna Colony had initially lived.]  They found some ginseng plants, which Byrd believed had wonderful healing properties.  In return for telling Spotswood about its virtue, Spotswood allowed Byrd to take all the samples that he wanted.  Byrd had been surprised to find it growing on level ground, as he had always been told that it grew on the north side of a stony hill.  Byrd was very pleased to have the samples, and he took them back to the house, where he washed and dried the roots.  After all of the exercise, the group was eager to eat dinner.  In the afternoon, the ladies showed Byrd their domestic animals, which served the dual purpose of pets and food.  As a consequence, the animals sometimes won a reprieve from the dinner table.  That night, the men omitted their discussion of iron and talked politics, a subject in which they both had experience.

On the fifth day, the men talked about many things, and attended to the ladies.  The ladies were no doubt very pleased to have company at Germanna.  It was probably not often that they entertained anyone.
(06 Nov 00)


Nr. 1023:

On the sixth day of his visit, Byrd left the Spotswood's home, but he was accompanied by the entire group as far as the furnace.  Most of them rode in a coach, but the "little Master", who was under no government rode on a horse.  The "little Master" was Spotswood's eldest son, who was about six or seven at the time.  Before leaving, Byrd gave a Pistole, a Spanish coin, to Mr. Russell to distribute among the staff.  This seems to have been a common practice for visitors to do.

The road to the furnace was good, and thirteen miles in length, as was clearly marked on the trees along the way.  Much of the land bore marginal trees; the value of the land was in the ore under the surface.  The first stop was at the mines, which were a mile closer to Germanna than the furnace.  They watched the Engineer use blasting powder to loosen some of the ore.  There seemed to be much ore in the vicinity.

At the furnace, there was no activity, as Spotswood had taken his people to Massaponux to work at the air furnace there.  At the furnace, a water wheel about twenty feet in diameter drove the bellows.  Water was scarce, and it was necessary to run water to the furnace from two streams, one of which was at a distance of almost two thousand feet.  The water was carried in wooden pipes.

The Founder (the head man in charge of the furnace) was an Irishman who received three shilling and six pence per ton of iron.  He favored the charcoal from red oak trees.  The Founder was not entirely happy with Spotswood's leadership, as he moved people around at the whim of the moment.

The charcoal was brought in wagons and dumped at the furnace site.  It was desirable not to treat the charcoal too harshly or it would break.  Spotswood had tried to make charcoal at some distance from the furnace, but it had not withstood the travel very well.  Very likely, this experiment had involved the Second Germanna Colony people, who were up the river about eighteen miles.

After a picnic-like lunch, the group split up and went their different ways.  Byrd rode about ten miles to Col. Harry Willis' place, where he dried out from the rain he had encountered.  He kept his pores open with a little wine.  Byrd did not arrive home for a few weeks, since he inspected other sites on the way.

The involvement of the Germanna Colonists in the iron furnace of Spotswood was minimal.  The First Germanna Colonists had been settled in their new home at Germantown for a few years before the furnace was built.  So, the First Colony had nothing to do with the furnace.  Their contribution had been to develop the mine.  The Second Colony was involved with the furnace only to the extent of the experiment in making charcoal.  Even for this, probably hardly any of them actually visited the furnace site.
(07 Nov 00)


Nr. 1024:

William Byrd lived another twelve years after his visit to Spotswood in 1732.  At his death, he was buried in his beloved garden at Westover.

It might be said that he was the model of the eighteenth century Virginia gentleman that so many others aspired to, even outside of Virginia.  His own model was apparently the landed aristocracy of England.  He devoted most of his resources to obtaining land.  At his death he held title to almost 180,000 acres of good Virginia land.  Industrial enterprises apparently appealed little to him.  After investigating the problems and opportunities in iron, he took no action.  Perhaps the problem lay in acquiring enough capital.

William Byrd was never free of money problems.  The debts that he acquired after the death of his father-in-law haunted him for the rest of his life, sometimes to the point of embarrassing him.

He outlived Alexander Spotswood by four years, and he outlived his brother-in-law, Robert Beverley, by more than a score of years.  All three of these men touched, in some way, the life of the Germanna Colonists, though Byrd contributed the least.  His interest to us is mostly in the written record that he created, either by his own writings, or by testimony before boards.

Robert Beverley was in the land partnership with Spotswood that settled the Second Germanna Colony on the Spotsylvania tract.  He actively encouraged them to grow grapes, a favorite crop of his.

It was Spotswood who "recruited" the Second Germanna Colony, and let the captains of ships know that he wanted Germans as servants.  His efforts paid off, as the ship Scott brought seventy-odd Germans to Virginia.

Spotswood neither recruited the First Germanna Colony, nor was he the decision maker which was responsible for their voyage, first to England, then later to Virginia.  The First Germanna Colony left the area around Siegen, expecting to be in the employ of the George Ritter and Company, and engaged in the mining of silver.  When that operation went bankrupt, Nathaniel Blakiston decided to send them on to Virginia, at the expense of Spotswood, but Spotswood did not participate in this decision.  Spotswood profited tremendously by the Germans, both the First and Second Colonies.  The First Colony found the iron ore for him (but did not build his iron furnace).  The Second Colony secured 40,000 acres of land for Spotswood.

Spotswood fared much better in his relations with the Germanic people than William Byrd did.  Byrd had attempted to recruit people from Switzerland, but the effort was a catastrophe.  As a by-product of this, there was an involvement with the Germanna citizens, as the ship chartered to bring Byrd's Switzers also was to bring about fifty people from around Freudenberg.  The majority of these never made it to Virginia.
(08 Nov 00)


Nr. 1025:

A book on one of our Germanna families was published this year.  It contains a number of errors in the general history, but the author was probably acting in good faith in passing along these errors.  The author thanks many family members who helped him, and, on the matters of family history, I have little to say.  For the general history, which is in error on several points, he thanks The Memorial Foundation of Germanna Colonists in Virginia.  The sad point is that many of the errors for which the Germanna Foundation was responsible have been corrected by others, but the Germanna Foundation continues to restate the same old errors.

Several of you may remember that I spent several Notes here showing the errors in an article in a publication of the Germanna Foundation.  This was in the publication called "Germanna", in the Summer of 1997 (vol. 5, number 3).  After I had exposed the errors, a vice-president of the Foundation said here that the Foundation was aware there were errors in the article, before they published it.  However, they did nothing to alert readers that they believed there were errors.  Nor did they ever publish corrective works.  What they have done is to continue to refer people, seeking information, to their publications, which contain errors.  So, our author, to whom I have referred in the first paragraph, unknowingly repeats the errors.

Our author states there were three colonies of Germans, and cites W. W. Scott.  The Germanna Foundation repeats this error, even to the extent of saying the Third Colony came in 1719, and consisted of approximately forty families, who were settled near Germanna (see the Germanna Foundation's web page for confirmation of this statement).  There is NO evidence that Germans, in numbers that would even come close to forty families, came in 1719.  While a few Germans probably did come in 1719, the numbers were far less than forty families.  Additionally, Germans were coming at a fairly steady pace, albeit irregularly, from year to year, so, it is not worthwhile to distinguish a so-called third colony from other Germans.

Our author states that Alexander Spotswood discovered iron ore lying about on the ground in the Rapidan River, of what was then Essex County.  This statement is taken from "Germanna" loc cit.  The web page for the Foundation implies much the same, by saying that Spotswood wanted miners for his mines.  I believe the original source for the statement was Willis Kemper, in his history of the Kemper Family.  What we can observe, with some confidence, is that when the First Germanna Colony came they were located twelve miles from the future site of Spotswood's iron mine (see the recent notes on William Byrd).  Doesn't it seem reasonable that if Spotswood did have an "iron mine" that he would have settled his miners at the mine, and not twelve miles away?

It struck Brawdus Martin, about the middle of this century, that the idea of the Germans being twelve miles away from the mine was ridiculous.  His answer was simple.  He simply composed false documents, and published them, to show that Germanna was not where we think it is, but was at the iron mine.  Had he thought the situation though, he would have realized the error was in the statement that Spotswood had found iron, and was seeking miners to develop these iron mines.  There is no evidence that Spotswood ever found any iron.
(10 Nov 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 FORTIETH set of Notes, Nr. 1001 through Nr. 1025.)


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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 1001 through 1025.


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