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This is the FIFTY-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 1401 through 1425.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 57

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Nr. 1401:

I recently published a synopsis of the Germanna Colonies which George Durman has placed on the Germanna Web page which he maintains (see the home page.) .  To some extent, that information duplicates the things that I often say here in the half-century notes.

If you have questions about the material that I included in that synopsis, I wish that you would bring them up either to the list or to me privately.  It would be a favor to see the type of thing that interests you.  Or if you think I have gone off the track, tell me.  My problem is that after fourteen hundred notes I am stumped some days for a topic to write about.

In that synopsis I presented material which varies from what is usually told.  I believe that my version is more correct, but not perfect.  We can all agree that we have a rich history and not all of it has been uncovered yet.  Finding this material is time consuming and takes a lot of work.

One aim of these notes is to develop an appreciation for the history of the Germanna Colonists and for the people who were in it.  We have made some headway in this direction, as I can tell from the mail, but our audience is potentially in the millions and we have not reached all of them yet.

The Rootsweb GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List exists for you to use in an active way.  I hope you do not remain a passive reader.  Become a participant even if you only ask questions or request information.
(06 Jun 02)

(To those of you who are new to Mailing Lists and Message Boards, you can find out what they are, and how to subscribe to them, on the Germanna Colonies Mailing Lists and Message Boards page.)

Nr. 1402:

We were in the midst of driving from Nürnberg to Jachenau, a north to south journey.  The first of these names may be familiar to you but very few of you will have heard of the second, Jachenau.  When you stand in the right spot there, you can see Austria.  Looking through the mountains with tunnel vision, you can see Innsbruck.  Northern Bavarian is relatively flat with gently rolling hills.  Southern Bavarian is ski country and this is a favorite activity of the Gudelius family whom we were going to see.  To them, the only thing better than skiing down a hill is climbing it first.

The father, Jost, and I may be related.  At least we both have ancestors who lived in the Siegen area.  We became acquainted through the Internet because of our common interest in the Siegen families.  We visited the family two years ago and this time we were amazed how much the four children have grown.  The oldest is Sara, now 18, a very grown-up age that permits her to drive now.  Josti is only a year behind her and he will be learning to drive soon.  Till is 15, and Axel is 13.  Axel very proudly showed us the German dances he is learning (and all in full dress also).  Josti is developing his skills with the whip.

The father, Jost, just celebrated his sixtieth birthday by climbing, with the two oldest boys, the highest mountain in Austria.  The mother, Claudia, is an M.D. who still practices some medicine, but chiefly she is a writer of novels.

When we visit the Gudelius family, we stay next door to them on a farm which has guest rooms.  It is a new facility with two rooms including a kitchenette, dining table, and generous bedroom.  The cost is only forty Euro and a generous breakfast for two is included.  It was the best lodging we had and, Euro for Euro, it was one of the lowest prices.  Since an Euro exchanges for about 92 cents, you can see we were paying about $36 dollars per night.

Jost helped me with two small problems that I had.  He called the archivist in the Lutheran Archives in Regensburg and made an appointment for the next Tuesday morning.  Then I told him of my problem of finding Kolmbach, a farm in extreme southeastern Bavaria.  It was no problem for him.  He pulled out a CD which has more detailed information than you would want and printed a series of maps which showed the exact road and house location.

Because of my Gaar and Utz ancestors, I tell Jost that I have more ancestors in Bavaria than he does.  He agrees, saying he has none.  However, southern Bavaria has become his choice for an adopted home.  He has spent some forty years living there and I have never heard him speak of moving away.

We spent Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday with them, and left on Thursday morning for Kolmbach.
(07 Jun 02)

Nr. 1403:

To understand why I was interested in Kolmbach, I will have to relate a little bit of history.  When my ancestor Hans Gahr was married in Regensburg in 1570, he said he was a farmer from "Kolnpach".  One can search all day and never find Kolnpach.  Changing the "p" to a "b" is a natural, but still there is no Kolnbach.  The next obvious thing to do is change the "n" to an "m", and this yields the name of a city in Germany.  However, the location of this city is not appropriate for the history of the Gahr/Gaar/Gar/Garr family.  My first break through was to find the name in a large German directory of place names which had two Kolmbachs.  What it said fit the largest concentration of Gahrs who live in Germany in the southeastern part of it.  Then I used a digital German gazetteer and it confirmed the location and added the information that it was a farm.  I knew approximately where it was and I expected to find it by asking questions.  Jost Gudelius solved the problem completely by giving me a detailed map which had the location on it.

First, we drove to Geratskirchen.  Following the map, we drove about a mile out of town.  As we drove along, a sign pointed to Kolmbach on a side road.  Driving along this road the first house we came to had a sign saying Kolmbach.  It is a country setting with farm land around it.

The next thing to do was to knock on the door.  At first, I couldn't raise anybody, but eventually an elderly lady came to the door.  She said no one was home and she did not want to talk to us.  She obviously was very afraid.  We left and drove on down the road another half-mile to the end of the road where there was another house.  Calling on them, a younger lady responded and she confirmed that at Kolmbach the younger folk were at work and mother was home alone.  While we were talking, the telephone rang.  Eleanor made a little bet that it was from Kolmbach.  And she was right.

Kolmbach may still have some farmland, but the inhabitants do not make their living that way.  I do believe that this is the farm where Hans Gahr lived for a while though much modified through the centuries.  Probably at one time, Kolmbach was larger than it is today.  It was probably a farm where several families lived.  It may have been comparable in size to some of the places that have grown into villages.

Friedrich Gaar, in Obermichelbach, says that the Gaars came from Austria and that they were forced out of the country.  At Kolmbach we were only about fifteen miles from Austria.  Finding any history earlier than 1600 will be difficult.  There are conflicting reports as to where the Protestant records for Kolmbach are located.  It is at least encouraging that someone says they are located somewhere.

Friedrich Gaar cannot trace his line back to Hans Gahr, but the family of Theodore Walker sponsored research which traces Andreas Gaar back to Hans Gahr.  Based on other research of the Walker family, it is possible to trace Friedrich Gaar back to Hans Gahr, as an ancestor of Friedrich was a brother to Andreas Gaar of Germanna.

Having proved nothing except that Kolmbach does exist, and is a named location, we went on to Austria with a couple of objectives in mind.
(08 Jun 02)

Nr. 1404:

Just about midday we had found Kolmbach and eaten lunch.  At the restaurant, no had heard of the name Gahr (an alternative form of Gaar/Garr), even though a few hundred of them live not too far away.  After lunch, we drove into Austria.  Crossing the border is a non-entity.  A sign says "Entering Austria", but that is the only thing that told us we in Austria.  On the trip two years ago, we stopped and got some schillings to spend, but that was unnecessary this time as our Euro were good there.

Our destination was around Gresten, a town of about fifteen hundred people.  On the last trip we had met Florian Berger who had generously offered us help.  We have in stayed in contact, principally through email.  I had alerted him that we probably would be coming to Gresten this particular weekend (it was now Thursday).  As we pulled into the Guest House where we had stayed before, I spotted Florian driving by and he spotted us.  We waved to each other and then he came back to say hello.  We agreed to eat dinner together the next night.

Friday we went to visit some of the farms that are significant in Germanna history.  The first was Plankenbichl, where Kilian Planckenbühler was living in 1600.  (Kilian was the common ancestor of Richard Plankenbühler in Nürnberg and myself.)  On the farm, we had difficulty finding anyone, and we saw that the old house was not being kept up.  Eventually, people appeared and we found that the Dallhammers had moved to the adjacent farm.  Two years ago they were living on the Plankenbichl farm.  We got some of the story from them and some of it from Florian at a later time.  Mrs. Dallhammer’s family owns the farm and there have been some problems among the family members.  Eleanor suggests that the farm might be purchased cheaply.  Then we could set up a bed and breakfast and cater to the visiting Blankenbakers.

At the Pletzenberg farm, we were welcomed by Leopold Scharner, who, as far as I know, has lived there forever.  He is cutting back on the farming a bit.  Previously he had some dairy cows, but the government wanted him to put in cooling tanks for the milk and he decided the return on his investment would not be justified.  So now he is just raising cows.  In the two years since we saw him, he completed the renovations on his old house, including the conversion of it into two apartments.

The third farm was the Scheiblau place, which I had identified from photographs after we came home from the previous trip.  On making an actual comparison to the physical farms, I saw that the Scheiblau farm was actually next door to the one I had identified as it earlier.  The Scheiblau farm has now been converted to a lumber processing and manufacturing facility.  This was very characteristic.  The old farms will no longer return a living to the owners and they are being converted to other purposes, in some cases, guest houses.  (I believe that Scheiblau is probably the home of the Scheibles in the Germanna community and, hence, of the Holts.)

We did some sightseeing and visiting neighboring villages and towns in the afternoon, and then we had dinner with Florian and his wife Elizabeth.  During the day I had been showing the signs of a cold.
(10 Jun 02)

Nr. 1405:

When I woke up on Saturday, my cold was worse, and I stayed in bed for the morning.  Eleanor, on her own, drove over to Scheibs.  The rest of the day is a bit foggy to me, but I seem to remember that Eleanor came home about lunch time.  One of the things that we did in the afternoon was to visit the Rathaus (city hall), to see if they had copies of the map showing the farms in the area.  They didn’t, but the clerk promised to try using his digital camera and take a series of photos of the large map posted on a wall across the street.  We were dubious but he wanted to try it.  The map came in the mail today.  He took four shots of a map and printed them and pieced them together to make one.  It is far better than anything else we have at this time.

We also visited the local museum.  It was almost like visiting a small town museum here.  Nothing spectacular but if you are in Gresten, don’t miss it.  The building that it was in was used as a Catholic chapel when the main church in town was Lutheran from about 1570 to 1630.

We had been investigating taking the train to Vienna.  Florian Berger said what they did was to drive to point near Vienna and then take the train the rest of the way.  We decided to drive all the way, with Eleanor at the wheel and John reading the maps.  Our objective was to see a particular street, Plankenbüchler Gasse, named for a sub-mayor of Vienna.  A "Gasse" is a short, or smaller, street.  In this case it was four blocks long and was located on the far side of Vienna across the Danube River.  Nearly all of the buildings along it have been built or rebuilt since World War II.  It is primarily apartment buildings, at least four stories high, which seem to be inhabited by professionals.  (There is a road named "Blankenbaker" here in the US.  It is in Kentucky, outside Louisville close to Jeffersontown.)

After we had walked the entire length of the street, photographing every Plankenbüchler street sign, we went to the big art museum and spent some time there before driving back to Gresten.  This particular Sunday was seven weeks after Easter and therefore a semi-holiday.  The following day, a Monday, was Whit Monday, if I remember my terminology correctly.  This is also a semi-holiday.

In the morning we left Gresten with the objective of getting close to Regensburg, where we had an appointment in the archives the next morning.  It was not very far out of our way to go by Kollerschlag in Austria, which is only a few miles from Germany.  This village was of interest because the owner of the cafeteria in the building where Eleanor works hails from there and has several relatives there, including his mother and father.  When we reached there, we took pictures to show we had visited the town.  Then we decided to eat.  Eleanor asked the waiter if he knew the Mayer family and he said yes.  Georg Mayer was a good friend of his so he said he would call him and have him come to the restaurant.  He did and a lively conversation ensued in English as Georg speaks English.  Then Georg insisted we go home with him and meet his parents and another brother.  We did and we spent perhaps an hour with the family.  They were all very excited that a friend of their son in America would stop.  We had to take some cookies that his mother had baked to him.
(11 Jun 02)

Nr. 1406:

We had an appointment at 8:00 on Tuesday morning to visit the Lutheran Archives for Bavaria, which are in Regensburg.  We arrived outside Regensburg Monday evening, where we took a room and ate supper.  After supper we drove on to Regensburg to find the Archives and to see what sort of parking problem we might have.  The old city does not have much room for parking but we spotted some garages on the periphery of the old city.  We located the building that the Archives are in so we were feeling more comfortable that we could be there at 8:00.

In the morning, we found a parking garage and found our way over to the Archives.  Already the place was going.  The staff of two was there and two other visitors were there.  I believe there were four microfiche readers.  We explained our objectives which was to make some copies of material in the Illenschwang church books.  They brought out the index cards for Illenschwang where they (Illenschwang pastors) seemed to have followed the policy of entering everything (marriages, births, deaths, and communicants) in one book.  I could readily spot the year, 1732, we wanted.  Very quickly we had the microfiche cards in our hands.  Since the Garr authors had implied that the material we wanted would be found in the front of the book, we tried there and found it immediately.  I could see right away that there were two pages that pertained to the Garrs.  There was another page just prior to this on another subject, but it was written only the year before so we decided we should have it also.  The staff makes the copies after noting the pages we wanted.  Very quickly we had copies of the three pages.  They told us that it was five Euro per copy, plus five Euro for just coming in the door.  The head of this section of the archives had been very cool to us.  We obviously were upsetting his plans for the day.  His assistant was much friendlier and helpful.  But after we had fulfilled our objectives in thirty minutes, he opened up and displayed a knowledge of English.  Then he had to fetch his photographic book of his thirty-day vacation in America and show us the pictures.  Only an archivist could have prepared such a neat book.

From Regensburg we went to Walderbach (not to be confused with Waldbach which we visited also) where Catharina Kirner, the great-great-grandmother of Andreas Gaar who came to America in 1732, was born and baptized in 1562.  Catharina's daughter married Thomas Gahr/Gar in Regensburg.  Thomas' father was the Hans Gahr of Kolmbach.  Catharina married Wolf Waidehoefel of Zenzing.  Earlier researchers had given his home as Sinzing, which is a good distance from Walderbach, but I had observed that there was a Zenzing, which is only about a mile from Walderbach.  The probability that this place, Zenzing, was his home was much higher.  So we took that in also.  Here there were four or five farms and one small chapel, which, from the outside, was one of the prettiest churches we saw in Germany.  Right now, I have no idea whether there were church records for Zenzing which have been maintained.

Our next stop was to go to Klings, but that was some distance away.  We started driving in that direction but we only got to Ostheim, which was a random pick for a place to stay.  The fates were with us and we were rewarded well for our choice.
(12 Jun 02)

Nr. 1407:

At first glance, the village of Ostheim seemed to have no special attraction.  It even seemed not to have any guest houses where we could stay, but inquiries disclosed there was a hotel off the main street where we obtained the last room available.  The rooms were on the ground level which is a rarity in Germany.  It was a fairly large hotel and the rooms seemed to have been taken by a touring group.  At dusk they convened in chairs on the lawn and sang songs.

In the morning we looked around the village some.  The main attraction was the large church which was built inside an old walled village.  While we did not have all of the details, it appears that there was an old walled village that was not too large.  In the midst of this, they tore down some of the buildings to make room for the church but they tore down no more than necessary for the church.  The remaining buildings seem to have been kept in approximately their original condition.  As you walked among these buildings, there were really only walking paths, not streets.  The buildings were of many shapes and descriptions but predominantly just a jumble.  Never had a situation so suggested what early villages might have looked like.  Chaotic is the best word.

Incidentally, we were now in former East Germany, but the visual distinction was hard.  Perhaps there were fewer facilities, such as restaurants and guest houses and filling stations.  Our objective was Klings, the village from where Cyriacus Fleshman of the 1717 Colony came.  We were not sure what we would find.  My map indicated very poor roads, perhaps only hiking trails.  We were expecting a small isolated village.  As we drove along the main road, we came to the point where we might be able to turn to Klings.  Sure enough, there was a street sign pointing to Klings.  We had to have a picture of this.  Only after taking it did I notice a truck, almost under the sign, which had the name of the owner painted on it.  It said Fleischmann.  Right away we felt that perhaps we were in the right place.

In about a mile over a perfectly good road we came to the village, which was not large, but the houses looked substantial and in good condition.  We drove immediately to the church and found the cemetery.  The most common name in the cemetery is Fleischmann.  Everyone in the village must be related to Fleischmanns in multiple ways.  I am not a Fleischmann myself but I will bet that the majority of the people are my step cousins.

In a limited conversation with a resident tending a grave site, we learned that the church is still used, though they do not have an exclusive pastor.  One comes a limited number of Sundays.  There may be church books somewhere but that is only a guess on my part.

When someone says that Cyriacus Fleischmann (or his father, Veltin) came from Klings, I have to believe them.  We returned to the main road and spent some time finding a restaurant.  One other table was occupied by a family who seemed different (the father was wearing a coat and tie).  We struck up a conversation in English and learned they were Jehovah Witnesses who were out calling on people.  They were German and they were attempting to build a congregation in the area where they already had a few members.  Such churches, as a group, are called the Free Protestant churches.
(13 Jun 02)

Nr. 1408:

One day begins to look like another day and I can't remember just what transpired after we left Klings.  We must have stayed somewhere.  On the next day the objective was to reach Siegen, but we had plenty of time so we planned a leisurely trip.  The first place we stopped was Herborn, not far from Siegen.  Herborn has many half-timbered structures and is a rather interesting place to visit.  We were beginning to feel that we were at Siegen because of the names that popped up.  We had Richter Optics and Steinseifer Hardware.

Herborn had an earlier university but it is gone.  There is a Lutheran Seminary in the old Herborn Schloss.

We were now traveling in a narrow valley.  Because of the difficulty in expanding away from the road, all of the space along the road is used.  Shortly, we reached Eisern.  We stopped here because I was disappointed in the photos from the last trip.  The present day was misty and, given the character of the town, it was going to be difficult to get good pictures.  In Eisern, the favorite material for covering a house from the roof ridge to the walls down to the ground is gray slate.  Grey slate is not exciting but the owners and builders have compensated for this by the variety of patterns with which the tiles are used.

After Eisern we went directly to the hotel in Buchen where we stayed.  Then we went out to Fellinghausen where there is a demonstration Hauberg.  Progress in harvesting the oak bark and wood was slower this year than two years ago.  One plot also had grain, a feature we had not seen two years ago.  Grain was traditionally planted between the oaks stumps after the oaks were cut off.  Because the roots or stumps were not grubbed out, it meant that "ploughing" the ground and working it up were difficult.  For a few years, until the oaks had grown enough to be competition for the grain, grain was planted.  So a Hauberg could yield large wood for charcoal, small wood for heating and cooking, bark for the tanneries, and grain for food.  The process was inefficient but the need for the raw materials forced the endeavor.

From Fellinghausen we went to Muesen, the home of several Germanna families.  In the cemetery we found these names: Kampfer, Brombach, Weber, and Martin.

On Friday, we first visited Oberholzklau and Niederholzklau.  We were intending to go into Siegen, but we decided to stop by Trupbach and see if we could make contact with Lars Bohn.  He answered the door himself and said he was in the midst of a month's vacation.  Lars is very interested in history and in this regard he is following in the footsteps of his father who started the book of Trupbach history though he did not live to complete it.

Some of you may know Lars who has attended a Germanna Reunion.  Two years ago a personal tragedy struck him and we were very interested in knowing how he was recovering.  We are very happy to report that he has recovered and is busy planning new history ventures.  I will tell you more about my sixth cousin tomorrow.
(14 Jun 02)

Nr. 1409:

We were with Lars Bohn in his home in Trupbach.  One of the very first things that he told me was that he had rummaged in the attic and found some of the notes his historian father had left.  One notebook was of a personal nature.  It was the genealogy of Udo Bohn, Lars' father.  Lars had compared the names to the names in the "Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia", by B. C. Holtzclaw.  There was one name that was common to his father's ancestry and to some of the Germanna people .  This was Tillmann Hofmann of Eisern.  I said, "Lars if that is correct, than you and I are cousins."  I worked out the relationship and found that Lars and I were sixth cousins with one remove.

Tillman Hofmann was the grandfather of Johannes Hofmann, 1714 immigrant, and Johannes Heinrich Hofmann, 1743 immigrant, and of Johann Wilhelm Hofmann, an immigrant to Pennsylvania.  All three of the younger men were brothers.  The fourth and last brother, who did not emigrate, was Hermann.

Lars has one room in his house which he calls his museum.  He does have some older things in it, many of which have a personal connection.  There is an Edison cylindrical phonograph, two reed (or pump) organs, other musical instruments, tools used in the haubergs, yards and yards of linens, clothing, and books.  Lars likes his cousin's wife so much that he gave Eleanor a bonnet that had been used by his great-grandmother.

Lars and Eleanor struck it off very well because they sing hymns together, Lars in German and Eleanor in English.  The tune is the same and the words say essentially the same thing.  Some of these hymns originated in Germany, some in America.  Lars belongs to one of the Free Protestant Churches of a conservative nature.  They have a modern church on a hilltop in Trupbach.

Lars wants to do another illustrated history book on the houses of Trupbach.  He knows all of the houses and has hopes someday of owning one of the old houses.  So as we took the tour of the village, he could tell us who lived in each of the houses in 1713.  Of course, he knows everyone in town, having lived there all of his young life.

We went to lunch together in Freudenberg.  On the previous trip, we visited this village twice for photographic purposes, so we did not break out the cameras this time.  Freudenberg is very picturesque as you can tell by the photos on the Germanna pages.

That evening, Eleanor and I went into Siegen to the Schwarzbrunnen restaurant.  This is one of our favorite places in Germany.  The place is in the old city, only two doors away from the house where Reubens was born.
(15 Jun 02)

Nr. 1410:

Originally, we had reserved Saturday morning for meeting with Lars Bohn but this was fulfilled by the time with him on Friday.  Our next objective was Kettenbach where we wanted to attend Sunday church services.  Kettenbach is the home of Martin Zerby, an ancestor of Eleanor.

We decided to take a detour from Siegen to Kettenbach by way of Cologne.  We are always nervous about driving in the large cities but we got in without much difficulty and found a parking garage.  Eleanor had visited Cologne many times decades ago so she wondered if she could remember anything.  She decided they had moved the cathedral.  We opted to visit an art museum and have lunch after which we continued our trip on to Kettenbach.

When we got to Kettenbach, we went to the church and checked the schedule of services.  It seemed there would be a service Sunday morning at 10:30.  Then we needed a place to stay but there are none in Kettenbach.  We went to Michelbach which is about one mile south of Kettenbach and about a half mile out of town we found a guest house by the name of Zimmerman's Mill.  There was an adjoining restaurant and we went there for dinner.  As we were concluding dinner, I decided to ask the waitress what all of the preparations were about.  We did not get far with our limited German and another patron helped out.

The activity which we had seen and not understood was the setting up outside of tables for a hundred people plus a couple of cook tents and a sound system tent.  At first we understood there was to be a bicycle race tomorrow on the one road through the valley.  The road was to be closed to automobile traffic.  We said that we needed to get to Kettenbach for the church service.  They said that it was only two kilometers and we could walk.  But in addition to church we needed to be on the way with our trip.  Finally, they saw our problem and gave us a solution.  Before eight in the morning, we had to move our car to the pasture.  Then we could use the lane along the pasture until we came out in Michelbach and then we could get through to Kettenbach on city streets that were not closed.  We decided that we should walk over the route on Saturday night.  As we came off the lane and onto the streets of Michelbach, we met and explained to a man what we were trying to do.  He offered a fuller explanation in great detail of what we had to do.

Sunday morning we were up early and packed our bags and loaded the car and moved it to the pasture.  Then we ate breakfast and set out for the church in Kettenbach.  It turned out to be no problem and we were at the church long before the time of the service.  This gave us time to walk around the village and take some photos.  We waited outside the church and the pastor came back from a service at another church and we talked with him.  He told us there would be a special service, not in the church, but in the public square.

The event, for which the road had been closed, was "family day."  Anyone could use the road as long as they walked, bicycled, rollerbladed, or propelled themselves by any means other than an internal combustion engine.  As people went up and down the road, places such as Zimmermann's Mill were offering food, drink, and entertainment.  We decided to skip all of this and continue on our trip.
(17 Jun 02)

Nr. 1411:

We had to leave Kettenbach by the third road, the one that was not closed for the special events.  It was easy to get over to Koblenz or more particularly the Rhine River.  This section of the Rhine is called the middle Rhine and per mile it has the most castles and vineyards.  The geography on the Rhine in this region is different also.  The Rhine cuts though the hills which rise rather sharply and immediately from the river.  The vineyards are vertical, it seems to me.  The scenery is popular with tourists, domestic and foreign, and many boats on the Rhine take people for an outing.  I had done this more than forty years ago and I had wanted then to visit the land, the roads, the vineyards, and the castles more closely.  We decided to spend our "last hours" in doing just that.

We were attracted to Stolzenfels, a castle restored in the 1800s, not as a Burg but as a Schloss.  A Burg is a fortified home; a Schloss is a palace, a home without fortifications.  Though Stolzenfels was originally a castle, by the 1800s fortifications were ridiculous.  Someone undertook to rebuild Stolzenfels, which was then in ruins, as a summer palace.  It had a modern look about it but still it lacked many conveniences that we would take for granted today.  It did have a great view of the Rhine River and of a couple of other castles.  Such restorations were expensive.

The vineyards have always been a mystery to me.  The land is steep.  The rows run up and down hill, not on a constant elevation as in contour farming.  I still do not understand why the soil does not wash down.  It would seem to me to be uncomfortable to work the vineyards.  At one place we had a demonstration of how it could be done.  At the top, one man with a tractor had a cable winch.  He let another man and a sprayer down the hill between the rows.  The man with the sprayer was walking backwards and guiding the sprayer.  At the bottom he turned the sprayer off, lowered the cultivator blades into the soil, and sat on the contraption.  Then the entire apparatus and the man were towed up the hill.  As another note, the soil is very rocky.  By weight it was perhaps 50%.  This particular vineyard was devoted to Riesling wine so we had to taste it with our dinner.  It was good.  (The innkeeper was also the vineyard and winery owner.  Guess whose wine he served.)

That night we stayed in Bacharach.  There was no shortage of guest houses as many Germans vacation along this section of the Rhine.  The larger villages are T shaped.  One road runs parallel to the river as does the railroad.  Another road runs away from the river, back up a valley into the hills.  On the other side of the river, there are another road and another railroad.  In between, the river also serves as a commercial route with many barges.  In this middle section, the river is sometimes narrow, the currents rapid, the turns sharp.  There is an elaborate signaling system to keep the barge captains informed.
(18 Jun 02)

Nr. 1412:

We were just a long throw of a stone from the Rhine River and we had our last full day to spend.  So we decided to take in a couple more "castles."  The first was Rhinefels which was truly a castle but is now a ruin.  One noteworthy thing about it is its size.  At its largest, it covered tens of acres or hundreds of acres if one counted the outer works.  Its walls rose six and seven stories above the base rock and they were corresponding thick.  It was attacked once and the siege lasted more than a year but it held.  Enough of it remains so that not a lot of imagination is required to picture it as a castle.  There is a museum in one part.

Who owns these "castles"?  Some are in private hands and closed to the public because the owner is living in it.  Sometimes he may open a part of it for exhibitions.  Two years ago this was the case with Gutenberg Castle on the Neckar River.  Some of the castles are owned by a state agency which tries to preserve as many as are worthwhile.

Our next selection was Marksburg on the other side of the Rhine.  There aren’t many bridges across the Rhine here but there are a few ferries.  The pilot Eleanor said she would try to reach the other side this way.  The biggest problem was finding the loading ramp and then the wait was minimal.  The crossing was so fast that I hardly had time to change the film in my camera.  I had taken so many shots of the Rhine that I felt the need to take some from the Rhine.

Once that we were on land again on the east side, we had only to drive north (DOWN the river) about fifteen miles and we would be at Marksburg.  Barely had we pointed the car north when we encountered a sign which said "Road Closed ­ Detour".  Now the Germans may be efficient but they do a poor job at directing traffic along a detour.  In fact, they don’t even seem to attempt.  After one encounters the Detour sign, then one is left to find some way to get beyond the detour.  With the river on our west side and the road blocked on the north, we had to go east for a while, then north, then west again.  But with my skills in navigating, we did find our way to Marksburg which sits on a hill top overlooking the Rhine.

The noteworthy thing about Marksburg is that it is about 95% intact.  It was never destroyed.  Therefore it affords a good picture of what life was like in the medieval ages, say the fourteenth century.  What impressed me the most was the confusing layout of the parts.  Of course, the basic site on which any castle sits has a strong influence on how the castle is built.  Marksburg sits on the top of a cone-shaped hill so it lacked much room to spread out.  As a result, it is cramped.

Of the three castles that we visited, I would pick Marksburg as my favorite.  Marksburg uses guided tours.  The leader could talk in both German and English and since the English speakers/listeners outnumbered the Germans he spoke more English than Germans.  As we went around, it was obvious that the Americans were woefully weak on history.  We had a late lunch on the site and then crossed over the Rhine again (on a bridge) and headed up the river (to the south) toward the Frankfurt airport.
(19 Jun 02)

Nr. 1413:

We concluded our last full day in Germany by driving back to the vicinity of the Frankfurt airport.  Our attempts at finding a room were frustrating.  We were close enough to Frankfurt that guest houses are not so common.  Hotels, which have higher prices, replace the guest houses in this situation.  So we tried driving away from the high population densities toward a more rural area.  Very quickly we found ourselves in the more typical village environment.  But still we didn't find any guest houses.  Then we asked someone on the street and their answer didn't help us (they tried to help).  Somehow, while we were lost, we came across a restaurant and we remembered that they had been helpful once.  So we asked and he said, "Across the street."  Now one would think with an instruction that simple, we could find a room.  All I could find was an office, another restaurant, and an auto repair shop.  Finally, I tried an unmarked door and, behold, I was in a place that took people for the night.  It is true that on the roof, about three stories up, there was a little sign saying, "Hotel."  There is a moral to this story.  Sometimes you have to be patient and sometimes you have to ask.  (I prefer the frustrations of finding a place to having the environment cluttered with signs.)

With the exception of gasoline, we found prices to be more economical for food and housing than in the U.S.  If we had been touring around in the States for three weeks, we would have spent more money.  The cost of our car rental was respectable.  But it does make a big difference whether you are in the larger cities or in a village.  And it makes a difference whether the particular spot is a Mecca for German tourists.

Is it difficult to navigate around especially if one is visiting small villages?  It is helpful to have a navigator and a very detailed map.  And you have to hope that you do not encounter any detours.  Though we were never sure what we find over the next hill, there really were not any serious surprises.  The map was misleading in that the villages and towns were built up more than the map indicated.  Klings, on the map, seemed like a few houses buried in the middle of a nature preserve.  It actually has 550 inhabitants and the roads to it are appropriate for carrying that number of people.

There are a lot of research projects suggested by the trip.  Can the Gaars be carried back to an earlier time than Hans Gahr of Kolmbach?  Can some of the history of Cyriacus Fleshman be found?

We had a lot of fun visiting our cousins, even if they weren't very close.  They were a very nice bunch of people.

Unfortunately, my strategy of wearing a coat and tie did not get us elevated to the business class on the airplane.  But in coming home one can tolerate more unpleasantness than in starting a trip.  We are now busy sorting and labeling our 1800(?) pictures (53 rolls of film).
(20 Jun 02)

Nr. 1414:

Having arrived back home, one question was whether anything had changed.  I looked into the Internet and checked out the Blankenbaker ancestry.  When I left, I thought that Johann Thomas Blankenbuehler in Neuenbürg had been the father of four children, namely, Hans Nicolas, Hans Balthasar, Hans Matthias, and Anna Maria.

The first place that I looked said that Johann Thomas Blankenbühler was the father of ten children.  Four of the proposed ten children I recognized.  However, even for these four, some of the facts are not correct.  Going through the ten quickly,

  1. John Nicholas B. was born in 1695 in Bavaria (according to the Web information).  Now, it is a documented fact that he was born in 1682, in the Lands of the Bishops of Speyer.  Later this became Baden, but it was never Bavaria.  It is said that he died in 1743 in Madison County, Virginia.  Of course, there was no Madison County in 1743.

  2. Mary or Margaret B. was born in 1690 in Alsace and was christened in Madison, Virginia (again, according to the Web information).  There never was such a person and the B’s never lived in Alsace, and she would have been 102 when she was christened in Madison Co., Virginia.  Maybe this is the one that married Michael Willheit.

  3. Matthias B.  The facts for him are close to being correct, though I do not know the source of his death date as 21 Apr 1763.

  4. Hans Nicolaus B.  This is the same name as number 1 above.  This time the facts given for this person are approximately correct.
    [Note from SgtGeorge:  I suppose some researchers of German ancestors have just never learned that "Hans", "John", "Johan", "Johann", and "Johannes" are all equivalent given names.  Looks like a sad case of ignorance to me.]

  5. Hans Balthasar Blankenbuehler.  The facts for him (on the Web) are essentially correct (b. 1683).  He died in Madison Co., VA.

  6. Ursely Ruop.  No further information given but she belongs in another family.
    [Another Note from SgtGeorge:  How in blue hades did she end up as a child of Johann Thomas BLANKENBÜHLER?  This woman was the wife of Johannes BREYHEL (BROYLES), our BROYLES/BRILES 2nd Colony ancestor!]

  7. Hans Balthasar Blankenbaker.  Compare to 5. above.  Only this one was born in 1688.

  8. Anna Maria Blankenbaker was born about 1700 (according to the data on the Web).  (1687 would be more correct.)

  9. Susannah Blankenbaker was born in 1696 in Alsace and she died before 1762 in Culpeper Co., VA.

  10. Anna Maria Blankenbuehler.

One is left wondering how such a pile of junk could be accumulated.  If one worked hard at doing it, it is still a mystery how it could be done.

One thought is that the source of this information is isolated and not communicating with the rest of the world.  If he/she were talking and working with others, he/she surely would be informed of his/her errors.  He/she should have been aware of his/her own inconsistencies though.  Or, is this a person who accumulates every superposition that was ever made and puts them all into one file?  Perhaps he/she is semi-automated and merges together every file that he/she can find.  Does he/she even look at the resulting product?  The moral is:


A lens replacement in my right eye tomorrow will take me out of commission for a few days.
(21 Jun 02)

Nr. 1415:

(The notes may be issued sporadically while my eye is recovering, but so far I am doing well with the new lens.)

I was preparing some photos for George to post on the Germanna page when RootsWeb solves their problems.  I was doing some work with photos of maypoles and a few general thoughts came to me.  The maypoles go up all over Germany on the first of May.  It has become a contest to see who can put up the highest and best.  Each of them seems to be one tree trunk, and splicing seems not to be allowed.  I am taking a guess, but it seems some of them reach 150 feet into the air.

One of the rules of the game is that the pole must be erected with human labor only.  No machines can be used to erect the pole.  When the day comes to put the pole up, it must be that every man and boy turns out to help.  From what I saw at a couple of the poles, a sloping trench is dug up to the hole that the pole will stand in.  The butt of the pole starts in this trench and as the top end is lifted, the butt slides into the final hole and can’t get away.

We saw more color and decoration on the poles this year.  One motif used in decorating the pole, which we did not see in 2000, was to leave the bark on the pole.  This was carved away to make geometric and scenic designs, using the contrast between the dark bark and the blond wood.

In the year 2000, we saw many of the symbols of the trades mounted on the poles.  See the photos of Ötisheim in 2000 for an example.  This year there was some variation on that.  Because the smaller communities are being administratively combined with larger communities, we saw poles with the names of several communities that probably contributed to the effort for a unified pole.

After the pole is erected, it could be decorated by the expedient of having a pulley at the top and a rope to the ground.  Then material and labor could be hoisted up.

Because this seemed to be a cooler May than in 2000, the decorations were staying fresher.  The cool weather also delayed the flowers this year.

It is said that in days past, the boys from one village would attempt to climb the pole in a neighboring village and to vandalize it.  I am sure that the boys do not act that way any more.  Elke Hall told us something about such behavior earlier.  Maybe she will comment more on the subject of maypoles.
(24 Jun 02)

Nr. 1416:

[The guest writer today is Betty Johnson, who amplifies so well the point that I made recently about "Do Not Copy, Investigate".  With her permission, I have extracted some of her thoughts, to give them a more permanent home.    John]

"We are looking at more than 80 years of misinformation that needs correcting [in this case, Yager history, but true for all families].  I am in total agreement with Jan [another researcher], who does not want to make premature public statements.

"I think you should know what has gone into these "fortuitous" discoveries.  Forgive me, but I have to point out what is involved:  Only a small portion of reliable data can be found on the Internet, or in published compilations and abstracts.  Even today, research still requires much travel to many courthouses and libraries, ordering microfilm of deeds, tax records, etc., waiting weeks for it to reach your local library, then sitting for countless hours staring at indecipherable handwriting on microfilm readers for days at a time.  We won’t even talk about lifting heavy books, destroying one’s eyesight, or the permanent kinks in wrist, neck, and back muscles.  Accumulating the masses of data is just the first step - and I do mean masses ­ every little bit and piece.  It then has to be sorted out.

"Deeds, wills, estate sales, court orders, church records, marriage records, land tax records, and personal property tax records, and anything else that turns up ­ all have to be studied.  The hardest part is examining long-accepted work ­ published work ­ to see if its sources are reliable.  Does the compiler cite sources at all?  The sheer vagueness of much printed material is maddening!  I am driven to distraction by family histories which list a sort of bibliography at the end, without stating clearly just which statement is backed up by which source.  So many take data from two or more sources and splice it together for no good reason.  We are evidently to assume divine revelation.

"One has to memorize names and landmarks to be able to recognize them when they recur, and to make the appropriate connections between them.  Jan has traveled across many states to do hands-on research in Spotsylvania, Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Counties in VA.  I live much closer ­ only 6 hours away by car ­ but it’s still not that easy to make the time and allocate the funds to spend days or weeks in small VA towns.  Our spouses point out more advantageous uses for these funds ­ like ocean cruises!  One of the major jobs is keeping our families happy while we neglect them in favor of dead relatives we might not have even liked, had we known them."

Betty Johnson

(25 Jun 02)

Nr. 1417:

[This note is courtesy of Elke Hall, who admits to a personal knowledge of some of the events to be described; however, she credits a seventh grade class in Tübingen for this information.    John]

"Walburgis Night.    Te last night in April, is Walburgis Night which originated with a heathen spring celebration.  The villagers drove out the bad spirits with the sound of whips, pipes, drums, and all sort of noise.  They burned and smoked out the bad spirits with fires.  Because of the association with witches and druids, the (Catholic) church tried to divert attention in other ways by dedicating the day to St. Walpurga, who died in 778 as the abbess of the Abbey of Heidenheim.  She was the patron saint for maids and farm women, and was the protector for magicians, who could counteract the ominous acts of witches and demons.

"To help ward off witches and bad spirits, young men painted a cross with chalk on the backs of people, and on doors, shutters, and streets.  The farmers positioned their farm utensils, wagons, and moveables in the shape of a cross.  Stockings were placed in front of the bed in the shape of a cross.  Gradually, the young men turned their attention from warding off evil to playing pranks and generally being mischievous.

"In the night of Walburgis, when the witches ride to the hills, the 'wild boys' played their mischief.  They removed shutters, oven doors, and garden gates.  They dismantled farm wagons and carts, they rerouted the water pipes, they connected water jugs or liquid manure barrels with the door handle, so they would empty when the door is opened.

"Today they cover cars and trees with toilet paper, they squeeze toothpaste or shaving cream on cars, door bells, mailboxes, and telephone booths..  They remove and hide garden furniture, garbage cans, and flower boxes; they 'rename' the signs on the village, stores, etc.  They 'clean' the housebells (ring the bells in the house and then run away).  [Elke confesses to having done this a few times.    John]

"They attach cans to vehicles with strings.  They tape closed telephone booths, mailboxes, and speaker systems on houses.  Some other mischief and destruction is not acceptable:  lipstick or spray paint on cars and walls; eggs on houses or cars; chewing gum on benches or door locks.  It is vorboten to empty garbage cans, destroy gardens or parks, to set off fireworks in mailboxes, or to lift covers off street sewers."

Elke Hall

The name Walpurgis, or Walburgis, or Walpurga, entered the Germanna community with Walburga Weber, sister of Peter Weber (Weaver), and future wife of John Willheit.  Down at the church she was known as Burga.  (She has erroneously been called Margaret or Peggy.)
(26 Jun 02)

Nr. 1418:

[I am using the information about May Poles sent by Elke Hall, who credits a school class in Germany as her source.  Of course, Elke has a personal knowledge of the subject as well.  If you want to do a search on the web for May Pole, you should probably use the word "Maibaum" or "Maibäume", which means "May Tree", or, as we know it, "May Pole".]

The custom is centuries old and seems to be connected with Walburgentag, the last day of April.  On this day, a tree was cut and displayed as a symbol of spring.  At first, the birch tree was used, because it was an early tree to be in leaf and therefore a harbinger of spring.  In time, the desire for height became dominant and the emphasis switched to the spruce and pine trees.  The land owners and the church opposed the idea because the owners did not want to lose a tree, and the church saw it as a pagan festival.  After the tree was erected, the villagers were to dance under and around the tree to drive out the bad spirits.

Properly, the tree was to be cut on Walburgentag and erected on the next day, the first of May.  At least some of the trees that I [John] have seen have had so much work done on them that I find it hard to believe that they could be cut on one day and erected on the next.

As the trees became larger, it became harder to erect them in the village.  I [John] have been told by a German that no machines can be used to erect the poles, but an authoritative person, namely Elke, says that machines are used today.  A procedure developed for putting them up using manual labor only, and it appears that half of the fun lay in standing the pole upright.  The problem is, as the 100 foot (or even more) pole is tipped up, that a person can no longer reach the pole to push on it.  So push poles are used in pairs, with a fabric or rope connection between the pair of push poles to provide the contact to the May Pole.  During the erection process it is possible to call a halt to the operation.  Then the labor can catch its breath and get some refreshment.

The best analogy here in the U.S. is a barn raising, where the framing for the side of a barn is built on the ground and tipped up into place.  Even though the timbers are massive, the use of a lot of labor directly, and with push poles and ropes, can put the side of a barn into place.

Actually the best way to understand and see how it is done is on a website for which Elke gave us the address, which is

I just tried this URL and it worked.  The pictures are great.  And they furnish a much better understanding of the process than I have given.
(27 Jun 02)

Nr. 1419:

A correspondent recently wrote that the land patents in Virginia were hard to understand.  Assuming that we all understand the basic concept in the sale of a piece of land, it is not hard to understand that the patents are nothing more than a record of the first ever sale of a piece of land...

Virginia was a Royal Colony in the eighteenth century.  That meant that the land was in the ownership of the Crown.  Unlike Pennsylvania, where the Crown sold the whole colony of Pennsylvania to William Penn, in Virginia the Crown retained the ownership of the land..  They, the Crown, were interested in selling the land, since they did not wish to farm it themselves.  While it remained in their hands, they did not earn any money from it.  When a parcel was sold by the Crown to an individual, a patent was issued, which was, in essence, the first deed.

Let us assume you have just arrived in Virginia and want to buy some land.  You could get someone, who already has purchased land from the Crown, to sell you some of their land.  Instead, you decide you could get more land by buying unimproved land from the Crown.  What you have to do is look around for land that no one else has purchased.  This was not always easy.

Say you were Adam Yager, and you were interested in land in the neighborhood of Mt. Pony.  You would visit the area.  (He probably had visited the general area several times already, because he has been living a few miles to the east for eight years).  He had to identify land that was available.  If there was someone who was already living in the area, he probably would ask them which land was owned, and which was available.  And, he might look for markers.  Having found some land (290 acres), he might put up his own markers to warn others that this was his intended property.

Patents show evidence of three methods which were used to pay for the land.  The original method was to give 50 acres to anyone who came into the Colony.  These head rights were transferrable.  About 1702, a new method was introduced, although head rights still remained valid.  Treasury Warrants became acceptable at the rate of five shillings per fifty acres.  In the 1720s, land was free in Spotsylvania and Brunswick Counties.  So, Adam paid nothing for his land, because it was in the time of free land.

Adam had to have a surveyor come and survey the land to generate a legal description.  Adam had to pay for this.  The surveyor turned in his description and the land office wrote up two copies of the deed (patent) based on this.  One copy went to the purchaser of the land, and the other copy was maintained in a book.  These latter copies are available today, and may even be accessed on line through the Library of Virginia.

By the time Adam got his copy, he was probably living on the land.  When he did get it, he found that his name was spelled Adam Eager, which has confounded researchers since then.  It is recorded in Patent Book 13, on page 476.
(28 Jun 02)

Nr. 1420:

How old did one need to be to obtain a patent?  The usual answer is that one had to be of his majority (meaning 21 years old), but there were exceptions to this.  The two Thomas sons in the Germanna family were issued a patent for 156 acres on 24 Jun 1726 (as John Tomer and Michael Tomer).  John was born 17 Apr 1712, so he was 14 years of age.  Michael was born after 1717, because he was not naturalized (and no birth record for him was found in Neuenbürg where the family lived).  If you say he was born in 1719 (give or take a year), he would have been about 8 years of age.  If you have any question as to whether the name Tomer was a mistake for Thomas, there can be no question because of the location of the land in the midst of Blankenbaker related tracts.  (The boy’s mother was Anna Maria Blankenbaker.)  We believe that John Thomas, the elder son, also obtained 400 acres on 28 Sep 1728.  He would have been 16 years of age then.  It is not safe to assume that a person is 21 just because a patent for land issues to them.  Perhaps the law said they should be 21, but sometimes the law was ignored.

I am just picking a patent abstract at random, and I have chosen John Freeman, who had a patent for 300 acres of land in 1714.  The abstract goes on to say that he paid for it with 10 shillings (that was the price for 100 acres), and with four head rights (called the importation of 4 persons):  John Anngilly, Joseph Holland, Andrew Gifford, and Samuel Markham.  So, we see that this one patent used two of the payment methods for the land, cash and head rights.  Slaves could be used as head rights also, and the clue that slaves were being used was that they had only one name.  The patent to Adam Eager (in the previous Note, Nr. 1419) mentioned neither cash nor head rights, but it did say the land was in Spotsylvania County.  At this time it was the law that land was free in Spotsylvania and Brunswick Counties.

The people in the land office (or the surveyor) said Adam Eager’s land was "on the south side of Mount Poni".  And, to be consistent, when they wrote up John Gordon’s patent for 800 acres, it ran to "the foot of Mount Poni".

We have been discussing sales by the Crown, directly to individuals.  There was one very large grant of land by the Crown, to the loyal supporters of Charles II, amounting to about 8 million acres.  These people, eventually only one, then sold the land to individuals.  Since this land was the northern part of Virginia, it was called the "Northern Neck".  Technically, it was defined as the land between the Rappahannock Rivers and the Potomac Rivers.  People who bought land in the Northern Neck were two steps removed from the Crown.  Instead of dealing with the Crown, they dealt with the Northern Neck proprietor.  Thus, the Germantown tract of 1800+ acres was a purchase from the Northern Neck proprietor, and different rules applied.  For one thing, they did not get a patent, but they got a grant.  The Northern Neck proprietor, Lord Fairfax, was not going to give land away.  The only payment method he would accept was cash.  No head rights or free land there.
(29 Jun 02)

Nr. 1421:

To obtain a certificate showing entitlement to a certain number of head rights, one had to go to court and testify that he was applying for head rights.  Generally, a person gave the names of the people for whom he was applying.  Sometimes he gave specific information, such as the date he came.  In due course, certificates would be issued.  If he were buying land from the Crown, he could have 50 acres for each head right.  This process was NOT "naturalization".  The two activities are sometimes confused, but they were distinct actions.

People living in the Northern Neck could also obtain head rights, but they could not use them in the Northern Neck.  They could sell them to someone who wanted to buy land from the Crown.  Lt. Gov. Spotswood felt this was an injustice to the Crown (he was an agent of the Crown) because the purpose of the law granting land for head rights was to encourage settlement on the Crown's lands.  Several of our First Colony people obtained head rights which they sold.  Others in the Germantown group obtained head rights, but failed to do anything with them.  At least they never show up as payment for any land.  (If the head right was used, the name should be in a patent.)

The value of a head right was less than five shillings.  Either a head right, or five shillings, would get you fifty acres of land.  During the 1720's, when land was free in Spotsylvania and Brunswick Counties, the value of head rights was close to zero.  If you obtained one during this period, you could hold it indefinitely.

Eventually, the head right concept disappeared from use.  The remaining uses of them were often within a family.  If your family had paid for their own transportation, they were entitled to head rights.  One family member might collect these together and purchase land.  For this reason, we give careful consideration to the relationship between people who are named as head rights, and those who used the head rights; however, there is no guarantee of any relationship.

It was the custom, not the law, that the anyone who paid for the transportation of another person obtained that person's head right.  In the case of the Second Colony, Spotswood wrote in his official letters that the members of this group were "free persons", i.e., they were not servants.  And it seems to be the case that he sued the members, trying to recover from them the transportation costs.  In other words, they had borrowed from him their transportation money, and were supposed to pay it back.  This would be consistent with "free persons"; however, when he had to pay money later to settle one of his claims to land, he used the names of the 48 Second Colony people, for whom he had apparently paid the transportation.  In this case he was treating them as servants, as though he were entitled to their head rights in return for his having paid for their transportation.  (Spotswood was a master of trying to have his cake and eat it too.)
(01 Jul 02)

Nr. 1422:

The patents and grants have been summarized in two series of books which are indispensable guides to the researcher.  The series for the patents was started by Nell Marion Nugent, and is called Cavaliers and Pioneers.  It has been continued by the Virginia Genealogical Society.  The grants were compiled by Gertrude E. Gray in a series called Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants.

The proper way to read these books is to have them in hand and to start with the index.  Make lists as you go which cover your fields of interest.  Be alert to the spelling, which may be at variance in the original documents with what you might be expecting.  My favorite example of this is the series of three patents to the Plunkepees (Blankenbakers), Nicholas, Balthasar, and Matthias.  I recognized the three given names if not the surname.  I have already mentioned the name Adam Eager (Yager), which I found in this way.  As you read, you will constantly be faced with the question, "Where is that?"  Soon you will be learning some of the geography of Virginia.

The great thing about the patents and deeds is that they are online at the Library of Virginia.  In five minutes, from your home, you can have the image of any of the patents and deeds at hand.  Generally, I find the images of the documents and the descriptions of the land are a little better in the grants than in the patents.

Both series of books are very well indexed.  All surnames that are mentioned, including given names, are indexed.  Geographical features are indexed only in the patent series.  (Looking in three of the books for the patents, from 1695 to 1749, I could find no mention of Fork Mountain.)

Each of the patents or grants describes a piece of land by its metes and bounds*.  The metes and bounds are measured distances in specified directions.  Sometimes the neighbors are given.  Often there will be a mention of a geographic feature.  Always the county will be named.

Understanding the description of the tract by its metes and bounds is not difficult, at least in concept.  Problems occur with the descriptions which are not internally self consistent and with a lack of clarity as to the location.  The patents make great use of phrases, for example, "with the meanders of the water course", until some feature, such as a "red oak" is reached.  The grants are more exact and usually give a measured course over the meanders, but not always.  The later writing is better than some of the earlier writing which can be faded.

In the Great Fork (the land between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan Rivers), both patents and grants may be found.  This arises because the title of the Northern Neck proprietor was not clear as to what constituted the boundary of his lands.  At first, the Great Fork was said to be lands of the Crown, but later the lands were said to be in the Northern Neck.  In modern day Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties, you may need to consult both the patents and the grants.  One advantage of this is that many people took out a grant for land that had been patented before, so that we have two descriptions of it.
(02 Jul 02)
[ *"Metes and bounds" refers to specific distance measurements (metes) and definite boundary markers (bounds).  For more detailed information on "metes and bounds", go to one of these web sites:

Examples of Indiscriminate Metes and Bounds,
Metes and Bounds Surveys (Steve Broyles),
Metes and Bounds (US GenNet),
Legal Land Descriptions,
IIGS Lesson on Metes and Bounds System of Land Measurement, or,
Metes and Bounds (First American Corp.), or,
Metes and Bounds Surveys (Ohio State Univ.)
  GWD, Web Site Manager

Nr. 1423:

When Oliver Cromwell beheaded Charles I, Charles II was the heir apparent, though, as long as Cromwell was in control, the claims of Charles II were doubtful.  A group of loyal supporters stood by Charles II (he was in France), and Charles II rewarded them with a grant of land in Virginia, amounting, I believe, to about 8253 square miles.  Of course, no one knew at the time just how much land was included.  Much of it had hardly been visited by white men, and certainly the majority of it had never been surveyed.  The definition was "all the land between the Rappahannock and the Potomac Rivers".  No one at the time had identified just which water courses constituted those Rivers.

Thomas, the Second Lord Culpeper, acquired the interests of the other members of the group.  His property went to his daughter and heir in 1689.  She married Thomas, the Fifth Lord Fairfax.  Their son, Thomas the Sixth Lord Fairfax, inherited the grant about 1720.  He began an aggressive campaign to assert his claim in the broadest geographical sense.  Most of the argument centered on whether the South Fork of the Rappahannock River or the North Fork of the River was the largest, and therefore defined the Rappahannock.

About the time that Spotswood came to Virginia, the south fork of the Rappahannock was renamed the Rapidan, and the north fork remained the Rappahannock (sometimes called the Hedg[e]man River).  I have wondered whether this renaming of the south fork was an attempt to reduce the Fairfax claim.  Surveyors were sent out to measure the flow of water in the two courses but the teams representing the two parties (the Colony of Virginia and Lord Fairfax) could not agree.  The Colony of Virginia had Hume survey a line in 1743, from the headspring of the North Fork of the Rappahannock, to the headspring of the Potomac.  This line cuts across the Shenandoah Valley.

Lord Fairfax was not satisfied and he appealed to the Privy Council in London.  They heard the case and decided in his favor.  In reaching their decision, they noted that the settlers in this Great Fork had taken their land in good faith with the blessing of the Governor of the Colony of Virginia, who was the agent for the Crown.  Lord Fairfax could not claim the land as his that had already been patented.  A lot of people were nervous and applied for a Northern Neck grant from Fairfax just to make sure.  Very often in the resurvey of the property a lot of waste land was found which was included in the new grant application.  It is probably this waste land that they were nervous about.  They had been claiming it without having taken a patent on it.  This has saved on taxes by making their legally described land seem smaller than the actual land they were telling their neighbors was theirs.

In 1745 it was necessary to survey a new line, this time from the headspring of the Rapidan River (using the Conway River as the major branch of the Rapidan), to the headspring of the Potomac River.  The land between the two forks of the Rappahannock is called the Great Fork.  It is one of the most widely used geographical descriptors in the patents and grants.
(03 Jul 02)

Nr. 1424:

The procedure for obtaining land from the Northern Neck proprietor was a little different than obtaining land from the Crown.  The Northern Neck proprietor was anxious to sell land, so he set up agents who were scattered around the Northern Neck.  If you wanted to buy land, first you had to find some land that no one else owned.  You took a tentative description of this to one of the agents and suggested there was a specific piece of vacant land.  You paid a fee, called the composition, to the agent and he wrote a warrant which directed a specific surveyor to mark the property.  The buyer then arranged for the survey of the property.

Once the survey was completed, it and the warrant were returned to the Proprietor's office, where the agent gave title in fee simple through an instrument called a grant.  In addition to the initial composition fee (the purchase price), the buyer agreed to pay an annual quit rent at the rate of one shilling per 50 acres.  The agent gave the buyer an original parchment of the grant and recorded the sale in his book.  The warrant, survey, and any accompanying papers were filed in the office of the proprietor.  These have been preserved.

Very often these latter papers have information of a genealogical nature.  The warrant was negotiable, as was the survey.  They were often sold or given away.  As evidence of this, information was added to the warrant and survey.  It was also the practice to record the names of the men in the survey party, such as the chain carriers (two), who moved the surveyor's chain of iron links.  Sometimes there was a pilot who knew where the line should be and he guided the survey party.  Other men might be markers.  Very often the man having the survey done would get relatives to carry the chains, especially brothers-in-law.  But they could be anyone.

Peggy Shomo Joyner went to the Library of Virginia where the Warrants and Surveys were being kept and compiled, by counties, lists of these records.  These were published, I believe, as four books, though I have only two.

I give the summary of a warrant and survey:

Mathias Rouse, 4 Oct 1750 [warrant date] - 5 Dec 1750 [survey date];
33 acres on fork of Robinson R., "a hillside near the old German Church."
adjacent William Carpenter, dec'd, John Carpenter, George Utz.
CC [chain carriers] John Carpenter & Nicholas Yager.
Surveyor: Philip Clayton.

In this case, I do not think the chain carriers were related.  The mention of the "old German Church" is interesting.  It refers to the first log cabin used before the present church was built.  It stood just to the north of Hebron Church.
(04 Jul 02)

Nr. 1425:

In the Northern Neck, the proprietor earned money in two ways.  First, he had the income from the sale of the land.  This was a one time event which was probably competitive with property on the lands of the Crown, which was one shilling per ten acres, usually expressed as five shillings per fifty acres, or part thereof.  Then, on an annual basis, a rent of one shilling per fifty acres was paid.  On a failure to pay the rent to the proprietor, the land could revert to him.  Over a twenty-year period, the proprietor would earn more from the rents than from the purchase.  On the Crown's lands, the rent was called the quit rent.

The rent in the Northern Neck went to the proprietor.  The rent from the Crown's land went toward the expenses of the Colony.  These quit rents were a tax, comparable to today's real estate taxes.  The Northern Neck rents simply went into the pocket of the proprietor.

I have mentioned that during the period starting about 1722, land in the new counties of Spotsylvania and Brunswick Counties was free from the first cost, and from the quit rents for a period of about seven years.  The legislation that enabled this had been sponsored by Lt. Gov. Spotswood, who promoted the law as a way to encourage settlement on the western lands, which would extend English civilization farther west and perhaps push the French into the Pacific Ocean.  This was always a good argument to send to London.  The day the law was passed in Virginia (as a part of the creation of the new counties), Spotswood filed a claim on more than 40,000 acres in the new county of Spotsylvania.  One wonders then whether the law was for the public benefit, or the benefit of Spotswood.  The net result for the Germanna Colonists was that they obtained free land in the Robinson River Valley and in the Little Fork.

Spotswood, though, had some difficulties in securing the title to his land.  He had violated some of the clauses in the law as it had been approved in London.  Remember that when Virginia passed laws, they did not really become laws until they had been approved, sometimes amended, or sometimes not allowed, in London.  In this case London wanted to see some restrictions placed in the law limiting the size of the tracts that could be granted.  They reasoned that if no one person had more than a thousand acres, then more people could be settled in the new counties.  Spotswood had violated this provision overwhelmingly, and his title was clouded for many years.  He finally had to go to England and plead his case there.

When a patent was issued, it was a requirement that the property be settled and that improvements be made.  I believe that a house was to be built and three acres cleared for every fifty in the patent.  Also an orchard, usually specified as apples, was to be planted.  If a patentee failed to do these things in three years, another person could sue in the courts to obtain title to the land.  This is why the original patentee sometimes repatented his land.  He had failed to make the necessary improvements and he would start over again with the repurchase of the land.

Some of the details given here may be not be exact, but the note is intended to give the flavor of some of the factors in acquiring land.
(06 Jul 02)

(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 FIFTY-SEVENTH set of Notes, Nr. 1401 through Nr. 1425.)

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

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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 1401 through 1425.

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