Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

(This Page Was Last Modified Wednesday, 06-Apr-2011 15:52:30 MDT.)


Search John's Notes, or This Entire Web Site.


This is the SEVENTY-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 1751 through 1775.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 71

(If the text on this and other pages on this website isn't large enough, click here to see how to increase the size.)
(If you wish to print only part of this page, and not the entire page, click here for instructions.)


Nr. 1751:

The Fifty-First Note in each Hundred is one of the "Half-Century marks".  Therefore, I take time to write about these Notes and why they exist.  The collective "you" have (has?) a broad range of interests which never fails to amaze me.  It seems to me that someone is always interested in any given subject.  That is good because I am stumped occasionally for a subject to write about.

Basically, I try to write about the Germans who lived on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  Being on the east side eliminates the Germans who lived in the Shenandoah Valley.  And Virginia eliminates all of the other states.  BUT, I never hold to these rules.  I wander all over the globe, even to Germany occasionally.  It is a little hard to separate the different Germans into bins.  So much happened in Pennsylvania that the story of the Germans in Virginia would be very incomplete without several mentions of Pennsylvania and its people.

While the Notes may be informative at times, they are not research papers.  They are meant to stimulate interest to make the list more useful.  The list becomes useful when the readers can answer questions or generate new thoughts.
(NOTE from Website Manager:  Please see
below, for information on the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List at Rootsweb, which John mentions.)

I do feel badly that I cannot say more about the First Colony and its people.  There were more Germans in Fauquier County than we usually mention.  This is where others may make some contributions.  We need people who study the community, not just the family.  But if you can write only about your Eighteenth Century family, why not tell us something about it.  Remember that this list is not a monopoly.  It should be a cooperative society, with everyone giving and taking something.

As we have amply seen, we stoop on occasion to even writing about the English.  They interacted enough that a history would be incomplete without discussing some of their minor contributions.  Actually, their peculiarities are interesting even when they go at it with swords and staves.  Some of Germans did the same thing.  Does anyone know about a murder committed by a German?  There was at least one.

Let me slip in two advance notices.  This Saturday, I will be on duty at the Hans Herr House.  The Saturday after that I will be enjoying myself down in Tennessee.  Besides the official functions, there should be time to talk informally.  You can give me your feedback at these locations. (Another NOTE from the Website Manager:  John is referring to the annual combined "East Tennessee Germanna Reunion" and the "East Tennessee Germanna BROYLES Reunion".  You can read about it here.)

Let me add there will be a Memorial Meeting (not a service) for Klaus Wust at the American Frontier Museum in Staunton, on October 18 at 2 p.m.  You may want to add this to your calendar.  Those of us who heard him at the 2002 Germanna Reunion may have heard him give his last public address.  But his memory will go on for a long time.
(05 Sep 03)



Nr. 1752:

I spent Friday afternoon studying the Baptismal Lists from Gemmingen.  I have slight handicaps in that I do not read German script all that well, nor do I understand the German.  One of the tactics that I was trying was to compose a list of the names I encountered, most of which I could not read with any certainty.  By not laboring too long on any one name, I went on the theory that I might meet up with the name again when it would be better written.  And often it was.

Gemmingen is where the Clores, Weavers, and Smiths were from.  Or in German, the usual names would be Klar, Weber, and Schmid(t).  By now, these names are easy to spot so if I were looking only for them it would not be much of a problem.  What I was hoping to do was to be able to read the sponsors where I have found in the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River Valley of Virginia that so much information was hidden.

In Gemmingen, though, the rules seem to be different.  I have yet to encounter a sponsor whose surname was the same as the father's surname.  This probably means that they did not choose the sponsors from relatives.  You will remember that when we discussing baptisms in different churches that some churches had a rule that the spiritual parents (i.e., the sponsors or witnesses) could not be related to the parents.  The two must be kept separate.  So far, that seems to be the rule in Gemmingen.

Quite a few of the parents were Reformed.  If this was known to the pastor he would enter one of two comments after the name of the person, "Relig Ref", or "Calv".  The Baptismal Records start in April of 1694.  Probably there were earlier records but the French had invaded, which upset the normal routines.  In some cases the Church books were lost.  In other cases there are gaps.  In the case of Gemmingen, it seems as though they started anew.  In the first year there were only a handful of baptisms, namely 5.  In the next year there were 11, and in the next 18.

Quite a large number were soldiers, perhaps who been engaged in the war with the French.  All of the men were identified by occupation, and by where they lived.  All of the women were described by the man they were attached to, either as a wife or as a daughter.  Several of the sponsors were from out of Gemmingen.

I had been hoping to find several things, including a pattern of possible relationships between the sponsors and the parents which might furnish more clues about the ancestry of the parents.  This does not look as if it will be successful.  I am still hoping to improve my skills by the old "practice makes perfect".  (I will never be perfect but I do hope to be better.)  As a bonus, I may encounter some names that have been overlooked.  Later, I may also be able to tackle some of the Church books that have been overlooked.
(06 Sep 03)



Nr. 1753:

To be able to read the German script, one must learn the letters.  You may as well start with the letter "A" as is used in Anna and Andreas.  You cannot go far without knowing the "A".  It is a moderately difficult letter for me, because I learned a standard way it was to be written and the pastor at Gemmingen did not write it that way.  This is one of the frustrations of this business.  You have learned it one way and they never write that way.  The capital letters are important because so much of the information is conveyed in the first letter.  After the first letter, it is all downhill, as the pastor loses interest in writing the rest of the letters.

You should probably learn "B" as it is very useful to write Barbara, and Barbara is a favorite name.  All of the letters may be written in either the Latin style or in the German script.  Some words mix the two styles.  Any one baptismal record is almost sure to have some of both styles.  This means the alphabet is 52 plus letters.  I say plus, because the Germans have a few more letters than we do.

If you have ancestors with the name Catharina, you will want to know the capital "C".  Now a German may write the "C" all over the place, but likely down into the line below just to see if you are paying attention.  Just about when you believe that you have learned what a "C" looks like, they spring another surprise on you.  It is the superscript "C" as in "Ch".  The "C" is written way above the line at the upper end of the "h", almost as if it is hanging from it.  (It is funny how words like "hanging" will occur to you when you studying German script.)  The only way one recognizes it is to puzzle out the balance of the word with a question mark for the funny hook hanging on the "h".  Then you can see that you would have a recognizable word if the question mark were a "C".  This might occur with the name Christina.

Incidentally, the technique just mentioned, of writing out what you think you can recognize, will sometime solve the problem because what you can understand may be a clue to the letters that you do not understand.

Perhaps you have a Dorothea.  The capital "D" is a near favorite of mine because there is a basic principle in writing the "D" that is hard to mask.  Another point that makes it a little easier to recognize is that it is similar to English colonial writing with the backward slanting upward extension.  The real clue is the way the near loop at the bottom is formed.  A "D" goes counterclockwise as opposed to the "S" which goes clockwise.

The "E" is not hard to recognize if you can distinguish it from the "C".  Sometimes the difference is subtle but if you want your Eva to come right you will need to know the difference.
(08 Sep 03)



Nr. 1754:

A couple of little words of warning as you proceed through your German Script lessons.  It is not unusual for a German who is writing in the Eighteenth Century to write up the very end of the line as the paper permits and then resume an unfinished word at the beginning of the next line.  Some writers give you a hint that they are doing this by the way of a little added mark.  But if the letters do not make sense, try adding a few letters from the next line and see if that helps.

Dates are sometimes confusing.  In the old Julian Calendar, the new year started in March (the 25th I believe it was).  Therefore, September became the seventh month, October the eighth month, November the ninth month and December the tenth month.  The start of the month names are a clue to this (Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec.).  Sometimes these months are referred to numerically (by either arabic or roman numerals) in accordance with these assignments.  This held true even after the new calendar was introduced.  And remember that the day is given first.  (That is the rational way of writing the date.)

The letter "F" is for Friedrich, give or take a few letters.  Now "F" looks a bit like a "T" but the difference is whether the upright on the letter is crossed.  (This is also the case with the lower case "f" which looks like an "h".)

The "G" is one of the torture letters.  I first studied my German Script with the Moravians and they had a standard way which actually made sense to someone who could write an English Script G.  Someone failed to tell the other Germans that it would make life easier for future generations if they always wrote it this way.  But, no, they decided to embellish it with lots of flourishes.  To them, the letter is not complete until it has at least twenty-four turns in the writing and it crosses itself about seven times.  You will want to keep of a list of hard-to-classify letters and put the "G" right at the top right alongside the "A".

The capital "H" is not so bad because you will encounter it in every Baptismal Record in Hans, or Hanns, or Hannss (take you own pick with as many "n's" and "s's" as you think fit).  The point is that almost every boy is named Hans, so the first name you will learn to recognize is Hans and therefore you will have a good idea of what the "H" looks like.

One of the things that you learn to do is to recognize names by their overall pattern.  This is necessary because the individual letters are often hard to recognize.  A name, in Gemmingen, that starts with something a bit like a capital "K", has a little bump after that, then two letters that rise a bit higher, and then concludes with two squiggles on the base line is Keller.  What you hope for is to find the name written clearly enough at some point that you can make out the detailed spelling.  The Kellers were very prominent in the church at Gemmingen, and left their footprints all over the church book.
(09 Sep 03)



Nr. 1755:

One of the general lessons for today is to be aware of lazy letters.  I spent several hours, on and off, trying to decipher a letter which seemed to read as "Cu" or "Co".  Finally, it dawned on me that it was a lazy "W".  Imagine the model is our printed "W".  In German script, the handwritten "W" should look something like that but if the second "V" in the "W" is 'lazy', it does not rise up very high.  And the middle leg does not come up very high.  These parts are weak and do not do their job properly.  This occurs several times in a phrase which reads "Reichs frei Wohl----."  (The word "frei" was actually spelled "frey" with an umlaut over the "y" and someday I will find out what the phrase means.  Remember, it takes patience in this game.)

Often the German script will end a word with a flourish that demands attention, but it may be just a routine letter like "e".  Many times these flourishes descend down to the next line and get mixed up with it.  Thus, one of the problems is deciding which marks to throw away as they have nothing to do with the problem.

I am not very expert on the capital "I" but it looks a little something like our "I", and does not drop below the line.  The "J" looks a little like the "I", but it drops below the line.  Thus, our English model of these letters is approximately correct.

There are two letters that are easy to mix up, and they are the "K" and the "R".  Basically, though, one looks for a trailing mark to the right at the upper end of the "K" while the "R" has something added to the left at the upper end.  The "R" itself looks a bit like our "R", so it suggests itself readily, except when they write the "R" as an overgrown lowercase "r" as we know it.  This mostly seems to occur in names where they may be attempting to use Latin letters.

You should have no problem recognizing the name Maria, which starts with a capital "M" except it is no larger than our lower case "m".  It looks almost like our "M".  You get lots of chances to practice on the "M" because the name Maria is common (but not as common as Hans).  Incidentally, the same man may be called Hans in one record and Johann in another record.

The letter "O" looks like we would hope it does.  Unfortunately, they do not use it that often.

The prize letter of all is the capital "P" which looks like a bouquet of flowers in a vase, and I think some writers take time to draw this picture.  You have to see it to believe it, but, if it is done consistently (note the disclaimer), there is no confusion with any other letter.  When you have a Petter you better believe it.

So far I have found a Martha, an Esther, a Barthoe(?), and Melchoir plus all of the names we know in Virginia.
(10 Sep 03)



Nr. 1756:

A reader suggests that she is too old to learn to read the German language (? or to speak it or to read the script ?).  I will bet that she is younger than I am.  Neither of us needs to divulge our age.  I approach it (script reading) slowly and in small steps.

In trying to learn to read the script, the first thing was to procure a microfilm in which you have some interest.  Most likely that will be through an LDS Family History Center.  For a small fee you can get the film on a permanent loan, though you must use it at the Center.  If it is an unusually difficult one, try another one.

The first thing that I am doing is to make out the names of the parents, the child's name, and the date.  The given names are the easiest part because there is a limited number and before long you will be recognizing these at a glance.  Don't worry that you can't find every "e" and "i" in Heinrich; they may not be there.  But Heinrich has a pattern to it and try for the pattern.  When you have the given names well in hand, work on the individual letters in the name.  How do they make them?  Can you see the "c" between the "s" and the "h"?  What does a "C" look like?  What does an "L" look like?  This is learning your letters.  Study the different ways the same letter can be made.

At the LDS Center, print out a few pages of the film to take home.  Then you can spend more time with them.  Later, you will want another writer's work.

The sponsors and the comments about the parents and sponsors, are the hardest.  Don't sweat these.  Eventually you will be reading them also.  (A German dictionary will be handy and remember that some spellings have changed.)  The comments other than the names will be hardest, because at first you are not sure what the writer wants to talk about.

A German's favorite letter must be the "S".  They use it so much that they have developed several different ways of writing it.  The style of it depends on where it occurs in the word.  One form of it is used only as a capital first letter.  It is different from most everything else, so it is favorite.  Another form of the "s" is used when a single "s" is the last letter in the word.  Sometimes you have to stop and think whether it is an "s" or a "d".  On the interior of a word, or end of a word, a special form is used if there are two consecutive "s's" in the same syllable.  But if the two "s's" are in different syllables, then the 'double s' is not used.  (You can have three "s's" in a sequence if one syllable ends in a double "s" and this is joined with a syllable which starts with an "s".  These are special cases, and not likely to be encountered.)  A single "s" on the interior is a form which requires it to start to below the line.  The trickier part consists of how the "s" joins to other letters.  As the writing transitions from the "s" to another letter, say an "h", a "c" may get thrown in.  These are often hard to see.
(11 Sep 03)



Correction for Nr. 1751a:

It is entirely my mistake but in Note 1751 I gave the wrong date for the Wust Memorial Meeting.  It is October 11, and not October 18.

Though we usually say "Museum of American Frontier Culture", the museum has been renamed "Frontier Culture Museum" to reflect a change in emphasis to both the cultures in Europe and here in America.

I hope that I have not upset the plans of anyone who was planning on attending.
John Blankenbaker



Nr. 1757:

In Gemmingen, where I am studying the Baptismal Register starting in 1694, it was very typical to give the place where a man lived.  The most common one, of course, was Gemmingen, which was expressed by the word "allhier".  But many people came from other areas, especially the sponsors.  So the writer would enter their location, such as Schwaigern or Brackenheim.  I have had some difficulty in finding some of these names, and part of the problem may be that the name is not spelled correctly.  Still, it is good to have a map available.  Remember that the sponsor probably had to walk to the church so he couldn't be from too far away.

Occupations are common but many do not have an occupation for the father or the sponsors.  So far, I have Schulmeister, Schuhmacher, Schmid, Pastor, Soldat, and others.  Again, spelling may be a minor problem.

Telling an uppercase letter from a lowercase letter is not easy.  No consistent rule is used for capitalization.

The particular writer has about three styles for the letter "C".  Some of the "C's" are of a normal height and location.  I have seen a "C", though, which goes into the line above and into the line below.  When the words in those upper and lower lines are being read, the interference can be troublesome.  I am having trouble telling the "C" from the "L".

The "T" is a troublesome letter for me as I do not have a clear image of what it should look like.  I think that I have seen several variations on it which makes it hard to form the image of what it should look like.  Some day I may make a rogue's gallery so that I can have sheets of paper with examples of the letters.  The "T" page will be interesting.  The letter "U", as in Ursula, is easy enough.  The letter "V" occurs lots of times in the Gemmingen church book because the von Gemmingens were prominent in the church.  Not only did they have their children baptized there, they were often sponsors for other members of the congregation.  I have commented that the sponsors did not seem to be related to the parents, at least to the father.  But the von Gemmingens couldn't get God to come as a sponsor so they had to use von Gemmingens.  One problem with writing the "v" is that it, like the "W" is sometimes lazy and sort of runs downhill to the right.

The "Z" looks like a "Z", as in the Zimmerman family (not ours), who brought children to the Gemmingen church.

Today, I made a break-through as I was confusing a lowercase "f" with an uppercase "E".  By reading some names with an "E" will make them look better; at least, they will have a vowel.

This will be the last note for a few days as we going down to Tennessee for the reunion there.
(12 Sep 03)



Nr. 1758:

I do not have any answers to the questions recently raised about the Hart family.  There are a few points that would help in the research, such as when did Johann Valentine Hart come to America, and what do the church records in Mosbach say about the family.  The answers to these questions might help resolve the identity of the Hart family in the Robinson River Valley family.

My first introduction to the Hart family was in hearing that Michael Thomas Hart (son of Johannes Thomas Hart and Anna Maria Blankenbuehler) married, as his second wife, Eva Susanna Margaret Hart, in the 1771 time frame.  Michael and Eva are said to have had ten children, so that would mean that she was about twenty years of age when she married him.  Michael was older, as he is said to have had fifteen children by his first wife (a total of twenty-five children).  The Communion Lists mildly support the marriage of Michael and Eva Susanna Margaret, even though neither of them ever appears in the Lists.

In one of the Hart family marriages which was given, two names caught my attention.  Benjamin Hart married Rebecca Gabbert, or Gebert, and her parents were Matthias Gabbert and Christina Kreemer (or Boger?).  The Gabbert and Boger names are found in Schwaigern in the ancestry or alliances of the Germanna Willheit family.

Many members of the families of Michael Thomas are to be found in southwest Pennsylvania, when it was still thought to be a part of Virginia.  A key word here is Red Stone Fort.  Some of these people moved to Kentucky at an early date.

I believe a first fruitful effort might be to learn more about the family in Mosbach.

*****

(When we came back from the Eastern Tennessee Reunion, we had time to go to the post office but we could not get there because the Brandywine River had flooded out US Route 1.)

In Tennessee, the unusual endeavor of Eleanor and myself was to try and find the Old Dutch Meeting House Cemetery, where it is said that Rudolph Crecelius and a Harnsberger and a Good are buried.  On the way down we had seen a sign which said the Meeting House was 1.25 miles off Highway 81.  After asking three different people and using some logic, we did found the cemetery (a smallish one) but we did not find any stone in it which was familiar, due to the growth which hid the stones.
(16 Sep 03)



Nr. 1759:

Returning to the Gemmingen Register of Baptisms, which starts in 1694, a typical entry might be as follows:

The parents (Eltern) are Conrad Keller Calvinist Anna Magdalena.  Punctuation and grammar are usually missing, and the facts are simply stated.  The father was Conrad Keller.  He was a Calvinist, meaning of the Reformed Church.  The mother was Anna Magdalena.

The child (Kinder) was Elisabetha Dorothea, who was baptized (assume the dates are baptismal dates, not birth days) on the 8th of Aug in 1694.

The witnesses or sponsors were Jacob Beckhler Schmidt und Bürger von Schwaigern Haus Frau.

In the last, we would probably spell the name as Becker today, omitting the "h" and the "l", which seem unnecessary to us.  He was a smith and citizen from Schwaigern.  Schwaigern and Gemmingen are only about three miles apart so the residents of the two villages were generally known in the other village.  It is not clear to me but it seems to me that Jacob Beckhler was not the actual sponsor, but his wife was and her name is not given.  She is identified only as Haus Frau or house women.

Most logically, it seems there was one sponsor, the wife of Jacob.  It may have been that both Jacob and his wife were sponsors.

It is very common to identify the women by the men to whom they are attached.  A single girl is identified by her father, for whom we probably learn his name, occupation, and where he lives.  A married women is identified by her husband, and we learn the same things about him.  Usually, the given names of the females are stated, but in the example above none was used.  If the religion is not Lutheran, we are usually told that.

The father, Conrad Keller, was himself a sponsor for the baby just prior to the baptism above.  In it we learn that he is a smith (blacksmith) and a Reformed Calvinist.  So when Conrad Keller asked for a sponsor for his daughter, he asked a fellow blacksmith.  The words "Reformed" and "Calvinist" mean essentially the same thing, and it is redundant to use both words.  On most occasions, only one word is used, and it is usually abbreviated as Calv: or Ref:.

During this first year of recording baptisms, there were only five recorded.  After the troubles of the preceding years, the church is getting started again.  The Kellers were very active in the church, and there seems to have been several families of them.
(17 Sep 03)



Nr. 1760:

Most of the names in the Gemmingen baptismal birth register are easy enough to read, but some of them leave one shaking his head and hoping that a clarification will turn up later.  Here are some of the more unusual given names:

    Plaickhard
    Rherbald
    Barthol
    Hieronimus
    Burckhard
But most of the people stick to the usual names such as:
Johann Johannes Dietrich Conrad(t)
Christian Michael Heinrich Martin
Matthaus Philipp Christoph Görg
Ludwig Moritz Leonhard Lorentz
Andreas Jacob Adam Joseph(only once in several years)
Gorg Dietrich Carl


The girl’s given names are drawn from an even narrower set, I believe.  These are readily found:

Margaretha Barbara Christina
Elisabetha Catharina Anna
Juliana Sophia Eva
Maria Veronica Susanna
Magdalena Agnes Martha


Furthermore, there were no extreme names for the girls.  All of the above names would fit in at the Germanna community, even though I do not know of any Marthas in Germanna.

The given names are among the easiest to read, though it is necessary to learn how a few letters can be written.

Most surnames are a little harder, just because so many of the names are totally new.  Some of them are very well known such as:

Bäch
Mayer
Weber
Müller
Zimmermann
Backh
Schmid
Sauter
Others are easy to decipher, but as "new" names they leave one in doubt sometimes.  For example:
Edel Ifantz Gauger Brendle
Bruckher Holl Hamler Weibel
Stösser Clar Kain Knagg
Weisner Geiger Wentzel Manner
Dups Bardle Stohlin Buchmüller
Hermann Kehler Dietrich  
Guttman Bronner Keller  


Then I have a list of surnames which are almost a complete mystery to me.  Some of these are:
Raiser G—f Zohendhaus Masschäcter
Devio Haibher Rischubob Jilip or Julip
Gras Fran-lih Weisner Weichkin
Lalthhass Mauner Bardle DaVisKerberg
Boetha Wiadberger ?ischuber Worickhimb
Grust Bresse Dawner Raissner


Don’t let these comments discourage you.  Some of the parts are easy, and some take more time.  The basic way of overcoming the doubtfuls is patience.  Maybe they will turn up again in a better handwriting.  Also, it is surprising how often that coming back later when the mind has been refreshed will help.  One of the big clues in determining whether two surnames at different points are the same name is to compare the given names; however, a person may use both of his given names at one time, and only one at another time.

But it is a lot of fun even if it is slow in the beginning.
(18 Sep 03)



Nr. 1761:

After our enforced vacation from Thursday night to Sunday noon from the computer and hot water and a stove and any electric lights, there was plenty of opportunity to reflect on what life was like in the Eighteenth Century.

Our light consisted of a couple of flashlights and candles.  Now, candles may seem romantic, but that is about all that can be said for them, because as light sources they aren't really very good.  Reading by candlelight is certainly a strain.

How did our ancestors light the house after darkness set in?  The traditional German house did not have the open flame of a fireplace for light.  They cooked by coals and heated by fire, but the fire was inside an enclosure and only a small amount of the light escaped.  Whether they switched to the English method is not certain.  The English method of cooking and heating with the same fire was inferior.

For light, I know of two methods in the Eighteenth Century.  One was candles, but I am inclined to think this was relatively expensive.  To get any respectable amount of light took a lot of candles, as "one candle power" is not all that much illumination.

There is another and cheaper method called the "rush light", which was inferior, technically, to the candle.  One gathers, along water courses, rushes (reeds) which grow very rapidly.  The outer shell is crushed slightly and the lengths, about a foot long, are soaked in waste fat and grease until the rush is "well larded".  This is held in a iron holder horizontally and either one end or both ends are lit so that the fat burns.  I don't believe that the light is very bright and it certainly is very dirty, so the ceiling would be blackened very quickly.  The advantage of this method is that it is simple and cheap.  (It recycles waste material.)

One quickly decides, after the experience of trying to use candles and the like, that not much detailed work, such as reading or sewing, was done after dark.  So maybe people generally retired to bed and sleep.

(I remember visiting some aged aunts and uncles once who went to bed in the summer time before it was dark and were up at the crack of dawn.  Before I knew the time they generally got up, I had said that I might be called at six o'clock in the morning and they replied, "If you want to sleep in, you can.")

If anyone has other ideas about illumination or lighting, I would like to hear them.
(22 Sep 03)



Nr. 1762:

Let there be light!  No other subject has evoked as many expressions of reader interest as the last note.  I look forward to Craig's mother comments (or from other sources).  I apologize that I have duplicated some of the comments already made, but I had written this before some of them came in.

Several of you thought maybe kerosene was the answer, but this is a petroleum product.  Until Drake struck oil, and it was produced in volume and refined, there was no kerosene.  There have always been, in recorded history, outbreaks of oil or tar to the surface of the ground which could be used as a fuel.  (There was a house in Hollywood that was so bothered by oil seeping out of the ground that they dug a pit and when it filled up they had a truck come and pump it out.)

I remember the kerosene lamps we used for light when I was a boy.  It used to be one of my chores to fill it if necessary.  Also, the wick might need trimming.  Kerosene lamps generated a lot of heat and could set objects two or three feet above them on fire.  (We had a quilt that was pulled up in the frame used to hold while it was quilted and a lamp underneath it set it on fire but the quilt has been repaired and we still have it.)  Then we had an Aladdin Lamp which had a mantle that would be white with heat.  It gave off a very strong light.  My parents generally tended this.  All of these forms of kerosene lamps produced sufficient light to read, study, sew, or to do any activity requiring reasonable illumination.  All of these lamps were slightly dangerous, for if they were knocked over the kerosene could run over the floor and might ignite.

This was always one of the problems in producing light.  With light goes heat, and the surrounding area must be protected.

Reading a little about light, whale oil has been known for a long time, but I don't believe it was used widely until the Nineteenth Nentury and even then it was restricted to the more affluent homes.

Several vegetative sources produce oil that will burn, such as some nuts.  These have been used for centuries.  In castles, with stone walls, iron frames on the walls could hold burning wood such as pine knots which has pitch.  These could produce lots of light, but also smoke and smells.

There was a Colonial Lamp, fueled by a liquid and a wick, which could be carried from room to room.  As suggested, reflectors improved the brightness, but it was still weak.  On the door frame as you entered each room, there was a metal hook.  When you entered the room, you hung the lamp on this hook.  When you left the room, you took the lamp with you.
(23 Sep 03)



Nr. 1763:

The last issue of the magazine "German Life" arrived recently.  An author of a note in the back writes about the confusion that newcomers to genealogy have with German names.  If you are baptized Hans Leonhard, why aren't you called Hans?  Or why are you called Johann sometimes?

As we know, the first name was not usually used much after Baptism, but in some communities it was used frequently.  Why was that?  The reason that it was usually forgotten, is that the first name was your personal Saint's name.  The second of your names was your own name.  Or as the Germans say, the second name was your Rufname, or calling name.

In Gemmingen, the use of both names on formal occasions was not unusual.  Hans Leonhard, Hans Heinrich, and Hans Conradt were common.  In the Baptismal Register about half of the fathers gave both of their given names.  The women many times used both given names, especially if the Saint's name was Anna or Maria.  Perhaps if the Rufname were longer, the Saint's name would be dropped.

The use of what we would say was a nickname was common.  A boy would often be baptized as Hans something or other and perhaps would go through life as Hans Peter or Hans Georg.  Then again, he might say his name was Johann.  My nth-great-grandfather was baptized as Hans but married as Johann.  I don't think the Germans viewed names such as Hans as a nickname but as an alternative way of saying and writing the same name.

If you are looking through an extensive index of Schmidts, try J. Schmidt, H. Schmidt, or Wilhelm Schmidt if his full name was Hans Wilhelm Schmidt.

It has been observed that many German nicknames are formed by dropping the first syllable.  This is the reason that Hans came from Johann, Klaus from Niklaus, Bastian from Sebastian.  Catharina might become Trina or Margaretha becomes Greta.  In English we tend to drop the second syllable so that Donald becomes Don, Samuel becomes Sam, and Matthew becomes Matt.

Some name interchangeability confuses us.  Margaretha and Rebecca don't strike us as similar.  Some names may go into another but the inverse is rare.  People baptized as Adolf might become Adams but rarely did it go the other way.  Melchior might become Michael but not the converse.  Theobalds became Davids but Davids never became Theobalds.

We are also confused by the practice of dropping names and inventing new names as the centuries roll on.  Philippina was not an unusual name in Eighteenth Century Gemmingen, but is very infrequent today.  The boy's name I read as Plaickhain is totally strange to us.
(24 Sep 03)



Nr. 1764:

Not too long ago, I wrote about a German lad who was apprenticed to a printer in New York City and went on to become a famous printer and civil rights leader.  His name was John Peter Zenger.  I thought we might look at another German lad who was also apprenticed to a printer.  Unfortunately, this second lad was not a success in printing, but maybe it was all for the better.

He lived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster County.  His parents had come much earlier from Switzerland (the ancestors were Anabaptists).  Our lad was not a success in school and his mother arranged for him to be a printer's apprentice.  He failed miserably.  Perhaps he upset a tray of type or perhaps he could not spell.  But his master saw the boy was hopeless and told him to go home.

He walked home, several miles, to his mother's house.  He did have an aunt that believed in him and bailed him out more than once financially.  Our lad went to candy making and after a bit bought out an operation making caramels.  He studied what made a superior caramel and changed the recipe to improve the quality and taste.  The caramel operation became a success and eventually he sold the place for a million dollars.

Somewhere along the way he married a New York lady.  They never had any children.

Our man used what capital he had to start another candy factory.  Again, he applied the same principle of finding what made the candy superior.  He even went to Switzerland and other places to taste and to observe what was being done there.  He applied what he learned to making better candy.  He didn't advertise his wares; his philosophy was that the product should speak for itself.

As he succeeded in business, he decided to establish a town in 1903 where he could build his new factories.  Noting the lack of children in his own home, he established an orphan boy's home for their education and training.  The town, in Pennsylvania, grew and a few decades ago had a population of more than six thousand people, many of whom were engaged in his factories or in the support of the workers.

The man's given name was Milton.  His last name went on every bar of Hershey's chocolate that was made in Hershey, PA.  So if your children don't succeed in their first job, maybe they are in the wrong activities.

Forty years ago, I visited the factory and I couldn't believe how much chocolate I was seeing at one time.  The chocolate was being mixed in an "infinite" line of pans, each holding about a ton of liquid chocolate.
(25 Sep 03)



Nr. 1765:

This note is a variation of the theme of "poor German immigrant boy makes good".  The variation is that we change "boy" to "girl".

Anna Behr was born in Wuerzburg in 1815.  Her father was a businessman, but he could not give Anna a university training.  So at the age of 21 she emigrated alone to America.  She did have a brother already here in Niagara County, on a farm.  But, the farm life was not for her.  She made the acquaintance of young Jacob Uhl, married him, and moved to New York City.  Uhl was employed by the New York Staatszeitung, a small weekly newspaper produced at a book printing plant.  The young couple economized and saved their money, and within a few years were able to buy half of the printing plant on the installment plan.

Shortly thereafter, they became totally responsible for the entire Staatszeitung operation, and made it into a daily German language newspaper, one of the best in America.  Anna was editor and secretary, and assisted in the typesetting.  If the need arose, she would even distribute the papers.

Uhl died as a young man, in 1852, and Anna rejected all offers from prospective purchasers of the publishing operation.  In 1857, she married her collaborator, Oswald Ottendorfer, and, under their direction, both the paper and the printing operation grew.  She remained active in the business but she turned her energies to helping other people.  In 1875, when she was 60, she founded a nursing home for women.  It was named for her daughter, Isabella, who had died in 1873.

She then founded the Hermann Uhl Memorial Fund in honor of her son, Hermann, who died in 1881.  The purpose of the fund was to aid German schools, and to help teacher seminars in America.  She also made a large donation to the German Dispensary, which is now Lenox Hill Hospital.  She endowed the German Hospital in Newark.  When floods wrecked havoc in Germany in 1882, she sent relief money.

She did all of these things quietly and without any fanfare.  Her husband, Oswald, remained in the background.  After she died in 1884, he made large contributions himself.  These include an endowment of a Library of German Topics at the University of New York.  And the Ottendorfer branch of the New York Public Library is named after him.
(26 Sep 03)



Nr. 1766:

Sgt. George asked a question, "How about it John, do all us descendants of Anna [Barbara Shöne] really have ties to English/French 'royalty'?  I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of how one of Geoffrey's descendants got from western France to southern Germany and became a SCHÖNE ancestor."

Since I had not written today’s column and since I am going to a Palatine-to-America meeting today (Pennsylvania Chapter, meeting in New Holland), I will try to put some thoughts together in response to George’s question.

Yes, the descendants of Anna Barbara Schöne probably do have ties to English and French royalty, and royalty in just about every country of Europe.

I have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on back.  Allow three generations per century and let’s go back to Charlemagne (Carl der Gross) at about 800 AD.  That is twelve centuries prior to us, so twelve times three is 36 generations.  That makes 68,719,000,000 ancestors that would be on my chart in 800 AD.  That is almost 69 billion.  How many people lived in Europe then?  Perhaps ten million.  So on the average, each person living in the year 800 AD is on my ancestor’s chart 69,000 times!

What is the diffusion from the so-called royalty to the general population?  Pretty high.  Not all of the King’s children could ascend to the throne and they had to find their way in the general population.  Eventually, Charlemagne’s genes have worked their way into a very large percentage of today’s population.  This is not even considering the illegitimate births, which probably were higher for royal sires than for the general population.

I don’t get very excited about anyone who claims descent from a given person of centuries ago.  There is probably nothing unique about it, i.e., it does not put them into a special class.

If someone claims to have a proven line of descent, I must smile a bit and humor them in their delusions.  Suppose that someone claims a line for 36 generations.  The probably of being true at each generation is certainly less than 0.98 on the average.  Therefore, the probability that the entire sequence of 36 steps is true is less than one-half.

Why claim any descent from royalty?  There is nothing unique about such a claim as we probably all are descendants.  As to whether any particular claim is true is very iffy if the sequence is more than ten in length.  I just smile at people who make these claims.  I smile even more at the people who try and manufacturer the evidence as George’s friend seems to have done.
(27 Sep 03)



Nr. 1767:

At the PalAm meeting in New Holland, Pennsylvania, two of the talks were given by Annette Kunselman Burgert, F.G.S.P., F.A.S.G.(don't ask me, but they sound impressive).  She started one talk by giving a number of considerations which trouble beginners.  It has been her experience that people who are just commencing their German research often have trouble on these points.

The Eighteenth Century is the Seventeen Hundreds, almost.  The Eighteenth Century commences with the year 1701 and ends with the end of year 1800.

The Colonial Period in America is the time up to the Revolutionary War.

Immigrants come into a country.  Emigrants leave a country.  Migrants move around in a country, including from New York to Pennsylvania, for example.

There WAS NO Germany in the Eighteenth Century.  Political boundaries shifted and changed.  The classification system used by the Latter Day Saints utilizes the boundaries of 1872, just before the unification of Germany.  Political jurisdictions are important because it tells where the records may be stored.

Use maps.  The maps which show a large area help give an overall orientation.  The maps which show a lot of detail are necessary to find the individual villages.

The place name is probably spelled wrong.  Say it aloud and imagine it written in the German alphabet, which pronounces some letters differently.

The surname is apt to be spelled differently than what you have.  This is not to say that either of them is wrong.  Names were spelled in many different ways, so don't look for an exact match.

In the Eighteenth Century, Germans favored two given names, of which the second one was the name that the person most likely used.  Be aware, though, that a person might use all possible combinations of his first two names.  People who used both of their given names were apt to confuse civil clerks who were expecting only one given name.

German had an old style calendar and a new style calendar, the same as we do; however, they switched at a different time than we did.  Generally, they had switched before 1700.  (If you are wondering if a village has switched, look in the church books and see when they start the new year.)

If you are having trouble finding your ancestor in Germany, try the people with whom he associates in America.
(29 Sep 03)



Nr. 1768:

We had the question of whether the children in Eighteenth Century Germany were always christened with two names, with the exception of Johannes, which is believed to be used alone.  I will give a short report based on a sample of four years in Gemmingen starting in 1700.

There are several instances where the child is given only one name.  These are examples in the 1700 to 1704 period:

    Johannes (x2)
    Matthaus,
    Catharina,
    Joseph,
    Moritz,
    Leonhard (x2),
    Elisabetha,
    Lorentz,
    Andreas (x2),
    Gorg,
    Magdalena,
    Margaretha (x3),
    Conrad.

In this period, Johannes occurred twice.  There were, in this sample, about 85 children.  One can see that single names are not unusual.  I don’t believe that Johannes is ever given with another name.

Recently, I have spent a lot of time trying to read the sponsors.  This section of a Baptismal Report takes more effort than all of the rest together.  Especially when the von Gemmingens are invited as sponsors.

The von Gemmingens were the rulers of the village.  They perhaps owned some other villages besides Gemmingen, but, still, they were small time rulers.  They did have, in their sphere of influence, a great deal of power.  They very often appeared as sponsors for the people of the village.  In about half of the von Gemmingen cases, the duty fell to a von Gemmingen unmarried daughter, a Fräulein (about the only times that the word Fräulein was used).  Sometimes two daughters would be sponsors.  The von Gemmingen men also served as sponsors.  When the senior men served, it was always necessary for the Baptismal Report to include many words recognizing their "nobility".

Below the von Gemmingens, several men in the village were recognized as "Herr".  The average Joe Blow had no titles.  Perhaps, he might have his occupation given, but this was more of a mark of identification than a title.

On the whole, the sponsorships are a small social history.  One can discern the pecking order.

I have encountered one surprise in the sponsors.  When Hans Michael Schmidt and Anna Margaretha (Sauter) of Germanna fame had their son Christophorus baptized, one of the sponsors was Elisabetha, Michael Blängeberger’s wife.  Even going back to Austria, the source name of the "Blankenbakers" was sometimes written with a "g" and sometimes with a "k".  That the ending is butchered is no surprise to any Blankenbaker.  Probably, we do have a Michael "Blankenbaker".  It has been known that there were Blankenbakers around Rhine-Neckar region besides the ones who came to America.  This baptism suggests there may have been a Smith-Blankenbaker connection in Germany.
(30 Sep 03)



Nr. 1769:

The work continues on the Gemmingen baptismal list.  By now, many of the surnames are immediately(?) recognizable to me.  Here are some of the more common ones:

Beckh Bösch Bronner Buchmiller/
Buchmüller
Clar Dörner Dups Edel
Fisher/Visher Franckh Gauger Geiger
Grust Guttmann/
Guthmann
Hackher Hamler/
Hammler
Ifantz Keller Knagg Mauer
Maÿer/Mayer Mühlleckher (4
times, all spelled
differently)
Müller Sauter
Schmit Stohlin Stösser von Berg
Wagner Weber Weibel/Wribel Wentzel
Wilhelm Wislicen (he was
the pastor)
Zehendbauer Zimmermann


These names occur in the first ten years, from 1694 to 1704.

I have worked on the next two years and several new surnames names show up in that time.  So far, the names that have interested me the most are:

  1. Christopher ?ulew and his frau Anna Maria,
  2. Plus the possible variation(s) of Michael
    Blankenbaker that I have mentioned.

I have not completed the sponsors for the first ten years, though I have made good progress.  They take a lot more time than just doing the names of the parents, the kid, and the date.

Toward 1704, new writers start keeping the register.  They have an entirely different handwriting, one that is more legible in general, though I have problems with some of their letters.  Their ideas about the spelling of names is also different.  One person writes "Müller" and the other writes "Miller".  In general, though, the new writers help to clarify the names.  For example, the first writer wrote the name "Backh" in such a way that I could not tell whether the name was "Beckh" or "Backh".  It now appears that it should be "Beckh".

One writer consistently uses the "h" after "k" as in "Beckh".  Another writer hardly ever uses the (redundant) "h".  One writer spells the name "Fridrich" while another one is consistently "Friderich".

I continue to be amazed at the variety of given names.  I have now had a Stephanus, Martinus, Aronymus, Albertina, and Rudolphus.  I have had about four pairs of twins and the writer has always indicated they were twins by some technique.  Most often, he writes "Gemini".

There are several Reformed people in the basically Lutheran church.  They seem always to indicate it if someone is Reformed by using "Calv." or "Ref.".  I am wondering about Catholics.  Some people are indicated as "Pont." and could this indicate they were Catholics?
(02 Oct 03)



Nr. 1770:

I spent more time yesterday examining the question of whether the baptismal sponsors were related to the parents in the church at Gemmingen.  I have some test cases where we know something about the husbands, wives, and children, thanks to Cerny and Zimmerman.  I had to read the sponsors from the microfilm.

I conclude, in the church at Gemmingen, that the sponsors were probably not allowed to be relatives of the parents.  More likely, they were chosen because of occupational similarity or social status.

We had two brothers who left in 1717, Michael Schmidt, who had married Anna Margaretha Sauter; and his brother Matthaus Schmidt, who had married Regina Catharina Schloesser.  The closest I came to relatives is that Matthaus and Regina had two Sauter sponsors.  Leonhardt Sauther was a sponsor once.  He was a brother to the wife of Michael Schmidt.  Or, Leonhardt was a brother to Matthaus’ sister-in-law.

Some of the same people were asked to be sponsors over and over for a given couple, but I am not aware of any relationship.  An extreme case of this was for Lorentz Beckh and his wife Anna Martha Hirn.  For the six children of Lorentz and Anna Martha, Gorg Grust was a sponsor five times.  Three times his wife joined him.

For the three children of Michael and Anna Margaretha Schmidt, Michael Blingeburger was a sponsor twice and his wife Eva Dorothea was a sponsor once.  Then for the two children of Michäel Blingelmajer and his wife Eva Dorothea, Michael was a sponsor once and Anna Margaretha was a sponsor once.

I think that Michael Blingelmajer and Michael Blingeburger are the same person.  There is too much that is the same for the two men for them not to be the same man.  Incidentally, this shows that spelling in Germany was not always the best.  For a while, I was wondering if Michael Blingeburger and Michael Schmidt were related.  Probably not if I am correct about the relationships of the sponsors and the parents in the Gemmingen church.  I am still suspicious that Michael Blingeburger is from the Blankenbühler clan and that the joint appearance of the Blankenbühlers and the Schmidts in the 1717 party is not a coincidence, but the result of shared knowledge.

Michael Schmidt is described as a vine-dresser once.  So is Michael Blingelmajer, though he is also described as a day laborer.  Perhaps he worked by the day in someone else’s vineyard.

The question is whether the parents and the sponsors are related is most likely a function of the Church.  One needs to "test the waters" with known cases before concluding one way or the other.
(03 Oct 03)



Nr. 1771:

What did our ancestors bring when they came to America?  We really have little information on the subject.  It depends also on when they came and what the trade of the father was.  If the father was a Zimmermann by trade, i.e., carpenter, he would probably want to bring some of his essential carpentry tools.  A blacksmith would like some essential tools, but it is doubtful that he could bring his anvil.  The mother would want to bring some of the utensils that she regarded as essential for cooking.

We know they could not bring much.  They were limited in the size and weight by the shipping companies.  At the Hans Herr House there is an emigrant's chest of the 1730's, a sturdy wooden box, banded in iron straps with four double handles, which served for one family.  This box could hold about 20 cubic feet of material.  This box is about 2 feet by 2 feet by 5 feet.  As one person put it, the chest had to hold nearly all of your worldly goods that you were bringing.

Access to this box on board the ship was limited as it was stored in the hold with other boxes.  The boxes were packed tightly together to conserve space and to prevent them from moving around.  If there was any extra space, deak boards were used to wedge the chests tightly into a fixed place.  When packed into the hold, it was probably impossible to open the lid or cover.  One had to hand carry the essentials that would be needed during the voyage.

There would probably be the iron objects in the box, such as the tools the father wanted, and the cooking utensils the mother wanted.  Then there would be clothes and bedding.  In inventory lists of the goods that emigrants were taking, the clothing might be very sparse.  It consisted essentially of the clothes one was wearing plus a change.  There might be a better shirt or apron for dressing up.  Perhaps two or three extra pairs of stockings.  If you were lucky, there would be another pair of shoes.  Great coats would help keep one warm and could be used also as blankets.  Minimal is the key word.

Some thought would be given to what one was going to do when he reached America.  Almost everyone recognized that they might have to start clearing ground, building a house, and planting crops.  It would be several months before one could have the benefits of food that one had grown.  Essentially, the new comers were dependent on the people already here to help carry them over the first winter.  If you had no friends here, you might have to go to work to earn some money to live on.  Basically, the first year was devoted to building at least a temporary shelter, and clearing enough ground to raise a sustenance crop.  One wanted to bring seeds for food and planting.  Cash crops had to be deferred until one was raising enough food for the family.
(04 Oct 03)



Nr. 1772:

We now know what makes our inner selves tick.  It is FOOD.  Perhaps this is a good time to talk a little about what our ancestors ate in Germany.

The long and short of it was that in 1700, our ancestors ate bread, bread, and bread for the morning meal, the noon meal (the big one), and the evening meal.  Probably the bread was not made from wheat but from one of the other grains.  In 1800, our ancestors ate potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes for the three meals of the day.  This was told by a German historian.

This shift came about because Europeans did not trust the potato as a heathy food to eat.  It was a member of the nightshade family which is poisonous.  After they discovered the potato could be trusted, they ate immense quantities of it.  It produced a large amount and could be used as an animal food also.  Also, they did not trust the tomato in 1700.  (In a suburb of Ötisheim, there is a statue of an early eighteenth century minister who is honored for daring to plant a potato in 1722.)

In the Eighteenth Century they (the Germans) ate little meat.  Most days were meatless.  Fish was perhaps more common than the flesh of mammals.  Pork became much more popular after 1800.  They used a lot of root vegetables because they could be kept over the winter months.  A prominent vegetable was the turnip, but other vegetables were used also.  A major, above-the-ground vegetable was cabbage.  Cabbage could be kept for a while in the winter by storing underground.  The other way of keeping cabbage was as sauerkraut.  This was a great food because cabbage has lots of Vitamin C, a vitamin that was not too easy to get in the winter time.

There were fruits also.  Plums and apples were popular.  Plums were made into plum butter for use on the bread.  Apples were dried and were a basic ingredient in the cooked dishes.

In the spring of the year, there was a great desire for greens which had been missing during the winter.  One sees why dandelions have been popular, for they were an early plant.  But nothing beat the early summer when the new vegetables and early fruits were available.

Many foods are from the new world.  Besides the potato, there were squashes and corn.  Both of these have excellent storage properties.

A lot of the food we think of as "German" was acquired after our ancestors came to America.  Some of it was new world food, and some of it only acquired a popularity in Germany after the Eighteenth Century.  Our early Eighteenth Century German ancestors did not eat much pork and its by-products.  If they grew any pigs, they were probably for sale, not consumption.  In America, with large farms and forests, much more pork was grown here than in Germany, where space and food for the swine were limiting factors.
(06 Oct 03)



Nr. 1773:

In deciding what to take along to America, the decision would have been influenced by many factors.  Did they have any recommendations?  What did they possess that they could take?

For the First Colony, there may have been recommendations from Johann Justus Albrecht, the "head miner".  We are not sure just what he had in the way of experience in Trans-Atlantic travel.  People who had lived abroad were the best source of information.  We know that Henry Haeger's son Friederich was already in New York.  Had he sent recommendations home?  We know that he was in communication with his father.  We also know, from the words of Christopher von Graffenried, that the Germans in London were expecting him to be responsible for them past London.  Did the failure of Graffenried to provide support leave them in the lurch?  Graffenried's partner, Michel, had traveled to America twice, and he certainly had recommendations.  Was he able to communicate his ideas to the Siegen people?

It would appear that the First Colony brought along the mining tools that Albrecht had had made in the Siegen area.  Did they get a separate crate for these?  Or, were they distributed among the goods of the people who comprised the group?

It would seem that the Second Colony received very few recommendations about making the trip.  There were some people from the area in which they lived who had made the journey in 1709.  But were there any communications about the trip back to Germany and to the Second Colony members?  (Remember that many other Germans left in 1717, besides the Second Colony, and these people may have had the benefit of information from abroad.)

In general, all of these early immigrants did not have a "do-it-yourself" book, telling how to prepare for, and how to make, the journey.  Due to their ignorance, they probably made many bad decisions.  And perhaps, due to their lack of financial resources, they may not have been able to implement their desires.

Probably the Germans had not long left their homes before they started wishing they had made some different choices.  How do you prepare for an ocean voyage when you know no one who had made a journey on the ocean?

With some faith, they launched themselves down the Rhine River toward Rotterdam.  They probably knew in advance they would have to get to England, and there they would have to find a ship to take them to America.  They may have had some rough ideas about how much the trip would cost them.  (The Hans Herr party in 1710, found they did not have enough money when they got to Rotterdam.  They were aided by fellow Mennonites in Rotterdam so they could continue their trip.)
(07 Oct 03)



Nr. 1774:

When our First Colony people landed in Virginia, what was the first thing that they did?  Probably, they had a thanksgiving church service and prayer meeting.  Apparently the survival rate had been very good.  So, after the unpleasantness of the trip, they were thankful to be on land again.

Where did they land?  Since the Captain was to collect one hundred and fifty Pounds of money from Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, he probably went to where he would expect to find Spotswood.  (The captain had no guarantee that Spotswood would pay the one and fifty pounds, and, if Spotswood declined, the captain would have sought other purchasers of the Germans' services.)  Since the most likely place to find the Governor was at the Capital, the ship probably landed close to Williamsburg.

Spotswood had a general plan, and a specific plan, and the Germans fit in very nicely.  The general plan was to settle them on the frontier as a barrier to the Indians.  He had formulated this plan in 1712 when Graffenried was looking for a place where he could relocate the remnants of his North Carolina colony.  Spotswood saw that "foreign Protestants" could be very useful on the frontier.  It would open up land for development and would provide some protection.  He had asked the Board of Trade in London about this idea, but it seems as if they had never answered him; however, the plan remained in Spotswood's mind.

The specific plan was to have the Germans work on the purported silver mine.  The choice of a location for building Fort Germanna satisfied both of his objectives.  It opened new territory for development, and it was relatively close to the silver mine.  Of course, he described the plan to the Council with an emphasis on the security of the frontier.  They, in turn, allowed the expenditure of the money from the coffers of the colony to build Fort Germanna and to equip it with modest arms.  (In colonial Virginia, it is doubtful that there were any secrets.  The Council probably had at least an inkling of Spotswood's private motives.)

Since the Germans fit in very nicely, Spotswood paid the transportation money.  It was now necessary to get the Germans to the site of Fort Germanna, and to build the fort.  Of course, most of the labor for building the fort was going to be supplied by the Germans.  They would need guidance on how to do it.  And they would need transportation to the site of the fort.  The cheapest and best transportation would be water as much as possible.
(08 Oct 03)



Nr. 1775:

After the First Colony arrived in Virginia, it probably took a while for Spotswood to get things arranged.  He had to transport the Germans, a supervisory crew, and some tools to the site of Fort Germanna.  He would have procured the services of a ship to sail up the Rappahannock River to the Falls at present day Frederickburg.  Few of the larger ocean going ships could go all the way to the Falls and there were smaller ships that plied the rivers of Virginia.

This was the easy part of the trip.  From the Falls to the site chosen for Fort Germanna (which might not have been specified yet) was harder, though it was by far the shorter part of the trip.  A few wagons would have been very helpful, but they would have required some clearing of trees to get through.  Surely the Germans pitched in here to help clear a way through the forest.  They would have been amazed at so many trees, as trees had grown scarce around Siegen.  Also, they were probably amazed at the callous regard the Virginians had for the felled trees.

Once the party was on the site where Fort Germanna was to be built, the first task was to build fires and put up very temporary shelters which might have consisted of the boughs of trees piled on a temporary framework.  You might think of yourself as a Boy Scout on a camping trip.  (The noises in the night might have alarmed some of the people.)  Next, an area large enough to hold Fort Germanna was cleared and some of the wood was saved for houses, the palisades, and the blockhouses.

Probably, members of the supervisory party would have taken some of the Germans on hunting trips to find meat to eat.  With the ground cleared, and the fort sketched in, homes were probably the next thing to be constructed.  The supervisors would have explained, probably by example and not by speech, how to construct a house.  Then the Germans built their homes with all of them pitching in build one for Rev. Haeger's family.

At this point, there were two priorities.  One was to construct the fort's palisade and blockhouse.  Another, and very important one, would be to clear more ground for gardens.  Already, the growing season was advanced and it was necessary to take quick action for getting a few things planted that might produce something this season.

Typically, Spotswood supplied cattle to his tenants or servants.  The rule was that at the end of the period an equal number of cattle were to be returned to Spotswood plus one half of the increase.  Finding these cattle and driving them to Germanna would have been a significant task.  This would have given some milk, butter, and cheese, and, occasionally, some meat.
(09 Oct 03)


(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 SEVENTY-FIRST set of Notes, Nr. 1751 through Nr. 1775.)

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


There is a Mailing List (also known as a Discussion List or Discussion Group), called GERMANNA_COLONIES, at RootsWeb.  This List is open to all subscribers for the broadcast of their messages.  John urges more of you to make it a research tool for answering your questions, or for summarizing your findings, on any subject concerning the Germanna Colonies of Virginia.  On this List, you may make inquiries of specific Germanna SURNAMES.  At present, there are about 700 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.  If you are interested in subscribing to this List,

(GERMANNA History Notes, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John BLANKENBAKER.)
(GERMANNA History Web Pages, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 George W. DURMAN.)
This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, with the permission of John BLANKENBAKER.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further.

Index Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES and Genealogy Comments
INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES
Pg.001-Notes 0001-0025
Pg.002-Notes 0026-0050
Pg.003-Notes 0051-0075
Pg.004-Notes 0076-0100
Pg.005-Notes 0101-0125
Pg.006-Notes 0126-0150
Pg.007-Notes 0151-0175
Pg.008-Notes 0176-0200
Pg.009-Notes 0201-0225
Pg.010-Notes 0226-0250
Pg.011-Notes 0251-0275
Pg.012-Notes 0276-0300
Pg.013-Notes 0301-0325
Pg.014-Notes 0326-0350
Pg.015-Notes 0351-0375
Pg.016-Notes 0376-0400
Pg.017-Notes 0401-0425
Pg.018-Notes 0426-0450
Pg.019-Notes 0451-0475
Pg.020-Notes 0476-0500
Pg.021-Notes 0501-0525
Pg.022-Notes 0526-0550
Pg.023-Notes 0551-0575
Pg.024-Notes 0575-0600
Pg.025-Notes 0601-0625
Pg.026-Notes 0626-0650
Pg.027-Notes 0651-0675
Pg.028-Notes 0676-0700
Pg.029-Notes 0701-0725
Pg.030-Notes 0726-0750
Pg.031-Notes 0751-0775
Pg.032-Notes 0776-0800
Pg.033-Notes 0801-0825
Pg.034-Notes 0826-0850
Pg.035-Notes 0851-0875
Pg.036-Notes 0876-0900
Pg.037-Notes 0901-0925
Pg.038-Notes 0926-0950
Pg.039-Notes 0951-0975
Pg.040-Notes 0976-1000
Pg.041-Notes 1001-1025
Pg.042-Notes 1026-1050
Pg.043-Notes 1051-1075
Pg.044-Notes 1076-1100
Pg.045-Notes 1101-1125
Pg.046-Notes 1126-1150
Pg.047-Notes 1151-1175
Pg.048-Notes 1176-1200
Pg.049-Notes 1201-1225
Pg.050-Notes 1226-1250
Pg.051-Notes 1251-1275
Pg.052-Notes 1276-1300
Pg.053-Notes 1301-1325
Pg.054-Notes 1326-1350
Pg.055-Notes 1351-1375
Pg.056-Notes 1376-1400
Pg.057-Notes 1401-1425
Pg.058-Notes 1426-1450
Pg.059-Notes 1451-1475
Pg.060-Notes 1476-1500
Pg.061-Notes 1501-1525
Pg.062-Notes 1526-1550
Pg.063-Notes 1551-1575
Pg.064-Notes 1576-1600
Pg.065-Notes 1601-1625
Pg.066-Notes 1626-1650
Pg.067-Notes 1651-1675
Pg.068-Notes 1676-1700
Pg.069-Notes 1701-1725
Pg.070-Notes 1726-1750
Pg.071-Notes 1751-1775
Pg.072-Notes 1776-1800
Pg.073-Notes 1801-1825
Pg.074-Notes 1826-1850
Pg.075-Notes 1851-1875
Pg.076-Notes 1876-1900
Pg.077-Notes 1901-1925
Pg.078-Notes 1926-1950
Pg.079-Notes 1951-1975
Pg.080-Notes 1976-2000
Pg.081-Notes 2001-2025
Pg.082-Notes 2026-2050
Pg.083-Notes 2051-2075
Pg.084-Notes 2076-2100
Pg.085-Notes 2101-2125
Pg.086-Notes 2126-2150
Pg.087-Notes 2150-2175
Pg.088-Notes 2176-2200
Pg.089-Notes 2201-2225
Pg.090-Notes 2226-2250
Pg.091-Notes 2251-2275
Pg.092-Notes 2276-2300
Pg.093-Notes 2301-2325
Pg.094-Notes 2326-2350
Pg.095-Notes 2351-2375
Pg.096-Notes 2376-2400
Pg.097-Notes 2401-2425
Pg.098-Notes 2426-2450
Pg.099-Notes 2451-2475
Pg.100-Notes 2476-2500
Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025


INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GENEALOGY COMMENTS

(As of 12 April 2007, John published the last of his "Germanna Notes"; however, he is going to periodically post to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List in the form of "Genealogy Comments" on various subjects, not necessarily dealing with Germanna.  I'm starting the numbering system anew, starting with Comment Nr. 0001.)

Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025
This Page Contains Notes 1751 through 1775.

Go To
Top.

  [Back to John's Notes Index Page]

  [Germanna Colonies Home Page]

  [GERMANNA Home Page]