Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

(This Page Was Last Modified Wednesday, 06-Apr-2011 15:52:17 MDT.)


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


This is the EIGHTY-FIFTH 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 2101 through 2125.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 85

(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. 2101:

As we enter the new centuries in these Notes (also at the half centuries), I customarily give some comments about the purpose and aims.  The first thing to note is that my choice of subject is varied and sometimes strays off the narrow path.  These off-the-base rambles should not be construed as illustrative of the primary purpose.  I do digress some just because, after twenty-one hundred Notes, it gets to be harder to find material to write about.  Also, I am not doing quite as much research as I did at one time and certainly I am not publishing as much.  Every so often, some theme strikes me and I carry it out for a few Notes.  I have been writing about my personal trips to Germany, which has been motivated in part by the planned trip of the Germanna Foundation to a number of homeland villages of the Germanna Colonists.  These have been very successful, and, while they may be conducted slightly differently than the trips I made with Eleanor, they have been rewarding.  There is no single way to travel.

I define a Germanna Colonist as anyone who is descended from a German-speaking individual who lived on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Eighteenth Century.  One's ancestor may have come directly to Virginia, or may have come through one of the other colonies.  Such an individual may be a man or woman.  A person may have several "Germanna" ancestors, but the number has no significance.  One is as good as twenty, in order to be called a "Germanna descendant".

Virginia geography is divided into three or four parts:

The easternmost part is the Tidewater Region along the coast, and extends inland as far as the rivers reflect the tides of the ocean.  Running north and south through Virginia is the Fall Line where the rivers tumble down out of the Piedmont (i.e., the Foothills) into the Tidewater area.  This Fall Line is approximately at Washington, D.C., Frederickburg, and Richmond, or the I-95 Interstate.  The Piedmont extends to the west to the mountains, especially the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Germanna was in the Piedmont and the first homes of the Germans were in the Piedmont.  The Blue Ridge Mountains were thought to be a barrier to western expansion and they certainly did slow down the westward progress.  Once one is over the Blue Ridge, then there is the Shenandoah Valley.  In general, the residents of the Shenandoah Valley are not considered Germanna Colonists, but there were interactions between the Germans on the two sides of the Blue Ridge.  (Many Shenandoah Valley German families married into "Germanna" families.)

On the west side of the Shenandoah Valley, the Appalachians start.  The Valley was settled in two ways, but primarily from the north, namely from Pennsylvania and Maryland.  One cannot do early research in the Shenandoah Valley without considering those two states.  The Germanna Colonies were enriched by people from the north also.  Many came into Philadelphia and immediately went down to Virginia.  This was the result of trans-Atlantic travel patterns.
(29 Apr 05)



Nr. 2102:

After our first trip to Austria in 2000, I attempted to learn more about the history of Austria.  Finding detailed history in English is not easy, and so I resorted to some history written in German.  Fortunately, Elke Hall came to my rescue and bailed me out.  The following history should not be taken too exactly as it intended only to be a guide.

**********

About 1550, or thirty years after the start of the Reformation, Stefan von Zinzendorf, a German, was the first Protestant to visit the area.  He is of the same family, but much earlier, as Count Zinzendorf of Moravian fame.  The majority of the citizens in Austria became Protestants, especially around Gresten and the church in Gresten became Protestant.  The rulers of Austria remained staunchly Catholic.  A counter Reformation was launched under the guidance of Georg Scherer, a Jesuit, who adopted harsh measures.  (Probably this was the occasion of the court trial of the pastor recently mentioned.)  The counter Reformation, taxation, and other grievances propelled the farmers in Austria to launch a Farmer’s War.  In 1597, the conflict between the farmers and the armies of the Emperor became intense, with perhaps 12,000 farmers involved.

Much of the leadership for the farmers came from Gresten.  The war turned very badly for the farmers, and many were killed or executed.  Today, on one of the farms outside Gresten, there is a beautiful chapel dedicated to the memory of those farmers.  This chapel stands on the farm of one of the farmers who was executed.

Another period of unrest started with the Thirty Years's War in 1618, with much of the leadership on the "Catholic" side provided by the Austrian rulers.  Within Austria, all churches became Catholic, though citizens could remain Lutheran.  The reversion of the church in Gresten to the Catholics occurred about 1630.

At the end of the war in 1648, it took a few years to achieve stability, but, in the early 1650's, it was decreed that all citizens must either convert to Catholicism or leave the country.  At this time some of the Plankenbuehlers left Austria to go to Mittelfranken (around Dietenhofen), since they start appearing in the church records there at that time.

The records from the time that the church in Gresten was Protestant have apparently been lost.  So the church records only go back to about 1630 in Gresten.  Reconstructing the families prior to this time is very difficult.  Zimmerman and Cerny attempted to outline the structure of the Plankenbuehler family from the existing church records but they had to make some assumptions which proved not to be correct.  Also, they were unable to provide any record that Matthias Blankenbuehler of Neuenbuerg was from Gresten.
(02 May 05)



Nr. 2103:

With a lack of church records in Gresten in the early 1600's, it is difficult to reconstruct families.  Besides the church records, there is another source of information, namely the civil, or estate, records.  These civil records were maintained by the "lord" of the district, in this case at the Schloss (Castle) Stiebar.  Pastor Georg Kuhr of Mittelfranken in Germany worked with these records for many years.  He photographed them at the Schloss Stiebar and typed up the data.  Richard Plankenbuehler with his wife Gisela worked with Pastor Kuhr and obtained information which answers many questions.  This useful and much appreciated work of Georg Kuhr ended with his death.

Pastor Kuhr once remarked that it was a hardship to work with the family because of the many spellings that were used.  For simplicity, the name will be reported as Planckenbuehler to avoid the confusion by the different spellings.

The estate records at Stiebar are an important source of information that tells how the assets were to be divided after the death of a person.  Even without any certain knowledge of Austrian Seventeenth Century estate law, the main points are easy to understand.  On the death of a mother with the father surviving and with the father keeping a farm, he had to pay to the children their share of the mother’s estate.  Sons and daughters were not treated equally, but they were all entitled to a share.  When the father died, the farm would go to one of the sons, probably the oldest son.  This son had to pay the other children their share of the father’s estate.  These statements are points which seem to be implied by the nature of the records.

On 24 September 1620, Martha Planckenbuehler died.  She and her husband Kilian (his name is also given as Colman and other variations) were the parents of seven children, namely, Jacob, Hannss(I), Paul(I), Thomas, Michael, Maria, and Barbara.  Paul(I) and Barbara died before their mother did.  (The maiden name of Martha is unknown.)  The first child to receive a payment was Jacob.  A record of 4 August 1644 identifies Jacob with the farm Ploezenperg (Pletzenberg today), which is distinct from the farm Planckenbichl, where Kilian lived, though only a half mile away.

Kilian Planckenbuehler married again.  The second wife was also Martha and her maiden surname is unknown.  Before 1640, they were the parents of ten children, Blasius, Matthias, Hannss(II), Paul(II), Adam, Magdalena, Christoph, Elisabetha, Sophia, and Potentiana.  Kilian died in 1646 and Martha in 1647.

Blasius assumed the possession of the Plankenpichl farm and paid, over the course of time, his brothers and sister their shares of the estate.
(03 May 05)



Nr. 2104:

There were two estate distributions in the Kilian Planckenbuehler family at Gresten, one when the first wife of Kilian, a Martha, died in 1620, and the other when Kilian and his second wife, another Martha, died within a nine-month period about 1646.  It is from these estate distributions that we learn something about the families.  An estate distribution was not made immediately.  Time was allowed for this, but there still was a final accounting.

It is from these records that we learn that Matthias Planckebuehler was married and living in the Holy Roman Empire near Langenbruecken under the jurisdiction of the Speyer diocese.  Three or four of his brothers (one returned to Austria) are identified as living in Mittelfranken in Bavaria.

Langenbruecken is five miles west and slightly north of Neuenbuerg, which is where the family appears to have been living later.  Both Langenbruecken and Neuenbuerg were on the lands of the Bishops of Speyer.  Therefore, both places were distinctly Catholic.  In fact, at Neuenbuerg, the Protestant inhabitants walked about two miles to Oberoewisheim to go to the Lutheran Church.

So we have more than one mystery.  Why did Matthias go past Mittelfranken and Dietenhofen to the edge of the Rhine River?  Why did he not stay with his relatives in Mittelfranken?  Presumably, all of the emigrations were to escape the edict the Austrian Emperor which required that everyone adopt the Catholic religion.  So why would Matthias go from one Catholic region to another Catholic area?  Did he know someone in Austria who could help him relocate?

We know of only one son of Matthias, but he probably had more.  Shortly after the Blanckenbuehlers left Neuenbuerg for Virginia, there was a marriage of a Blanckenbuehler in Oberoewisheim.  Since Matthias seems to be the only Blanckenbuehler in the area, this man was probably a descendant of Matthias.  A few years ago I corresponded with a Blankenbuehler who lived in this general area.  He did not know his ancestry in that much detail but he was probably a descendant of Matthias also.  (He had lost his desire to learn more as he was the end of the line.)

Richard Planckenbuehler, who lives in Nuernberg (in Bavaria) descends from the first wife of Kilian while I have the second wife as an ancestor.  Therefore, we are only half-cousins.  Counting all of the generations, I think we are tenth half-cousins, going back to about 1600 for our common ancestor.

I consider now that the line from me to Kilian is highly probable.  I have three paths back to Matthias, the exile from Austria.  He is tied to Kilian by the estate records in Gresten.

**********
(04 May 05)



Nr. 2105:

Announcing a June 25 (Saturday) Meeting of the Germanna Descendants in Haubstadt, Indiana.

Many of you will be able to attend this meeting; it is not far from Darmstadt and Elberfeld in southern Indiana (as in the USA).  Primarily designed for Willheit descendants, the area also had representatives of the Yager, Stillman, and Broyles families though these latter three names seem to be no longer present.  The organizer of the event, Gerald Wilhite, tells me that all are welcome.

The meeting is in the Johnson Township Community Park, just outside of Haubstadt.  The building is a comfortable meeting space for up to 150 people with a good sound system.  The schedule has 11:00 to 12:00 for registration, 12:00 to 1:00 for lunch, 1:00 to 2:00 for family reports, 2:00 to 3:00 for a talk by John Blankenbaker.  I plan on being there before the 11:00 starting time and after the 3:00 conclusion of the talk to answer questions, meet people, and sell materials, both for the Germanna Foundation and myself.

Attractions in the area include New Harmony and the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln.

Though I have not written my presentation yet, I expect it to be along the lines of why and when did the Germanna people come and why they ended up in Virginia.  Some attention will probably be given to the question of when Johann Michael Willheit came.

Mark your calendars, especially if you live in southern Indiana, or southern Illinois, or in the area around Louisville, Kentucky.

******

The 49th Annual Reunion of The Germanna Foundation is July 15, 16, 17.  This is described very completely on the Foundation’s web site, www.germanna.org, and in their mailing.
******

There will be a Genealogy Conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania German Heritage Center Library at Kutztown University here in Pennsylvania on September 17.  The keynote address will be given by Aaron S. Fogleman who wrote the book, Hopeful Journeys.  I have used material from this book on a number of occasions here.  Because the book is so interesting, I am planning on attending.  The other two speakers are John Humphrey and Annette K. Burgert who, in their own right, are very good presenters.
(05 May 05)



Nr. 2106:

The last note mentioned some upcoming conferences; this note will discuss a recent one ­ the meeting of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Palatines to America (PalAm) in late April.  There was only one speaker, Mrs. Trudy Schenk who is a native-born German who has lived many years in the US.  She works at the FHL in Salt Lake City, apparently at the help desk for German research.  She has heard the common research problem of "Where did my ancestor come from?" again and again.

Throughout her talks, she emphasized, "Association is a major key."  If you can put your ancestor into a bin with known people from known sources, then concentrate your searching on that area.  If you know the passenger list for the ship that the ancestor came on, check the names of the people who are close to the ancestor on the list.  Surnames can be compared to the distribution of the surnames in Germany today.  First names are some clues also, as many first names are unique to a region.  The spelling of many of these is a clue also.  Henrich is a northern spelling, Heinrich is a southern spelling.  [I asked her if she has published a book with the implications of first name spellings and she said that there was not enough time in the day.]  Examples of variant spellings are Baltzer for Balthasar, Jerg for Georg, Uli for Ulrich, Filip for Philipp, and Heini for Heinrich.

There are two categories of records that are important, the church records and the civil records.  The church records are tedious.  In the civil records, there have been many compilations of emigration records in recent decades.  She named many of these books, as yet unfilmed, which are in the FHL library.  Among the authors are Burgert, Jones, Krebs, Hacker, Yoder, Muggenthaler, and Gieg.  The only problem with emigration records is that many people left secretly without permission.  [In response to my question about the meaning of "they left in the night", which was used to describe the departure the Gemmingen folk in 1717, she said that was a code phrase meaning they left without permission.]  The church records may have notations of departure from a village without there being a civil permission as in this example.

In Wuerttemberg, many of the emigrants did apply for permission to leave and many of these records have been preserved.  Many have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, but they are a jumbled up collection of papers that are not indexed.  Mrs. Schenk and Ruth Froelke have undertaken to read through such documents and publish the information in the form of indexes for the public's benefit.  Though tedious, there are interesting tidbits about the immigrants such as "the parish is paying money to send this man to America."  Probably this individual was a financial and perhaps a moral burden on the parish.

If you searching for an ancestor and you are in Salt Lake City, look up Trudy Schenk.  She may have some good help for you.  Probably she is very busy.
(06 May 05)



Nr. 2107:

William Byrd (II) was a superb writer but he did not publish his writings to the public at large.  Nothing that he wrote was published in his life time; it was only decades later that his writings which could be found were published.  Some have never been found, especially some of his secret diaries.  One thing of which he was an author was "A Progress to the Mines in the year 1732".  Some parts of this have been published by the Germanna Foundation.  I thought that we might look at some of the omitted pages.

"September 1732.  For the pleasure of the good company of Mrs. Byrd and her little governor, my son, I went about halfway to the falls [on the James River] in the chariot.  There we halted, not far from a purling stream, and upon the stump of a propagate oak picked the bones of a piece of roast beef.  By the spirit which that gave me I was better able to part with the dear companions of my travels and to perform the rest of my journey on horseback by myself."

[We should not assume that Byrd meant he was totally alone.  He would have been accompanied by servants. ]

"I reached Shacco’s before two o’clock and crossed the [James] river to the mills.  [This would have been near the site of the future town of Richmond which Byrd laid out in 1737.]  I have the grief to find them both stand as still for the want of water as a dead woman's tongue for want of breath.  It had rained so little for many weeks above the falls, that the naiads had hardly water enough to wash their faces.  However, as we ought to turn all misfortunes to the best advantage, I directed Mr.Booker, my first minister there, to make use of the lowness of the water for blowing up the rocks at the mouth of the canal.  For that purpose I ordered iron drills to be made about two feet long, pointed with steel, chisel fashion, in order to make holes into which we put our cartridges of powder, containing each about three ounces.  There wanted skill among my engineers to choose the best parts of the stone for boring, that we might blow to the best advantage.  They made all of their holes quite perpendicular, where as they should have humored the grain of the stone for the more effective execution.  I ordered the points of the drills to be made chisel fashion, rather than diamond, that they might need to be seldomer repaired, though in stone the diamond points would make the most dispatch.  The water now flowed out the river so slowly that the miller was obliged to pond it up in the canal by setting open the floodgates at the mouth and shutting those close to the mill.  By this contrivance he was able at any time to grind two or three bushels, either for his choice customers or for the use of my plantations."

[William Byrd may have read Latin, Greek, and Hebrew but he was still able to bring his mind to practical problems.] (09 May 05)



Nr. 2108:

[At the Falls of the James River with William Byrd.]

"Then I walked to the place where they broke the flax, which is wrought with much greater ease than the hemp and is much better for spinning.  From thence I paid a visit to the weaver, who needed a little of Minerva's inspiration to make the most of a piece of fine cloth.  Then I looked in upon my Caledonia spinster, who was mended more in her looks than in her humor.  However, she promised much, though at the same time intended to perform little.  She is too high-spirited for Mr. Booker, who hates to have his sweet temper ruffled and will rather suffer matters to go a little wrong sometimes than give his righteous spirit any uneasiness.  He is very honest and would make an admirable overseer where servants will do as they are bid.  But eye-servants, who want an abundance of overlooking, are not so proper to be committed to his care.

"I found myself out of order and for that reason retired early, yet with all this precaution had a gentle fever in the night, but toward morning Nature set open all her gates and drove it out in a plentiful perspiration.

"19 [of September].  The worst of this fever was that it put me to the necessity of taking another ounce of bark.  I moistened every dose with a little brandy and filled the glass up with water, which is the least nauseous way of taking this popish medicine and besides hinders it from purging.

"After I had swallowed a few poached eggs, we rode down to the mouth of the canal and from thence crossed over to the broad rock island in a canoe.  Our errand was to view some iron ore, which we dug up in two places.  That on the surface seemed very spongy and poor, which gave us no great encouragement to search deeper, nor did the quantity appear to be very great.  However, for my greater satisfaction I ordered a hand to dig there for some time this winter.

"We walked from one end of the island to the other, being about half a mile in length, and found the soil very good and too high for any flood less than that of Deucalion to do the least damage.  There is a very wild prospect both upward and downward, the river being full of rocks over which the stream tumbled with a murmur loud enough to drown the notes of a scolding wife.  This island would an agreement hermitage for any good Christian who had a mind to retire from the world. . . I was punctual in swallowing my bark, and that I might use exercise upon it, rode to Prince’s Folly and My Lord’s islands, where I saw very fine corn.

"In the meantime, Vulcan came in order to make the drills for boring the rocks and gave me his parole he would, by the grace of God, attend the works till they were finished, which he performed as lamely as if he had been to labor for a dead horse and not for ready money."

(10 May 05)



Nr. 2109:

[With William Byrd at the future site of Richmond on the 19th September 1732.]

"I made a North Carolina dinner upon fresh pork, though we had a plate of green peas after it, by way of dessert, for the safety of our noses [he believed a heavy diet of pork caused yaws which would destroy the nose].  Then my first minister and I had some serious conversation about my affairs, and I find nothing disturbed his peaceable spirit so much as the misbehavior of the spinster above mentioned.  I told him I could not pity a man who had it always in his power to do himself and her justice and would not.  If she were a drunkard, a scold, a thief, or a slanderer, we had wholesome laws that would make her back smart for the diversion of her other members, and 'twas his fault he had not put those wholesome severities in execution.  I retired in decent time to my own apartment and slept very comfortably upon my bark, forgetting all the little crosses arising from overseers and Negroes.

"20 [of September].  I continued the bark and then tossed down my poached eggs with as much ease as some good breeders slip children into the world.  About nine I left the prudentest orders I could think of with my vizier and then crossed the river to Shacco's.  I made a running visit to three of my quarters, where, besides finding all the people well, I had the pleasure to see better crops than usual both of corn and tobacco.  I parted there with my intendant [supervisor], and pursued my journey to Mr. Randolph's at Tuckahoe without meeting any adventure by the way.

"Here I found Mrs. Fleming, who was packing up her baggage with design to follow her husband the next day, who was gone to a new settlement in Goochland.  Both he and she have been about seven years persuading themselves to remove to that retired part of the country, though they had the two strong arguments of health and interest for so doing.  The widow smiled graciously upon me and entertained me very handsomely.  Here I learnt all the tragical story of her daughter's humble marriage with her uncle's overseer.  Besides the meanness of this mortal's aspect, the man has not one visible qualification except impudence to recommend him to a female's inclinations.  But there is sometimes such a charm in the Hibernian endowment that frail women can't withstand it, though it stand alone without any other recommendation.  Had she run away with a gentleman or a pretty fellow there might have been some excuse for her, though he were of an inferior fortune, but to stoop to a dirty plebeian without any kind of merit is the lowest prostitution.  I found the family justly enraged at it, and though I had more good nature than to join her condemnation, yet I could devise no excuse for so senseless a prank as this young gentleman had played."

(11 May 05)



Nr. 2110:

[With William Byrd at Mrs. Fleming's on September 20, 1732.]

"Here good drink was more scarce than good victuals, the family being reduced to the last bottle of wine, which was therefore husbanded very carefully.  But the water was excellent.  The heir of the family did not come home till late in the evening.  He is a pretty young man but had the misfortune to become his own master too soon.  This puts young fellows upon wrong pursuits before they have sense to judge rightly for themselves, though at the same time they have a strange conceit of their own sufficiency when they grow near twenty years old, especially if they happen to have a small smattering of learning.  'Tis then they fancy themselves wiser than all their tutors and governors, which makes them headstrong to all advice and above all reproof and admonition.

"21 [September].  I was sorry in the morning to find myself stopped in my career by bad weather brought upon us by a northeast wind.  This drives a world of raw, unkindly vapors upon us from Newfoundland, loaden with blights, coughs, and pleurisies.  However, I complained not, lest I might be suspected to be tired of the good company, though Mrs. Fleming was not so much upon her guard but mutinied strongly at the rain that hindered her from pursuing her dear husband.  I said what I could to comfort a gentlewoman under so sad a disappointment.  I told her a husband that stayed so much at home as hers did could be no such violent rarity as for a woman to venture her precious health to go daggling through the rain after him or to be miserable if she happened to be prevented; that it was prudent for married people to fast sometimes from one another, that they might come together again with the better stomach; that the best things in this world, if constantly used, are apt to be cloying, which a little absence and abstinence would prevent.  This was strange doctrine to a fond female who fancies people should love with as little reason after marriage as before.

"In the afternoon Monsieur Marij [Marye], the minister of the parish, came to make me a visit.  He had been a Romish priest but found reasons, either spiritual or temporal, to quit that gay religion.  The fault of the new convert is that he looks for as much respect from his Protestant flock as is paid to the popish clergy, which our ill-bred Huguenots don't understand.  Madam Marij had so much curiosity as to want to come too, but another horse was wanting, and she believed it would have too vulgar an air to ride behind her husband.  This woman was of the true Exchange [the Royal Exchange in London] breed, full of discourse but void of discretion, and married a parson with idle hopes he might some time or other come to be His Grace of Canterbury.  The gray mare is the better horse in that family, and the poor man submits to her wild vagaries for peace's sake.  She is just enough of a fine lady to run in debt and be of no signification in her household.  And the only thing that can prevent her from undoing her loving husband will be that nobody will trust them beyond the sixteen thousand, which is soon run out in a Goochland store."  [Sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco was the statutory salary for ministers in Virginia from 1696 to the Revolution].

(12 May 05)



Nr. 2111:

[With William Byrd at Mrs. Fleming's on September 21 & 22, 1732.]

"The way of dealing there [in the Goochland stores] is for some small merchant or peddler to buy a Scots' pennyworth of goods and clap 150 per cent upon that.  At this rate the parson can't be paid much more for his preaching than 'tis worth.  No sooner was our visitor [Rev. Marye] retired but the facetious widow was so kind as to let me into all this secret history, but was at the same time exceedingly sorry that the woman should be so indiscreet and the man so tame as to be governed by an unprofitable and fantastical wife.

"22 [September].  We had another good day, to try both Mrs. Fleming's patience and my good breeding.  The northeast wind commonly sticks by us three or four days, filling the atmosphere with damps, injurious both to man and beast.  The worst of it was we had no good liquor to warm our blood and fortify our spirits against so strong a malignity.  However, I was cheerful under all these misfortunes and expressed no concern but a decent fear lest my long visit might be troublesome.  Since I was like to have thus much leisure, I endeavored to find out what subject a dull married man could introduce that might best bring the widow to the use of her tongue.  At length I discovered she was a notable quack and therefore paid that regard to her knowledge as to put some questions to her about the bad distemper that raged then in the country.  I mean the bloody flux, that was brought us in the Negro ship consigned to Colonel Braxton.  She told me she made use of very simple remedies in that case, with very good success.  She did the business either with hartshorn drink that had plantain leaves boiled in it, or else with a strong decoction of St.-Andrew's-cross in new milk instead of water.  I agreed with her that those remedies might be very good but would be effectual after a dose or two of Indian physic.  [Col. Byrd often prescribed the medicines for his family, friends, and his servants.]

"But for fear this conversation might be too grave for a widow, I turned the discourse and began to talk of plays, and, finding her taste lay most toward comedy, I offered my services to read one to her, which she kindly accepted.  She produced the second part of The Beggar's Opera, which had diverted the town for forty nights successively and gained £4,000 to the author.  This was not owing altogether to the wit or humor that sparkled in it but to some political reflections that seemed to hit the ministry.  But the great advantage of the author was that his interest was solicited by the Duchess of Queensberry, which no man could refuse who had but half an eye in his head or half a guinea in his pocket.  Her Grace, like death, spared nobody but even took My Lord Selkirk in for two guineas, to repair which extravagance he lived upon Scots herrings two months afterward. . . After having acquainted my company with the history of the play, I read three acts of it, and left Mrs. Fleming and Mr. Randolph to finish it, who read as well as most actors do at a rehearsal.  Thus we killed the time and triumphed over the bad weather."

(13 May 05)



Nr. 2112:

[With William Byrd at Mrs. Fleming's on September 23.]

"The clouds continued to drive from the northeast and to menace us with more rain.  But as the lady resolved to venture through it I thought it a shame for me to venture to flinch.  Therefore, after fortifying myself with two capacious dishes of coffee and making my compliments to the ladies, I mounted, and Mr. Randolph was so kind as to be my guide.

"At the distance of three miles, in a path as narrow as that which leads to Heaven but much more dirty, we reached the homely dwelling of the Reverend Mr. Marij.  His land is much more barren than his wife and needs all Mr. Bradley's skill [author of works on agriculture] . . . to make it bring corn.  Thence we proceeded five miles farther to a mill of Mr. Randolph's, that is apt to stand still when there falls but little rain and to be carried away when there falls a great deal.  Then we pursued a very blind path four miles farther, which puzzled my guide, who I suspect led me out of the way.  At length we came into a great road, where he took leave, after giving me some very confused directions, and so left me to blunder out the rest of the journey by myself.  I lost myself more than once but soon recovered the right way again.  About three miles after quitting my guide, I passed the south branch of Pamunkey river, near fifty yards over and full of stones.

"After this I had eight miles to Mr. Chiswell's, where I arrived about two o’clock and saved my dinner.  I was very handsomely entertained, finding everything very clean and very good.  I had not seen Mrs. Chiswell in twenty-four years, which, alas had made great havoc with her pretty face and plowed very deep furrows in her fair skin.  It was impossible to know her again, so much the flower was faded.  However, though she was grown an old woman, yet she was one of those absolute rarities, a very good old woman.

"I found Mr. Chiswell a sensible, well-bred man and very frank in communicating his knowledge in the mystery of making iron, wherein he has had long experience.  I told him I was come to spy the land and inform myself of the expense of carrying on an ironwork with effect; that I sought my instruction from him, who understood the whole mystery, having gained full experience so dear.  He answered that he would with sincerity let me into the little knowledge he had, and so we immediately entered upon the business."

[This last paragraph tells us the reason for his trip, which Byrd made no attempt to disguise.  He wanted to learn what was necessary to become a producer of iron.]

(16 May 05)



Nr. 2113:

[With William Byrd on September 23, 1732, as he met with Mr. Chiswell.]

"He assured me the first step I was to take was to acquaint myself fully with the quantity and quality of my ore.  For that reason I ought to keep a good pickax man at work a whole year to search if there be a sufficient quantity, without which it would be a very rash undertaking.  That I should also have a skillful person to try the richness of the ore.  Nor is it great advantage to have it exceeding rich, because then it will yield brittle iron, which is not valuable.  But the way to have it tough is to mix poor ore and rich together, which makes the poorer sort extremely necessary for the production of the best iron.  Then he showed me a sample of the richest they have in England, which yields a full moiety of iron.  It was of a pale red color, smooth and greasy, and not exceedingly heavy; but it produced so brittle a metal that they were obliged to melt the poorer ore along with it.

"He told me, after I was certain my ore was good and plentiful enough, my next inquiry ought to be how far it lies from a stream proper to build a furnace upon [for the water power to drive the bellows], and again what distance that furnace will be from water carriage; because the charge of carting a great way is very heavy and eats out a great part of the profit.  That this was the misfortune of the mines of Fredericksville [note -ville, not -burg], where they were obliged to cart the ore a mile to the furnace, after 'twas run into iron to carry that twenty-four miles over an uneven road to Rappahannock River, about a mile below Fredericksburg, to a plantation the company rented of Colonel Page.  If I were satisfied with the situation, I was in the next place to consider whether I had woodland enough near the furnace to supply it with charcoal, whereof it would require a prodigious quantity.  That the properest wood for that purpose was that of oily kind, such as pine, walnut, hickory, oak, and in short all that yields cones, nuts, or acorns.  That two square miles of wood would supply a moderate furnace, that so what you fell first may have time to grow up again to a proper bigness (which must be four inches over) by that time the rest is cut down.

"He told me farther that 120 slaves, including women, were necessary to carry on all the business of an ironwork, and the more Virginians amongst them the better; though in that number he comprehended carters, colliers [charcoal makers], and those that planted the corn.  That if there should be much carting, it would require 1,600 bushels of corn yearly to supply the people and the cattle employed; nor does even that quantity suffice at Fredericksville."

(16 May 05)



Nr. 2114:

[Continuing William Byrd's account of his conversation with Mr. Chiswell on 23 & 24 September 1732.]

"That if these circumstances should happily occur, and you could procure honest colliers and firemen, which will be difficult to do, you may easily run eight hundred tons of sow iron a year.  The whole charge of freight, custom, commission, and other expenses in England, will not exceed 30s. [shillings] a ton, and 'twill commonly sell for £6, and then the clear profit will amount to £4 10s.  So that allowing 10s. for accidents, you may reasonably expect a clear profit of £4, which being multiplied by eight hundred, will amount to £3,200 a year, to pay you for your land and Negroes.  But then it behooved me to be fully informed of the whole matter myself, to prevent being imposed upon and if any offered to put tricks upon me, to punish them as they deserve.

"Thus ended our conversation for this day, and I retired to a very clean lodging in another house and took my bark, but was forced to take it in water, by reason a light-fingered damsel had ransacked my baggage and drank up my brandy.  This unhappy girl, it seems, is a baronet's daughter; but her complexion, being red-haired, inclined her so much to lewdness that her father sent her, under the care of the virtuous Mr. Cheep, to seek her fortune on this side of the globe.

"24 [of September].  My friend Mr. Chiswell made me reparation for the robbery of his servant by filing my bottle again with good brandy.

"It being Sunday, I made a motion for going to church to see the growth of the parish, but unluckily the sermon happened to be at the chapel, which was too far off.  [Parishes were so large that auxiliary chapels were established where the people who lived at a remote distance could go to church.]  I was unwilling to tire my friend with any farther discourse upon iron and therefore turned the conversation to other subjects.  And talking of management, he let me into two secrets worth remembering.  He said the quickest way in the world to stop the fermentation of any liquor was to keep a lighted match of brimstone under the cask for some time.  This is useful in a so warm a country as this, where cider is apt to work itself off both of its strength and sweetness.  The other secret was to keep weevils out of wheat and other grain.  You have nothing to do, said he, but to put a bag of pepper into every heap or cask, which those insects have such an antipathy to that they will not approach it.  These receipts he gave to me, not upon report, but upon his own repeated experience.  He farther told me he had brewed as good ale of malt made of Indian corn as ever he tasted; all the objection was he could neither by art or standing ever bring it to be fine in the cask.  The quantity of corn he employed in brewing a cask of forty gallons was two bushels and a half, which made it very strong and pleasant."

(18 May 05)



Nr. 2115:

[With William Byrd at Mr. Chiswell’s on September 24 & 25, 1732.]

"We had a haunch of venison for dinner, as fat and well-tasted as if it had come out of Richmond Park.  In these upper parts of the country the deer are in better case than below, though I believe the buck which gave us so good a dinner had eat out his value in peas, which will make deer exceedingly fat.

"In the afternoon I walked with my friend to his mill, which is half a mile from his house.  It is built upon a rock very firmly, so that 'tis more apt to suffer by too little water (the run not being over plentiful) than too much.  On the other side of this stream lie several of Colonel Jones's plantations.  The poor Negroes upon them are a kind of Adamites, very scantily supplied with clothes and other necessaries; nevertheless (which is a little incomprehensible), they continue in perfect health and none of them die except it be of age.  However, they are even with their master and make him but indifferent crops, so that he gets nothing by his injustice but the scandal of it.

"And here I must make one remark, which I am a little unwilling to do for fear of encouraging of cruelty, that those Negroes which kept in the barest of clothes and bedding are commonly the freest from sickness.  And this happens, I suppose, by their being all face and therefore better proof against the sudden changes of weather to which this climate is unhappily subject.

"25 [of September 1732].  After saying some very civil things to Mrs. Chiswell for my handsome entertainment, I mounted my horse and Mr. Chiswell his phaeton, in order to go to the mines at Fredericksville.  We could converse very little by the way, by reason of our different [modes of travel].  The road was very straight and level the whole journey, which was twenty-five miles, the last ten whereof I rode in the chair and my friend on my horse, to ease ourselves by that variety of motion.

"About a mile before we got to Fredericksville we forded over the north branch of Pamunkey, about sixty yards over.  Neither this nor the south branch run up near so high as the mountains but many miles below the spread out into a kind of morass, like Chickahominy.  When we approached the mines there opened to our view a large space of cleared ground, whose wood had been cut down for coaling [charcoal making].

"We arrived here about two o’clock, and Mr. Chiswell had been so provident as to bring a cold venison pasty with which we appeased our appetites without the impatience of waiting.  When our tongues were at leisure for discourse, my friend told me there was one Mr. Harrison in England who is so universal a dealer in all sorts of iron that he could govern the market just as he pleased." [This paragraph to be continued.]

(19 May 05)



Nr. 2116:

[Mr. Byrd continues his narration of the discussion with Mr. Chiswell.]

"That it was by artful management that our iron from the plantations sold for less than that made in England, though it was generally reckoned much better.  That ours would hardly fetch £6 a ton, when theirs fetched seven or eight, purely to serve that man's interest [see previous note].  Then he explained the several charges upon our sow iron after it was put on board the ships.  That in the first place it paid 7s. 6d. [shillings and pence] a ton for freight, being just so much clear gain to the ships, which carry it as ballast or wedge it in among the hogsheads.  When it gets home, it pays 3s. 9d. custom.  These articles together made no more than 11s. 3d., and yet the merchants, by their great skill in multiplying charges, swell the account up to near 30s. a ton by that time it gets out of their hands, and they are continually adding more and more, as they serve us in our accounts of tobacco.

"He told me a strange thing about steel, that the making of the best remains at this day a profound secret in the breast of a very few and therefore is in danger of being lost, as the art of staining glass and many others have been.  He could only tell me they used beechwood in the making of it in Europe and burn it a considerable time in the powder of charcoal; but the mystery lies in the liquor they quench it in.

"After dinner we took a walk to the furnace, which is elegantly built of brick, though the hearth be of firestone.  There we saw the founder, Mr. Derham, who is 4s. for every ton of sow iron that he runs, which is a shilling cheaper than the last workman had.  This operator looked a little melancholy because he had nothing to do, the furnace having been cold since last May for want of corn to support the cattle.  This was, however, no neglect of Mr. Chiswell, because all the persons he had contracted with had basely disappointed him.  But having received a small supply, they intended to blow very soon.  With that view they began to heat the furnace, which is six weeks before it comes to that intense heat required to run the metal in perfection.  Nevertheless, they commonly begin to blow when the fire has been kindled a week or ten days.

"Close by the furnace stood a very spacious house full of charcoal, holding at least four hundred loads, which will burnt out in three months.  The company has contracted with Mr. Henry Willis to fall the wood, and then maul it and cut it into pieces four feet in length and bring it to the pits where it is coaled.  All this he has undertaken to do for 2s. a cord, which must be four foot broad, four foot high, and eight foot long.  Being thus carried to the pits, the collier has contracted to coal it for 5s. a load, consisting of 160 bushels.  The fire in the furnace is blown by two mighty pair of bellows that cost £100 each, and these bellows are moved by a great wheel of twenty-six foot diameter.  The wheel again is carried around by a small stream of water, conveyed about 350 yards overland in a trough, from a pond made by a wooden dam.  But there is a great want of water in a dry season, which makes the furnace often blow out, to the great prejudice of the works."

(20 May 05)



Nr. 2117:

[With William Byrd at Mr. Chiswell's on 25 September 1732.]

"Having thus filled my head with these particulars, we returned to the house, where, after talking of Colonel Spotswood and his stratagems to shake off his partners and secure the mines to himself, I retired to a homely lodging which, like a homespun mistress, had been more tolerable if it had been sweet.

"26 [September].  Over our tea, Mr. Chiswell told me the expense which the company had been already at amounted to near £12,000; but then the land, Negroes, and cattle were all included in that charge.  However, the money began now to come in, they having run twelve hundred tons of iron, and all their heavy disbursements were over.  Only they were still forced to buy great quantities of corn, because they had not strength of their own to make it.  That they need forty Negroes more to carry on all the business with their own force.  They have 15,000 acres of land, though little of it rich except in iron, and of that they have a great quantity.

"Mr. Fitzwilliam took up the mine tract and had the address to draw in the Governor, Captain Pearse, Dr. Nicholas, and Mr. Chiswell to be jointly concerned with him, by which contrivance he first got a good price for the land and then, when he had been very little out of pocket, sold his share to Mr. Nelson for £500; and of these gentlemen the company at present consists.  And Mr. Chiswell is the only person amongst them that knows anything of the matter, and has £100 a year for looking after the works, and richly deserves it.

"After breaking our fast we took a walk to the principal mine, about a mile from the furnace, where they had sunk in some places about fifteen or twenty feet deep.  The operator, Mr. Gordon, raised the ore, for which he was to have by contract 1s. 6d. per cartload of twenty-six hundredweight.  This man was obliged to hire all the laborers he wanted for this work of the company, after the rate of 25s. a month, and for all that was able to clear £40 a year for himself."

"We saw here several large heaps of ore of two sorts, one of rich, and the other spongy and poor, which they melted together to make metal more tough.  The way of raising the ore was by blowing it up, which operation I saw here from beginning to end.  They first drilled a hole in the mine, either upright or sloping, as the grain of it required.  This hole they cleaned with a rag fastened to the end of an iron with a worm at the end of it.  Then they put in a cartridge of powder containing about three ounces and at the same time a reed full of fuse that reached to the powder.  Then they rammed dry clay or soft stone very hard into the hole, and lastly they fired the fuse with a paper that had been dipped in a solution of saltpeter and dried, which, burning slow and sure, gave leisure to the engineer to retire to a proper distance before the explosion.  This in the miner's language is called 'making a blast,' which will loosen several hundredweight of ore at once; and afterwards the laborers easily separate it with pickaxes and carry it away in baskets up to the heap."

(23 May 05)



Nr. 2118:

[William Byrd with Mr. Chiswell on 26 September 1732.]

"At our return we saw near the furnace large heaps of mine [ore] with charcoal mixed with it, a stratum of each alternately, beginning first with a layer of charcoal at the bottom.  To this they put fire, which a little time spreads through the whole heap and calcines the ore, which afterwards easily crumbles into small pieces fit for the furnace.  Then was likewise a mighty quantity of limestone brought from Bristol by way of ballast, at 2s. 6d. a ton, which they are at the trouble to cart hither from Rappahannock River, but continue to do it when the carts return from carrying of iron.  They put this into the furnace with the iron ore, in the proportion of one ton of stone to ten of ore, with design to absorb the sulphur out of the iron, which would otherwise make it brittle.  And if that be the use of it, oyster shells would certainly do as well as limestone, being altogether as strong an alkali, if not stronger.  Nor can their being taken out of salt water be any objection, because 'tis pretty certain the West Indian limestone, which is thrown up by the sea, is even better than that imported from Bristol.  But the founders who never tried either of these will by no means be persuaded to go out of their way, though the reason of the thing be never so evident.

"I observed the richer sort of mine, being of a dark color mixed with rust, was laid in a heap by itself, and so was the poor, which was of a liver or brick color.  The sow iron is in the figure of a half round, about two feet and a half long, weighing sixty or seventy pounds, whereof three thousandweight make a cartload drawn by eight oxen, which are commonly shod to save their hoofs in those stony ways.  When the furnace blows, it runs about twenty tons of iron a week.  The founders find it very hot work to tend the furnace, especially in summer, and are obliged to spend no small part of their earnings in strong drink to recruit their spirits.

"Besides the founder, the collier, and miner, who are paid in proportion to their work, the company has several other officers upon wages:  a stocktaker, who weighs and measures everything; a clerk, who keeps an account of all receipts and disbursements; a smith to shoe their cattle and keep all their ironwork in repair; a wheelwright, cartwright, carpenter, and several carters. The wages of all these persons amount to £100 a year [seems too low]; so that including Mr. Chiswell’s salary they disburse £200 per annum in standing wages.  The provisions, too, are a heavy article, though they are the charge of a general overseer.  But while corn is so short with them, there can be no great increase of stock of any kind.

"27 [September 1732].  Having now pretty well exhausted the subject of sow iron, I asked my friend some questions about bar iron.  He told me we had as yet no forge erected in Virginia, though we had four furnaces.    But there was a very good one set up at the head of the bay in Maryland, that made exceeding good work.  He let me know that the duty in England upon bar iron was 24s. a ton, and that it sold there from £10 to £16 at ton."

(24 May 05)



Nr. 2119:

[William Byrd continues to make notes of his conversation with Mr. Chiswell, Sept.27.]

"This would pay the charge of forging abundantly, but he doubted the parliament of England would soon forbid us that improvement, lest after that we should go farther and manufacture our bars into all sorts of ironware, as they already do in New England and Pennsylvania.  Nay, he questioned whether we should be suffered to cast any iron, which they can do themselves at their furnaces.

"Thus ended our conversation, and I thanked my friend for being so free in communicating everything to me.  Then, after tipping a pistole to the clerk, to drink prosperity to the mines with all the workmen, I accepted the kind offer of going part of my journey in the phaeton.

"I took my leave about ten and drove a spacious level road ten miles to a bridge built over the river Po, which is one of the four branches of Mattaponi, about forty yards wide.  Two miles beyond that we passed by a plantation, belonging to the company, of about five hundred acres, where they keep a great number of oxen to relieve those that have dragged their loaded carts thus far.  Three miles farther we came to the Germanna road, which I quitted the chair and continue my journey on horseback.  I rode eight miles together over a stony road, and had on either side continual poisoned fields, with nothing but saplings growing on them.  Then I came into the main county road that leads from Fredericksburg to Germanna, which last place I reached in ten miles more."

At this point, William Byrd's account is given in Germanna Record 7 starting on page 49.  I will not repeat that as every student of Germanna history should have this Germanna Record.  Later, I will give some more of Byrd's comment from "A Progress to the Mines".

(NOTE:  You can order "Germanna Record 7" from the official Germanna website "Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia".  Scroll down the page to "Germanna Record No. 7".

(NOTE:  A complete electronic edition of "A Progress to the Mines:  in the Year 1732" can be found at The Early Americas Digital Archives, but you should read John's ongoing Notes because his comments on, and explanations of, Byrd's writings are invaluable.)

Please note above how nervous the owners of the iron works in Virginia were about being shut down by actions in England.  This is the reason that Alexander Spotswood was so slow about entering the iron business.  He had the rug yanked from under him in another enterprise, and he approached iron very cautiously and only with support from well-placed individuals in England.  He did not make his first shipment to England until 1723, several years after the Fort Germanna Germans had left him.

[There will be a few days' break now.  John Blankenbaker]
(25 May 05)



Nr. 2120:

After visiting Col. Spotswood at his home and seeing his iron mine and furnace ["Tubal"], William Byrd took his leave and made his way to Fredericksburg where his host was Col. Harry Willis.  The day was now October 2, 1732.  The story resumes the next morning.

"3 [October 1732].  I was obliged to rise early here that I might not starve my landlord, whose constitution requires him to swallow a beefsteak before the sun blesses the world with its genial rays.  However, he was so complaisant as to bear the gnawing of his stomach till eight o'clock for my sake.  Colonel Waller, after a score of loud hems to clear his throat, broke his fast along with us.

"When this necessary affair was dispatched, Colonel Willis walked me about his town of Fredericksburg.  It is pleasantly situated on the south shore of Rappahannock River, about a mile below the falls.  Sloops may come up and lie close to the wharf, within thirty yards of the public warehouses, which are built in the figure of a cross.  Just by the wharf is a quarry of white stone that is very soft in the ground and hardens in the air, appearing to be as fair and fine-grained as that of Portland.  Besides that, there are several other quarries in the river bank, within the limits of the town, sufficient to build a great city.  The only edifice of stone yet built is the prison, the walls of which are strong enough to hold Jack Sheppard [a notorious highwayman of the 1720's], if he had been transported hither.

"Though this be a commodious and beautiful situation for a town, with the advantages of a navigable river and wholesome air, yet the inhabitants are very few.  Besides Colonel Willis, who is the top man of the place, there are only one merchant, a tailor, a smith, and an ordinary keeper though I must not forget Mrs. Levistone, who acts here in the double capacity of a doctress and coffee woman.  And were this a populous city, she is qualified to exercise two other callings.  'Tis said the courthouse and the church are going to be built here, and then both religion and justice will help to enlarge the place.

"Two miles from this place is a spring strongly impregnated with alum, and so is the earth all about it.  This water does wonders for those that are afflicted with dropsy.  And on the other side the river, in King George County, twelve miles from hence, is another spring of strong steel water as good as that at Tunbridge Wells.  Not far from this last spring are England's Iron Mines, called so from the chief manager of them, though the land belongs to Mr. Washington [father of George].  These mines are two miles from the furnace, and Mr. Washington raises the ore, and carts it thither for 20s. the ton that it yields. . . ."

(31 May 05)



Nr. 2121:

[With Col. Byrd in Fredericksburg.]

"The furnace [belonging to Mr. Washington] is built on a run, which discharges its waters into Potomac.  And when the iron is cast, they cart it about six miles to a landing on that river.  Besides Mr. Washington and Mr. England, there are several persons in England concerned in these works.  Matters are very well managed there, and no expense is spared to make them profitable, which is not the case in the works I have already mentioned.  Mr. England can neither write nor read, but without those helps is so well skilled in ironworks that he don't only carry on his furnace but has likewise the chief management of the works at Principia, at the head of the bay, where they have also erected a forge and make very good bar iron.

"Colonel Willis had built a flue to try all sorts of ore in, which was contrived after the following manner.  It was built of stone four foot square, with an iron grate fixed in the middle of it for the fire to lie upon.  It was open at the bottom, to give a free passage to the air up to the grate.  Above the grate was another opening that carried the smoke into a chimney.  This makes a draft upward, and the fire, rarefying the air below, makes another draft underneath, which causes the fire to burn very fiercely and melt any ore in the crucibles that are set upon the fire.  This was erected by a mason called Taylor, who told me he built the furnace at Fredericksburg and came in for that purpose at 3s. 6d. a day, to be paid him from the time he left his house in Gloucestershire to the time he returned thither again, unless he chose rather to remain in Virginia after he had done his work.

"It happened to be court day here, but the rain hindered all but the most quarrelsome people from coming.  The Colonel brought three of his brother justices to dine with us, namely, John Taliaferro, Major Lightfoot, and Captain Green, and in the evening Parson Kenner edified us with his company, who left this parish for a better without any regard to the poor souls he had half saved, of the flock he abandoned.

"4 [October 1732] The sun, rising very bright, invited me to leave this infant city, accordingly, about ten I took my leave of my hospitable landlord and persuaded Parson Kenner to be my guide to Massaponox, lying five miles off, where I had agreed to meet Colonel Spotswood.

"We arrived there about twelve and found it a very pleasant and commodious plantation.  Thc Colonel received us with open arms and carried us directly to his air furnace, which is a very ingenious and profitable contrivance.  The use of it is to melt his sow iron in order to cast it into sundry utensils, such as backs for chimneys, andirons, fenders, plates for hearths, pots, mortars, rollers for gardeners, skillets, boxes for cartwheels; and many other things, which, one with another can be afforded at 20s. a ton and delivered at people's own homes, and, being cast from sow iron, are much better than those which come from England, which are cast immediately from the ore for the most part."

(01 Jun 05)



Nr. 2122:

[William Byrd writes of his visit to Col. Spotswood at the latter's air furnace at Massaponox during his visit on 4 October 1732.]

"Mr. Flowry is the artist that directed the building of this ingenious structure, which is contrived after this manner.  There is an opening about a foot square for the fresh air to pass through from without.  This leads up to an iron gate that holds half a bushel of charcoal and is about six feet higher than the opening.  When the fire is kindled, it rarefies the air in such a manner as to make a very strong draft from without.  About two foot above the grate is a hole [that] leads into a kind of oven, the floor of which is laid shelving toward the mouth.  In the middle of the oven, on one side, is another hole that leads into the funnel of a chimney, about forty feet high.  The smoke mounts up this way, drawing the flame after it with so much force that in less than an hour it melts the sows of iron that are thrust toward the upper end of the oven.  As the metal melts, it runs toward the mouth into a hollow place, out of which the potter lades it in iron ladles, in order to pour it into the several molds just by.  The mouth of the oven is stopped close with a movable stone shutter, which he removes so soon as he perceives through the peepholes that the iron is melted.  The inside of the oven is lined with soft bricks made of Sturbridge or Windsor clay, because no other will endure the intense heat of the fire.  And over the floor of the oven they strew sand taken from the land and not from the waterside.  This sand will melt the second heat here, but that which they use in England will bear the fire four or five times.  The potter is also obliged to plaster over his ladles with the same sand moistened, to save them from melting.  Here are two of these air furnaces in one room, so that in case one wants repair the other may work, they being exactly of the same structure.

"The chimneys and other outside work of this building are of freestone, raised near a mile off on the Colonel's own land, and were built by his servant, whose name is Kerby, a very complete workman.  This man disdains to do anything of rough work, even where neat is not required, lest anyone might say hereafter Kerby did it.  The potter was so complaisant as to show me the whole process, for which I paid him and the other workmen my respects in the most agreeable way.  There was a great deal of ingenuity in the framing of the molds wherein they cast the several utensils, but without breaking them to pieces I found there was no being let into that secret.  The flakes of iron that fall at the mouth of the over are called geets [jets], which are melted over again.

"The Colonel told me in my ear that Mr. Robert Cary in England was concerned with him, both in this and his other ironworks, not only to help support the charge but also to make friends to the undertaking at home.  His Honor has settled his cousin, Mr. Graeme, here as postmaster, with a salary of £60 a year to reward him for having ruined his estate while he was absent.  Just by the air furnace stands a very substantial wharf, close to which any vessel may ride in safety."

(01 Jun 05)



Nr. 2123:

[With Col. Byrd, now at Col. Spotswood's air furnace below Fredericksburg on the 4th of October 1732.]

"After satisfying our eyes with all these sights, we satisfied our stomachs with a sirloin of beef, and then the parson and I took leave of the Colonel and left our blessing upon all his works.  We took our way from thence to Major Woodford's seven miles off, who lives upon a high hill that affords an extended prospect, on which account 'tis dignified with the name Windsor.  There we found Rachel Cocke, who stayed with her sister some time, that she might not lose the use of her tongue in this lonely place.  We were received graciously and the evening was spent in talking and toping, and then the parson and I were conducted to the same apartment, the house being not yet finished.

"5 [October].  The parson slept very peaceably and gave me no disturbance, so I rose fresh in the morning and did credit to the air by eating a hearty breakfast.  Then Major Woodford carried me to the house where he cuts tobacco.  He manufactures about sixty hogsheads yearly, for which he gets after the rate of 11d. a pound and pays himself liberally for his trouble.  The tobacco he cuts is Long Green, which, according to its name, bears a very long leaf and consequently each plant is heavier than common sweet-scented or Townsend tobacco.  The worst of it is, the veins of the leaf are very large, so that it loses its weight a good deal by stemming.  This kind of tobacco is much the fashion in these parts, and Jonathan Forward (who has great interest here) gives a good price for it.  This sort the Major cuts up and has a man that performs it very handily.  The tobacco is stemmed clean in the first place and then laid straight in a box and pressed down hard by a press that goes with a nut.  This box is shoved forward toward the knife by a screw, receiving its motion from a treadle the engineer sets a going with his foot.  Each motion pushes the box the exact length which the tobacco ought to be of, according to the saffron, or oblong, cut, which it seems yields one penny in a pound more at London than the square cut, though at Bristol they are both of equal price.  The man strikes down the knife once at every motion of the screw, so that his hand and foot keep exact pace with each other.  After the tobacco is cut in this manner, 'tis sifted first through a sand riddle, and then through a dust riddle, till 'tis perfectly clean.  Then 'tis put into a tight hogshead and pressed under the nut, till it weighs about a thousand neat.  One man performs all the work after the tobacco is stemmed, so that the charge bears no proportion to the profit.

"One considerable benefit from planting Long Green tobacco is that 'tis much hardier and less subject to fire than other sweet-scented, though it smells not altogether so fragrant.

"I surprised Mrs. Woodford in her housewifery in the meat house, at which she blushed as if it had been a sin.  We all walked about a mile in the woods, where I showed them several useful plants and explained the virtues of them.  This exercise and the fine air we breathed in sharpened our appetites so much that we had no mercy on a rib of beef that came attended with several other good things at dinner."

(08 Jun 05)



Nr. 2124:

[With Col. Byrd at Major Woodford's on 5 October 1732.]

"In the afternoon we tempted all the family to go along with us to Major Ben Robinson's, who lives on a high hill called Moon's Mount, about five miles off.  On the road we came to an eminence from whence we had a plain view of the mountains, which seemed to be no more than thirty miles from us in a straight line, though to go by the road it was near double that distance.  The sun had just time to light us to our journey’s end and the Major received us with his usual good humor.  He has a very industrious wife, who has kept him from sinking by the weight of gaming and idleness.  But he is now reformed from those ruinous qualities and by the help of a clerk's place in a quarrelsome county will soon be able to clear his old scores.

"We drank exceeding good cider here, the juice of the white apple, which made us talkative till ten o’clock, and then I was conducted to a bedchamber where there was neither chair nor table; however I slept sound and waked with strong tokens of health in the morning.

"6 [October].  When I got up about sunrise I was surprised to find that a fog had covered this high hill; but there’s a marsh on the other side of the river that sends its filthy exhalation up to the clouds.  On the borders of that morass lives Mr. Lomax, a situation fit only for frogs and otters.

"After fortifying myself with toast and cider and sweetening my lips with saluting the lady, I took leave and the two majors conducted me about four miles on my way as far as the church.  After that, Ben Robinson ordered his East Indian to conduct me to Colonel Martin's.  In about ten miles we reached Caroline [County] courthouse, where Colonel Armistead and Colonel Will Beverley have each of 'em erected an ordinary well supplied with wine and other polite liquors for the worshipful bench.  Besides these, there is a rum ordinary for persons of a more vulgar taste.  Such liberal supplies of strong drink often make Justice nod and drop the scales out of her hands.

"Eight miles beyond the ordinary I arrived at Colonel Martin's, who received me with more gravity than I expected.  But, upon inquiry, his lady was sick, which had lengthened his face and gave him a very mournful air.  I found him in his nightcap and banian [dressing gown], which is his ordinary dress in that retired part of the country.  Poorer land I never saw than what he lives upon, but the wholesomeness of the air and the goodness of the roads make some amends.  In a clear day the mountain may be seen from hence, which is, in truth, the only rarity of the place.

"After my first arrival, the Colonel saluted me with a glass of canary and soon after filled my belly with good mutton and cauliflowers.  Two people were as indifferent company as a man and his wife, without a little inspiration from the bottle, and then we were forced to go as far as the kingdom of Ireland to help out our conversation.  There, it seems, the Colonel had an elder brother, a physician, who threatens him with an estate some time or other; though possibly it might come to him sooner if the succession depended on the death of one of his patients."

(09 Jun 04)



Nr. 2125:

[With Col. Byrd at Col. Martin's on the 6th of October 1732.]

"By eight o'clock we had no more to say, and I gaped wide as a signal for retiring, whereupon I was conducted to a clean lodging where I would have been glad to exchange one of the beds for a chimney.

"7 [October].  This morning Mrs. Martin was worse, so that there was no hopes of seeing how much she was altered.  Nor was this all, but the indisposition of his consort made the Colonel intolerably grave and thoughtful.  I prudently eat a meat breakfast, to give me spirits for a long journey and a long fast.

"My landlord was so good as to send his servant along with me to guide me through all the turnings of a difficult way.  In about four miles we crossed Mattaponi River at Norman's Ford and then slanted down to King William County road.  We kept along that for about twelve miles, as far as the new brick church.  After that I took a blind path that carried me to several of Colonel Jones's quarters, which border upon my own.  The Colonel's overseers were all abroad, which made me fearful I should find mine as idle as them.  But I was mistaken, for when I came to Gravel Hall, the first of my plantations in King William, I found William Snead (that looks after three of them) very honestly about his business.  I had the pleasure to see my people all well and my business in good forwardness.  I visited all the five quarters on that side, which spent so much of my time that I had no leisure to see any of those on the other side of the river; though I discoursed Thomas Tinsley, one of the overseers, who informed me how matters went.

"In the evening Tinsley conducted me to Mrs. Syme's house [by her second husband, she was the mother of Patrick Henry, born in 1736], where I intended to take up my quarters.  The lady, at first suspecting I was some lover, put on a gravity that becomes a weed, but so soon as she learnt who I was brightened up into an unusual cheerfulness and serenity.  She was a portly, handsome dame, of the family of Esau, and seemed not to pine too much for the death of her husband, who was of the family of the Saracens.  He left a son by her who has all the strong features of his sire, not softened in the least by any of hers, so that the most malicious of her neighbors can't bring his legitimacy in question, not even the parson's wife, whose unruly tongue, they say, don't spare even the Reverend Doctor, her husband.  The widow is a person of a lively and cheerful conversation, with much less reserve than most of her countrywomen.  It becomes her very well and sets off her other agreeable qualities to advantage.  We tossed off a bottle of honest port, which we relished with a broiled chicken.  At nine I retired to my devotions and then slept so sound that fancy itself was stupefied, else I should have dreamt of my most obliging landlady."

(10 Jun 05)


(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 EIGHTY-FIFTH set of Notes, Nr. 2101 through Nr. 2125.)

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 2101 through 2125.

Go To
Top.

  [Back to John's Notes Index Page]

  [Germanna Colonies Home Page]

  [GERMANNA Home Page]