This is the FIFTEENTH 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.
GERMANNA History Notes|
At the half-century points in these notes, it is customary to review their
purposes. They started (one) as a way to build interest in the Germanna
Colonies list service, and (two) as an outlet for my creative juices. One
problem is that after three hundred and fifty of the notes, finding topics
is not easy. I wish that I knew enough about all the Germanna families to be
able to write more about them.
Very strictly speaking, only a few families, on the order of a dozen, lived
within the confines of Fort Germanna on the Rapidan River in Virginia. One
might argue that these were THE Germanna families. But just a few miles up
the river (the Rapidan), some twenty-odd German families lived and they
overlapped the first group in time. So, traditionally, they have been included
also among the Germanna families. Almost immediately, relative and friends
of these two groups started coming. They lived in the neighborhood of the
first groups who themselves were moving around. Trying to draw a
geographical distinction between the first comers and the later ones seems
arbitrary, so the definition of what constitutes a Germanna person was
extended to include them all.
The routes of these later comers were both direct to Virginia and via other
colonies, especially through Pennsylvania. Many times, these Germanna
immigrants had lived for a while in these other areas and so their history
was broader than a narrow definition would imply. While the primary focus is
on the Germans who lived east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (the
Piedmont), these notes include a broader range of topics. Stories from
Germany, or from the other colonies, illustrate life of the Germanna people,
even if the Germanna people were not involved. I believe the stories of the
Moravian missionaries traveling through Virginia from Pennsylvania to North
Carolina were well received. Yet their route was not through Germanna
territory, nor were the missionaries Germanna people. But, they did give us a
better appreciation of life in the eighteenth century.
If I may be permitted a personal observation or two, I believe more emphasis
in researching our ancestors should be placed on quality and less on
quantity. There is too much information floating around which is in error.
I would also like to see more people to adopt a community and study the
community without regard to whether they have ancestors there. Maybe there
is a courthouse where the loose papers have not been analyzed. People have
traced their family through the church records in, say Schwaigern, but has
anyone prepared a history of the marriages, baptisms, and deaths in all of
Schwaigern? Going up the WILLHEIT tree in Schwaigern one encounters Reiners,
and both of these families are later at Germanna. Were they related? And
there are records besides the church records.
I do appreciate your comments and questions. I regret that I cannot do as
much research on your family as you might like. If you would like to send
your comments and/or questions, you may do so by subscribing to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List at RootsWeb (see below) and posting your queries, OR you may send an immediate email to me by clicking
"Copyright 1997 by the National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted
to copy or publish this material, provided it is reproduced in its entirety,
including this notice."
Remembering always that they are engaged in the quest for truth, family
history researchers consistently -
+ Test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence and reject those
that are not supported by the evidence.
+ Seek original records, or reproduced images of them, when there is
reasonable assurance that they have not been altered, as the basis for their
+ Use compilations, communications, and published works, whether paper or
electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original
+ State something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence
and identify the evidence when communicating a fact to others.
+ Limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based
on less than convincing evidence and state the reasons for concluding that
it is probable or possible.
+ Avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly
distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
+ State carefully and honestly the results of their own research and
acknowledge all use of other researchers' work.
+ Recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their
work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in
appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
+ Consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their
work and the conclusions they have reached.
End of copyrighted material. This statement came to me from two sources,
"Der Kurier" of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, and "The Mirror" of the
Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.
Gary Carl Grassl has comments in the current issue of "Der Kurier" (v. 16,
n. 2 dated June 1998) from which I will quote. The remarks were delivered
this spring on the occasion of the founding of the German-American Heritage
Society of Virginia. Mr. Grassl, President of the Greater Washington, D.C.
chapter of the German-American Society, gave the keynote speech.
Mr. Grassl has been very active in gaining recognition for the role of
Germans in founding Virginia. He cited research which shows that the first
medical doctor in America was a German. This pioneer, Johannes Fleischer,
received his Ph.D. at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, and his M.D.
at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He studied medicinal plants in
Germany and contributed to a German text book on plants. He came to America
(called India then) in January of 1608 to see what healing plants he could
find here. Very unfortunately, he succumbed within the year to the maladies
that overtook so many of the original Jamestown settlers.
Mr. Grassl also discussed the Jamestown site and its physical evidence which
is scarce. Almost all that remains of James Fort are footprints in the sand
where the decomposed wood has left dark stains in the soil. Or, as the
Germans say, "James Fort is gone with the wind." The only structures that
remain from early Jamestown are the four ovens built by the German
glass makers at Glasshouse Point. Unfortunately the National Park Service has
identified the glass makers as "Dutch and Poles" which has confused the
origins of the people.
The German-American Heritage Society of Greater Washington, D.C. has been
instrumental in establishing a historical marker at the glass ovens which reads,
+ Record the source for each item of information they collect.
At the half-century points in these notes, it is customary to review their purposes. They started (one) as a way to build interest in the Germanna Colonies list service, and (two) as an outlet for my creative juices. One problem is that after three hundred and fifty of the notes, finding topics is not easy. I wish that I knew enough about all the Germanna families to be able to write more about them.
Very strictly speaking, only a few families, on the order of a dozen, lived within the confines of Fort Germanna on the Rapidan River in Virginia. One might argue that these were THE Germanna families. But just a few miles up the river (the Rapidan), some twenty-odd German families lived and they overlapped the first group in time. So, traditionally, they have been included also among the Germanna families. Almost immediately, relative and friends of these two groups started coming. They lived in the neighborhood of the first groups who themselves were moving around. Trying to draw a geographical distinction between the first comers and the later ones seems arbitrary, so the definition of what constitutes a Germanna person was extended to include them all.
The routes of these later comers were both direct to Virginia and via other colonies, especially through Pennsylvania. Many times, these Germanna immigrants had lived for a while in these other areas and so their history was broader than a narrow definition would imply. While the primary focus is on the Germans who lived east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (the Piedmont), these notes include a broader range of topics. Stories from Germany, or from the other colonies, illustrate life of the Germanna people, even if the Germanna people were not involved. I believe the stories of the Moravian missionaries traveling through Virginia from Pennsylvania to North Carolina were well received. Yet their route was not through Germanna territory, nor were the missionaries Germanna people. But, they did give us a better appreciation of life in the eighteenth century.
If I may be permitted a personal observation or two, I believe more emphasis in researching our ancestors should be placed on quality and less on quantity. There is too much information floating around which is in error.
I would also like to see more people to adopt a community and study the community without regard to whether they have ancestors there. Maybe there is a courthouse where the loose papers have not been analyzed. People have traced their family through the church records in, say Schwaigern, but has anyone prepared a history of the marriages, baptisms, and deaths in all of Schwaigern? Going up the WILLHEIT tree in Schwaigern one encounters Reiners, and both of these families are later at Germanna. Were they related? And there are records besides the church records.
I do appreciate your comments and questions. I regret that I cannot do as much research on your family as you might like. If you would like to send your comments and/or questions, you may do so by subscribing to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List at RootsWeb (see below) and posting your queries, OR you may send an immediate email to me by clicking here.
"Copyright 1997 by the National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted to copy or publish this material, provided it is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice."
Remembering always that they are engaged in the quest for truth, family history researchers consistently -
+ Test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence and reject those that are not supported by the evidence.
+ Seek original records, or reproduced images of them, when there is reasonable assurance that they have not been altered, as the basis for their research conclusions.
+ Use compilations, communications, and published works, whether paper or electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records.
+ State something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence and identify the evidence when communicating a fact to others.
+ Limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on less than convincing evidence and state the reasons for concluding that it is probable or possible.
+ Avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
+ State carefully and honestly the results of their own research and acknowledge all use of other researchers' work.
+ Recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
+ Consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their work and the conclusions they have reached.
End of copyrighted material. This statement came to me from two sources, "Der Kurier" of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, and "The Mirror" of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.
Gary Carl Grassl has comments in the current issue of "Der Kurier" (v. 16, n. 2 dated June 1998) from which I will quote. The remarks were delivered this spring on the occasion of the founding of the German-American Heritage Society of Virginia. Mr. Grassl, President of the Greater Washington, D.C. chapter of the German-American Society, gave the keynote speech.
Mr. Grassl has been very active in gaining recognition for the role of Germans in founding Virginia. He cited research which shows that the first medical doctor in America was a German. This pioneer, Johannes Fleischer, received his Ph.D. at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, and his M.D. at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He studied medicinal plants in Germany and contributed to a German text book on plants. He came to America (called India then) in January of 1608 to see what healing plants he could find here. Very unfortunately, he succumbed within the year to the maladies that overtook so many of the original Jamestown settlers.
Mr. Grassl also discussed the Jamestown site and its physical evidence which is scarce. Almost all that remains of James Fort are footprints in the sand where the decomposed wood has left dark stains in the soil. Or, as the Germans say, "James Fort is gone with the wind." The only structures that remain from early Jamestown are the four ovens built by the German glass makers at Glasshouse Point. Unfortunately the National Park Service has identified the glass makers as "Dutch and Poles" which has confused the origins of the people.
The German-American Heritage Society of Greater Washington, D.C. has been instrumental in establishing a historical marker at the glass ovens which reads,
The first Germans to land in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia, arrived aboard the vessel "Mary and Margaret" about 1 October 1608. These Germans were glass makers and carpenters. In 1620, German mineral specialists and saw- millwrights followed, to work and settle in the Virginia colony. These pioneers and skilled craftsmen were the forerunners of the many millions of Germans who settled in America and became the single largest national group to populate the United States.
The historical research to support the application for the marker was put together by Mr. Grassl, then Vice-President of the Washington chapter.
The German glass makers at Jamestown have been mentioned. These unnamed individuals arrived on the ship "Mary and Margaret" around the first of October in 1608. Besides the glass makers, there were three German carpenters, Adam, Franz, and Samuel. Altogether the ship brought about 70 new settlers, including several Polish makers of pitch and tar, soap ashes, and potash. The other new settlers were English, but there was a Swiss German mineral prospector called William Volday by the English. Probably his German name was Wilhelm Waldi. He accompanied Captain Newport, of the ship, on a search for precious metals shortly after their arrival.
The organizers of the Colony, the Virginia Company of London, emphasized products that could be shipped back to England such as the naval stores, glass, and minerals, without putting enough emphasis on the growth of food to sustain the settlers. The other major fault of the plans was not including people who were used to labor. Captain John Smith, President of the Jamestown Colony, complained that most of the settlers were unaccustomed to hard labor. They "never did know what a day's work was, except the Dutchmen and Poles, and some dozen other." Unfortunately, history has been set back by the habit of the English to refer to Germans as Dutchmen which obscures the true role of the Germans in the founding of America.
The interest in minerals was focused on silver. They believed that there was a vein of this mineral beyond the falls of the James River (that is, in the vicinity of today's Richmond). This thought is echoed more than one hundred years later when Christopher Graffenried recruited German miners to develop silver mines beyond the falls of the Potomac River. There never was an active pursuit of silver on the Potomac. The Germans, instead, were diverted to a search for silver beyond the falls of the Rappahannock River near to Germanna. So the thought of silver runs deeply through the history of Virginia.
But, in both the Jamestown period and in the Germanna period, the Germans were willing, skilled, and hard workers. It was not the German's fault that better use wasn't made of their talents.
At Jamestown, the Germans and Poles went to work immediately and produced samples of their products for Captain Newport to take back to England about December 1. The Germans produced clapboards, wainscot, and "a trial of glass" to send. The glass was made before the glass house and the furnaces were built. The work was done in James Fort, where the recent excavations have found Hessian (not Dutch in the sense of the Netherlands) crucibles with adhering glass on them. Thus, these artifacts establish the existence of the Germans and one type of early work done by them.
Adam, Franz, and Samuel were three German carpenters who came to Jamestown in 1608. They made a positive contribution in an atmosphere which was very negatively charged. Unfortunately, the person most responsible for the negative attitudes, John Smith, blamed the Germans for many of the problems which he created.
There was a state of semi-declared war between the settlers and the Indians. A major cause was the scarcity of food in Jamestown. The English settlers undertook to solve this by trading with the Indians. The Indians, though, did not grow extra food beyond their needs. So while they sold some food, especially corn, to the English, they declined to sell what they needed for their own basic needs. John Smith tried to get the corn by forcible means.
In December 1608, Powhatan, the chief of the neighboring tribes, promised to provide Smith with corn if he would send him guns, swords, and an English coach, plus build him a European-style house. The German carpenters enter at this point. But Smith saw the house as more than a residence for Powhatan; he saw it place where Powhatan could be trapped and killed before becoming a refuge for himself (this analysis by historian Conway White Sams). This approach was directly in contradiction with the instructions from London. Samuel, the German carpenter, was instructed by Smith to spy on Powhatan.
After the Germans and some English helpers had gone to the English village, Smith set out in a ship with 46 armed men to take the Indians by force. Some of the leaders left at Jamestown learned of Smith's intention after he had left. Eleven of them set out to overtake Smith but their vessel sank and they drowned. Smith was unsuccessful and he blamed it on the Germans for informing Powhatan; however, he left the Germans with Powhatan who recognized the Germans were distinct from Smith and the English-speaking people. Now the Germans became the pawns of the Indians, as Powhatan sent Adam and Franz back to Jamestown, while holding Samuel as a hostage. They were sent back to obtain arms and tools on the pretext that Smith needed them. (Smith was traveling by boat and would not be back at Jamestown for several days.) Adam and Franz returned to the Indians with two muskets and two swords for which they have been blamed by the English historians as traitors; however, the Germans were between a rock and a hard place with Samuel being held hostage. Furthermore, the English had traded 300 hatchets, 50 swords, 8 guns, and 8 pikes to the Indians according to Smith, but he blamed this on the Germans, saying they had persuaded the English to do this. It seems strange that the Germans, who knew little English, could have been eloquent enough to persuade the English to an action of this magnitude. Of course, most of the goods had been traded by the English in an attempt to obtain food.
So Smith invented the conspiracy theory to explain away his failures. Historians have repeated his claims and thereby distorted the contributions of the Germans at Jamestown.
(With Adam, Franz, and Samuel, three German carpenters at Jamestown in 1608.) After Adam and Franz returned to the Indian camp with the two swords and two muskets, they resumed work on the house of Powhatan which they finished to his delight. Captain Smith tried to kill Powhatan a second time, but when Smith arrived at Powhatan's house, he found that Powhatan had already fled. Smith blamed the Germans for his failure, but this completely ignores that a state of war now existed between Smith and Powhatan. Powhatan would have had scouts observing the movements of Smith and would have been aware of what Smith intended to do.
By now Smith was desperate for food and he terrorized the countryside, forcing the Indians to hand over their corn. The reaction of the Indians was to leave before Smith arrived taking their corn with them. To solve the problems at Jamestown, Smith needed friends, not enemies. The work of the carpenters could have been a positive step.
Some time after Smith returned to James Fort, Franz appeared at the glasshouse. Smith charged him with being up to no good because he was disguised like a savage. There is no doubt that Franz had taken on some of the appearances of the Indians, having lived with them for a while. Smith response was to send twenty musketeers after Franz who retreated into the woods. But he was taken by Smith's forces.
Franz explained the carpenters were being detained by Powhatan but that he had made an escape. Powhatan was attempting to get the carpenters to supply him with arms. Smith sent messages to Powhatan telling him to return Adam and Samuel. Powhatan said the Germans were not restrained and implied they wished to stay.
Back in Jamestown, Franz would have assisted in the construction of twenty houses and a blockhouse in the spring of 1609. In the summer of 1609, Smith gave definite evidence of becoming unstable. He decided that Adam and Samuel, and another one called Bentley, planned to destroy the colony in the service of Spain. He sent the Swiss, William Volday, after them but William remained with the Indians also. Then two English were sent out with instructions to stab or shoot the lot. But they decided against carrying out Smith's orders.
Powhatan released Adam, who with Volday, rejoined the Jamestown settlers where they were welcomed. Then Smith adopted the attitude that he was keeping Samuel at Powhatan's place as his personal spy. Thus, Samuel was first an enemy of the English, then their trusted spy according to Smith.
In October of 1609, Smith was sent back to England as a prisoner. One of the charges against him was that he had attempted to kill the German carpenters. Though Smith was not a friend of the Germans and he was now gone, the fate of the Germans in Virginia was not good.
(With Adam and Franz at Jamestown and Samuel at Powhatan's camp in 1609, all three being German carpenters.) Even though John Smith had been shipped back to England, relations between the English and the Indians were not improved. Powhatan invited Captain Ratcliffe and thirty men to come and trade copper for corn. At first, they met in the village of Pumunkey where Samuel, Spelman, and Savage also attended. The latter two were English who were also living with Powhatan. The negotiations went overnight and the men stayed with Ratcliffe. The next day, when trading resumed, a dispute arose between the Indians and the English. Powhatan left the scene and took the three men with him. A war party which had been hiding in the woods then killed almost all of Ratcliffe's men.
Spelman said that Powhatan sent him and the Germans to Yawtanoone, an Indian town about sixteen miles away. Though Powhatan seemed outwardly friendly toward the three men, they began to be afraid of him. When the King of the Potomac came to visit the great Powhatan, he showed such kindness toward the three that they resolved to go away with the King of the Potomac. Spelman went on to say that when they did leave, that Savage returned to Powhatan and informed him of what was happening. Powhatan sent people to command Spelman and Samuel to return but they declined. One of Powhatan's people waited for a while and then struck Samuel with an ax, killing him.
The winter of 1609 -1610 was very hard on the colonists due to a lack of food. During this starving time, Adam and Franz returned to Powhatan. They perhaps had not known the fate of Samuel. On June 7 of 1610, the English boarded a ship and were leaving when they heard that Lord Delaware was arriving with supplies. Lord Delaware brought the Swiss German Volday who had gone back to England to report. Volday (or Waldi) later died of sickness at Jamestown.
When the English had proposed to leave, Adam and Franz and a few of the Poles were living with Powhatan and they did not go. With the encouragement of the new settlers and supplies, Adam and Franz decided to rejoin the Jamestown settlement, but Powhatan "caused his men to beat out their brains."
Thus, none of these early Germans left a permanent mark on Virginia. They could have created a positive atmosphere between the colonists and the Indians had they not fallen victim to poor planning and leadership for the new colony.
Another group of Germans in Virginia in 1714 was asked to investigate reports of silver above the falls of the Potomac. These later Germans never saw the Potomac but were diverted to a purported silver mine above the falls of the Rappahannock. These Germans and later Germans were successful in maintaining the peace with the Indians on the frontier.
Besides the Germans who have been discussed recently, others were recruited quite early to help in the work of building the Virginia Colony. Four sawmill wrights from Hamburg were hired in 1620. Sawmills were badly needed in Virginia to prepare planks and boards for houses and ships. There were plenty of trees in Virginia which is a statement that could not be made about England. The problem, in the earliest days of Virginia, was obtaining the water power for the sawmills. This is because the land was so flat in the Tidewater region there were no places that a head of water or even swift water could be obtained. It was necessary to go to the interior to the fall line where the water came down from the higher Piedmont region. This area in 1620 was under the control of the Indians, not the English. (On the James River, the fall line occurs near to the present city of Richmond which is a considerable distance from Jamestown.)
The Virginia Company of London sent entreaties to their people in Virginia for assistance to the German millwrights but little help was forthcoming. For a while, the millwrights had to provide their own food and clothing. They also needed labor to assist them in the construction of the mills. The colonists were facing difficulties also. Sickness took a heavy toll.
No progress was made in a year. Three of the "Dutch carpenters of Hamburrough" died of illness themselves and the fourth asked to be returned to Europe. The widows asked for compensation and the Virginia Company paid them twenty-seven pounds.
In 1620, two German mineral specialists were also sent across the Atlantic; but, as with the sawmills, the Tidewater region was not the appropriate place. It would have been necessary to go to the Piedmont or Appalachian areas to find the minerals. These areas were under the control of the Indians . By 1622 an iron furnace was constructed at Falling Creek on the James River just south of Richmond. (The Germans may have had a hand in this but proof is lacking.) The furnace was constructed and being fired when disaster struck on 22 March 1622. The Indians attacked, killing all of the Europeans except for two children. By this single act, one fourth to one third of the population of the Colony was wiped out and the furnace and tools were destroyed.
These experiences turned Virginia into an agricultural community, not an industrial community. Tobacco could be grown in the Tidewater and there was a demand for this in Europe. It brought in the necessary cash with which Virginians could buy goods from England. A century later, when Alexander Spotswood came as Lt. Gov., the Piedmont region was still not occupied by the Europeans. Control of the region by the Indians was weakening though. Spotswood saw that the time was ripe and the outcome could be beneficial to both Virginia and England if there were industrial developments in the region; however, industrial development was expensive and no one in Virginia had the necessary money. (The iron furnace in 1622 had been built on a budget of five thousand pounds.) Therefore, Virginia remained an overwhelmingly agricultural community. The object to be prized was land.
Bill Martin from down under has commented that some of the facts in these notes were scrambled as they crossed the equator. It just might be that the facts got mixed up in yours also. Today, some of the simpler errors will be discussed:
Note 9. In the last paragraph, the word "father" would read better as "husband."
Note 10. John Fontaine's first visit to Germanna was in 1715, not 1713.
Note 21. Rev. Hugh Jones left Virginia in 1722, not 1772.
Note 53. Alexander Spotswood arrived in 1710, not 1716.
Note 121. In the next to last paragraph, the sentence that reads "Zach and Els had only children after
1750" would read better as "All of the children of Zach and Els were born after 1750."
In notes 11 and 12, there was some discussion as to the identity of the forty-two people who constituted the first Germans at Germanna. The number forty-two is Spotswood's count and he didn't care where the people came from. B.C. Holtzclaw, a modern writer, attempted to enumerate these people and came up with a list. But it is quite clear that he omitted Johann Justus Albrecht, the head miner. Therefore, one of Holtzclaw's names should not be included. On his list, the following names are problematic: Catherine Koontz/Cuntze, John Weaver, the two sons of Harmon Utterback, or even Harmon himself. It's your choice as to which one to omit.
In note 11, reference is made to Albrecht's own claim that he was the Head Miner. There is, in the Spotsylvania Court House, a document written in German which had never been translated until Elke Hall did so (her work was published in Beyond Germanna). The document was written in London by Albrecht. By title, it is the "Shareholder's Book", and it is the charter for a mining company. In it, Albrecht refers to himself as "Head Mine Captain." The document was written between the initial recruiting efforts in Siegen and the departure of the Siegen people for London. At another time, I will explore this document more. It, the document, is also evidence that Albrecht came to Virginia. The best evidence that Albrecht was in Virginia is the statement signed by Albrecht that he was engaged in mining and quarrying for about two years up, to December of 1718, along with Jacob Holtzclaw and others. (Essex County, VA Deed and Will Book, vol. 16, May 17, 1720).
Note 267. Where "Orkney" appears alone without the preceding "Lord," it should read "Lord Orkney." I am not up on the proper way to refer to titled people and even though my first reference was to Lord Orkney, all of the ensuing references should be made in this way. He did refer to himself as Orkney but us lessor mortals should say Lord Orkney.
(Continuing clarifications of past notes.) Christopher Graffenried referred to Johann Justus Albrecht as the head miner. As to how Johann Justus Albrecht thought of himself, there is only one document that I know of that has original information. This is an unusual document, in German, in the Spotsylvania County Court Order Book of 1724-1730. No translation was provided and apparently the reason the document was maintained is that it is very ornate and looks important. A translation of it was made by Elke Hall and published in vol. 5, no. 1 issue of Beyond Germanna.
The document is dated 26 May 1712 at London. There are several pages to it but the number of sentences is less than the number of pages. This is the first problem in translation. A second problem is that meanings of words have changed. Reference to "union" means a body of owners, not of laborers. The title is "Shareholder's Book", and generally it describes the rules under which the "corporation" with transferrable shares will operate.
Albrecht describes himself in this book as "Gentleman Johann Justus Albrecht, Head Mine Captain", who will build the gold and silver mines in South Carolina. At another point, in the Shareholder's Book he implies the mine was completed on 5 January 1709. The reference to South Carolina and to the date is confusing and may only show that most Germans of that time were confused about geography in the New World. Klaus Wust says that Albrecht was selling or attempting to sell shares in the enterprise. Wust also states that Albrecht claimed to have been appointed Head of the Mines by the Queen and the Proprietors of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Carolina. And we know that Albrecht signed an agreement with the (Protestant) church in Siegen to secure their help in recruiting miners. In this agreement, he agreed to pay a percent of the mines output to the church.
If this sounds a bit like a "boiler room operation" or scam, it very well may have been. In Siegen, when Albrecht was recruiting miners, his statements and claims were exaggerated to the extent that an agent of the German emperor arrested him. It took the interventions of the English ambassador to rescue him. These are the implications of remarks by Graffenried in his memoirs.
Graffenreid says, when he arrived in London in 1713 from New York, that the Head Miner and forty-odd miners were there. When the Siegeners went on to Virginia the next January, Albrecht was apparently a member of the group. This is because of the statement in the Essex Co. Court for May 1720, signed by Albrecht and Jacob Holtzclaw, which described their work of mining and quarrying in the approximately two years up to December of 1718. So, if Albrecht was with the Siegeners in 1713 in London, and with them in 1716 in Virginia, it is reasonable to believe he was with them in the intervening years.
Albrecht "wanted to get something going." Toward this end, he stretched the truth at times. But a man who was intellectually honest might have failed where he succeeded. It is sad to think that the existence of Germanna with our Germans may have been dependent on a man of this character, but unfortunately it seems to be true. Without Albrecht, there would have been no Germanna nor First Colony or Second Colony or later Germans. He was one of the essential cogs in our existence as citizens of Germanna.
(Continuing with clarifications, especially of notes 229 and 230). Did the Rev. Häger come from Germany with the members of the First Colony? Did the Rev. Häger move to Germantown when it was initially settled or did he come later?
It is very frustrating not to be able to find material when you want it and I am in that situation right now. I am running on "memory" and that is to be likened to running on "empty." I believe that the Rev. Häger left Germany with the members of the First Colony, i.e., he was another member of the First Colony. I have a recollection that when the Colony was in London and Graffenried had not arrived, that Rev. Häger went to the offices of the Society for the Preservation of the Gospel to see if they would sponsor him. I believe it is recorded in their minute book that he did appear and was rejected for support as inappropriate. If this is approximately the case, it establishes that he was in London with the members of the First Colony. It would have been natural for Rev. Häger to go to the offices since his son, another pastor, had done the same thing a few years before and he was supported. The son was ordained in the Church of England and he was to minister to the Germans along the Hudson River; however, I do not believe that Rev. Häger moved to Germantown with the rest of the Colony. Logic just says it would have been otherwise. Remember that in 1713 Rev. Häger was retired from active service because of a hernia. In January of 1719 (NS), he was 74 years old. The situation was that Germantown was a forest with no cleared ground and no shelters. His presence would have initially been a hindrance to the community.
Very early, at Germanna, Spotswood had legislation passed which created the (old) Parish of St. George. Limited in extent, one of the stipulations was that if the Germans kept a minister of their own they would be exempt from tithes. More truthfully, the legislation should read, "Spotswood would be exempt from paying their tithes." If Rev. Häger had moved to Germantown in 1719, the Second Colony members would suddenly become tithables. Again, it would be Spotswood that could be considered as the party who was responsible for paying the tithe; however, if he hired Rev. Häger to minister to the Second Colony, then they would be exempt from tithes. He probably did not "hire" him with monetary payments, but offered him rent free use of his home at Germanna. That is, Spotswood may have encouraged Rev. Häger to remain at Germanna.
But mostly because of health reasons, I do not believe that Rev. Häger moved to Germantown at the same time as the First Colony. I might never have thought of this but Willis Kemper made the statement and it started me thinking.
The old German parish of St. George was wiped out when the county of Spotsylvania was created by legislation in 1720. A new St. George Parish was created which was coterminous with the county. Since it was a year and a half before the county started to function, there is a period wherein there is uncertainty as to which rules applied. Most likely, the old rules applied until the new government and parish were actually functioning.
I found the reference which identifies Rev. Häger as being in London with the Siegeners in 1713. It came from an article by Klaus Wust in the "Yearbook of German-American Studies, vol. 19, pp.43-55". The article was "Palatines and Switzers for Virginia, 1705-1738: Costly Lessons for Promoters and Emigrants."
Mr. Wust writes:
"Old pastor Häger went on his own to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to enlist their assistance, but since religious life in Virginia was firmly in the hands of the Anglican establishment and Häger's flock rather small, he was neither granted a travel stipend nor any subsidy for his salary."
The rest of this note is a break from the clarifications that I have been pursuing recently.
On 29 Sep 1664, Anna Barbara Schön was born in Neuenbürg. Let's take a look at who some of her descendants are. By her first husband, Johann Thomas Blankenbühler, she had three sons and one daughter who came to Virginia in 1717. The daughter had married John Thomas first, and later in Virginia she married Michael Kaifer. For starters, we can say that all of the Blankenbühlers (Blankenbaker, Blankenbeker, Pickler, Blankenbeckler, Blankenbecler, etc.), all of the German Thomases, and all Kaifer heirs are her descendants.
Balthasar Blankenbühler had only two daughters. One married Lewis Fisher, the immigrant. So we can say all of the Fishers are descendants of Anna Barbara. The other daughter of Balthasar married Adam Wayland. Including another path, 17/19 of the Waylands are descendants of Anna Barbara.
By her second husband, Anna Barbara Schön had Henry Schlucter, but his descendants are most uncertain (though Henry was in Virginia and married). By her third husband, Cyriacus Fleshman, Anna Barbara had two more children, Peter and Mary Catherine. So all Fleshmans are descendants of Anna Barbara.
It is yet to be shown, but will be in the next issue of Beyond Germanna, that all Aylors are descendants of Anna Barbara. All descendants of Michael Smith, after Michael Smith, Sr., are descendants of Anna Barbara. It appears the majority of the Barlows are her descendants. About half of the Cooks are descendants. About half of the Criglers are. Three-quarters of the Garr/Gaars are descendants. Probably a majority of the Tanners are descendants but there are uncertainties here. Two-thirds of the Utzes are descendants.
I have only listed the family names where more than half of the descendants are Anna Barbara's descendants. Her genes, though, reach into many other families. My point in this little bit of fun and games is to emphasize how we are all cousins.
Yesterday, I mentioned that Donna Bowen was recovering from a serious heart operation. She is a descendant of Anna Barbara also (probably in more than one way). If every cousin of Donna's were to send her a "best wishes" note, I wonder how many she would get. If you want to send yours, here is her email address:
email@example.com (just click on the link to start your message)
Don't expect her to reply; she has other things to do now.
If there seems to be problems in enumerating the forty-two persons who constituted the First Colony when it arrived in Virginia, then try naming the people who made up the Second Colony. There is no exact number to use as a guide. Gov. Spotswood said there were seventy-odd people which, I guess, is a range from seventy-one to seventy-nine. The Germans themselves usually put the number at eighty but they were probably guilty of rounding off. Still, the choice of eighty, as opposed to seventy, suggests they were thinking of at least seventy-five but not more than eighty-four.
There are several problems in counting. First, there are three families in the Gemmingen death register who have either no history at all in Virginia, or they disappear after appearing once on the importation list of Spotswood (which has a total of forty-eight names). The two families which are on the importation list but who never appear again are especially troublesome. These are the Mihlckher and Wegman families for a total of nine people.
In addition to the Gemmingen death register list and the importation list, there are the people who were sued by Spotswood, the people who obtained their land patents in 1726, and the people whose proofs of importation say 1717. In this last category Barlow, Broyles, Harnsberger, Kerker, Motz, Paulitz, Snyder, Yager, and Zimmerman say they arrived in 1717 in their proofs of importation, but they do not appear on the Gemmingen or the importation list. These families have twenty-nine people.
Starting with the importation list of forty-eight people, if we add the Matthew Smith family of two people from the Gemmingen list, we come to fifty. This omits the Beck family on the Gemmingen list, for which there is no record that they were ever in Virginia. Adding the twenty-nine people from the proofs of importation brings the number to seventy-nine. This leaves out the Amberger, Ballenger, Crigler, Holt, Moyer, Sheible, and Thomas families who were either sued by Spotswood or obtained their land in 1726. These make up sixteen people. Added to the seventy-nine, the count is up to ninety-five.
Part of this last group of people seem to have excellent credentials for arrival in 1717. The Thomas family would have completed the Anna Barbara Schön group of families (see the last note). One other family from this same village, the Sheibles, is very likely to have come at the same time. The Sheible family was sued at the same time as others.
Thus, there is an embarrassment of names. We have too many people who have reasonably good credentials. (I may have made some errors in arithmetic here, but the drift of the argument should be clear.)
I have mentioned that the First Colony people, when they were in London, could not go home (to the Siegen area) as recommended by Graffenried. The reasons behind this statement are many, some legal, some psychological. Technically, they had obtained permission to leave and in the process became "citizens without a country." When many of our German ancestors left their homes, they paid a fee and, in essence, they purchased their freedom. Psychologically, the attitude of the Germans who remained in Germany was that the emigrants were dead and gone. This was typified by the entries in the death register telling of their departure. Among the emigrants themselves, they had made a commitment and it was hard to admit they were wrong. But, it was possible to return on a permanent basis and many Germans did return. Some returned very soon and others returned after many years.
I have mentioned that the Second Colony people purchased their land from the Crown in Spotsylvania County. Perhaps even in the same note I may have mentioned that some of them had their land for free. My thinking, as I made these almost contradictory statements, was that I was distinguishing the Second Colony people, who had their land from the Crown, from the First Colony people, who had their land from the Proprietors of the Northern Neck. So, when I said the Second Colony bought their land from the Crown, I was including bargain sales at 100% off the usual price.
In the last note I was counting the candidate members of the Second Colony. Gary Zimmerman and Johni Cerny (in the "Before Germanna" booklets) gave a list of people who they believed were members of the Second Colony, and a list of those they believed were probable. In the first of these categories, they have about 113 people. In the second, they have 26 for a total of 139. It seems to me that this number is not at all in keeping with the spirit of Spotswood's statement at seventy odd, or the Germans' later statement of eighty.
Johni Cerny is a descendant of Johann Michael Willheit, and she seems to be stretching to include the family in the Second Colony. Her rationalization is reasonable, namely that the Willheit family disappears from the church records in Schwaigern at a time which is consistent with the Second Colony, but this is hardly evidence that they were members of the Second Colony. Considering that other families have a better claim, I believe that the Willheit family is best counted as one of the early families who came just after the Second Colony.
This concludes, at least for the present, clarifications of earlier notes. I do appreciate your questions and, even if you find that I have made a boo-boo, I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight. And, of course, we have the gray areas where even Rinso doesn't always make the record white. So discussions, pro and con, are welcome also.
A ship which played an important role in Germanna history was the bilander "Oliver." A bilander is a small, two masted ship used mostly for coastal trading or on the canals of Holland. The Oliver, built in 1720 in Boston, found its way into transatlantic trade. In 1738, the Hope shipping firm, named for the Scottish Quaker father and two sons which ran it, chartered the Oliver to a Swiss society which was recruiting emigrants for William Byrd in Virginia. A number of Palatines were added to the Swiss for settlement on Byrd's lands.
The Oliver was the only ship to go to Virginia, as almost all ships were slated to go to Philadelphia. Eighteen family units (some of them were bachelors), wanting to go to Virginia from the Nassau-Siegen area, were at Rotterdam at this time. These people signed on with the Oliver. The ship left Rotterdam toward the end of June. The weather was adverse and the ship returned to the harbor. The captain of the ship said that it was overloaded (there were more than 300 passengers on this ship of 100 tons) and he resigned his post. Another captain was appointed.
The ship called at Cowes in England and stayed in port for about six weeks. On leaving Cowes, the ship encountered such heavy seas that it put in to Plymouth for safety and repairs. About six weeks were consumed there. In September, the trip resumed and went well for a while but the weather and winds turned very adverse. The Oliver lost a mast and the captain died and was replaced. Much time was consumed and it wasn't until the beginning of January that the Oliver appeared off the coast of Virginia. By then, all food and drink had been exhausted.
Some of the passengers forced the captain, at gunpoint, to take them ashore in search of food and drink. The weather was very bad and cold. No food or drink was found and the boat taking the search party ashore could not make it back to the ship. These people were cold and wet and several did not survive the ordeal. Meanwhile, the ship drug its anchors and was blown onto the shoals where its bottom was opened. The ship sank partially, but deep enough to trap many people below the deck where they drowned.
Of the original 300 plus passengers, less than 100 made it to Virginia. In one family of twelve, only one person made it to Virginia. Of the eighteen family units from Freudenberg, only six male heads of families made it. These were John Frederick Miller, Harmon Critz, George Wayman, Herman Back, Herman Miller, and John Hoffman. Had the other twelve family units made it to Virginia, it would have been a substantial addition to the Germanna people.
Starting with the January issue of Beyond Germanna, a number of articles, mostly by Klaus Wust, have been appearing on the disastrous shipping season of 1738. In general, one of every three persons who left Germany for the New World in 1738 did not make it.
In 1716, Lt. Gov. Spotswood led an expedition across the Blue Ridge Mountains. A later novel, called the "Knights of the Horseshoe", by Dr. Wm. A. Caruthers, is probably the source of the name "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe", used to describe the trip in more recent times. John Fontaine left a description of the journey in his diary, in which he notes that he and Spotswood returned to Williamsburg on September 17.
The College at Williamsburg (William and Mary) was obliged to pay two copies of original Latin verses to the Governor every fifth of November as quit rent for their land. In 1716, Mr. James Blair, the President, gave one presentation, "The Suppression of the Late Rebellion." Mr. Arthur Blackamore, Professor of Humanity, based the second presentation on the very recent Blue Ridge trip in a Latin poem entitled in English, "Ultra Montane Expedition." The poem was translated into English by Rev. George Seagood and published by the "The Maryland Gazette", in their Tuesday issues of June 17 and June 24 in 1729. From this translation, a few of the lines refer to Germanna:
. . . . . he to Germanna came,
Which from new German Planters takes its Name,
Here taught to dig, by his auspicious Hand
They prov'd the teeming Pregnance of the Land;
For being search'd the fertile Earth gave Signs
That her Womb swell'd with Gold and Silver Mines
This Ground, if faithful, may in time out-do
Potosi, Mexico, and fam'd Peru.
The first pronoun clearly refers to Spotswood, while "his auspicious Hand" is ambiguous; however, the poem is a tribute to Spotswood, and the "Hand" is probably meant to be Spotswood's. At least, "his" is not capitalized.
The July issue of "Beyond Germanna" is going in the mail today. It contains two articles of research, with original findings. All Aylor descendants now have a new ancestor to replace one whose credentials have been discredited. In another article, a new Germanna family has been added, that of Charles Frady (in English) or Carl Wrede (in German). Maps show the distribution of the names Wrede and Vrede in Germany today. The form of taxes in the eighteenth century Germany is given in another article. Klaus Wust has more material on the voyage of the ship Oliver in which twelve potential Germanna families lost their lives.
One Miller family in the Germanna community was that of Henry and Susanna Miller, who moved to Virginia from Pennsylvania after several of their children were born. This was not long before the Revolution. According to family tradition, Henry was a tanner.
More is known about the origins of Susanna than of Henry. She came to Philadelphia, bringing with her a "birth certificate", which was preserved within the family. The certificate states she was born 21 Feb 1731, the daughter of Michael Sibler, citizen and master carpenter, and of Barbara, both of whom were Evangelic Lutheran parents in legal and honest wedlock. Susanna was born at Auerbach and the birth was recorded at nearby Langensteinbach (both in Baden). The certificate was dated 7 Apr 1752, which broadly fixes her arrival date.
The children of Henry and Susanna are recorded in the Hebron Church Register, but there are problems with the data. The only sponsors who are clearly Germanna people start with the sponsors of the twins, George and Margaret, in 1772. Apparently, some of the older children, who were born in Pennsylvania, were baptized in Pennsylvania. One of the later children, Sophia, is stated to have been baptized in Lancaster. [Most likely in the Cocalico townships in the northern part of the county-JVB.] Thus they were maintaining their ties to Pennsylvania.
Henry Miller purchased land in Culpeper Co. (later Madison Co.), on 16 Apr 1776, and on 7 Sep 1776 he added 50 more acres. This land is described as being on the Robinson River, near the Hebron Church. In 1780, he bought 1536 acres at the foot of Peaked Mountain in what later became Rappahannock County. He died at his home in Madison Co., in June of 1801. His will had been witnessed in 1796, and it was settled in November of 1807. Of his twelve children (there are only eleven in the Register), nine were still living, as was his wife, Susanna.
The information being presented here comes from Louise Keyser Cockey in an article in Beyond Germanna (vol. 1, n. 5). She is the co-author of "History of the Descendants of Charles Keyser and Henry Miller." About 220 pages are devoted to the descendants of Henry Miller.
Henry is said to have had a brother George who, with his wife Mary Margaret, has three children recorded in the Register. Again, these children were probably baptized in Pennsylvania. One reason for the unusual baptisms recorded for the children of Henry and George is that when the Register was rewritten in 1775, it was written, not as a history of what had been done at Hebron, but as a description of the current situation in 1775. Thus the baptism of the first Miller children was entered, not because they had been baptized at Hebron, but because the rewritten Register was telling the new pastor that the children had been baptized.
The children of Henry and Susanna Miller were:
There are differences between the birthrates above and the Hebron Church records which contain obvious errors. The Hebron records for the first children, in the 1775 rewrite of the Register, are not based on original Hebron records but came from the family.
The daughter Elizabeth moved to Philadelphia where she had a dress shop. She met her husband there. Either Sarah, Susanna, or Margaret married Jesse Backster (Baxter).
John Miller married Nancy Hitt, the daughter of Peter and Sarah (James) Hitt of Fauquier Co. He lived at "Mountain Green" in Rappahannock Co. The farm remained in the family for 160 years. Mary Wilhoit was the daughter of John Wilhoit and Elizabeth Blankenbaker.
Much of the family tradition originated with John Wesley Miller, son of Adam and Mary (Wilhoit) Miller, who was born in 1809 and lived to be 96. His information has proven to be reliable and he is the source that there was a child older than Mary in the list above. But this child does not appear in the Hebron Register or in the estate settlement suggesting that she probably died very young.
The George Miller in the Hebron Register who is a contemporary of Henry is believed to be Henry's brother. The several Millers in the neighborhood other than Henry and George, including other Henrys, are not believed to be related.
The established church in Virginia was the Anglican church, which received its legal support and its finances from the Colony of Virginia. There were no bishops in Virginia, and each minister was responsible to the local Vestry, a board of lay persons in the parish. As long as the minister satisfied the Vestry, he was on his own. In this situation, religion was apt to become stale and kept alive only by the law which required church attendance.
Signs of a breakup in this routine started in 1743 when several people, led by Samuel Morris, a bricklayer, started reading religious tracts and absenting themselves from attending the Anglican church. Many of these people had been inspired by the sermons of George Whitefield, a breakaway from John Wesley, who visited Williamsburg on a tour of the colonies in 1739.
The people meeting with Morris grew to an extent that a meeting house was built for them. Morris himself was invited to travel and to conduct meetings at a considerable distance away from his home. These initial meetings were in the Tidewater region. At this same time, the Scots-Irish and others were settling western and southwestern Virginian, and they brought Presbyterian thought with them. The group around Morris invited Rev. William Robinson, a Presbyterian missionary, to come and preach. Thereafter, this group thought of themselves as Presbyterians.
The group had been uncertain about its identity previously and had given little thought to their affiliation. For a while, they had remembered that Martin Luther was a reformer and they called themselves Lutherans. As Presbyterians, they were called New Siders. Their preachers began to attract large crowds and the colonial and Anglican leaders began to be concerned.
Two of the points that bothered the authorities were, one, the itinerant nature of the preachers, and, two, the doctrine that "a true Christian may know whether a Minister be converted or not by hearing him preach or pray." The Anglicans felt that a minister achieved his status by his ordination by the established church, whereas the New Siders placed more emphasis on the conversion or internal conviction of the ministers.
The Anglicans made extensive use of the Book of Common Prayer, which was used in a fixed cycle. The New Siders, also called the New Lights, had little use for this ritualistic work and believed more in extemporaneous expression. Civil charges were brought against the new preachers for vilifying the "Established Religion." Some laymen were brought to Williamsburg to stand trial and were fined for unlawful assembly. In 1747, the governor and the Council issued a stiff proclamation calling for "all Itinerant Preachers" to be restrained.
(The reference I am following here is Rhys Isaac's Pulitzer prize winning book, "The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790.")
In the 1740's, the word "itinerant" was a code word that went far beyond a description of the mode of operation of the leaders of alternative religious thought. Virginia was maturing in its social organization and becoming more solidified in its structure. The large planters and their extended families were in control, or thought they were. The new religious leaders were not answerable to anyone in the ruling class, which was a challenge to their power.
The commotion caused by the Presbyterian dissenters was soon overshadowed by the appearance of another religious group. In 1754, Shubal Stearns, missionary of the Separate Baptists, came from Connecticut through the back country. His emissaries, and those they recruited, found ready followers in Virginia. A strong and popular movement developed in the 1760's.
The Presbyterian and Baptist movements would not have found such a ready acceptance had the Anglican church offered more of what the people wanted. The Anglican program was not inspiring and the clergy were more interested in the Vestries than the broader membership. Physical expansion, reined in by the authority of the colony, had not kept pace with the needs.
Several characteristics divided the Anglicans from the dissenters. On the one hand, it was the ruling class versus the small property owners and the slaves. Authority was the hallmark of one side while personal participation was the champion of the other. An example illustrates this difference. An Anglican congregation dispersed without any attempt at worship when the minister was prevented from attending by a storm. The Baptists, even if they knew no minister would be present, would convene and spend the time in prayer, singing, and reading.
A 1771 diary entry describes an attempt by the parson, clerk, sheriff, and other men of the Established Church to upset a Baptist meeting. The Baptist leader (Brother Waller) was horsewhipped by the sheriff with twenty lashes. Yet, he refused to stop the service, saying that the Lord had stood by him.
The evangelicals wanted to impose controls on the "loose" society that they perceived as existing around them. The traditional Virginia method of keeping the Sabbath with "sport, merriment, and dissipation" was not for the Baptists. The cosmic order was to be upheld by putting aside all worldly pursuits on the Lord's Day.
The Separatist Baptists quickly outpaced the New Side Presbyterians in their impact. By 1772, the Baptists amounted to perhaps ten percent of the population. Their willingness, even eagerness, to send out missionaries paid dividends. This policy, as opposed to the conservative nature of the Anglicans, Lutherans, or Reformed Churches, won acceptance. In 1769, there were only seven Separate Baptist churches in Virginia, with only three of them north of the James River. By October of 1774, the numbers had climbed to fifty-four total, with twenty-four north of the river.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the relationship between Virginia and England was being reexamined. For example, the Anglican church in Virginia depended upon bishops in England. This dependence created problems because it was traditional for bishops to confirm members in the church. Without any bishops in Virginia, one could not be confirmed in the church unless he made the trip to England. This was totally impractical for most people who sensed that the church wasn't responsive to their needs nor was the church serious about it what it said. Bishops ordained pastors also. Without bishops in Virginia, it was difficult to obtain new ministers.
The Stamp Act (1762), widely opposed in the colonies, reignited questions about how much control was desired by Parliament. For some time, Virginia had been moving toward more self government, independent of England. So, as the new churches of the Presbyterians and the Baptists developed, some people felt that there was a need for Anglican bishops in Virginia to strengthen that church. But, bishops in Virginia would be under the control of the mother church in England. Politically, having Virginia bishops would be a move in the direction just opposite of what was desired. Therefore, the effort to establish Anglican bishops in Virginia was doomed, though the argument consumed time and effort.
Meanwhile, in the decade before the Revolution, the Baptist movement was gaining strength. Its preachers were defying legal restrictions. The movement spread from the western frontier regions toward the settled Tidewater and Piedmont regions. The dissent from the established church reached a peak with the first meeting of the Virginia Separate Baptist Association, at the Blue Run Church in Orange County, on May 11 to May 15 in 1771. A writer of the times estimated that four to five thousand people were in attendance on Sunday.
Defiance of authority was rife at the meeting. Many were in favor of censuring anyone who had obtained a license, as was required by law, to preach.
The movement aroused strong hostility in the traditional sections of the community which used legal actions and disruptive and riotous actions. These had started by 1765 when the Separate Baptists first were called in to preach in the Piedmont. As the movement spread into the Tidewater, the incidents became more frequent.
The Lutheran and Reformed Churches were not the objects of the scorn of the establishment, as these German churches were recognized as legitimate. On the contrary, the German churches were in the same position as the Anglican church, except that they did not have the power of the state behind them. The German churches, still dependent upon their European brethren, were sluggish and responded very slowly. Ministers were extremely difficult to obtain. It is not difficult to see why the Baptists made a headway even among the Germans.
Some of the readers probably have ancestors who were involved in this religious upheaval. If you have stories to relate, why not forward them to the list here.
Attempts to suppress the Baptists by use of the courts were occurring at the same time as challenges were being made to the legal basis of the legislation that was being used. This confused state of the laws governing toleration intensified anxiety and dissension within the ruling group. The laws pertaining to the church were half-formed and an ad-hoc mixture of colonial enactments and English law. The Virginia assembly had decreed in 1662 that the right to preach in the colony was restricted to those who had received ordination from a bishop in England. Another law of 1705 exempted Protestant dissenters from penalties for nonattendance at their (Anglican) churches. Those who qualified for this exemption were defined by reference to an English statute of 1689, the famous "Act of Toleration." It was argued that the reference to this English law made it applicable to Virginia. It was under this law that Virginia officials had been licensing preachers and meetinghouses since 1747. The question was, "How much of the Act of Toleration applied to Virginia?"
So confused was the law on toleration, that the Lancaster County court rescinded, on March 17, 1758, its earlier license for a Baptist meetinghouse. Part of the reasoning was based on the conclusion that no Act of Parliament relating to churches was binding in the Colony. It was concluded that the applicable law required preachers to be ordained by a bishop in England. But the Council in Williamsburg continued for a decade after that to license others who applied for permission. In 1768, the Council informed Spotsylvania County that the imprisoned preachers could apply for a license to preach; however, imprisonment continued throughout Virginia.
The arguments continued in the courts and in the newspapers. The ruling gentry, who had opposed, successfully, the coming of a bishop to Virginia, were divided on the question of religious dissent. Some argued for a defined line that would exclude the Baptists. In 1772 the Baptists petitioned the House of Burgesses for relief and clarification. The Baptists seemed willing to accept licensing. The House passed a bill clarifying that the Act of Toleration would hold in Virginia. After the third reading of the bill, it would have normally gone to the Council. In this case, the House voted to print the proposal and to distribute it among the populace for comment. By this rare abdication of its authority, the House showed its doubts about the religious conflict.
Two years later, James Madison was exuberant about the American cause in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, but he despaired of Virginia because of its continued religious intolerance. The old regime in Virginia was never able to resolve the religious toleration problem. The stories being circulated about the dissenters only heightened their resolve to control the dissent.
Questions about political liberty and religious freedom were tied together in the minds of many, and the lack of any toleration on the religious question concerned them about the future of political liberty. They believed that without the one there could not be the other.
22 October 1776
To the Honorable, the President and Delegates of the Convention of the Common Wealth of Virginia
The Petition of the German Congregation of the County of Culpepper Showeth
Our Fathers lived under an arbitrary Prince in Germany and were invited by the Honorable William Penn to settle in his Province. By the faith they had in the Charter and by the word of the Germans that lived there, we could enjoy freedom in the exercise of Religion, supporting only our own Church and the Poor. Our Fathers ventured their lives and fortunes to come into a Land of Liberty to enjoy the Sweets of Freedom which God created for all Men. They journeyed from Germany to London and there agreed with a Captain to land them in Pennsylvania. The Captain proved false and landed them against their will and agreement in Virginia where he sold them for Servants.
Soon they gathered to the Place where we now live and they concluded to erect a Church and a School House. They were granted a License to collect money, build a church, call a minister, worship God in a congregation, and practice their religion as they were taught by their parents in Europe.
In our poverty we are obliged to pay Parochial Charges as well as support our own Church which leaves many of us distressed. Now, with our fellow citizens, we are obliged to bleed for Freedom and contribute to the expense of the War. We are not breaking from the established Church as do the common Dissenters.
We humbly pray that we may be exempted from further payment of the Parochial Charges except to support our own Church and Poor:
Adam Gaar, Adam Wayland, John Yager, Andrew Carpenter, John Weaver, Nicholas Crigler, Christopher Blankenbaker, Conrad Delph, George Cook, Valentine Bunger, Mathias House, Michael Fleshman, Michael Utz, John Gaar, Zacharias Blankenbaker, Bernard Fisher, Rudolph Urbach, Michael Smith, Mathias Rouse, Adam Cook, Nicholas Broyles, Adam Moyer, Samuel Rouse, Michael Yager, Zachariah Broyles, Michael Lederer, Nicholas Smith, Phillip Snyder, Eberhard Reiner, Frederick Tanner, John Winegard, Mark Fink, Jacob Broyle, John Wayland, Jr., Jacob Broyles, Adam Barlow, William Carpenter, Michael Utz, Jr., Adam Bender, John Fink.
Martin Rouse, Henry Crisler, Paul Lederer, John Smith, John Zimmerman, Nicholas Yager, Christian Reiner, George Utz, Jr., Jacob Hendrickson, Mathias Weaver, Henry Aylor, George Crisler, Daniel Dosser, Stephan Fisher, Jacob Blankenbaker.
Nicholas Wilheit, John Carpenter, John Fleshman, Frederick Lipp, John Broyles, Robert Fleshman, Philip Chelf, George Utz, Christopher Crigler, Adam Broyles, Christopher Zimmerman, Zacharias Smith, Christopher Moyer, Jr., John Yager, Jr., John Zimmerman, Adam Yager, Sr., John Carpenter, Sr., Joseph Rouse, Benjamin Gaar, Jurt Tanner, Joseph Holtzclaw, John Wilhoit, John Backer, John Dear, Sr., Henry Miller.
Conrad Kenszle, Michael Gaar, Andrew Gaar, Peter Clore, Michael Utz, Daniel Delph, Christopher Tanner, Michael Swindle, Ziriakus Broyles, George Rieser, Peter Weaver, Adam Crigler, Henry Aylor, Adam Utz, Michael Clore, Michael Snider, John Clore, Jr., Adam Clore, Peter Broyles, Rudolph Crecelius, John Frey, Martin Deer, Michael Zimmerman, George Lehman, John Clore, Christopher Barlow, John Smith, Michael Carpenter, Daniel Beemon, John Swindle, Christopher Moyer, George Wilheit, Nicholas Lederer, Nicholas Smith, Jr., Michael Cook, Lewis Nunnamaker, Michael Blankenbaker, and Benjamin Gaar.
[In preparing this, some editing was done to conform more closely to modern usage. The text of the petition was simplified. Names were spelled with a common usage.]
The Virginia State Library and Archives publishes "A Guide to Church Records in the Archives Branch." They have 320 "items" in their collection. The Guide also includes a few words on the history of the denominations. This note starts some selections from these comments.
Laws enacted by the House of Burgesses concerning the Society of Friends in Virginia were very stringent. From 1659 to the 1670's, steps were taken to prohibit Friends from entering Virginia, and to expel those who were present. They were not allowed to publish or circulate tracts, and meetings were limited to a maximum of five people. The years of greatest persecution were the period where they grew most rapidly. In 1672, a visit by George Fox, the founder of the Society, helped the Friends to organize. When the Anglican Church was disestablished in 1786, the Friends went into a period of decline. One reason was the lack of a statewide organization (meeting).
The Presbyterians settled in Virginia as early as 1684. Under the Act of Toleration of 1689, Josiah Mackie, a Presbyterian, qualified. The group remained very small until the Scotch-Irish migration into the Shenandoah Valley in the 1730's. Because they strengthened the frontier, their religion was tolerated; however, when the Presbyterians came east over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the laws controlling dissenters were enforced against them. Samuel Morris, in Hanover County, led discussion groups which were reinforced by the visit of Rev. William Robinson of the New Light Presbytery. Encouragement to these fledgling groups came from the north, out of state. One controversy of the Presbyterians was the Old Side-New Side argument. Old Side people argued that the church should be controlled by constituted authority and the ministers should be educated and ordained in the orthodox tradition. The New Siders held that ordained ministers could be people who were converted by a religious experience, and who could preach wherever the Holy Spirit led them.
Two groups of Baptists existed in Virginia prior to the Revolutionary War. The Regulars generally complied with colonial laws requiring dissenters to register and to list their preaching assignments. The Separatists traced their heritage to the Great Awakening, a series of revivals in New England in the 1730's and 1740's. At first, they were known as New Lights but, as many of the churches were founded by people who withdrew from the Anglican Church, they became known as Separatists. Slightly later, this name was used by those who withdrew from the Baptist churches on the question of infant baptism; those who withdrew to form new Baptist churches were thus called Separatists. At the time of the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, the various factions of the Baptists were reunited in Virginia.
Another early church denomination in Virginia was the Methodist Church, which originally developed as a reform movement within the Anglican Church. The leader in this was John Wesley. At the time when disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Virginia was being considered in 1776, the "Methodists" opposed the idea. They thought of themselves as a religious society in communion with the Church of England. From small societies held together by periodic visits from circuit riders, they grew to become congregations organized as churches. Throughout the nineteenth century divisions occurred, but in the present century the branches reunited and finally merged with other bodies. A famous leader of the late eighteenth century was Bishop Francis Asbury whose autocratic control led to break away movements by those who did not agree.
In the assessment of the churches made by the Virginia State Library, the German Lutheran and German Reformed Churches are put together. This is because there was generally a harmonious relationship between the Reformed churches and Lutherans, which often led to their sharing of a building and, on some occasions, sharing of a minister. As a consequence, records were often combined, making it almost impossible to identify the specific congregation to which records may refer. Of the records for thirty-seven German churches, all include some entries for infant baptisms, and commonly they include confirmation and communicant lists. Most of the records are in German. The first Reformed congregation was Rev. Haeger's in the First Germanna Colony for which no records remain. The first Lutheran congregation was for the Second Colony, and their records start with 1750. In general, the Anglican Church leaders did not regard the German churches as dissenters, nor did the German churches put down the Anglican Church. In fact, the Lutherans, as represented by the Hebron church and Rev. Klug, often filled in for the Anglicans when the Anglicans had no minister and vice versa.
In the eighteenth century, the Catholic Church, the Jewish congregations, the Disciples of Christ, and the Unitarians were not significant.
The Anglican Church was brought over with the first settlers at Jamestown and became the established church of the colony. Special duties were assigned to it and in return it enjoyed the taxing power of the state. After the Revolution, it was reorganized as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, without any special recognition by the state.
(This page contains the FIFTEENTH set of Notes, Nr. 351 through Nr. 375.)
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 1200 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.
If you are interested in subscribing to this List, click here. You don't need to type anything, just click on "Send". You will shortly receive a Welcome Message explaining the List.
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 1200 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.
If you are interested in subscribing to this List, click here. You don't need to type anything, just click on "Send". You will shortly receive a Welcome Message explaining the List.
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.
(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.)
(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.)