GERMANNA History Notes Page #020

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This is the TWENTIETH 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.

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This Page Contains Notes 476 through 500.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 20

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Nr. 476:

[We continue the Virginia travelogue with Francis Louis Michel.]

"Now I will turn to the land and report what animals are found there, starting with the tame animals.  The horses are very light-footed and they never ride them at a walk but at a gallop.  They are very common.  Not many people can be seen traveling on foot, even if they are going only an hour's distance.  They are seldom used to pull a plow or a wagon because the nature of the country does not demand it.  They cost from three to eight pounds sterling."

"Horned cattle are found in great numbers, so that in summer time much milk is used.  Butter is made but most people know nothing of cheese.  A few undertook to make it but it cannot compare to ours [that would be Swiss].  The common farmer usually has from ten to forty head of cattle [the estimate is probably on the high side].  The cows are easy to care for as they are left on the meadow all year long and no barns are used.  No hay is stored for the cows.  Sometimes they get very cold and hungry and in the worst case they are fed corn."

"I was astonished at the number of pigs.  They are not large individually, but their numbers are large.  Their meat is considered good and many live pigs are shipped to England.  They are fed with nuts, acorns, berries, apples, and corn.  They are better than the Carolina hams where the pigs are fed with fish.  The pigs are easy to care for as they run in the forest all of the time.  They come home about every eight weeks.  But many run away and sometimes the bears will do damage to the pigs.  Every farmer has his own crop or mark by which he marks their ears."

"Sheep are raised in constantly increasing numbers.  But because there is a lack of skilled workmen to use the wool, the sheep are grown only for their meat.  Turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens are very common."

"The game is very common and the land is a zoological garden filled with all kinds of animals.  The game is only half-wild because they are not shy of men.  Stags are very common, deer also.  Bears are found in large numbers.  They are not vicious, hence they are shot without fear.  There are wild boars and wild horses.  The raccoon is a fierce animal slightly larger than a cat.  The "monac" is a new animal that we do not have in Switzerland [it is a groundhog].  We tried to take one of these back to England but it died on the trip.  Foxes and hares are smaller in Virginia.  Fox squirrels are very numerous.  Then there are bats which fly only at night.  Instead of wings they have skin over their toes."

"The feathered game is very common and tame.  There are many turkeys.  It is large and weighs from twenty to forty pounds.  Many of them are killed because of the fine meat.  The first two that I met in the woods, I thought that I could catch by running after them but they are very fast runners.  Finally they flew away."

Nr. 477:

"Wild geese and ducks, together with snipes and waterfowl, are very numerous during the winter season.  They are unlike those in Switzerland and they are not wild.  No hunter will shoot at one or two of them, but they are hunted in uncounted numbers.  Partridges are also numerous and tame as one often sees them eating with the chickens.  Many of the birds I do not know the name of them because they are unlike the European birds."

"One species is as large as a finch, of scarlet color, another is blue, others green, and others have variegated colors wonderfully mixed.  Then there is a little bird, somewhat larger than a hornet, which always hovers over flowers.  When one looks at its wondrous colors, one cannot help being surprised.  The noxious birds are like a species of blackbird, which do not a little damage when the corn is sown and cut.  The come in incredibly large numbers.  At such times the fields must be guarded, but that does not help much.  When they are chased from one field, they fly to another.  They fear people hardly at all.  Hence it happens that fields must often be sown three times.  They even pick it out of the ground after it has sprouted.  The most valuable species, because of their song, is the "mocketbort" [mocking bird] which are sold in England for two guineas and more.  They can be compared to the nightingale because they change their sweet song in many ways.

Poisonous animals did not become known to me, except the so-called rattlesnakes species which is large and much feared.  They stay most generally at swampy places.  When angry they rattle with their tail as if it were a bell.  When they bit anybody, he has to die.  There is no help for him.  Only the Indians know the secret, but they don't want it to make it known.  [Robert Beverley make just the opposite statement and said, "The remedies are well known."]

In the hottest part of the summer it is troublesome to travel because of the vermin.  [Beverley said there were three problems with Virginia, "Thunder, Heat, troublesome Vermin."]  No one can lie or sleep on the ground because so many vermin have crawled over the same.  In summer, the mosquitoes are very annoying.

Rains are usually warm and the sun has such power that, when something is planted, it grows in a short time.  It is astonishing to see a thing, half grown or half ripe one day, reaching ripeness in a few days.  The fruits are all ripe much earlier than in Switzerland.  This year, it was very hot in June, July, and August.  The cool springs are very refreshing and the water is not inferior to ours.  A vessel of cold water is taken and sugar is put in with some vinegar and nutmeg together with some good glasses of rum.  Sometimes they put in lemon.  It is good drink and they call it Pons [punch].

Nr. 478:

[Michel's description of Virginia in 1702, continued.]

"They have severe thunderstorms.  I saw one at Yorktown when a ship at anchor was covered by waves which broke over the deck.  Terrible winds, called hurricanes, frequently come with such violence and force that people often fear that houses and trees will give way.  But they are soon over.  Corn and other grain are often blown off the fields.  The winter is not long or cold.  Not much snow falls.  The north wind is said to be cold in winter but it does not last long.  When the south wind blows, it is warm again.  When it is cold, they make big fires in the fireplaces.  There is as much wood as one desires at the door."

"Regarding forest trees, it may be said that none can be found which are superior to them.  The cedar tree is very common.  The governor uses cedar trees to fence in a garden.  The tall nut trees [walnuts] are useful for building purposes if fine work is desired.  This tree bears a nut and a hammer or nail is necessary to open them.  The chestnuts are small.  The most numerous and largest trees are the oaks.  There are also very tall pine trees which have a red wood.  There is also a white pine but I have not seen it.  I have seen only one beech tree.  They make a little boat from the trunk of a tree which they call a canoe.  There are many other kinds of trees whose names I do not know.  Some have very beautiful blossoms.  It is easy to ride horseback through the forest because the trees are tall and there is no undergrowth.  Game can be found easily because the forests are so open.  Part of this is due to the Indians."

"In October, twenty, forty, or more Indians gather and make a circle.  Then each sets fire to the foliage and underbrush which is dried up.  The unburned area gets smaller and the game is driven into it.  The hunters shoot the animals that try to escape.  They take the skins and as much of the meat as they need."

"The wild horses are hunted in April and May when they gorge on the new grass and become lazy.  The tame horses have been fed oats and they are stronger.  The wild horses are run down and caught.  Some are taken to be broken in.  But their meat is also good to eat.  Some people catch horses by digging a pit into which a wild horse falls."

"Turtles of different kinds are found in the woods.  They are gathered and eaten by the servants.  Some of them are very beautiful."

[Francis Louis Michel, a native of Bern, Switzerland, wrote a "short report" on his exploration of Virginia.  A copy of this is in the Bern Library.  This was translated by Prof. Wm. J. Hinke and published in several issues of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography starting in January 1916.  Not only is the description of Virginia interesting, though it has its inaccuracies, but this trip of Michel was the commencement of a series of events which led to there being Germanna Colonies.  The remarks of Michel will continue.]

Nr. 479:

In a previous note on Michel, I said he arrived in Virginia on May 9.  Either he or the translator made a mistake, for Michel now says he arrived on April 9.  (This date makes more sense judging by the time of the crossing.)  The trip to Virginia, from Bern, was a business trip as the following notes will make clearer.  Basically, Michel was seeking to find a place where he could settle people.  He had a special interest in the French refugees, Huguenots, who had found a home in Virginia a few years earlier.  Michel regarded them as a model for his projected colony.  He wanted to talk to them to see what their experience had been.  Also, Michel knew very little English and he could converse with them in French.  But let's let him tell his story.

"Starting at Yorktown on April 8 where the ship anchored when it arrived, the Captain went across land to Williamsburg to announce his arrival.  He returned that night having traveled 36 miles during the day."  [Because Michel and the French families, who were also passengers, were aliens, they needed permission to go ashore.  The captain assured them that they could and that the governor welcomed them.  Temporarily leaving their goods on board the ship, they went ashore.  This was the first time they had been on land since the previous December.  Being spring also, Michel was exceedingly delighted with what he found.]

"After several miles of travel, they came to farms which were widely separated.  Each one selects a place where the land, water, and pasture are good.  We were very curious as to what the inside of a house looked like and what the people ate.  We stopped at one near the road but no one was home except a maid who gave us some water and bean soup that had been prepared with bacon.  For the slaves, pounded corn was cooked in water and corn was baked into bread.  We did not like the corn bread.  We liked the wheat bread baked in an oven but that was not for servants or slaves."

"We found, after several days of traveling that it was possible to travel through the whole country without money, except for the ferries.  Even if one is willing to pay, the hosts will not accept any money.  If you try to pay, they get angry and say, "Don't you know the custom of the country?"  There are few ordinaries or inns.  At first we were bashful, but they admonished us that this was the custom of the country for the rich and the poor."

"Our first objective was to go to Mattapony where some Swiss people were living, especially a man known to me from military service.  On the way we met a man on horseback.  One almost never meets anyone traveling on foot.  We asked him about the way and he helped us.  One finds that the trees along the trail are blazed to show the way.  He told us about a house where some Swiss were living and we came to the house shortly where the four sisters Lerber were living."  [The editor of the notes thinks they may have been Anabaptists who emigrated from Bern because of the opposition to their faith there.]

"Along the way, many people offered us farms to rent.  The real wealth lies in the slaves, not in the land, for if one has workmen, much foodstuff and tobacco can be produced."

Nr. 480:

"After five days we came to my countrymen, who had arrived in this country two years ago.  [It is believed this was a branch of the main Huguenot settlement on the James River above the falls.  Michel spoke French yet he was a citizen of Bern, Switzerland.  It is thought that he served in the French army.  So when he says "countrymen" it includes the French, especially Huguenots.]  The settlers here were in a very good condition even though they had been there only two years.  They were the last settlers along the Mattapony River.  We stayed with them for two days."

"Their conditions of settlement did not suit us.  They were to plant and clear the land for fourteen years.  Major Burwell would supply them whatever they needed.  In return they were to give him one-third of their cattle and 100 pounds of tobacco annually.  They had to repay him the money which he lent them.  At the end of the fourteen years, he would decide whether to let them stay there any longer.  We wanted to find a good place but this did not suit us."

"We went to Westpoint where the Mattapony and Pamunkey Rivers meet.  To cross the river one must use the ferry.  Since he was on the other side, we made a fire as a signal to him.  The ferry costs one shilling per person.  We had forty miles to go to Williamsburg to greet the Governor who met with us one morning.  But first we had to go with him to prayers because it was time for them.  Afterwards, he asked us what our desire was."

"We told him, namely, to settle at a favorable place and we asked him for advice.  He promised to remember us and told his secretary to take us to President Blair who could explain the custom and usage of the country.  Before we left the Governor, he ordered his servants to serve us dinner.  The servants were not on good terms with the French and did not carry out the order right.  They gave some soup with fresh ham and small beer.  But the butler took us into the cellar and gave us some English stout and Rhine wine.  The Governor drinks no wine nor strong drink."

"The Secretary then took us to see Mr. Blair who received us courteously and drank to our welcome from silver vessels.  [Mr. Blair was the Bishop of London's representative in Virginia and a powerful figure in the Virginia government.]  He laid before us a number of points but he was hindered by his small knowledge of French.  He said we could take up some of the land of the college and we would not have to pay taxes for three years.  After that time we would have to pay the quit-rents and the tithe each of which was about 100 pounds of tobacco.  This sounded better than the situation at Mattapony."

"But first, I wanted to see what the situation was on the James River above the falls where the largest body of Huguenots was settled.  The preacher is paid by the King there and they have better soils.  And they did not have to pay anything for seven years.  In Williamsburg we found that some people did not look favorably on the French.  We returned to our ship and the captain informed us that we would have to remove our belongings from the ship which was agreeable to us."

Nr. 481:

Robert Beverley, in his 1725 (2nd edition) "History of Virginia", described the settlement of the Huguenots at Manakintown as follows: "In the year 1699, there went over about three hundred of these, and the year following about two hundred more, and so, till there arrived in all, between seven and eight hundred men, women and children."  They were settled on a tract of 10,000 acres about twenty-five miles above the falls of the James River [roughly Richmond], on the south side of the river, in what is now Powatan County.  A disagreement in their second year caused many to leave, so that in May 1702 there were 250 settlers left.

Francis Louis Michel was very interested in visiting these people.  First, his trip had been motivated by a desire to find a place where colonists from Switzerland could be settled.  The experience of the Huguenots, who were aliens in Virginia, would be a good example.  Also, Michel was only at home in the French language.  He hoped to gain first hand knowledge directly from people who were friendly.  He was not looking for a place to live himself but he was looking to see what the terms and conditions would be for a large group of aliens.

At this time, Michel had no idea that he would get involved with a group of Germans, in addition to a group of Swiss, but in the course of events, this would be the case.  Actually, there was more than one group of Germans and one of these groups was the First Germanna Colony.  So Michel's account, besides being an interesting description of Virginia, is an essential part of the Germanna Colony history.

We left Michel when he had removed his personal belongings and trade goods from the ship.  They transferred them to a sloop and started to sail up the James River.  They (Michel and some friends) rented a house where they could store the goods.  Michel continued on toward Manakintown by land, 75 miles distant.  He had a map, rifle, and bayonet.  The rifle was for hunting, not for security, as he felt it was safe to travel without a rifle.  A rifle would only be necessary beyond civilization.

In three days they came to Falling Creek (approximately, today's Richmond).  There were good lodging places everywhere, and since the residents love strangers, Michel had a good time.  From there to the Huguenots, there were no houses, so Michel was concerned about getting lost.  He sought some advice and decided to follow the James River, keeping it on his right.  Since the settlement was on the south bank of the James River, he was bound to see it.  As night was falling and a thunderstorm was threatening, he had not reached the settlement and he grew concerned.  Some empty houses were seen and finally they went into one where one no one was home, but it had a little furniture and food; however, Michel continued on and came to a Frenchman who was cutting down a tree.  The Frenchman told them that they were almost there.

In his travels, Michel mentions friends who were French (at least French-speaking, if not citizens), starting with the passengers on the ship from England.  At times he makes them sound as if they were accidental acquaintenances and at other times he seems to indicate they did many things together in Virginia.  The reader of his account is left confused about the exact relationship and by his alternation between "I" and "we."

Nr. 482:

"We [Michel and friends] soon reached Manakintown."  [Michel recognized at once a man from Aargau (a Canton in Switzerland) that he knew.  The next morning, Michel met two French Swiss.  The head of the place was a surgeon from Switzerland.]

"Conditions at Manakintown were different from other places in Virginia.  The fruit grew here in such abundance that Englishmen came from thirty miles away to get some of it.  The gardens are filled with all kinds of fruits.  The cattle are fat because of the good pasture.  The soil is not sandy, as it is in most of Virginia, but it is a heavy, rich soil.  Each family takes land that is 50 paces in width and extending back (from the river) as far as he wants.  [Other writers have said the allotment was 133 acres.]  Much land around here was cleared because the Indians used to have a town here.  The wild grapes have immense vines.  They make a good wine and efforts have been to graft tame varieties.  It is much healthier than it is toward the coast and there is plenty of game and fish.  About sixty families live there."

"The area around Manakintown was created into a separate parish [King William's] and the residents were exempted from paying the usual tithe for seven years."  [Michel decided that he wanted to settle in this place.  He went back to where he had stored his goods and rented a sloop to take some of his goods up to Falling Creek.  Then he used horses and carts to bring the goods to Manakintown.  He did not have money to set himself up properly as a farmer with at least two slaves so he decided to explore the land and to gain a better knowledge of trade so he would be better prepared in the future.]

[After he had stayed for several days on this second visit, he took his leave and left by himself.  Though he did get lost for a while, he went back to his rented house near Williamsburg where he had the goods he needed to return to Europe and the goods he planned on selling.  The time had been fixed for the sailing back to England so Michel sold much of his stock of goods at the house and the rest at Williamsburg.  Most of the money consisted of Spanish piasters.]

[About the middle of May, a small French frigate from Ireland arrived with the news that King William had died.  A few days later, some warships came with the same news and told us that Queen Anne was the new monarch.  The Governor had the news read at church and called the militia of the six nearest counties to come to Williamsburg about the 18th of May.  The Governor made ready with a memorial service for the King and a proclamation announcing the new Queen.  He even asked the Indians to send a delegation.  There was to be fireworks show which the sailors were to do.  Grandstands were erected before the college.]

Nr. 483:

"The celebration began on a Thursday morning.  The armed contingents, on foot as well as on horse, were drawn up in a line.  The bishop [Blair?] delivered an oration on the King's death.  The soldiers were then drawn into the perimeter of a square with the college being one side.  There were about 2000 of them.  The college had three balconies with buglers from the ships on the top balcony, then oboes, and then violinists.  When one stopped, another would pick up the music.  Sometimes, all three played together.  When the proclamation of the King's death was to be made, they played very movingly and mournfully.  Then the constable appeared with the standard [flag].  The bearers were dressed in mourning and the horses were draped in black.  The death of King William was announced by the Secretary.  A little later, the Governor ordered the rifles reversed and they marched to the tent where the Bishop had spoken.  A touching oration was delivered which caused many people to shed tears.  Then the soldiers paraded back and forth and then took up their position before the college.  The musicians played lively tunes.  It was noon."

"The Governor had changed his clothes and was no longer dressed in mourning.  The secretary read publicly the royal letter and edict that the second daughter of the late King James had been chosen and crowned Queen.  Then everybody shouted three Hurrah! They gave three salutes with the cannon and with the small arms.  The prominent people were invited to lunch with the Governor and everyone received a glass of rum or brandy with sugar."

"That night the Governor entertained again with many toasts and firings of cannons and playing by the buglers.  When the time came, the Governor mounted his horse to superintend the fireworks.  The fireworks show went very badly, nothing worked as it was supposed to.  But most people had never seen a fireworks show and they thought it was good.  At eleven o'clock that night I was in the tower of the college where I could see best.  Since my house was two miles away, I decided to spend the night in the tower."

"The next day, there were military drills and another lunch for important people.  The Governor then arranged a shooting match.  After the soldiers, some others shot too.  The Indians were the best with both rifles and bows and arrows."  [There follow several paragraphs describing the Indians.]

"After the celebration was over, I endeavored to sell, as best I could, whatever remained of my merchandise.  I intended to exchange powder and knives to the Indians for skins and baskets which I hoped to take back to England where they would fetch a good price.  A Frenchman and I were surprised that two of the Indians could speak English.  I asked him where he learned to speak English and he answered that he was not stupid.  They listened to the Englishmen and learned that way."

Nr. 484:

"After several days had elapsed and I was through selling my goods, except for those things for which there was no market, I happened to talk to some sailors who said there was a large sloop in the harbor that was ready to sail to New York.  I had heard many good things about that country and I wanted to visit it.  I went with the sailors to their ship and they told me the sloop for New York was still in the harbor.  I decided to stay the night on the sailor's ship and I would go see the captain of the sloop in the morning.  I rose early but the sloop was already under sail.  Then I had to stay in Yorktown until another opportunity presented itself.  Nothing came up in twelve days."

"I heard good things about Pennsylvania so I looked for a ship going there.  I found one but before it could leave for Pennsylvania the warships commanded that it go to Carolina to fetch some salted pork.  I decided to walk to Pennsylvania even though it was summer and very hot.  For four days I walked and then I got lost.  I stopped at a house to ask the way and two men there took me for an escaped servant.  They took me to a justice of the peace.  He asked for my passport and I explained that I had only come and was not familiar with the customs.  He asked many questions about the captain and the ship and I had a hard time to answer as my English was not good."

"The justice of the peace released me but said that I should get a passport.  He was also surprised that I was traveling alone on foot in the summer.  It was a long way back to Williamsburg to get a passport so I decided to go on for as far as I could.  That night I stayed with a Hollander and, the next day being a Sunday, I stayed that day with him.  He said that I could hardly go through Maryland without a passport.  I remembered there was an English minister I had met whose parish was on the Rappahannock River.  This was not very far away so on Monday I set out to find him.  I did find him and explained my problem to him and asked for a letter of recommendation that I could take to a justice of the peace.  At first he was reluctant because he did not know me well but he agreed to say that he had seen me arrive from England as a free passenger.  He told me where I could find a justice of the peace.  It was very hot and I grew weak but I saw some people and I tried to get them.  But I could not manage to crawl over a fence and I fell backwards.  The people thought I was drunk.  But they came to see what was the matter and saw that I had fainted.  They took me into the house and revived me.  That evening I went on a little farther."  [Michel was now approaching the Rappahannock River.]

"The country was very isolated and the road was nothing but a trail.  I saw hardly any people.  Finally I found a house and I stopped there where an Englishman and a Frenchman were keeping house together.  They told me I had gone far astray.  They told me the right way to go and gave me some food.  They also took me across the Rappahannock River.  With another day's journey, I lodged with a man who lived on the Potomac River.  He strongly advised me not to cross the Potomac because I would be in Maryland and I would be put in jail without a passport."

Nr. 485:

"I [Michel] saw the impossibility of going any farther and I turned back.  I had to drink much water daily.  Still, I became very weak.  Rainy weather set in but finally I reached Yorktown.  I felt as sleep would overcome me.  Other people reported they were afflicted this way."  [Probably, Michel had contracted sleeping sickness which had come from Africa.]

"To travel alone is not good and I do not want to undertake it again because one is subject to many dangers.  I was often made to sleep in outhouses [barns or sheds].  Many times I had no choice as to where I stayed because there was only one house in the region.  If they committed an overt act against me, who would have made a complaint?  But generally, I lived better when traveling than otherwise.  I did benefit by their hospitality.  When lodging with poor people, the food is frequently better than among the rich.  When traveling I was able to trade some merchandise but generally one had to sell goods in the harbors and inns.  But at these places, food was expensive, about a shilling [about four hours of skilled labor]."

"In Yorktown, I met one of the Lerber sisters who was going back to England to make some purchases.  When I went on board the ship, the captain recognized me [this was the captain Michel had come with to Virginia].  He asked me if I had any letters to send back.  I said no but that I planned on going myself.  He immediately said his ship was at my service.  I accepted his offer.  I had my goods brought to his ship."

"Normally one must have a passport to leave the country and he must have his name read in church and it must be posted that he plans to leave.  Without these things, the captain is not supposed to take the person on board as a passenger.  But since the captain had brought me to the country, he let it pass.  But had the captain been a stranger, I would have had to comply with the regulations."

"We remained eight days in the harbor making preparations.  We took on twenty-two tons of water.  Finally, at noon, on a Sunday, we weighed our anchor [date not given]."

[When Michel had arrived, he had no set schedule for how long he was going to stay.  At one point, it appeared he planned on staying much longer than the few months that he was there.  But the misadventures of the attempted journey on foot to Pennsylvania and the sickness he contracted probably made him desirous of getting back home.  While he was in Virginia, he paid particular attention to finding where and under what terms a colony of people might be settled.]

Nr. 486:

"There was a convoy of ships returning to England and we assembled at the mouth of the bay.  In all there were 154 ships.  The time of the year was just after the wheat harvest and the summer fruit and peaches were finished.  The ship Nassau and some others had been up the York River but they appeared also.  I was very weak and in no condition to work for the cost of my passage.  The opportunity of going on the Nassau was very appealing because I knew the captain and the sailors and they had a doctor on board.  So I changed ships."

"After some false starts because the wind did not last, we were underway and made good time but went too far south where it was very hot.  Usually the trip to England is quicker than the trip from England because the winds tend to blow from the west.  So an eastbound crossing in eight to ten weeks is not unusual.  One of the captains died and he was buried at sea with much ceremony.  The weather was good and the ship captains often visited each other's ship.  On these occasions the food and drink flow generously.  Our captain [not the passengers except those who ate at the captain's table] had fresh meat every day.  There were 45 pigs, one calf, three sheep, more than 20 turkeys, 14 geese, more than 100 chickens.  Most of these had been presents to him.  The preacher on board also brought some animals and much strong drink.  [The Nassau was an above average sized ship.]  They slaughtered daily and many times the meat had to be thrown away as it spoiled before it could be used.  The common people had good water but nothing more to drink.  The food though was very poor and the salted food was too old and bad tasting.  Also, the biscuit was full of worms."

"One night there was an excitement because two ships became entangled and could not be separately easily.  The whole fleet had to stop and there was much confusion.  About 1500 miles from land, we amusing ourselves with fishing.  We also watched the flying fish who are chased by the dolphins.  A flying fish hit our sail once and landed on the deck.  We put him in vinegar and kept him for a long time.  We harpooned some of the dolphins.  We had some pigeons and we released them sometimes but they always came back to the ship."

"On the second of September [old style, or the thirteenth, new style], a storm approached.  The next day was very bad for us.  A sail was torn away, the rudder failed to work, and we were tossed about.  The greatest terror was caused by the fact that, when they measured how much water was in the ship, they found there were already five feet in the tobacco room.  We had a hole in the ship! We had to think about the ship sinking.  One wave broke on the stern and broke out the windows there.  We were manning the pumps and finally we could see that the level of the water was not rising.  We moved some of the tobacco and we were able to put four pumps to work.  Another ship came to our aid but could do little except to stand by.  The fleet was scattered and on the morning of the fourth we could see about 90 ships from the lookout.  More than twenty ships were missing.  Our captain went to the fleet commander who was scarce of labor as he had to help many ships, but he lent us a carpenter who nailed a piece of lead over the hole in our ship.  This helped, but all the people had to man the pumps until we reached England.  The captain increased the rations."

Nr. 487:

"After the storm was over, we were still 900 miles from land.  But following it we had two weeks of good weather and we were able to strike ground at 89 fathoms.  After another day we had stormy weather which made us afraid because the ship was in poor condition.  With land so close we might not be able to avoid it.  We could not leave the pumps nor dry ourselves out."

"Finally we saw land, the Isle of Wight.  In this last storm one ship lost a mast and it had to be towed into port by one of the four warships with us.  When we approached Downs, we learned from a Dutch privateer that England, Holland, and France were at war [the War of the Spanish Succession].  At Gravesend, I went by land to Poplar so that I could deliver a letter to the wife of the captain.  The captain said that if I wanted to go to sea with him, he would pay me half a crown a day to keep books for him.  I thanked him but said no and paid him for the trip.  He returned some of the money because I had worked during the storms."

"I left some things in London because I expected to return to there.  I rested a few days than went to Harwich where I caught a mail boat.  The Queen has six of these and they travel so fast that it is difficult to capture one, but we stayed in port because a returning mail boat said there were enemies lurking.  We traveled at night and the sea was rough.  It was especially bad because we were in a small boat and I became sick.  About ten in the morning, we reached the Rhine River where we landed.  That same day, the tenth of October, we reached Rotterdam.  The winds were so bad that we had to travel by land.  We were challenged many times by the people.  We joined two Frenchmen who wanted to go to Switzerland but we were later advised to avoid the French because of the damage that the French soldiers had caused in the district.  Fortunately, we met a group of Swiss people going our way.  Above Cologne we had to make detours and we went through Hagen, Siegen, Dillenburg, and Wetzlar.  In W�rttemberg we had to travel between the French and Bavarian lines.  Finally, we arrived safely at Schaffhausen."  [December 1, 1702.]

"God be praised for ever! Amen"

In a summary, Michel noted that mechanics are scarce and expensive [in Virginia].  The best trades are carpenters, joiners, coopers, shipbuilders, masons, smiths, locksmiths, tailors, and glassblowers.  Skilled workmen are well paid, up to thirty pounds sterling per year with board included.  It is possible to get to Virginia for very little money for the captains in London hire labor or will take a promise to pay in Virginia.  In Virginia, the inhabitants come in large numbers to buy or hire servants, and the new employers pay for the transportation.  The debtor then belongs to the creditor until he pays off the debt.  According to law, each workman must pay his master 400 pounds of tobacco and three barrels of corn.  Above that amount, he can sell the goods and so earn the money to pay the passage money.

Michel notes that he wrote in a hurry as he had been requested to make a short report.  He admits there are some errors and that he spelled by the way the word sounded to him.

Nr. 488:

After Francis Louis Michel had reached Bern on 1 Dec 1702, he started his second trip to America on 14 Feb 1703.  That he should leave again so soon seems strange but the reason that he had come back to Bern was probably to report to his partners.  From this time on he was clearly associated with two people, John Rudolph Ochs and George Ritter, in a scheme to establish colonies for Swiss citizens somewhere in America.  From the short stay in Bern, from the nature of the activities in Virginia, and from the history of the events in the Canton of Bern, it possible to conclude that Michel had the idea of establishing Swiss colonies in America before he left on his first trip to America.  We know that he had wanted to visit Pennsylvania during his first trip but the travel conditions and his health deterred him.  The second trip, now commencing, had Pennsylvania as a primary objective.

Though Michel, Ritter, and Ochs had no thoughts at this time of becoming involved with Germans, before events played themselves out, they would be involved with two parts of the Germanna Colonists.  One part was with the First Germanna Colony and the second part was the contingent from Freudenberg who emigrated in 1738.  In 1738, Ochs had rented the ship Oliver to take a colony of Swiss and Germans to Virginia for a colony to be established by Robert Byrd.  Though the Freudenberg contingent was not a part of this colony, they signed on to use the Oliver as their transport to America.  This latter involvement was accidental but the involvement with the First Germanna Colony was deliberate and deep.  The further development of that story will take several notes to explore.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to note why citizens of the Canton of Bern may have been interested in establishing colonies for Swiss citizens.  For more than 150 years, the combination of the Reformed church and the civil authorities had been persecuting the Anabaptists in the Canton.  Death had been dealt to thousands, but one of the favorite methods for dealing with them was to export them forcibly to other countries.  This was still a tactic that was used in the 1700's, and, in fact, Graffenried got his start in the colonization business by undertaking a contract with Bern officials to take a number of Anabaptists to somewhere outside Switzerland.  It is not clear whether Michel, Ochs, and Ritter had the Anabaptists in mind when Michel went off to America.  Perhaps they saw the Anabaptists as a source of people for the colonies, but perhaps they thought the Swiss in general would like to relocate.

The activities of Michel, Ochs, and Ritter were formalized in the George Ritter and Company business.  It was this company which hired Graffenried who recruited the German miners that constituted the First Germanna Colony.  None of this would have happened without the trips of Michel to America.

Nr. 489:

On the second trip to America, Michel wrote letters and reports and not all of these have been retained.  Having left Bern on 14 Feb 1703, he wrote from London to John Rudolph Ochs on 16 May 1703.  At this time, William Penn was in England where he was defended himself against a series of charges, mostly false.  Since the primary objective of Michel's second trip was to investigate Pennsylvania, it was important to see Penn.  Therefore, Michel spent some time in London.  In his own words:

"I ask that you will not take the delay of my letter ill of me.  Already in Rotterdam I have had a package ready, in which was enclosed a thorough report, together with a map of Philadelphia, from which detailed information can be gathered, in short it is a complete guide for those wishing to travel there.  Meanwhile, I secured two other printed reports, but, since the post in Holland would not accept this except at a very high rate, I found it advisable to retain it until I have received an oral report and confirmation from Mr. William Penn, and can send it together with a complete report through Mr. Gaudot."

"Thus far I have been unable to secure an audience with Penn, but I have been requested to appear tomorrow morning."

[According to Graffenreid in his memoirs, Penn appointed Michel Director General of all the mines in Pennsylvania.  He also made a compact with the society which Michel represented; however, Graffenried was not present at these meetings.]

"I have made inquiries about that country to my satisfaction and have concluded to leave here with a Pennsylvania ship, which will sail in two months.  I regretted that I had to see the fleet leave here for America, 12 days ago, and was not able to go along.  I am very surprised by the [legal] proceedings against Penn.  I have read tracts which attempt to expose him and his Quakers for their misdeeds."

"Two weeks ago I sent a letter to Mr. Gaudot but the mail boat was captured which was carrying it.  I had a terrible trip from Holland to England.  When we were ready and lying at anchor, a storm arose and many ships had to go back to Rotterdam because they were torn from their anchor.  One such drifting ship ran against our ship and the rear (mizzen) mast was torn down.  In the evening the English fleet of about 80 ships, laden with corn and cloth, was driven by the strong winds toward the Meuse River.  Twenty-two ships could not make it to the river and struck the land and sandbars and were broken to pieces.  Within a few hours, the river was full of corn and boxes of bread and parts of ships.  Three days later, we had a good wind and we sailed with sixty merchantmen, two convoys, and a transport into the sea.  Two days later, we met the fleet from London to Rotterdam, about 80 ships in number.  In the afternoon, when we were 30 miles from land, seven ships came toward us under full sail.  They were French which alarmed us greatly."

Nr. 490:

"[With the French ships approaching] our two convoys sailed ahead of the fleet to wait for them.  Finally they were so near that our ships realized that they were not strong enough for them, because they were four large ships and three privateers.  Hence they sailed as best as they could right through the French fleet and all the rest followed.  Half of the fleet was cut off.  The front part, in which I was, continued on its course to Norwich while the rear ran hither and thither.  The privateers took eight or ten of them.  The warships also met together.  They shot very rapidly upon our commander Salisbury.  After a considerable battle, he surrendered and also the transport with 30 cannons."

"As the weather was rainy and gloomy, we did not see them any longer, but we reached England before night.  Thus on this short trip more things happened to me than lately on my whole journey."

"I make every possible preparation for what will contribute to good progress.  I buy all kinds of goods which I regard as useful [and, no doubt, profitable].  Meanwhile I shall not forget you, but will make arrangements to receive you there as best I may, the sooner the better."

Yours ready for service, L. Michel

[This material does not make it clear whether Ochs made it to America or not.  Some historians say that he did, on more than one occasion.]

The next letter from Michel of which we have a record was written from Arundel County, Maryland in May of 1704, a whole year later than the previous letter from London.  It too was written to Ochs.

"I send you this with my friendly greeting and the hope that you will receive it in good condition as a small token of our unchangeable acquaintance and friendship.  The great distance between us does not hinder us to renew at times our old oneness of mind.  Especially, since I entertain the hope that I shall soon be able to receive such a dear friend in my cabin, quickly erected, not indeed according to new fashions, but in the old simplicity.  It is not my intention to write at length, although the material is not wanting, because I am still at work to fulfil my promise to send, God willing, next year an elaborate report and guide, of which I have made a good beginning.  I do it with the hope that those who are willing or intend to visit this country, for the sake of profit, curiosity, or settlement, will not suffer harm.  It was not possible in this short time, alongside my private business and journeys, to investigate everything thoroughly.  Besides I am now equipped to undertake a new journey of discovery.  I shall, therefore, as briefly as possible, give a summary of what happened to me hitherto, fearing that, if I should pass it by entirely with silence until my undertaking is completed, you would not receive it well, and believe that I had no regard for our agreement."

Nr. 491:

[Continuing the letter of Michel to Ochs written from Maryland.]

"Regarding the journey from England, I may say that it was very unpleasant, partly because of the inconvenient winter time.  On August 20th of last year, I went on board the "Hopewell" at Gravesend.  Contrary winds kept us at Downs, Portsmouth, and other places till the beginning of October.  On the 4th of that month, we lost sight of the land.  For a time we had a great heat and calm, because we were so far south, namely on the 27th degree.  We spend a long time making but little progress until we came farther north.  Such distressing weather scattered our fleet in such a way that even now ships are still arriving, which because of the lack of water, loss of masts, sickness, and other accidents many were compelled to seek land at the Bermudas, Barbados, Carolina, and other places.  More than enough has already been reported about the loss of ships."

"The governor of this province was on board the commander's ship, which arrived only four weeks ago.  Our ship had been one of the best and we reached land on January the 16th.  My daily Journal, containing all the details, will follow at the next opportunity."  [No copy of this Journal is known.]

"We found such unusual cold here, even five days ago, as I have never experienced."  [The first decade of the 1700's is known as a "little ice age", and was one of the reasons that so many Germans left at the end of the decade.]  "Most of the rivers were frozen and hence I had to postpone my trip to Pennsylvania till spring and had to take a house.  As my long stay in Holland and England gave me an opportunity to buy all kinds of necessities of life, the inhabitants soon learned of it.  Besides, European goods and wares are very expensive in war times, but especially this year.  They compelled me almost to exhibit them.  Contrary to expectations they were taken with a rush and with good profit and the statement was made that so many useful things had never been seen here before.  What kinds of goods should be brought here and what other things are necessary will be reported as stated above."

"After I had sold most of my wares, I traveled with the rest to Pennsylvania, about 180 miles distant from here."  [180 miles according to Michel, but in reality less than that.]  "With the exception of about 8 English miles it is possible to go there by water.  After my arrival I sold the rest of my merchandise even more advantageously than in Maryland.  Nothing is sold under 50 percent profit, most goods bring more than 100 per cent.  How easily, then, can one make money!"

"Philadelphia is a city twenty-two years old, whose growth and fame is to be preferred to most English-America cities.  I was astonished to see the difference, compared with other cities of this country, with regard to her size, splendid edifices, daily construction of new houses and ships, the regularity of the streets, the abundance of provisions, at a much cheaper price than in the neighboring cities.  But the strongest reason, why there is such an influx of people from other provinces, is partly due to the liberty which all strangers enjoy in commerce, belief, and settlement."

Nr. 492:

[Continuing with the description of Philadelphia.]

"Six miles from there lies a large village, a mile long, named Germantown, where almost all of the inhabitants are Germans.  A Frankfort company bought 30,000 acres of land with the object that when war or religious strife threatened that people might have a haven."

[Michel tells of meeting people in Germantown from Switzerland that he knew.  For a while he proposed buying property there and making that his home.]

"The reason why I have returned to Maryland is to collect the balance of my debts.  But now I am about to embark on a trip to the western regions which the Indians speak of very highly.  There are high mountains, warm waters, rich minerals, fruitful lands, large streams, and an abundance of game there.  I have associated myself with eight experienced Englishmen and four Indians taking along eight horses, two of which are to carry skins at my own expense.  Though we taking provisions for only six days, we do not expect to return before four weeks.  Some of the company expect to take up land, including myself, some expect to hunt, some expect to discover mines.  I want to seek out unknown things."

[Michel mentions raccoons and opossums at this point.]

"I am altogether of the opinion that the government of Bern as well as private citizens will be interested in this country.  How praiseworthy and easy would it be to send out a colony like other nations, which would be a greater glory and praise for our country than to send a large number, for the sake of the money, to slaughter in battle."

"I have already had opportunity to remark sufficiently how willing the English government would consent to this.  Who had more reason to look for expansion and places of retreat than our country?  I cannot think otherwise than that the government acts culpably in not assisting in this matter with word and deed the many empty hands and hungry mouths."

"It would be easy to present a memorial to the English crown, the answer would soon show whether it is feasible or not.  It is a great pity that such a large country, suitable for all kinds of fruits, remains unsettled.  Many people come to this country and bring nothing with them.  They are bound out for a certain time to serve and in a few years acquire more than be possible than in the best countries."

"There is absolutely no hunger among the people, but the cattle suffered much this spring, especially among the cattle where the owner had too large a number.  There was not enough fodder for the long winter."

"I must close but use your sound judgement to decide what to do.  Assure Messrs. Gaudard, Ritter, Noblemen von Graviset and the other good friends of my respect and willingness to serve.  I intended to write more letters but I did not before the ships sailed."

Nr. 493:

George Ritter, in Bern, proceeded to carry out the suggestion of Michel for sending a memorial to the English crown.  On 19 Mar 1705, he submitted the following petition to the Council of Bern:

Respectful Petition to the Mayor and Council, made by George Ritter, Druggist, of Bern --

"Your Lordship's obedient citizen, George Ritter, druggist, begs to submit herewith in all humility that he plans to transport himself with a colony of four to five hundred persons from here to Pennsylvania, in America, under the English crown, and to settle there, if it will be acceptable to and please her Royal Majesty in England to concede and grant most graciously to him and to his companions the enclosed articles of agreement.  Now, in order that your petitioners and his companions may all the more surely and certainly gain their intended purpose, he requests your Lordships in his and in all his associates' name that you will be pleased to grant them graciously not only the necessary permission of the government, but also aid them that the enclosed articles, proposed by them (which we meanwhile submit to your most wise correction and approval), will be sent to the English envoy, now residing in the Cantons, to transmit them to his government; and that at the same time they may be accompanied with your strong and weighty recommendation, so that we may all the better secure their acceptance.  For this favor, granted by you, your petitioner and his associates will implore the Highest, that your noble Lordships in all your blessed undertakings may to continue to flourish forever."

This petition was accompanied by the following proposals, written in French which translated into English, read:

To The Queen:

"George Ritter, citizen of the city of Bern, submits with profound respect, which is due to your Majesty, that the Noble Francis Louis Michel, citizen of the said city, having settled at a favorable opportunity in Pennsylvania, has induced your petitioner to solicit a number of persons of the laudable Canton of Bern, to go and settle near him in America, and having a desire for this, after having obtained the permission of the noble Lordships of the laudable Canton; said Ritter has been charged, in the name of all, to entreat most humbly your Majesty to give your consent to the establishment which is proposed to be made of a Swiss colony and which is intended to be formed, in order to settle some land located either in Pennsylvania or on the frontiers of Virginia, with the Divine assistance and the royal and powerful protection of your Majesty.  This colony may number at first from four to five hundred Swiss persons, Reformed Protestants, as many merchants and manufacturers as agriculturists.  In whose behalf the said Ritter, who acts for them, petitions your Majesty most humbly to grant them, if it is your pleasure."

[To be continued]

Nr. 494:

THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS [continued from the previous note here]

  1. That they be treated and regarded as the true subjects of your Majesty.
  2. That to this colony be granted a district of land, well situated as regards climate, soil and water; near some river, navigable for commerce.
  3. That to each person be given 100 acres of land in the said settlement, which shall be named Bern [or Berne].
  4. That materials for building be conveyed to the place which will be convenient.
  5. That there be full liberty to trade, as the natives of the country, as well as other subjects of your Majesty have.
  6. That they be exempted from all taxes during the first six years of their settlement, after that, they shall pay them as the other subjects of your Majesty.
  7. That they shall have liberty to choose ministers of the Gospel, officers of justice and the police, at all times under the direction of the Governor, whom your Majesty will have appointed in that country.
  8. That, after having prayed publicly for your Majesty, they be permitted to pray also for their noble Lordships of the Republic of Bern, who have the honor to be allied with your Majesty.
  9. That the same favors and privileges will be accorded later also to all those who in future will come from Switzerland, to enlarge their colony, notably those from the Canton of Bern.
  10. And as this colony will not be able to pay the expenses of their voyage to America, your Majesty is most humbly petitioned to have the goodness to give orders that said colony be conducted thither with every possible safety, in such a way that it may embark at Rotterdam in Holland and that it be transported, at the expense of your Majesty, to the place appointed for their settlement.  To that end, said Ritter, being advised in time, will betake himself, with the help of God, with said colony to Rotterdam, at the time which shall be appointed for him.

"Meanwhile said Ritter and his associates pray God most fervently for the happy and long preservation of the sacred person of your Majesty, for the prosperity of your flourishing kingdoms and for the glory of your victorious arms."

[After a review of these proposals, a clean copy was made to be submitted to the Councillors of the Queen.]

In the library at Bern, the following are preserved:

19 Mar 1705.  The Council of Bern to Mr. William Agliomby, the English envoy at Zurich.
3 Apr 1705.  The answer of Mr. Agliomby.
11 Sep 1705.  A letter from Mr. Agliomby from London.
25 Aug 1706.  A memoir to the English envoy, Mr. Stanian.
15 Mar 1707.  Letter to George Ritter from Wrest in Bedfordshire.  The writer, Mr. Gaudot, mentions Mr. Ochs.

[To be continued]

Nr. 495:

In the last note, a series of letters spread over two years time indicated that the proposal or petition submitted by George Ritter had not been accepted by the Queen.  George Ritter wrote to Mr. Stanian, the English envoy to Bern, and said that if Parliament was unwilling to naturalize the whole colony, the directors of the colony, namely Francis Louis Michel, John Rudolf Ochs, and George Ritter, could be naturalized.  Other suggestions were made, but in all cases, the ideas originated and were forwarded from Bern.  There was no one in England who was actively promoting the plan.

Michel wrote Ritter from Virginia in 1708.  He notes that he had done the work which had been assigned to him and that he had never drawn any money from his associates.  But he advised Ritter that he was going to draw two hundred pounds sterling payable in London.  Thus Michel was announcing his return from America to Europe.

Very late in the year of 1708, again from America, Michel wrote to Ritter urging action now.  He suggested the previous proposals be withdrawn and that commissioners be sent to London with the full power to negotiate.  He said nothing could be done at a distance.  He gave the names of some people in London who could be counted on to help.  He asked Ritter to send a letter (to his attention in London) outlining the project and he, Michel, would see what he could do when he was in London.

No letters have been maintained which tell us exactly what happened.  What we do have is Christoph von Graffenried's memoirs which start shortly after this time.  Apparently Michel returned to Bern early in 1709 where he met Graffenried.

Graffenreid wrote, "Of late I received a more accurate report of the American countries from a citizen of this city, who had been in America for five or six years.  He informed me what a glorious country it is, how cheap, what liberty, what large growth, good business, rich mines and good things it has.  He told me especially what beautiful silver mines he had found and discovered."

Life would never be the same for Graffenried.  He was deeply in debt and saw no opportunity to improve his condition in Switzerland.  The prospect of opening up silver mines was very attractive to him.  It is not surprising that he accepted "the beautiful propositions of the above-named citizen".  These propositions were to the effect that Graffenried should conduct a Swiss colony to the banks of the Potomac River where Michel had claimed to take up land.  Graffenried drew up a map which illustrated this colonization scheme with two settlements, one below the falls and the other above.

While the approach of Ritter, Michel, and Ochs seems almost leisurely, Graffenried supplied a measure of energy to the project of resettling Swiss in America.  But had it not been for Michel's explorations in America, Graffenried would not have taken up the cause.  Graffenried's motivation lay in the prospect of silver mines which would rescue him from his debtors.

Nr. 496:

[These notes will follow Graffenried for a while using the material he wrote on his return to Switzerland after his American experience.  It is not easy to follow his writings because the "obvious" interpretation of his remarks is not always the correct one.  This note explores one such example taken from the German version of his story.  Remember that the quotation was written after he returned from his American adventures.]

"After I had, at the end of my travels, been living in England for two years, and had made such advantageous and eminent acquaintances in that country during the reign of Charles II that I had remained I might have made a considerable fortune, at that time I informed myself, partly from oral and partly from written accounts, and more recently from a more accurate report, and especially after I heard through a citizen of this city, who had lived in America five or six years, what fine lands there were and how cheap, what liberty, what great, good, and increasing trade, what rich mines and other advantages there were, and had been told what fine rich silver mines he had discovered and found, and when I considered that I was burdened with rather heavy debts which I had contracted even before my travels, due, in part, to a venture which turned out badly for me and for several other gentlemen, to sureties, to great expenses incurred during my candidacy, to hard times during the tenure of my office, (for I did not wish to flay the peasants); hard times due partly to the newly made reformation; and, in addition to all this, the troubles of Neufchatel and the attendant lack of prosperity coming on, the way to a better office was cut off."

[From the opening phrases, one might conclude that Graffenried lived in England for two years after he returned from America since the "end of my travels" would surely include the trip to America.  Such a conclusion would be erroneous.  As a very young man, about 1680, Graffenried had lived in England for two years (during the reign of Charles II).  Thus the opening sentence of his report mixes events from around the time of 1680 with events that might be inferred to have occurred in 1713 or later.  The sense of time is not evident in Graffenried's writing.  This had led students of his life astray in their conclusions.  As an example, some commentators have said that he recruited twelve miners on his way from Switzerland to London and they base this on his remarks.  (To do this would be totally impractical.)  What has happened is that Graffenried was not careful with his sense of time.  Eventually twelve miners were recruited, not by Graffenried, but by an agent.]

The German version continues,

"Moreover, on account of the newly made reformation it would be a long time before I could hope for even a small office.  In the meantime I had been blessed with a big and sturdy family and I was impelled to do something to satisfy the creditors and to help my family.  I took strongly into consideration the fine propositions of the above mentioned citizen [Michel] and consoling myself with my old and new friends of rank in England, and relying upon them, I finally took a firm resolution to leave my Fatherland and to see if fortune would be more favorable to me in England.  Not to be detained by the creditors and my own people, I began my journey secretly, leaving my father to take charge of my debts and business."

Nr. 497:

Graffenried left three manuscripts (maintained in libraries in Switzerland) which he wrote after his return from America.  There are differences between the one German and the two French manuscripts.  Vincent H. Todd, using these manuscripts, translated the German version into English and compared the French versions to this.  Differences were given in a series of notes.  The result was published as the book, "Christoph von Graffenried's Account of the Founding of New Bern", published by the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1920.  Prof. Todd had earlier published a smaller book, "Baron Christoph von Graffenried's New Bern Adventures", in 1913.

The material quoted in the last note was from the German version.  In the French, Graffenried notes with respect to his departure from Switzerland, "I departed in the firm resolution of returning no more."

I have commented on the difficulty of placing events in time based on the comments of Graffenried.  Though Graffenried says his decision to leave Switzerland was based in part on his conversations with Michel, I am not convinced that Michel had returned to Switzerland.  There seem to be letters written by Michel in December of 1708 in America.  And in the spring of 1709, Michel was in London.  He could hardly have returned from America, gone to Bern, and then gone back to London by April.  Graffenried could have read Michel's reports in Switzerland and talked to people who were associated with Michel.  Later in London, Graffenried was working with Michel and Graffenried was strongly influenced by what Michel had to say.  In Bern, Graffenried had had the opportunity to read a few books and pamphlets which described America.  So the decision to leave Switzerland was probably influenced by Michel but in an indirect way, not a direct way; however, this conclusion does not affect the overall result but I expound on it to show the difficulty of interpreting Graffenried's remarks.

I believe that Graffenried departed from Switzerland for London without a clear idea of what he was going to do or how he was going to do it.  He explains in the French version that he had been impressed with the conversations he had thirty years earlier in London (without telling the reader that they had occurred then).  He says that he had reached the resolve of going to America except that his relatives (his father) demanded that he come home.  Graffenried cites these thirty year old discussions as a reason for leaving Switzerland.

Before Graffenried and Michel were together in London, Michel was pursuing the memorial that Ritter had written a few years earlier (see the earlier notes).  Ritter had been working with the English envoy to Bern.  No one in London was active in working with the people who had to be convinced.  Michel had written from America that what was needed was someone in London who could be an advocate and negotiator for the colonization plan.  (Michel and Ritter were interested in colonization and not in mining.  The emphasis on mining did not arise until later when Graffenried was involved.)

Nr. 498:

In the first half of 1709(NS), Graffenried found himself in London trying to see if he could interest anyone in a mining project in America.  His plans were tentative and he was waiting for a better offer from friends in London.  On the way to London, he had considered a proposal made while he was in Holland, the nature of which he did not specify, to engage in an enterprise.  But he decided that the potential reward from this activity would be insufficient to clear his debts.  The mining venture looked as though it could offer larger rewards.  In these early stages, Graffenried's interests were in mining, not in colonization.

Michel was negotiating in London on behalf of the Berne partners.  Their interest was in colonization.  The Bern city fathers had a group of Anabaptists who were being held in prison because of their religious beliefs.  In times past, they had killed these people as a way of dealing with them but the emphasis now was on expelling them from the country.  So, Michel and his partners had a base of people for colonization.  This made the enterprise of a semi-official nature.  The date of these proposals was April 28 (1709) and the name of Graffenried was not involved.

The year 1709 was an eventful year in London as more than ten thousand Germans descended on the city expecting to receive transportation from the Queen to America.  The sheer number of the Germans influenced all official decisions made at this time.  The proprietors of (North) Carolina wanted to secure a large number of these people as colonists but they wanted the Queen to pay their transportation.  Michel had not had much success in selling Ritter's proposal for a colony of Swiss in Virginia so his attention was drawn toward Carolina.  Graffenried's first interest was in Virginia where the silver mines were supposedly located.

Our understanding of the events is hindered by the paucity of documents which can help us.  Also, the dates of the documents seem to be mildly inconsistent.  On 28 Jun 1709, the Earl of Sunderland asks the Council of Trade for their opinion of an enclosed petition from several inhabitants of the Canton of Bern who propose a settlement on the frontier of Virginia.  The document which is enclosed has the date of 11 July 1709.  This petition is in the name of Michel and the language is very general but says the proposed colony would produce minerals, hemp, flax, wine, and salt.  The document does not mention Graffenried nor is he a signer of the petition.

Almost immediately after this, Graffenried enters the picture.  Just days later, he and Michel send a memorial to the English government which requests that all previous petitions and memorials of George Ritter be laid aside in favor of a new one.  In the next note here, this memorial for settling a Swiss Colony in Virginia will be presented.

The best answer that I have for the dates is that they were not original to the documents.  But after the English government was in possession of the documents, they added the dates.  Thus there could be reversed order dates and in a short period there could be several documents as they had accumulated until the Board met.

Nr. 499:

Abstract of a Memorial for Settling a Swiss Colony in Virginia

"We humbly pray that Her Majesty would be Graciously pleased to Grant Us Lands for the Settlement of a Colony of Switzers upon the South West Branch of the Pottomack River in Virginia, We paying to her Majesty a Quit Rent in acknowledgment of Her Majesty's Soveraignty as is done in other like Cases.  We ingage Our Selves, to Cultivate the said Lands in such manner that Her Majesty will receive a considerable advantage thereby; Besides that by this Settlement We shal be as a Frontier between Virginia and the French of Canada & Missisippi."

"This Settlement so far from being injurious to Her Majesty's Neighbouring Colonies or proprieties will rather be an advantage to them by having these Desarts Cultivated & Inhabited which at present they are not."

"In relation to Ecclesiastical, Civil & Military Affairs, We shall Conform Our Selves to the methods used by the rest of the Her Majesty's Subjects, and We hope to enjoy the same priviledges as the rest of Her Majesty's said Subjects do."

"However as we have a language peculiar to Our Selves, We humbly pray Her Majesty will be Graciously pleased to allow Us to have a Minister from Our own Country."

"The people that We shall from time to time Transport thither, shal not by any way Chargeable to Her Majesty unless Her Majesty be hereafter Graciously pleased in Consideration of the Progress We shal make in the said Settlement, to make some allowance."

"As the [discovery of this Country has been and the]* Settling of a Colony there will of great Charge to the Petitioners Tis humbly hoped her Majesty will Grant them the same advantage as is allowed to her Majesty's other Subjects by the Constitution of Virginia."

(* these words were crossed out in the original.)


This memorial, unsigned but accompanying the note sign by Graffenried and Michel requesting previous memorials be laid aside in favor of this new one, contained far fewer special requests than the previous memorials.  At the same time, it offered positive thoughts of being a frontier buffer to the French, of filling a gap in the development of Virginia, of being a help to the other colonies.  The response from the English government was positive but they asked for more information.  The record book of the English board indicates the memorial was received 13 July 1709.  After a short break in these notes, the followup memorial of Graffenried and Michel will be given.

Nr. 500:

On Christmas Day in 1775, a Monday, a list was made of the communicants at the Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison County, Virginia.  Married couples sat on the main floor while the women without a husband present sat in one balcony and the men without a wife present sat in the other balcony.  Occasionally, single people sat on the main floor.  It is believed that the order of the names is the seating order but without any distinction as to the break in the pews.  In giving the names, I have added the parenthetical information using what I believe to be good information.  One can readily observed that couples sat with their relatives.  The couples were:

Andrew Carpenter, wife Barbara (Weaver)
Cornelius Carpenter
Elizabeth (Carpenter) Weaver
John Weaver, wife Barbara (Kaifer)
Henry Crisler, wife Elizabeth (Weaver)
Nicholas Crigler, wife Margaret (Kaifer)
John Zimmerman (aka Carpenter), wife Dorothy (Cook)
William Zimmerman (aka Carpenter), wife Maria (Willheit)
Lewis Gaar, wife Catherine (Weaver)
John Wayland, wife Catherine (Broyles)
Nicholas Broyles, wife Dorothy (Crisler)
Michael Schwindel, wife Elizabeth (Utz)
Jacob Broyles, wife Elizabeth (Yowell)
Michael Zimmerman (aka Carpenter), wife Maria (Crisler)
Matthew Rouse, wife Elizabeth ( ? )
Samuel Rouse, wife Maria ( ? )
Nicholas Smith, wife Magdalena (Reiner)
Christopher Blankenbaker, wife Christina (Finks)
Christopher Moyer, wife Susanna ( ? )
Christopher Moyer, wife Catherine ( ? )
Valentin Hart, wife Anna Maria ( ? )
Peter Clore, wife Maria (Fray)
George Crisler, wife Magdalena (Thomas)
Adolph Urbach, wife Anna Maria ( ? )
Christopher Dae, wife Elizabeth ( ? )
Ziriakus Broyles, wife Maria (Clore)
John Gaar, wife Christina ( ? ); (This line is probably a mistake.)
John Zimmerman (aka Carpenter), wife Susanna (Delph)
Benjamin Gaar, wife Margaret ( ? )
Lewis Neuenmacher, wife Elizabeth (Blankenbaker).  She declined.
Michael Clore, wife Margaret (Weaver)
Christopher Crigler, wife Catherine (Finks)

Modern spellings have been used.  Some of these names are a challenge to us.  For example, I would like to know more about Dae, Urbach (Arbaugh), Hart, and Neuenmacher.  And it would be wonderful to fill in all of those question marks.


(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 TWENTIETH set of Notes, Nr. 476 through Nr. 500.)

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.

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(GERMANNA History Notes, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John BLANKENBAKER.)

(GERMANNA History Web Pages, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 George W. DURMAN.)

This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, with the permission of John BLANKENBAKER.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further.

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

INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GENEALOGY COMMENTS

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

Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025