GERMANNA History Notes Page #021

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This is the TWENTY-FIRST page of John BLANKENBAKER's series of Short Notes on GERMANNA History, which were originally posted to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Discussion List.  Each page contains 25 Notes.

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This Page Contains Notes 501 through 525.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 21

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Nr. 501:

At the start of the "century" and "half-century" points in these notes, it is customary to take time out to discuss what the notes are all about.  Had it not been for particular Germans in Virginia, these notes would not exist.  These Germans lived on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and, even though they had many ties with the Germans in the Shenandoah Valley on the west side of the Blue Ridge, they are distinguished.  Since the east side Germans were all in a region which lies in what is called the Piedmont of Virginia, these Germanna people could be called Piedmont Germans.  "Piedmont" is in many ways a better descriptor than "Germanna" because Germanna was a point in space and time while the Piedmont is an area that will last for a long time.


The first Germans in this area were at a Fort called Germanna.  They arrived due to a misunderstanding with Christoph von Graffenried and Johann Albrecht.  While they left Germany thinking they were employed by the George Ritter and Company, they ended up working with for another person, Alexander Spotswood.  They were so successful at one of the jobs assigned to them, securing the frontier, that Spotswood actively sought from the ship captains coming to Virginia another "load" of Germans for a similar purpose.  He was successful in his search and about eighty more Germans were settled to the west of Fort Germanna.  Spotswood profited by obtained more than one hundred thousand acres of land as a result of the work by all of these Germans.

Very quickly, more Germans, often related or at least from the same villages, settled among the first groups of Germans.  Because of the changing patterns of emigration, many of these people came through Philadelphia, not a Virginia port.  As a consequence, a strong tie to Pennsylvania developed and many of the new Germans came through and from that colony.  In one of the latest finds, at least one of the Germanna citizens was a Hessian soldier who chose to live here, not fight here.  Many of the Germans who lived in the Piedmont were only passing through on the way to a new home in the south or west.

Much work remains to be done on identifying the Germans and finding their history.  There are many gaps, mistakes, and errors in the general history of Virginia and in the genealogy of the German families.  Finding the information which will help solve these problems often takes us outside of the Virginia Piedmont to the other colonies and to Europe.  Therefore, these notes are written on a broad basis and, hopefully, have some appeal to a larger audience.  Some of the readers may have the answers which the Germanna descendants seek or the notes here may have answers which are a help to others.

Nr. 502:

The alternative proposal made by Graffenried and Michel for a colony in Virginia received favorable attention by the English but they asked for more information.  Below is the response of Graffenried and Michel:

Since the Lords of the Council, appointed by Her Majesty [Queen Anne], have found the proposals demanded of the Society for the Swiss Colony of Virginia too vague and general, so much so that they desire that more precise explanations be given regarding the subject in question; --We take the liberty to submit with profound respect to Your Lordships:

1.  That we pray very humbly Her Majesty to grant us this favor, and to have allotted to us, with the recognition due to the Sovereign which is usual on such occasions, the land in Virginia, commencing at the fork of the two branches of the Potomac River, which land is along that [branch] which runs to the south west, as may be seen better on the map.  Such land we offer to improve in time by the labor and assiduous care of our good workmen to such an extent that the Crown will draw a considerable benefit from it, while at the present time nothing is derived from it.  And by this means the colonies in North America will be protected from the attacks of the neighboring enemies of Canada and Mississippi.

2.  This establishment shall in no way be an injury to the neighboring Lords Proprietors, or other persons, but rather to the contrary, they will draw advantage from it.  Its desert places will be, from all appearance, for a long time uninhabited, on account of the difficulties encountered for lack of transportation either by water or by land.

3.  As to what concerns the ecclesiastical, civil and military affairs, the colony will conform to those of all other faithful subjects of Your Majesty.  On the other hand, the said colony hopes for the same favors and privileges that the other subjects of Your Majesty enjoy.

4.  However, as we have a language peculiar to ourselves, we ask your Majesty the favor of granting us a minister of our country to preach the holy Gospel and to keep our people in the fear of God and in the bounds of good demeanor.

5.  As to the persons whom we may induce to come with us, we also promise that they will not come in large numbers, nor in disorder, nor without having first notified you.  Neither shall they be at the charge of Your Majesty, unless, seeing the good beginning of our settlement, Your Majesty, for our better encouragement, wishes to grant us some favors.

Nr. 503:

6.  Inasmuch as we have been for several years at a great expense to discover the land above mentioned, and will have still more expense to establish ourselves, we hope that Your Majesty will have the kindness to grant our society the benefits which the constitution of the country defines.

7.  Inasmuch as it is impossible at the beginning of an enterprise, to think of all the things that may happen, the said society hopes the Council will grant a favorable hearing to the propositions that may be made later on.

The above is only to make a beginning so as to secure advantage and gain time for action which will be asked of Your Lordships. The humble and obedient servants,

De Graffenried


The following has been preserved in records,

At the Court at Windsor the 22nd of August 1709
The Queen's most Excellent Majesty in Councill

Her Majesty taking the (Report from the Lords Commissioner of Trade and Plantations to the Earl of Sunderland) into Consideration was Graciously pleased to Approve thereof, And to Order that the Governor of Virginia doe upon the said Petitioners Arrival there, forthwith Allot unto them certain Lands on the Southwest Branch of Potomac [the Shenandoah], in such manner and Form as is mentioned in the said Report, and the Right Honorable the Earl of Sunderland Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, is to prepare what is necessary for the signification of Her Majesty's Royal Pleasure herein, According to the Purport of the same.


Thus the multi-year effort of the "Society for the Swiss Colony of Virginia" was successfully concluded.  Probably at this point, Graffenried and Michel hired Johann Justus Albrecht to recruit miners from around Siegen and thus set into motion the effort which led to the Germanna Colonies.

Nr. 504:

It was in late August of 1709 that Queen Anne instructed her ministers to prepare instructions to the Governor of Virginia telling him to allocate land to the Swiss Colony that had been proposed by Graffenried and Michel.  This was a very hectic time in London as more than ten thousand Germans were in London hoping to obtain transportation to America.  This large number was creating severe problems for the English government.  Of the many proposals floating around, several of the colonial proprietors proposed to take some of the Germans if the Crown would pay for the transportation.  Graffenried and Michel had a similar problem in providing transportation for their colonists and they too were looking for free or low cost transportation.

The search by Michel and Graffenried, being conducted even while their Virginia colony proposal was before the Queen, led them to the proprietors of North Carolina.  The proprietors were hoping to get several hundred of the Germans.  They told Michel and Graffenried that they also would take the Swiss convicts (the Anabaptists) and colonists to North Carolina if Graffenried would take charge of the Germans.  This would be a diversion from the original plan for a colony in Virginia and even the free transportation would hardly be a sufficient inducement for such a change of plans.  The point that sold Graffenried is that the proprietors were empowered to offer a title of Landgrave or Baron to anyone who purchased five thousand acres of land from them.  Thus the America venture could yield Graffenried two things:  money from the silver mine, and a title from the North Carolina venture.  He was heavily in debt and had left Switzerland under a cloud.  This was his chance to redeem himself.  On 4 August 1709, Graffenried paid fifty pounds sterling for five thousand acres of land in North Carolina.

So uncertain were the plans of the North Carolina proprietors, on the date that Graffenried purchased his land, the proprietors had not obtained the Crown's approval for assistance in transporting the Germans to North Carolina.  So Graffenried had invested his fifty pounds in an enterprise which was not yet approved.  With the purchase of the land (and the title), Graffenried became the most important man in the "Swiss Colonization Society".  Also from this time forward, it becomes hard to distinguish Graffenried's actions on his own personal behalf from the actions on behalf of the "Society".  Over the course of September, the proprietors sold twenty-five hundred acres to Michel and ten thousand acres to the Society.  They also issued an option for one hundred thousand acres to Graffenried and his heirs but this land was intended for the Society.  Thereafter, Graffenried starts referring to the 17,500 acres (his 5,000, Michel's 2,500, and the Society's 10,000 acres) as "his."

On the 10th of October, the proprietors of North Carolina were allowed six hundred of the Germans (later increased by another fifty).  The Queen was to pay five pounds and ten shillings toward their transportation costs (below cost).  She gave each German twenty shillings worth of clothing.  Lacking a minister in the group, the Bishop of London authorized Graffenried to perform baptisms and marriages.

Nr. 505:

In October of 1709, the North Carolina proprietors secured 650 Palatines for the colony of North Carolina; however, there was a delay in sending them along to America and they did not depart until January of 1710.  Graffenried and Michel did not go with this group of Palatines to America.  Instead, they waited for the Swiss group, which consisted of about 156 individuals, 56 of whom where Anabaptist prisoners.  The other 100 were Swiss who had freely chosen to emigrate.  Michel went to Switzerland to escort these people to London.  Passes were required for the Anabaptists and these had been obtained for the English part of the trip.  No passes had been obtained for the transit through Holland and, as soon as the group was in Holland, the Dutch authorities intervened.  They would not allow the Anabaptist prisoners to pass through Holland.  Most were released and allowed to do as they wished (some had been imprisoned for years).  Apparently, a few did choose to go to North Carolina.  The Swiss "Colonization Society" intervened with the English Ambassador Townshend, but he wouldn't help because he said the Queen wanted only voluntary colonists in her provinces.

Actually about one-half of the prisoners and some of the free colonists had fallen sick on the trip down the Rhine and they had dropped from the group.  The Swiss colony, which Michel had worked on establishing for so many years, had been reduced to a small group.  Lists of names of the people departing Switzerland cannot be taken as an accurate guide to the group because so many dropped out before the departure from England.

On 18 May 1710, Graffenried and Michel signed a contract with Georg Ritter and Company by which they legally became stockholders in the company.  The foundation of the company was the 17,500 acres of land that had been purchased, the option on 100,000 acres, mining rights in Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the land above the falls of the Potomac granted to them by the Queen.

The mining rights in Carolina granted Graffenried and Michel a lease of all royal mines and minerals in Carolina for 30 years and they were to bear all of the expense.  The output was to be divided into eight parts.  During the first five years of any mine's production, four eighths of the output went to the proprietors and four eighths could be kept by Graffenried and Michel.  After five years, the proprietors were to have five eighths and Graffenried and Michel were to have their share reduced to three eighths.  The proprietors were to pay the Crown from their share.  (Though the contract with the proprietors yielded nothing to anyone, it is ironic that in later years gold was discovered in significant quantities in North Carolina.)

The details of the agreements for mines with the other colonies are not known.  The primary emphasis was on the colony of Virginia and this is where the Society was to have land of the Queen.  A stumbling block here was that the Queen's share was not defined.  As seen in the Carolina agreement, the proprietors could ask for more than half of the output of a mine.  This lack of definition of the royal share was to surface again and again in Virginia.

Nr. 506:

On the 18th of May 1710, a business contract was concluded between Frantz Ludwig Michel and Christopher von Graffenried on the one part and George Ritter, Peter Isot, Albrecht von Graffenried, Johann Anthoni Jaersing, Samuel Hopf, Emanuel Kilchberger.  This was done in London and the last four people were not present.

The Contract:

  1. The basis is one hundred and seventeen thousand five hundred acres of land lying in North Carolina purchased from the proprietors of Carolina.  Included in this was twelve hundred and fifty acres of land purchased of Mr. Lawson.
  2. There is also the concession in Virginia obtained from the Queen of Great Britain.
  3. We are the board of directors.
  4. Frantz L. Michel puts in all minerals he has found and will yet find.
  5. The name of the Society is George Ritter and Company.  All papers, writings, letters, and obligations will be signed by this name; the Society will have its own seal; only those individuals empowered by the Society may sign on behalf of the Society.
  6. The capital will consist of seven thousand two hundred pounds sterling to pay for the land above, to support the Palatines and Swiss colonies, to support the trade and mining operations.
  7. There are to be to be twenty-four shares, each valued at three hundred pounds sterling.
  8. No one is to possess more than one share for himself.  Two or three people may jointly own one share.  If shares remain after three years, those who have a share may take another.
  9. Decisions of the Society will be by majority vote.  Each shareowner is to have one vote regardless of the number of shares he owns.  A fractional share owner cannot be a director and have a vote.
  10. Each person may go to Carolina or Virginia and remain in the Fatherland.  He may appoint a deputy but the deputy cannot be elected a director.
  11. The shares are transferrable except that they cannot go to a Papist.
  12. Every share holder is to a place in the city to be built in Carolina and can have five hundred acres in Virginia.
  13. Mr. Michel contributes the mines in Pennsylvania to the Society.  The profits of the first three years of these mines will go to Mr. Michel.  In the fourth year, Mr. Ritter and Mr. von Graffenried will be reimbursed for their expenses.  After that, for seventeen years, the profits go to the Society.
  14. For the contribution of the mine and his labor, Mr. Michel is to receive one share but he is to pay back the funds which the Society has advanced to him.
  15. Mr. Christoph von Graffenried is to receive one share for the five thousand acres of land in Carolina that he purchased and for his expenses with the Palatines and others.
  16. Mr. George Ritter will receive a share for his expenses.
  17. It is not allowed to anyone to take up land in North Carolina on his own account except as named in article 12; all land is to be taken up on the account of the Society.

Nr. 507:

(Continuing with the charter for George Ritter and Company)

  1. The other above named gentlemen, associates, who have not paid in their capital, will pay it in before next September.
  2. At the end of twenty years, by a vote of three-quarters of the associates, the Society can be abolished.
  3. A yearly report will be made on the state of things, a financial account will be given, and after four years, associates may draw ten percent of their invested capital according to the judgment of the whole Society.  Whatever is gained in the mines will be divided yearly.
  4. This contract may be amended by a majority of the votes.
  5. The associates promise each other love, faith, and true friendship.  To the best of their ability, they will serve and promote the good of the Society.

Done in London, the 18th of May 1710.


William Edwards
Edward Woods
Fr. Ludwig Michel
Chr. Von Graffenried
Georg Ritter
Petter Isoth

Very shortly after this date, Graffenried and Michel sailed for America with their Swiss colonists.  They landed first in Virginia where Graffenried called on the Lt. Governor, Alexander Spotswood (and showed him his letter from the Queen stating he was to have land in Virginia for a Swiss colony).  Here was learned the fate of the ships that had sailed earlier with the Palatines.  These first ships had suffered a great loss of life while crossing the ocean and had been stopped within sight of the Virginia coast (and of a British man-of-war) by pirates who plundered the ships.  Graffenried went on to North Carolina by way of land and smaller ships and he was not pleased by the situation there either.

The North Carolina adventure was a failure from the standpoint of the Society.  At another time, this story may be told here.  Due to a lack of support by George Ritter and Company and by the proprietors of North Carolina and due to misadventures with the Indians, Graffenried was in Virginia by 1712.  He was looking for the silver mines along the Potomac and toward this end he explored above the falls of the Potomac.  His attempts to get some of the Palatines and Swiss to relocate from North Carolina to Virginia were not successful.  By then, Graffenried was broke and in debt.  He decided that the best recourse was to return to Europe.

Nr. 508:

The emphasis which people of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries placed on silver and gold may seem strange to us.  At that time, though, many people believed that gold and silver were to be found.  After all, did not Spain have many gold and silver mines in Central and South America?  Why shouldn't England have gold and silver mines in North America? Even before Jamestown was founded, trips had been made to the falls of the James River, approximately near the site of Richmond today, to search for silver.  (In this same area, iron was found and an iron furnace was built in 1622.)  The governor of Connecticut received instructions from England in the seventeenth century to use dogs of the best "cent" to find silver.

Graffenried, while he was in America, met a man who claimed he had been with Michel when Michel found his silver mines.  Spotswood wrote to the Board of Trade that there were reports of silver mines.  And Spotswood went so far as to have a three thousand acre tract of land patented (now located in Orange County) on which he thought there were prospects of silver.  Since Graffenried owned a one-sixteenth share of this, he must have done some service for Spotswood that caused Spotswood to return the favor.

Certainly Graffenried believed or had strong hopes for silver in Virginia.  His whole venture, starting with his departure from Switzerland in 1709, was founded on the idea that Virginia had silver mines.  In line with this idea, he and Michel had initiated a recruiting effort in the 1709 time frame for miners to work in the silver mines.  They did not personally contact the miners but had hired another man, Johann Justus Albrecht, to do the actual recruiting in the vicinity of Siegen in Germany.  He must have arrived there in 1709 or 1710.

From this effort, a number of people were recruited and they formed the First Germanna Colony.  One of their first duties in Virginia was to defend the frontier and provide the seating for land acquisitions by Spotswood.  They did this so well that Spotswood initiated an effort to secure more Germans for the seating of large quantities of additional land.  This resulted in the Second Germanna Colony.  Growth in the German Piedmont communities beyond the First and Second Colonies was mostly the result of the efforts of the Germans already in Virginia.

The existence of the Germanna Colonies depends on the decision of Francis Louis Michel to make a trip to Virginia, upon his purported discoveries of silver mines there, upon the desire of Christoph von Graffenried to escape from his debts, and upon Alexander Spotswood's hope that he had a silver mine.  Had any one of these points not been true, there would have been no Germanna or Germanna Colonists.

I will examine some of these points in more detail but the summary now aims to show why we study these questions.  Had these events not happened, you would not be reading this note today.  In fact, you would not be here today.

Nr. 509:

When Graffenried wrote his "memoirs" after the American adventures were ended, he told of his views toward the mines at that time.

In the German version, he wrote:

"My hair raises when I think how many families were deceived, especially so many families of miners, who, building upon a formal contract, left their Fatherland, traveled at great expense to America and now met neither [Michel] nor any one else who showed them the purported mines.  I must now cease to speak of this disagreeable matter, otherwise I should bury myself so deeply in it that there would not be room enough for other things, for this is really not my purpose."

In one of the French versions, we have longer comments:

"It is to be remarked here that [Michel] has thoroughly duped people by his fine and persuasive accounts of having found such rich mines; and if I have also gone into the snare it was easy to entrap me, being a stranger in these parts.  My foundation was this:  First, I hardly thought a man of his rank, and a fellow countryman besides, capable of such tricks.  Second, the mineral which he had shown, having been tested, was found very good.  Third, the oaths that he took.  Fourth, the patents which he asked of the Queen of England for this purpose, a very bold trick.  Fifth, since so many persons from Pennsylvania and other provinces having made the journey openly, with the permission of the neighboring governors for the discovery of these mines, there appeared something real in the affair.  Sixth, among others who had interested themselves in it, were a merchant of Pennsylvania a very shrewd man and no longer young, a skillful goldsmith and other persons who ought to know the country thereabouts well.  Seeing that these persons of ability living in those places, risked considerable sums, I could not think that they had not taken all security and precautions.  Seventh, we made a formal agreement with some German miners to carry on the whole thing.  [Michel] made a voyage to Holland to confer with the chief of the miners [that is, Albrecht] who was to prepare all the tools and supplies necessary for this enterprise, the cost of which was nearly one thousand ecus in silver.  Eighth, Mr. Penn, Proprietor of Pennsylvania made a contract with us, having thorough knowledge of all.  He favored us very much in this regard, even made [Michel] director-general of all the minerals in the province.  Who after so many such proceedings would doubt the reality of the thing?  There could be made a whole history of this farce, and a rather funny one; but I am sorry for the poor miners who have left the certain thing they had in Germany to go to find the uncertain in America.  In place of a good vocation that they had, they have nothing at present except what they can gain from some cleared land where they are obliged to live very modestly.  The mining master was even arrested with all his clothes and tools by the ambassador of the [Holy Roman] Emperor and would have been in danger of a grave punishment, even of his life, if the English ambassador had not found means to liberate him."

Some of these events are out of the time sequence that I had been following but the story had gone on for a while and some readers were perhaps wondering why we went into this at all.  So I have taken a couple of notes to emphasize that the story is related to the Germanna Colonies.  I have used Graffenried's own words which relate that the German miners (the First Germanna Colony) were involved.

Nr. 510:

In one of the French versions of his memoirs, Graffenried attached a copy of a letter he had written on 6 May 1711 to "Gentlemen" who were probably his associates in Bern, Switzerland.  In a postscript he tells that he had become very despondent about the situation in "Carolina" but he relates an incident which gave him a little hope:

"There came up to me from the sea a little old Englishman, to sell me oysters.  He inquired for F. Michel, but since he was not present any more and understanding that we were good friends he wanted to show me something that probably would be acceptable to me.  He said he had, sometime ago, traveled with F. Michel and the Governor of Virginia, to look for mines; but he knew of a better and richer one, and in that connection, he could tell me all the circumstances of F. Michel's trip.  It agreed well with what I already knew very well.  Although before this I had entirely discounted Squire Michel's affairs, I saw by this there were nevertheless realities.  Now according to this report I have some hope.  May the Most High, who through his inexpressible kindness had created so many things for the good of men, give his blessing to it, and give to us the grace not to misuse his benefits, but to praise him for all."

"This mine, the little man indicated to me is a gold mine in Virginia, while F. Michel's is a silver mine in Pennsylvania; and this gold mine is said by report to be eight days out from here, while the other is more than fourteen days from Philadelphia.  At the discovery of this nearer and better mine F. Michel was not present, but Governor Nicholson of Virginia was.  In the matter of the gold, the Governor would let neither him nor any one else know and also forbade him to tell anyone of it.  In the meantime, the Governor looked about for a man expert in such things.  He found one also, who, on test, found it very rich.  They were already making arrangements to put it into operation, but soon after, the mining master or chemist died.  Some time after this a disturbance rose in Virginia, the Governor was called to New England to take the government of the same, and he is actually at this time in a notable expedition against the French in Canada, has also taken Fort Royal, and so this mine has disappeared with him and this mining operation is suspended."

"The mine referred to is not more than twenty or thirty miles from the land which the Queen gave us.  This in secret; we could take a piece of land further up, and so we could also take possession of the mine, reserving of course the Queen's share for her.  I considered it advisable to interest the present Governor in this in order that he might help us."

In the previous note, I quoted Graffenried's remarks as to why he thought there might have been mines.  He did not mention this "little old Englishman", who in the end may have had the most significance for the Germanna Colonies.

Nr. 511:

After the troubles in North Carolina, Graffenried went up to Virginia in 1712 to look for the mines and to see if he could find a place there for the people from the colony in North Carolina to live.  These were separate questions because the mines were to be operated by people from Siegen that Albrecht was recruiting, not by the colonists from North Carolina.  Graffenried talked quite openly to Spotswood about his plans and hopes.  Spotswood has left comments in his communications back to England.

Spotswood wrote to the Board of Trade on 15 May 1712:

"(There is a) gen'll Opinion lately revived that there are gold and silver mines in these parts towards the Mountains . . . (need) a Declaration what share her Majesty expects out of them."

Spotswood had investigated the terms of the patents on the Crown's land and found that, contrary to the usual custom, the percentage of the gold and silver mines that was the Crown's right was not defined (due to an oversight).  Earlier, we saw in the Carolina agreement that the proprietors expected one-half of the mine output.  The royal share could also be very significant and it wasn't defined.  Hence, with this letter to the Board, Spotswood commenced a campaign to get the royal share of the gold and silver defined.

Graffenried and Spotswood spent Easter of 1713 together and, shortly thereafter, Graffenried left for Europe.  On 2 May 1713, a patent for a tract of land consisting of 4020 acres of land was issued to Larkin Chew.  That same month Chew "sold" fractional parts of this to Spotswood, Graffenried, the Earl of Orkney (the Governor of Virginia in England), Gawin Corbin, Jeremiah Clowder, Richard Buckner, and William Robertson.  Though the patent does not say so, we know from later records that this tract was thought to contain a silver mine.  Chew's role in this was to obscure that the patent was really to Spotswood, as Spotswood did not like to have his name appear as grantee since he had to sign as grantor.  The other names were partners of Spotswood.  The location of the land can be plotted and it is found to be in today's Orange County located on Mine Run.  It is about four miles from the future Fort Germanna but that is getting ahead of the story.

On 11 Jun 1713, Spotswood wrote to Col. Blakiston, the agent for Virginia in London:

"I writt to you about 2 Months ago about the discovery of another mine in which I am concern'd . . . ye Gent. concern'd with me, depend very much on y'r prudent management of this affair . . . we cannot proceed till we know what we have Trust to."

[This refers to having the Crown's share of the mine's output defined.]

On 17 Aug 1713, Spotswood wrote again to Blakiston:

"I am embarked on a new project about ye mines . . . if any resolution be taken by the Queen and Council in relation thereto . . . you will not let it be neglected for want of paying ye necessary fees to the Clerks."

[Reading between the lines, Blakiston could see that the mine was quite high in Spotswood's list of priorities.]

Nr. 512:

After spending Easter with Spotswood, Graffenried made his way on horseback toward New York with the objective of returning to England.  This was a round about way of returning, but Graffenried could not leave from a Carolina or Virginia port where he was known.  The colonial laws forbid anyone who was in debt to leave the colonies and Graffenried was deeply in debt.  So he had to sneak out of the Americas by going to a port where he was unknown.  On the trip back to England, several things made an impression on him.

He thought New York was a very pleasant place.  He rested here ten or twelve days before he took a sloop to England.

On the sea, the small ship was in great danger once because of a storm and the failure of the captain to respond quickly.  The ship was flying the small sail above the bowsprit when the winds grew too strong for the sail to be up.  Once the bowsprit and the sail were submerged below the waves which broke off the bowsprit.  The ship was then dragging the bowsprit and the sail in the water which severely hampered the ability of the ship to move or to navigate.  They had to tie lines around sailors and lower then over the sides so they could raise the bowsprit and sail onto the ship.  Everyone got wet and the waves washed over the ship.  Finally the pieces were back on board and the bowsprit was repaired though it was shorter than it had been.

Once, the people on board thought they had sighted a sail in the distance.  To see better, they sent a small boy up to the top of the mast.  Then he could see that the white object was too big to be a sail.  They guessed they were seeing land which troubled them very much because they thought they were in the middle of the ocean.  They consulted the maps but could find no islands around where they thought they were.  At length, they discovered that it was a mass of ice which had become detached from one of the northern glaciers.

(The trips from America to England were generally made by a northern route, where they took advantage of the Gulf Stream currents, which helped tremendously.  Coupled with the westerly winds, the trip to England could be made much faster than to America.  The fare structure even reflected this; it cost less to go to England than to America.  Also, there was more space available from the west to the east.)

The voyage to England took six weeks and they landed at Bristol.  After a short rest here Graffenried went down to London by horseback.  Generally in all of his travels now, he traveled alone and in small groups and stayed off the main path.  Graffenried was hoping that the Duke of Beaufort, who was the First Lord Proprietor of North Carolina, might intervene with Queen Anne on his behalf.  But Queen Anne died 1 Aug 1713.  Though some of Graffenried's confusing statements (especially with regards to the timing of events) imply he was in London before her death, it seems more likely that it was after her death.  Another statement of his is, "Because the winter is troublesome to travel in and I could not accomplish anything in London I was in a hurry to go home."

Nr. 513:

I made a bad mistake in the last paragraph of Note 512.  It should be replaced with the following one:

The voyage to England took six weeks and they landed at Bristol.  After a short rest here he went down to London by horseback.  Generally in all of his travels now, he traveled alone or in small groups and stayed off the main path.  Graffenried was hoping that the Duke of Beaufort, who was the First Lord Proprietor of North Carolina, might intervene with Queen Anne on his behalf.  While some of Graffenried's confusing statements (especially with regards to the timing of events) imply he was in London after her death (which occurred 1 Aug 1714), he was in London only in the fall of 1713.  A statement of his is, "Because the winter is troublesome to travel in and I could not accomplish anything in London I was in a hurry to go home."

As an after thought to his description of his London stay, Graffenried adds, "Meanwhile I cannot omit to relate that when I reached London I was shocked to learned that Mr. J. Justus Albrecht with some forty miners had arrived.  This caused me not a little pain, worry, vexation and expense, since these people had come there so blindly, thinking to find everything necessary for their support and their transportation to the American mines."  So, Graffenried continues his theme that their presence was not his fault.

Graffenried had to admit that he had hardly enough money for his own needs and could not help them.  He says that the Germans thought that on account of the treaty, he was under an obligation to look out for them.  Furthermore, they claimed to have come at his command.  Graffenried says that he had written to them often from America that they should not come without his express orders.  He claimed that he had warned them of the problems caused by the Indians and the failure of Michel to show the mines.  He did admit writing to them, that if the chief miner (Albrecht), and one or two others wanted to take a look, they could come.  In the end, Graffenried blames Albrecht for going about it in this "thoughtless way".

From the present and with a scarcity of documents, it is hard to say why the Germans were in London.  Did Graffenried not admit to the real truth of what he wrote?  Was Albrecht overly eager?  Or were the Germans anxious?  The initial contact with them had been made three years earlier.  It is clear that the Germans, though they apparently paid their own way to London, thought that the George Ritter and Company enterprise was going to pay their way to America.  Albrecht, in his recruiting efforts, had probably made this point.  But where did the idea originate that now was the time to go?  Did Graffenried write confusing statements to them?  Albrecht was certainly a promoter and did he feel that this was the best way of getting something going?

Graffenried wrote, "What was now to be done?  I knew nothing better than to direct these people back home again."

Nr. 514:

Going back to Germany (Siegen) was not a course of action that the Germans preferred.  They had closed out their lives there and at the moment they were without a country.  When Graffenried was not very helpful in solving the problems, they decided that they hire themselves out as servants for four years in America to pay their transportation.  Graffenried took the negative opinion that no ships would be leaving for America until spring and the Germans would have to support themselves for several months.  But the Germans' determination roused him to action even though he claimed it caused him a lot of trouble and pain.

First, he found them jobs working on a great dike.  But a heavy rain came and all was overturned.  So he had to search elsewhere to find jobs for some of them.  Graffenried was very anxious to go home, fearing a voyage in winter and feeling an attack of gout.  He mentions at another point that some of his creditors were in England and he may have been as scared of meeting them as anything.

He worked on the transportation problem of the Germans also.  He approached two powerful merchants of Virginia and a "Lord of distinction" to whom he had been recommended by Spotswood, and who had a knowledge of the mines.  This might have been Lord Orkney who owned a sixteenth of the silver mine, or it might have been Col. Blakiston who was working with Spotswood on the royal share of the mines.  In the German version of the story, Blakiston is clearly mentioned as helping even though he was hardly a "Lord."

The final arrangement was that the Germans would pool their money and the merchants would advance one hundred and fifty pounds sterling for the balance of the transportation costs.  When they landed in Virginia, they were to become servants of Spotswood, working for him for four years.  Spotswood did not know, until the Germans were on the sea headed for Virginia, that he had bought the services of the Germans.  He would pay the ship's captain who would reimburse the merchants in London who had advanced the original money.

Blakiston must have been instrumental in suggesting these arrangements.  He knew that Spotswood had a mine and was very anxious to get started in working it.  Blakiston probably thought this was a good opportunity to procure the labor and tools.  He must have felt that the question of the royal share would be solved soon.

When the arrangements were in place, both Blakiston and Graffenried wrote to Spotswood and told him that the Germans would be arriving in Virginia and that he would have to pay their transportation charges.  Graffenried was very apologetic in his letter, for he had no authority to do the action in which he participated.  Even Blakiston had no authority but he had been working with Spotswood on the mines and may have felt like a partner even though he had no share of the mine.  The Germans may have been nervous about this as they set sail not knowing whether Spotswood would pay the balance of their transportation charges when they arrived.

Nr. 515:

Graffenried's letter to Spotswood, written before the Germans left for Virginia, tried to represent things "as well as I could".  He suggested:

"The Germans should be appointed to the land which we had together in Virginia not far from the place where the minerals were found and, as supposed, the traces of the mine, where they could settle themselves according to the wise arrangements and under the helpful supervision of the Governor."

The statement of Graffenried is ambiguous, but knowing that there was a 4,020 acre tract in Virginia in which Spotswood had at least a quarter-interest, and Graffenried a sixteenth-interest, it would seem that this is the land "we had together" in Virginia.  Later comments of John Fontaine imply that this land was thought to contain silver.

Graffenried's letter continued:

"Meanwhile if there were not sufficient indications for a silver mine they were to look elsewhere, and because in Virginia there were, at any rate, neither iron or copper smelters but yet plenty of such minerals they could begin on these.  And for these we needed no royal patents as we did for the silver mines."

This very last comment of Graffenried shows that when Spotswood was talking and writing about the royal patents he was not talking about iron but about silver and gold.  Some people have said that when Spotswood was talking about silver and royal patents that he was using these as covers for iron which was his real interest.  The truth is that Spotswood was talking about silver when he used the word silver.

Spotswood was not interested in iron at this time.  He was well acquainted with the fact that Virginia had deposits of iron and that it would have been to the overall advantage of England to have iron smelters in Virginia.  He was an advocate of this course of action.  But England was a nation of shopkeepers and small manufacturers who wanted no competition.  They succeeded in getting trade laws passed that prevented the colonies from making finished products.  The colonies had to send raw materials to England, not finished goods.  Iron was too much like finished goods as the output of the smelters were often the end products.  The other reason that Spotswood was not personally interested in iron was that it was far too expensive for his resources.

Graffenried adds in his memoirs that the Germans left at the beginning of the year 1714.  (The Germans were on the new calendar so this was probably January of 1714 as we reckoned the years.)  Graffenried left London in the fall, as it would appear he "did not want to travel in the winter".  In the memoirs he adds the statement that a whole year has now passed and he had not heard from them and for that reason he was in great anxiety.

Nr. 516:

With the Germans on the sea headed for Virginia, let's direct our attention to the sequence of events by which they had been recruited for this adventure.  A few documents have been preserved but some things are left to the imagination, guided only by the final outcome.

When did Graffenried and Michel decide to hire German miners?  It would seem that the decision to do so would not have been reached until after they had secured the letter from the Queen which told the Governor of Virginia to allot land for a Swiss colony in the forks of the Shenandoah.  It would also seem that the recruiting would have started before they left for North Carolina in 1710.

Graffenried does make a statement that Michel went to Holland to see the head miner.  As with many of his statements, it is difficult to tell what he had in mind as the time of this event.  Some people have thought this occurred while Graffenried was in America but it seems that Michel's location was known in America or there was a complete lack of information about his whereabouts.  In other words, there is no evidence that Michel returned to Europe from America.  I believe that Graffenried's statement referred to the initial recruiting of Johann Justus Albrecht, the "head miner".  This would have been in the 1709 to 1710 time frame.  Albrecht was to go to German mining areas to procure mining tools and miners.  At this time, Graffenried and Michel were thinking that it would only be a matter of months until the North Carolina colony was settled.  So Albrecht would have been under some pressure to secure the tools and miners quickly.

Albrecht had problems recruiting people.  He was inclined to make very bold claims for himself which might have seemed dubious, e.g., calling himself "Inspector of Mines".  Even more bombastic, he said he had been appointed to develop mines and smelters for gold and silver on behalf of Her Majesty of Great Britain and the proprietors of Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  (These claims were similar to those being made by Graffenried and Michel.)  Graffenried tells us that his actions roused the suspicions of agents of the German emperor who arrested him.  The English envoy had to intervene to secure his release.  But still, Albrecht needed help in the recruiting effort.

In order to build good will in the town of Siegen where he was recruiting, Albrecht signed a donation contract for the benefit of the three Reformed ministers in Siegen in which he promised them an annuity of 350 rix-dollars in perpetuity from the proceeds of the American mines.  This was in 1711.  This helped in his efforts at recruiting for Albrecht left Siegen and went to London where he was in May of 1712.  Presumably he had the initial commitments of several miners to go to America by then.  The date and the events of 1711 show that recruitment must have commenced by 1710, even before Michel and Graffenried had left for America.

Readers wanting additional information might consult Klaus Wust's article, "Palatines and Switzers for Virginia, 1705-1738:  Costly Lessons for Promoters and Emigrants" in the YEARBOOK OF GERMAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, vol. 19, 1984, pp. 43-55.  As usual, Mr. Wust gives an extensive list of reference material, much of which is from European archives.

Nr. 517:

In 1711, Albrecht signed a statement in which he promised to give money from the American mines to the Protestant pastors of Siegen.  Presumably this was to win their help or favor in his recruiting efforts.  This must have been helpful as he was back in London in 1712, and engaged in an activity which leaves us mystified.  In essence, he seems to have written a charter for a company (corporation), and perhaps was engaged in selling shares in it.  By whose authority he was doing this is unknown.  The document he prepared has been preserved in the Court Book of Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Written in German, no translation of it was known until Elke Hall made one.  This was published in Beyond Germanna, volume 5, number 1.

The document was essentially a Shareholder's Book, or the charter of what we would call a corporation.  It makes specific reference to the gold and silver mines in South Carolina, "which will be built by the gentleman Johann Justus Albrecht, who is the Head Mine Captain".  The story or words are hard to follow because there are more pages than there are sentences.  So, we can only pick out phrases here and there.  Reference is made to construction in South Carolina, which was completed on the fifth of January in 1709.  (It may have been that Albrecht had been exploring in South Carolina and had returned to London, when he was hired by Graffenried and Michel, or it may be that Albrecht was just telling a story to make it seem real.)

Albrecht claims to have developed mines in South Carolina and was to have been responsible for the complete management and construction of the future works.  The company was to sell shares.  Long statements in the Shareholder's Book go into the procedure and rules for buying shares.  If there were profits, they would have been paid every quarter.  All officers must be trustworthy.  The document was dated 26 May 1712.

There is no reference to "George Ritter and Company", the employer of Albrecht.  Nor is there any reference to Graffenried or Michel.  The tenor of the note is that Albrecht is "moonlighting", or working at another enterprise on the side, besides the work he is supposedly doing for George Ritter and Company.  He may have been driven to do something like this because his support from George Ritter and Company had dried up.  The investors in GRC had become discouraged very quickly when the initial reports came back from Graffenried in North Carolina.  So Albrecht may have been left to his own resources.  Overall, the events in Siegen and in London do not leave us with a very favorable impression of the character of Albrecht.  On the other hand, had Albrecht not been something of a "snake oil promoter" we probably would not have had any Germanna Colonies to write about.

There is every appearance that Albrecht was on the ship which was carrying the German miners to Virginia.  At this time there was optimism.  Though the Germans had started out thinking they were going to be mining silver for George Ritter and Company, they now had good reason to think they would be mining silver for Alexander Spotswood.  At least they expected to be gainfully employed.  It depended, though, on whether Spotswood would accept the agreement to which others had committed him.

Nr. 518:

Before Chief Miner Albrecht departed London with the miners from Siegen, Graffenried took his leave of them for his home in Switzerland.  His troubles were not over yet.  Out of fear that his American creditors would have agents (one of whom was in London) at the major ports, Graffenried planned on using one of the lesser traveled routes to cross the channel.

He arranged to travel under an assumed name.  To make it more difficult to identify him, he did not carry his own passport.  He boarded a ship in London but the captain let him off before the English customs inspection so Graffenried could go around the inspector by other ways, but the customs inspectors wanted to go through his chest which was still on the ship.  So the captain sent a boy to tell Graffenried that he would have to open his chest.  It worried Graffenried to do this but he put a good face on it and spoke French to the inspector.  He gave the inspector a half sovereign and asked the inspector not to disturb the coats which were nicely folded.  Fortunately, Graffenried says, this worked for had the inspector examined the contents in detail, he, Graffenried, would have been discovered.  At one point in the story, he says he had contraband in the chest.

Crossing the English channel was a worse trip than crossing the ocean.  Sailing delays meant an extended stay on shore and Graffenried was short of money for food and lodging.  The French inspectors held Graffenried up because he had no passport.  He showed them documents to prove that he was Swiss.  At that time the Swiss and French were in an alliance and travel between the nations was allowed freely.  So he was allowed to go on.  He was stopped at other points but managed to talk his way around the obstacles.  Eventually, he reached Bern on St. Martin's Day in 1714.

Graffenried's reception by his friends was cold.  He had been hoping to find help to restore his ruined colony.  But the Society left him in the lurch and he was forced to abandon the colony.  At the time he was writing, he says conditions in North Carolina had improved tremendously and he grieves that he and the Society were not a part of it.

On reflecting upon the whole American adventure, he regretted that he had been detoured to North Carolina.  It would have been better to concentrate on the colony in Virginia from the start.  One of his reasons was that the government in Virginia was in much stronger hands than the government in North Carolina.  And he said that the land in Virginia was in no way inferior to the land in Carolina.

Nr. 519:

Col. Blakiston's letter to Alexander Spotswood, with the news that Spotswood had been obligated to pay the German miners transportation, reached Spotswood in March of 1713/1714, ahead of the ship bringing Albrecht and the miners.  Blakiston had told Spotswood previously of the presence of the German miners in London but the decision to send the miners along at Spotswood's expense was reached by Blakiston alone.  Travel across the Atlantic was so slow that it was impossible to conduct any action speedily.  Spotswood had to pay only one hundred and fifty pounds sterling because the Germans paid a fraction themselves.

Spotswood wrote back to Blakiston expressing two emotions rather strongly.  One was Spotswood's enthusiasm since he felt that Blakiston would not have done this had Blakiston not been assured that the question of the royal share of gold and silver mines was reaching a conclusion.  The other emotion of Spotswood was one of concern because the miners were foreigners and their status was not clearly defined.  Spotswood emphasized he would make the best of the situation since nothing could be changed now.  He had not invited the Germans.  That was Graffenried's work and he had been authorized by the Queen to settle them in Virginia.  Furthermore, the Germans were Protestants.  But still he was concerned since he was helping to pay their transportation.

Two years earlier, when Graffenried had investigated the possibility of moving his North Carolina group up to Virginia, Spotswood had had the same problem with regards to the status of foreigners.  He tentatively put forward the idea that they could be settled on the frontier as protection (for the English) from the Indians.  We have no information that the authorities in London ever responded, but Spotswood remembered his original idea.  He did not regard this as an inappropriate thing to do.

The thing that influenced Spotswood's thinking the most was his silver mine which was beyond the frontier of English civilization.  It needed miners and forty odd miners were coming.  Therefore, Spotswood made his plans with two sets of reasons, a public reason that was quite different from his private reason.  His public reason would be that the Germans could protect the frontier.  His private reason would be that they could work in his silver mine.

There were two minor problems.  The Germans were not here yet but that should be minor.  The bigger problem was that no determination had been made of the royal share of gold and silver mines; however, the Germans could be put in place.  Surely, Blakiston would not have sent the miners along unless he had reason to believe this question would be settled soon.

Nr. 520:

The last note discussed the reaction in Virginia when Blakiston's letter arrived at the Governor's desk.  It is interesting to take this same subject in Spotswood's own words.  What did he write back to Blakiston?

"March 15, 1713 (OS)
To Colo. Blakiston:
About the beginning of Jan'y I rec'd yo'rs of he 3d July, 20th of Septemb'r, and 10th of October, w'ch gave me an Acc't of y'r proceedings in relation to the Mines, as well as y'r Sentiments of w't ye Baron had propos'd about transporting his Miners, but by y'r Letter of ye 9th of Decemb'r, which I rec'd the other day, I preceive you have alter'd y'r opinion by sending over those People, partly at my charge.  This makes me believe you have now greater hopes of her Maj't's Concessions in y't Affair, for I'm confident you would not on any less encouragem't engage me in such an Expense, when, besides, it seems, I run the risque of the same Censure, as you say others have undergone, for transporting Forreigners into these parts, but I hope the undertaking will not have the same consequences; however, 'tis in vain to look on the worst side of a business wherein one is so far engaged, and must go through.  'Tis therefore the more necessary to press an answer to the memorial presented to her Maj'ty, and [in] regard nothing more must be undertaken here till that be obtain'd without the hazard of raising so great a Clamour, especially when Mr. Nicholson arrives, Wherefore I request you will use y'r endeavours, and also quicken My Lord Orkney to dispatch her Maj'ty's answer as soon as possible, that we have some propect of being reimburs'd the charge of maintaining so many people, w'ch must remain idle in the meantime."

The letter of July 3 probably pertained to the attempt to get the royal share of silver and gold mines determined.  The Germans were getting ready to leave Siegen.  The two letters of September 20 and October 10 were probably written after the Germans had arrived and Graffenried was back in London.  Just when Graffenried started negiotiating to find transportation and jobs for the Germans is not clear.  Blakiston probably did not commit Spotswood until December 9.  No doubt he wrote immediately to Spotswood and found a ship for the letter.  According to Graffenried, the Germans did not leave until January of 1714 (NS).  Thus they were probably in London by September 10 and they did not leave until the next January.  So at the minimum they were in London for four months and looking for work to support themselves.  If Graffenried stayed until December 9, this could be consistent with his return to Switzerland.

One of the sub-themes of this note is that nothing could be done very fast.  Spotswood got Blakiston's letter of July 3 the next January.  It took the Germans the largest part of a year to get from Siegen to Virginia.  Graffenried was essentially a year in getting from Virginia to Switzerland.

Nr. 521:

In April of 1714, the Germans arrived.  Spotswood moved them to a simple fort on the frontier, giving as his (public) reason that they would serve as a barrier to the Indians in that area.  In fact, since they were to be performing a public good, he was not hesitant to ask the Council if the Colony of Virginia should not underwrite some of the expense.  They agreed.  There was a private reason for picking the site that he did for the Germans.  The new fort was only about three or four miles from his silver mine.

One of the things that one learns in studying Spotswood's actions is that there are usually public reasons and unstated private reasons which must be inferred.  But they seem obvious.  The location of Fort Germanna very close to his silver mine was one example (actually the silver mine was a partnership in which Spotswood was the largest partner).

Normally when a person had indentured servants, he had to pay their tithe (church tax).  In the case of the Germans, Spotswood tried to claim they were not indentured servants.  But he protected himself in other ways.  He had the Council declare that an area extending five miles around Fort Germanna would be the old parish of St. George.  Anyone, who lived in this area and had their own minister, would not have to pay the tithe.  Since the Germans did have a minister, they were exempt.  Or was it Spotswood who was exempt?

To minimize his expenses in supporting the Germans, Spotswood also got the Council to declare that hunting by non-Germans would not be allowed.  The public reason was that the Germans arrived so late in the year they could not grow any crops so hunting was to be a major source of foods.  To help insure that there was an ample supply of game, others were forbidden to hunt.  Again, was this a measure to aid the Germans or to aid Spotswood?

One quickly learns that most actions of Spotswood had two interpretations.  One of them is publicly stated and the other is unstated.  The latter usually came in the category of helping Spotswood.  He bent or set public policy in ways to insure that he benefited.

The Germans were anxious to be at work and within the month of their settlement at Fort Germanna they had a look at the silver mine.  Spotswood was able to write to the Lord Commissioners of Trade on 21 Jul 1714 that there was a good appearance of silver ore.  The Germans hedged their evaluation and said it would be necessary to dig some depth into the earth to find out.  Spotswood told them not to do this and told the Commissioners that it was:

".....a liberty that I shall not give them until I receive an Answer to what I represented to your Lo'ps concerning y'r Ascertaining her Maj't's share."

Queen Anne died before Spotswood's letter got to the Commissioners.  Even two years later, the Crown's share was not determined.  Meanwhile, the Germans did no work for Spotswood privately, but they maintained the peace on the frontier which was the official reason they were there.

Nr. 522:

Several notes back, I quoted Graffenried on what the Germans were doing at Germanna during the first years they were there.  He implied that their activities consisted of farming some land that they had cleared.  This would be consistent with what Spotswood was writing.  He had placed them with the objective of mining silver but he would not let them start on this until the question of the royal share of gold and silver mines was cleared up.  There was a hitch in this activity, as Queen Anne died shortly after as the Germans arrived.  The new monarch was King George, a German speaking individual.  Spotswood suggested to Blakiston that he try the argument that the new King would be helping his fellow countrymen if he resolved the question.  But the Crown never showed any enthusiasm for settling the question and it remained unresolved.

In January of 1715 (NS), Spotswood wrote to the Lord Commissioners of Trade,

"[they are] German Protestants . . .  who upon the encouragement of the Baron de Graffenried, came over hither in hopes to find out Mines, but the Baron's misfortunes obliged him to leave the Country before their arrival.  They have been settled on ye Frontiers of Rappa. [Rappahannock] and subsisted since chiefly at my charge and the Contributions of some Gentlemen that have a prospect of being reimburs'd by their Labour whenever his Maj'tie shall be pleased, by ascertaining his Share to give encouragem't for working those Mines. . ."

Spotswood continued in the same letter with another thought.  Even though the Germans had been there less than one year, in fact little more than a half year, he wrote,

". . . I hope the kind reception that they have found here will invite more of the same Nation to transport themselves to this Colony, w'ch wants only industrious people to make it a flourishing Country. . ."

Though it is getting slightly ahead of the rest of the story, this thought of Spotswood was to have a major impact on the future development of the western regions of Virginia.  Already he was beginning to think of new possibilities.

>From the very first days in Virginia, Spotswood had been thinking of ways of earning some money to support himself in the style to which he would have liked to live.  One of his first ventures was an Indian trading company.  He proposed, and the Virginia colony enacted, legislation which granted a monopoly of Indian trading to one company.  Spotswood was an investor in this company.  (This is another example of his use of legislation and rulings to benefit himself.)  But the Board of Trade in London ruled that there could not be a monopoly.  The silver mine was another venture but it was hung up on the question of the royal share.  By 1715, Spotswood had been frustrated in his efforts to develop his personal economic base.

Nr. 523:

On February 7 of 1716 (NS), almost two years after the Germans had arrived and been settled at Fort Germanna, Gov. Spotswood was called on to answer charges that had been made against him.  He response, in part, to one of the charges, went:

"I have frequently mentioned how the Germans came to be settled on this Land, and 'tis well known y't when they arrived in this Country they were so far from being able to undergo the charge of taking up Land for themselves, that they had not wherewithall to subsist.  So that, besides the expence of one hundred and fifty pounds for their Transportation, they are still indebted for near two years' Charge of subsisting them.  I cannot, therefore, imagine myself guilty of any oppression by placing them as Tenants upon my own Land, when I had pursued the common methods of the Country and taken the advantage of the Law here--instead of being Tenants, they might have been my Servants for five years.  Nor are the Germans insensible of the favour I have done them. . . .  The terms upon which the Germans are settled will not appear very like oppression, seeing they have lived for two years upon this Land without paying any Rent at all, and that all which is demanded of them for the future is no more than twelve days' work a year for each Household, which is not so much as the Rent of their Houses without any Land would have cost in any other part of the Country. . ."

Spotswood is claiming that the Germans have done nothing for him in the two years that they have been here.  On the contrary they have only been an expense.  And he says that he had not charged them any rent during that time; however, he is going to start charging them rent.  His change of attitude on this subject shows how he could take the same set of facts and interpret it in two entirely different ways.

On the one hand, he said the Germans were tenants, but he said he was charging them no rent.  Without rent, they would have been more typically in the status of indentured servants.  In saying they were tenants, he was probably angling for a reimbursement from them of his expenses.  In other words, he would hope to recover the transportation expense and the subsistence expense from them.  One did not recover transportation expenses from indentured servants but if they were free and indebted to him, then he could press his claims for reimbursement.  But in order to make them look free, he needed to charge rent.  So two years after the fact, he proposes to start charging them rent to make his case look better.

The major blunt of this uncertainty fell upon the Germans.  They had been two years in America and, aside from their efforts at providing their own food, they had done nothing that would seem to justify the claims Spotswood had on them.  They were indebted to him but they had done nothing for him.

Notice also, that after two years, the emphasis is shifting away from the public service of defending the frontier to being private "tenants" of Spotswood.  Much of the original justification had included the public duties of the Germans, but now it appears that they are private citizens who are living on land owned by Spotswood.  This is another example of the shift of opinion of which Spotswood was so capable.

Nr. 524:

"In place of a good vocation that they had, they have nothing at present except what they can gain from some cleared land where they are obliged to live very modestly."

Graffenried gives us no clue as to how he obtained his information but it would appear that he was in contact with someone in Virginia who was aware of the situation.

We have recently read Spotswood's comments at the end of two years and he describes the Germans as having done no work for him; however, he was very pleased with them and wished that Virginia could have more of their countrymen.

John Fontaine left us a description of life at Fort Germanna in his journal.  He left Williamsburg, with John Clayton, on November 9, 1715, after having breakfasted with Spotswood.  For the record, Fontaine said that the purpose of the trip was to look at land to buy for his family; however, he extended the trip thirty or so miles beyond the last farm he looked at in order to pay a visit to Germanna.  Fontaine had been befriended by Spotswood and, when one thinks of the breakfast meeting with Spotswood on the day of the departure from Williamsburg, one easily surmises that the visit to Germanna was at the request of Spotswood.  In other words, Spotswood wanted a report on how things were at Germanna.

We have a good physical description of Fort Germanna as a result, but as to what life was like for the Germans, it must be inferred for the most part.  Fontaine is clear on one point, "The Germans live very miserably."  There was little variety in the food and perhaps the quantity was limited.  They went to church daily and twice on Sunday.  There was no description of any commercial activity, in fact, there was no description of any activity they were engaged in except for the church service.

It must be remembered that the comments of Fontaine are coming from a man who breakfasted with the Governor.  Life on the frontier was hardly an approximation of life at Williamsburg.  When he visited, the Germans had only passed through one growing season.  There were no mills in vicinity to grind their grain.  Probably little attempt had yet been made to grow flax for linen so their clothes would have worn thin by then.  Life on the frontier is usually hard in the first years.

We know they were holding church services.  With a school teacher in the group, they were probably having school for the children.  They were a respectable civilization.  In comparison to their English in Virginia, they held more church and school sessions.  The physical limitations under which they lived would improve with time.

Nr. 525:

Taking the time as about 1716, let's look at the motivations of Gov. Spotswood.  Already people were opposing him as Governor.  A recent quotation from him here was in response to a series of charges made against him.  He needed an alternative economic base to the half-pay he drew as the Lieutenant Governor.  His first economic venture, the Indian Trading Company, had been vetoed from London.  His second venture, the silver mine, was stalled on the question of getting the royal share approved.

Looking around in Virginia, he saw that the path to economic independence, as used by others, was land.  His first step in this direction was to obtain a patent on the land where Fort Germanna was settled.  He did not obtain the patent in his own name.  The patent was issued to another person who transferred it over to Spotswood.  There was no attempt at secrecy in doing this.  As Spotswood openly explained, it simply did not look right to have his name appear as both the grantor (on behalf of the crown) and as grantee.  But this first land acquisition, a few thousand acres, was small.

The low cost land was to be acquired from the crown.  This would be undeveloped land which cost five shillings per fifty acres.  Developed land, with a house, meadows, and orchards typically cost ten to twenty times this much, as John Fontaine tells us.

We have to understand the nature of the Virginia geography also.  From the ocean westward, the land is relatively flat and sandy.  But the most important characteristic of it was that four major rivers provided the transportation.  This was the Tidewater region.  Using a modern feature of the landscape, Interstate Highway 95 divides the Tidewater region from the Piedmont region.  Along this line there were falls on the rivers, so that the "fall line" marked the end of river navigation.  In the early eighteenth century, it also marked the end of civilization.  To the west of the fall line, the Indians controlled the countryside and there were no roads.  Though land was available here for settlement, no one wanted to be the pioneer and expose himself to the dangers and hard work that would be necessary to live there.

Fort Germanna was twenty miles or so into the Piedmont and it was an isolated settlement, a fortified town for the protection of the inhabitants.  The public purpose, for which the colony's support had been obtained, had been to control the Indians in this area.  To have access to the Fort, the Germans had built roads and bridges.

This is where the largest quantity of the best land was available -- in the Piedmont, which ran to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was so near in a physical sense, but so far away in a practical sense of how to settle the area.


(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 TWENTY-FIRST set of Notes, Nr. 501 through Nr. 525.)

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.

(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