German Pietists in Virginia

Israel, Samuel and Gabriel Eckerling left the communal housing in the Ephrata Cloister and moved to the New River in 1745-46
Israel, Samuel and Gabriel Eckerling left the communal housing in the Ephrata Cloister and moved to the New River in 1745-46

German "pietist" groups migrated into Virginia from Pennsylvania. They were farmers who lost their crops, houses, and family members in the wars fueled by Catholic and Protestant rivalries. Not surprisingly, their Christian religious beliefs incorporated anti-war beliefs.

Refugees from European wars moved across the Atlantic Ocean to British colonies in North America. William Penn's colony promised religious freedom, and then cheaper land attracted some to the Shenandoah Valley.

Governors Spotswood and Gooch sought to attract new settlers west of the Blue Ridge in the 1720's and 1730's. The language and religious beliefs of those settlers would be different from English-speaking Anglicans east of the Blue Ridge, but the new settlers would be a barrier against French and Native American raiding parties.

Some German-speaking migrants left Pennsylvania after conflicts within their small religious comunities. At the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County, a monastic group that emphasized celibacy and communal living also struggled with the money-making ambitions of Israel, Samuel and Gabriel Eckerling. The borthers migrated to the New River in 1745-46, joining the Dunkard settlement now underneath Claytor Lake.1

Religious Toleration/Intoleration in Colonial Virginia

Links

References

1. S. E. Gross, Pulaski County Virginia Heritage 2003, 2003, p.17, https://books.google.com/books?id=TjsjIeQVA6oC; Doug Ward, "The Ephrata Cloister: A Sabbatarian Commune in Colonial Pennsylvania," http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/ephrata.html (last checked May 29, 2019)


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