Peter Jefferson's 1747 map of the Fairfax Grant included Germanna and the Tubal Furnace
Source: University of North Carolina, "Early Maps of the American South," A Map of the northern neck in Virginia (by Peter Jefferson, Robert Brooke, Benjamin Winslow, Thomas Lewis, 1747)
In 1713, Reverend John Henry Hager led 42 German immigrants from Siegen (near modern-day Bonn) to England. There they met Baron von Graffenried. He had returned from Virginia after the failure of his effort to settle 600 "poor Palatines" and 150 Swiss at New Bern in Carolina. The revolt of the Tuscarora in 1711 had forced Graffenried to use all of his resources to support survivors in the colony.
Before sailing back to Europe, Graffenried met with Governor Alexander Spotswood in Williamsburg and discussed possibilities of launching another setlement initiative. Graffenried thought, together with Frantz Ludwig Michel, that there were commercially-valuable silver deposits near where the Potomac River cut through the Blue Ridge. Graffenried anticipated recruiting skilled miners seeking to flee from what today is Germany, and using them to establish a new settlement in Virginia to extract silver.
Though Graffenreid had no funds, he still managed to arrange for the Germans to be transported to Virgina. They had experience as miners, and that made them especially attractive to the Virginian leaders seeking to discover and exploit silver, iron, and other minerals in the colony.
Graffenried introduced the miners to Colonel Nathaniel Blakiston, former governor of Maryland and the agent in London for the Virginia colony. They arranged a deal where Graffenried promised the ship captain that Spotswood would pay the transportation costs for the immigrants.
When the ship arrived, the governor was surprised to discover that he was responsible for the debt. The immigrants agreed to work for four years as indentured servants. Spotswood sent 42 people who had come originally from villages near Siegen, in North Rhine Westphalia, to start a new settlement on the Rapidan River.
Spotswood's main goal was to get cheap labor to develop a speculative silver deposit, but he told officials in London that the Germanna settlement was intended to fortify the frontier After learning of the arrival of Germans sent by Graffenried, Spotswood got approval from the Governor's Council in Williamsburg to send the immigrants to his land located at a ford on the Rivanna River and to let the settlers avoid paying taxes:1
The crossing of the Rivanna River was renamed Germanna Ford after the arrival of the new colonists. A five-sided Fort Germanna had been constructed before John Fontaine visited the Germanna settlement in November, 1715. Fontaine also returned to the fort with the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe expedition in 1716. He reported in 1715:2
Mine Run was named because "there was an appearance of a silver mine by it." No silver was discovered, but iron was plentiful.
Spotswood needed more workers as the original indentures were expiring, and to have enough settlers to patent the 40,000 acre land grant he arranged for himself west of Fort Germanna. The governor advised ship captains that he was willing to pay the transportation costs of immigrants they brought and who were willing to be his indentured servants.
Captain Andrew Tarbett, who was briefly confined in Debtors' Prison in London, recognized he could make a quick profit. He agreed to take 20 families who had come from the Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg area to Pennsylvania, but then sailed instead to Virginia. There he sold the immigrants to Governor Spotswood., and in 1737 he had a second supply of workers that could clear land and mine iron on his land at Germanna.3
even at the start of the French and Indian War, there were few settlements between Germanna and the Blue Ridge - and even fewer west of the mountains
Source: Library of Congress, A general map of the middle British colonies, in America (Lewis Evans, 1755)
the remains of the Enchanted Castle of Governor Spotswood are now an archeological resource
Source: Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 068-0043 Germanna Site
Source: AHHA Productions, Germanna America in Embryo
Germanna was located on the southern side of the Rapidan River, outside the area claimed by Lord Fairfax
Source: Library of Congress, A new map of the western parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (Thomas Hutchins, 1778)