Germanna

Peter Jefferson's 1747 map of the Fairfax Grant included Germanna and the Tubal Furnace
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, and he sent them to start a new settlement on the Rapidan River.

Spotswood told the officials in London that the Germanna settlement was intended to fortify the frontier, but in reality Spotswood expected to get cheap labor to develop a speculative iron deposit.1

John Fontaine visited the Germanna settlement in November, 1715, reporting:1

The Germans live very miserably...

[T]he town...is pallisaded with stakes stuck in the ground, and laid close the one to the other, of substance to bear out a musket shot. There is but nine families and they have nine houses built all in a line, and before every house about 20 feet from the house they have small sheds built for their hogs and hens, so that the hog stys and houses make a street. This place that is paled in is a pentagon, very regularly laid out, and in the very centre there is a blockhouse made with five sides which answers to the five sides of pales or great inclosure. There is loop holes through it, from which you may see all the inside of the inclosure.

This was intended for a retreat for the people in case they were not able to defend the pallisadoes if attacked by the Indians. They make use of this Blockhouse for divine service. They go to prayers constantly once a day and have two sermons a Sunday. We went to hear them perform their service, which was done in their own language.

Fontaine returned with the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe expedition in 1716. Though Spotswood expected to profit from iron production in the area, there were other possibilities. Mine Run was named because "there was an appearance of a silver mine by it."3

Amish, Mennonites, and German Pietists in Virginia

Early Settlement Up the... Rappahannock?

Frantz Ludwig Michel

German Immigration into Virginia

Orange County

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
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)

Links


Source: AHHA Productions, Germanna America in Embryo

References

1. "Welcome!," Germanna Research Group, http://germannacolonies.org/; William J. Hinke, "The 1714 Colony of Germanna, Virginia," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 40, Number 4 (October, 1932), https://www.jstor.org/stable/4244476; John Blankenbaker, "Germanna History," short note #557, http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~george/johnsgermnotes/germhs23.html (last checked October 9, 2021) 2. Edward Porter Alexander (editor), The Journal of John Fontaine, and Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia 1710-1719, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1972, p.77, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Journal_of_John_Fontaine/C355AAAAMAAJ (last checked September 15, 2021)
3. Edward Porter Alexander (editor), The Journal of John Fontaine, and Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia 1710-1719, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1972, p. 103, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Journal_of_John_Fontaine/C355AAAAMAAJ (last checked September 15, 2021)

Germanna was located on the southern side of the Rapidan River, outside the area claimed by Lord Fairfax
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)


Virginia Counties
Virginia Places