There are probably more than 2 million Americans living today who can trace their family roots back to the Germanna colonies in Virginia – the site of the first German settlements in Virginia in the early 18th century. The Germanna Foundation is a nonprofit organization that honors the legacy of these German colonists and their descendants through programs of historic preservation (we own and conserve more than 200 acres of the original Germanna tract), genealogical research and publishing, an annual multi-day “family reunion” and history conference, and archaeological research. Are any of the Germanna colonists listed below in your family tree?
1714 Germanna Colony from the Siegerland:
Johann Jost Albrecht, Melchior Brombach and wife Maria Elisabetha Fischbach, Jost Cuntse/Koontz and wife Anna Gertrud Reinschmidt, Philip Fischbach/Fishback and wife Elizabeth Heimbach, the Rev. Johann Heinrich Hager and wife Anna Catharina Friesenhagen, Peter/Dieter Heide/Hitt and wife Elisabeth Otterbach, Johannes Hoffman, Hans Jacob Holtzklau/Holtzclaw and wife Anna Margaretha Otterbach, Johnannes Kemper/Camper, Johann Jost Merdten/Martin, Hermann Otterbach/Utterback and wife Elisabeth Heimbach, Johann Jacob Richter/Rector and wife Anna Elisabeth Fischbach, Johannes Spielmann, Johann Heinrich Weber/Weaver and wife Anna Margarethe Huttman.
1717 Colony from the Kraichgau and the Palatinate:
Conrad Amburger/Amburgey, Andreas Ballenger, Christopher Barlur/Parlur/ Barlow and wife Barbara, Matthias Beller, Balthazar Blankenbaker/Blanckenbühler and wife Anna Margaretha, Matthias Blanckenbühler /Blankenbaker and wife Anna Maria Merklin, Nicholas Blanckenbühler /Blankenbaker and wife Appollonia Käfer, Johannes/John Breuel/Briles/Broyles and wife Ursula Ruop, Cyriacus Fleischmann/Fleshman and wife Anna Barbara Schöne, Hans/John Herrensparger/Harnsberger and wife Anna Barbara, Hans Michael Holdt/Holt, Wolff Michael Käfer/Kaifer, Andreas Kerker and wife Margaretha, Hans Michael Klaar/Clore and wife Anna Barbara, Johann Michael Koch/Cook and his wife Maria Barbara Reiner, Jacob Crigler, Johannes/John Motz and wife Maria Appollonia Maubars, Hans Georg/George Majer/Moyer and wife Anna Barbara, Hans Michael Mihlekher and wife Sophia Catherina, Johann Philip Paulitz and wife Rosina Margaretha Schneider, Heinrich/Henry Schlucter, Johann Georg Sheible/Sheibley and wife Maria Eleanora Ockert, Matthäus/Matthew Schmidt/Smith and wife Regina Catherine Schlözer, Hans Michael Schmidt/Smith and wife Anna Margaretha Sauter, Hans Heinrich/Henry Schneider/Snyder and wife Anna Dorothea Schilling, Johannes/John Thoma/Thomas and wife Anna Maria Blanckenbühler, Johann George Utz and wife Anna Barbara Majer, Phillip Joseph Weber/Weaver and wife Susannah Klaar, Nicholas Jager/Yager/Yeager and wife Anna Maria Sieber, and Christopher Zimmerman and wife Anna Elisabetha Albrecht.
By 1725, more settlers had joined Germanna:
Hans Jacob Öhler/Aylor and wife Anna Magdalena Schneider, Johann Friedrich/Frederick Baumgärtner/Bumgardner, Johannes/John Becker/Baker, Harman Böhme/Beemon and wife Elizabeth, Johann/John Zimmerman/Carpenter, Wilhelm/William Zimmerman/Carpenter and wife Elizabeth, Mathias Gessler/Castler/Kastler and wife Susana Christina Schnell, Phillip Chelf, Theobald/Dewalt/David Christler/Crisler, Nicholas Christopher, Frederick Kabler/Cobbler and wife Barbara, Lawrence Greys/Crees, Johannes/John and Martin Hirsch/Deer, Conrad Delph, Mark Finks, Ludwig/Lewis Fischer/Fisher, Johannes/John Frey/Fray, Andreas Gaar/Garr and wife Eva Seidelmann, Johannes Gerhard, George Samuel Klug, George Lang/Long and wife Rebecca, Johann Paulus Lederer/Leatherer/Leathers, Francis Michael and wife Mary, John Michael and wife Frances, George Adam Raüser/Rasor/Racer and wife Margaretha Butlinger, Johann/John Rausch/ Rouse and wife Mary, Henry Souther, Johann Caspar Stoever Sr., Timothy Swindle, Urban/Robert Danner/Tanner, Hans Martin Walck/Walk, Thomas Wieland/Wayland and wife Maria Barbara Seppach, Michael Willheit/Wilhoit/Wilhite and wife Anna Maria Hengsteller, Christoph Uhl/Owell/Yowell and wife Eva Gottsaurin, and Nicholas Yowell and wife Catherine, Leonard Ziegler.
In the 1730s, more Germans settled the Little Fork area (Culpeper County):
Harman Back/Bach, Harman Button, Johann Button, Johnann Just Coons/Cuntz/Koontz, Jacob Fischbach, Johann Crim/Grimm, Jacob Heimbach/Hanback, Heinrich Hoffman/Huffman, Johann and Harman Mueller/Miller, Johannes Noeh/Nay, Johann Henrich Otterbach/Utterback, John Rector, Georg Weidmann/Wayman, Tillman Wiessgerber/Whitescarver, Johannes Jung/Young.
A Brief History of “Germanna”
In 1714, 42 German men, women, and children arrived in Virginia where Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) settled them on the Rapidan River in a five-sided palisaded fort (named Germanna for the Germans and Queen Anne) along what was then the frontier about 20 miles west of present-day Fredericksburg. With their pastor, Henry Haeger, they formed the first German Reformed congregation in Virginia. The Germans had come from villages near Siegen, in North Rhine Westphalia, a silver and iron producing area. Spotswood planned to use them to mine his lands, and there were hopes that silver would be found.
By 1717, iron had replaced silver as the focus of Spotswood’s mining operation. As the Siegerlanders were coming to the end of their contract, Spotswood settled a second group of Germans to add to his workforce. Coming mainly from agricultural villages in the Kraichgau area of Baden-Wurttemberg, they had expected to go to Pennsylvania. The first group acquired land in present-day Fauquier County and moved there by 1720. This second German group moved on to lands in the Robinson River Valley (now Madison County) and formed the Hebron Lutheran Church, the oldest continuously operating Lutheran Church in America.
With the frontier now further west, Spotswood dismantled the fort and built a mansion, known as the “Enchanted Castle.” The Germanna settlement was also the site of the first courthouse for the large frontier county of Spotsylvania and was the starting point for Spotswood’s famous Knights of the Golden Horseshoe expedition over the Blue Ridge in 1716.
The influence and enterprising spirit of these early German colonists helped shape the Virginia colony, our young nation, and indeed can be felt throughout our nation’s history down to today.