The Little Fork community, named for its location in the Little Fork of the Rappahannock River where the Hedgeman and Hazel Rivers meet to form the northern branch of the Rappahannock River, became important as a settlement with strong Germanna ties.
People from the home villages in Germany with family connections to the Germanna settlers at Germantown moved into the Little Fork beginning in the 1730’s.
Jacob Holtzclaw received a grant in 1728 for 680 acres on Indian Run and enlarged this grant to 1300 acres in 1748. John Fishback was granted 400 acres of land in 1730 located very near Jacob Holtzclaw’s land.
Another fascinating aspect of the Little Fork and Germanna story is the story of George Wayman who resided there after surviving the ill-fated voyage of the ship Oliver.
George Wayman’s daughter, Mary Wayman, married Adam Utz to provide a Second Colony link with the Little Fork settlement. George Wayman also is connected with Jacob Holtzclaw through a joint land transaction.
In Dr. B.C. Holtzclaw’s article titled The Little Fork Colony: The Second Colony from Nassau-Siegen near Jeffersonton, Culpeper County, Virginia we read:
George Wayman, was also a member of the settlement as early as 1739, for on Feb. 26 of that year William Beverly gave him a life lease on 100 acres of land just southeast of Jacob Holtzclaw’s tract (Orange D. B. 3, p. 389), and on May 24, 1754, Jacob Holtzclaw deeded him 98 acres of the old Holtzclaw grant between Henry Huffman and John Young (Culpeper D. B. “B”, p. 115). Professor Hackley and I think that this tract of 98 acres, roughly a triangle, was probably the land on which the church was located; that it had been originally intended as the minister’s glebe; and that it was not deeded to George Wayman until after the colony had given up hopes of securing a minister. Rev. James Kemper, who was born at Germantown in 1753, thought that Wayman (as well as Hanback and Utterback below) was a member of the original 1714 group from Nassau-Siegen, but except possibly in the case of Utterback, he seems to have confused members of the second Nassau-Siegen group with the first.
The Little Fork community had its own church. Dr. B. C. Holtzclaw in his article cited above, quoted verbatim from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 11, p. 232-233 concerning comments in the diary of the Moravian minister and missionary, Brother Mathias Gottschalk:
Brother Mathias Gottschalk’s “Report” states that after visiting the large and prosperous colony of Lutherans near Hebron Church he next traveled 26 miles towards the Potomac to the Great Fork of the Rappahannock (i.e., the vicinity of Germanna), where he found only three German Families still living. Then, under the heading, “The Little Fork of the Rappahannock”, he has the following to say (Va. Mag., Vol. 11, pp. 232-3):
It is situated about twenty-two miles from the Great Fork toward the Potomik. Twelve families of the Siegen district, being of the Reformed religion, live there close together. They are very fine, neighborly and friendly people, who love each other in their manner and live together very peacefully. The brother of our Matthew Hoffman, John Henry Hoffman, also lives there and I lodged with him. They built a small, neat and suitable church, and engaged one of their number, John Jung, to be the Reader of the Church, who conducts services for them every Sunday. They cannot get a minister, because they are so few in number.
Brother Gottschalk then goes on to state that he preached for the Little Fork group on April 10, 1748; that then John Jung and Hoffman accompanied him across the North River of the Rappahannock (i.e., the Hedgeman River); that very late in the afternoon he came to the home of Jacob Holtzclaw, the reader and schoolmaster at Germantown; and that he stayed there until April 12, 1748.
Perry Cabot, local historian and expert on the settlement of the Little Fork area, has been busy over the years plotting the surveys and reviewing land records of the Little Fork community.
Mr. Cabot uses the latest technology to recreate plats from that time. He has found some similarities between the Germans at Germantown and the Germans in the Little Fork community.
Among the families, Mr. Cabot has discovered several “scalawags” whose stories should be shared as part of the history of the Little Fork.
The 1300 acres of land granted to Jacob Holtzclaw was located in the approximate center of the Little Fork community with the present day location of Jeffersonton on the land of Joseph Cuntze.
A few homes of the members of the Little Fork community remain today and were probably built in the 1730’s. The Cuntze house is still standing and is occupied today by Woolam Nursery.
The homes of Martin Fishback, John Fishback (Fleetwood) and Harman Fishback (Hebron) remain and are occupied today. The owners of Fleetwood state that the home was built in 1732.
Listed below are some family connections between the 1714 colonists who lived at Germantown and those who settled in the Little Fork later:
Johann Jost Cuntz/Joseph Coontz, Nierderndorf, nephew of Joseph Cuntze, 1714 immigrant
Hans Jacob Fischbach and wife, Anna Catharine Holdinghaus, Trupbach, nephew of Philip and Elisabeth Heimbach Fischbach, 1714 immigrants
Frederick Fischbach, son of Johannes/John and Agnes Haeger Fischbach, 1714 immigrants
Johann and Johannes Jacob Grimm/Crim, Oberschelden, sons of Elisabeth Spilman, sister of John Spilman, 1714 immigrant
Johann Jacob Heimbach/Hanback, Seelbach, cousin of John Jung, nephew of Elisabeth Heimbach Otterbach and ancestor of Cheryl Hanback Shepherd
Noeh/Nay, Johannes and his wife, Maria Clara Otterbach, Trupbach, niece of Hermann and Elisabeth Heimbach Otterbach, 1714 immigrants
Spielman/Spilman, James, the son of John and Mary Fischbach Spilman, 1714 immigrants
Otterbach, Johann Henrich, Trupbach, emigrated with his uncle, Johann Henrich Otterbach, and his aunt, Maria Clara Otterbach Noeh, also related to Elizabeth Heimbach Otterbach, the 1714 immigrant
Weissgerber/Whitescarver, Tillman and wife Anna Margarethe Cuntze, Niederndorf, Anna being a sister of Joseph Cuntze, the 1737 immigrant and the niece of Joseph and Anna Gertrud Reinschmidt Cuntze, the 1714 immigrants
Johannes Jung, Trupbach, the nephew of Jacob Holtzclaw
Hermann/Harman Bach/Back, Freudenberg, cousin of Georg Weidman/Wayman, Freudenberg
Hans Henrich Hoffman, Freudenberg, brother of the Moravian minister, Matthew Hoffman.
Other members of the community were Harmon and Johann Button, Hans Henrich and Johann Friedrich Mueller/Miller, Freudenberg. More research needs to be done to determine if there is any relationship between them and the other members of the Little Fork community.
Holly Richeson Ward says
I believe my 6th Great Grandfather is John Fishback in your article on Germanna (who received 400 acres). His son, John Frederick Fishback, married Ann Holtzclaw. Assuming her father was Jacob Holtzclaw? Do I have to become a member to access family history? Want to confirm before I do.
Frances Rowell says
You do not have to become a member but we welcome anyone to become a member even if they are not a Germanna descendant.
I too am a Fishback descendant..Harman Fishbackis my 5th great grandfather (brother of John Fishback and my 5th great uncle). My grandfather, Jesse Boyd Carpenter, Sr. was one of the founders of the Memorial Foundation of Germana.
I volunteer at the Visitors’ Center (on Tuesdays and Fridays) and have learned a tremendous amount of information about my Germanna ancestors and love helping others find out about their Germanna history.
Debbie castillo says
I am a resident of Jeffersonton and am descendant of otterbach clan. Name was eventually changed to utterback. What info is available on this family. I have spoken extensively with perry cabot about this. Please contact me at [email protected]. thank you, debbie c.
Can someone explain the difference between Germantown and the community of Little Fork, Va, circa 1740?
Marc Wheat says
Germantown was in southern Fauquier County, Virginia; the Little Fork is in Culpeper County, where the Hedgeman and Hazel Rivers meet to form the north branch of the Rappahannock River.