Sunday, May 11, 2014

Germanna at NGS

When I looked through the program for the NGS conference in Richmond,  I noticed a talk entitled "300 Years in Virginia:The Germanna Colony and Their Legacy".  I put it on my schedule of sessions to attend.  In the meanwhile, I found that the Germanna Foundation had a table at the conference.  I spent some time talking to those manning the booth to learn more about Germanna. On Thursday, I attended an excellent talk by Katherine Lowe Brown about Germanna.

She related how Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswood arranged to recruit men from the region of Siegen, Westphalia.  Spotswood was interested in mining for silver in Virginia and hoped to recruit miners from Siegen.  In 1714, a group of forty-two miners and their families arrived in Virginia.  The miners were put to work by Spotswood.  This first colony at Germanna were German Reformed and brought their own minister with them.  When Spotswood's mining venture failed, these families resettled on the Northern Neck, which was later to become Farquier County.

A second, larger group of settlers from Wuertemburg, were Lutherans. They formed a congregation while they awaited passage in London, and arrived in Germanna in 1717.  Most later migrated to Culpeper County.

However, that was not the end of my "Germanna experience".  While wandering the vendors' hall, I found that "German Life" was giving away copies of the June/July 2014 issue.  In there, I found an article, "Silver on the Rapidan?  Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswoood and the Founding of Germanna, 1713-1718" by Robert A. Selig.  The article provided more of the backstory of Spotswood and the Germanna settlement, including some of his questionable land deals by which he obtained possession of the land for Germanna.

Even that wasn't the end of my exposure to things "Germanna".  A book caught my eye as I wandered through Mia's Books, one of the few book vendors.  The book was entitled "The Germans in Colonial Times", by Lucy Forney Bittinger.  It was copyrighted in 1901, and reprinted in 2007 by Heritage Books. The author attempted to provide the story of German settlement in the colonies from 1683 to 1783.  It will take a more thorough reading to see how accurate a story the author tells about those early German settlements in Virginia.  However, I consider it my good fortune to find and purchase the book.

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