Sunday, September 20, 2009

German Migration into Virginia

Today I found an interesting book on microfilm on

History of the Lutheran Church in Virginia and East Tennessee, Published by the Authority of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia, Cassell, C. W., Finck, W. J, and Henckel, Elon O., editors, 1930, Sheanandoah Publishing House, Inc., Strasburg, VA

I am abstracting a few notes from Chapter 1 "The People."

The first known German to enter the Colony of Virginia was Jacob Lederer. He was employed by Gov. William Berkely to explore. His maps and journals show that from 1699 to 1700 he travelled as far south as the Santee River in South Carolina and as far west as the Alleghany Mountains. It was 46 years later before Gov. Spottswood and his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe entered the Valley of the Virginia. The next year a ship of Luteran immigrants arrived and, unable to pay their passage, were endentured to the governaol as servants for the next eight years. After they served their term the emigrated (in 1725) to (what was in 1930) Madison County.

News of the German settlers in VA reached the fellow emigrants in Lancaster County, PA., and one of them named Adam Muller made a trip to investigate. He learned there was plenty of beautiful land and desire of the governor of VA to have it settled, so in 1726 or 1727 a large party of Germans migrated along the Indian trails to settled in the Shenandoah Valley on the South Fork of the Sheanndoah River. The settlers were mainly Mentonintes, but there were three Lutherans, including Adam Muller--later written Miller, who formed a Luterhan community near Elkton.

Following these early pioneers, Germans from PA, NJ, MD, and NY migrated and settled mostly in five communities in the valley. There follows various congregations and the names of many of the early members with some having more detailed genealogical information.

The French and Indian War, then later the Revolution, caused much uneasiness in the settlers. Some, who had moved as far south as NC, returned. Others moved from the northern part of the state to the southwest. One area near Harrisonbug received so many German emigrants that it was called German Valley. A fort was built there and named Fort Henkel, after Paul Henkel who settled there in 1784.

The next generation began intermarrying with the Scotch-Irish and thos names began to appear in the Lutheran rolls. What had before been an English speaking Scotch-Irish community became a largely German speaking German community.

There are many genealogical references in this book references to Lutheran marriages, migrations, and children.


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