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Germanna was a German settlement in the Colony of Virginia, settled in two waves, first in 1714 and then in 1717. Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood encouraged the immigration by advertising in Germany for miners to move to Virginia and establish a mining industry in the colony.

Germanna Site
Germanna Visitor Center.JPG
Sign at the Germanna Visitor Center
Germanna is located in Virginia
Germanna is located in the United States
Nearest cityCulpeper, Virginia
Coordinates38°22′41″N 77°46′59″W / 38.378117°N 77.783185°W / 38.378117; -77.783185Coordinates: 38°22′41″N 77°46′59″W / 38.378117°N 77.783185°W / 38.378117; -77.783185
Area120 acres (49 ha)
Built1724 (1724)
NRHP reference #78003036[1]
VLR #068-0043
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 24, 1978
Designated VLRJune 21, 1977[2]


The name "Germanna", selected by Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood, reflected both the German immigrants who sailed across the Atlantic to Virginia and the British Queen, Anne, who was in power at the time of the first settlement at Germanna. Though she was to die only months after the Germans arrived, her name continues to be a part of the area.


According to, as part of a series of land grants awarded to settlers to create a buffer against the French, the Privy Council granted Spotswood 86,000 acres (350 km2) in the newly created Spotsylvania County in 1720, of which the Germanna tract was the first, while he was Lieutenant Governor and actual executive head of the Virginia government. He served in this capacity, between 1710 and 1722, and in 1716, he carried out his famous Blue Ridge expedition and promoted many reforms and improvements.

Spotswood was replaced as the lieutenant governor by Hugh Drysdale some time in 1722. Historians suggest his removal may have been the result of years of disharmony between himself and the Council, as well as when he accepted such a large amount of land, that he showed a disregard for the Crown policy which held that no single person or family could claim more than a thousand acres of Virginia land.

He established a colony of German immigrants on the Germanna tract in 1714, partly for frontier defense but mainly to operate his newly developed ironworks. Germanna was the seat of Spotsylvania County from 1720 to 1732. Spotswood erected a palatial home and, after the Germans moved away, continued the ironworks with slave labor. In his later years he served as Deputy Postmaster General for the Colonies.

The Germanna Colonies consist primarily of the First Colony of forty-two persons from the Siegerland area in Germany brought to Virginia to work for Spotswood in 1714, and the Second Colony of twenty families from the Palatinate, Baden and Württemberg area of Germany brought in 1717, but also include other German families who joined the first two colonies at later dates. Although many Germanna families later migrated southward and westward from Piedmont Virginia, genealogical evidence shows that many of the families intermarried for generations, producing a rich genealogical heritage.

The site of the first settlement is located in present-day Orange County along the banks of the Rapidan River, with subsequent settlements of Germans being established on sites in present-day Culpeper and Spotsylvania counties. Many Germanna families played roles in important events in early American history such as the American Revolution and migration west to Kentucky and beyond.


The site of Germanna now is mostly open fields with intervening thickets of second-growth timber. The Germanna Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1] Traces of the terraces of Spotswood's mansion are still discernible.

The Germanna Foundation owns land on the original Germanna peninsula, on the Germanna Highway, State Route 3, near the site of the original Fort Germanna, once the westernmost outpost of colonial Virginia. The Germanna Foundation operates a Visitor Center on that land, 15 miles (24 km) east of Culpeper and 20 miles (32 km) west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Foundation also owns a nearby 18th century mansion, Salubria, once the home of Governor Spotswood's widow. In October 2000, Salubria was donated by the Grayson family to the Germanna Foundation for historic preservation.[3] The Foundation maintains a research library, a memorial garden, and plans interpretive walking trails to various historic and archaeological sites. In addition, the Foundation publishes histories and genealogical books, a newsletter, offers educational programs at an Annual Historical Conference and Reunion and to the community, and offers group travel to Germany geared to the origin of the Germanna families. The Germanna Association is composed of descendants who advise the Foundation.


First colonyEdit

The first colony consisted of the family surnames: Albrecht, Brombach, Fischbach, Friesenhagen, Hager, Heide/Hitt, Heimbach, Hoffman, Holtzklau/Holtzclaw, Huttman, Kemper/Camper, Cuntse/Koontz, Merdten/Martin, Otterbach/Utterback, Reinschmidt, Richter/Rector, Spielmann, Weber/Weaver [4]

  • Late spring of 1713: the people left Nassau-Siegen, apparently not in a single group
  • Summer of 1713: the people arrived in London
  • January 1714: they left for Virginia on an unknown ship
  • Late March 1714: Spotswood first learns from Col. Nathaniel Blakiston, the agent for Virginia in London, that Germans are coming
  • April 1714: the Germans arrived in Virginia
  • 1714: established first German Reformed church on the continent, which doubled as a defensive blockhouse
  • 1716: they started mining operations at the silver mine
  • 1718, early in the year: they were instructed to search for iron
  • During 1718: the search for iron continued and a statement in a courthouse says they worked until December 1718 at mining and quarrying. Also during the year they made their commitment to buy land at "Germantown." By December 1718, Spotswood says he spent about 60 pounds on the endeavor so there was no iron furnace.
  • January 1719: some moved to Germantown. Pastor Haeger may not have moved at this time. By this time they had completed the four years of service they committed themselves to in London.

Second colonyEdit

  • 1717: Eighty-odd Germans from Wuerttemberg, Baden, and the Palatinate agree with Capt. Tarbett in London to take them to Pennsylvania in the ship Scott.
  • 1717/1718: Capt. Tarbett hijacks the Germans to Virginia where they become indentured servants of Lt. Gov. Spotswood
  • 1719/1722: Some of the Germans who left in 1717 arrived in Virginia at a later time
  • 1723/25: Spotswood sues many of the Germans
  • 1725: Most of these Germans move to the Robinson River Valley
  • 1733: Johann Caspar Stoever becomes their (Lutheran) pastor
  • 1740: The German Lutheran Church (Hebron Lutheran Church today) is built with funds raised in Germany


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  3. ^ Germanna Foundation website
  4. ^
  • Hinke, William J. (October 1932). "The 1714 Colony of Germanna, Virginia". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 40 (4): 317–327.

External linksEdit