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Friday, June 19, 2009

History of the German Element in Virginia By Herrmann Schuricht 1898


Pages 76-80

"About the middle of the eighteenth century many Germans settled in Orange, Culpepper, Rappahannock, Fauquier, London, Prince William, Page, Green, Albemarle, and Louisa counties. Among the many German emigrants, who came to America in the early period of the eighteenth century, were Andrew Waggener with his five brothers.75) Edward with another brother settled in the present county of Culpepper in 1750. They joined Col. Washington as volunteers in his expedition against Fort Du Quesne in 1754 and marched with the First Virginia Regiment to the fatal scene of Braddock's defeat, where Edward fell among the dead. Andrew again took part in defence of the frontier against the Indians, was commissioned Captain and placed in command of Fort Pleasant. In 1765 he purchased land at Bunker's Hill, then in Frederick, now in Berkeley county, where he dwelled until the outbreak of the Involution, when he once more entered the army and served to the end of the war. He bore a major's commission and was in the battles of Valley Forge, Princeton, Trenton, and Yorktown. Major Waggener was a personal friend of General Washington and a frequent guest of the first President.above named counties are of exclusive English constitution. The names of German settlers and of their homes have been frequently changed, their origin has been forgotten and the Germans now living in the State know very little about it and often admire as the result of English "smartness" what has often been the fruit of German labor. This may be illustrated by the following."

"In 1886 the author bought his farm in the north-west corner of Louisa county, adjoining Albemarle and Orange counties—and in former years and particularly during the late war, he had noticed many traces of German life in this section of Virginia. The name of the real estate agent who sold him the farm was Yaeger (Jaeger), one of his nearest neighbours, named Orittenberger, was a descendant of a " Hessian" taken prisoner in the War of Independence, his butcher calls himself Schlosser, his provision dealer Scholz, his dry goods merchants Baer and Marcus, etc., and it was therefore but natural to conjecture, that Germans had already participated in the first settlement of these counties. To ascertain the facts he went to the county seat Louisa and asked the county clerk, Mr. Porter: "Do you know if any Germans have been among the earliest settlers ?'' — The clerk, with a smile and some emphasis, replied: "No Sir, — Louisa county is an entirely English county." — Upon the writer's request Mr. Porter showed him the Land Registers and he himself opened the oldest volume, beginning with the year 1742. After looking with surprise at the peculiar law style of the writing, the official remarked: "D if that don't look Dutch!"—The first county clerk, an Englishman, was no penman, as his uncultivated signature denotes — and very likely he employed a German assistant to do the writing. Among the first entries in the Register are the following German names, besides many of uncertain origin: I. Boesick, Robert Hesler, F. Hehler, Arndt, Armistead, (Armstaedt), Flemming, Kohler, No- ack, Brockman, Buckner, Starke, Spiller, etc., and in several cases "Fredericksville Parish" was mentioned as their place of residence. "Where is Fredericksville Parish located ?" inquired the writer of the clerk — and after a little hesitation he was told: "That was a German settlement in your part of the county."

"This occurrence and the fact that some German villages were founded in Louisa during the present century, about which some later chapter will report, illustrates how little is known about the true history of Virginia. No one will dispute that the Old Dominion is of English foundation, but it must be credited that German toil has materially assisted to make it vital and prosperous. The Germans themselves are to blame, if they are not duly credited for the part their ancestors took in the furtherance of this English colony. Many disowned their German nationality and claimed English or Scotch parentage, expecting to improve their social recognition thereby. This deplorable trait of character of many German immigrants has since disappeared, owing to the ascendance to a powerful united German empire, gaining the respect of all other nations, — but before 1870 it clouded the history of German emigration in Virginia and elsewhere.— The names of some of the oldest families in Fluvanna, Goochland, Pow- hatan, and Hannover, — although the English and French elements dominate in these countie?, — indicate that Germans belonged to the first settlers."

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