In 1714, 42 German men, women, and children arrived in Virginia as indentured servants from the Siegerland where Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) settled them on the Rapidan River in a five-sided palisaded fort (named Germanna for the Germans and Britain’s Queen Anne) along what was then the frontier about 20 miles west of present-day Fredericksburg. Spotswood planned to use their mining skills to open a new metals industry in the colony.
By 1717, iron had replaced silver as the focus of Spotswood’s mining operation. As the Siegerlanders were coming to the end of their contract, Spotswood settled a second group of Germans to add to his workforce. Coming mainly from agricultural villages in the Kraichgau area of Baden-Wurttemberg, they had expected to go to Pennsylvania. The first group acquired land in present-day Fauquier County and moved there by 1720.
The second German group moved on to lands in the Robinson River Valley (now Madison County) in the mid-1720s and formed the Hebron Lutheran Church, the oldest continuously operating Lutheran Church in America. The influence and enterprising spirit of these early German colonists helped shape the Virginia colony, our young nation, and can be felt throughout our nation’s history even today.
Last Updated: 11/05/2018