The first Germans to settle in Virginia were a group from the Siegen region of Hessen-Nassau in 1714. A second group followed them in 1717 who were from the northern region of Baden-Württemberg. About 1721 several additional families joined this group. These three groups appear to have come direct to Virginia in their respective years. Many later Germans joined the earlier colonists or moved to other parts of Virginia after 1730, however by this time the emigration route by way of Philadelphia was well established and nearly all emigrants came through that port before continuing their journey to Virginia. 

Much information has been reconstructed on the original German settlers to the Germanna Colony in Orange, Culpepper Counties of Virginia, most notably by Holzclaw and Zimmerman/Cerny. The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies has published much information about the genealogy and history of the first families in the German colonies in Virginia. The base for the reconstructed lists on this site come from:

  • B.C. Holtzclaw's Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714-1750
  • B. C. Holzclaw's The Second Germanna Colony of 1717, Other Germanna Pioneers, the So-called Third Germanna Colony of 1719, and Church Community. 
  • Gary J. Zimmerman and Johni Cerny's Before Germanna series. 

The First Germanna Colony of 1714

Baron Christopher de Graffenried had originally arranged for a group of Germans to go to his settlement in New Berne, NC. He had an agent, Johann Justus Albrecht, start recruiting as early as 1711 started recruiting in the Siegen region of Hessen-Nassau. When in 1713 Graffenried ran into financial difficulties, his friend, Governor Alexander Spotwood took over responsibility for the Germans. The Governor made a plan to build the first iron works in the New World, but needed skilled laborers to accomplish the task. At least forty-two German immigrants arrived at Germanna in April 1714. The site where they settled is in present-day Orange County, Virginia. All the known emigrants who came this year were from the Siegen, Hessen-Nassau region of Germany.

The Second Germanna Colony of 1717

The second group left Germany via. London to Pennsylvania 12 Jul 1717. Rather than land in Pennsylvania, the captain (Captain Scott) brought his approximately 100 German passengers to Virginia. There as payment for their passage the captain sold the immigrants as indentured servants to Governor Spotswood after confiscating their belongings. Spotswood held them longer than was customary for indentured servants. This group settled in Spotsylvania County, Virginia where Governor Spotswood's mansion house and land was located. All of the families that came with this group appear to have been from the northern (Protestant) Baden-Württemberg region of Germany.

Third Germanna Immigration, 1721

Several additional German families have in the past been identified to have come to Germanna Colony in Virginia between 1719-1725. After identifying these families in German sources it appears that many of them disappear from German records in 1716 and are more likely to have been a  part of the 1717 colony listed above. Considering this new information it seems a likely theory that a third, smaller group of Germans came in 1721 rather than individual immigrants coming to Virginia every year during this period. It may be that Jacob Christopher Zollicoffer, who went to Europe in 1719 to solicit a pastor and aid for the 1714 and 1717 colonists, brought back these emigrants with him subsequently.

1734 Immigrants from Nassau-Siegen (Pennsylvania)

This group settled at the Little Fork in Culpeper Co, Virginia. They were mostly relatives of the earlier 1714 group listed above. They landed at Philadelphia on the Hope 23 Sep 1734 (Strasburger-Hinke's Vol. I, pp.143-144), and then continued on to Virginia. 

1738 Immigrants from Nassau-Siegen (Georgia)

A group, many from Freudenberg, Germany left Germany in March 1738 to Georgia. Because of the climate, the group decided to leave Savannah, Georgia. Some of the group went to Virginia and joined the colonies in Culpeper County, Virginia, while others went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to the Moravian colony there. 

Other German Emigrant Groups to Virginia

Several other Germans went to Virginia who had arrived first in Philadelphia. The later emigrants will be listed under the Pennsylvania passenger lists and include the following (links to the PA passenger lists will be made below as these ships are added to the site). If you are aware of other Virginia Germans who came via Philadelphia, let me know and I'll add them to this list. Following were late comers to the Germanna colony  (Orange/Culpeper Counties, Virginia):

  • Johann Georg Dieter arrived in Philadelphia on the Molly 1727.
  • Johann Friedrich Baumgartner arrived in Philadelphia on the Johnson in 1732.
  • Johann Paulus Lederer arrived in Philadelphia on the Johnson in 1733.
  • Johann Dieterich Reiner arrived in Philadelphia on the Fane in 1749.
  • Martin & Johannes Hirsch (Deer) arrived in Philadelphia on the Christian in 1749.
  • Johann Wilhelm and Johann Christoph Lotschberg (Lotspeich) arrivfed in Philadelphia on the Catherine in 1772.


Others who came later who probably also came via Philadelphia include:

  • Jacob Mannsbeil (Manspeil), probably from Imbach in Falkenstein, Bayern-Pfalz. Imported 8: Jacob Breyell, Rose Paulitz, Susanna Hance, Margaret Hance, Jacob Manspeil, Catharina Hance, and Adam Hance.
  • Martin Walke, probably arrived 1728, granted land 1736 in Virginia.
  • Johann Paul Vogt imported 1735 with wife Maria Catharina, and children Johann Andreas, Johann Caspar, Catharina Margaretha, and Maria Catharina.
  • Andreas Garr, arrived 1732 with wife Eve and children: Johann Adam 21, Rosina 19, Lorenz 16, Elisabeth Barbara 2


ProGenealogists, A Division of is a BBB Accredited Genealogy Service in Salt Lake City, UT
Credit Cards Accepted
Professional Genealogists | Services | Fees | Client Comments | Contact Us | FAQS | Feedback | Subscribe to Newsletter | Free Genealogy | Special Offers
Links | Customer Service | Site Map | Terms and Conditions | Make Payment | Privacy Statement
ProGenealogists® is a registered trademark of Copyright © 1999-2013
Question? Call us! (800) 596-3230