Message from Marc Wheat, President of the Germanna Board of Trustees
Welcome to the Germanna Foundation’s presence on the internet! Here you will learn of interesting new projects to preserve and communicate the history of Germanna and her people, which is a modest attempt to give you a glimpse into the joy we feel when we walk the grounds of our 18th Century forebears and share a meal with the descendants of those first Europeans on the Virginia frontier.
The Foundation holds 179 acres of the original tract of land settled by German families between 1714 and 1717 at the direction of Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, and a circa 1756 manor house called Salubria, the most important plantation in the region and the home of Spotswood’s widow.
Why do we take care of Salubria? Why do we preserve the forest that our ancestors once hunted in? Why do we treasure the Rapidan River? Why do we travel across the Atlantic to visit a small barn far from the major tourist attractions? Why do we work to piece together bits of information to form the mosaics that are our genealogies?
I wonder if it is something deeply inscribed on our hearts that tells us that every individual is infinitely important, that every person who ever lived is part of a drama that has purpose and meaning. And that our lives matter, too. Sometimes these insights are so important, that they can only be told on a scale that spans decades and centuries.
But sometimes words fail us. That is why we need a house. A forest. A river. A farm.
At its heart, that is what is very special about the Germanna Foundation. For all our efforts to learn about who we are, few ever find the treasure that we have at the end of the rainbow. For over half a century, descendants of the families who survived on the frontier of a continent have discovered the Germanna Foundation and found new meaning in understanding the perseverance of those families in nearly three centuries on American soil.
Members of the Germanna Foundation are busy at work in their homes across America (and in Germany, too) to prepare for a celebration that is coming sooner than we think: the 300th Anniversary of the arrival of those German families who arrived on shores of the New World.
Can you imagine the courage of those men and women and what fortitude it must have taken to leave their safe and familiar world to become strangers in a strange land? It must have taken a great leap of faith for those brave souls to step onto the gangplanks of those old wooden ships and then to watch the shores of Europe recede over the horizon, treasuring their last glimpse of home for a lifetime. Surely they were comforted by the Old Testament imagery of being led by God to a promised land.
I wonder if the little German settlements on the frontier had a special memorial service on the Fiftieth Anniversary, their first Jubilee, of landing in America. Leviticus 25:10 would have given them a model: “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”
The colonists’ deeds of daring and sacrifice need to be retold to the world as we move toward our sixth-fold Jubilee, a homecoming of sorts for those descendants who have lived in freedom for 300 years in America. Help us with the means to do this. Your ideas, volunteer hours, and financial support help the Foundation to gather and channel all our work together for this momentous project.
Thanks for visiting with us!
J. Marc Wheat