The German immigrants to Virginia, who, in the decade of the 1720s, settled in and around the Robinson River Valley of what is today Madison County, are also known as the Second Colony of the Germanna immigrants to Virginia. This site is to provide information, research, articles and other items of interest for their descendants.

The Second Colony’s first members, about 25 families, were imported by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia as indentured servants in 1717 (under the modern calendar early in 1718). This was three years after Spotswood brought in a separate group of Germans, known as the 1714 First Colony, and this is the reason for the name “Second Colony.”

Other than their employer, Spotswood, the two groups seem to have had little in common. The First Colony families came voluntarily from the area of Siegen, Germany, in 1714. They were then housed in a five-sided palisade, Ft. Germanna, on the Rapidan River in what is now Orange County, Virginia. They were of the German Reform religion, they had their own pastor, and in 1719 they left Fort Germanna to settle at a site in what is now Fauquier County, Virginia, called Germantown. See our affiliated website,

The Second Colony, in contrast, came from the Palatinate and the Kraichgau area of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its members did not come voluntarily to Virginia. These families expected to go to Pennsylvania with other Germans, but their ship’s captain, Andrew Tarbett, had been incarcerated in London for debt, and their money was used up while they waited. Tarbett must have known that Governor Spotswood was willing to pay the passage for another group of Germans, for when he got out of debtor’s prison, he transported these Germans on his ship, the Scott, to Virginia, pretending to be blown off course in a storm. There, lost and penniless, they became indentured servants to Spotswood.

Germanna families came from southwest Germany. The orange box shows the origin of the Yagers. The yellow box shows the area from which most of the other Second Colony families came.

The Second Colony Germans were Lutherans, without a pastor. Nor did Spotswood settle this group at Fort Germanna but, according to contemporary accounts, he settled them about two miles west on the north bank of the Rapidan River between Potato Run and Fleishman’s Run.

Beginning in 1726, the Second Colony families began to take up free land to the west, in the Robinson River Valley of today’s Madison County, Virginia. Although Governor Spotswood sued several of the immigrants for sums he thought they owed him under their indenturehood, in some cases he did not prevail and in those where he did, he recovered less than he had sought. The Second Colony was joined by many other German families, many of them relatives, meaning that due to intermarriage, the later families are also considered members of the Second Colony. Because of their relatively isolated position among English neighbors, Second Colony children more often than not married other descendants, and most of today’s descendants have more than one Second Colony family in their bloodlines.

In 1740, the Second Colony Germans erected their own church in the Robinson River Valley. It is still there today, known as the Hebron Lutheran Church, the oldest continually operating Lutheran church in the United States. There they played an important role in the founding of the new nation and the adoption of the Bill of Rights amended to the Constitution of the United States.


hebron logoThis Website is owned and maintained by Second Colony LCC, a Maryland Limited Liability Company, dedicated to improving our understanding of the Second Colony of the Germanna immigrants and sharing that knowledge with others. Copyright Second Colony LLC.

County Creation Dates

Spotsylvania County, created from Essex County, 1721

Orange County, created from Spotsylvania County, 1734

Culpeper County, created from Orange County, 1748

Madison County, created from Culpeper County, 1793

Germanna Research Group

The Germanna Research Group is an independent group of scholars, researchers, and students of 18th and early 19th-century Virginia history. A major focus of inquiry will be the German immigrants who arrived in colonial Virginia in the early 1700s, and Lieutenant Governer Alexander Spotswood. The descendants of these German immigrants, now spread far and wide, contribute to these affiliated websites. The Germanna Research Group is not affiliated, however, with any other organization.