In 1717, a small group of Germans left their homeland in an attempt to sail to the new colony in Pennsylvania. The ship which was to make the crossing first stopped in London where the captain was taken into custody and imprisoned for several weeks due to unresolved debt issues. This delay caused the passengers to consume much of their provisions while in port, resulting in many dying from hunger during the crossing.
Those who survived never made it to Pennsylvania. A storm blew them off course and they landed in Virginia. The captain then sold them as payment for their transportation charges. They were bought by Governor Spotswood and became his indentured servants. He put them to work in the iron mines near Germanna.
One of these immigrants was Thomas Wayland who with his wife and young son Adam, when released from servitude and seeking land of their own, decided to push further into the wilderness. In 1724, they settled in the area now known as Culpepper (Madison County). Adam, when grown, married Elizabeth Blankenbaker, the daughter of another German immigrant, and had eight children. His will left his estate to Elizabeth and “all his children.” After she died, he remarried and had two more children but never updated his will. Upon his passing, his will went into probate and was contested by the children of his two wives. Several lawsuits ensued which eventually came to the attention of Thomas Jefferson who wrote his opinion on the case. His two page letter can be found in the archives of the Library of Congress. In summation, the two children from his second wife were granted an equal portion of his estate.
Adam Wayland is the great-grandfather of my sons’ 2nd great-grandaunt.
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