The Holtzclaw Family History



From Ancestry and Descendents of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia, 1714-1750
By B. C. Holtzclaw


The origin of the family is from the very ancient parish of Holtzklau, first mentioned in 1089, with a parish church dating back to the 13th century in the central village of Oberholzklau, and a number of other villages in the parish, including Niederholzklau. There is a brook called the Klav (an ancient name for a gully or ravine) which runs through the parish, so that the name means "the woods of the Klav." The brook later changes its name to the Fern­dorf, runs through Klafeld (the "field of the Klav"), and joins the river Sieg at Weidenau. Holzklau has always been an almost ex­clusively agricultural parish. The case is different with Weidenau, and to some extent Klafeld. Weidenau was situated at the confluence of the Sieg and the Ferndorf, and due to the abundance of water power was a center of the iron industry from the 15th century and probably even earlier. Besides the old farming village of Weidenau, when our ancestors lived there, the township (Gemeinde) contained seven iron‑works settlements as well, Hardt, Muenkershuetten, Muesenershutten, Meinhardt, Schneppenkauten, Fiskenhuetten and Buschgotthardshuetten. Through marriages in the third and fourth generations of the pedigree given above, the Holzklaus of Weidenau became connected with the ironworks people there, particularly in the family of Johannes Holzklau of Weidenau, Jacob Holtzclaw's grandfather.


The Nassau-Siegen Area

From Genealogical Gleanings

Until 1815 Nassau‑Siegen, now a part of Westphalia, West Germany, belonged to the House of Nassau from Holland. The Counts of Nassau had large possessions in Germany from very early times, perhaps as early as the age of Charlemagne. Siegen, the hub city of this province, is situated on the river Sieg, which flows into the Rhine from the east side. (B. C. Holtzclaw, ANCESTRY AND DESCENDANTS OF THE NASSAU‑SIEGEN IMMIGRANTS TO VIRGINIA 1714‑1750, Germanna Record No. Five, Culpeper, VA: The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc., 1964)) Siegen is 49 miles east and slightly south from Cologne; 45 miles east and slightly northeast from Bonn; and about 40 miles northeast from Coblenz; all these distances measured in air miles.

Nassau‑Siegen has always been rich in iron ore, frequently very near the surface of the ground, and there is evidence to show that there was active production of iron in this principality from 500 B,C. to about 100 A.D., carried on by early inhabitants, who were probably Celts. For some reason this activity seems to have ceased during the early years of the Christian era, possibly because the earlier inhabitants were driven out by Germans. From the time of Charlemagne and the Franks, however, there are numerous evidences of iron production by the so‑called forest smiths. That Nassau‑Siegen was famous for the production of iron even in the early years is evidenced by the fact that in a Welsh poem of the 12th century, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the home of the legendary Wieland the Smith of the Arthurian saga, is located in the city of Siegen. There is a village in the south of Nassau‑Siegen called Wilnsdorf, which in the middle ages was called "Wilandisdorf ', or village of Wieland.

During the 13th century the iron industry was revolutionized in Nassau‑Siegen by the discovery that water power could be used to operate the smelters and drive the hammers that worked the iron further.  The Count and the nobility were at first active in founding such water‑powered ironworks, but they very soon passed into the hands of worker‑owners, who banded together in the Guild of Smelterers and Hammersmiths, The members of this Guild mostly lived in the country near their plants, unlike most of the members of others guilds who lived in the cities. Due to a lack of water power in the dry seasons and to a frequent scarcity of charcoal needed for heating the ore and pig iron, the ironworks could not be operated continuously throughout the year. Thus the ironworks owners nearly always farmed in addition to their work in iron. Also the farmers frequently became part owners of the iron works, through intermarriage. (B. C. Holtzclaw, ANCESTRY AND DESCENDANTS OF THE NASSAU‑SIEGEN IMMIGRANTS TO VIRGINIA 1714‑1750, Germanna Record No. Five, (Culpeper, VA: The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc., 1964))

Three German groups of colonists came to Virginia during Governor Spotswoods administration and settled at or near what became Germanna. The first group consisted of 12 families numbering 42 persons, as shown by an order of the Virginia Council, passed April 28, 1714. Included in this group were some of our direct ancestors, as follows: Hans Jacob Holtzclaw. his wife Margaret their son John Holtzclaw, and Peter Hitt.

The settlers at Germanna in 1714 were fairly well educated people by the standards of the time. Compulsory schooling was introduced in Nassau‑Slegen in the middle of the 16th century. All of this colony excepting Haeger and Holtzclaw, were raised on farms, and undoubtedly farmed land owned by them when they emigrated. Farm work was done by the women and children and at special seasons by the men who were taught mining and iron‑making.

The original Germanna settlement consisted of a fort, fumished with two cannon, including ammunition, and a road cleared to the settlement. This settlement not only served as living quarters for these colonists who were to work in Governor Spotswood's ironworks, but was also regarded as security for the Virginia frontier from Indian attacks. It was located on a peninsula on the south side of the Rapidan River, which is the southern (more properly the western) branch of the Rappahannock, nine miles above the confluence with the northern branch and 13 miles above the site of Governor Spotswood's iron works.

The twelve families of the 1714 colony finished their work for Governor Spotswood in December 1718. Apparently they felt that they were being imposed upon by the Governor and wished to take advantage of the opportunities for bettering their lot in their new country. Therefore, sometime in 1718 John Fishback, John Hoffman, and Jacob Holtzclaw, the three members of the colony who had been naturalized, made an entry of approximately 1800 acres of land in the Northern Neck of Virginia. There a settlement was eventually founded which became known as Germantown. The colonists probably moved to their new location sometime in 1719; however, the actual patent for Germantown was not made until August 22, 1724, due to the death of Lady Fairfax. Germantown, which no longer exists, was located in what is now Fauquier County, Virginia.

The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies, Inc., Box 693, Culpeper, Va. 22701, established in 1956, purchased the original site of Germanna Colony and has instituted an archeological dig on this site. The Corporation owned 270 acres, "Siegen Forest," of the original Germanna tract. That acquisition of the property was made possible by the generosity of one of the trustees of the Foundation. Approximately 100 acres of this was given in 1969 to the State of Virginia for the erection of the Germanna Community College. By authority of the Virginia State Highway Commission, issued March 26, 1969, Virginia Route #3 from Culpeper to Fredericksburg has been designated GERMANNA HIGHWAY. This highway borders "Slegen Forest" and traverses the area where the first colony of 1714 was settled by Governor Spotswood.

The Foundation has published 13 different Germanna Records containing a wealth of information on the colonists, including much on the Hitts and the Holtzclaws. All of the information included in this genealogy on Germanna, Colony and the ancestry of the Hitts and the Holtzclaws which follows was obtained from the following Germanna Records:


Holtzclaw, B.C. Peter Hitt, John Joseph Martin, and Tillman Weaver of the 1714 Colony and their descendants,

Germanna Record No. I

Holtzclaw, B.C. and Hackley, W.B. Germantown Revived, Germanna Record No. 2.

Holtzclaw, B.C. Ancestry andDeseendants ofthe Nassau‑Siegen mmigrants of irginia, 1714‑1750.  Germanna

Record No. 5.

Holtzclaw, B. C. and Wayland, John W.   Germanna, Outpost of Adventure. Germanna Record No. 7.