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
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:
B.C. Peter Hitt, John Joseph Martin, and
Tillman Weaver of the 1714 Colony and their descendants,
Germanna Record No. I
B.C. and Hackley, W.B. Germantown
Revived, Germanna Record No. 2.
B.C. Ancestry andDeseendants ofthe Nassau‑Siegen
mmigrants of irginia, 1714‑1750.
Record No. 5.
B. C. and Wayland, John W. Germanna,
Outpost of Adventure. Germanna Record No. 7.