The Shareholder's Book

In 1709 or 1710, Christoph von Graffenried and Franz Michel engaged Johann Justus Albrecht to hire German miners to work the silver mines which Michel was convinced were located in the westward parts of Virginia (since geography and the limits of the colonies were so uncertain, there was some confusion as to which colony the mines were in). Albrecht was quick to claim that he had been appointed to develop mines for gold and silver on behalf of Her Majesty of Great Britain and the proprietors of Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. His recruiting efforts, which were eventually successful, were concentrated at Siegen. No call was forthcoming from Graffenried to Albrecht to come on to America. Albrecht waited in London and designed a Shareholder's Book (Gewercken-Buch) in which he had promoted himself to General Berghauptmann. This Shareholder's Book, of five pages, was eventually kept in a Court Book of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and it is one piece of evidence that Albrecht was one of the Germans who came in 1714.

Below is a translation of the Gewercken-Buch by Elke Hall. There were several points of difficulty in making the translation as the original of five pages had less than five sentences in it. Second, in three hundred years the meanings of words change. The translated words union and labor union refer to the combined efforts by capitalists and not by laborers. The general thrust of the document is discernable though there are points of difficulty. Klaus Wust wrote that Albrecht was selling share in this South Carolina mine.

Elke Hall, Translator
The initially well laid out union book, in which the inheritable issued shares or portions of the most praiseworthy labor union inside and outside of foreign lands in the gold and silver mines in the Province of South Carolina are described, and which has been accepted by the well-minded Gentleman Johann Justus Albrecht, Head Mine Captain, who, in the before mentioned province, will build the gold and silver mines and the construction in the titled lands of South Carolina was so made and completed on the 5th of January in the Year one thousand seven hundred and nine [5 January 1710 by the modern calendar] by the said mine captain, according to the mining laws and orders privileged and granted to him, with attached description in the following instruction, the contents of this book. This occurred in the
Royal Residence City
of London, the 26th of May
in the Year 1712
Detailed instructions of this book includes the orderly following description of the head mine captain to be reported to the mine office of the Province of South Carolina.

Since, in the beginning, at the before mentioned time, the gold and silver mines in the province of South Carolina were taken up and built by me, the head mine captain and vassal of the same, who in general was given the privilege of complete management and construction in agreement with the vested labor union of the said mine in the titled lands of South Carolina as well as inside and outside of foreign  lands in the form of inheritable shares or portions, which are set down in this mine and union book forever, so they and their heirs and descendants are assured that they were bestowed and described, also for the reason that if one or the other should be inclined to and decides that he wants to help build the before mentioned gold and silver mines and takes over the number of shares from the mine captain, who, to verify the same, must also enter this same portion in the before mentioned book and is to describe them, and add them to the shares he already owns or owns part of, after he paid the penalty off and he wants to sell them to somebody else, he, however must notify the mine captain before the sale that he wants to sell and pay the said mine captain all purchase money which is still owed, as the buyer has promised when he requested the same from the labor union, just as the union shall submit the money on the same day to the mine office without hesitation, right to the treasury. Should however one or the other fail to pay the required sum due to negligence  or omission, then it should be published three times and after that three quarters then the whole part should fall back to the labor union according to the mining rights and order, unless there ws a necessary absence due to war or death.

So if, though the grace of God, the gold and silver mines will show themselves to be resourceful and all the noble land owners and the whole labor union now and in the future will enjoy these desired signs as profit, which will be paid every quarter. Only after a correctly completed balance of accounts by the mine clerk, the profit will be sent as quickly as possible to the administrative location in cash or, if the union desires it, by letter of credit.

Since the mines will be built with the knowledge of all and will be well observed, and will be managed with heavy (monetary) costs, and as such a venture  requires skill and wisdom, all high officers, who hold office, yes, even the complete mine council together and, as is applicable, the mine administration, shall say, if this book, my orderly description and instruction for all to know, and the above mentioned measures are liked and agreed to by all, and if they let a well experienced administrative clerk handle it, without personal gain and disgraceful fraud, who is sworn to duty with responsibile consideration and in all accuracy, which appropriately all of you will remember and keep the above book in eternal remembrance, it is to be kept in the mine office in good custody, and that the present one and successive one more said contents of the stated matter is found rightful and true by the above mentioned property owners and all of the union in good preparation, I ask for their interests and total commitment and your opinion, and may this be given to record with my own signature in the Royal Residence City of London the 26th day of May in the Year of Christ One thousand seven hundred and twelve. [End]

The above material appeared in Beyond Gemanna for January 1993 (volume 5, number 1, page 241).

It is not clear what motivated Albrecht to prepare this book  It does seem that he was acting on his own perhaps with the intention of raising money to support himself. Why he mentioned South Carolina is uncertain but then many people were confused about the geography of the New World. Or perhaps he wanted to pick a location where there would be the least chance that the true situation would be found. His claims to have been appointed Head Mine Captain by the Queen and the Proprietors of Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are false.

Perhaps, when the Nassau-Siegen Germans went to London, he thought they would be going to South Carolina. The failure of Graffenried's company, George Ritter Company, to provide transportation to the New World caused a change of plans and the Germans obligated themselves to work for Spotswood in Virginia in his purported silver mine.

Graffenried, Michel, and Albrecht never talk about iron but only about silver and gold. Even Spotswood talked only of a silver mine. Clearly, the Germans were recruited, not to mine iron, but to mine precious metals.

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