By Jessica Gorman
Although the basic facts of the founding of Minden have been well-established, a recent online article credited the Germantown colonists with the founding of Minden. It would seem that this misinterpretation of our local history stems from the fact that Minden’s founder, Charles Veeder, was of German descent. While it has been hypothesized that Veeder may have crossed paths with the Germantown settlers on their journey to Louisiana, he was not a member of this group.
The Germantown colonists were followers of a religious leader known as Count de Leon, or Count Leon. They emigrated from Germany to the United States and joined the Harmony Society led by George Rapp at Economy, Pennsylvania. Serious conflict caused Count de Leon and his followers to separate from the Harmony Society and form the New Philadelphia Congregation at Philipsburg in Pennsylvania before heading south to Louisiana, settling at Grand Ecore. This proved to be an unhealthy location and it was here that Count de Leon and others died during an outbreak of yellow fever. From Grand Ecore, the remaining colonists made their way to Claiborne Parish and established the Germantown Colony, a communal colony, north of Minden.
About the same time the Germantown Colony was founded, Charles Veeder arrived in Claiborne Parish and in July 1835 purchased the site of Minden from Adam Stewart and his wife Margarete. Charles Veeder was a lawyer and businessman, born in Schenectady, New York, who lived in Indiana before making the move to Louisiana. While the Germantown Colony was founded as a religious community, Minden was founded as a business venture. Veeder soon laid out the town of Minden and began selling lots. To attract settlers to his new town, he worked to have Minden named the seat of Claiborne Parish but lost this designation to nearby Overton. Veeder and his family remained in Minden for several years before leaving for California where he died in 1875.
Although Minden and the Germantown Colony were established at approximately the same time, they were founded by people of different backgrounds, from different places, and for different purposes.
This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at the museum.
(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)
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