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LEDERER, John (?)

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LEDERER, John (?). When and why John Lederer came to Virginia is not known. He was born in Hamburg, attended the Hamburg Academic Gymnasium, where he must have studied medicine as he later became a much sought-after physician in the North American colonies. By 1669, Dr. John Lederer, then twenty-five years old, was in Virginia, setting out to explore and find a path through the Appalachians. The Virginies settlements were then mostly coastal, hugging the tidewater areas. In less than two years Lederer made three expeditions into the Appalachians with Indians as guides and occasionally with other gentlemen. He was the first European to stand on the highest peak, on August 20, 1670, and to look into the Shenandoah Valley, which in short time would be the goal of many German immigrants. He found the gap, later called "Harpers Ferry" (after another German immigrant), and opened up a trail to the Catawba tribe for fur trade. Lederer also left intelligent instructions "touching trade with Indians." John Lederer was the pioneer for German settlements in Virginia. His geographical explorations reserved the fantasies of the times. No mountain peak is named after Lederer; no roadway records his journey along the now industrialized Piedmont route that he helped open to commerce. He might say about this oversight, as he commented on another similar situation, "L have lost nothing by what I never sought to gain--popular applause."

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