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The Hites of the Shenandoah Valley

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Belle Grove, Middletown, Virginia

I will now introduce you to a branch of the family with which I am very familiar and on which I have done a fair bit of research. I stumbled on the connection by accident when I was following some other family lines and also planning to visit the site of the Civil War battle of Cedar Creek. It turns out that the battle took place on the grounds of Belle Grove in Middletown, VA, the home built by a relative in the branch I will now introduce to you.

The Hite family lived in Bonfeld, Baden-Württemberg. This is about 7.5 miles from where the Schoener family originally lived in Ehrstädt. They may or may not have know each other but they may have since they were both Protestant families and lived in close proximity. Regardless, both families decided to leave their homeland and immigrate to the New World. However, they took different routes. Hans Daniel Schoener immigrated in 1717 to Pennsylvania while Jost Hite and his family travelled to New York in 1709 to work for the English as payment for their voyage, similar to Conrad Weiser (as detailed in a prior post).

By 1712, Jost and his wife Anna Maria (nee Merckle) were attending the Kingston Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston, Ulster County, New York. Here they undoubtedly met and interacted with fellow congregants, my DuBois relatives, as well as the Van Meters. These connections would prove very beneficial and profitable for the Hites.

Jost and his family would then relocate to Skippack Creek in modern day Montgomery County, PA, building a home and gristmill (the property still exists, although the house has been expanded and is now a historic site known as Pennypacker Mills). The Hites would raise a family of 8 children; 3 daughters and 5 sons.

Even back in 1720's Pennsylvania it was a small world. On 29 April 1728, multiple citizens of Philadelphia County got together and drafted a petition to the Governor of the province asking for protection against Indian incursions. It was signed by Jost Hite, Daniel Schoener (my 8th great grandfather and another connection between the Schoeners and Hites), and Isaac DuBois (a connection between the Hites and the DuBois family), among others.

Through their friendship with the Van Meters, the Hites learned about land available for settlement in the Shenandoah Valley. Jost acquired the rights to a grant for 40,000 acres from the Van Meters and, partnering with Robert McKay, obtained an additional 100,000 acres from Virginia Governor William Gooch. There was, however, a condition attached to the land. Jost and Robert had to survey and settle the land with additional families. Although it was a journey to another area of wilderness in the New World, there were multiple families who were willing to join in and take the risk of moving to the Shenandoah Valley.

So, in the fall of 1731, the Hites and 16 other families left Pennsylvania and travelled to their new homes. The three daughters had married and, with their husbands, made the trip as well. Robert McKay and his Scotch-Irish families settled on the eastern side of Massanutten Mountain toward the Blue Ridge and Jost and his party settled on the western side, closer to the Allegheny Mountains.

The Hites officially enter my family tree when 3 of Jost's sons marry 3 of Sarah DuBois' granddaughters.

John Hite, Sr. and Isaac Hite, Sr. married sisters Sara VanMeter Elting and Alida Eleanor Elting, respectively. They were the daughters of Cornelius and Rebecca (nee Van Meter) Elting. Rebecca was the daughter of Sarah DuBois and Joost Jans Van Meter.

Abraham Hite married Rebecca Wynkoop Van Meter. She was the daughter of Sarah and Joost's son, Isaac Van Meter and his wife Annetje Gerritse "Ann" Wynkoop.

As I mentioned earlier, I have done extensive research about the Hites, particularly the branch belonging to Isaac Hite, Sr. His son, Isaac Hite, Jr. built Belle Grove mansion, where I spent a lot of time as a docent and researcher. I will share some of this research in upcoming posts and introduce you to these interesting and notable relatives.


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