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A short story by Etta Belle Walker

Joist Hite, The Pioneer

Title:     Joist Hite, The Pioneer
Author: Etta Belle Walker [More Titles by Walker]

When Joist Hite arrived in Virginia he and his family were required to settle on the land bought from the VanMeters. His purchase was made in June 1731. In October of the same year, he and Robert McKay obtained a grant from the Colonial Government to have 100,000 acres of land surveyed on the west side of the mountain, with the agreement to bring in one hundred settlers within two years. During that year, Hite moved in and settled on that land, but he got an extension of time for bringing in other settlers. By Christmas of 1735 Hite had brought in fifty-four families.

All this land was in the County of Spotsylvania and Hite found that he and his brothers were too far away from the courts so he became interested in getting a new county organized in 1734. This was named Orange, in honor of the Duke of Orange. Later on, having acquired more land, he found himself again too far removed from a court house. And again he applied for a new county. In fact he needed two counties for all his lands and ever-increasing settlers. In 1738 Orange County was divided into three counties, namely: Orange, Frederick, and Augusta to the west of the mountain. With Joist Hite and his wife Anna Maria came their daughters, Mary, her husband George Bowman, Elizabeth and her husband Paul Froman, Magadelena and her husband Jacob Chrisman, and their sons John, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and Joseph. Hite, we are told, allowed his sons-in-law to choose their own homesteads.

His wife, Anna Maria, died in 1738 at Long Meadows and soon he married again. We read the following quaint marriage contracts between him and his second wife:

"In the Name of Jesus

"Whereas, we, two persons, I, Joist Hite and Maria Magadelena, Relict and Widow of Christian Nuschanger, according to God's holy ordinance and the knowledge and consent of our Friends and Children and Relations are going to enter into the holy state of Matrimony. We have made this Nuptial part one with the others. First promise to the aforesaid Maria Magadalena all the Christian Love and Faithfulness. Secondly, as neither of us are a moment secure from death so I promise her Home or Widow Seat so long as she lives and the Heir to whom the said House shall fall shall provide the necessary Diet and Cloathes and if that do not please but that she rather desire to have her commendations in any other place, so shall the foresaid Heir to the House yearly pay her Six Pounds ready money and this is my well considered desire.


"And Likewise wife, I Maria Magadalena promise the aforesaid Joist Hite. First of all, Love and Obedience. Secondly, I am designed to bring with me to him some cattle, money, household goods which in agreement with attested witnesses shall be Described and should I die before the said Hite so shall the said Hite have the half thereof and the other half shall be delivered back again to my heirs and this is also my well considered desire. Thirdly and Lastly, whoever of the aforesaid persons shall die first the half of the portion the Woman brings with her shall go back to her heirs."

The following goods were brought by the said Mary Magadelena to Joist Hite:

"1 In ready money, twenty two pounds seventeen Shillings and four pence.

2 Two mares one colt value of fourteen pounds.

3 Two drawing steers value three pounds, ten shillings.

4 Two coarse beds Cloathes in all three pounds, Sixteen Shillings and six pence. And said money is adjudged to be in Virginia Currency the 16th day of November, 1741, also one horse mare, six pounds."

Another neighbor pioneering in the Valley was Jacob Stover who secured land grants. History records that he resorted to unusual methods in obtaining them. Upon application, it was necessary to convince the authorities that the applicant could furnish a sufficient number of families to settle the land requested. Stover did not have the required number. He took himself to England to petition the King and in order to be convincing he gave names to every living thing he possessed--dogs, sheep, horses, cows and pigs! After his successful trip which resulted in receiving the land grant, he commenced selling small acreages to the new-comers. He enriched himself materially, but incurred the wrath of his associates.

[The end]
Etta Belle Walker's short story: Joist Hite, The Pioneer