Descendants of Hans Justus Heydt of
the Duchy of Wurttemburg


Generation #1

Hans Justus Heydt, "the Baron of the Shenandoah"

There is a myth about a German Baron who immigrated to America aboard his two private ships, using his inherited wealth to purchase large tracts of land in what would become Frederick, Hampshire, Shenandoah, and Hardy counties of Old Virginia. Reportedly, the Baron ruled as a European autocrat in the Shenandoah Valley in lieu of British Colonial authorities. Let the myth end here.

Hans Justus Heydt, later Americanized to Jost Hite, earned the nickname, the Baron of the Shenandoah; this is true. But his personal circumstances were completely different from the myth. Immigrating to America as a refugee from the Palatinate of the Rhine, Jost earned everything he had through his wits and the sweat of his brow. Speculating on lands west of the Blue Ridge, Jost came to be the single largest private landholder in the Colony of Virginia. Note, Lord Fairfax was the largest individual landholder; however, his holdings were actually the property of groups of investors.

In truth, Jost did not rule but acted as an extension of the local Colonial Government, holding court and settling disputes on his vast holdings. In English speaking localities, Jost would have been referred to as Squire. But living in a predominantly German speaking area of Virginia, Jost received the moniker Baron.

CE Lewis
c. 2004

Hans Justus Heydt was born 12/5/1685 in Bonfeld, the Duchy of Wurttemburg (Germany). Hans Justus grew up in a middleclass family; as his father was a butcher and city councilman. On 11/11/1704 in Bonfeld, the Duchy of Wurttemburg, Hans Justus married Anna Maria Merkle b. 1/16/1686 Bonfeld,  the Duchy of Wurttemburg (Germany). Note, Anna Maria may have been his cousin; as his mother is reported to have been Anna Magdelena Merckle.

Severe climate and the devastation by the French Army in the Rhineland during the War of Spanish Succession (1704-1705) forced tens of thousands of ethnic German Protestants to flee. These Palatinates survived a journey down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and a voyage across the English Channel to a temporary haven south of London. [Palatinate Immigration]

On 7/15/1709, Hans Justus migrated with his wife and stepmother, Maria, to England. We know that they were destitute; as they sailed among the fifth party sent by the the Board of Trade from Rotterdam to England. On this list we find Maria Hayd listed as "Head of Household" along with Hans Justus. Did Hans Justus' father and some of the other children die en route from Worms to Rotterdam? On 6/16/1710 Hans Justus and Maria immigrated to New York aboard the Hartwell.

Hans Justus and family landed in the vicinity of the West Camp, north of Kingston in Ulster Co NY. Ostensibly, these new immigrants were to be provisioned by the British Crown, repaying in goods and foodstuffs produced in the future. Notably, settlers were expected to produce tar for the British Navy. However, inadequate acreage of pine trees from which the tar is produced and, perhaps, an unwillingness by the Palatinates to work in the Pine Tar Industry caused this plan to go bust.

History notes that many Palatinates became dissatisfied with conditions in the New York Colony. Being ethnic Germans, many New York Palatinates migrated to the German speaking communities in Pennsylvania. In 1714 Hans Justus is reported to have purchased 150 acres on Skippack Creek in Philadelphia County where daughter Elizabeth was married.

With the 1714 migration date, the routes to Pennsylvania were limited. In the 1720s, some Palatinates of New York migrated west to the headwaters of the Susquehanna River and floated down to the ethnic German settlements near Lancaster. From 1690 to the 1730s, some Palatinates of New York migrated south down the Old Mine Road to the upper Delaware Valley where there was no communication with Philadelphia. But by the 1714 timeframe, access to Philadelphia would have been by water down the Hudson and around Cape May NJ to the Schuylkill Valley.

Perhaps because of cheaper land, many of these families packed up and moved to Perkiomen Creek, the next valley to the west along the Schuylkill River. On 15 Nov 1718, Jost Hite purchased 600 acres a few miles up Perkiomen Creek for the price of 125 pounds. Here, Jost built a grist mill just outside of present day Schwenksville, Montgomery Co PA.

In 1728 inhabitants from the immediate vicinity of "Colebrookdale" petitioned the government of the Pennsylvania Colony for relief from Indian attacks. In the petition, the locales of Falkners Swamp [New Hanover] and Coshapopin [Goshenhoppen/Salford] are mentioned. Falkners Swamp, located at the headwaters of Swamp Creek, and Goshenhoppen are only a few miles from Jost Hite's mill. In the petition, dated 5/10/1728, we find Jost's name Americanized as Yost Hyt.

Whether because of dissatisfaction with the Colonial government of Pennsylvania or the urge to pioneer, Jost Hite and family migrated south from Philadelphia Co PA across Maryland to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Having liquidated his properties in Pennsylvania, Jost used his wealth to purchase large tracts of land in Virginia. On 8/5/1731 Jost purchased 40,000 acres from John Van Meter, the noted Indian trader, with a requirement from the Colony of Virginia to settle one family per 1,000 acres within two years. And on 10/31/1731, Jost and Robert McKay acquired an additional grant of 100,00 acres with the same requirements.

In the fall of 1731, Jost Hite and fifteen other families migrated en mass to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The trip was slow and arduous; as they literally cut the road over which they drove their wagons. Although other ethnic German families had pioneered west of the Susquehanna River, this group of pioneers were the first to continue down what would come to be called the Great Wagon Road. Arriving at Opequon Creek in what would become Frederick Co VA, they chose individual tracts on which they settled. These pioneers are credited as the first white settlers west of the Blue Ridge. [Hite Migration Map]

These Palatines were not the first Europeans to venture into the Shenandoah Valley. Explorers, Indian traders, and missionaries reported venturing into the valley as early as 1632. However, Jost Hite and his group are credited in US History books as the first white settlers west of the Blue Ridge; establishing the first permanent settlement at what would become Winchester, Frederick Co VA.

Jost Hite was a man of influence and prominence in the public affairs of his day, both civil and military; and many of his descendants have been of almost equal prominence. On April 23, 1734, the Virginia Colonial Council, upon the petition of the inhabitants west of the Blue Ridge for the establishment of some form of civil system appointed Jost Hite, with Morgan Morgan, John Smith, Benjamin Bourden, and George Hobson, a magistrate, with authority to settle differences and punish offenders against the public welfare.

    "The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia," Weyland, 1907, p. 50.

In 1737 Jost and Anna Maria settled at Long Meadow, Frederick Co VA where Anna Maria died in 1739. Jost remarried on 11/10/1741 to Maria Magdalena Herr b. c. 1708, widow of Christian Neuschwanger and granddaughter of Bishop Hans Herr.

While living at Long Meadow, Jost continued to sell off parcels of his great land holdings from which he earned prestigious sums of money. Later, Jost is reported to have purchased two ships, the brigantine Swift and the schooner Friendship, in which he transported trade goods to Britain. Another myth is that son Jacob met his wife, Catherine O'Bannon, aboard the Swift on a return voyage from Ireland. This is also untrue.

Jost died 5/7/1760 at Long Meadows vic. Middletown, Frederick (now Warren) Co VA. He and Anna Maria are believed to be buried at the ruins of the original Lutheran Church in Winchester, Virginia.

"11 Nov 1704 at Bonfeld Germany, Johan Justus Heyd, linenweaver and son of Johannis Heyd, butcher and civic councilor here, married Anna Maria, daughter of Abraham Mercklin, citizen here."

Embarkation List from Holland: Fifth Party
Embarked July 3 to July 10; Sailed July 15, 1709:
Heyt, Joost & vrouw, 1 ch
Anna Mary, 2 ch (no other name)

1710 New York  #  Hayd
Adult  2  Johann Jost
Maria Magdelena
under 10 0 Mary?
1712 New York  #  Hayd
Adult  2  Johann Jost
Maria Magdelena
under 10 1 Mary
Petition of the Inhabitants of Colebrookdale (Perkiomen Creek) Settlement, Philadelphia (now Montgomery) Co PA- 
[Pennsylvania Archives, 1664-1747, Page 213.]
To His Excellency Patrick Gordon Esqr., Governor Generall in Chief over the Province of pencilvania, and the Territoris thereunto Belonging, Benbrenors [Van Bebber's] township and the Adjacences Beloinging May ye 10th 1728.
We think It fit to address your Excellency for Relief, for your Excellency must knowe That we have Suffered and is like to sufer By the Ingians, they have fell upon ye Back Inhabitors about Falkners Swamp [New Hanover], & near Coshapopin [Goshenhoppen]. Therefore, we the humbel Petitioners, With our poor Wives & Children Do humbly Beg of your Excellency To Take It into Consideration and Relieve us the Petitioners hereof, Whos Lives Lies At Stake With us and our poor Wives & Children that is more to us than Life. Therefore, We the humble Petitioners hereof, Do Desire An Answer from your Excellency by ye Bearer With Speed, so no more at present from your poor afflicted People Whose names are here Subscribed.

John Roberts, Jn. Pawling, Henry Pannebeckers, W. Lane, John Jacobs, _______ D. Bais, Israell Morris, Benjamine Fry, Jacob Opdengraef, Richard Adams, George Poger, Adam Sollom, Dirtman Kolb, Gabriel Showler, Anthony Halmon, John Isaac Rlein, Hanss Detweiler, William Bitts, Heinrich Rutt, Hubburt Castle, Henry Rentlinger, Christian Weber, Gerhart de Hesse, Lorentz Cinzamore, Richard Jacob, Herman Rubert, Peter Bun, Jacob Cugnred, Christian Nighswanger, Conrad Cresson, Jacob Kolb, Hans Wolly Borgy, John Mier, Henrich Kolb, John Frot, Paul Frot, Wm. Smith, Peter Rambo, David Young, Christopher Schmit, Garrett Clemens, Mathias Tyson, Peter Johnson, Yost Hyt, Christian Aliback, Hans Rife, Daniel Stowfard, Abraham Schwartz, Johann Valentine Kratz, John Johnson, Ulrich Heffelfinger, Nicholas Haldeman, Michael Ziegler, Christian Stoner, Johannes Garber, John Haldeman, Claus Jansen, Nicholas Hicks, Johannes Leisher, Jacob Sheimer, Michael Krause, Peter Reiff, George Reiff, George Meyer, Bastian Smith, Edward In de Hoffen, Christian Kroll, Jacob Grater, Jacob Stauffer, Henry Stauffer, and Paul Friedt, Jr.

CHAPTERS LXVII - LXVIII: Perkiomen and Plymouth Townships : Bean's 1884 History of Montgomery Co, PA p. 1023.
What was known as Pennypacker's Mill during the Revolution, in the vicinity of which Washington's Army encamped, is now owned by John Z. Hunsberzer, and situated on the east bank of the Perkiomen Creek, opposite the lower end of Schwenkville. In 1717 six hundred acres were conveyed to Hans Yost Heijt who sold it, January 9, 1730, to John Pawling for five hundred and forty pounds, at which time the grist-mill is mentioned.
Migration Route: Colebrookdale PA to the Valley of Virginia
a.  Down Perkiomen Creek to the Schuylkill River
b.  Down the Conestoga Road (est. 1723) to the Susquehanna River vic. Middletown PA
c.  Down the Susquehanna River to Wright's Ferry vic. York Haven PA
d.  Up Conewago Creek to vicinity of Plainview PA
e.  1 mile portage to Rock Creek
f.   Down Rock Creek to vic. Mair's Mill MD
g.  Down the Monocacy River to Monocacy Settlement vic. Creagerstown MD
h.  West through South Mountain vic. Gapland MD
i.  Down Israel Creek to the Potomac at Harper's Ferry (W) VA
j.  Across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, entering the Shenandoah River Valley

List of the Sixteen Families: Jost Hite Party, Fall 1731

Major Grants:
 1.  William Hogue, Opequon
 2.  John White, Hogue Creek
 3.  Nathaniel Thomas, Head of Opequon
 4.  Benjamin Borden, Shepherdstown
 5.  David Vaunce, Opequon
 6.  Stephen Hansbella (Hotsinpeller)
 7.  Christian Nisewanger
Minor Grants:
 8.  Thomas Chester
 9.  Louis Stuffey
10. Christian Blank
11. Hendrey Hunt
12. John VanMeter
Hite Family:
13. Jost Hite, Long Meadows
14. George Bowman, North Branch, Shenandoah River
15. Jacob Chrisman, Chrisman's Springs
16. Paul Froman, North Cedar Creek

Orange CO Court held Jan 21, 1734/5 a Commission of the Peace directed to Joist HITE & others & a dedimus for administering the oaths, etc., to the said Justices being read...all Protestants. . . .

Orange Co VA Land Records:
3 Oct 1734 Jost Hite - 20 Aug 1734 - Orange - Pat 15 p276, 277

Baptismal Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever
BAUMANN, GEORGE (Opequon) [Frederick Co VA]
Baumann, John George, b 04 27 1732; bap 05 16 1735, Spon. Jost Heydt
Petition; 1736; Orange (now Frederick) Co VA.
"Petition of inhabitants on the west side of Sherendo River. They are given to understand that several persons have obtained or are about to obtain an order for a waggon or cart road from the forks of the said river over the Blue Mountains, which they conceive impossible to be made without so much expense and trouble that the advanteages thereof will not countervaile the same, the said mounte being so irigullar steep, hilly and rock at that place as upon examination thereof will appear. They pray this court to suspend any such order. signed:
Danl. Frowman, Jost Heit, Jacob Nightswinger
HEYDT, JOHN (Opequon) 
Heydt, Anna Maria, b 08 25 1738; bap 04 29 1739, Spon. Jost Heydt and wife
"The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" by Rev. William J. Hinke and Charles E. Kemper, October 1903.  The subject was 'Moravian Diaries of Travel Through Virginia. . .'  The first trip records the experiences of Brother Leonard Schnell and John Brandmueller who left Bethlehem on October 12, 1749. <>

On Oct. 17 we continued our journey at five o'clock.  In two miles we reached the Potomac which we forded though we had great difficulty in getting the wagon up the opposite bank.  On the 18th we reached (Winchester) which consists of about sixty houses, poorly built.  Beyond the town we stopped and bought some bread and corn.  We soon reached Jost Hite's mill.  One of the brothers visited plantations to buy bread and oats but found little.  We were out of horse feed.  On the 19th we rose at six o'clock but we had not had much sleep because of smoke.  In a mile we stopped to have some bread baked for us.  Some of the brethren bought bread and hay from Christian Neuschwanger and brought it to the "great road."  In a short while we came to George Bauman's mill.  We bought oats but had to wait for it to be threshed.  Germans to whom we talked told us that the road was very bad beyond the Augusta Court House.  We had many visitors come and see us that evening.  We had lost a sack of oats but some of the brothers found it and brought it up.

Abstract of Wills; Frederick Co VA
1758-04-25 Jost Hite
Sons: John, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, and Joseph (deceased)
Joseph's heirs who were to receive his part were listed as John, William, and Ann


    [Note: Four Hite sons married four cousins, two Van Meterins and two Eltenges.]

    1. Anna Maria Hite 

    2. Maria Barbara Hite 

    3. Mary Hite

Baptismal Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever
BAUMANN, GEORGE (Opequon) [Frederick Co VA]
Baumann, John George, b 04 27 1732; bap 05 16 1735, Spon. Jost Heydt 
Baumann, John Jacob, b 12 02 1733; bap 05 16 1735, Spon. Jacob Christman 
Baumann, Emma Maria, b 11 09 1735: bap 05 02 1737, Spon. John Leewill & his spouse, Anna Christina Stephan 
Baumann, Elizabetha, b 01 05 1735; bap 03 18 1737, Spon. Paul Fromman and wife Elisabetha 
Baumann, Johannes, b 12 19 1738 bap 04 29 1739, Spon. John Heydt and wife Sara

    4. Elizabeth Hite

Baptismal Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever
BAUMANN, GEORGE (Opequon) [Frederick Co VA]
Baumann, Elizabetha, b 01 05 1735; bap 03 18 1737, Spon. Paul Fromman and wife Elisabetha

    5. Magdelena Hite b. 9/13/1713 Kingston, Ulster Co NY

    6. Col. John Hite

Some Prominent Virginia Families, p. 338:
Col. John Hite was vestryman in Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester, Va., in 1752. Captain in charge of a precinct and member of a "Council of War," 1744; Colonel in the French and Indian War, 1756, and Justice of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1756. . .Col. John Hite, son of Yost Hite, distinguished for his bravery in the Indian Wars.

Baptismal Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever
BAUMANN, GEORGE (Opequon) [Frederick Co VA]
Baumann, Johannes, b 12 19 1738 bap 04 29 1739, Spon. John Heydt and wife Sara

    7. Col. Jacob Hite

Jacob Hite, the whole 175 acres, surveyed 23 December 1734
(claims under Jost Hite) [no survey No.].
Note: Catherine O'Bannon was not born in Ireland. And, she and Jacob did not meet onboard ship coming from Ireland. Catherine was the daughter of Bryan O'Bannon who is found in Virginia as early as 1720 when he bought land in Richmond County.
Orange Co VA Deed Book 5 - 8 (1741-1743), p. 40:
1742 Jost Hite deeded 2668 acres of land 30 miles north of the Opequon Creek for 20 lbs. current money to Jacob Hite, formerly granted in the original patent of Jost Hite for 40,000 acres in October 1734.
Col. James Wood's Fee Book; Anno Dom 1744:
Hyte, Jacob     279
Will of Bryant O'Bannon.
Written 9/4/1760. Probated 1762.
In the name of God, Amen, I, Bryan Boru O'Bannon of Parish of Hamilton and county of Fauquier, State of Virginia. . . .
I give to Aaron Johnston and Francis Johnston, children of Margaret Johnston, my plantation and lands in Frederick County. . .And further I direct and appoint my son-in-law, Jacob Hite and my granddaughter Elizabeth Hite, to have the care and management of the said children until they come of age. . . .
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 4th day of September, 1760.
Wit: Bryan O'Bannon, Elias Edmonds, Samuel Earle, and James Rogers.
January 10, 1765 and September 20, 1764 - The Pennsylvania Gazette ITEM #34965 The Pennsylvania Gazette: 'TO BE SOLD', Nine Hundred and Thirty odd Acres of Land, in Frederick County, Virginia, on which there are three Plantations, with a good Dovetail Log house and Barn, near about 100 Acres of cleared Land, the most Part good Bottom for growing of Hemp; a Spring, and Meadow Ground; a fine large Creek, for any Kind of Mill, runs through the whole, and lies convenient to the Gap of the Mountains, within 60 Miles of Navigation. For Terms of Sale, apply to Jacob Hite.
In "History of the Valley," Kercheval reports that 'an animated contest now took place between General Adam Stephan and Jacob Hite, Esg, in relation to the fixing of the seat of justice in this [Frederick] county. Hite contended for the location thereof on his own land, at what is called Leetown, while Stephen advocated Martinsburg. In this matter Stephen prevailed.

The Virginia Magazine of History, Vol. 4, p. 464:
Jacob Hite purchased land in South Carolina from an Englishman named Pearis, and moved there in about 1773. In the early summer of 1776, Edward and Preston Hampton, who lived near the boundary and five miles northeast of present Greer, went into the nation to try to win Cherokees over to the side of the revolutionists. Many were their friends. They were taken as prisoners but managed to escape. A young man named [Jacob, Jr.] Hite was killed by a band of warriors.

    8. Isaac Hite 

Isaac Hite of Frederick County, will dated 04 July 1794, proved 06 October 1795:
[Isaac Hite's] heirs were children Isaac Hite, Ann Bohannon (Buckanan), Rebecca Booth and Sarah Clark; and grandchildren Isaac Hite Williams, John Williams and Eleanor Long. His executors were son Isaac Hite and sons-in-law William A. Booth and Jonathan Clark.

    9. Abraham Hite

    10. Joseph Hite

Generation #2


This site is provided for reference only. Except where specifically cited, information contained is conjecture and should not be considered as fact.
Home Index About Me