The Brinker Family History

The Jost Hite Story
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The Jost Hite Story


As the Brinker family of America began to branch out, many people and events influenced their lives and movement.


To fully understand their movement and establishment we must also look at some of the people that tremendously influenced their lives and later through enter marriage became part of the family.


One of these was the Von Der Heydt family. This family is not only imporant to the Brinker family but, for this author they were a major part of both sides of my immediate family, both the Brinkers and Halls.

The Von Der Heydt family originally from Bonfeld, Germany came to America in 1709. Bonfeld was a small town about 40 miles southeast of Heidelberg. It was a Lutheran community, ruled by the Gemmingens, who had purchased the rights to it in 1476 from the Bonfelds, a noble family which had held possession of that area for two hundred years.

Johannes Von Der Heydt

Johannes Von Der Heydt, the earliest known ancestor, was listed as a civil warden / city councilman and a butcher. He was born about 1650, his wife, Anna Magdalena (Merckle ?), was born about 1653 and died in 1695. She was Catholic, but apparently was buried by the local Lutheran church, with the aid of a Catholic priest from Wimpfen, a near by town.

Source: [note by Erle Gordon Bush] hite family historian

Gemmingen Church Cemetery
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Being the family records are here and considering the time of her death Anna Magdalena was most likely buried in this cemetery in Gemmingen, Germany.

The Von Der Heydt home was a two-story house and barn set on about 2 1/2 acres of land on which they had a quarter acre of grapes and a sizeable garden. The rest was field and meadow.

Johannes and Anna Magdalena had eight children: Anna Maria, Maria Dorthea, Anna Catherine, Hans Justus, Johann Jeremias, Anna Barbara, Anna Rossina and an infant.

Johannes married a second time to Anna Maria __?__, the widow of Casper Schultze. They had four children: Anna Eva Catharina, Anna Maria, Anna Barbara and Johann Martinus.

Hans Justus Von Der Heydt

 "Joist Hite"

Hans Justus Von Der Heydt, known later in America as Jost Hite, was born December 5, 1685, He was the second of the family of eight children of Johannes and Magdalena. He was baptized in Bonfeld (Baden-Wurttemberg) Germany.

The Church of Gemmingen Germany
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This church in the village of Gemmingen in the Necker Valley, not far from the Necker river and about 20 miles southeast of Heidelburg, Germany; recorded the birth of Hans Justus Von Der Heydt, on December 5, 1685.
Source: In May, 2000, and in May, 2002, John and Eleanor Blankenbaker traveled to Germany and Austria to visit villages from which our Germanna ancestors immigrated. Many thanks to them for sharing their photos and research.   
Note: The church in Gemmingen was damaged during WWII, probably by machine gun bullets. They have not repaired the damage but left the evidence with the date of 4 April 1945 as a memorial.

Hans Justus was eleven years of age when his father married his stepmother, Anna Maria __?__.
On November 11, 1704, at the age of nineteen, Hans Justus married Anna Maria Merkle du Bois in Bonfeld, Germany. She was the daughter of Abraham Merkle du Bois and Anna Veronica Landvatter, a prominent family of the Bonfeld-Wimpfen area.
Note: Some believe Anna Maria may have been his cousin; as his mother is reported to have been Anna Magdelena Merckle.

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Due to religious persicution the family moved to Strasbourg, Alsace, France, where Jost became a linen weaver.

Two children of this marriage died shortly after birth, Anna Maria, born Feb. 22, 1706, died Feb. 24, 1706 and Maria Barbara born Jan. 2, 1707, died Mar. 1, 1707.

The devastation created by the French Army in the Rhineland during the War of Spanish Succession, along with the sever religious persecutions, forced tens of thousands of German Protestants to flee. These Palatinates survived a journey down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Holland and a voyage across the English Channel to a temporary haven south of London.

Source: Palatinate Immigration History

Like the thousands, Johannes' family fleed Alsace in the midst of war in 1708, and moved to Rotterdam, Holland.

Along with the rest of the family, Hans Justus and Anna Maria traveling down the Rhine River with a new born baby, their first surviving child, Mary born Jan. 2, 1708 in Alsace, France.

Rotterdam became so overwelmed with refugees that the City Board of Trade began to ship them out to other countries.

According to the Embarcation List from Holland, on Jul. 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 Heydt listed as "Head of Household" along with Hans Justus, his wfe Maria and their baby Mary.

It is unknown were or how the rest of the family died, whether in Rotterdam or in route to Rotterdam but, they never boarded the ship to England. 

The deaths of the other family member was most likely a result of typhoid, which was epidemic at the time, entire families were known to be wiped out.

It is unknown to this author when they departed England, but on Jun. 16, 1710 Hans Justus, his wife Anna Maria their baby Mary and his stepmother Maria arrived in Ulster Co. New York aboard the ship Hartwell.

Hans Justus and his family landed in the vicinity of the West Camp in Kingston, Ulster Co NY.

Supposedly, these new immigrants were to be provisioned by the British Crown, repaying them in goods and food produced in the future.

Most settlers of the Mohawk Valley 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 fail.

Jost is shown on this Palatinate Subsistence Ledger in New York from 1710-1712.

Jost and Anna Maria lived in Kingston, New York for the first three or four years, as indicated by the baptism records of their next two children Elizabeth born Nov. 4, 1711 and Magdalena born Sept. 6. 1713 both born in Kingston, NY. 

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 Jost and his family moved to Pennsylvania, near Germantown, now part of the city of Philadelphia, where Jost bought 150 acres on the Skippack Creek, near present day Center Point in Philadelphia. 

Years before, in 1683, German farmers began to immigrate to Philadelphia, an English City, in such numbers that Benjamin Franklin wrote an editorial fearing that Philadelphia would become a German-speaking city. The city fathers told the newly arrived German immigrates that they would have to settle 7 miles (11 km) up the Schuylkill River in the area that is now known as Germantown.


It was here in late 1714 or early 1715 that Jost and Anna Maria’s first son Johannes “John Hite”  was born.


As the Germantown area became more and more settled, later arrivals settled further up the Schuylkill and continued up Perkiomen Creek and Skippack Creek.


On Nov. 15, 1718, Jost purchased 600 acres a few miles up the Perkiomen, for the price of 125 pounds. Here Jost built a grist mill just outside of present day Swenksville. Family tradition says he also bought slaves, which seems likely in view of the size of his property.

The Germantown area being a Quaker settlement, it is beleaved that here is where Jost's daughter Elizabeth met and married Paul Froman, a member of The Society of Friends in 1731 and daughter Mary Elizabeth married George Bowman also in 1731.

The rest of Jost and Anna Maria's eleven children were: Magdalena, John, Jacob, Isaac, an infant, Abraham and Joseph.

It would seem that by now the Hite family, in possession of considerable property and comfortably situated in a new two-story house with stone walls two feet thick, would be content with their success in the new world. And perhaps they were, but Indian attacks, was becoming a regular event. Many of the local German farmers had lost their homes and barns, being burned by the Indians and many people had been killed in the local area. 

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 and Coshapopin 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 Jun. 10, 1728, we find Jost's name Americanized as Yost Hyt

During this period of time a traveling Indian trader, named John VanMeter, from the New York area was trying to pursuade Pennsylvania families to move to his settlement in Virginia.

For a number of years, John VanMeter had traveled among the Indian tribes supplying them with a variety of materials in exchange for furs. He was widely known and readily accepted by a number of tribes, living with them and moving among them with apparent ease.

During the late 1720's, it is said that he attached himself to a war party of Delawares and accompanied them on an expedition to the south, up the valley of the Shenandoah River, to attack the Catawbas. He was so well impressed with the lower valley area that upon returning he and his brother Isaac obtained a grant from the Colonial Government at Williamsburg for 40,000 acres, on June 17, 1730, with the condition that they settle one family per thousand acres on the land within two years.

Unsatisfied with the government's answer to the petition for protection, word of this venture immediately aroused the interest of Jost Hite and he sought out the VanMeters. Unbeknown to Jost, the Van Meter brothers had recieved word that their grant of 40,000 acres may have been part of a hugh grant that belonged to Lord Fairfax VI. Thus to avoid future trouble the Van Meters, only two month after recieving the grant, quickly sold the rights to their grant to Jost on August 5, 1731.

Not satisfied, he and Robert McKay pursued what appeared to be a golden opportunity and on October 31, 1731 Jost signed papers at Williamsburg for an additional grant of 100,000 acres, subject to the same conditions of settlement within a two-year period.

Then, together with Robert Green and William Duff, they set up land company operations.

Just what part McKay played in this enterprise is not entirely clear. All accounts of the settlement of the lower Shenandoah Valley invariably list Hite as the leader of this first permanent settlement west of the Blue Ridge.

Prior to this transaction Jost had disposed of his Pennsylvania property. Jacob Merkle (the name later became Markley), Anna Maria's brother, had arrived from Germany, and the Hites saw fit to release 100 acres of land to him for the legalizing token of five shillings on July 16, 1728.

Although it is not indicated here, it seems to have been the custom to lease saleable land to prospective buyers for one year at a very nominal fee such as five shillings, after which actual sale was made.

Hite's remaining 500 acres, with the grist mill, were sold to John Pauling for 540 pounds on January 9, 1730.

Deeds exist for these various Hite transactions and Jost was left in possession of ready money at the opportune time to make the VanMeter purchase.

It is of some interest to note that John Pauling sold the former Hite property to Peter Pennypacker in 1747, and that it has remained in that family. The mill was operated as Pennypacker Mill for many years, finally being extensively damaged by fire in 1898. It was rebuilt the next year as the Red Fox Inn. In 1980 it burned.

Pennypacker Mansion
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The original Hite house served as General Washington's headquarters during September and October, 1777. After the Battle of Germantown it was remodeled, with additions, and is known as the Pennypacker Mansion; today a national historic park and museum.


Early Virginia Wagon Train
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Conestoga wagon
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Conestoga wagons were very large and could carry up to 6,000 pounds of goods.

The trip from Pennsylvania to Virginia in 1731 was slow. A passable road over the rough terrain had to be cleared for the wagon train as they went.

The Potomac River was crossed a few miles above the mouth of the Shenandoah at Packhorse Ford (later called Mecklenberg, and finally Shepherdstown). They arrived at their destination on Opequon Creek in the fall of 1731.

Prior to the coming of Hite, the valley had been seen by very few white men. A Jesuit priest, a wandering German physician and a British colonel had reported their respective journeys there as 1632, 1669 and 1673. Then came an interesting and only partially believed report from Louis Michel, a Swiss in 1705. He wrote of finding evidence of an ancient Indian tribe at today's site of Winchester, who used huge sacrificial stone altars 60 feet across, and whose warriors stood seven feet tall by actual measurement of their remains. This latter point was to be confirmed by George Washington in excavating for Fort Loudoun in 1755.

The valley was penetrated again in 1716, in pinpoint fashion, by Gov. Spottswood with his "Golden Horseshoe" group. He named the river "Euphrates," and claimed all of the land westward "to the River of the Spaniards," the Mississippi, as British territory, an as "Virginia" in particular.

From the Potomac the Shenandoah Valley, the "Valley of Virginia" as it came to be known, stretched nearly 200 miles south, forming about half of the length of a natural passageway to the great Smokey Mountains in the southwest. It served as more of a thoroughfare than as a place of residence for the Indians.

The Shawnees had a small cluster of villages around the springs at present day Winchester, from which a well-beaten path led up the length of the valley. It was close beside this trail, five miles south of the Shawnee Springs, that Hite chose to settle.

The Valley Turnpike follows much of the old Indian Trail, called by many the "Great Indian Highway." Sections of stone walls thought to be of the house and tavern built by Jost Hite still stand some 30 yards east of the Turnpike, beside the house built by his son, Colonel John Hite.

"Tavern" in that time meant "inn" - a place where travelers could stop overnight with some assured protection. No doubt liquor was kept in supply, but it was considered a social amenity, even by many of the clergy.

Tavern keepers of the time were accorded civic courtesy and their children were sought out by educational institutions. They were widely acquainted, an essential link in the news media chain, and usually were more affluent than most. As such they merited respect and were held in high regard.

The tavern served as a warm up place for everyone between long morning and afternoon church services in unheated churches. A carefully kept ledger recorded the pints and quarts consumed by saint and sinner alike; hence the origin of "Mind your P's and Q's."

Site locations for the several families, surveying, corner staking and cabin building all had to be done at once. The Hite sons-in-law were permitted to make their own selection of 750 acres each.

From the Hite location the Chrismans settled two miles south, the Bowmans about seven, and the Fromans some five miles southwest. Robert McKay, Jr. chose a site at the forks of the river where he set up a saw mill. His father settled about five miles up the south fork of the river.

By agreement, a line running from the Shawnee springs to the forks of the river divided the land. McKay was to settle the land east of the line, while Hites' land lay to the west. Hite, as might be expected, set up a grist mill on Opequon Creek a short distance from his house.

The Indians were peaceful at first, but trouble began almost at once with officials at Willimasburg. The Colonial Government, knowing nothing of the territory started making grants to others involving the Hite-McKay land.

Jost made at least one trip to Willimasburg in the summer of 1732 to take care of the matter.

But greater trouble, soon to be upon them, stemmed from the fact that King Charles II of England in the middle 1600's had rewarded a prominent Scottish family with a grant of the "Northern Neck" of Virginia. Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron in Scotland, arrived at Williamsburg in May 1735 to investigate his inheritance, only to find that the Colonial Government had issued settlement grants on his property to Hite and McKay.

Finding that settlers had moved onto the land in sufficient numbers to satisfy the conditional grants, and an extension of one year to December of 1735 had been allowed on the larger one, he paid two visits to the home of Jost Hite on the Opequon in 1736 and 1737.

These produced no favorable results for him, so he settled himself on a 10,000 acre tract about five miles east of Hite, and proceeded to have his land surveyed.

George Washington, aged 16, was one of the surveyors, and a favorite of Lord Fairfax. As such, it was inevitable that he come into contact with the Hite families. His diary records one occasion when he spent the night at the home of Captain John Hite.

There had been no western boundary established for the Fairfax land, and Virginia was considered to extend as far as the Mississippi River. King George II rectified this by a decision on April 16, 1738, establishing a straight line 76 miles long from the head of the Rapidan River to the head of the north fork of the Potomac as the western boundary. This was surveyed in 1746 and became known as the "Fairfax Line".

Hite and his associates filed suit in 1749, starting litigation which extended until 1786, and became a classic textbook study in law schools. It was settled in favor of Hite some years after both he and Lord Fairfax were dead.

From the beginning the difficulty of travel made the size of Spottsylvania County much too large for convenience. In 1734, Jost and his fellow settlers petitioned for formation of a new county, to be called Orange. The county was formed, with Jost as one of the magistrates.

In the same meeting, James Wood (from Winchester, England) was made surveyor, and he soon set about laying out a town site at the Shawnee Springs. So Frederick Town, later to be called Winchester, was founded. It became the county seat when Frederick County was formed in 1738.

When son John Hite and Sara Eltinge were married in 1737, Jost and Anna Maria turned the house and tavern over to them and moved to a site about a mile east of the Bowmans on land that had been set aside for Isaac, a location later known as "Long Meadows." This is the title chosen by Minnie Hite Moody for her historical novel concerning the family, published in 1941.

Anna Maria died in 1739 and in the fall of 1741, Jost married Maria Magdalena, widow of Christian Nuschwanger.

As was often the case, a remarriage of by both parties involved use of a specific agreement drawn up to list not only the material possessions brought into the marriage by each, but their distribution back to the heirs of the two original families after death. When she died is not known.

Jost died May 7, 1760 at the age of 75. Family tradition holds that he and Anna Maria (Merkle) were buried at Kernstown, Frederick Co. Va. in the Old Opequon Cemetery on Opequon Church Ln. off U.S. 11, next to the Opequon Presbyterian church.

Grave stones were convenient building blocks during the Revolution as well as the Civil War, both of which raged up and down the valley pike, so no marker remains.


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