11 - The Henry Hiestand Family in Virginia

When Henry Hiestand and his wife (name unknown) moved their family to Virginia, they probably already had four or five children who had been born back in Lancaster County, PA–Barbara (c. 1734), Jacob (c. 1736), Peter (c. 1738), and maybe Abraham (c. 1840).  Ann was born October 15, 1742, so she may have been the first of the kids born in Virginia.  John (c. 1746), Daniel (c. 1750), and Mary Magdalene (c. 1752) were probably born on the Shenandoah River property.  Except for Ann, all of their birth dates are estimates.  In another article, I will say a bit more about each of these eight Hiestand children.  

All of Henry’s children remained around their parents until their mother (1777) and father (1779) died.  There is SO much that could be said about the Hiestands’ lives in Virginia–about 80 pages in the book I’m writing.  In the previous article, you learned about one of the most significant events that occurred while Henry’s family lived in the Shenandoah Valley–the attacks by Native Americans throughout the Shenandoah Valley.  I’ll share three more interesting happenings in this article.

Henry Hiestand Voted AGAINST George Washington in 1755

Three months after Henry Hiestand was court-martialed for avoiding a militia muster, on December 11, 1755, Henry Hestant traveled fifty miles or so to Winchester to vote in the election for Frederick County representatives to the Virginia House of Burgesses.  Three names were on the ballot—Hugh West, Captain Thomas Swearengen, and Colonel George Washington.  Voters were to register their votes for two of the three men.  Henry’s name appears on the list of voters for Mr. Hugh West as well as the list of voters for Captain Thomas Swearengen.  He, like most other voters in that election, chose not to vote for Colonel George Washington.  Final tally: George Washington 40; Thomas Swearengen 270, Hugh West 271.[i]  Born February 22, 1732, George Washington was 23 years old (soon to be 24) at the time of this election.   

[i] Murtie June Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983), 328-332.

“Washington kept a copy of the poll sheet, which listed how each person voted, his entire life.”  More

Washington’s crushing the defeat in this election may have been caused by the notoriety he was suffering at the time from Frederick Countians who were resisting enlistment in his army and the tough way he was dealing with deserters and traitors.  He even acknowledged that there were inhabitants in the area who were threatening to blow out his brains.  Also, Washington was thrust into the race at the “last minute,” by his friends.  He may not have even been aware that he was in contention.[i] 

[i] Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life. (New York: Penguin Books, 2010), 65, 67.

For a historical context:  Washington had been humiliated in a disastrous defeat by the French and their Indian allies at the Battle of Fort Necessity (also called Battle of the Great Meadows) on July 3, 1754 in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania.[i]  A year later on July 9, 1755, George Washington was placed in command of British Major-General Edward Braddock’s troops when Braddock was mortally wounded in the Battle of the Monongahela, near Fort Duquesne (Fort Pitt) in western Pennsylvania.[ii]  The Virginia election occurred on December 11, 1755, five months after Braddock’s defeat. 

[i] Wikipedia contributors, “Battle of Fort Necessity,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed February 17, 2020, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Necessity.

[ii] Wikipedia contributors, “Battle of the Monongahela,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed February 17, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_Expedition

The voting process in colonial Virginia consisted of “public voice votes”—a spectator event, following an English tradition.  Every voter voiced his intention aloud, in the presence of friends, enemies, neighbors, local officials and candidates.

As each freeholder came before the sheriff, his name was called out in a loud voice, and the sheriff inquired how he would vote. The freeholder replied by giving the name of his preference. The appropriate clerk then wrote down the voter’s name, the sheriff announced it as enrolled, and often the candidate for whom he had voted arose, bowed, and publicly thanked him.[i]

[i] Charles S. Sydnor, Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington’s Virginia. (Charlottesville, VA: University of North Carolina Press, 1952), 21.

John Koontz and the Baptist Revival

The Massanutten Settlement where the Hiestands lived in Virginia was largely a Mennonite community.  Rev. John Rhoads who, along with most of his family, was massacred by Indians was probably the Hiestand’s Mennonite pastor while Henry’s kids were growing up.  Church meetings would have been held in their homes, on a rotating basis or in the one home that could best accommodate the congregation.  No doubt Henry Hiestand and his wife faithfully tried to raise their kids as good Mennonites.  

In 1770 and for fifty years thereafter, John Koontz, a man of German descent, made a remarkable spiritual impact on the greater Massanutten area.  Koontz was living in Front Royal near Winchester, Virginia in the 1760s when he began to be influenced by the sermons of Baptist preachers.  In December 1768, Koontz traveled to Fauquier County, Virginia and was converted and baptized there, becoming a Baptist.  Soon after his baptism, he began to preach in the area near where he lived.  John’s brother, George, lived in the Mill Creek community of then-Frederick County, approximately 25 miles south of Front Royal.  In November 1770, John visited his brother and learned that the people there, even most of the religious ones, were ignorant of the genuine grace and true peace of God through Jesus Christ the Savior.  As John preached, God opened many hearts and he returned often to preach prior to moving into the Mill Creek community in the mid-1770s. 

The Hiestand family was one of the Mennonite families to be impacted spiritually by the Baptist ministry of Rev. John Koontz.  Although we do not know the full extent of his influence on the Hiestands, we do know that he officiated marriages for several members of Henrich Hiestand’s extended family and several of them became ministers and stalwart Christians.

In the 1790s, the Mauck Meeting House was erected on property owned by Daniel Mauck, which became the meeting-home of the Mill Creek Baptist Church for about 100 years.  This building, located about 2 1/4 miles from the Henry Hiestand home place on the river, still stands and is in excellent condition.

Peter Hiestand and Jacob Gochenour's Estate

In the previous article, we saw that Joseph Gochenour was an adjacent-neighbor to Henry Hiestand.  Evidence suggests that Henry and Joseph were connected in other ways.  They may have even traveled to America together.  Since Maria Gochenour was one of the three women most likely to have been our Henry Hiestand’s mother, Henry’s close connection to Joseph Gochenour might indicate that Henry’s mother was Maria Gochenour and that Henry Hiestand and Joseph Gochenour were first cousins.

Approximately 40 years later in Virginia, Henry’s son Peter Hiestand was involved in another significant event that suggests a familial connection between the Hiestands and Gochenours.  Jacob Gochenour, the probable brother of Lancaster County Joseph Gochenour, lived about four miles northwest of Woodstock, VA.  Jacob Gochenour’s land was at least 20 road miles from the Hiestand home on the South Fork Shenandoah River.  And the steep, rough and rocky Massanutten Mountain separated the two families.

Apparently, something other than neighborliness connected Jacob Gochenour to Henry’s Hiestand’s second son, Peter Hiestand, so strongly that Jacob chose Peter to be the co-executor of his will.  Jacob Gochenour had four sons and his oldest son, Jacob Jr. was twenty-four years old when the will was written.  But Peter Hiestand was chosen to pair-up with Jacob Gochenour’s wife Mary to execute Jacob’s November 30, 1771, Frederick County, VA will.  If Henry Hiestand was a first cousin of Joseph and Jacob Gochenour, Peter Hiestand was Jacob Gochenour’s first cousin-once-removed.  

There's much more on this timeline.

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