12 - Hiestand Land in "The Fort" - Fort Valley, Virginia

Seven Bends of North Shenandoah River, near Woodstock, VA with Fort Valley in the Massanutten Mountain behind (east of) the river.

Photo Above – Looking Southeast

Foreground = Seven bends of North Fork Shenandoah River (near Woodstock, VA) on the west side of Massanutten Mountain.  Behind the Seven Bends = west wall of Massanutten Mountain & Fort Valley inside the top of the mountain.  Beyond the east wall of the Massanutten = Page Valley and the South Fork Shenandoah River (where Henry Hiestand lived and Daniel Haston was born).  Very Back = Blue Ridge Mountains.

Inside Fort Valley - Viewed from the North end.

These photos are available as prints from photographer Greg Cromer.

Lying in the top of the northern end of the Massanutten Mountain, from New Market to Strasburg, is a beautiful valley, hidden from the view of passers-by traveling up or down the Shenandoah Valley. 

It was named Powell’s Fort Valley (now, often just Fort Valley) for a very early English settler with the surname Powell who supposedly lived there, discovered silver ore, and counterfeited money.  The “fort” part of the name comes from its topographical formation—like a fort with mighty walls all around it, the East and West Fort Mountains—“the Fort of Nature’s own making.”[i] 

[i] T.K. Cartmell, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants A History of Frederick County, Virginia. (1909; reprinted, Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1989), 36.

Fort Valley is about twenty-three twenty miles long, and five miles wide at its widest point.  Passage Creek flows from the upper (southern) end of the valley all the way to the northern end, then runs through a narrow passage and into the North Fork of the Shenandoah River before merging with the South Fork and eventually flowing into the Potomac River. 

On October 4, 1763, Peter Tear officially assigned 400 acres of “waste and ungranted land on Passage Creek in Powell’s Fort” to Henry Hestant, Daniel’s father.  

On October 5, 1763, the day following the date of the survey, David Clem assigned the 300 acres to Abraham Hestant, one of Daniel’s older brothers.[i]  The transaction was witnessed by Jacob Hiestand who signed his first name in English and his surname in German, as he and his brothers often did.  The north border of Abraham’s tract joined Henry’s south border.

[i] Joyner, Abstracts of Virginia’s Northern Neck Warrants & Surveys – Volume III (1710-1780), 11.

Google Map View

Fort Valley is one of the most unknown “worth seeing” spots in the eastern part of our country.  In addition to its significance to our Hiestand/Haston family, Fort Valley is rich with history–the Caroline Iron Ore Furnace, Camp Roosevelt Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and the surrounding George Washington National Forest with its extensive hiking trails and scenic beauty.  

"Big Spring" on Hiestand Land

The Big Spring is located on the northern end of what was Abraham Hiestand’s land.  The spring is said to produce 700 gallons of water per minute.  It still produces an abundant flow of crystal clear cold water.  Bottle-water companies have tried to purchase the rights to capture the water, but the camp owners have chosen to keep it the way it is–the way it should be.  Chances are, Abraham located his home very near this spring.  

Caroline Iron Ore Furnace

In the 1800s, there were two iron furnaces in Fort Valley–Elizabeth Furnace on the north end of the valley and Caroline Furnace on the south end of the valley.  Caroline Furnace was located on land that Henry Hiestand had owned in the 1700s.  The furnace was destroyed by Yankee soldiers toward the end of the war because it was a major producer of iron for the Confederacy.  

The Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center occupies the heart of the property once owned by Henry Hiestand and his son Abraham.

Camp Roosevelt CCC Camp

Camp Roosevelt, the first Civilian Conservation Corps camp (1933-1942) was located a few hundred yards up the eastern ridge of the valley from the lands once owned by Abraham and Henry Hiestand.  The men of Camp Roosevelt did much to restore and preserve the beauty of Fort Valley.  

George Washington National Forest

Fort Valley, including the land once owned by Henry and Abraham Hiestand, has been in the George Washington National Forest since the forest (originally named Shenandoah National Forest) was established on May 16, 1918. 

Don't Miss This Short Video!

This article provides background information for an upcoming article that will focus on Fort Valley as the place where Daniel Hiestand/Haston and his wife lived as a young couple and began raising a family.  

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