John Counts, Sr., who lived in the
Shenandoah Valley, then died in 1803 in Glade Hollow, Russell County, Virginia
was probably born 1722/25 in Germany. Uncertain who his parents were.
It might have been Johannes Kuntz and Anna Elizabeth Catherine Stoever, but
there is no verification of this.
family researcher thinks that he might be been a Combs instead of a Counts.
The Counts-Combs-Staceys families were together in the Shenandoah Valley
then again in Russell Co, Va.
[This John Counts is not to be confused with the Rev. John Koontz of Mill
Creek who married many residents of the area.]
The part of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where the Counts family lived
was first a part of Frederick Co, Va, which has been created in 1738.
It became part of Dunmore Co in 1772, which was renamed Shenandoah Co 1778,
then in 1831 it became part of Page County. Many of the families in the Shenandoah
Valley were German families from Phildelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Some of these were Quakers, who came to the Valley in 1734 and built the
Hopewell Friends Meeting near Clearbrook. The Great Wagon Road ran
down the Valley.
Settlers were moving into the Valley by the 1730's. In 1748 16-year-old George
Washington made his first trip into Frederick Co, Va. with a party of surveyors.
He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 & 1761 from
There were not any major battles there in the Revolutionary War, but prisoners
were held there. In 1777 Hessian soldiers were held there. [Perhaps
this is how John's daughter, Mollie met her Hessian-soldier husband.]
John Counts married Mary Magdalene Summers
about 1757, probably in Frederick
Co, Va (Shenandoah Valley). He shows up on different court records
of Frederick co, Va in Mar, 1759 (see below) and the last being Aug, 1789.
He was a slaveholder and lived near Luray in Frederick/Dunmore/Shenandoah
Co, (now Page) Va.
Summers family notes:
- There was a Michael
Summers, b Jan 1744/45 in Pennsylvania; d May 1782, Shenandoah Co, VA;
m Anna "Nancy" ?; she died after 1800 in Sullivan Co, TN. The
only child I have for them is Susanna, 1779-1858, Shenandoah co, Va. [Perhaps
this Michael could have been Mary's brother.]
- There was a will of John Summers in Augusta Co, Va, June 27, 1803.
From Frederick Co VA Loose Papers:
05 Mar 1759 - I promise to pay or cause to be payd. unto John Counts his eares or a sines the full
and just sum of six punds current money of vergenea on or before the -------
25 day of December as witness my hand this 5 day of March 1759
test Mason Combs
John X STACY (his mark)
In 1764, there was a civil suit between a
John Counts and John Stacey on Feb
9, 1764. E.J. Sutherland's Some Descendants
of John Counts of Glade Hollow says, "On Feb 9, 1764, in a Frederick
Co [VA] civil suit on an attachment in that county by John COUNTS against
John STACEY, the jury found that ...The COUNTS farm was on Hawksbill Creek
about three miles NW of the present town of Luray, and about one mile south
of the mouth of Hawksbill (where it enters the Shennandoah South Fork).
[Later both Counts and Stacey families were in Russell Co, Va.]
In Russell Co, on April 28, 1791, John Stacey transferred his entry of fifty
acres in Glade Hollow to John Counts."
Also in 1764 (or 1766) the Rhodes Massacre took place at Rhodes Fort, near
Luray. [Rhodes Fort was actually just a log house built by settler John Rhodes
over a vaulted stone cellar.]
In Aug 1765 John Counts bought 270 acres on the west side of Hawksbill Creek
in the Shenandoah Valley from John Bumgarner, both of Frederick Co, Va.
John Counts of Glade Hollow, Russell Co, Va. later refers to this tract of
land. (In 1783 John Counts bought two more acres on Hawksbill Creek
from Christian Bumbarner.)
They lived on Hawksbill Creek, about 3 miles NW of Luray- map2
[this is a great map showing Hawksbill
Creek & Luray, but you will have to download it] (The headwaters of Hawksbill Creek begin in
the mountains near Big Meadow. Hawksbill Creek flows north close to Stanley, then thru the
town of Luray and then joins the south fork of Shenandoah River about 6 miles
north of Luray). John Counts' name appears on the first tax
list of Shenandoah County in 1782, and every year thereafter through 1789.
He owned 270 acres.
The census of 1785 shows the following heads of families in Shenandoah County:
John Countz, George Countz and Jacob Countz.
These Counts marriages took place in Shenandoah County:
Philip Couts married Anna Kifer, Aug. 22, 1785
[The following marriages took place after
John Counts and 4 of his 8 children moved to Russell Co, Va in 1790]
Philip Countz married Peggy Bond, Dec. 1, 1800
Eve Countz married John Newland, Mar. 26, 1805
Deborah Countz married Joseph Williamson, Oct. 12, 1812
In 1789 John "Couts" sold 248 acres in Shenandoah Co, Va. He signed
with a "X." He did not sell all of his land on Hawksbill, he gave 75 acres
to his son Phillip, who stayed there. (There
used to be an old graveyard on it with unmarked graves that supposedly were
In 1790 they moved from Shenandoah County to Russell County Va, with married
children, George Counts and Mary Rasnake. They were following their married
children Lissey Willard and son John Jr who moved there in 1787.
Glade Hollow Fort was one of the 8 forts built along the western Virginia
frontier to protect the settlers from the Indians. There were fierce
hostilities between the settlers and the Indians in the 1770's. Daniel
Boone and his brother Squire lived in the vicinity of these forts in the
early 1770's. Most likely hostilities in this area had ceased by the
time the Counts family arrived, though there were still some accounts of
killings until 1794.
John lived in Glade Hollow on Cedar Creek north of Lebanon, Va. John
died there between 7-27-1802 and 4-27-1803. Wfie, Mary was not mentioned
in John’s will, which was executed Apr 27, 1803, though she supposedly died
John & Mary had 10 children.
will of Apr 3, 1802, probated Apr 27, 1803 lists children.
1. Eve Maticks "my eldest daughter"
2. Mary Rasnake, received a shilling, along with the other children
3. Lissey Willard [who m in 1783 to Henry "Harry" Willard, and their son,
Martin is the only grandchild listed on the will]
4. Catherine Counts
5. Christian Counts, "my daughter"
6. Phillip Counts
7. George Counts, married Eve Haynes. John Sr. lived with him on his plantation
and left him most things.
(8. John Counts Jr, m Margaret Kelly, but
was not mentioned in his father's will)
John Counts, Sr. was probably buried on his homestead in Glade Hollow, Russell
Co., Va. His will was presented in court Apr 27, 1803. He left his
home place to his son, George who lived there until about 1835, then
When later residents bought the farmhouse in Glade Hollow it was known as
the "Granny Counts House." The old 2-story log house had just one room in
each story, and a log kitchen stood a short distance away with a spring a
few feet west. This house was torn down about 1890. About 200 yards
west of the house was the old Counts cemetery. In 1931 there were 7
grave markers but only one was readable:
June 25th 1814 . . . Mary Counts . . . was born 1722.
[Source: "John Counts of Glade Hollow"
by Elihu & Hetty Sutherland, 1948.]
1. Eve Counts
Eve married Matthew Maticks/Mattox, “my eldest daughter” as John's will says.
Matthew was on the tax lists of Shenandoah Co, Va. in 1782, 1785, 1786-89,
In 1820, Matthew applied for a revolutionary war pension stating that he
was 68 years old and that he joined the revolutionary army in Shenandoah Co
in 1780 under Capt. Oldham for 18 months, that he marched to Hillsborough
in NC, that he was in the battle of Gilford Church, and at the battle of
Camden where he received a wound that disabled him from service. He
was sent to the hospital at Charlottetown and then sent home. Following
this application he was granted a pension of $8/month.
Matthew died 1821 or 1831.
1a) Thomas Mattox, b 1784
2. Mary Counts
"Mollie" was born abt 1745 Shenandoah Co, Va; m Jacob Rasnake, Feb
25, 1784 in Shenandoah Co, VA. His name was probably originally, Johann Jakob
Ruehrschneck. There is a Johann Ruehrschneck
listed in "Mercenaries from Ansbach and Beyreuth, Germany, who remained in
America After the Revolution," which is probably Jacob.
King George III of England hired German soldiers
from 6 principalities: Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick-Woffenbuettel, Waldeck,
Anhalt-Zerbst, Hanau, and Ansbach-Bayreuth. These six principalities
send almost 30,000 men to fight for the British against the American rebels.
Approximately 2/3 of them were from Hesse, thus, the term "Hessian." Of the
29,875 documented German troops sent to America, 17,313 of them returned home
to Germany after the war. 12,562 were either killed or remained in
America after the war. If this Johan Ruehrschneck is actually Jacob
Rasnake, he was a private in the Ansbach regiment #1 and is last mentioned
on the muster roll for June 1783. Klaus Wust's book, "The Virginia Germans" says that the
Ansbach troops lost many men in the Shenandoah Valley [source].
Jacob Rasnake was born in Watzendorf, Germany (a tiny
village about 15 km west of Schwabach which is just south of Nuernberg).
When he was about 18 years old he was conscripted into the "Hessian" Army.
He would not have been a soldier of the Duke of Hess, but rather of the Markgraff
Carl Alexander von Ansbach-Bayreuth. Various family stories says that he
was threshing wheat (or working in the family hayloft or the potato field)
one day when the military officers seized him and that his mother's efforts
to secure his release were unsuccessful, so she gave him a German Bible to
carry with him. (The Grand Duke of Hesse "sold" 22,000 men to England.
It seems that they could not have all gone willingly, and thus the Grand
Duke became very rich from the suffering of his people. Another German-American
family has a similar story
of kidnapping, but the genealogist doubts that it is true.)
So, Jacob came to America with Hessian troops hired by
King George III of Great Britain to fight against the American Colonies.
He was a musketier from the Ansbach Regiment, 1st Company under the direction
of Generals Howe and Clinton. The Ansbach Regiment served at Philadelphia,
Newport, Springfield, and Yorktown. The story is that he was captured in
the Battle of Yorktown in Oct 1781. The prisoners were marched in the cold
weather first to Frederick, Maryland and then to Winchester, Virginia in
the Shenandoah Valley. (Here is a third very interesting and similar story
of a young Hessian soldier who shared the same fate).
One thousand Hessian soldier were also captured on Christmas
Day in Trenton, NJ. The English-speaking Americans did not take
kindly to the Hessian mercenaries, so the prisoners were sent to German-speaking
communities, one around Germantown, Pa (near Philadelphia) and others in
the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Living among their own people, they
were not held in strict confinement. The earliest Hessian POWs came
to the Shenandoah Valley in 1777 (captured at Saratoga) and remained until
the War was over in 1781 -- many of them electing to stay permanently when
the prisoner exchange happened in the Spring of 1782. There are numerous
accounts of these Hessian soldiers marrying daughters of the German-speaking
families that they lived among.
Somehow Jacob met up with the Counts family, who were
also German-speaking. The similar Hessian story at the 2nd afore-mentioned
link says that the Hessians were "sent
to Charlottesville, Va., ... to Winchester, Va., and ... to Frederick, Md.
A plan was then devised to indenture these men for some years to residents
of the areas and then grant them freedom." In this story the
young Hessian soldier is indentured to a German-speaking farmer, then later
married his daughter. Sounds like what may have happened with Jacob
- One story says that after the War the Hessian soldiers were given the choice
of going back to Europe or taking the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.
and Jacob seeing this as a way to get free from the Hessian army, took the
Oath of Allegiance.
- Another story says that Jacob became acquainted with the Counts family
and Molly Counts while a POW in the Shenandoah Valley and after the fighting
ceased Jacob secretly married Mollie (Mary) Counts and managed to conceal
his true identity and avoid capture for desertion by the Hessian officers
who were still attempting to round up their captured troops.
- Another story says that Jacob was captured at the battle of Saratoga in
Oct. 1777 and was held as a POW during the rest of the war and was released
at the end of it, which would have been 1781-2, when he then chose to remain
in America. [8,000 Hessians were
captured at Saratoga and taken to Boston to be shipped back home, but many
of them refused to leave, so they were taken to Virginia.]
- Another story says that John Counts was walking through a battlefield with
his daughter Mollie and they found Jacob among the dead and wounded, took
him home and nursed him back to health. [The problem here is that there were no major
battles in the Shenandoah Valley during the Revolutionary War.]
- Another version says that Jacob was captured and then managed to escape
(and maybe was wounded) on his march to Winchester, Virginia, then somehow
came in contact with the Counts family who helped him.
All of these may have some grain of truth.
The marriage took place in 1784, 3 years after the Battle of Yorktown (the
last major battle). They were married by a Rev. John Counts/Kuntz (not
Mary's father). In 1785 Jacob was still in Shenandoah Co, Va. and had
2 horses and 2 cattle.
About 1789 they moved west with Mollie's family to Russell Co, Va. He first
paid tax in Russell Co, Va in 1790. Jacob purchased from Edward and Mary Smoot
for the sum of 85 pounds 'current money of Virginia' 195 acres of land, the
deed bearing the date of 17 Aug 1790 (located north of the Clinch River bridge).
Here they spent the remainder of their lives. In 1796, Jacob also purchased
164 acres from Zach Henderson and wife. They lived in Cleveland, Russell
Co, Va. for more than 55 years.
Jacob Rasnake served as a juror in April, 1791; as a grand juror in Nov,
1793; and at other times. The Russell County census for 1820 shows 4
males and 3 females in the family and only two other Rasnake families in the
county (Jacob, Jr. and John). They were members of Reeds Valley Baptist Church
in Russell Co, Va.
Jacob Rasnake's will was dated 24 Nov 1826 and probated 2 Jan 1827.
a) John Rasnake, b 1786, Shenandoah Co, Va
b) Jacob Rasnake, b 1788
c) Elijah Rasnake, b 1789, Russell Co, VA
d) Margaret Rasnake, b 1791
e) Lazarus D. Rasnake, b May 23, 1793
f) Christina “Crissa” Rasnake, b 1786
g) Mary “Polly” Rasnake
h) Nancy Rasnake
i) Jonas Rasnake, b Aug 13, 1803, Russell Co, VA
3. John Counts
John Jr., b 1765 in Russell Co, Va.; m Margeret Kelly. Moved from Shenandoah
co, Va. to Russell Co, Va. in 1787. Died in Cleveland, Russel Co, Va, Oct
Joseph Counts, b abt 1789
John Counts III, b abt 1791
James Counts, b abt 1793
Christine "Chrissa" Counts, b abt 1793
Margaret Counts, b abt 1797; m Henry Long and Moved to Iuka, Mississippi
about 1830, buried there.
Elizabeth Counts, b abt 1799
Joshua Counts, b abt 1802
Nancy Counts, b abt 1803
Ezekial Counts, b abt 1805
4. Catherine Counts
Catherine, b 1767, Frederick Co, Va; married John Gray, 1792, Rockingham
5. Christina Counts
Christiana - John's will says, “my daughter”, prob unm in 1803
6. Elizabeth/Malissa Counts (my ancestor)
"Lissy" married 1783 to Henry “Harry” Willard.
Their son Martin is the only grandchild listed on John Counts will. Moved
from Shenandoah co, Va. to Russell Co, Va. in 1787. In 1803 the family moved
to Breckinridge Co, Ky. Children:
a) girl, b 1774-84 (prob abt 1785), Va -- maybe Sarah, b abt 1785
b) Martin Willard was born 1793,
Va; married 1821 in Missouri to Mary “Polly” Lindsey. Children:
c) girl, b 1784-1800 (prob abt 1787), Va. -- maybe Elizabeth,
b abt 1796
d) girl, b 1789-1800 (prob abt 1789), Va. -- maybe Crissy, b
Willard Jr, b 1801 [1810 Ky census: boy, b 1805-10]
f) Margaret, b abt 1802 [1810 Ky census: girl, b 1800-10]
g) James Willard was born May
8, 1804, Ky.; m. 1st abt. 1826 in Spencer Co, Ind. to Rachel Jenkins (4 children).
h) girl, b 1800-10 (prob abt 1802). (1810 Ky. census)
i) girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1805), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)
j) girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1809), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)
k) girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1810), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)
7. Phillip Counts
Phillip, b 1769, Frederick Co, Va.; m Anna Keyser, Aug 22, 1785, Shenandoah
Co, Va.; he died Jan 23, 1843, Page Co, Va.
A certificate, filed with the bond in Shenandoah Co, Va, is in the following
words: "Shenandoah County and Beckford in Virginy. Philip Couts
and Anna Kiser is a go to git marred and his father John Couts and mother
is will that they shoud git mared And Anna Kiser friends is all will that
she shd get mared to Sad Couts --- August 22 1785." This paper was
endorsed by "Any Kiser," and "John Couts," both by mark, and in person by
Philip was listed on the 1789
tax list of Shenandoah Co, Va.
His parents and some siblings moved west to Russell Co, Va. in 1790, but
Philip remained all his life on his father's farm on Hawksbill Creek in Shenandoah
(now Page) County - map1 -
In 1802 his parents, in Russell County, executed a deed to him for the remainder
of the John Counts tract of land in that section. Shenandoah County Deed Book N, pp 162-3.
On January 25, 1808, Christian (Chrisley) Bumgarner and wife conveyed to Philip
"Countz" 2-3/4 acres on the west bank of Hawksbill, adjourning said Couts'
land. Deed Book Q, p 212.
On 16 Oct 1817, Philip Counts (Kountz) (wife Anna is mentioned but did not
sign) deeded to Robert Carter 79 acres on the west side of Hawksbill, a part
of the tract deeded by John Countz and Magdalene to Philip Countz.
The 1830 Census lists Philip "Kountz" between 50 and 60 years of age, living
alone, except for four slaves.
On December 10, 1833, Philip "Kountz" (by mark) executed his last will and
testament, and it was probated in the Page County Court on January 23, 1843
(Will Book B-274), with Frederick
A. Marye as executor and William S. Marye, Frederick A. Marye and Mary Marye
as witnesses. He named as his beneficiaries his son Jacob, and his
daughter, Elizabeth Carter (wife of Robert Carter), his nephew Jonas Gray,
and his "black woman Judy." He does not mention his wife's name and it is
presumed she was dead at this time. Philip and Anna are both probably
buried in the old Counts graveyard on the west side of Hawksbill Creek. [E.J.
Sutherland's "John Counts of Glade Hollow"
B-7 pg 296]
Jacob Count, b 1790-94, m Maria Derting
Elizabeth Counts, m Robert Carter
8. George Counts
George was born abt 1770, married Eve Haynes. Inherited his father's
farm in Glade Hollow, Russell Co, Va. He lived there until about 1835, when
he moved to Washington Co, Va. John lived with him on his plantation and left
him most things.