Isaac Van Meter
- The following, copied from a Virginia paper published in 1837, is an
obituary of Isaac Van Meter, the great grandfather of our most excellent
citizen, Wm. C. Van Meter: The righteous shall be in everlasting
remembrance. Psalm CXii., 6.
- Departed this life at Oldfields, Hardy county, Va., December 13, 1837,
that truly patriarchal man, Isaac Vanmeter, esq. aged 80 years and 3 days.
- Born December 10, 1757, at Fort Pleasant, a few rods from the place where
he lies buried, he spent his long life in that valley of surprising beauty
and fertility, through which the South branch of the Potomac winds its
course. His ancestors descended from emigrants from Holland - emigrating
from New Jersey, were among the first settlers of West Virginia, and took
their abode on the branch before the Great Valley of Virginia was abandoned
by the Indians. They were directed to this spot by some friendly Indians
strongly attached to the family. The grandfather of Mr. Vanmeter took his
abode on the beautiful tract of land now in possession of his descendants,
Fort Pleasant, the birthplace of Mr. Vanmeter, now the residence of Abraham
Vanmeter, was the rendezvous of the families in the neighborhood, and during
Braddock's war, was for the time the place of encampment of Washington.
- In consequence of the jealousies attending the encroachments of the
whites, the inhabitants of the Branch were subjected to all the vexations
and pressures of Indian warfare till Virginia ceased to be a frontier. Mr.
Vanmeter has repeatedly shown the writer the spot where his grandfather was
tomahawked by a scouting party from Ohio. To that river the Indians of the
Branch had reluctantly retreated, leaving in the vallies and mountains of
Hardy, all that Indians could desire - fertile corn fields, abundance of
fish, and herds of buffalo and deer.
- Mr. Vanmeter died in the exercise of good hope, and a cheerful confidence
in Jesus Christ. He had not been in connection with the church many years.
Ever since the writer's acquaintance with him, now about 15 years, he
appeared a proper subject for the ordinance of the church; yet his distrust
of himself deterred him from a profession of religion. Some 16 years ago,
he, with an old friend, neighbor and connection, about his age, William
Cunningham, now at rest with his Lord, united with some now living, in
efforts to obtain the services of a Presbyterian minister. There was at that
time but two or three members of the Presbyterian church in the county.
There had been a church which engaged in the early labors of Moses Hoge D.D.,
afterwards, President of Hapden Sydney College of Professor of Theology for
the Synod do Virginia; but it now lived only in the recollection of a few.
They induced the present minister, Rev. Wm. N. Scott, to take his abode with
them; and during the 15 years of his labors, have had cause to bless God for
his direction to a Pastor. Mr. Cuningham lived to see many of his
descendants gathered into a church of which he was an elder. Mr. Vanmeter,
always a friend of the cause, always ready to aid by his counsel, and to
give of his substance, saw with tears and unutterable emotion his children
and grandchildren enter the church of Christ. But while ready to discover
traits of Christian character in others, though faintly drawn and to
palliate their errors, and cover with the mantle of charity their families
he was exceeding slow to believe that he was himself a fitting subject for
the ordinances of the church.
- The writer well remembers the solemnity, the interest, the effect of that
occasion, when the old man with streaming eyes and trembling form, sat down
for the first time, with his children and friends, at the table of the Lord.
- Inheriting a handsome fortune, and prospered in his labors upon his farm,
he was a man of abundant possessions; and in the midst of wealth, maintained
the simplicity of manners, of dress, of living, and of purpose, which
characterized former days. It may be said of him, as it was once said of the
inhabitants of Old Virginny - "the doors of his hall were nailed wide
open from dawn of day to shades of night," and the stranger might find
"rest and food and fire, and a hearty welcome."
- The infirmities of age acting upon his tall, athletic frame but rendered
the mild old man more venerable. And if veneration, affection, attachment,
deference of opinion and judgment, obedience to wishes and commands from
children, grand-children, great-grandchildren and numerous connections if
attention to religion and generosity to the various charitable institutions
of the church, if the faithful performance of duty as a magistrate, and
kindness to the poor, render a man worth of the name of patriarch, we
heartily accord it to Isaac Vanmeter.
- Sometime before his death, admonished by his infirmities of his
approaching end, he made a final settlement of his worldly affairs. I say
final, because of his abundance he had always given liberally to his
children on their marriage and settlement in life, and, though still wealth,
he had not reserved a hoarded treasure to make needy children cease to
sorrow for a parents death. He appropriated a liberal sum of money, which
putting into his pastor's hand he said" "I wish this divided among
he charitable institutions,: and proceeded to make the proportions. "I
wish to give it before I die - perhaps it may be my last - I give it as a
- He had not reserved his various acts of charity till he should die,
neither would he leave the disbursement of this to be made after his
departure,; he would enjoy the giving himself.
- His last days were full of infirmities, but full o peace. The writer had
full opportunity of conversing with him a short time before his death, and
would say, (Ps. XXXVii37.) Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for
the end of that man is peace.
- Mrs. Vanmeter for many years filled the office of magistrate, frequently
represented his county in the State legislature, and was a member of the
State Convention that adopted the Federal Constitution. The scenes of
thrilling interest that passed in that body were retained in lively
recollection. He has often been heard to relate the circumstances of Patrick
Henry's famous replication, "bowing to the majesty of the People."
And an aged friend, who has been intimate with him for forty years, said to
me today, he was a man who filled his station in society well; my respect
and attachment for him increase as our intimacy was ripened by increasing
years. F. H. W.