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 tank offering."
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.


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