Van Meter Pioneers in America

 The roots of the Van Meter family tree were firmly planted in American soil over three hundred years ago. The story of this family is the story of the growth of America, for the Van Meters followed the expansion of the frontier westward and participated in many of the events large and small which shaped the nation. In the early days the Van Meters were primarily farmers and horse and stock breeders, but they also represented nearly every other walk of life -- doctors, blacksmiths, bakers, merchants, millers, lawyers, educators, ministers, justices of the peace, state legislators, nurses, railroaders, lumbermen, editors, inventors, soldiers, mothers of large families, friends and neighbors of some of the giants of American history --- George Washington, James Madison, John Marshall, Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Abraham Lincoln. Van Meters helped vote Washington into the Virginia house of burgesses, later fought under his command at Boston and Valley Forge. Van Meters defended Boonesborough at the shoulder of Daniel Boone, marched to Kaskaskia and Vincennes with George Rogers Clark, were boyhood neighbors of Abe Lincoln in Kentucky. Van Meters opened lead mines in Illinois; piloted river boats; worked on the railroad; fought for both the Union and Confederacy, sometimes brother against brother; won a Congressional Medal of Honor; established churches, courthouses, forts, schools; were missionaries to the Indians; won the Kentucky Derby and invented a parachute. Van Meter State Park in Missouri is a gift from a Van Meter. There are little towns named Van Meter in Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Iowa (“where a Feller can grow”). Numerous other towns sprang up years after Van Meters were first settlers on the land.

This account is but a glimpse of the family in America before the Civil War with particular reference to the branch which settled in Putnam County, Ohio. It is an account of the surname Van Meter and so regretfully neglects the collateral families into which the Van Meter women married.

The name Van Meter comes from the Dutch Van Meteren, pronounced "Van Mayteren", which means from the manor or village of Meteren located in the Waal Valley about halfway between Rotterdam and Nijmegen. In America the name was shortened to Van Meter, but still pronounced Van Mater. Some adopted this phonetic spelling. Others, probably influenced by English court clerks’ familiar “re” ending, began using spellings like Van Matre and Van Metre, either one or two words. All are related no matter what spelling! 

The manor Meteren in Holland was part of the estate of the family Van Cuick Van Meteren. One of the earliest mentions of the manor Meteren is in a deed dated September 1253. The family thus had a long history before Jan Joosten Van Meteren brought his wife and children to America in 1662. Numerous references to Van Meterens in knighthood lists make it clear that this was a prominent, influential and wealthy family. Although Jan Joosten’s connection to the family in Holland is lost, someday it may be known again. In any case, there were some interesting Van Meterens in Holland to whom we are somehow related.

One of them was Jacob Van Meteren of Breda, a printer and linguist. He employed the famous Miles Coverdale to prepare a complete English translation of the Bible which was published at Antwerp in 1535 --  the very first of all printed English Bibles. Jacob’s son was Emanuel Van Meteren, a scholar, historian, statesman and philosopher and a close friend of Henry Hudson who sailed his “Half Moon” 150 miles up the Hudson River in 1609 searching for a passage to China.

The Dutch had sponsored Hudson’s exploration and quickly exploited the opportunities it opened up. In June 1623 New Netherland was formally established as a province of the West India Company, and in 1626 New Amsterdam became the seat of government on Manhattan Island. By the time of the transfer of New Netherland to English control in 1664 the population stood at about 10,000.

Two years before this transfer Jan Joosten Van Meteren arrived at New Amsterdam with his family on the ship “Vos” (Fox) on April 12, 1662. He settled in an area on the west side of the Hudson River about 60 miles upstream where a group of Dutch and Huguenot immigrants were establishing a collection of little communities --  New Paltz, Wiltwyck, Esopus, Hurley and Marbletown -- near the present Kingston, Ulster County, New York at the foothills of the Catskill mountains.

Jan Joosten brought with him his wife Maycke Hendricks and five children, three of them by Maycke’s first husband Willem Krorn (Gysbert, Lysbet and Geertje ages 15, 12 and 9) and two of his own, Joost Jansen age 6 and Catherine age 2 1/2.

One would suspect that other Van Meteren families might have immigrated to America at about this time, but apparently only one other one did --  Jan Gysbertsen Van Meteren in 1663 who had a son Kryn Jansen Van Meteren. They settled in the area of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Only a few of their descendants ventured westward. Most used the spelling Van Mater, In the 1880s a few more Van Meteren families came to the United States and settled in Iowa where they still live, retaining their Dutch name and spelling.

Only a year after arriving in America little Joost Jansen Van Meteren had an adventure which set the pattern for his whole life and planted the pioneering seed which flowered in succeeding generations. He was captured by the Indians. On June 7, 1663 while the men were away working in the fields the Minnisink Indians entered several villages under the pretext of selling vegetables and. suddenly began murdering their unarmed victims. They took all they could find of value, set the villages on fire and took about 45 women and children captives. Among them were Jan Joosten’s wife Maycke and son Joost from Wiltwyck and Louis DuBois’ wife Catherine Blanchan and baby daughter Sarah from Esopus. Joost and Sarah were later to be married. For three months the men searched the Catskills, but had no success until on Sept. 3 a friendly Indian gave a clue to the location of the captives. A rescue party was formed led by Louis DuBois and Capt. Kreiger whose journal relates this event. Meanwhile, since the Indians were running short of food and winter was not far off they had decided to burn some of their Captives. Catherine DuBois and her baby Sarah were selected to be first. When the Indians were about to put the torch to her pyre she began to sing the words of the 137th Psalm. Enchanted by her voice they demanded that she continue to sing, Of course, she did. The approaching rescuers heard her, were guided to the spot, attacked the Indians and released all the prisoners. Little Joost, too young to be much affected by the horrors of captivity, thoroughly enjoyed his three months of Indian life. Later as an adult he frequently left home to spend many weeks at a time with various tribes. In this way he was among the first whites to explore the wilderness areas to the west of the coastal settlements. He was particularly impressed by the beauty of the Valley of Virginia and urged his sons to settle there, which they eventually did. Thus began the pioneering spirit of the Van Meters who for the next 200 years were among the first settlers and participants in the key events which shaped the nation as it thrust evermore westward.

Let’s trace this activity in more detail, beginning with Joost’s father Jan Joosten Van Meteren, our immigrant ancestor. In 1667 he was elected an elder in the Dutch Reformed Church in Wiltwyck and became more and more prominent in civil and religious affairs. His house was a popular place for baptisms. In 1673 he was elected one of the four magistrates of Hurley and Marbletown. Beginning in 1689 he began to accumulate land grants in the Province of East Jersey on the South Branch of the Raritan River in the area of the present Somerville, New Jersey in Somerset County. Here he owned 1835 acres, the home for a number of years of Joost, his sons and grandsons. Jan Joosten Van Meteren died in New Jersey in about 1706.

Joost Jansen Van Meteren, who sometimes called himself John Van Meter, married Sarah DuBois at New Paltz on December 12, 1682. About 15 years later he moved his growing family to Somerset County, New Jersey on his father’s land which he later inherited. Joost and Sarah seem to have had five sons, but only three of them are well known. John, our ancestor, was the eldest, baptized in Kingston, N.Y.  on October 14, 1683. The others were Isaac, Henry, Abraham and Jacob. There also were four daughters Rebecca, Lysbeth, Rachel and Malinda.

John and his first wife Sarah Bodine had three children born in Somerset County and baptized in the Reformed Dutch Church on the Raritan at Readington. Soon after Sarah died in 1709 John married again to Margaret Mollenauer and had eight more children including our Isaac Van Meter, born in Somerset County on June 3, 1713. Isaac grew up in Somerset County, married Alice Scholl there in 1736 and had three children who were baptized In the Readington church, including our Johannes, or John, baptized June 6, 1740.

In the meanwhile the Van Meters were on the move again. Joost’s sons John and Isaac and Henry, aided by their widowed mother Sarah DuBois Van Meter, began buying land in Salem County, New Jersey in 1714 until they owned about 6000 acres there in the vicinity of Pittsgrove and Daretown. Joost’s son Henry settled in Salem County and except for a few years in Virginia lived out his life there. John and Isaac, however, heeding the advice of their father to settle in the rich lands of the Valley of Virginia, were anxious to move on to the south.

The next step in that direction was to Frederick County, Maryland, at that time part of Prince Georges County, where in 1726 John purchased a tract called “Meter” on Meter’s Run, a tributary of the Monocacy River. It was upon this ground that the Battle of Monocacy Junction was fought many years later during the Civil War.

Their eyes still on the Valley of Virginia, John and. Isaac developed a plan to settle their relatives and friends there. They applied to the Governor and the Colonial Council of Virginia for land grants. John asked for 10,000 acres plus 20,000 additional acres within two years if he were successful in settling 20 families near the present Martinsburg, W. Va. Isaac asked for 10,000 acres to settle 10 families in an area farther west near the present Moorefield, W. Va. These grants were approved on June 17, 1730, but were immediately contested by Lord Fairfax who claimed these areas were within the bounds of his grant from the King of the “Northern Neck”, lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. Within two years the Van Meters transferred their rights to most of this land to their relative Jost Hite, retaining only what they needed for their immediate families. It took 50 years to settle the court battle with Lord Fairfax, long after all the principals were dead.

John and Isaac had two other brothers about whom very little is known. Abraham’s family lived briefly in Chester County, Pa. before joining John’s in Berkeley County, Va. Jacob settled near Isaac in Hardy County, but was murdered by the Indians within a few years. Isaac himself was killed by the Indians in 1757 near his home at Fort Pleasant, Old Fields, Hardy County, W. Va. His children prospered, however, and his descendants became prominent horse breeders and cattlemen. His grandson Jacob was a partner with Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court in the breeding of thoroughbred horses. Later descendants moved to the bluegrass area of Kentucky and. continued the tradition. A thoroughbred named His Imminence raised by Frank Van Meter won the Kentucky Derby in 1901. Another grandson of old Isaac, also named Isaac, served several terms in the Virginia General Assembly from 1784-1790 and was a delegate to the Convention of Virginia to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Still another grandson Joseph was the only Van Meter who was an officer in the Continental Line during the Revolutionary War. Many other Van Meters were enlisted men or officers in militia units and served with great distinction. Joseph was promoted to Ensign while stationed at Valley Forge with Washington and Lafayette. He was also a close friend of President James Madison and visited him in the White House. For all his honors Joseph was a rake and gambler. He accumulated huge debts which he paid by mortgaging his property to his cousin Jacob. In the end everything he had was sold at auction to satisfy Jacob, who continued after Joseph’s death (at age 79 two weeks after the sheriff’s sale) to try to recover his money from Joseph’s sons. Joseph’s military grant in Kentucky of 1333 1/3 acres was sold at auction for $610. His military pension was $193.19 per year. 

Enough for now of the Hardy County branch of the family. Turning back to the Berkeley County clan we find some other interesting people. One was Polly Van Meter Evans, wife of John Evans who built Evans Fort completed in 1756 during the French and Indian War. She was doctor and nurse of the region, traveling with a big dog and Carrying a heavy rifle strapped to her shoulder. It left an indentation there which she carried to her grave. The Indians respected and dreaded her because she had shot several in defense of her home, but they never captured her scalp. One day when only women and children were in the fort the Indians attacked. She made the women load rifles while she did the shooting from one porthole after another until the Indians were driven off. She was also a mother of 12.

Polly Van Meter Evans’ brother Isaac Van Meter marched with Gen. Braddock on Fort DuQuesne (now Pittsburgh) which resulted in his disastrous rout by the Indians known as Braddocks Defeat in July 1755. Isaac’s powderhorn carried in the battle has been handed down in his family. Later during the Revolution Isaac and his son John signed up to serve one year with Capt. Hugh Stephenson’s company organized in July 1775 under a resolution of the Continental Congress. They were known as “The Border Riflemen of Virginia” and had as their banner the design of the Culpepper Minutemen, a rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread On Me!”. They wore buckskins and moccasins and coonskin caps. With “Liberty or Death” embroidered on their shirts they set off on foot from Virginia on July 16, 1775 and marched all the way to Boston, arriving August 11th, where they joined the Continental Army under Washington at Roxbury facing Boston Neck.

Berkeley and Hardy Counties in West Virginia became, like Salem County, New Jersey, permanent Van Meter settlements, but they also were the bases for major movements westward over the mountains.

In 1763 the King established a Proclamation Line along the crest of the mountains beyond which no private person could obtain land or even travel without permission. This line was established to avert the threat of further Indian wars following the devastation of the frontier settlements during the French and Indian and Pontiac’s Wars just concluded. The ensueing period of peace only encouraged settlers to move over the mountains anyhow in spite of threats to evict them and send them back east. Pennsylvania and Virginia disputed jurisdiction of what is now southwestern Pennsylvania. Each hoped that their settlers would eventually occupy the area, so they covertly encouraged settlement in defiance of the King. Within a few years the influx of illegal settlers, mostly from Virginia over the improved Braddock’s Road, aroused the Indians once more. By the winter of 1767 - 8 the Indians were preparing for renewed warfare. This was averted by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in which the Iroquois agreed to a revised definition of the Proclamation Line, in exchange for 10,000 pounds, transferring to England all the land to the south of the Ohio River all the way to the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. The Iroquois had no authority to inflict this disaster on the other Indian tribes of the region: the Mingos and Delawares lost their hunting rights between the Ohio and the old Line on the mountain crests and could forsee an advance of white settlements 200 miles closer to their towns in Ohio. The Shawnee were threatened with eventual loss of their favorite hunting grounds in Kentucky. While the land promoters began to scheme, the settlers wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to move to the Ohio. By the spring of 1769 Forbes Road in Pa.and Braddock’s Road in Virginia were lined with farm wagons, trudging families and plodding livestock. Henry and Jacob Van Meter were among them. Our John Van Meter sold his inheritance in Berkeley County soon afterward and followed. To the south another Van Meter family, close friends of Daniel Boone, were preparing to settle in Kentucky at Boonesborough.

These people paid no attention to the land companies or to the King’s prohibition of settlements beyond the mountains. They were not taking possession of new lands for Pennsylvania or Virginia or for England, but only for themselves. Thirteen bloody years later it became apparent that this critically timed westward thrust averted the establishment of a United States confined only to the 13 original colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. Rather, it established the domination of the United States all the way to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. But the price was fearful: the Indians were outraged. Dale Van Every describes the plight of these courageous people as follows:

 To the settler the principal theater of war was his own clearing. He could never know when howling savages might burst from the woods enclosing it to burn his house, ax his children, disembowel his wife. If he were near he fell beside them and his fears for them which so long had haunted him were over. If he was a little distance away he was confronted with the dreadful choice of returning to share their fate or seeking his own safety in flight alone. If for a time Indian attacks passed him by to strike at his neighbors this but made his dread more harrowing for the postponement made it even more likely that the next would not spare him. If then he chanced to be warned in time his one recourse was to bundle his family off to the refuge of the nearest fort or the reluctant charity of the nearest town, leaving all he owned behind him. Most of the frontier raids remained unrecorded, the identities of the men, women and children who perished unknown. Sooner or later a militia patrol ranging an area came upon another burned cabin. If there were bodies these were buried. If not there was often little clear indication whether the family had been carried off as captives or had fled in time. It was the sum total of these family-sized disasters and the readiness of other families to continue to brave the constant threat of a similar fate that was to decide the issue of the Revolution in the west. Had the settlers waited for an ever so slightly more propitious moment to make their venture the independence so narrowly won by patriot armies, with the support of France and Spain, must have been an independence limited to the eastern seaboard. Had it not been for the existence of these few forest-girt stockades and corn patches west of the mountains the Ohio Valley at the end of the Revolution must have remained at the disposal of England, Spain and France.

And so it was that Margaret Van Meter, age 8, was with her parents and Daniel Boone’s party of 23 men during the siege of Boonesborough in 1777. We do not know her father’s name. but he also fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina in 1780.

So it was also that John Van Meter’s cabin was raided by the Indians near Short Creek, Ohio County, Va. in 1783 while he was away. His wife Rebecca and two small sons were murdered in their cabin which was burned. Their beautiful 15 year old daughter Hannah was washing at a nearby spring where she was axed. This spot is still known as Hannah’s Spring. Son John was captured, but other sons Abraham and Isaac escaped. The captive John grew up with the Indians and married a Seneca girl related to the famous Joseph Brant, Mohawk leader who in 1787 completed translation of portions of the Bible into the Mohawk language. On April 29, 1817 a treaty was signed between the United States and. the Indian tribes of Ohio which ceded all of the Indian lands within the limits of Ohio to the United States, forever. A reservation in the treaty was made to John Van Meter, his Seneca wife and her three brothers of 1000 acres near Tiffin, Ohio where they lived. John died on this “Van Meter Reserve” leaving it to his only son John who sold it in 1828 to move west of the Mississippi with the remnants of his tribe. John and his wife once stayed several days with our Isaac Van Meter in Putnam County. They were second cousins.

Another of our Isaac’s second cousins was Letty Van Meter who at age nine cowered behind a tree, then fell into a creek and was rescued by her hair as her family and friends fought a running battle with the Indians near Louisville, Ky. in 1781. These settlers from Boone’s Station had heard that the Indians under Simon Girty were about to attack. Being too few in number to fight such a large band they hastily gathered up their most treasured belongings and started on horseback for Louisville. The Indians overtook them and many were killed. After the survivors reached Louisville the garrison turned out to bring in the dead and all belongings they could find. Amid the carnage near a dead woman was found an old Van Meter family Bible belonging to Letty’s parents. An Indian had thrust his spear into it, then placed his bloody foot upon it to withdraw. Handed down in Letty’s family the Bible, now known as the Harrison Bible, is in the Iowa Historical Library In Des Moines.

All along the frontier private forts had been built to augment the protection afforded by the government forts such as those at Wheeling (Fort Henry) and at Pittsburgh (Fort Pitt). One of these private forts was Van Meter’s Fort built by Joseph Van Meter in 1774 at the order of Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, a few miles north of Fort Henry near Short Creek. According to the historian Doddridge “It was a square building built of rough hewn logs and occupied the center of a space which was enclosed with pickets about twelve feet In length, and was ample in its accommodations to shelter all who might be expected to avail themselves of its protection.”

The West Virginia Archaeological Society is now conducting excavations at this site.

Another Van Meter’s Fort was built in 1776 a few miles away at Black’s Cabin in the heart of the present West Liberty,W. Va. Abraham Van Meter owned this fort, but sold it in 1777 to Ohio County, Va. for the “erecting and building of a court house, prison and other necessary public buildings.” It was often called the Court House Fort.

One of the local militia officers who frequently visited these forts was our Capt. John Van Meter. John, as stated earlier, was baptized Johannes on June 6, 1740 in Somerset County, N.J., the son of Isaac Van Meter and Alice Scholl. Isaac soon followed his father John to Virginia, settling in Berkeley County near the present Martinsburg, W. Va. Isaac died about 1748, only age 35. Alice Scholl Van Meter married again to Capt. Richard Morgan.

In 1770 John sold his land inherited from his father in Berkeley County and joined the rising flood of settlers bound for the valleys of southwestern Pennsylvania beyond the mountains at the gateway to the west. He settled in Westmoreland County, Rostraver Township, on two tracts of land called “Union” and “Chester” on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River opposite the mouth of Jacob’s Creek, just south east of the intersection of highways Pa. 51 and I 70. In later years the little coal mining village of Van Meter, Pa. zip code 15487 grew up near John’s farm. The populations of Van Meter and several other nearby towns were decimated on December 19, 1907 in a mine disaster which killed 239 men, one of the worst in U.S. history.

Our John, however, was not concerned with coal, but with his farm and large family and the defense of the area against the Indians. In 1776 he was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion of the Westmoreland County militia under Col. Edward Cook. In 1777 he was recorded as being at Fort Henry. In 1778 he commanded the 3rd. Company, 4th Battalion of the Westmoreland County militia under Col. Benjamin Davis. From 1780 to 1782 his service continued as documented in numerous citations in the Pennsylvania Archives. On September 28, 1777 John wrote to Col. Cook the following letter concerning Foreman’s Defeat and the difficulties of frontier defense:

                                                                                                             Beech Bottom Ohio

Sir --  I am sorry that I have the following Account to give you that is on the 27th of this Instant Capt Linn with Nine Men Capt William Forman with 24 Cap Joseph Ogle from this Place with 10 Men Went Down to Grave Creek to Make what Discovery they could make when Come there found grave Creek Fort a Consumed to Ashes, the Corn Cut up and Tottely Destro and on their Return to Weling About Eight Miles Below weling was Actacted By A learg Number of Indeans the kild and wounded is unknown Aney ferder than Sixteen that hath Came Inn and Fore of them wounded sir I Request the Favour of you to have another Company in Readiness and at this Place Against my time is up for I think there will be Great Nesesaty for them here for the Times seemes to be now Dangerous and More so hereafter otherwise I Expect I shall have to Guard the People of this Place away from here for it is Imposable for them to stay for the Garrison will be left Disolate sir I am yours to serve 

                                                                                                                John Vanmatre

N.B Sir In case Another Company should come send with them A sufficent quantity of Flower to support them for it Appeairs that they Cannot be supported with Flower here the times is so Difficult that People that has wheat Cannot Thrush it Neither Can Git it ground As for Beef or Pork there is Plenty to be had Convenient also send a sufficient Quantity of salt and Amnition for it is not to be had here any your Compliance will Amiably oblige the People In General sir I am

                                                                                                                         J. V.

Capt. John’s son Isaac was born in 1774 in Westmoreland County, Pa. He married Susanna Downing on November 12, 1803, the same year Ohio became the 17th state of the Union. Within two years Isaac crossed the Ohio River to become the first settler of Sandy Township, Stark County, Ohio. We are fortunate that an account of this move has been preserved by Blue in his “History of Stark County, Ohio”:

The first settlement in what is now Sandy Township was made by Isaac Van Meter in the spring of 1805. He came from Brooke County, Va. with a wife and child accompanied by his father­in-law James Downing, Sr. who had previously entered the land upon which they intended making an opening. Their outfit consisted of several cooking utensils, a few tools, a little bedding and some provisions, carried on pack saddles. On reaching the land, Northeast Quarter Section 29, they made a temporary shelter for Mrs. Van Meter; then clearing away a small piece of ground, with the help of several friendly Indians soon had a cabin raised and covered. Their furniture was such as could be made in the woods with axe and auger. They constructed a sort of plough with a wooden mould-board and made home-made “gears” out of bass wood and hickory bark. After a fashion of that day, they broke several acres of ground and planted it in corn and garden vegetables, after which Downing returned to his family in Virginia. At that time there was no white inhabitant nearer than Gideon Jennings, who lived four miles north, nor was there another neighbor within 10 miles. There were a few scattered families above the fork of the Nimishillen, but the distance was over 15 miles, too far for social intercourse. The winter of 1805 to 1806 was passed without the family seeing the face of another white person. They had frequent “calls” from Indians, then roaming over the country, but their visitations were something like the “tramp” of the present day, not calculated to excite pleasant emotions.

In the spring of 1806 Downing returned with his family, consisting of a wife, three sons James, Hugh and Adam, and a daughter Sarah, afterward married to Robert Thompson. During that summer and until spring, the two families lived together. In June Mr. and Mrs. Van Meter became parents of a son John, the first-born in the township. This first-born attained manhood and must have been a man of considerable muscular ability, as it is written of him by one who knew him well that “he never met a man who could lay him on his back, or outdistance him in a foot race.”

In the spring of 1807 Van Meter moved onto the quarter section upon which Waynesburg is located. Morgan Van Meter, Isaac’s brother, settled in Sandy Township in 1809. The Township of Sandy was organized on March 16, 1809. The first election was held the first Monday in April 1810 at the home of Isaac Van Meter. Morgan was elected constable.

In 1815 Isaac Van Meter moved his family to District 4, Clear Creek Township, Richland County, Ohio which was organized from the Northwest Territory in 1813. When Ashland County was erected in 1846 it absorbed that district. In 1833 he moved for the last time to Putnam County where he lived until his death in 1851.

James Downing Van Meter, the eldest son of Isaac Van Meter and Susanna Downing, was born on September 9, 1804 in Brooke County, W. Va. only a year before his family moved to Stark County. In 1808 when James was four years old Blue’s history tells us that while in the act of climbing over a fence he pulled the top rail upon himself and broke his thigh. There was no physician nearer than Steubenville, a distance of 40 miles. A neighbor named James Heaves, assisted by several others, adjusted the leg to a natural position while an Indian medicine man prepared a splint of white elm bark freshly pealed which he bandaged on the limb with a strip of like material, leaving a space immediately over the fracture for the application of stewed herbs which an old squaw would apply every day at the same time assisting the cure by a pow-wow.

The boy recovered in due time with a fair limb.

Thus it was that the roots of the Van Meter family were firmly established in America and grew with it. For Van Meters the second stanza of “America, The Beautiful” has special poignancy:

                                     O beautiful for pilgrim feet

                                    Whose stern impassion'd stress

                                     A thoroughfare for freedom beat

                                      Across the wilderness -----

A brief account such as this must skip entirely over most branches of the family and even neglect the details of the particular branch of interest. Much of the past still has not been retrieved, but an amazing amount of information is nevertheless available, patiently collected, studied and pieced together from deeds, wills, court and church records, family Bibles, local histories, census records, genealogical publications and correspondence by dedicated family historians over a period of a great many years. Readers who wish to learn more than this brief sketch provides are most welcome to direct their inquiries to: 

James T. Van Meter
1201 Yale Place
Unit 208
Minneapolis, MN





The material on the site is intended for free personal, non-commercial use. Commercial use of any of the materials presented on these pages is prohibited. Please do not consider any information on this site as a primary source, all data should be verified by you, the researcher. If you encounter any problems or have a question/correction, you can Email me at Scott Van Metre