Biographical Sketch John Counts of Glade Hollow

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Biographical Sketch of John Counts of Glade Hollow

Click here for a sketch of John Counts of Glade Hollow written by Elihu J. Sutherland in 1937

Born - about 1725 place unknown 

Parents - unknown

Marriage - probably about 1749 to Mary Magdalena unknown maiden name 

Death - spring 1803 in Russell County, Virginia

Earliest known residence - In 1749, John Baumgardner Sr. applied and received a land grant for 270 acres at the mouth of Hawksbill Creek.  On the last page of this deed there is a note that had been scratched out that the grant be made in the name of John Counts.  It appears this didn't occur but John Counts remained on the land.  John Baumgardner Sr. passed away in 1757 and his son John Baumgardner Jr. became owner of this land.  John Baumgardner Jr. received a deed for the land in 1761.  Then in 1765, John Counts Sr. officially purchased the 270 acres of land that he had been living on for a very small amount of money from John Baumgarder Jr.  At this point, we do not know the exact relationship between Counts and John Baumgardner Sr.. Most likely the connection between John Counts and John Baumgardner was very close and it is possible Mary Magdalena was originally a Baumgardner.  

Religious affiliations - In early records, John was affiliated with the Baumgardner's, Rhode's, Strickler's and other known Mennonite families in the area of Hawksbill Creek of the Shenandoah River.  It is likely John was also Mennonite like many of his neighbors on the Hawksbill.  This area that John lived on during this time was the northern most end of the Massanutten tract.  Massanutten contained 5,000 acres and was owned by Swiss land agent Jacob Stover.  Stover sold parcels of land to many Swiss and German immigrants that arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1720s and 1730s. By the late 1740's several Mennonite families lived on Hawksbill Creek.   During the 1750s, many of these families faced hardships from Indian raids and being far removed from civilization.  During the 1760s, nearly all of these Mennonite families converted to Baptism and likely John did at this point also.  

Removal to Russell County, Virginia - John Counts sold his farm on the Hawksbill in August 1789.  He is next found on the 1790 personal property tax list for Russell County.  A few of his children and many of his neighbors had removed to Russell County a few years prior.  At least one of his sons, Phillip, remained on the original Hawksbill land. 

Ethnic Background - Likely his parents were part of the large emigration of Deutsch-speaking people from the Palatine region into Pennsylvania during the early 1700s.   Later generations of his descendants referred to John as "Black Dutch".  This was a slang term used by many in the Appalachian region referring to people who spoke the Deutsch (now German) language. 

John Counts of Glade Hollow research in the 21st Century - In August 2016, the research of our Glade Hollow ancestors began a new chapter by connecting on the Internet's social media with the FACEBOOK GROUP:  JOHN COUNTS OF GLADE HOLLOW, founded and operated by PHYLLIS COUNTS, a descendant of John Counts of Glade Hollow.  New descendants and related kin are coming forward, sharing photos and stories.  Our hope is to connect and inspire or renew a desire to research, document our family lines, and unite at the yearly gathering of the OFFICIAL COUNTS FAMILY REUNION.  


In 2019, MARIE RASNICK FETZER (descendant of John & Mary's daughter, Mollie Counts, wife of Jacob Rasnake) organized a small group of Counts-related researchers (including Sharon Bogue Lemkuil, Brett Compton, and Chad Counts) to attempt to gain further info on John & Mary's beginnings.  


Under Marie's zealous lead, in the Summer of 2020, by accessing various historical books, societies, libraries, and websites, requesting and examining deeds and documents, the research group has uncovered heretofore unknown documentation and is sifting through the various similarly spelled & sounding Counts names, to decide when and if our John is amongst them.  Marie and Sharon are also researching the known children of John & Mary that are included in Sutherland's book.


The most exciting information to come forward about John Counts of Glade Hollow was when researcher and Counts kin, BRETT COMPTON, discovered John's name on the back of a land warrant from 1749!  This predates the research done by cousin Sutherland who found documentation of our John being in Frederick County, Virginia in 1765. 


Obstacles in Research - Researching any ancestor in 18th century America can be quite the challenge but when the ancestor lived mainly on the westernmost stretches of civilization makes it even more difficult with frequent boundary changes and changes in the county names over time.  The earliest records for John Counts are found in Augusta and Frederick County, then found in Dunmore County, then finally in Shenandoah County even though John lived on the same farm before his removal to Russell County. Also the fact that the name Counts was spelled in a myriad of ways, i.e Countz, Koontz, Kuntz, Kaun, etc adds another level of complexity.  Interestingly, the earliest records of our John Counts had his surname spelled Counts as we spell it now!

There were at least two other men named John Counts/Koontz/Koons in the general vicinity and time frame as our John Counts of Glade Hollow making this project extra hard.  Past researchers have confused our John Counts of Glade Hollow with Elder John Koontz, a well known Baptist preacher in the Shenandoah Valley, on several occasions.  Elder Koontz was younger than our John but they lived close to one another.   It is possible that John attended the church where Elder John Koontz preached.