ABOUT 1685 - Mar 1741

Family 1 : Sarah BOONE

  1.  Jacob STOVER
  2. +Barbara STOVER
  3.  Abraham STOVER
  4. +Daniel STOVER


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|--Jacob STOVER 
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John Stover, who had first come to Pennsylvania from Europe, was an early settler and land speculator in the Shenandoah Valley. He was responsible for attracting many members of the Pennsylvania Mennonite community into the area beginning in the late 1720's.

From an uncited essay, "The Stover Family," found in the local history room of the Luray Library in Luray, Virginia:

The first ancestors of the American Staffers (Stovers) came from Switzerland, their birthplace. They lived in the neighborhood of Zurich. They belonged to a religious sect called Mennonites and were hailed by the adherents of Zwingli (German Reformed). A persecution arose and they were driven out of the land (church history corroborates these facts), and in the year 1709 many of them went to North America, others following in later years...

Rev. A. J. Fretz [History of the Stauffer-Stover Family], the historian, informs us that all of the early Stover pioneers were closely related. Christian and Jacob Stover both emigrated to America from Switzerland about the same time and they were either brothers, or very near relatives. While Christian settled in Pennsylvania Jacob, who was an interesting character and enterprising, as it seems, to a fault, pushed on to the unexplored country west of the Blue Ridge mountains, becoming one of the earliest settlers of the Valley of Virginia.

In the year 1729 Jacob made application for a grant of land on the Shenandoah river and on June 17, 1730 he was granted leave by the Colonial Council to take up 10,000 acres on the south fork of said river, for the settlement of himself and divers Germans and Swiss whom he proposed to bring thither within the next two years, the said land to be laid off in such tracts as he should judge fitting.

Jacob selected his grant in two tracts of 5,000 acres each, one along the river between the present Luray and Elkton, the other along the same river, higher up, between Elkton and Port Republic. The present town of Massanutten was established on his grant. His wife's Christian name was Margaret. Samuel Kercheval narrates the following in connection with Stover's grant:

"On his application to the executive for his grant, he was refused unless he could give satisfactory assurance that he would have the land settled with the requisite number of families within a given time. Being unable to do this, he forthwith passed over to England, petitioned the King to direct his grant be issued, and in order to insure success, had given human names to every horse, cow, hog, and dog he owned, and which he represented as heads of families, ready to migrated and settle the land."

The citizens of Massanutten became apprehensive that Stover did not have a good title to the land which he had sold them, and we find the following names signed to a petition to the Council in 1733: Adam Miller, Abram Strickler, Mathias Selzer, Philip Long, Paul Long, Michael Rhinehart, Hans Rood and Michael Kaufman. Stover was sustained in his title, however, and given deeds for the two tracts December 15, 1733. He disposed of the major portion of the land soon after this...


From another uncited document in the Luray Library:

Joist Hite was one of the first settlers [in the Shenandoah Valley]. He came from Pennsylvania with his family and sons-in-law, viz: George Bowman, Jacob Christman and Paul Froman, with their families; Robert McKay, Robert Green, William Duff, Peter Stephens, and several others, amounting in the whole to sixteen families.

Hite purchased a part of his land from the Van Meters in 1732, who obtained a warrant from Governor Gooch for locating forty thousand acres in 1730. Hite soon became involved in a prolonged law suit with Lord Fairfax who claimed the while of the Northern Neck of Virginia by virtue of grant. The suit was not settled until all of the parties thereto were dead.

Shortly after the Hites settled in the Valley there was a great influx of Germans from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York. They were mostly Protestants and originally came from the Palatinate, Wuertenburg and Darmstadt. These German pioneers at least possessed the rudiments of education as evidenced by the county records. It seems that they nearly all had money too, as they paid cash for their lands in almost every instance. The majority of the Germans left their dear Vaderland and came to America for religious causes. They generally bought small farms and tended them well. A few of them however, bought larger tracts of land and sold it in smaller lots to later settlers. Among these are Peter Stover, Jacob Miller, and the Funks.

In 1729 Jacob Stover, an enterprising German, received a land grant of ten thousand acres on the South Branch of the Gerando (Shenandoah) river. Some historians claim that Jacob located near the northwest end of the Massanutten Mountain and founded there Staufferstadt (afterwards re-named Strassburg through the influence of two inhabitants born in Alsace, Anton and Philip Mueller.) This is in error however as Strasburg was founded by Peter Stover of Pennsylvania...

The early settlers of the Valley experienced very little trouble with the Indians. In the year 1754 the Indians suddenly disappeared, and crossed the Alleghany Mountains.

The Germans who settled Shenandoah and Rockingham counties were tenacious in the preservation of their customs and language and up to the war of the Rebellion the German language was generally spoken and understood. On account of the political issues, the lack of a high national self-esteem and the disfiguration of German names, as Kloess to Glaise, Kuntz to Coontz, Stauffer to Stover, Ileid to Ilite, etc., it is difficult to compile a history of any one family. These immigrants brought with them the religion of their ancestors. They were composed generally of Lutherans, Mennonites, Reformed, and Calvanists. The Dunkers and United Brethren appear during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. A number of Irish Presbyterians also settled along Back Creek, the North Mountain and Opequon. A few Scotch and English families were among them. The Church of England, or Episcopalianism was the established religion east of the Blue Ridge up to the year 1776, when by act of Assembly the salaries of the clergy were suspended and in 1802 the glebes confiscated. The State was divided into parishes, Shenandoah county being included in Beckford Parish. There were comparatively few Episcopalians west of the Blue Ridge.

In 1752 Heinrich Sangmeister (Brother Ezekiel) and Anton Hollenthal (Brother Antonius), members of the Ephrata Sabbatarian Colony of Pennsylvania, came to the Funks in Strasburg and established a small community there. The following is taken from Wayland's "The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley:"

"The Strasburg brethren kept as holy both the seventh and the first day of the week. They were law-abiding and industrious, and maintained themselves comfortably and above reproach; yet an incident growing out of their religious zeal at one time seemed to threaten their peace. Brother Ezekiel and Brother Antonius built a small cabin far up on the peak of the Massanutten Mountain, (called the Knob of the Mountain) as a place for retirement and prayer. The little oratory had but a single small window, facing the east; but, by virtue of its eminent position, it commanded a view both wide and beautiful. But various mysterious reports of this mountain retreat came in time to the ears of the county authorities at Winchester, and the sheriff was sent out to investigate. When he came to Strasburg, and learned the real facts in the case, he had no word of objection or censure to offer; but the two brethren, meek enough for the blessed inheritance, hearing beforehand of the suspicions they were arousing, and being anxious to prove their law-abiding intentions and avoid all appearance of evil, had already demolished the sacred structure, and scattered its timbers upon the mountain-side. A hundred years later the armies of the South and the North seized the height, now one, now the other, and erected their signals of war up the site of the little house of prayer."



From a third Luray Library document:

"JACOB STOVER, a native of Switzerland, obtained on June 17, 1730, for himself and divers German and Swiss families from the Virginia Council a grant of 10,000 acres in Page and Rockingham counties. He was the founder of Strasburg, of which the original citizens were all Germans. He died about 1741, leaving a son of the same name." (Cyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, p. 333.)



Only Jacob Stover Jr. and Daniel Stover are listed as his children in this document. There is also mention of his wife being Margaret who was the executor of his estate. Her name does not appear in the records until after 1738, and it is assumed that she is a second wife.

Aside from Stover and Stauffer, his name is also spelt Stober, Stowber, Stowburr, and Stour in various documents.



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This page created on 05/16/2005 21:24:22