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Joist Hite

Pioneer and land speculator Joist Hite, originally Hans Jöst Heydt, emigrated from Germany about 1710. Heydt traveled on his own ship and is said to have been a wealthy nobleman. He led 16 German and Dutch families to America, settling first in New York and later Pennsylvania. By 1731, Hite had moved to the Shenandoah Valley, where he had obtained a 100,000-acre grant from Virginia. Hite is credited with having started the first settlement on Opequon Creek in Berkeley County, in exchange for the grant. Later, the king confirmed Lord Fairfax’s title to local lands, calling into question surveys and land sales Hite had made. After decades of legal battles Hite’s side won, but not before both he and Fairfax were dead. Well respected by both Germans and Virginians, Joist Hite died in 1760.

Written by Jaime Simmons


  1. Kerns, Wilmer L. Frederick County, Virginia: Settlement and Some First Families of Back Creek Valley. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1995.

  2. Hofstra, Warren R. Land, Ethnicity, and Community at the Opequon Settlement, Virginia, 1730-1800. Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, (July 1990).