John Counts, Sr., who lived in the Shenandoah Valley, then died in 1803 in Glade Hollow, Russell County, Virginia was probably born 1722/25 in Germany. Uncertain who his parents were.  It might have been Johannes Kuntz and Anna Elizabeth Catherine Stoever, but there is no verification of this.

One Combs family researcher thinks that he might be been a Combs instead of a Counts.  The Counts-Combs-Staceys families were together in the Shenandoah Valley then again in Russell Co, Va.

[This John Counts is not to be confused with the Rev. John Koontz of Mill Creek who married many residents of the area.]

The part of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where the Counts family lived was first a part of Frederick Co, Va, which has been created in 1738.  It became part of Dunmore Co in 1772, which was renamed Shenandoah Co 1778, then in 1831 it became part of Page County. Many of the families in the Shenandoah Valley were German families from Phildelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Some of these were Quakers, who came to the Valley in 1734 and built the Hopewell Friends Meeting near Clearbrook.  The Great Wagon Road ran down the Valley.

Settlers were moving into the Valley by the 1730's. In 1748 16-year-old George Washington made his first trip into Frederick Co, Va. with a party of surveyors.  He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 & 1761 from Frederick County.

There were not any major battles there in the Revolutionary War, but prisoners were held there.  In 1777 Hessian soldiers were held there. [Perhaps this is how John's daughter, Mollie met her Hessian-soldier husband.]

John Counts married Mary Magdalene Summers about 1757, probably in Frederick Co, Va (Shenandoah Valley).  He shows up on different court records of Frederick co, Va in Mar, 1759 (see below) and the last being Aug, 1789.

He was a slaveholder and lived near Luray in Frederick/Dunmore/Shenandoah Co, (now Page) Va.   

Summers family notes:

- There was a Michael Summers, b Jan 1744/45 in Pennsylvania; d May 1782, Shenandoah Co, VA; m Anna "Nancy" ?;  she died after 1800 in Sullivan Co, TN.  The only child I have for them is Susanna, 1779-1858, Shenandoah co, Va. [Perhaps this Michael could have been Mary's brother.]

- There was a will of John Summers in Augusta Co, Va, June 27, 1803.

From Frederick Co VA Loose Papers: 

05 Mar 1759 - I promise to pay or cause to be payd. unto John Counts his eares or a sines the full and just sum of six punds current money of vergenea on or before the ------- 25 day of December as witness my hand this 5 day of March 1759


test Mason Combs

John X STACY (his mark)

In 1764, there was a civil suit between a John Counts and John Stacey on Feb 9, 1764.  E.J. Sutherland's Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow says,  "On Feb 9, 1764, in a Frederick Co [VA] civil suit on an attachment in that county by John COUNTS against John STACEY, the jury found that ...The COUNTS farm was on Hawksbill Creek about three miles NW of the present town of Luray, and about one mile south of the mouth of Hawksbill (where it enters the Shennandoah South Fork).  [Later both Counts and Stacey families were in Russell Co, Va.]   In Russell Co, on April 28, 1791, John Stacey transferred his entry of fifty acres in Glade Hollow to John Counts."


Also in 1764 (or 1766) the Rhodes Massacre took place at Rhodes Fort, near Luray. [Rhodes Fort was actually just a log house built by settler John Rhodes over a vaulted stone cellar.]

In Aug 1765 John Counts bought 270 acres on the west side of Hawksbill Creek in the Shenandoah Valley from John Bumgarner, both of Frederick Co, Va.  John Counts of Glade Hollow, Russell Co, Va. later refers to this tract of land.  (In 1783 John Counts bought two more acres on Hawksbill Creek from Christian Bumbarner.)

They lived on Hawksbill Creek, about 3 miles NW of Luray- map2 [this is a  great map showing Hawksbill Creek & Luray, but you will have to download it]  (The headwaters of Hawksbill Creek begin in the mountains near Big Meadow. Hawksbill Creek flows north close to Stanley, then thru the town of Luray and then joins the south fork of Shenandoah River about 6 miles north of Luray).  John Counts' name appears on the first tax list of Shenandoah County in 1782, and every year thereafter through 1789.  He owned 270 acres.

The census of 1785 shows the following heads of families in Shenandoah County:

John Countz, George Countz and Jacob Countz.

These Counts marriages took place in Shenandoah County:

Philip Couts married Anna Kifer, Aug. 22, 1785

[The following marriages took place after John Counts and 4 of his 8 children moved to Russell Co, Va in 1790]

Philip Countz married Peggy Bond, Dec. 1, 1800

Eve Countz married John Newland, Mar. 26, 1805

Deborah Countz married Joseph Williamson, Oct. 12, 1812

In 1789 John "Couts" sold 248 acres in Shenandoah Co, Va.  He signed with a "X." He did not sell all of his land on Hawksbill, he gave 75 acres to his son Phillip, who stayed there. (There used to be an old graveyard on it with unmarked graves that supposedly were Counts graves.)  

In 1790 they moved from Shenandoah County to Russell County Va, with married children, George Counts and Mary Rasnake. They were following their married children Lissey Willard and son John Jr who moved there in 1787.

Glade Hollow Fort was one of the 8 forts built along the western Virginia frontier to protect the settlers from the Indians.  There were fierce hostilities between the settlers and the Indians in the 1770's.  Daniel Boone and his brother Squire lived in the vicinity of these forts in the early 1770's.  Most likely hostilities in this area had ceased by the time the Counts family arrived, though there were still some accounts of killings until 1794.

John lived in Glade Hollow on Cedar Creek north of Lebanon, Va.  John died there between 7-27-1802 and 4-27-1803. Wfie, Mary was not mentioned in John’s will, which was executed Apr 27, 1803, though she supposedly died in 1814.  

John & Mary had 10 children.

John's will of Apr 3, 1802, probated Apr 27, 1803 lists children.

1. Eve Maticks "my eldest daughter"

2. Mary Rasnake, received a shilling, along with the other children

3. Lissey Willard [who m in 1783 to Henry "Harry" Willard, and their son, Martin is the only grandchild listed on the will]

4. Catherine Counts

5. Christian Counts, "my daughter"

6. Phillip Counts

7. George Counts, married Eve Haynes. John Sr. lived with him on his plantation and left him most things.

(8. John Counts Jr, m Margaret Kelly, but was not mentioned in his father's will)

John Counts, Sr. was probably buried on his homestead in Glade Hollow, Russell Co., Va.  His will was presented in court Apr 27, 1803. He left his home place to his son, George who lived there until  about 1835, then moved away.

When later residents bought the farmhouse in Glade Hollow it was known as the "Granny Counts House." The old 2-story log house had just one room in each story, and a log kitchen stood a short distance away with a spring a few feet west.  This house was torn down about 1890. About 200 yards west of the house was the old Counts cemetery.  In 1931 there were 7 grave markers but only one was readable: 

June 25th 1814 . . . Mary Counts . . . was born 1722.  

[Source:  "John Counts of Glade Hollow" by Elihu & Hetty Sutherland,  1948.]


1. Eve Counts

Eve married Matthew Maticks/Mattox, “my eldest daughter” as John's will says.

Matthew was on the tax lists of Shenandoah Co, Va. in 1782, 1785, 1786-89, 1792-94

In 1820, Matthew applied for a revolutionary war pension stating that he was 68 years old and that he joined the revolutionary army in Shenandoah Co in 1780 under Capt. Oldham for 18 months, that he marched to Hillsborough in NC, that he was in the battle of Gilford Church, and at the battle of Camden where he received a wound that disabled him from service.  He was sent to the hospital at Charlottetown and then sent home.  Following this application he was granted a pension of $8/month.

Matthew died 1821 or 1831.


1a) Thomas Mattox, b 1784

2. Mary Counts

"Mollie" was born  abt 1745 Shenandoah Co, Va; m Jacob Rasnake, Feb 25, 1784 in Shenandoah Co, VA. His name was probably originally, Johann Jakob Ruehrschneck. There is a Johann Ruehrschneck listed in "Mercenaries from Ansbach and Beyreuth, Germany, who remained in America After the Revolution," which is probably Jacob. 

King George III of England hired German soldiers from 6 principalities:  Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick-Woffenbuettel, Waldeck, Anhalt-Zerbst, Hanau, and Ansbach-Bayreuth.  These six principalities send almost 30,000 men to fight for the British against the American rebels.  Approximately 2/3 of them were from Hesse, thus, the term "Hessian." Of the 29,875 documented German troops sent to America, 17,313 of them returned home to Germany after the war.  12,562 were either killed or remained in America after the war.  If this Johan Ruehrschneck is actually Jacob Rasnake, he was a private in the Ansbach regiment #1 and is last mentioned on the muster roll for June 1783.  Klaus Wust's book, "The Virginia Germans" says that the Ansbach troops lost many men in the Shenandoah Valley [source].

    Jacob Rasnake was born in Watzendorf, Germany (a tiny village about 15 km west of Schwabach which is just south of Nuernberg). When he was about 18 years old he was conscripted into the "Hessian" Army. He would not have been a soldier of the Duke of Hess, but rather of the Markgraff Carl Alexander von Ansbach-Bayreuth. Various family stories says that he was threshing wheat (or working in the family hayloft or the potato field) one day when the military officers seized him and that his mother's efforts to secure his release were unsuccessful, so she gave him a German Bible to carry with him. (The Grand Duke of Hesse "sold" 22,000 men to England.  It seems that they could not have all gone willingly, and thus the Grand Duke became very rich from the suffering of his people.  Another German-American family has a similar story of kidnapping, but the genealogist doubts that it is true.) 

    So, Jacob came to America with Hessian troops hired by King George III of Great Britain to fight against the American Colonies.  He was a musketier from the Ansbach Regiment, 1st Company under the direction of Generals Howe and Clinton.  The Ansbach Regiment served at Philadelphia, Newport, Springfield, and Yorktown. The story is that he was captured in the Battle of Yorktown in Oct 1781. The prisoners were marched in the cold weather first to Frederick, Maryland and then to Winchester, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. (Here is a third very interesting and similar story of a young Hessian soldier who shared the same fate).  

    One thousand Hessian soldier were also captured on Christmas Day in Trenton, NJ.   The English-speaking Americans did not take kindly to the Hessian mercenaries, so the prisoners were sent to German-speaking communities, one around Germantown, Pa (near Philadelphia) and others in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  Living among their own people, they were not held in strict confinement.  The earliest Hessian POWs came to the Shenandoah Valley in 1777 (captured at Saratoga) and remained until the War was over in 1781 -- many of them electing to stay permanently when the prisoner exchange happened in the Spring of 1782.  There are numerous accounts of these Hessian soldiers marrying daughters of the German-speaking families that they lived among.

    Somehow Jacob met up with the Counts family, who were also German-speaking.  The similar Hessian story at the 2nd afore-mentioned link says that the Hessians were "sent to Charlottesville, Va., ... to Winchester, Va., and ... to Frederick, Md. A plan was then devised to indenture these men for some years to residents of the areas and then grant them freedom."  In this story the young Hessian soldier is indentured to a German-speaking farmer, then later married his daughter.  Sounds like what may have happened with Jacob Rasnake!

- One story says that after the War the Hessian soldiers were given the choice of going back to Europe or taking the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.  and Jacob seeing this as a way to get free from the Hessian army, took the Oath of Allegiance. 

- Another story says that Jacob became acquainted with the Counts family  and Molly Counts while a POW in the Shenandoah Valley and after the fighting ceased Jacob secretly married Mollie (Mary) Counts and managed to conceal his true identity and avoid capture for desertion by the Hessian officers who were still attempting to round up their captured troops.

- Another story says that Jacob was captured at the battle of Saratoga in Oct. 1777 and was held as a POW during the rest of the war and was released at the end of it, which would have been 1781-2, when he then chose to remain in America.  [8,000 Hessians were captured at Saratoga and taken to Boston to be shipped back home, but many of them refused to leave, so they were taken to Virginia.]

- Another story says that John Counts was walking through a battlefield with his daughter Mollie and they found Jacob among the dead and wounded, took him home and nursed him back to health.  [The problem here is that there were no major battles in the Shenandoah Valley during the Revolutionary War.]

- Another version says that Jacob was captured and then managed to escape (and maybe was wounded) on his march to Winchester, Virginia, then somehow came in contact with the Counts family who helped him.

All of these may have some grain of truth. 

The marriage took place in 1784, 3 years after the Battle of Yorktown (the last major battle). They were married by a Rev. John Counts/Kuntz (not  Mary's father).  In 1785 Jacob was still in Shenandoah Co, Va. and had 2 horses and 2 cattle.

About 1789 they moved west with Mollie's family to Russell Co, Va. He first paid tax in Russell Co, Va in 1790. Jacob purchased from Edward and Mary Smoot for the sum of 85 pounds 'current money of Virginia' 195 acres of land, the deed bearing the date of 17 Aug 1790 (located north of the Clinch River bridge). Here they spent the remainder of their lives.  In 1796, Jacob also purchased 164 acres from Zach Henderson and wife. They lived in Cleveland, Russell Co, Va. for more than 55 years.

Jacob Rasnake served as a juror in April, 1791; as a grand juror in Nov, 1793; and at other times.  The Russell County census for 1820 shows 4 males and 3 females in the family and only two other Rasnake families in the county (Jacob, Jr. and John). They were members of Reeds Valley Baptist Church in Russell Co, Va.

Jacob Rasnake's will was dated 24 Nov 1826 and probated 2 Jan 1827.


a)    John Rasnake, b 1786, Shenandoah Co, Va

b)    Jacob Rasnake, b 1788

c)    Elijah Rasnake, b 1789, Russell Co, VA

d)    Margaret Rasnake, b 1791

e)    Lazarus D. Rasnake, b May 23, 1793

f)    Christina “Crissa” Rasnake, b 1786

g)    Mary “Polly” Rasnake

h)    Nancy Rasnake

i)    Jonas Rasnake, b Aug 13, 1803, Russell Co, VA

3. John Counts

John  Jr., b 1765 in Russell Co, Va.; m Margeret Kelly. Moved from Shenandoah co, Va. to Russell Co, Va. in 1787. Died in Cleveland, Russel Co, Va, Oct 1, 1843.


Sarah Counts

Joseph Counts, b abt 1789

John Counts III, b abt 1791

James Counts, b abt 1793

Christine "Chrissa" Counts, b abt 1793

Margaret Counts, b abt 1797; m Henry Long and Moved to Iuka, Mississippi about 1830, buried there.

Elizabeth Counts, b abt 1799

Joshua Counts, b abt 1802

Nancy Counts, b abt 1803

Ezekial Counts, b abt 1805

4. Catherine Counts

Catherine,  b 1767, Frederick Co, Va; married John Gray, 1792, Rockingham Co, Va.

5. Christina Counts

Christiana - John's will says, “my daughter”, prob unm in 1803

6. Elizabeth/Malissa Counts (my ancestor)

"Lissy" married 1783 to Henry “Harry” Willard. Their son Martin is the only grandchild listed on John Counts will. Moved from Shenandoah co, Va. to Russell Co, Va. in 1787. In 1803 the family moved to Breckinridge Co, Ky. Children:

a)  girl, b 1774-84 (prob abt 1785), Va -- maybe Sarah, b abt 1785

b)  Martin Willard was born 1793, Va; married 1821 in Missouri to Mary “Polly” Lindsey. Children: 

c)  girl, b 1784-1800 (prob abt 1787), Va.  -- maybe Elizabeth, b abt 1796

d)  girl, b 1789-1800 (prob abt 1789), Va.  -- maybe Crissy, b abt 1798

e)  Henry Willard Jr, b 1801 [1810 Ky census: boy, b 1805-10]

f)   Margaret, b abt 1802 [1810 Ky census: girl, b 1800-10]

g)  James Willard was born May 8, 1804, Ky.; m. 1st abt. 1826 in Spencer Co, Ind. to Rachel Jenkins (4 children).

h)  girl, b 1800-10 (prob abt 1802). (1810 Ky. census)                                   

i)   girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1805), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)

j)   girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1809), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)

k)  girl, b 1800-10 (abt. 1810), Ky. (1810 Ky. census)

7. Phillip Counts

Phillip, b 1769, Frederick Co, Va.; m Anna Keyser, Aug 22, 1785, Shenandoah Co, Va.; he died Jan 23, 1843, Page Co, Va.

A certificate, filed with the bond in Shenandoah Co, Va, is in the following words:  "Shenandoah County and Beckford in Virginy.  Philip Couts and Anna Kiser is a go to git marred and his father John Couts and mother is will that they shoud git mared And Anna Kiser friends is all will that she shd get mared to Sad Couts --- August 22 1785."  This paper was endorsed by "Any Kiser," and "John Couts," both by mark, and in person by "Andrew Kiser."

Philip was listed on the 1789 tax list of Shenandoah Co, Va.

His parents and some siblings moved west to Russell Co, Va. in 1790, but Philip remained all his life on his father's farm on Hawksbill Creek in Shenandoah (now Page) County - map1 - 

In 1802 his parents, in Russell County, executed a deed to him for the remainder of the John Counts tract of land in that section.  Shenandoah County Deed Book N, pp 162-3.  On January 25, 1808, Christian (Chrisley) Bumgarner and wife conveyed to Philip "Countz" 2-3/4 acres on the west bank of Hawksbill, adjourning said Couts' land.  Deed Book Q, p 212. 

On 16 Oct 1817, Philip Counts (Kountz) (wife Anna is mentioned but did not sign) deeded to Robert Carter 79 acres on the west side of Hawksbill, a part of the tract deeded by John Countz and Magdalene to Philip Countz. 

The 1830 Census lists Philip "Kountz" between 50 and 60 years of age, living alone, except for four slaves. 

On December 10, 1833, Philip "Kountz" (by mark) executed his last will and testament, and it was probated in the Page County Court on January 23, 1843(Will Book B-274), with Frederick A. Marye as executor and William S. Marye, Frederick A. Marye and Mary Marye as witnesses.  He named as his beneficiaries his son Jacob, and his daughter, Elizabeth Carter (wife of Robert Carter), his nephew Jonas Gray, and his "black woman Judy." He does not mention his wife's name and it is presumed she was dead at this time.  Philip and Anna are both probably buried in the old Counts graveyard on the west side of Hawksbill Creek. [E.J. Sutherland's "John Counts of Glade Hollow" B-7 pg 296]


Jacob Count, b 1790-94, m Maria Derting

Elizabeth Counts, m Robert Carter

8. George Counts

George was  born abt 1770, married Eve Haynes. Inherited his father's farm in Glade Hollow, Russell Co, Va. He lived there until about 1835, when he moved to Washington Co, Va. John lived with him on his plantation and left him most things.  


John Counts

Lennox Counts

Phillip Counts

Eva Counts