Steven Butler's Family History Website



Van Meter Family
Jan Joosten Van Meteren | Jooste Jans Van Meteren | Jan or John Van Meter | Jacob Van Meter

JOOSTE JANS VAN METEREN (ABT. 1660-Between 1700-1705)

Jooste Jans Van Meteren, the eldest son of Jan Jooste Van Meteren and his wife Macyke, was born about 1660 in the Netherlands and came to America as a child with his parents in 1662. In 1663, when he was only three years old, he and his mother, along with his future mother-in-law Catherine DuBois, were captured by Indians. They were later rescued, but not before the Indians nearly burned Catherine Du Bois alive. They were saved, so it has been said, by Catherine's singing of psalms from the Bible, which so entranced their captors that it bought them time and alerted their rescuers to the location of the Indians' camp.

Jooste Jans Van Meteren and Sarah Du Bois, daughter of Catherine and Louis DuBois, were married in the Dutch Reformed Church at what is now Kingston, Ulster County, New York, on December 12, 1682. They afterward had five children: Jan, who was baptized October 14, 1683; Rebekka, baptized April 26, 1686; Lysbeth, baptized March 3, 1689; Isaac, baptized about 1692; and Hendrix or Hendrick (Henry), baptized September 1, 1695.

We do not know for sure what became of Jooste Jans Van Meteren following the birth of his last child. One biographer claims that he died sometime between 1700 and 1705 while another writes that Jooste Jans "became sufficiently Americanized to spell his name John instead of Jan…dropped the 'n' off [Van Meteren]" and became a "noted Indian trader and explorer of the Shendandoah Valley who 'Spied out the land' about the time of Governor Spotswood's Expedition, [in] 1716." This same writer continues:

He equipped a band of Delaware or Caugh [Catawba] Indians and while on this expedition he explored the country then almost unknown to the white people, the Valley of the South branch of the Potomac (known then by the Indian name of the Wappatomake). On his return he advised his sons to take up the land in "The Wappatomica Valley in the South Branch Bottom above the Trough" as it was the finest land he had discovered in all his travels. By the nature of his life, his habitation was seldom fixed for a definite length of time, but proof exists that he dwelt at different periods in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

The source of the above information was probably James M. Van Meter of Martinsburg, West Virginia, who was interviewed in 1898 about his family's history. At that time, he said:

All I know I got through my father, from the original ones, and the old V.'s [Virginians?] never lied. The first Van Meter (from New York), John, passed through here about 1725 with a tribe of Indians going to the south branch to fight the Catawba tribe. The Catawba tribe killed all of the northern tribe except John Van Meter and two of his Indians. When John got home, he told his sons if they ever went to Virginia, the must go to the Wapapatoma and take up land for it was the prettiest land he ever saw. That is the Indian name for south branch of the Potomac. About 1730, four of his sons came over. Their names were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and John. John and Isaac got permission from Governor Gooch, of Virginia, to put settlers on 40,000 acres of land. They soon sold out to Jost Hite.

Despite James M. Van Meter's seeming certainty about his family's history, if the writer who perpetuated his story had bothered to check, he would have seen that it was obvious that the old man had confused Dutch-born Jooste Jans Van Meteren with his American-born son Jan or "John" Van Meter. We know that although Joost Jans had sons named Jan or "John" and Isaac, he had none who were named Abraham or Jacob whereas the 1745 will of Jan or "John" Van Meter in Berkeley County, Virginia lists sons Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Johanes. Unfortunately, the writer who obviously took James Van Meter's word as gospel simply compounded the error by not looking for evidence to corroborate what he was told. Although in my view, this evidence seems sufficient to prove that the John Van Meter who explored the Shenandoah Valley in 1716 was not the same "John" or Jooste Jans Van Meteren who was born in Holland in 1660, there is also the matter of a 1714 land transaction in New Jersey to which John and Isaac Van Meter, their mother Sarah Du Bois and their uncle Jacob Du Bois were parties.

This transaction, which involved the sale of 3,000 acres of land in Salem County, New Jersey was entitled "An Indenture dated June 14, 1714, between Colonel Daniel Coxe, of Burlington [New Jersey], of the one part, and Jacob Du Bois, of the county of Ulster, New York, and Sarah Du Bois of the county of Salem, and John Van Metre and Isaac Van Metre, of the County and division aforesaid of the other part." So how does it prove that Jooste Jans Van Meteren was not the man who explored Virginia? To be quite honest, it doesn't. But if Jooste Jans Van Meteren was still alive in 1714, then why was he not a party to this purchase? I believe it was simply because he was deceased.

Finally, there is the matter of age to consider. If the "John" Van Meter who explored Virginia in 1725 was the same man who was born in Holland in 1660, he would have been sixty-five years old at the time! To me, that seems a little old to be out wandering in the wilderness and fighting Indians. In colonial times, a person sixty-five years old was considered elderly. It was a time for sitting by the fire with your pipe, telling stories of your youth, not hiking through the forest and climbing mountains. In contrast, Jooste Jan's son Jan or "John" was forty-two years old in 1725, hardly a strapping youth, but at an age where he may have still possessed sufficient physical stamina to endure the hardships of the trail.

I have looked in vain in the Calendar of Wills for both New York and New Jersey and cannot find one for Jooste Jans Van Meteren. This doesn't mean he did not die in one of those places; it may only mean that he never wrote a will. One writer has speculated that he died sometime around 1700-1705. Apparently however, he was still alive as late as 1706, when according to the records of the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerville, New Jersey he witnessed the baptism of his granddaughter Sara (daughter of John or Jan Jansen Van Meter and wife Sarah Bodine), although it should be noted that the surname Van Meter (or Van Meteren or Van Metre) is absent from the record in the case of all parties involved.

The precise date and place of death of Jooste Jans' wife, Sarah Du Bois, is equally uncertain. Salem County, New Jersey deed records mention her in 1716 and again on May 27, 1726, when she sold 302 acres of land, "lying between Nickomus Run and the main branch of Salem Creek; bounded by Benjamin Acton's land on upper side and by Pile's Grove land on the lower side," to her son Isaac Van Meter. In 1726, Sarah was about sixty-three years old and almost certainly a widow. In all likelihood, she afterward went to live with one of her married children in either New York or New Jersey, where, for all we know, she may have lived to a ripe old age.

Van Meter Family
Jan Joosten Van Meteren | Jooste Jans Van Meteren | Jan or John Van Meter | Jacob Van Meter

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