Known Descendants of Leonard Hire / Hyre

Kenneth W. Colby

The Hire / Hyre family settled near Petersburg at a very early date likely the late 1740's. Their presence is attested by the inclusion of their name on the list of tithables in what was then Augusta County, Virginia. At this time before the formation of Hampshire County, Augusta, included territories to the mighty Mississippi River, and even included the Ohio River and parts of southwest Pennsylvania.

The family is of Swiss origin, Switcher a family historian (1977, p9-15) describes the meeting held in the Lienert (Leonard) Hire / Hyre house at Benken, Switzerland in 1736 to discuss migrating to America. The outgrowth of this meeting is that on September 24, 1737, the ship "Virtuous Grace" landed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and there Lenhart Hier, (Leonard Hire / Hyre) signed the required oath of allegiance to the British Crown, called the Declaration of Fidelity and Adjuration, and gave his age as 40 years (Strassburger, 1966, Vol. 1, p. 175-177), born 1696.

For a few years, the Hire / Hyre family lived in Tulpenhocken then Berks County, Pennsylvania. They soon decided to migrate southward. Switcher suggests that sometime between 1743 and 1750, the families from Benken joined the overflow of German-speaking and Scotch-Irish settlers who took the Great Wagon Road in search of new lands in the back country of Maryland and Virginia. In the steep mountain valleys of the South Branch river (Potomac), they had found a likeness to the landscape they remembered and loved in the Swiss Alps.

The Hire / Hyre land was located on the south side of the South Branch, and here Leonard Hire / Hyre wrote his will on March 13, 1768, and proved in Hampshire County on May 12, 1772. Mentioned in his will are his wife Clara, to whom he leaves his land, house and goods as long as she lives, and the following six children: (1) Leonard, Rudolph, Barbara, Elizabeth, Eve, Magdaline, and another daughter mentioned separately, Osilla.

Leonard Hire / Hyre, son of Leonard, was baptized on December 25, 1727, in Benken, Switzerland, and came with his parents to America, where he settled in Augusta County, Virginia. He was named in the will of his father and received the plantation by paying one hundred pounds to his Brethren. He also served as executor of the will. He is also listed in Virginia Public Claims for Hampshire County, during the American Revolution, which makes his descendants eligible for membership in the Sons and Daughter of the American Revolution.

Leonard Hire / Hyre wrote his will on April 7, 1783, in Hampshire County, and it was proven in Hardy County (which was formed from Hampshire) Book 1, p. 2-3, on June 16, 1786. It was the second will to be recorded in Hardy County, Virginia. Mentioned in his will are his wife (Anna Maria) called Mary, whose will was also found in will Book 1. She was also called Mary in the will of her father Peter Hass, which was proven in Hampshire county in 1776. The children of Leonard and Mary were: Leonard, John, Jacob, Lewis, Peter, who received Lot #61 on the South Branch, containing two hundred and twenty-three acres. The following children: Michael, Rudolph, their father gave Lot #58, on the east side of the South Branch, containing one hundred and four acres. One third of both lots "excepted unto my beloved wife Mary .... for and during her natural life." To his daughter Mary he gave money.

Jacob Hire / Hyre, son of Leonard, was born May 25, 1757 in Hampshire County, Virginia, enlisted in 1779 and served as a private in Colonel Van Meters Virginia Regiment, before removing to Monongalia County, in February 1782, where he served in Captain George Jackson's Regiment until the end of the war, 1783. He returned to the South Branch Hardy County where he married in August of 1783 to Elizabeth Powers who was born in Hampshire County in 1761 and died in Upshur County, June 27, 1851. Jacob died in Lewis county, March 6, 1841. Where we found in Deed Book B. p. 503, a deed between Jacob and his wife Elizabeth to their daughter Mary Hire, wife of Henry Jackson, see History of Ritchie County, by Minnie Kendall Lowther, p. 80-85.

Jacob and his brother John, both named in the will of their father Leonard Hire / Hyre, were members of the first Buckhannon Baptist congregation which worshiped in a log structure built about 1786, on a hill above Fink's Run on today's Hall Road, in Upshur County, then in the old county of Lewis. It is known if this might have been an early Brethren church. The grave-stones that once stood in the cemetery on Hall Road, were moved with the graves in 1979 to its present site in the Heavener Cemetery, where Bush's Fort once stood. Here on row #8, block #2, are the graves of Jacob Hyre, his wife Elizabeth, and their daughter Mary Hyre Jackson who was born in Lewis County, Virginia July 4, 1784 and died July 16, 1835.

It should be pointed out here that the records show this family as Hire, until after Jacob received his pension #7856, and the goverment wrote it as Hyre.

To Hardy County Genealogy Page