Kayser-Counts History

A great many pages have been written about our early German ancestors of the Shenandoah Valley, some of which are true and others, well, not so much. In the case of JOHN COUNTS, he has always been a “man of mystery” who we knew very little about, but we do know a few things. Through the research of Judge Elihu Jasper Sutherland, we know that he was in Frederick Co. VA by early 1764 and that the next year he purchased land and settled on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River along the banks of the Hawksbill Creek, and that his daughter Mary and her husband JACOB RASNICK lived nearby. We also know that their across the river neighbor was CARL KAYSER (CHARLES KEYSER). And we know that members of these three families migrated west to Russell Co. and intermarried for generations.

Now CARL KAYSER is a different story. It seemed he had been well researched and that we already knew almost everything about him. We knew his name and the names of most of his children, where he settled and where he was buried. We knew his wife was likely one of two people, a “Miss Shelley” from Philadelphia or an Elizabeth Groseglose from Germany. And we knew when and where he arrived in this country, and even the name of the ship he was aboard. Through the research of Mark Kiser, he was tracked back to the village in Germany where he’d been born and we learned even more about him and several earlier generations of his family. So in looking for more information about JOHN COUNTS, it seemed like it would be pretty easy to follow the trail of his neighbor and "in-law", CHARLES KEYSER, for clues.

But when COUNTS and KEYSER descendant Sharon Lemkuil really began to take a look at the facts surrounding CARL KAYSER, she was astounded at how much of the older data from earlier researchers could not be substantiated. Chad Counts, Brett Compton, Phyllis Counts and Marie Rasnick Fetzer agreed. So now we're opening up the search for these two old German pioneers again.

One of the major problems with researching JOHN COUNTS and CARL KAYSER is looking at early points of emigrant entrance and their paths of migration down into the Shenandoah Valley for records. While some records have been found, others are either missing, destroyed, or may have never existed in the first place. Additionally, both men have very common names and settled in the same place at the same time, under British rule, in the wildest outposts of Colonial America. Equally challenging is that it's become apparent that several men who had the same name became confused and combined, creating a mish-mash of a single, mythical CHARLES KEYSER, who married a Miss Shelley in Philadelphia and later moved to the Hawksbill Creek. So in order to proceed with trying to find JOHN COUNTS, we first have to debunk old family myths and clean up the data surrounding CARL KAYSER.

A Word About our Research....

This project is a collaborative effort and a work in progress. It represents what we know about our ancestors at this time and has source material included wherever possible. New information will be added as it is uncovered and analyzed. The spelling of names, which varies widely in records, will be used interchangeably depending on the resource. While we may never know some things due to lost records, particularly in Virginia, our purpose is to clear away the cobwebs of old family legends and give comprehensive, factual information in hopes of combating the often repeated bad information found in some online sources. It is our sincere desire to present an accurate, and complete as possible, version of the life of our ancestors and tell their stories according to the facts we have found.

All genealogical research has an intuitive aspect to it. We understand that not everyone will agree with our conclusions, but this is the best we can offer with what we know. We truly appreciate the efforts of those who came before us, who put together the information they had from the past to preserve it for the future. We would especially like to acknowledge the work of the late Elihu J. Sutherland, and his family, and thank them for their generosity in allowing us to share their research; Julie Voyles, who compiled and shared a vast amount of data on her "Kiser-Kayser-Keyser Country" website; the late Mark Kiser, who uncovered vital Lancaster Co., PA chuch records which led to proving the immigrant CARL SEBASTIAN KAYSER was the same person as CHARLES KEYSER of Page Co., VA, and who organized Kiser cousins to hire researchers to find the origins of Carl Kayser in Germany; Chad Counts, who is the administrator of the John Counts y-DNA Project and is deed mapping John Counts' Hawksbill land; Brett Compton, who is uncovering important new documents and searching the lists of early German immigrants trying to uncover John Counts' true name and place of origin; Sharon Lemkuil, who has written an update on the status of the John Counts research, and taken on the massive task of analyzing old deeds and researching the early Shenandoah settlers in order to untangle and correct previously published information that we found to have been either incorrect or poorly researched; Phyllis Counts, administrator of the John Counts of Glade Hollow Facebook Group and Webmaster of the John Counts of Glade Hollow Family Reunion website; Marie Rasnick Fetzer, who has made two trips to the Hawksbill in 2019 to gather new Keyser and Counts documents and information, and is also administrator of this new Kayser-Counts website; Owen Kiser, who organized the clean up, repair and placement of memorial markers in the Charles Keyser Cemetery in Page Co., the Kiser Cemetery in Carbo, Va., and many others; Larry Price, who researched records at the Mormon Library in Utah and traced our Keyser-Kiser ancestry back to Jost Kayser; Jack Keyser who wrote and published "CARL KAYSER and his family of KEYSER PIONEERS"; and German researchers Friedrich R. Wollmershäuser and Marlies Kibler, Möckmühl Historian, who, since 2005, has tirelessly and generously been helping Mark Kiser, providing invaluable data and insight into the history of the Kayser Family in Möckmühl.

Knowing there is always room for improvement, we invite you to be a part of this project. You may submit information about Carl Sebastian Kayser, who is also known as CHARLES KEYSER, and JOHN COUNTS of Hawksbill Creek and Glade Hollow, Virginia, or their pioneer descendants to the email link at the bottom of this page. If you are descended from either of these two men, you can be very proud of your heritage and the inherent qualities of hard work, resourcefulness, self-reliance, order, discipline, love of country, faith and sense of humor they have passed down to their descendants for generations.

We hope that you will enjoy learning about our ancestors as much as we have, and that others will continue this work after we are gone.


Sharon Lemkuil
John Counts through Philip Counts
Carl Kayser through Anna Keyser

Brett Compton
John Counts through Ezekiel Counts
John Counts through John "Jackie" Counts

Mark Kiser
Carl Kayser through Joseph Kiser

Chad Counts
John Counts through John Counts, Jr.

Phyllis Counts
John Counts through John Counts, Jr.

Marie Rasnick Fetzer
John Counts through Mary "Molly" Counts
John Counts through John Counts, Jr.
Carl Kayser through Joseph Kiser