I agree on the hard tail direction. $1000 is not a lot of money when it comes to new bikes these days(relatively speaking of course), but just like you I researched high and low for a max bike for that budget. I ended up getting a 2016 Rockhopper Comp on a sweet sale as it was September and the bike shop was trying To get rid of last years bikes. Was it my first choice for a bike, no, but am I happy with the bike, you bet. I go out with a bunch of guys all riding All Mountain and Enduro bikes and I keep up with them as well as one can on a hardtail. Sure I get dropped sometimes, but that’s probably because of my skill rather than the bike itself.
My point is, you can shop around, don’t rush it, and you will come across that one wicked deal that will just feel right, just like I did. And you can get a lot more bike when you get a hardtail as opposed a full squish.
For the record, I own both a hardtail and full suss, and I love riding them both for their unique riding experience