We Are Hunt, We Are McFarland, and What Else?

Who are we these Hunts and related McFarlands who can trace back to North Carolina to Rutherford County (Hunt) and Orange County (McFarland and perhaps Hunt).

  1. I know from records and research that my line is at least seven generations of the Hunt surname.
  2. I know from family tradition shared as late as 1852 that we are some unknown number of generations of the McFarland surname. (A McFarland boy or orphan was adopted or took the Hunt name from a Hunt family with which he lived.)
  3. We might or not be McFarlands or MacGregors even though by Y-DNA I was identified as of “Hidden MacGregors of Clan MacFarlane” just in the last year or so.
  4. I have been accepted into membership by Clan MacFarlane Worldwide and The Clan Gregor Society within the last year.
  5. Two latest references I have seen lists those of our group(s) as “MacFarland or MacFarlane/MacFarlin, hidden MacGregors” in one instance and “Scots Modal Highlanders B.”

The search continues as we seek records which will confirm the names and locations of ancestors back beyond the known seven generations.

Speculation on Timing of Ancestral Name Changes

I have evidence of three surnames in my ancestral line which I have traced by records back to Thomas hunt (Sr.) who was born ca 1787 in North Carolina according to the 1950 Blount County, TN federal census.

The graphic below is an attempt based on records and DNA information. The data following adding dates for times prior to 1787 contains my best attempt to show the times that name changes might have taken place. It is subject to change as more information comes to light.


Deason Lafayette Hunt is the father of the author of this blog post authenticated by birth certificate, parental testimony, and personal experience.

Relationship GGF Name Pct. of DNA Years Date  
Self   Deason     1943  
Father   Deason Lafayette 50   1910  
Gfather   Joseph 25   1867  
GGF 1 William 12.5   1816  
GGGF 2 Thomas 6.25 156 1787 {Proscription
GGGGF 3 Hunt or McFarland?? 3.125     1744
GGGGGF 4 McFarland?? 1.563     I
GGGGGGF 5 McFarland?? 0.781     I
GGGGGGGF 6 McFarland?? 0.391     I
GGGGGGGGF 7 McFarland?? 0.195 312 1631 ?? I
GGGGGGGGGF 8 McGregor?? 0.0975     1603}
GGGGGGGGGGF 9 McGregor?? 0.04875      
GGGGGGGGGGGF 10 McGregor?? 0.024375 406 1537??  
    Surnames became common between 1250 and 1450???????        


  1. William Thomas Hunt I believed that Thomas Hunt was adopted by a Hunt family in North Carolina and that his last name was either McFarland or McFarlain. William Thomas Hunt I heard his grandfather (William Marshall Hunt I) tell him this story many times.
  2. What he cannot remember is whether it was his grandfather (Thomas Hunt Sr.?) or great grandfather (Thomas Hunt Sr.’s father?) whose original name was McFarland. (This is an interpretation of his. Did she mean W. T. Hunt I as the “his” reference or Thomas Hunt Sr. as the “his” reference?)
  3. Hilda Hunt Tucker said the tradition in her James Hunt branch of the family (those who did not come to Texas in the late 1840’s) was they had a Scotch background.
  4. We may assume that William M. Hunt and James Hunt heard this story from their father Thomas Hunt Sr.
  5. Was Thomas talking about himself or his father?


Grandad Was Right Updated

Updated 6 December 2015

As with all genealogy as you connect with other researchers and compare information new things are discovered.

Since the “Granddad was right” article was written in 2013 we have met several Hunt researchers including Miles Philbeck, who is a descendant of William “Wat” Hunt a “supposed” older brother of  Thomas Hunt Sr. Since meeting Miles extensive DNA testing has been done on the male “siblings’ of Thomas Hunt Sr. (The article “Granddad was right” is appended to the end of this update.) 

Miles Philbeck discovered some interesting documents in the State Archives of North Carolina that pertain to William Thomas Hunt Sr born about 1787 in North Carolina. It seems in 1784 and 1785 in Orange County North Carolina there were two court cases of interest.

It seems that “John Hunt legal husband of Elizabeth Hunt charged his wife Elizabeth with adultery with William McFarland legal husband of Elizabeth McFarland”. At some point Elizabeth Hunt and William McFarland had even left the state of North Carolina together.

It appears from these records that Thomas Hunt Sr was a product of the adultery cases. The ironic part is there is not any Hunt DNA in Thomas Hunt Sr., as his mother was not a Hunt. As always with genealogy the answer to his parentage only generated many more questions that need to be answered.

The questions include is the John and Elizabeth Hunt mentioned in the documents the John Hunt who married Elizabeth Tyus? Is the William McFarland mentioned Senior or Junior (we believe it was Junior)?
If Thomas’ parents left the state and were together, how is it that William McFarland Jr came back and had several more children with a different wife? Did Elizabeth and John Hunt raise Thomas Hunt Sr?

In another ironic twist it seems that, none of the “brothers” of Thomas Hunt Sr., Absalom Hunt, William Wat Hunt, Kinch Hunt, and Thomas Hunt have any male line Hunt DNA. Every one of the descendants tested for a different family surname in the area. It seems that Elizabeth and John Hunt lead interesting lives. A descendant of Madison Hunt was also tested as he is in this area at the same time and to date only matches one other person in the ftdna database who also has the last name of Hunt.

William Wat Hunt descendant’s match males with the surname of Veazey and Brackett.
Absalom Hunt descendant’s match males with the surname of Veazey and DeVinney.

(William Wat and Absalom could be brothers and it may be that Elizabeth had a long term relationship with their father or that John Hunt may have been a Veazey himself)

William Kinch Hunt descendants match males with the surname of Duke.

Madison Hunt descendant’s matches a male with the surname of Hunt.

Many intriguing possibilities are still to be learned about these Hunts in Orange County NC / Rutherford County NC in the late 1700’s. Stay Tuned.
Granddad was Right (The original article)

When I was a child, my grandfather told me the story about how a McFarland child in England was orphaned, adopted by a Hunt family and how 200 years or so later, I was the result. The oral history had been passed from generation to generation with a few variations, but with several elements of the story being fairly consistent. There were some variation on the name. Some had the adoption happening in England, Wales, or as the result of parents dying at sea. Most all versions of the story had the child at 18 or so being given a new suit of clothes, $100 and being told that he was welcome to stay, or to find his own way in the world.

Flash forward 40 years. Long after my Grandfather died, DNA testing would come to be a reliable form of identification. Also, I would go through a marriage of 24 years, and shortly afterward, meet up with a retired engineer that happened to be a darned good genealogist. Susan took an interest in my story and decided to follow it to see where it went. One of the first things she did was to have me take a “YTDNA” test. After confirming positive for “human”, it also confirmed that somewhere along the line, a McFarland had been in my parentage. At least one element of the story Granddad told me was correct.

We know from Census and other records, that I’m related to a Thomas Hunt Sr. (born abt 1787 and died 28 July 1856). He is first found in Rutherford County NC with an William “Wat” and Absalom Hunt in the 1820 census. His first child is born in 1810 in North Carolina but what county is unknown.

The DNA test has Thomas Hunt an exact 37 match to the Orange County North Carolina McFarland’s. One record so far at least ties the Hunts to both counties. Absalom Hunt married his wife Patsy White in Orange County.

Thomas Hunt Sr moved to Blount County TN in 1828 and then to Rusk County Texas in 1851.

Thomas Hunt Sr named his children after both the Hunt and McFarland lines:

1. Elizabeth Betsey Nancy Hunt (1809) married James Madison Bedford (William “Wat Hunt was married to Rebecca Bedford)

2. Absalom (1811) Absalom Hunt was both in Orange and Rutherford Counties

3. James (1812) There is both a James Hunt and a James McFarland in Orange County NC. The McFarland married Nancy Matterson. The 1812 James Hunt married Pretia Rose in Blount County TN. One of my exact McFarland DNA matches ancestors also married into a Rose family in North Carolina.

4. John (1815) Both a John Hunt and John McFarland, the McFarland married Elizabeth Maddeson

5. William Marshall (My Line) (1816) After William Wat Hunt who was in Rutherford County. The Cain family also married later on into the McFarland’s and named one of their children William Marshall Cain

6. Stephen (1819 ) There are no Hunts or McFarland’s by this name. There is Stephen Wilson who signed petition and took in a Thomas Hunt (son of a Elizabeth Hunt)

7. Thomas Hunt Jr (1821)

8. Martha Cassandra (1822) No Martha (but there was a Martha Patsey Matterson marriage to Larkin McFarland) No Cassandra’s in either family.

9. Maddeson (son) (1828) Named after Maddeson family all four McFarland / Maddeson marriages took place before his birth

10. Mary Mahala (1830) No Mahala in either family that can be found at this time

11. Samuel (1832) There is a Samuel Hunt but no McFarland’s by this name

Through records in Orange County we have learned that a Henry Hunt lived about 3-4 miles from the Orange County McFarlands (William, Peter, and Thomas (the DNA match McFarlands)) however no connection has been found between Henry Hunt and my Hunt line. From the Family Finder DNA test I do match a person researching a Susannah Hunt born 1715 in England married John Palmer in New York in 1738 and dies in Orange County NC in 1760. Whether this is the same Hunt family is unknown. With the family finder test it is just as likely there is a match with unidentified ancestor.

Not much is known about Thomas Hunt Sr. wife but that her name was Lucy. Although several of their grandchildren were named Louvica, Louvisa, and Louisa it is highly likely this was her name. Interestingly enough that same unique spelling also is in the Rose family.

We are though looking for information on the extended family lines of Hunt, Palmer, Rose, Maddeson (Madison, Mattison), Cain, Ray, Allen, Horton, and we are sure several that we don’t even know yet.

At this point we still have several open questions. Was there an adoption as family legend holds? Am I the result of a chance encounter, a “paternity lapse”, or a “lucky neighbor”? In an ideal world, perhaps we’ll find a record in a 200-year old book that tells of an adopted child. Or maybe, as Ernest Gann said “the complete answer may only be revealed when it can no longer serve those most interested”. I’d like to hope that Granddad was right, and that Ernest Gann will be wrong, and with any luck at all, there’s a record out there that can definitively tie the two families together. The DNA test is irrefutable.

I am related to the McFarlands of Orange County NC from the late 1700’s. Like all of us, I am the child of many fathers. I’m proud of my deep roots in East Tennessee and North Carolina (from both my paternal and maternal sides). I’m also proud of my Scottish roots and the heritage that comes with it. It only took 40 years or so, but at this point, we’re confident that Granddad was right.

William T. (McFarland) Hunt and Susan Kromer Hunt

A page in the Hunt Archives displays the information above formatted a bit differently, but it is the same information and sources. The link:  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tompkins/hunt-family-legends/GranddadwasRight.html

Thomas Hunt, the Distiller

I found interesting the following quote (from the Jstor Daily email I received today) considering the stories of Thomas Hunt Senior and his Tennessee to Texas move of his still and our y-dna finding of relationship to and descent from the McFarlands

Scotland’s first large-scale vertically-integrated company was not part of the “holy trinity of coal, iron, and textiles,” usually seen as the drivers of Scotland’s entry into the Industrial Revolution, but a distillery.” 12

It is not clear if Thomas Senior actually operated a tub mill to grind his own corn and grain (and maybe that of family and neighbors) or simply owned land where a tub mill had once operated, but family tradition is that he operated a distilling operation so special that he transported it to Texas in his last westward movement. (Tub mill operators often were also distillers using the product as trade goods or for sale. For example, one distiller in Blount County sold his still and twelve tubs with the pay to be in whiskey at 33 & 1/3 cents per gallon.13 However, distilling operations were not as profitable as the years went by and in 1846 it was reported that “whiskey was not as popular that season.”14 In 1860 only five distilleries were in operation in Blount County.)15

Hilda Hunt Tucker, after a 1967 trip to Blount County wrote to W. T. Hunt (William Thomas Hunt I), “ Mr. Endsley said you had written him since your visit about the actual land boundaries of the Hunt property. He showed them to me and showed me the spring on the Rose property where he said Thomas Hunt was supposed to have had his wonderful still. He told me the Hunts and the Newberrys had built a houseboat in the next county and had floated down the Tenn. River with horse and cow and still and all of their children to the Mississippi, on to New Orleans, and over to Rusk County, Texas.”16 Family tradition is that the still passed on to the Thomas Hunt Junior family in Rusk County. Mary Frank Deason Dunn, a descendant of Thomas Hunt Junior, wrote to W. T. Hunt in 1967, “Hilda mentioned the still of Thomas Hunt, Sr. which he is supposed to have brought to Texas with him. I thought this was so interesting since the estate papers in the court house in Henderson for both Thomas Junior and Thomas Senior list a still.

Mother said the still was in front of the house she grew up in (Grannie Rushton – where Joe Cliff lives now) that was Thomas Junior’s home originally. Great Grandpa Joe (Josiah Murphey- ed.) Hunt would weave a hat from straw while he watched the still. That was the way he timed the cooking.”17 Katie Hunt, writing a history of the family, reported, “They moved from Tenn. to Texas in wagons and along with the other things they brought a “still” for making “spirits. Thomas Hunt Junior used this still for making brandy from the apples and peaches they gathered from their orchard. He sold this brandy for 25 cents a gallon…. Mrs. Theo (Propes) Hunt, Gordon Hunt’s wife and my husband’s mother, told us that she could remember playing with the old still with the copper pipes and the kettles. Mr. Lobel Hunt says that a man who lived on the Angelina River came with a wagon drawn by oxen and bought the old still from Thomas Hunt and hauled it away.”18

12Source: http://daily.jstor.org/whiskys-550th/?utm_source=internalhouse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=jstordaily_06042015&cid=eml_j_jstordaily_dailylist_06042015, viewed 06/04/2015 at 5:45 p.m. cdt

13 Burns, Inez E., History of Blount County, Tennessee from war trail to landing strip, 1795-1955, Whipporwill  Publications, Evansville, IN, 1988, p. 243.

14 Burns, , History of Blount County, Tennessee, p. 220.

15 Burns, , History of Blount County, Tennessee, p. 243.

16 Hilda Hunt Tucker to W. T. Hunt, Trip Over To Blount County, September 1, 1967, Correspondence, Papers of Deason Hunt, Holly Lake Ranch, Texas.

17 Mary Frank Dunn to W. T. Hunt, Still of Thomas Hunt Sr., September 10, 1967, Correspondence, Papers of Deason Hunt, Holly Lake Ranch, Texas.

18 Thomas Hunt And His Descendants, Typescript of an article by Katie Hunt, Henderson, Texas, Vertical File, Henderson Public Library, Rusk County, Texas.


The information above including footnotes concerning Thomas Hunt’s distillery is taken from Thomas Sr. and Lucy Hunt and Their Children and Descendants, 1787-2002

® September, 2002, by Deason Hunt, 402 Evening Shadows Trail, Holly Lake Ranch, Texas 75765

Thomas Hunt Ancestry by Tradition

The issue of the parents and lineage of Thomas Hunt, Sr. is clouded in the mists of time and made difficult by the lack of records, loss of those records, or simply the passage of years. What little we know, we know from oral tradition handed down from parent to child which is subject to the possible distortions of each re-telling. The story told here is oral history and has not been verified by credible documents or evidence.

Two descendants report having heard the story directly from their grandfathers, sons of Thomas Sr.  W. T. “Willie” Hunt related the story to his daughter and attributed it to his grandfather, William Marshall Hunt. “… he remembers his grandfather, who lived with them and died at age 97, tell him this story many times when he was a child.”[1]  Lobel Watson Hunt reported hearing his grandfather, Thomas Hunt, Jr. tell the story. Edna Hunt wrote in 1965 that on a visit to see Uncle Lobe and Uncle Col (Colquit J. Hunt) that Uncle Lobe remembers his grandfather “telling of it many times.”  In his correspondence[2] Willie Hunt said there was an agreement in these parts of the story from Horace Hunt of the Absolom Hunt family, William Marshall as told to Willie, Lobel Hunt, Tommy Hunt of the Steve Hunt (son of William Marshall Hunt) family, Homer Hunt of the James Hunt family, and “Mr. Ensley” (a relative in Blount County by marriage) “who went with me on the Blount County trip”: “the elder Hunt and wife arrived at Charleston, South Carolina port of entry and first settled near Charlotte, N. C. before moving to Blount Co., TN.”

The versions below are from letters, interviews, and published materials and indicate the common themes but with variations as noted.

Version 1 –  “Daddy believes that Thomas Hunt was adopted by a Hunt family in North Carolina and that his last name was either McFarland or MacFarlain. He supposedly came from Scotland to Wales and entered into America by Charleston, S. C.  This Dad has never been able to verify but he says he remembers his grandfather, who lived with them and died at the age 97, tell him this story many times when he was a child. “[3]

Version 2 – “Tradition said he was one of seven boys – that the rest of the family had gone to Texas and that they had a Scotch background and had come from North Carolina….  Mr. W. T. Hunt also told me of a family tradition I had not heard. That the original Hunt had been an orphan named McDonald who had taken the Hunt name in gratitude for their care. He had come with them from Scotland to France, married in Hamburg, Germany, and come into the United States at Charleston, S.C.”[4]

Version 3 – “A ten- year-old boy surnamed McFarland was adopted by an old couple named Hunt in Wales. They reared him until he was 21 years old, then took him to town, bought him a suit of clothes, gave him some money, and told them he was free to leave them if he wanted to, but was welcome to stay if he would. He stayed a while and then crossed over into France and then to Germany where he married a full-blooded German Dutch named Finley.  They boarded a sailboat at Hamburg, Germany for America. They were six months en route because a storm blew them off course and they were lost. Finally landed at Charleston, South Carolina – went to North Carolina and afterwards to Blount County, Tennessee. There were 17 children, fourteen boys and three girls. Five boys and three girls came to Texas. …Nine boys stayed in Tennessee. Two later went to Illinois, and two went back to North Carolina.”[5]

Version 4 – “Last Sunday we went to see Uncle Lobe and Uncle Col Hunt, and there is a lot of information in those two folks.

They seem to still be clear thinking and can talk for hours on interesting events of the Hunt family. One thing we must tell you about that you haven’t mention and Eldon said he hadn’t heard was of the first Hunt’s coming to America. Uncle Lobe says it was Thomas Hunt Sr. who was born in 1787. He says he remembers his grandfather telling it a many of times. It seems as if a tragedy of some kind came to the family by the name of McFarland. A little 10-year-old boy was all that was left. A Mr. and Mrs. Hunt took this little boy as they had no children, but wanted a child. They adopted the boy, so that is how the Hunt name started. They were a happy family of three. When this boy was 21 years of age at the breakfast table that morning, the Hunts told the boy that now he was a man of his own. They loved him and they would be glad to have him forever, but he could choose his own vocation as they had fulfilled their mission by raising him to be a man of his own.  For a birthday gift, they took him to town and fitted him in the best suit of clothes they could afford and gave him $100 in cash. He stayed there a while, but decided later to seek adventure. All this took place in Wales. He sailed to Hamburg, Germany after deciding to travel. While there, he married a German girl. They worked hard for enough money to come to America. Having accomplished this, they sailed to America on a sailboat as in those days ships traveled by sails and canvas. They were on the water six months or more. Much longer voyage than they expected as they got lost and in storms, etc. They arrived at Charlotte, North Carolina. Then as time went on they went to Blount County, Tenn.”

[Then Edna switches from Lobel and Col’s account to an incident of her own -ed.]: “In the early 1930’s I met a man by the name of McFarland that asked me if I was from the Hunt line that came to America from Wales settling in North Carolina and later came to East Texas. He told me of this event and that he was some of the same McFarlands. At that time, I mentioned this to some of the younger Hunts, but no one seemed to know anything about it. So Hadn’t though any more about it.”[6]

Version 5  – “Edna Hunt … said she went down last weekend and visited Carl (ed. Probably Col) and Lobe and the Hunt Cemetery. She will write you soon. Carl and Lobe gave them some information that was news to me. The story is Thomas Hunt, Sr. was born in Wales as Thomas McFarlin and came to the U.S.A. at about the age of ten. He was adopted by a Hunt family in North Carolina. This was in or near Charlotte, NC. On his 21st birthday, the Hunts gave him a suit of clothes and $100 and told him he was on his own. He went to Germany, got married, and later came back to North Carolina then to Blount Co. Tenn. and then to Rusk Co. Texas. The story is that he also had some brothers that moved into Pennsylvania and Illinois.”[7]

Version 6  – “Thomas McFarland was born in Wales, 1789. When he was about ten years old his parents died. A couple by the name of Hunt asked Thomas McFarland if he would like to come live with them and be their son. As there was no one else, he went to live with them and loved them very much. He grew up as Thomas Hunt.

On his twenty-first birthday his foster mother told him they had something planned for him to do like (he) thought there was some work they wanted done so he asked what they wanted done. She said, “You know, this is your twenty-first birthday.” He said, “Yes, I know. Then she told him they were going to town, and were going to buy him the finest clothes they could find. And they did, from the finest hat to the best shoes, and gave him one hundred dollars in gold. Then they told him he was of age and could do as he wished, but they still wanted him to stay with them for as long as he would.

He stayed a few more months and then decided that he would go to Germany. His parents asked if he was coming back. He told them that he would be back. He wanted to see what it was like in Germany.

After a few months in Hamburg, he met a girl named Mary Finly, married her and took her to Wales to visit his foster parents. They went back to Hamburg. After a short time they decided they would go to America. They boarded a sail ship and set sail for America. On the way a storm caused them to get off course, and they were lost for awhile. The Captain had to ration the water and the food. After six months they landed at Charleston, South Carolina.

They moved to Blount County, Tenn. where they settled and stayed for many years. His family was grown and married and had children of their own when Thomas Hunt, Sr. and his sons decided they would move to Rusk County, Tex.

On March 30, 1851, Thomas Hunt, Sr. and five sons with their families arrived in Rusk County. Thomas Hunt Jr., William (Bill) Hunt and Sam Hunt remained here in Rusk County or near here. Ab Hunt bought what was known as the Jeff Armstrong place.[8]

Version 7 – “Seems there was a McCauley family and a Hunt family at sea coming to America. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina and were thought to have changed their names from McCauley to McFarland. Anyway, the family became ill and died leaving behind the two boys that the Hunts adopted and finally gave them their name, thus making them Hunts, and reared them as their own. The brothers grew up and one came to Texas and the other one to Illinois.”[9]

Version 8 – “serious research began when Ken related the family lore of William L. Hunt’s identification with the James Hunt family. Supposedly, according to the passed down information, William’s mother died when he had to be less than two years, and the father was either neglectful or unable to care for a young child, and the James Hunt family took him. William was so grateful for the kindness shown him that he took the Hunt name for his own.”[10]

Obviously, some elements of the stories mix the immigrant Hunt and Thomas Hunt, Sr. The 1850 census showed Thomas as born in North Carolina. Thus he could not have been the ancestor born in Wales. However, Thomas lived near Charlotte, North Carolina, moved to Blount County, Tennessee, and then on to Rusk County, Texas.  Essential elements common to all or most versions are an orphaned child named McFarland, Wales, either a visit to France or Germany or both, arrival at Charleston, South Carolina, and living near Charlotte North Carolina before the family went to Tennessee and then Texas.



[1] Branch, Jean Hunt  to Deason Hunt, McFarland Adoption, 12/17/1977,Correspondence, Papers of Deason Hunt, Big Sandy, Texas.

[2] Hunt, W. T. to _________, Correspondence 1960’s, Papers of Deason Hunt, Big Sandy, Texas. (A page without address or date or other pages of the letter but in the handwriting of W. T. Hunt)

[3] Branch, Jean Hunt to Deason Hunt, McFarland Adoption, 12/17/1977.

[4] Tucker, Hilda Hunt, Scotch Orphan, 9/17/1959, Correspondence, Papers of Deason Hunt, Big Sandy, Texas.

[5] Hunt, Lobel, Interview by Lynda Tillison Jones, March 15, 1964.

[6] Hunt, Edna to W. T. Hunt, First Hunts To America, 1/24/1965, Correspondence, Papers of Deason Hunt, Big Sandy, Texas.

[7]  Hunt, Eldon to W. T. Hunt, McFarlin Wales,  Jan.25, 1965, Papers of Deason Hunt, Big Sandy, Texas.

[8] Thomas Hunt And His Descendants,  Typescript of an article by Katie Hunt, Henderson, Texas, Vertical File, Henderson Public Library, Rusk County, Texas.

[9] Hunt, Floyd, Interview by Lynda Tillison Jones, June 1976.

[10] Stevens, Betty, My Introduction, December 9, 2001,  News Posting to Thomas Hunt Sr. Family Association Website at Myfamily.com, Hunt, Deason, ed.