Puzzle: Other NC-Rutherford Hunts

A part of the puzzle of parents and ancestors of Thomas Sr. is an as yet undetermined relationship to other Hunts in Rutherford County North Carolina in the 1800-1820 time period. They include Absolom “Ab” Hunt, William “Wat” Hunt , William “Kinchen” Hunt, and Catherine Hunt, all of whom appear as heads of household on the 1800, 1810, and/or 1820 Rutherford County, North Carolina census. All lived within about a four-square mile area of Rutherford County, according to veteran Rutherford County historian Harold Rollins who also has a connection with one of the Hunt families. These locations are confirmed by a study of maps and deed information for these individuals.

One published family history for the Taylor-Hunt and allied families in the area states that Thomas Hunt of the 1820 census is a brother of Wat Hunt.[1]  However, there is no documentation in the book to support the claim. The book emphasizes that Absolom Hunt and Wat hunt are not related, however, another book featuring Haw-Hunt families, states just the opposite: that Ab and Wat are brothers.[2]

A study of the 1800 census shows one male in the Wat Hunt household older than any of his known children.[3]

Thomas Hunt and Kinch Hunt seem to follow the child naming patterns of Wat Hunt. Wat’s known children, in birth order, are William, Elizabeth, Stephen, Sarah, James, Thomas, Lewis Tyas, Catherine, Mary, and John. Kinch’s children are Phoebe, Sarah, William, John, James Madison, Robert, Thomas B., and Martin J. Thomas Sr.’s are Elizabeth “Betsy”, Absolom, James, John, Stephen, Thomas, Martha Cassandra, Madison, Mary Mahala, and Samuel. In addition, Wat’s daughter Catherine married Joseph Grayson Devinney, grandson of Joseph Grayson, from whose original land grant Thomas Sr. sold his property in 1819 before moving to Tennessee. Likewise, Rutherford County Graysons were intermarried with Bedfords. Wat’s wife was Rebecca Bedford, and Thomas Sr.’s daughter Betsy married a James Bedford, a nephew of Rebecca and son of Stephen and Polly Bedford. When another of Rebecca’s brothers, Seth Bedford,  was married October 10, 1796, the bondsman was Wat Hunt.[4]

Descendants of Wat and Ab Hunt, and sister Catherine, all in Rutherford County by the early 1800’s and who would live out their lives there, have a similar situation in finding their parents and ancestors. They cannot prove the names of their parents. Speculation has led to a John Hunt who married an Elizabeth Tyas in Virginia and then came to western North Carolina, but there is no conclusive evidence. It is possible, but clearly not proven, that these three, Thomas, and Kinch are related in some way. If related, two possible scenarios are that  (1) Thomas Sr. and perhaps Kinch Hunt were raised by brother or Uncle Wat Hunt after the death or disappearance of Thomas’ Hunt parents (making him or both orphans) or (2) the same thing happened but that they were McFarlands and either were adopted or not legally adopted but took the Hunt name. Thus, as an adopted son(s), Thomas Sr. would have not shared in estate distribution in Wat’s will. It is also entirely possible that his relationship to other Hunts of Rutherford County is purely a coincidence of geography: they just lived near each other.

Thomas Sr.’s possible enumeration on the 1800 census in the household of William “Wat” Hunt of Rutherford County, North Carolina is based on a male child 10-16 years of age older than any known child of Wat Hunt and wife Rebecca Bedford.

1800 Census Rutherford County, North Carolina

Hunt, William, page 120

Male               0-10     10-16    16-18              16-26   26-45   45+                 

2          1            0                    1          1          0

Female            0-10     10-16    16-18              16-26   26-45   45+     

1          0            0                    0          1          1

Known children of Wat and Rebecca born by 1800 were Stephen born ca 1797 (age 3 in 1800), William born ca 1799 (age 1 in 1800), and Elizabeth born 1795 (age 5 in 1800). Thomas Hunt, Sr. would have been 12 or 13 in this census. William Kinchen Hunt, born about 1778, would have been 21 to 22.  Wat Hunt was 27 to 28 in 1800 and Rebecca Bedford Hunt 28 to 29.

By 1810, William K. Hunt appears on the Rutherford County, North Carolina census, page 108 with 1 male 26-45 and 1 female 26-45 (wife Rebecca Simmons) and no children. Thomas does not appear on the census, but he possibly was missed entirely or perhaps in the household of the parents of his young wife Lucy. Their marriage is estimated about 1809 with first child born estimated about 1810.

In 1820, Thomas appears on the Rutherford County, North Carolina census on page 387 and again on page 392. (The double listing is considered typical of a number of such in the early censuses.) Other Rutherford Hunts are enumerated on these pages: Absolom 327, Catharine 328, William (Wat) 328, William K. 328, and William Jr. 327 and 389. (Note the two listings for William Jr. are considered errors, as is a second listing on page 392 for Thomas Hunt.) Joseph Grayson, from whose land grant Thomas sold land in 1819, was listed on page 387.

1820 Census Rutherford County, North Carolina

Hunt, Thomas, page 358 or page 392

Male               0-10     10-16    16-18              16-26   26-45              

5          1            0                    0          1

Female            0-10     10-16    16-18             16-26   26-45  

1                       0                   0            1

(Page 358 listing is same as for page 392 except for females 0-10. Page 358 shows 2 and page 392 indicates 0.)

Thomas’s known children in 1820 were (males under 10: Absolom b. 1811, James b. 1812, John b. about 1815, William b. 1816, Stephen b. about 1819), (males 10-16: unknown male b. about 1810), (males 26-45: Thomas Sr. b. about 1787). (females 10-16: Elizabeth Betsy b. about 1810), and (females 26-45: Lucy b. about 1787).

An examination of North Carolina census records reveals no other Thomas Hunt who so closely matches the ages or birth places later indicated on censuses of the known children of Thomas and Lucy Hunt.

[1] Taylor, Wilson A., Genealogy Of John Langford Taylor And Elizabeth Martha Ann Esther Taylor, St. Louis, Missouri, 1937, p. 174.

[2] Haw, Joseph L., The McSpad(d)en Family Ancestry, Augustums Printing Service, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 164.

[3] Taylor, Genealogy Of John Langford Taylor And Elizabeth Martha Ann Esther Taylor, p. 170.

[4] Marriage Records of Rutherford County, North Carolina, Seth Bedford to Mary Francis, October, 10, 1796.

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.

Thomas Hunt Sr. — What We Know

Thomas Hunt Sr. was born about 1787 in North Carolina according to information posted (age 63) to the 1850 census enumerator in Blount County, Tennessee and his calculated age as oldest male in the 1820 census in Rutherford County, North Carolina and the 1830 and 1840 censuses of Blount County, Tennessee. He died about 1856 (certainly by December 2, 1856 when a court filing contained this testament: “Thomas Hunt formerly of Rusk County… but now dead” in Rusk County, Texas. The gravestone at the center of the Hunt Cemetery east of Henderson in Rusk County which is a native stone marked with the letters TH has been passed down through the years as the burial site of Thomas Hunt Sr.

A Land transaction in Rutherford County, North Carolina (coinciding with his move through the mountains to Tennessee) in 1819, transactions in Blount County, Tennessee in the 1830’s, and 1840’s, and transactions leading up to and including the probating of his estate in the 1850’s in Rusk County, Texas document his presence in those areas and times.

Thomas’ wife was Louvisa but her surname and ancestry is unknown to us today. In the 1850 census of Blount County, Tennessee the wife’s name was written as Lucy when her age was 63 which makes her birth about 1787 like her husband. In January of 1858, a deed transaction in which she and sons sell all interests in some of Thomas’ estate land, she is described as “Louvisa Hunt widow of Thomas Hunt deceased.” Searches in the 1860 census or later census years turns up no one of that name and her age in her own household, that of any children in Texas, or as a Louvisa or Lucy of proper age to have remarried in Rusk County, Texas.

Children of THOMAS HUNT and LOUVISA  from census and other records are:

1) Elizabeth Betsy Hunt, b. Abt. 1810, North Carolina (estimate based on marriage date and census of father Thomas Hunt 1820 and husband James Bedford 1830-40); d. Bet. 1870 – 1879.

2) Absolom Hunt, b. September 10, 1811, North Carolina; d. November 20, 1866.

3) James Hunt, b. January 21, 1812, North Carolina; d. July 16, 1865, Blount County, Tennessee.

4) Unknown Male Hunt, b. est.. 1813.

5) John Hunt, b. 1815, North Carolina; d. Aft. 1860.

6) William Marshal Hunt, b. May 1816, North Carolina; d. August 02, 1906, Rusk County, Texas.

7) Stephen Hunt, b. 1819, North Carolina.

8) Thomas Hunt Jr., b. May 13, 1821, North Carolina; d. October 05, 1888, Rusk County, Texas.

9) Martha CassandraHunt, b. April 08, 1822, Tennessee; d. April 21, 1901, Texas.

10) Madison Hunt, b. est. 1825, Blount County, Tennessee; d. Abt. 1858, Prob. Texas.

11)Mary Mahala (Mahalie) Hunt, b. est. 1830; d. Abt. 1915, Charleston, Franklin County, Arkansas.

12) Samuel Hunt b. February 15, 1832, Tennessee; d. July 03, 1893, Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas.