Granddad was Right


When I was a child, my grandfather William Thomas Hunt Sr.,  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. Granddad spent many years researching the Hunt family and the family legend.

Flash forward 40 years. Granddad has died and DNA testing has become a reliable form of identification. I meet a wonderful woman that happens to be a darned good genealogist.  Susan took an interest in my story and decided to follow in Granddad’s footsteps.  One of the first things she did was to have me take a “Y-DNA” 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 a 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.

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) We think that 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)  There is 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

William Marshall Hunt

  1. Stephen (1819) There are no known Hunts or McFarland’s by this name.  There is Stephen Wilson who signed petition for clemency for Thomas Hunt after a horse theft charge and apprenticed a Thomas Hunt the son of an Elizabeth Hunt.
  2. Thomas Hunt Jr  (1821)  
  3. Martha Cassandra (1822) No Martha in either family (but there was a Martha Patsey Matterson marriage to Larkin McFarland), No Cassandra’s in either family.
  4. Maddeson (son) (1828) Named after the Maddeson family all four McFarland / Maddeson marriages took place before his birth,
  5. Mary Mahala (1830 Mahala is a McFarland family name
  6. Samuel  (1832)  There is a Samuel Hunt but no known 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 McFarland’s (William, Peter, and Thomas (the DNA match McFarland’s)) however so far 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 who married John Palmer in New York in 1738 and dies in Orange County NC in 1760.  Whether this is my Hunt family is unknown.  With the family finder test it is just as likely the match is with an unidentified ancestor and not Susannah Hunt at all. 

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

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

At this point we still have several open questions.  Was there an adoption as family legend holds? Did a Hunt marry a McFarland widow and adopt her son? Am I the result of a chance encounter or a “lucky neighbor”? In an ideal world, perhaps we’ll find a record in a 200 year old book that answers these questions.  Or maybe, as Ernest Gann said “the complete answer may only be revealed when it can no longer serve those most interested.”


I hope that Granddad will be right and that Ernest Gann will be wrong. 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 McFarland’s of Orange County NC (and by extension, CMW member Peter McFarland from California) from the late 1700s.  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 rich heritage that comes with it.  It only took 40 years or so, but at this point, we’re confident that Granddad will be right he has been right so far.




William Thomas (McFarland) Hunt III

Susan Kromer Hunt 7/20/2013




Updated 6 December 2015


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


Since this 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 William Thomas Hunt Sr.  Since meeting Miles extensive DNA testing has been done on the male “siblings’ of William Thomas Hunt Sr. 


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 descendant’s 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.


Susan Kromer Hunt