David Rhea & Estelle Haston

Daniel Haston Family History “Hall of Famers”

We owe a lot to these folks for their diligent and careful research on our Daniel Haston family history and their efforts to connect all branches of our Haston family tree.

David Rhea and Estelle (Suggs) Haston lived in Sparta, Tennessee (White County, TN).  You can see their birth and death dates on the Highland Cemetery tombstone below.  For 20+ years (mid-1960s until sometime in the late 1980s or so) Dave and Estelle did a phenomenal job of researching and preserving our family’s history.  Estelle, in particular, connected with Haston family members ALL over the country and wrote perhaps 100s of letters, engaging them in Daniel Haston family research.

David Rhea Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son David, and David’s son Isaac T. Haston and David’s grandson, Montgomery Greenville (M.G.) Haston.  In other words, both of David Rhea Haston’s parents were Hastons in the David Haston line:

  • His father was Joel “Joe” Montgomery Haston (1863-1925), son of M.G. and Rachel Wheeler Haston.  M.G. was a grandson of David Haston, through David’s daughter Mary/Polly.
  • His mother was Elizabeth “Betty” Haston (1871-1946), daughter of Isaac T. Haston.  Isaac T. was David Haston’s next-to-the-youngest son.  
So David Rhea Haston was a double-descendant of David and Daniel Haston!  His parents were first cousins once-removed.  No wonder he developed such a keen interest in the history of the Haston family.

When David Rhea (Dave) retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority in October 1965, he and his wife, Estelle move back “home” to Sparta, TN and began to pursue Daniel Haston family research with a passion.  Remember:  that was when historical research was not easy.  Major highways were mostly two-lanes; no copying machines; no internet or email; long distance phone calls were very expensive.  When you look at their research files you can understand how challenging it must have been: correspondence was by USPS mail and copies were made using onion-skin paper and carbon copy paper. 

I (Wayne Haston) was extremely fortunate to inherit their research files.  Actually, I never met Dave nor Estelle although I grew up in the same small town where they lived and was related to them.  But Dave and Estelle passed along their resources to J.D. Haston of Sparta, whom I had known all my life.  Just a couple of years before J.D. passed away, I began interacting with him about the Haston family history.  In about 2002, knowing he had a health problem that might be terminal, J.D. gave me all of Dave and Estelle’s research materials, two boxes full of them.  I’ve gone through them page by page and organized them for access by some future Haston family researchers.

Estelle deserves special recognition for her work on the Haston family.  Although not a Haston by birth, she worked tirelessly to correspond with Haston relatives all over the USA, even after Dave passed away in 1985.  “Helpful” and “kind” are two words that come to mind when people who communicated with her think of her.  

A Personal Tribute to Dave and Estelle Haston

From Mrs. Howard (Carol) Haston

As a newlywed in 1971, I was surprised to learn that my husband Howard’s family knew very little of their Haston family history. Richard, my father-in-law, knew only that his father, John Foster Haston, was born into a large brood in Red Top, Missouri in 1884. His dad had told Richard that he left the family farm soon after his mother died and didn’t want to talk about it.  When I asked Howard’s mom, Claudina, about the Hastons, she produced a letter from Estelle Haston, Sparta, TN, inviting any and all Hastons to the annual family reunion in Sparta.  None of my Portland Hastons knew if they were related but mom-in-law kept the letter.

Ten years later, Howard’s job took us to Tennessee. I determined to find the Missouri to Tennessee Haston connection if one existed. Cranking through microfilm rolls of Missouri censuses in Knoxville, I found the path from Howard’s family to Jeremiah Haston, born around 1798, in Tennessee. With Estelle’s years-old letter in hand, I called Estelle and Dave Haston’s Sparta phone number, hoping they still lived there. Eureka. Estelle answered. I explained my research, telling her that we’d like to attend the annual reunion with 12-15 additional Hastons, Richard’s brothers, sister, spouses. Although Estelle knew nothing of our Jeremiah, we were Hastons nonetheless and were invited.

I asked Estelle how she’d gotten my in-laws’ address years earlier for her U.S. Haston mailing list. It seems that Ma Bell had a hand in her methodology. Whenever she and Dave’s families or friends traveled to a city outside of Tennessee, Estelle asked them to comb that city phone book and bring her the Haston page or copied info from that book. As you may remember, printed phone books usually displayed a person’s name, phone number and address. This was an ingenious mass-mailing effort prior to the Web.  I’m glad it reached us.

In 2010, DNA linked the Jeremiah lineage to Daniel Haston and Heinrich Hiestand showing that Jeremiah was one of Daniel Haston’s sons.

A Personal Tribute to Dave and Estelle

From Jane Ritter

I am not sure where I found out about their research. Dave and Estelle were such amazing people. They wanted to share what they knew about Haston family history. We corresponded for years sharing information. I also learned many things about them and what their work and family had been doing. Estelle always included her current church and family activities. We visited with them in Tennessee on several occasions. They were great hosts. Dave showed us the cemeteries and buildings and told what he knew about them from what he learned from his grandfather. I do remember that he didn’t think I was a real Haston because it was my mother’s family. I felt more like a Haston though because I was so close to my mother’s family. Dave and Estelle were Baptists like we are so we worshipped with them also. They treated us as special guests and were so happy we were interested in our family history.

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