01 - In Search of Our European Roots

It looks like a hopeless task to trace back the family of Daniel, but let’s keep stumbling in the dark until we find something.

The desire of Daniel Haston’s descendants to know our European ethnicity did not begin with the genealogical interest that surged in the final decade of the 20th century, due to the availability of personal computers and internet access to repositories of family records and historical documents.  Research files and notes from Haston family researchers in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s reveal that their major quest was to know the European origin of Daniel Haston’s ancestors.

Who and what are we–English, Dutch from Holland, Irish, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans, Swiss, SWISS-Germans?

Opinions about our ethnicity have varied greatly and sometimes been held tenaciously.  “My granddaddy told me…” oral histories within the various sub-branches of the Daniel Haston family have often become accepted as true, even without supporting historical evidence.  Even some of Daniel’s grandchildren, two or three generations removed from Daniel, varied in their opinions.  Surely, Daniel’s own children would have known their roots–especially the older ones, such as David and Joseph.  But apparently, there was not much interest in communicating and perpetuating knowledge of their family’s history from generation to generation.

So, descendants of Daniel Haston have – for many years – had different theories regarding our European roots. Some have claimed English roots; some Scots or Irish or Scots-Irish, some Hollander Dutch; others German or Swiss or SWISS-German (born in Switzerland but lived in Germany before coming to America). 


Some descendants of Daniel Haston have believed that Daniel and/or his ancestors were from England.  Sometimes, adherents of this English theory attempted to tie him to one of the English “Hastings” families that immigrated to America in the 1600s or 1700s and settled in Watertown, MA or Amelia County, VA or the Orange County area of NC.  Some were even so strongly convinced of English roots, they adopted and adhered to the “Hasting” or “Hastings” spelling of the surname.  But none of these claims cited solid documentation or other kinds of plausible evidence to support a connection to either of the English Hastings families in America or any other proof of English ancestry for Daniel Haston.


Those of us who bear the “Haston” surname, know the tendency for others to look right at “Haston” and pronounce it “Hastings” or to hear us clearly introduce our self as “Haston” and yet respond, “Hello, Mr. Hastings.”  That is probably due to the fact that the name Hasting or Hastings is much more common than our H-A-S-T-O-N surname. 


The “Haston” surname is known to be native to Scotland, leading some descendants of Daniel Haston to assume that we are Scots or Scots-Irish (also known as Ulster Scots).  For example, the late Dougal Haston of mountain climbing fame in the Alps and on Mount Everest, was born in Scotland.[i]  And to this day, the Haston name still exists in Scotland. 

[i] Dougal Haston, In High Places. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2003).

Apparently, based only on the similarity of the surnames, many earlier Haston family researchers concluded, without any connecting documentation or other hard evidence, that Daniel Haston descended from John Haston of Edinburgh, Scotland, through his son Thomas Haston who married Polly Stacy, and through their son William Haston who married Allison Montgomery in 1735 in Amelia County, VA.  Thus, Daniel (according to these assumptions) was of Scottish descent.  Unfortunately, that view has continued to circulate, even though it is totally unsubstantiated. 


It might make sense to assume that Daniel Haston’s family was rooted in Scotland, IF we were not aware that Daniel’s real/original surname was not “Haston”


As a boy, growing up in White County, Tennessee (just a few miles from where Daniel Haston’s family settled very early in the 1800s), my mother told me that my paternal ancestors were Dutch.  I suppose she thought the same thing that I thought—that my Dad’s forefathers came from the Netherlands.  But when I began to research my Haston family’s roots I soon learned that “Dutch” does not necessarily mean Hollanders.  In 1995, soon after I moved to York County, Pennsylvania (immediately west of the Susquehanna River and “Amish and Mennonite County” in Lancaster County), I learned that “Dutch” is an Anglicization of “Deutsch,” which means “German” or German speakers.

Pleasant Austin – Grandson of Daniel Haston
A biographical sketch of Daniel’s grandson, Pleasant Austin (son of John Austin, Sr. and Catherine Haston Austin) says that his mother (Catherine) was thought to have been of Dutch descent.  Pleasant Austin was born on September 8, 1820, which was six years prior to Daniel’s death.  The Austins lived in the Lost Creek community, which is a north-eastern extension of the Hickory Valley community in White County.  Daniel’s home place was only about ten miles (down by the White’s Cave and through Big Bottom and around to Cummingsville) from where young Pleasant Austin lived.  So Pleasant Austin grew up close enough to his grandfather that he would have known him personally, and at the age six, should have had memories of interacting with Daniel.[i]


[i] Goodspeed, White County History of Tennessee. (1887; reprinted, Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain Press, 1990), 17.  This work was originally published about 13 years before Pleasant Austin died.  Pleasant Austin was 67 years old at the time of its publication.

William Carroll Haston, Sr. – Grandson of Daniel Haston
The classic “Dutch descent” quote, referring to Daniel Haston, is attributed to William Carroll Haston, Sr.  In a biographical sketch of William Carroll Haston, published in A Memorial and Biographical Record of the Cumberland Region (published in 1898), it is said of William Carroll Haston that: 


He was born here, March 2, 1829, and on the paternal side is of Dutch descent, his grandfather, Daniel Hastons [sic], being scarcely able to speak English.  At an early date, he [i.e. Daniel] came to Tennessee, locating in Van Buren County, near the spring now known as Haston’s Big Spring, where he purchased the land now owned by our subject.[i]  


[i] George A. Ogle, A Memorial and Biographical Record of the Cumberland Region. (1898; reprinted, Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1995), 272. 


William Carroll Haston, Sr. was the grandson of Daniel through David, as was Pleasant Austin, through Catherine.  The descendants closest to Daniel, to whom published statements exist regarding their ancestry, both point to a “Dutch” descent.   


"All evidence indicates that the statement as to the nationality of Daniel (in the William Carroll Haston bio) is correct, notwithstanding contrary statements by others.  This may account for the various spellings of the name--an effort to spell a Dutch name in English."

DNA Settles It

When I began researching my Haston family in 1999, I determined to remain neutral regarding the European roots of Daniel Haston until I, or someone else, found adequate proof to declare with certainty where our Haston forefathers came from in Europe.  Other than hearsay-based statements or circumstantial evidence, no evidence emerged to support the English or Scots/Irish/Scots-Irish views.  But evidence, even strong evidence, did gradually accumulate from my research to indicate that our Daniel Haston was, Daniel Hiestand, the son of the SWISS-German Henrich Hiestand. 


When, in October 2008, I received my paternal lineage DNA results, my DNA matched perfectly (on all 43 points!) the DNA of a Hiestand who is known to be a descendant of Henrich Hiestand through Henrich’s oldest son, Jacob.  Since that time, male descendants of all known sons of Daniel Haston who have living male-line descendants (David, Joseph, Isaac, Jesse, Jeremiah) have submitted DNA and the results have all been the same—perfect matches with this known descendant of Henrich Hiestand.  And, also since the earliest known match, our DNA has matched other known SWISS-German Hiestand men.

This DNA comparison chart was created a few years after DNA testing started to become popular for genealogical purposes.

The DNA (Y-DNA) of the six men at the top of the chart matched perfectly (43 of 43 markers).  The chart at the bottom of the image was from a different DNA company, but the DNA of this man perfectly (34 of 34 markers) with my DNA (Donald Wayne Haston).

Kent Douglas Hiestand is a known descendant of Henrich Hiestand, through Henrich’s oldest son Jacob.  Jacob Hiestand was the oldest brother of our Daniel Hiestand/Haston.

  • Donald Wayne Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son David.
  • Dwight E. Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Joseph.
  • Frank Edward Hastings descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Isaac.
  • Nathan Heath Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Jeremiah.
  • John Haston (man on the bottom chart) descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Jesse.
Who is Harry Hillman Hastain?  I think he is probably a descendant of one of David Haston’s sons who moved to Missouri–probably Daniel McComiskey Haston or David Maclin Haston.

The “Most Recent Common Ancestor” (MRCA) of these five men was our Daniel Hiestand/Haston.  But the MRCA they share with Kent Douglas Hiestand goes all the way back to Daniel and Jacob Hiestand’s father, Henrich Hiestand–and yet they are still a perfect Y-DNA match!  And we know that Henrich Hiestand, who lived and died in what is now Page County, VA, was from a Swiss Mennonite family that was forced to flee Switzerland and settle on the Rhineland of what is now SW Germany.  More about that later.

For the Swiss Anabaptist refugees who eventually ended up in America, their abode in Germany was short-lived, one or two or three generations in most cases.  They were really Swiss and not German—Swiss who were forced to emigrate from Switzerland and settled in Germany.  Therefore, I refer to them as SWISS-German.  

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