One Family - Many H-Surname Spellings

Colonel Howard H. Hasting, Sr. – a 1950s–early 1980s Haston family researcher – opened his research report on the family of Daniel Haston with this question: What is the name of this family?  He then proceeded to reference several different ways our H-surname has been spelled in official records.  I often get a similar question–Why so many different spellings of our H-family name?

It started as Hiestand

If you have been following my articles on the Daniel Haston family, by now you know that our European ancestors were from Switzerland.  The very first known written record of the family name was Hiestand, in 1401.  In Europe, like with Haston in America, the surname was spelled in various ways from writer to writer.  You may remember reading the article where you saw that Heystandt was the way Hollander Mennonites spelled our family name.  Often our SWISS-German ancestors (even in Daniel Haston’s Virginia family) added a “t” to the end of the name: Hiestandt.  The Swiss language is a form of German and the harsh sounding “t” ending is very Germanic. 

Daniel's Family, from Hiestand to Haston

The name-changing “villains” were generally the English clerks.  Not understanding the German language, they frequently Anglicized names of their clients into spellings that made more sense to their English ears.  In my research of Daniel’s Hiestand family in northern Virginia, I saw this often.  Among their Mennonite friends, the name was consistently Hiestand (or Hiestandt).  But when clerks wrote the names, they commonly morphed them into Heaston and similar spellings.   I even found three occurrences where Virginia clerks spelled the names of Daniel’s brothers “Haston.”

One branch of Henry Hiestand’s family, descendants of Daniel’s brother Abraham, spells their name Hestand.  There’s even a Hestand community in Monroe County, KY. 

The farther away Daniel Haston moved from neighborhoods where there were lots of SWISS-German Mennonites, the spellings became Anglicized more commonly.  By the time our Daniel got to Knoxville, Tennessee it seems that his two oldest sons, David and Joseph, decided to standardize the spelling in an English-sounding way that they were happy with.  They (who were both English-literate) began to spell their names, David Haston and Joseph Haston.  I can’t say that they ALWAYS without exception spelled it that way, but they certainly did so in general.  But still, clerks were more familiar with the British Hasting and Hastings (etc.) so it took a while for them to get it.  Even today, I have acquaintances who still call me Wayne Hastings!

When Daniel’s family got to Middle Tennessee in about 1804, it took a few years before people there became accustomed to the H-a-s-t-o-n spelling.  David Haston was a Justice of the Peace both in White County and Van Buren County, after Van Buren was created out of White County in 1840.  Joseph was a constable.  They, and some of their children, were well-known enough that the Haston spelling finally stuck in those counties.

Westward Moves & Changing Names

Of the six sons of Daniel that we know about, five of them adhered to the White and Van Buren County, TN Haston spelling.  David and Joseph remained in Middle TN and died there as Hastons.  Two of Daniel Haston’s sons moved west early, prior to 1820.  Jesse and Jeremiah both settled in Missouri and both of their families (to this day) continued to use the Tennessee “Haston” spelling.  Daniel Haston, Jr. who settled in Adair County, KY and died in 1820 also held to Haston as his surname.  But Isaac’s surname spelling changed from time to time and place to place, and person to person, tending toward Hastings or Hastin or Hasten.  I have found one example where Isaac tried to spell his name and couldn’t remember the last letter.  Apparently he had tried to memorize how to write it but forgot how to finish it.  My guess is that Jesse and Jeremiah were literate or, at least, knew how to write their names which helped perpetuate the Haston spelling from Tennessee down their lines–and Isaac couldn’t and didn’t.

It was Daniel’s grandchildren who moved west that were most responsible for the many variants of the H-surname so firmly entrenched among Daniel’s widespread family.  Let’s look at four or five of the main H-spellings and how they probably were adopted by Daniel’s descendants.


Col. Howard H. Hasting, Sr. explained why and how his branch of the family settled on the Hasting spelling.  Col. Hasting descended from Daniel through Joseph Haston.  

My father related to me after his branch of the family moved to [Yell County] Arkansas, about 1880, they held a “family meeting” and decided to spell the name “Hasting” thereafter, because they felt that was the correct spelling. As a result, the family in Arkansas, generally spells the name “Hasting,” but some add an “s” and some who came to Arkansas in later years or from other branches of the family still spell the name “Haston.”


With America’s history as a post-British colony, English names were common.  Virtually all of the early clerks in America were native English speakers, even the Scots-Irish.  

At least two of Daniel’s grandchildren, who lived near Daniel’s home place, knew that their grandfather was “Dutch,” meaning they knew he was a German language speaker.  But the great-grandkids seem to have been totally at a loss to identify their European roots.  So the lore began to spread through the family that “we are English” or “we are Scots-Irish.”  When some of them began trying to figure out where they came from, England or Ulster of Scotland were their first guesses.  And since the English Hastings name was well known and Haston was similar to Hastings, it was natural for them to think:  “Our name must have originally been Hasting or Hastings.”  Later, when some of them learned that there were Haston families in Scotland, some members of our family began to lean toward the Scots-Irish view of our descendency.  

A case in point: An English John Holloway Hastings family moved near the Isaac Haston family in Greene County, MO.  It seems that from that time on, most of Isaac’s family began gravitating toward the English surname spelling.


Some time after David Haston’s son, Daniel McCumskey Haston, moved to Missouri, his surname spelling was changed to “Hastain.”  The change seems to have been a conscious choice since the revised spelling has generally been passed down through his descendents in Missouri.  In Benton County, MO there is a community, now virtually unpopulated, named after this “Hastain” family.

For years it baffled me – and many others – why this Hastain spelling?  Then one day I sort of accidentally typed Hastain in (with a setting to include the United Kingdom) and – volia!  Try it!  There were MANY Hastains in the United Kingdom, especially in the 1800s.  I stopped counting at 100 Hastain names, but I was just getting started.

My guess:  Daniel McComisky Haston bumped to an Englishman with the name of Hastain who convinced him his family was spelling their names wrong.

Oh, by the way, other descendants of David Haston who settled in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and eastern Missouri generally kept the Haston spelling.

Hastin, Hasten, etc.

Frankly, I’m basically just guessing about how these two surname spellings came about. 

Hasten – May have just been a misspelling of Haston.

Hastin – In places where the Hasting or Hastings name tended to catch on, frequently the Hastin spelling showed up, often interchangeably with Hasting or Hastings.  For example, that was true of Isaac Haston’s family when they settled in Greene County, MO and Sonoma County, CA.  It wasn’t uncommon to see one member of the family spell the name Hastings and a sibling spell the name Hastin.  Both versions of the name have been passed on down through the sub-branches of the Isaac Haston family.

To make matters even more confusing, some branches of the English Hastings family (from North Carolina) eventually shortened their names to Hastin.  So a “Hastin” is not necessarily a descendant of Daniel Hiestand/Haston.

And There Were Others

There were other spellings, mostly misspelled variations of the above names.  But eventually, Haston, Hastings, Hastain, Hastin have become the most common names for branches of the Daniel Haston family.

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One thought on “Surname Spellings in Daniel Haston Family

  1. My mother chased the Haston name all over the world I wish she was alive to see this article…

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