18 - The Mysterious Daniel MG. Hastings Mortality List Card
The "1830 Revolutionary War Mortality Listing" Card
In the early 1970s, Dwight Haston discovered the little card that you see pictured above. He found it in a research library in Arkansas. At that time, there was several members of the Daniel Haston family who were very actively researching the history of our family. Much of what we know about Daniel Haston was totally unknown at that time, approximately 50 years ago. So Haston researchers, at that time, thought the card was a treasure-find and understandably so.
As with the “Daniel Haston” survey warrant, this little document is also shrouded in a cloak of mysteries. There are several seemingly unanswerable questions related to this card. Some very diligent Haston family researchers, previous to my time, persistently pursued answers to these questions, but (as far as I can tell) came up empty every time.
If you haven’t seen a copy of this card, or heard about it, you probably will if you do much research on our Haston family. That’s why I think it is important that I tell you about it — some (1) observations that can be made from the card, especially in view of what we have learned over the past 50 years, (2) some of the attempts that have been made over the years to learn its source, and (3) questions and conclusions about the card from our current research perspective.
Observations from the Card
The spelling of Daniel’s surname—“Hastings” or “Hastin” is not unusual, but this indicates that the name was not taken from the “Daniel Haston” land grant documents. Does it mean the information was submitted by someone from a branch of the family that adopted the “Hastings” or “Hastin” surname spelling? David and Joseph, Daniel’s oldest two sons would not have spelled it this way. But some branches of the 2nd and 3rd generation families, especially Isaac’s family and some of Joseph’s descendants, adopted “Hastings” or “Hasting” or “Hastin.”
The “MG.” or “MC.” initials for a middle name do not fit any other previous document now known to have been associated with our Daniel. Based on a digitally enlarged copy of these letters, they appear to be M.G. At some point in the past, some earlier Haston family members got the idea that Daniel’s middle name was “Montgomery,” but that speculation was never proven. Now that we know Daniel was from a SWISS-German family, we can be sure that he was not given the name Montgomery.
The land grant that Thomas Archer received from Thomas Hays, who received the rights for the land from “Daniel Haston,” was number 1490, not 1491. This may be another indicator that the land grant was not the direct source of information for this card.
The age of Daniel at his time of death, as per this card, is most likely inaccurate. If he died in or about 1826 (which White County records support) and he was age 91 at the time of death, he would have been born in about 1735. As discussed in the previous chapter, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that he was born in about 1750.
It appears that this card was “received” and date-stamped in 1908, “entered” and date-stamped on February 5 or 8, 1939, and stamped a third time on March 21, 1972 for some reason not indicated on the card. Perhaps this was the date that Dwight found it.
- The WPA (Works Progress Administration) program was very actively underway in Arkansas and elsewhere in 1939.[i] Perhaps WPA workers “entered” the information into some repository in February 1939.
[i] Sam Morgan, “Works Progress Administration (WPA),” The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, accessed February 25, 2019, http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2284.
- Apparently, the card was “active” in a library at least as late as March 21, 1972, shortly before Dave and Estelle Haston began trying to locate it. When did Dwight find the card? Was that on March 21, 1972 and it was stamped at the time he pulled it? October 8, 1973 is the date of a letter from Estelle to Dwight, asking about the location of the card.
- Note the hole for the card catalog rod at the bottom of the card, the common method used by pre-computerized library card catalogs for keeping cards intact in the drawer.
The initials at the bottom-right of the card—are those the initials of the “copist” [sic] or a person or people who date-stamped the card?
Brief History for a Later Search for the Card
Dwight Haston, from Spencer, Tennessee, was stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas sometime in the late 1960s or very early in the 1970s. Dwight stated in written correspondence with Dave and Estelle Haston of Sparta, as well as to me personally nearly 30 years later, that he discovered this card at a “research library” in Little Rock. According to the “Source” entry on the card, supposedly the information on the card was taken from an 1830 mortality listing compiled from a “Survey of Rev. War Veterans for pension reasons.”
At the time Dwight discovered the card, he shared the information with Dave R. and Estelle Haston in Sparta, who were deeply involved in Daniel Haston family research. Dave and Estelle communicated what they learned with Colonel Howard Hasting, Sr., who was also a diligent Haston family researcher. Date and Estelle, as well as Colonel Hasting contacted some of the major libraries in Arkansas trying to locate the original card, but could not find any librarian who knew anything about it.
When I began researching the family, I also contacted the most probable libraries in Arkansas but–like Col. Hasting and Dave & Estelle–I could find no one knew anything about such a card. The Arkansas Genealogical Society told me the same thing. I was told that the card might possible be in the National Archives in Washington, but I hit a “brick wall” there too.
In Chapter 10 of the Heritage of Daniel Book I’m currently working on, I have included much documentation about these searches, including copies of some of the correspondence back and forth with Arkansas libraries and the National Archives.
My Findings and Questions
After twenty years of occasionally re-reading the correspondence related to this card from a previous generation of Haston family researchers and submitting my own queries to librarians and archivists in Arkansas, here are some of my own questions and thoughts regarding this mortality list card:
First: There was a very important 1832 Pension Act for Revolutionary Soldiers and their families. On June 7, 1832, the United States Federal Government enacted a service pension for all Revolutionary soldiers and sailors, continental and state. Also, widows and orphans became entitled to the balance of money due to a pensioner. This act “required pension applications to include the birthplace, age, and residence of the applicant and more.” Perhaps the information on the “Daniel MC. or MG. Hastings” card was collected in anticipation of the 1832 Pension Act, or research to use in persuading Congress to pass the act. But, if so, this still would not answer the some of our most important questions about the accuracy of the information on the card.
Second: Who provided the information on the card? I suppose we should tenuously assume that some family member living in or before 1830 provided this information—but who? David Haston, Daniel’s oldest son, would be the most likely person. Not only was he the oldest son, but he was living at the homeplace where Daniel lived prior to his death. But we know of no early member of the Daniel Haston family, including David Haston, who made mention of Daniel being a veteran of the Revolutionary War.
Third: Why the inaccuracies in the data on the card? It is true that various branches of Daniel’s descendants spelled his surname in different ways. So that could account for “Hastings” and “Hastin” on the card. But to say that he was 91 years old when he died in 1826, does not fit the facts that any good Haston researcher or early family member would have known about his life.
Fourth: Why was the card in a library in Arkansas, and not North Carolina or Tennessee? It might be noteworthy to mention that one branch of Daniel’s family moved to Yell County, Arkansas in about 1880 and they made a group decision to spell their surnames “Hasting.”[i] Perhaps some member from that branch was somewhat involved in submitting information for the card.
[i] Howard H. Hasting, Sr., “The Daniel Haston Family” (San Antonio: unpublished manuscript, last modified 1980), 3.
Fifth: As mentioned above, the “MC.” or “MG.” on the card raises some questions. Now (post-DNA testing) that we know our Daniel was a Swiss-German “Hiestand,” and not an English “Hasting” or “Hastings” or Scots-Irish “Haston” or “Hastin,” where did the middle initials come from and what do they represent? The very insertion of these middle initials is curious and raises concerns regarding the card’s accuracy and authenticity.
Sixth: Even though some of this information was not copied from the North Carolina bounty land warrant or survey, reference to the land grant associated with that warrant is mentioned on the card. But Daniel Haston did not receive land grant #1490 (or 1491 as wrongfully indicated on the card). Thomas Archer was the only person who received the land grant. The warrant was made out to “Daniel Haston” on September 29, 1785. The location was identified January 10, 1786 when Thomas Hays owned the rights to the warrant. And the tract was surveyed on July 23, 1791 upon the request of Thomas Archer. Only after the survey was returned to the Secretary of State’s office in Raleigh was a grant issued and assigned a grant number. And although we do not have a copy of the grant, according to the files we saw in a previous article, we know that the patent for the grant was issued to Thomas Archer. For the card to indicate that our Daniel Haston received North Carolina Land Grant #1491 (#1490) is a reason to question the authenticity of the card. Even if the “Daniel Haston” on warrant #2344 was our Daniel and even if he was a bona fide recipient of the North Carolina military bounty land warrant, neither he nor members of his immediate family would have known that Thomas Archer ended up settling the land and that the grant number would eventually be numbered 1490 (or 1491).
Seventh: Did someone counterfeit this card—create it to try to prove that our Daniel Haston did fight in the American Revolution? Someone who believed that Daniel was of English or Scots-Irish descent? If so, who? And when? And why? If the card is fake, the person who counterfeited it went to a lot of trouble to make it look authentic. And that would have been done prior to the computer era when digitalization began to make amateur counterfeiting easier and more convincing. Photoshop was not developed until 1987, at least a decade and a half before this card appeared to Haston researchers.
Eight: We are left with these questions:
- Was the card authentic and not created by some overly zealous Haston researcher?
- And where is the original card now?
Ninth: Even if the card is authentic, it does not establish solid evidence to prove that our Daniel was a Revolutionary War veteran. It would only prove that someone reported this information, partially based on the North Carolina bounty land warrant and survey, which may or may have been legitimately issued to our Daniel Haston.
My Final Conclusions
Dwight and I have discussed this and we agree on our now-perspective on the card:
A lot of Daniel’s descendants moved to Arkansas. Some of them remained there and others lived there for some months or years and move on, many of them to Texas. My guess is that this card was a summary of some Daniel Haston’s descendant’s research-related thinking in the late 1800s. We do not believe it was an official record, but only a personal genealogical record placed in a family file in one of the libraries in Arkansas. There are too many errors, based on what we now know, for the card to have been an official Revolutionary War record.
As many of you know, lots of libraries have cabinets full of “family files” where family members place copies of their genealogical documents. And if you have looked through any of these files, you know that you must be skeptical about what you read. In the late 1800s, it is understandable that the family member who created this card did not have access to much that we know over 100 years later. Probably, at some point after Dwight found the card, the library staff thought that these old files were of no value any more and trashed them.
It appears that the person who created the card had gathered the information recorded on the card from various sources–some from the Revolutionary War Land Grant (which he or she misidentified the warrant number), as well as hear-say sources from members of the family. The creator of the card may never have seen the land survey warrant personally.
Since the creator spelled Daniel’s name “Hasting” or “Hastin,” I’m guessing that this was a member of Joseph Haston’s family who settled in Arkansas. We know, according to Col. Howard H. Hasting, Sr., one branch of Joseph’s family changed the spelling from Haston to Hasting while they were in Yell County, Arkansas.