The Daniel Haston Short Story

Daniel Haston’s family lived “south of the Holston [now Tennessee] river opposite Knoxville, TN shortly after the town was established and when Tennessee became a state in 1796.

Daniel Haston moved from Knox County, Tennessee to the area of middle Tennessee that became southern White County, a year or two prior to that county’s 1806 creation.  In fact, he was one of the petition signers who helped bring White County into existence.  Daniel settled on the Big Spring Branch (later known as Haston Big Spring), which flows into Cane Creek one mile before Cane Creek joins the Caney Fork River.

Location of the Daniel Haston Home

A few years after his death, Daniel’s homesite was on the northern edge of a new county–Van Buren County.  Circumstantial evidence seems to indicate that he was born in the mid-1750s and we know that he died in or about 1826. Daniel Haston was buried in the Big Fork Cemetery, less than a mile northwest of his home. 

For many years, Daniel Haston family researchers were not able to determine their European roots with any high degree of certainty.  Some evidence suggested that Daniel was of German or SWISS-German descent, but some of his descendants (even some of his great-grandchildren) insisted that Daniel’s ancestors were English or Scots-Irish. 

The graphic above shows DNA of descendants of all five known sons of Daniel Haston who have living male descendants. Compared to a descendant of SWISS-German Mennonite Henry Hiestand, Daniel’s oldest brother Jacob Hiestand. 

 In October of 2008, DNA testing confirmed that Wayne Haston (whose genealogical lineage is from Daniel Haston > David > William Carroll > Charles Thomas > Charles Beason > Ernest Boyd > to Donald Wayne Haston) was definitely related to members of a SWISS-German (Anabaptist/Mennonite) Hiestand family that settled in what is now Page County, VA. Subsequent DNA tests involving other descendants of Daniel Haston through all five of his known sons with living male descendants have confirmed their connections to Daniel also.  This DNA evidence, combined with much historical and genealogical evidence compiled through years of research, indicates (with no room for doubt) that Daniel Haston was the son of a SWISS-German Mennonite, Heinrich Hiestand.  Switzerland was their first known roots and Germany became a later refuge land.

The European Hiestands, at least some of them, were Anabaptists (later known as Mennonites) in the village of Richterswil of Canton Zurich in Switzerland but were forced to flee that country in the mid-1600s because of religious persecution by followers of the Swiss Protestant Reformer Ulrich Zwingli.  

Richterswil in Canton Zurich, Switzerland

The Hiestand Anabaptists moved in the mid-1600s to Ibersheim, a village near the Rhine River in southwest Germany, where they suffered hardships due to constantly being overrun by warring European armies and religious intolerance.   

Old but active Mennonite church building in the middle of Ibersheim, Germany.

Ibersheim-Worms, Germany

As a young man, Heinrich Hiestand left Germany and emigrated to America in about 1727.  In 1734 land was surveyed for him in the Hempfield Township of western Lancaster County, PA.

East Hempfield Township, Lancaster Co, PA

Less than a decade later Henry Hiestand purchased land and settled on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in what is now Page County, VA where he lived the remainder of his life.

Henry Hiestand''s 205 acres on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River - 1743

Hiestand Homesite in Now-Page Co, VA

A North Carolina Revolutionary War land grant and an 1830 mortality survey index card for Revolutionary War veterans suggest that Daniel might have been a veteran of that war. However, some mysteries surrounding both of those documents make it impossible to affirm, for sure, his military service in the War of Independence. Most likely, our Daniel Haston was not a Revolutionary War soldier.  The “Daniel Haston” North Carolina military land grant was probably forged.  The officer who vouched for the grant died in prison for similar kinds of fraud.

A Shenandoah County, VA marriage record indicates that “Daniel Histand” married Christina Nave (or Neff) in that county in 1773.  Nave and Neff are different English ways of spelling the Swiss name Näff.  Christina may have been the daughter of Dr. John Henry Neff of Shenandoah County, VA or Henry Nave of northern Rockingham County, VA.  The date and location of that marriage, make it virtually certain that “Daniel Histand” was “Daniel Haston,” the subject of this article. 

It’s very possible, based upon what we know of the mortality rate of frontier wives of that era and some very sketchy circumstantial research evidence, that Daniel was married more than once.  Christina, in fact, may have died early in their marriage before Daniel moved from Virginia.

Daniel seems to have been man of limited social and political involvement.  His known civic affairs are limited to several jury duty stints in Knox County, TN.  Even his institutional religious involvement has never, to our knowledge, been positively documented by researchers. Apparently, he never owned land until he was over 50 years of age when he received an 1807 occupant claim for 150 frontier acres in White County, TN. His name appears on the petition to form that county. Seemingly, he could not read nor write in English.  But, it is very possible that he was literate in German (Deutsch) since we have a copy of his signature in German script.  

Yet, his genealogical legacy is vast and, in many cases, impressive.  Of the thousands of men and women who have knowingly or unknowingly descended from this humble American pioneer, many of those have served their generations nobly and with great positive impact.

One of Daniel’s grandsons said that his grandfather (Daniel) Haston had 13 children.  

David, Joseph, Isaac, Catherine (Austin), Lucinda, Daniel, Jr., Jesse, and Jeremiah, have been identified beyond a reasonable doubt.  We know of a Elizabeth (Roddy) who was also probably his daughter. The identities of the others remain unknown.

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One thought on “The Daniel Haston Short Story

  1. Your writings are always so clear. I am interested in the Carl Adrian Goodwin on the DNA graph since I am descended from White County Goodwins (David of Rev War times and his son John, my 4th and 3rd great-grandfathers respectively.

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