The Evolution of Research on the Daniel Haston Family

I don’t know when members of the Daniel Haston FAMILY began to develop an interest in discovering the historical story of Daniel Haston’s life and ancestry.  I can imagine it started as an informal collection of oral family lore and legends.  When I became interested, in the Fall of 1999, some of the family’s best researchers had moved from what I’ll call Stage I to Stage II, but others were still lingering behind.  I think the beginning of the transition from Stage I to Stage II occurred in the 1950s.  I was fortunate to be a part of the transition from Stage II to Stage III in 2008.

Stage I - Pre-1950 (approximately)

I assume that soon after the Civil War, some members of Daniel Haston’s family began “puttin’ down” (as we say in Tennessee) some of what they knew–or thought they knew–about Daniel and where he came from, etc.  A library card was located in an Arkansas library that was filed there in 1908 with several thought-to-be (but mostly erroneous) “facts” about Daniel.  At least someone was trying to make sense of our family’s past.  An inquiry about David Haston’s father–his name and whether or not he rendered any service in the Revolutionary War–appeared in the July-December 1913 issue of the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine.  And there are documents from the pre-1950 era that were created by anonymous-to-me sources which clearly indicate some people had been attempting to piece together the family story.

Due to very limited access to credible historical resources for most ordinary folks during the first 125 years or so following Daniel Haston’s death, it is understandable that many of their ideas about the family’s history were misguided and conclusions were faulty.  I’m thankful for the “good stuff” they uncovered and preserved.  But unfortunately, some their erroneous conclusions still rest in Haston family file cabinets, desk drawers, attic boxes, as well as populate family trees all over the internet. 

In a following article, I will make you aware of seven popular genealogical and historical legends and assumptions from those well-meaning earlier Haston descendants that haunt Haston researchers who now know better.

Stage II - 1950s (approximately) - 2008

Of course, these stages and date ranges are all somewhat arbitrary.  But, I do see a shift in more serious documented research that occurred in this 1950s-2008 era.  There were others who did some excellent work on various branches of the Haston family in the earlier years–for example: the Jeremiah Haston branch, the Isaac Haston/Hastings branch, and the Jesse Haston branch.  But one man and one couple stand out as Haston family researchers who raised the bar for researching Daniel’s family, as a whole.  

Colonel Howard H. Hasting

March 23, 1905-April 1, 2003

Colonel Hasting (descendant of Daniel Haston’s son Joseph) was a 1928 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  
Separated from the armed services in 1931, he practiced law in Arkansas until he was recalled to duty after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps during the war, stationed at West Point. He served as the chief assistant to the American Judge for the War Crimes Tribunal for the Far East after the war.


Sometime after World War II, probably about 1950, Howard H. Hasting became seriously interested in researching his paternal family history.  He traveled extensively to conduct research on the Haston family, including a 1951 visit to White and Van Buren County, TN.  

Howard compiled a 100+ page report of his family research.  It was completed more than 50 years ago, so there are errors and gaps in his work that have been corrected and filled in since his work was released.  (See the button link below)

David Rhea and Estelle Suggs Haston

Dave: October 2, 1900-April, 1985

Estelle: January 26, 1910-November 29, 1998

When David (Dave) and Estelle retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority in October 1965, they moved to Sparta, TN and began to pursue Daniel Haston family research with a passion.  Dave had grown up in Van Buren County and attended Burritt College in Spencer.  Together, they did a lot of excellent research on the Daniel Haston family.  Estelle communicated with Hastons all over the country and developed quite a network of descendants of Daniel with whom she collaborated.  They steered clear of most of the earlier undocumented Haston-history theories and were on the threshold of some discoveries that would be confirmed in Stage III.  

Stage III - 2008 to Current

I chose 2008 as the beginning of this current Haston research era because that is when genetic (DNA) genealogy was first used in Daniel Haston family research.  DNA solved the most haunting longtime question about Haston history–who were Daniel’s ancestors and what was their European nationality.  The discovery of his descent from a Swiss Mennonite Hiestand family, who had fled to the Rhineland of Germany because of religious persecution, was a major advance in researching our family’s roots.

But the transition from Stage II to Stage III actually began in the late 1990s when electronic communications, namely email, social media, and the Internet-based worldwide web made distant communications easy, inexpensive, and powerfully effective.  And the Internet gradually put an abundance of credible genealogical and historical documents available at the finger tips (literally) of researchers all over the country and from all major branches of Daniel’s descendants.  The downside of all of this is that Stage I undocumented and inaccurate family lore and legends also were spread to people who uncritically accepted and spread them. 

When I became interested in our family’s history, there was already an email group that was actively exchanging information among branches of Daniel Haston’s descendants.  Some of the members of that very active group were beginning to question some of the conclusions of family lore that had circulated for decades.  My Heritage of Daniel Haston website, launched late in 1999, became an online hub for collecting and disseminating Haston family history.  And now the Daniel Haston Family Association strives to pull the various branches of the FAMILY together in an attempt to preserve Haston FAMILY history and heritage.

The Future

I assume that more historical data will be discovered that will answer some of the remaining questions about the history of the Daniel Haston family.  Advancements in technology, especially future developments in genetic (DNA) genealogy will be a huge part of that.

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