43 – John and Catherine HASTON Austin

42 - John and Catherine HASTON Austin

History, especially genealogical history, is sexist!  

OK, I’m pretty much a traditional-minded person and don’t use the word “sexist” in an accusatory way very often.  But I must say – genealogical history is sexist, and unfortunately so.  

One tradition I wish had caught on 700 years ago in the western world is the tradition of requiring married women to retain their maiden surnames, in the form of double-name surnames.  It’s called “double-barrelled surnames.”  And I wish those names would have been “heritable” (transmissible from parents to offspring). 

Because of (1) the single-surname-adopted-from-the-husband tradition and (2) the male-dominated (or exclusively male) roles in court proceedings, deeds, and other civil documents, it is very difficult to conduct meaningful research on our female ancestors.  For example, in the previous article (“Jacob and Lucinda Haston Mitchell“) you saw that there are several key things that can be known about Jacob Mitchell, but Lucinda Haston is largely hidden to us.  The same is true with other daughters of Daniel Haston.

Colonel Howard H. Hastings, Sr., an excellent 20th Century Haston family researcher, summarized the life of this daughter of Daniel Haston like this:

For starters, her name was Catherine, not Caroline.  In a September 4, 1978 letter from Dave R. and Estelle Haston to Howard H. Hasting, Sr., Dave and/or Estelle told Mr. Hasting that there was a Caroline Haston who married John Austin.  That must have been a simple mis-statement on Dave and Estelle’s part, because they lived in White County where Catherine Haston Austin was buried and probably would have known the correct name.

But, other than the confusion regarding her first (given) name, Colonel Hasting (Haston) was right.  Catherine’s husband, John Austin, appeared regularly in tax records and frequently in court records, but about all we know about Catherine is that she was John Austin’s second wife and mother of some of his children.

Brief summary of the John Austin family, including what is known of Catherine:

January 6, 1779 – According to one source, John Austin was born in Virginia of English descent.[i]  But the 1850 census indicates that North Carolina was his birthplace.  So, who knows!?  His parents are also unknown to us.  

[i] Goodspeed. Tennessee History & Biographies: White County. (1886; reprinted, Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain Press, 1990), 17.

There has been a strong evidence that our John and Nathaniel (Austin) could have been great grandchildren of John and Hannah Austin of Lunenburg County, VA, through a grandson, William, that I am still trying to find traces of after he disappeared from Wythe County, VA about 1793. This record of Austin children, along with their dates of birth, I feel may have been copied from an old family Bible at the time when no one was left on Old Wilderness Road to furnish the names of their parents. So often in those early days, when one was moving away from others of their family, they recorded the names of all their brothers and sisters in their Bible for future proof of their belonging to the family. So far I have failed to find records on any Austin anywhere in this country that did not have plenty of Anderson families in the same vicinity. As to which road across the Allegheny Mountains is referred to is only a guess since it was not stated where they came from or exactly where they went. If it were their entry into Tennessee as we might surmise, then undoubtedly it was the Old Wilderness Road which was cut across the Alleghenies from Grayson County, VA, and this would give strong indications for a connection with the John and Hannah Austin family of Lunenburg County, VA.

Bess Austin Machtley (1905-1980) - Austin Family Historian

Editorial Note:  John and his brother, Nathaniel Austin, probably traveled to the Lost Creek community of White County at different times, from different places, by different routes.

June 21, 1802 – John Austin married Rachel Denny,[i] daughter of James and Ester Denny, on this date in Wayne County, Kentucky.  Rachel was born in 1784.[ii] Rachel was the sister of William Denney, who married Patsy Burnett on February 10, 1806, in Wayne County, Kentucky.[iii]  William Denney was a neighbor of Daniel Haston and his daughter, Jane, married William Carroll Haston, son of David Haston. 

[i] Wayne County, Kentucky First Marriage Book (1801-1813); Kentucky Genealogy Trails, “Wayne County, Kentucky Marriage Records,” accessed May 8, 2020, http://genealogytrails.com/ken/wayne/marriages.html.

[ii] Mabel J. Austin Moore, John Austin, Sr. Family, 1779-1999.  (Sparta, TN: published by author, 1999), 9.

[iii] Frances Marie Thomas Graves, William Denney Descendants, 1984. (LC #: CS71.D412 1984)

Wayne Co KY to White Co TN map

1807 – “John Austin, Sr. and wife Rachel Denny Austin came to Hickory Valley, White County, Tennessee in 1807.  His brother Nathaniel came in 1816.”[i]  Austin family researchers believe that John and Rachel came to White County, from Wayne County, Kentucky, with Rachel’s brother, William Denney.[ii]

[i] Moore, 3.

[ii] Paul Douglas Austin, ed., 40 Years of the Austin Family Association of Lost Creek. (n.p.: Austin Family Association of Lost Creek, n.d.), 6 (toward the back of the book)


John and Rachel had seven children: William (born May 10, 1803), Jude (born 1805), Tamar “Tamsey”* (born September 7, 1804), Hannah (born between 1806-1810), James M. (born September 22, 1814), Elizabeth (born October 16, 1816), and John Jr. (born November 8, 1818).


*Tamsey Austin married Wiley B. Haston, son of David and Peggy Haston.  According to the 1830 census, they had one son of five and under ten years of age and one daughter under five years old.  So they probably married prior to 1824.

1811 – John Austin appears on the 1811 White County taxable property and polls list in Captain Richard M. Rotton’s Militia Company with one black poll,* but no mention of land.[i]  His brother Nathaniel does not appear on the tax list at this time.  Yes, John Austin was a slaveholder, but not on a large scale.

*“All slaves [“black polls”], male and female, between the ages of twelve and fifty were taxed.”[ii]

[i] White County, Tennessee Property and Poll Tax, 1811-1815, 1821-1825. (TSLA Roll #123)

[ii] Tennessee State Library and Archives, “Tennessee Taxation Information and Chart,” accessed May 24, 2020, https://tnsla.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/search/asset/22341/0.

1817 – John Austin now owned 154 acres on the “waters of H. Valley.”  He was taxed a total of $2.83 ¼ for one white poll and one black poll.  For the first time, John’s brother Nathaniel Austin appeared on a White County tax list for one white poll.  He owned 175 acres on “Lost Creek.”[i]

[i] White County, Tennessee Property and Poll Tax, 1816-1818, 37.

About 1818 – Rachel Denny Austin, John’s wife, died about 1818.  Rachel was probably the first person buried in the Austin Cemetery on the Nathaniel Haston farm.

About 1819 Catherine married John Austin, Sr. in approximately 1819 and became the stepmother of Rachel’s seven children.  In addition to the children she inherited as stepchildren, in the next 14 years or so Catherine had six children of her own.[i]

[i] Moore, 10-11.

Birth Place and Date for Catherine Haston

Probably Early 1790s

Austin family records assert that Catherine Haston was born on December 25, 1776 in Virginia.  But Haston researchers have, to my knowledge, never discovered a specific date of her birth.  I have never seen any documentation that supports the December 25, 1776 date.  The birth date ranges for Catherine in the 1830 and 1840 census records indicate that she was born between 1791 and 1800.  If so, she was born in Tennessee, probably in Washington County or Knox County.  That would be consistent with what her oldest son, Pleasant Austin, reported regarding his mother: “She was a native of Tennessee and her entire life was passed in the State.” 


Because she had at least two brothers born in the mid-1790s and decline of child-bearing potential occurs when a woman reaching her 40s, I suggest that Catherine was probably born in the early 1790s.  Depending on how early in the 1790s she was born, would determine whether she was born in Washington County, Tennessee, Knox County, or somewhere in between.

How Did John Austin Become Acquainted with Catherine Haston?

Where John Austin lived in the Lost Creek community of upper northeast Hickory Valley, White County, TN, was a journey of ten miles to or from the Haston Big Spring Branch.  So John Austin was not a close neighbor to Daniel Haston’s family, but the distance wasn’t insurmountable even by horse or foot.  Even though the Big Spring Branch (Cummingsville) area was 10 or so “traveling miles” from Lost Creek, there was quite a bit of movement back and forth between the two communities.  Lost Creek was considered to be in “upper” Hickory Valley. 

But Daniel Haston’s neighbor, William Denny, may have been the key to connecting the widowed John Austin to the single Catherine Haston.  Remember – John’s deceased wife (Rachel) was a sister of William Denny.  

September 8, 1820 – Pleasant Austin, first son of John and Catherine, married Mary E. Warren on September 14, 1852.  He died on July 6, 1900 and is buried in the Old Union Cemetery in White County, Tennessee. The 1850 census indicates that he was 27 years old.  His tombstone and published biography[i] say he was born on September 8, 1820. 

[i] Goodspeed, 17.

Pleasant Austin - Son of Catherine and John

Pleasant Austin, a prosperous agriculturist of the Second District, was born September 8, 1820, on the farm upon which he now resides.  His parents were John and Catherine (Haston) Austin.  The father was born January 6, 1779, in Virginia, of English descent.  He immigrated to Tennessee at a very early day, where he died February 28, 1858.  The mother is thought to have been of Dutch [German-speaking] descent.  She was a native of Tennessee and her entire life was passed in the State.  Our subject was brought up on the farm, and educated in the school of the vicinity.  After attaining his majority he purchased land in the county and farmed about six years.  At his father’s death he bought the homestead and moved to it, where he has since resided.  He is a substantial, honorable, and worthy citizen.  He is interested in the advancement of education and all beneficial enterprises.  He is a Democrat.  September 14, 1852, he was united in marriage to Mary E., daughter of Bluford and Sarah (Yates) Warren.  The father was raised in Halifax, NC and the mother in Halifax, VA.  The grandfather Yates lived to the unusual age of one hundred and twelve years.  Mrs. Austin was born October 15, 1825, in Tennessee, and is the mother of John W., William Bluford, Robert S., Sarah Alice (wife of Norman Gist, who resides near Sparta), Flora C. (wife of Lewis Akins), James Mc. and Frank P.[i]

[i] Goodspeed, 17.


June 27, 1843Catherine Haston Austin died at this time and is buried in the Austin Cemetery in the Lost Creek Community.  Other than the births of her children and her home context in the John Austin family, nothing more is known about the life of Catherine.

Austin-Anderson Cemetery

February 27, 1858 – At age 79, John Austin, Sr. died in an accident on his farm.  He is buried in the Austin Cemetery in the Lost Creek community. 

May 31, 1858 – Mary Ann Todd Austin, third wife and widow of John Austin, was granted a dower (widow’s share of her late husband’s estate) of 142 ¼ acres, which amounted to approximately one-third of John Austin’s land.  This included “the late residence of the said John Austin, deceased.”  Her land crossed “the road that leads to Sparta” and “the Lost Creek Road.”[i]

[i] White County, Tennessee Estate (Probate) Records, Books A-F (1807-1899).  (TSLA microfilm Roll #152)

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42 – Jacob and Lucinda Haston Mitchell

42 - Jacob and Lucinda Haston Mitchell

Lucinda Haston - Daughter of Daniel Haston
Rev. Morris Mitchell - Revolutionary War Veteran and Father of Jacob Mitchell (husband of Lucinda Haston)

Jacob Mitchell was the son of Morris and Elizabeth Husong Mitchell (married 1781) who came to Tennessee from Washington County of western Pennsylvania.  Morris was a Revolutionary War veteran and a Methodist preacher.     

May 1, 1784 – The Morris Mitchell Bible record of births, marriages, and deaths in the Morris Mitchell family indicates Jacob Mitchell was born on this date.

Approximately 1804 (or later) – Although I have never seen the original family record from the Morris Mitchell Bible or even a photocopy of the original record, information on the record is widely known by genealogically inclined descendants of Morris and Elizabeth Mitchell.  No date or location of their marriage is given, but the record states that Morris and Elizabeth’s son, Jacob Mitchell, married Loucinda [Lucina] Haston [Hasting].  Loucinda, was a daughter of Daniel Haston.

It was often common in those days for a man to purchase a farm before getting married.  Maybe that was the case with Jacob and Lucinda.  Some Mitchell family records indicate that their first child, Susan, was born in about 1810.    If that is correct, they may have gotten married sometime after Jacob and the Hastons settled in White County and Jacob purchased his 50 acres on the Big Spring Branch, adjacent to Daniel Haston.

August 28, 1807 – On this date, Jacob’s 50 acres tract on the Big Spring Branch was officially located, although it had been “found” a few years earlier.  Jacob was 23 years old at this time. 

May 14, 1808 – Jacob Mitchell’s 50 acres “on the big spring branch of cane creek of the main caney fork” was surveyed.  David Hasting and Isham Bradley were chain carriers.[i]

[i] Tennessee Land Records, RG [Records Group] 50, Box 112,  62, 67.

July 21 & 24, 1818 – Daniel Haston was indicted on July 21, 1818 for his assault on Jacob Mitchell.  Daniel was fined fifty cents and the cost of the prosecution on a plea of guilty on July 24, 1818.[i] 

[i] White County, Tennessee Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas, July 1818, 209, 227.

The grand Jurors returned into court with the following Bills of Indictments toWit: The State against Daniel Haston for an assault and battery committed upon the body of Jacob Mitchell founded on a presentment of the grand Jury “A true Bill” and again retired to consult further of presentments and Indictments.  (July 21, page 209)

State vs. Daniel Hastin – Issd. Friday July 24th 1818
Indt for A.T.B.
On Prest of Grand Jury This day came as well I.J. Campbell Esqr. as the defendant in his proper person who being arraigned and charged upon the bill of Indictment pleaded guilty thereto and for his trial put himself upon the grace and mercy of the court – It is therefore considered by the court, that the defendant for such his offence make his fine by the payment of fifty cents and the costs of this prosecution.  (July 24, page 227)

Makes you wonder – What did Jacob do to cause his 65+-year-old father-in-law to assault him?

February 2, 1822 – Jacob Mitchell sold his 50 acres on Big Spring in White County to Pleasant White for $200, but it was not registered until September 4, 1837, fifteen years later (at which time Jacob Mitchell was not present, but Jacob Stipe vouched for him).[i]

[i] White County, Tennessee Deed Book K (microfilm #63), 257-258.

1830 – Morris Mitchell (Jacob’s father) and several members of his family were living in Roane County, Tennessee.[i]  Jacob Mitchell appears on the 1830 census for Regiment 67 of Monroe County, Tennessee,* along with a wife and eight children (four girls and four boys).[ii]  Jacob and Lucinda were in the “of 40 and under 50” age category.  Jacob would have been about 46 years old.  Lucinda would have been born between 1780 and 1790, according to this census. 

[i] 1830; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 180; Page: 3; Family History Library Film: 0024538.

[ii] 1830; Census Place: Regiment 67, Monroe, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 175; Page: 84; Family History Library Film: 0024533.

1830 Census - Monroe County in East Tennessee

1834 – Morris and Elizabeth Mitchell, and other members of their family, moved from East TN to Polk County, Missouri in about 1834 and a few years following.  Morris Mitchell was more than 70 years old at the time of the move!  By 1840 there was a large Morris and Elizabeth Mitchell clan in southwestern Missouri. 

Regarding Jacob Mitchell, LuAnn Penrod Smith stated, “The majority of the Mitchell family migrated to Missouri c. 1834 and Jacob no doubt went to Missouri, but can’t find him there, either, at least not in Polk County with the rest of the clan.”[i]

[i] LuAnn Penrod Smith, email to Wayne Haston, January 11, 2002.

Based on records of some of Jacob and Lucinda Mitchell’s purported children that we now have access to, it appears that Jacob and Lucinda lived in Washington County, Missouri before he appeared later in Greene County, south of where Jacob’s parents and some of his other family members settled.  In the early 19th century, Washington County, MO had a very active lead and iron mining industry.  For example, in “1824 the mines near Potosi [county seat of Washington County] employed nearly 2,000 men, and lead ore sold at $10 per thousand.”[i]  Perhaps Jacob worked in the mines before moving further west to Greene County. 

[i] Goodspeed, Goodspeed’s Washington County [Missouri] History. (1888; reprinted, Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain Press, 2000), 14.

There is evidence to indicate that Jacob and Lucinda lived in the Richwoods and Union townships. One of the sons was married in the Breton Township.

February 29, 1848 – After Morris Mitchell, Sr. died, the record of his estate settlement indicated that Jacob Mitchell was living in Greene County, Missouri.  He purchased a colt, a cow, and a calf.  

Morris Mitchell estate settlement - Jacob's purchases

1850 – According to the 1850 census for the Van Buren Township of Crawford, Arkansas, Jacob Mitchell was living with his son Lorenzo D. Mitchell, a physician.  Jacob was 65 years old, had no occupation at the time and was born in Tennessee. 

There was no mention of Lucinda on Lorenzo’s census record. It appears that Daniel Haston’s daughter, Lucinda, died between the 1840 and 1850 census. 

1860s – During the 1860s, Jacob Mitchell was living in the village of Ebenezer, MO.  He made three minor real estate transactions there but seems to disappear before the 1870 census.

Mitchell Family Researchers' Opinions of Jacob Mitchell

Some descendants of Morris Mitchell who spent many years researching the family did not have very positive opinions of Jacob Mitchell.  Virginia Mitchell Barry descended from Jacob, through his son Robert D. Mitchell.  Virginia spent a “lifetime of research”[i] working on this family.  She called Jacob, “this perplexing individual—Jacob Mitchell.”  Virginia went on to say:

[i] Virginia Mitchell Barry, email to Wayne Haston, December 31, 2001.

Jacob Mitchell never seems to have owned much.  In fact, I can only find property ownership of the 50 acres in White County, TN, and the minor real estate turn-around deal in Greene County when he purchased property from his supposed daughter-in-law and immediately sold it to his supposed grandson.  The Morris Mitchell family seems to have all been prosperous go-getters and there is much documentation on most of that family.  The only thing they have written about Jacob is that he married Lucinda Haston.  If Jacob were an unsuccessful ne’er-do-well and if he were a member of the Morris Mitchell family, it is possible that they considered him an embarrassment and had little to do with him.  There is evidence he owed money to several family members.[i]

[i] Virginia Mitchell Barry, email to Wayne Haston, November 10, 2000.

LuAnn Penrod Smith, a descendant of Jacob’s brother, Rev. James and Sarah/Sallie Nave Mitchell, stated, “He (Jacob) must have been a rebel in this family of Methodist ministers!”  Morris Mitchell, Sr., a Methodist preacher himself, had three sons and ten grandsons who were Methodist preachers.[i]  Jacob Mitchell had a lot to live up to! 

[i] Van Hines Mitchell, 3.

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Landon Medley Obituary

Landon Medley

October 6, 1949 - September 25, 2021
Landon Medley - Van Buren County, TN Historian Extraordinaire

Whether you knew him personally or not, Landon Medley was a friend to all of us who are interested in researching and studying the history of our Daniel Haston family.  Landon lived near the Daniel Haston family place and was steeped in a knowledge of local history–events, places, and people.  Some of the Haston-history articles you have read on the Daniel Haston Family Association blog were enriched by input from Landon.

Landon was my go-to source for questions about Van Buren County, TN history.  He and I worked on many research projects, including some that will now be put on hold.  For example, we were planning for an upcoming Zoom meeting to discuss the history of Van Buren County.  Landon was going to be our guest expert for that online session.

Landon Medley will be GREATLY missed by many of us who relied heavily on him for leadership and expertise related to the history of Van Buren and surrounding counties. 


Landon Darl Medley was born on October 6, 1949, to the late Jessie Lee “Dick” Medley and Dorthay Marie (Hale) Medley. He passed from life on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at St Thomas Midtown in Nashville after a short illness.

Landon was a lifelong resident of Van Buren County and a 1968 graduate of Van Buren High School. Landon retired from Mallory Controls in Sparta TN after more than 30 years of service.

In addition to his parents, Landon was preceded in death sister Martha Christine Whitworth and brother-in-law Lee “Wally” Martin Landon is survived by four sisters: Rosa “Bonnie” Buttrum (Walter) of Sparta, TN, Maggie Mills (Jim) of Spencer, TN, Wanda Martin of Spencer TN, and Judy Brown (Tommy) of Sparta, TN. He is also survived by brother-in-law Caroll McDonald of Doyle TN. Although he did not have any children of his own, Landon was active in the lives of his nieces and nephews: Christi Whitworth, Jessie Buttrum, Jamie Mills Saucier, Thomas Whitworth, Rachel Martin Scarlett, Jerry Buttrum, Edward Martin, Stephanie Clark, Kim Clark Kinnaird, and Katelyn Brown Boysel. And his great-nieces and nephews: Private Noah Sliger United States Army, Andrew Whitworth, Kensley Saucier, Amelia Scarlett, Landon Buttrum, Kathryn Scarlett, Hannah Kinnaird, Lennox Buttrum, Will Whitworth, Michael “Bill” Kinnaird, and Cadence Buttrum. Landon is also survived by Aunts and Uncle: Shella Forsythe (Don) of Sparta, TN, Gail Anderson of Sparta, TN, and Landon C Hale Jr. of Spencer, TN. Several cousins and friends also survive.

Landon dedicated his life to the preservation of history and the environment. He served as Van Buren County Historian for many years. Landon has written several books and journals about the History of Van Buren County. Landon was a founding member of the Van Buren Historical and Heritage Museum. He was always willing to assist anyone with research on their family tree and could recall most details from memory. Landon fought for the environment and the preservation of Fall Creek Falls State Park. He was a founding member of the Friends of Fall Creek Falls and served as president of Save Our Cumberland Mountains.

Landon was also a painter, primitive art designer, and avid fan of the St Louis Cardinals baseball team. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Van Buren County History and Heritage Museum 179 College St. Spencer, TN 38585

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26 – The Täuferversteck – Hiding Place for Anabaptists

25 - The Täuferversteck - "Anabaptist Hiding Place"

“Täuferversteck” (Anabaptist Hideout)

Anabaptist hunters were employed in the 18th century. In 1734 two Anabaptist hunters were out and about to catch Christian Siegenthaler in the lower Hälig, Wüthrich zu Häuser, Hans Gerber, called “Stadler”, and David Baumgartner. The Anabaptist yegi were disturbed by the fact that the persecuted “were warned with horns, shooting, Scheyen and similar signs” and were able to flee or hide. In the family house Fankhauser in behind-huts is still under the “Bühni” an Anabaptist hiding place to visit. An unpleasant story happened in autumn 1726. Three Anabaptist hunters wanted to arrest the three Anabaptist women Anni Blaser von Langnau, as well as Elsbeth Schenk and Cathri Hofstetter, the mother and wife of the house owner Hans Baumgartner, in the windbreak above Kröschenbrunnen. This and two of his friends resisted and rightly stated that they were on Lucerne soil. Therefore nothing should be done to women. They made threats against the hunters: They want to show them the March! Baumgartner had pulled the knife, he would rather die before the hunters carry the women away. He and his friends have also uttered “appalling and terrible curses and words” against the Anabaptist hunters. They told the Anabaptist Wüthrich that he was a “bad Gsell, rogue,

The persecution of the Bernese Anabaptists lasted for more than three centuries. The Federal Constitution of 1848 finally brought them freedom of belief and conscience.  –Source

The only known hiding place still in existence is the “Täuferversteck” located at the Fankhauser trapdoor leading to the hidden chamber home. Christen Fankhauser built a hidden chamber behind the place in his barn where the family smoked meats to preserve for the winter. There was a trapdoor that led to the room covered by straw. Except for family lore, the hideout was unknown to the public until the current owner’s wife, Regula, decided to research the history of the hideout. She became fascinated and decided to turn her farm into a museum and to open it to the public. Lore has it that because of her research into Anabaptist history, she became convicted and converted to Christianity.  –Source

The Fankhauser family has created a refuge here that not only includes the Anabaptist hiding place. There is also a lot of interesting information to see and read about the Anabaptists, their history and especially about the persecution of the Anabaptists in the Emmental.

Share this with Hastons or related family members who might be interested in the June 14-27, 2023 Hiestand-Haston European Heritage Tour.

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41 – Joseph Haston – Son of Daniel Haston

41 - Joseph Haston - 2nd Son of Daniel

Joseph and Sarah Criely (or Creely) Haston Graves in Big Fork Cemetery

Joseph and David were probably the only two sons of Daniel who were born in Virginia.  If we correctly understand the time of Daniel’s departure from Virginia, Joseph would have been three and a half years old when the family moved south.  So it’s likely that he had some memories of the journey, and possibly some faint memories of life back in Shenandoah County. 

Like David, most of Joseph’s “growing up years” happened in East Tennessee.  As the oldest sons, the two of them would have learned early how to hunt and fish to keep the family fed.  They would have had to work hard to cut down trees, construct cabins, chop wood for the fireplace, clear ground and till soil for crops, and even be prepared to protect the family from Indian attacks. 

All of these early life experiences will forever remain lost to us.  But as young adults in Knox County, the men they would become began to emerge.  While some of the earlier events in Joseph’s timeline have been covered in previous chapters, here’s an overview of just about everything that I have learned about his life.

Unfortunately, there is less source documentation for Joseph than for Daniel and most of his other sons.  Consequently, often I have been forced to rely on “unknown source” information passed down through the family,  That information may be properly documented somewhere, but the sources are unknown to me in many cases. 

Some Events in the Life of Joseph Haston and His Family

January 9, 1780 – Joseph Haston was born in the midst of the Revolutionary War era.  His father, Daniel, was living in Powell’s Fort Valley on the Massanutten Mountain in Shenandoah County, Virginia at the time, so we assume that is where Joseph was born.

The source for Joseph’s birth date is a copy of a family Bible record.  Dave R. Haston of Sparta, Tennessee sent the following information to Howard H. Hasting of San Antonio, Texas in a September 4, 1978 letter:  “According to a family bible in the possession of Joe Walker of Tennessee Joseph Haston, who was born Jan. 9, 1780, married Sarah Ann Creely, who was born Nov. 7, 1785, and they had a son named James Alford Haston who was born Nov. 25, 1809.” 

There’s not room here to tell you about all of Joseph and Sarah’s children.  Post a question in the Heritage of Daniel Haston Facebook group or contact me through this site and I’ll tell you what I know about any of their children or put you in touch with someone who knows more about the family.  

April 1798 – David (not quite age 21) and Joseph (age 18) were tried for cutting the tails off of two horned cows belonging to Nathaniel Hays, whose fence was apparently insufficient to contain the cows.  David Hasting, Daniel Hasting, and John Miller put up a total of $100 in bond money for David and Joseph. 

January 1800 – A legal dispute between Samuel Cowan and Joseph Hastings appears to have started at this time.  It was settled on April 15, 1801.[i]  Daniel, apparently, had leased land from John and Jane Woods, through their agent, James Charles.  Joseph Haston broke down a fence which allowed Daniel’s swine to trample down a field (“timothy [hay] lot”).  Samuel Cowan took Joseph to court, claiming that it was his field that was trampled, and he sued for $1000.  Joseph said that he was just doing what Daniel told him to do. This case clearly indicates that Daniel’s home was on leased land and that Joseph was living with his father.  The location of the field was “south of the Holston, opposite Knoxville.” 

[i] Samuel Cowan vs. Joseph Hastings, Knox County, Tennessee Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, Volume 3, 1800-1802, # 1235, 1385, original page 100. 

William Charter,  James Cunningham, and Sheriff Robert Houston were called upon to witness on behalf of Joseph.  George Richards was a witness for Samuel Cowan.  Daniel Heastings, Joseph Haston, and David Haston put up the bond of $2000.  Joseph and David signed in their own handwriting.  Daniel signed with a mark (“x”).  Joseph was found not guilty.[i]  

[i] Samuel Cowan vs. Joseph Hastings.

November 19, 1802 – Joseph Haston appeared in Guilford County, North Carolina shortly prior to this date.  He produced, to the Guilford County Court, a power of attorney document giving him authority to carry out some action for his father (“Dannel Hastons”) in the estate settlement of James Roddey, of “Nox [sic] County” in Tennessee.[i]  Chapter 29 contains more background to this James Roddey estate settlement.

[i] Guilford County, North Carolina County Court Minutes, Volume III (November 15, 1802), 227.  Microfilm: P. Neg. C.046.30001

About 1806 – The exact date or location of Joseph Haston’s marriage to Sarah Ann Criely/Creely is unknown, but it was probably in or around 1806.  According to a page from Dave Rhea Haston’s files, “Sarah Creely King* Haston” was born November 7, 1788.** 

July 22, 1806 – The name “Joseph Haston” appeared six signatures above his father, “Dannel Hasstont,” on this petition to form a new country from Jackson County, Tennessee.[i]  Joseph’s name was number seventy-nine on the petition, just below his brother-in-law Jacob Mitchell who follows their friend, Isham Bradley.

[i] Legislative Petition # 5-1-1806, “Petition for the Formation of White County from Jackson County, Tennessee.” (Nashville, TN: Tennessee State Library and Archives).

November 25, 1807 – Joseph and Sarah’s first son, James Alford* Haston, was born at this time.[i] *Although records often spell his middle name “Alfred,” it is spelled “Alford” on the Joe Walker Bible record and John Taylor Haston, son of James A. Haston spelled it “Alford” on his 1922 Civil War Questionnaire

[i] Joe Walker family Bible record, in possession of Lemon Graham, copied by Earl Madewell.

Courtesy of Dwight Hason

James Alford was a prominent civic leader in Van Buren County, serving about 20 years as a Justice of the Peace.[i]

[i] “John Taylor Haston.”

September 20, 1808 – Joseph purchased 50 acres of land in the Third District on the Big Spring Branch, adjacent to Isham Bradley’s 50 acres, as per grant # 550.  Like the grants issued to Daniel, Isham Bradley, and Jacob Mitchell, Joseph’s grant was purchased from Thomas Dillon as a part of Dillon’s certificate No. 63.  As far as we know, this was the first land Joseph owned, but he wouldn’t own it long.

February 15, 1809 – On the same day that brothers Joseph and David Haston witnessed the Isham Bradley to Charles Mitchell transaction (above) they made a land deal between themselves.  For the price of $200, Joseph Hastin sold to David Hastin the 50 acres of land (Grant # 550) that Joseph purchased a few months earlier.  The land was adjacent to that of Isham Bradley and Jacob Mitchell.  Isham Bradley, Charles Mitchell, and John Miller witnessed the transaction.[i]

Joseph only held this property for about five months.  

[i] White County, Tennessee Deed Book B, 1809-1810, 107-109.

1823 – Daniel Hastin, David Hastin, Joseph Hastin, and Isaac Hastin appeared on this “taxable property and polls” list in Captain Parker’s Company.  The listing was taken by D. Hasting, Esq.  Daniel’s name reappears on this tax roll, but only has 50 acres situated on Cane Creek, as compared to the 150 acres he owned since 1808.  Joseph’s total tax was 1.61 3/4.  Now Joseph has 70 acres (listed as being on Cane Creek), instead of 20 acres.  He was charged tax for one white poll.[i]  

[i] White County, Tennessee Property and Poll Tax, 1821-1825, 101. (original books)

The 50 acres added to Joseph’s land was his inheritance from his father, Daniel.  It was located between the acreage that David and Isaac received from Daniel.

July 19, 1824 Joseph Hasting was “this day appointed a constable for the full space and term of two years from the date hereof, and thereupon took the oath to support the constitution of the United States, the State of Tennessee and the oath of office, together with the several oaths prescribed by law, and together with David Hasting and Arthur Parker entered into and acknowledge bond in the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds, conditioned as the law requires.”[i] This appointment was made just about five years prior to Joseph’s death.  One would think that Joseph must have appeared to be in good health at this time, in order to be appointed as constable.

[i] White County, Tennessee Court Minutes, 1824-1827, Part 1, 43.

The Role of Constables

Based on English law and practice, constables were an important part of law enforcement in early America.  They were, in essence, the “arm of the law” in local communities.  Constables were elected for a term of two years.


County courts in Tennessee nominated and appointed one constable for each militia district.  A constable was required to be a person of “good character” and to swear an oath that he would, among other things, “arrest all such persons” who rode or went “armed offensively” or that “commit or make any riot, affray, or other breach of the peace,” and “apprehend all felons and rioters or persons riotously assembled.”  “If any such offenders shall make resistance with force,” they were ordered to execute and return all lawful precepts” as directed to them “without delay.” 


Two constables were required to attend each session of a county or circuit court and were paid $1.00 per day for doing so.  They were entitled to receive four per cent commission on all money they collected.[i]

[i] John Haywood, Robert L. Cobbs, James A. Whiteside, Jacob P. Chase, The Statute Laws of the State of Tennessee of a Public and General Nature, Volume 1. (Knoxville, TN: General Assembly of Tennessee, 1831), 47-50.

July 23, 1827 – In his will created on this date, Joseph bequeathed all of his property to Sarah, “for the use of the family and the raising of my small children.”  The will was witnessed by William Denny, John S. Parker, and Isham Bradley.[i]  

[i] White County, Tennessee Inventories and Wills, 92; White County, Tennessee Inventories and Old Wills, 1831-1840, 152.

Joseph Haston's Will

In the name of God, Amen, I Joseph Haston, of the County of White and State of Tennessee, being weak of body but of sound mind and disposing memory for which I thank God and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life, and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly substance as it has pleased God to bless me with after resigning my soul to God and my body to be buried.   I do give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Sarah, all my worldly substance with real and personal, to make use of as she thinks proper for the use of the family and the raising of my small children.  So long as she may remain a widow and if she should marry my will and desire is that after my wife taking one third part of all my estate the balance to be equally divided amongst my children to be enjoyed by them and their heirs forever, hereby revoking all other wills, testaments by me herefore made.  I witness of I have here unto set my hand and seal this 23rd July 1827.  Joseph Haston (seal) Signed, sealed, published and delivered to be my last will and Testament in the present of William Denny, John S. Parker, Isham Bradley State of Tennessee, White Co.

Before 1830  Apparently, Joseph Haston died shortly prior to the 1830 Federal Census.  He is buried in the Big Fork Cemetery very close to where he lived. 

November 1859 – Sarah Haston died of croup in November 1859.  As could be expected given her age, she had no occupation, profession, or trade.  She was ill two days before dying, according to the record.

Yell County, Arkansas

Yell County, Arkansas became a popular settling spot for several of Daniel Haston’s descendants.  According to Colonel Howard H. Hasting, a branch of the Haston family (mainly Joseph’s family, but not exclusively) moved to Yell County, Arkansas late in 1879.[i] They mainly settled in the northeast section of Yell County, in and between Danville and Dardanelle, Magazine Township especially.

[i] Hasting, “The Daniel Haston Family,” 32. 

Malinda Haston Howard and her family also lived in Magazine Township of Yell County.  Her husband William died in 1859 (probably in Tennessee), but Malinda (daughter of Joseph and Sarah Haston) moved to Yell County, Arkansas, and lived there for the remainder of her life.[i] 

[i] “Joseph H. Howard,” Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Yell County, Arkansas,” (n.p.: The Southern Publishing Company, 1891). 157.

Joseph and Sarah's Family and the Civil War

William Leonard Dale, Joseph and Sarah's Son-in-Law

Amanda Haston, born in 1831, may have been born shortly after the death of her father.  She married William Leonard Dale on March 14, 1858, in White County, Tennessee.  William L. Dale was a private in the Confederate Company E of Major Stephen H. Colm’s 1st Tennessee Infantry Battalion.[i]  Company E was comprised of many men from White County, under Captain William M. Simpson.[ii]  He enlisted in the Confederate Army on January 4, 1863.  

[i] National Park Service. U.S., Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

[ii] FamilySearch, “1st ( Colm’s ) Tennessee Infantry Battalion,” accessed July 31, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/1st_Battalion,_Tennessee_Infantry_(Colms%27)_(20th_Battalion)_(Confederate).

[iii] Fold3, “William L. Dale,” accessed July 31, 2021, https://www.fold3.com/image/68088210; 68088215.

The Federal Army’s siege of Port Hudson (March 21, 1863 – July 9, 1863), a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, was the longest siege in American military history, 48 days.  During the Union Siege of Port Hudson, Confederate soldiers were reduced to eating nearly anything they could get their hands on, including horses, mules, dogs, cats, and even rats.  William joined the Federal Army after being taken a prisoner in Port Hudson, Louisiana and was reported by the Confederates to be a deserter on January 21, 1864.[iii]

This leaves me wondering if the bushwhackers were Federal sympathizers who hanged William Leonard Dale because he was trying to desert the Union Army he had joined under pressure or Confederate sympathizers who hanged him because he had joined the Union Army.  Either option is possible, since most of his southern Hickory Valley neighbors were passionately pro-Confederacy with several local “sons” in the army, but in 1864 Federal troops were roaming all over White and surrounding counties. 

Wiley B. Haston (son of Joseph & Sarah)

Wiley B. Haston, son of James Alford and Lavina King Haston, was mortally wounded in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 8, 1862 and died the following day.

Generally an accurate portrayal of the uphill charge of the Confederate infantry, but fails to show the clusters of cannons that poured cannister shots into the heroic Rebel soldiers who refused to retreat in the face of probable death or serious wounds.

Willie B. Haston enlisted as a private in the Confederate Company I of the Sixteenth Tennessee Voluntary Infantry Regiment on May 20, 1861 at Camp Harris in Estill Springs of Franklin County, Tennessee.  This regiment was made up of volunteers from Warren, Van Buren, White, and surrounding Middle Tennessee Counties.

Approximately 36,000 soldiers fought in the battle—20,000 Union and 16,000 Confederate, with 7,621 total casualties (killed or wounded) in one afternoon.  The Sixteenth Tennessee suffered 219 casualties out of 370 engaged—59.2 % (most of any regiment).  Willie B. Haston’s company, along with other companies in the Sixteenth, was ordered to charge uphill into the face of two batteries of cannons (one on their right, another on their left) that were firing canister shots (closed tin cylinder typically loosely filled with round lead or iron balls) into their ranks.  As it turned out there was also a Wisconsin line of Federals behind a fence between the two batteries.

The Sixteenth Tennessee Regiment fought valiantly in its first major battle and the Confederates eventually captured the knobs defended by the Union Army.  But because there were 35,000 Federal troops being held in reserve, General Braxton Bragg ordered his much smaller army to retreat to Tennessee.

Wiley B. Haston’s body was not interred at the battle field as were many others, but was claimed by the family.  According to a story passed down through the family, “Burdin Wheeler and John T. Haston [Wiley B.’s brother] brought the body home to Spencer” and it was buried in an unmarked grave beside James A. [his father] in the town cemetery.”[i]

[i] Dwight Haston, email to Dave R. Haston, December 8, 1973.

John Taylor Haston - Prisoner of War

The cavalry took up the rear, and I yet remember seeing John T. Haston in line, and he gave me some rations. John is yet living, and has his wings up, has never sold out for a mess of pottage and never will. If I go to war again, I want John with me.

-Carroll H. Clark’s Diary

John Taylor Haston (April 25, 1844 – January 2, 1923) enlisted in Colonel Murray’s Fourth Tennessee Confederate Cavalry at Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 14, 1862.  Six of his Haston relatives joined this unit on the same date—James Hastin, James M. Hastin, John L. Hastin, Miles H. Hastin, Richmond Hastin, William Hastin, and William S. Hastion.[i]  They were all in Captain George W. Carter’s Company A.

[i] John C. Rigdon, Historical Sketch and Roster of the Tennessee 4th Cavalry Regiment (Murray’s). (Cartersville, GA: Eastern Digital Resources, 205), 39.  

Like his brother’s (Wiley B. Haston’s) regiment, the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry marched to Kentucky and fought in the Battle of Perryville just 117 days later.  John Taylor’s cavalry’s unit fared much better than his brother’s infantry, with only one killed and two wounded.[i]

[i] Rigdon, 17. 

On 16 September 16, 1863, while attempting to visit his family, he was captured at Sparta, Tennessee, and sent to the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky.  In October 1863, he was transferred to Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana.*  Camp Morton has been called a “Den of Misery,” one of the most inhuman northern Civil War prison camps operated by the Union Army.[i]

[i] James R. Hall, Den of Misery: Indiana’s Civil War Prison. (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2006).

He was paroled and released on May 22, 1865, which was late in the process of emptying the camp.  His prison record shows that he was of dark complexion, with dark hair and eyes and 5 ft. 5 1/2 ins. tall.

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24 – Swiss Home of Albert Einstein

25 - The Home of Albert Einstein in Bern, Switzerland

On Friday, June 23, 2023, our Hiestand-Haston Tour group will visit the home where Einstein discovered the theory of relativity.

Albert Einstein lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905 and developed his Theory of Relativity here. The Einstein House gives visitors a chance to see where the great physicist completely revolutionized our understanding of space and time.

Albert Einstein spent part of his life in Bern. He came to the Swiss capital in 1902 and took up a post at the federal patent office. In 1903, he and his wife, Mileva, moved into an apartment in the third floor of Kramgasse 49, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, the apartment is open to tourists. It is furnished in the style of Einstein’s time and documents the life of the physicist during his years in Bern. This period included 1905 – Einstein’s annus mirabilis (extraordinary year) – which was his most creative period of scientific discovery.

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40 – Herbert Clinton Haston – Grandson of Montgomery Greenville Haston

40 - Herbert Clinton Haston, Grandson of Montgomery G. Haston

Herbert Clinton Haston

The 1880 census record for D.L. (David Levander) and Virginia Riddles Haston

A three-year-old boy, by the name of Herbert C. Hemphill, appears “In family” on the 1880 census record of David L. and Virginia Haston.  For decades, many people in the Daniel Haston family have wondered about this boy.  Who were his parents? How did he end up in the David L. Haston household sometime shortly prior to 1880?  

“Clint” as he was generally known, was reared by D.L. and Virginia.  He took on the “Haston” family name during his childhood.  Clint’s adult life is well documented in public records and by memories passed down through his family.  As it has turned out, the identity of his birth parents was also clearly documented, but in a source that remained hidden until August 2021.

Here’s what we now know….

The Birth Father of Clint Haston

In April of 2021, Max Haston (great-grandson of Clint Haston) submitted DNA to FamilyTreeDNA for a Y-DNA test (test to identify male ancestral lineage).  Results from the test clearly connected him with a Hemphill family.  But initial searches for a Hemphill person living in White County or Van Buren County, Tennessee in the 1870s were futile.  Fortunately, there was an active Hemphill family group in FamilyTreeDNA and members of that group were eager to know how Max was connected to them.  Brian Hemphill, with whom Max’s DNA most closely matched, reported that his ancestor Samuel Corydon Hemphill moved from Michigan to Bledsoe County, Tennessee in the early 1870s.  And there were stories in this Hemphill family of Samuel having illegitimate children.  As it turned out, Samuel C. Hemphill lived at Bradden Knob in the western edge of Bledsoe County, less than a mile east of the Van Buren County line (at or near the location of the fire tower that is now inside the Fall Creek Falls State Park).  And Van Buren County was where David Levander and Virginia Riddles Haston lived.  Bingo!  Now there was a clue to work with. 

Hemphill Cemetery - Near Fall Creek Falls Firetower
Samuel Corydon Hemphill Grave Marker

That key clue unlocked a lot of information about Samuel C. Hemphill.  He was born in Ohio, but lived in Michigan prior to moving to Bledsoe County, Tennessee.  He fought for the Union in the Civil War and was wounded seriously enough at the Battle of Franklin to receive a discharge and a later pension.  His first wife died in Michigan and he remarried shortly before moving to Tennessee.  Children were being born to his second wife during the same period that Herbert Clinton Hemphill was born.  And, even though he lived in the edge of Bledsoe County, he owned land in Van Buren County and had connections with Van Buren County people.

The Birth Mother of Clint Haston

DNA, by itself, cannot determine a connection to a specific ancestor–it can only connect to a general family and an approximate time period.  So, two important questions remained to be answered: 

  1. Which Hemphill man was the father of Herbert Clinton Hemphill?  Was it Samuel C. Hemphill, one of his adult sons–who apparently didn’t live in Tennessee–or another, yet unknown, Hemphill man?
  2. Who was the mother of Herbert Clinton Hemphill?  Was she a relative of David L. and Virginia Haston?  A neighbor and friend of theirs?  Or, just an unconnected unwed mother who needed a family to care for her unplanned baby?  Did she die in childbirth or simply wasn’t in a position to keep the baby?

Fortunately, the answer to both of those big questions was located in an obscure Van Buren County court record.  In those days, births of illegitimate children were required to be reported to the county court and assurance had to be given that the child would not become the responsibility of the county.  That process was discussed in a previous article, “The Mystery of the Mother of Montgomery Greenville Haston.”

Van Buren County Court records for the 1870s have not (as of 2021) been transcribed.  So I placed an order at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, TN to have the microfilm containing those court records to be digitized.  Then, once I received them, I began going through them, one page at a time until I discovered the following March 1878 records:

Note: The mother should have reported this birth more than a year earlier, according to the state law.

The Bond to Bind S.C. Hemphill to Be Responsible for the Child

The Legal Adoption of Herbert Clinton Myers-Hemphill

What happened to Samuel Corydon Hemphill's legal responsibility to rear Clinton, as his own legally-born child? Although I have found no court document that approved the change of guardianship, apparently Hemphill convinced D.L. and Virginia Haston to assume that responsibility--perhaps even paid them to do so. It seems that D.L. and Virginia were not able to have children born to them, so they probably welcomed the opportunity to have a son in their family.

Who Was Josie (Josephine) Myers?

The obvious next question was who was this Josie Myers?  There were several branches of a Myers (or Myres or Meyers) family that lived near D.L. and Virginia Haston.  But Emily Josephine (Josie) Myers was the daughter of Lansden E. and Jane Easton Hill Myers.  According to her grave marker, she was born in 1856, which (slightly) contradicts some census records. 

Here’s some more of we know about Josie:

Myres was a common early spelling of what became "Myers"
Moyers was a previous spelling of Myers. She was known by "Josie" in her adult years.

The Myers Cemetery, supposedly founded by Lansden E. Myers, is located about 3 1/2 miles east of where D.L. and Virginia Haston lived.  There is evidence to suggest that Lansden E. Myers (father of Josie) and his family may have lived at or near where the cemetery is located.  If so, they would have only lived a few (but widely separated) houses up the mountain from D.L. and Virginia Haston.

Josie first married James Madison Steakley in Van Buren County on December 30, 1877, about 15 1/2 months after Clinton Myers/Hemphill was born.  When Herbert Clinton Hemphill was living in the D.L. Haston household in 1880, Josie was age 22, the wife of M. Steakley, with a son (William S.) age 9 months.  James M. Steakley died July 27, 1887.

Josie Myers Steakley married John William Francisco on March 16, 1889, in Van Buren County.  They were living in Bell County, TX before February 1892.  Josie and John had three children, in addition to the two (or three) Steakley children born to Josie and James M. Steakley.  

John and Josie were buried in the Oplin Cemetery in Callahan, Texas.

But There is Much More to Clint Haston's Story

The addition of Clint Haston to the Daniel Haston family created a Haston branch, off of the Daniel Haston > David Haston > Montgomery Greenville Haston line that has represented the Haston name proudly and nobly.

More about this in a later article.

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24 – The City of Bern, Switzerland and the Famous Clock Tower

24 - The World Famous Zytglogge (Clock Tower) in Bern

On Friday, June 23, 2023, our Hiestand-Haston Heritage tour group will watch the famous clock tower turn to a new hour.

Built in the early 13th century as a gate tower for the city’s western fortifications, Zytglogge has served over the years as a guard tower, prison, clock tower, center of urban life and civic memorial. Despite the many renovations it has undergone in its 800 years of existence, Zytglogge is one of Bern’s most recognizable symbols and, along with its 15th-century astronomical clock, a major tourist attraction.


Like any similar clock throughout Europe, the one at Zytglogge has moving pieces that go through a small routine every hour. Father time flips the hourglass, the carpenter strikes the hammer on the bell, and several other small animations make their hourly dance; however, this dance does not start at the top of the hour! In order to see the animations, make sure you arrive at least five minutes before the hour as the dance starts four minutes prior and a crowd will gather.  Experience a wonderful example of the Swiss tradition of timekeeping – how often do you see an 800-year-old clock?

Keep in mind that mass transit (buses & streetcars) does not stop during that time so beware of traffic at the intersection.  Source

See the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) in Action

Be patient – it takes a few minutes to complete the cycle.

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39 – Montgomery G. Haston – His Civic Service and Civil War Experience

39 - M. G. Haston - His Civic Service and Civil War Experience

Grave of M.G. Haston on the front row of the Big Fork Cemetery in the Cummingsville community of northern Van Buren County, TN.
Montgomery Greenville Haston is one of my most respected early Haston heroes!  I want to tell you why.

Montgomery Greenville (M.G. or “Gum”) Haston lived a relatively short life even for his era, only about 45 (or 46) years.  When he was about 15 ½ years old, Van Buren County, Tennessee was created.  For a few years in the mid-1850s, M.G. moved his young family to Georgia to join members of his father-in-law’s family.  But most of his adult life was spent in Van Buren County.

Some unofficial documents give his middle name as “Greenfield.”  But the oldest daughter of the former Van Buren County, Sheriff Montgomery G. Haston (1898-1936), stated that her father was named after his grandfather, the M.G. Haston who is the subject of this chapter, and the middle name was definitely “Greenville.”[i]

[i] Dorothy Jean Haston Basham, phone conversation with Jean Ann Haston Hall, June 27, 2020.

He certainly made his impact on that young county, early and often rising to positions of leadership.  During his life, he served civically in a variety of roles:  Constable in the Van Buren County Fourth and Third districts, Van Buren County Fourth District Justice of Peace, Van Buren County Tax Collector, and Captain in the Home Guard for his district.

M.G. Haston's Early Life

For 100+ years, no one seem to know how he fit into the extended Daniel Haston family.  But now we know.  In the two previous articles you saw that his mother was almost certainly Mary “Polly” Haston, the 2nd oldest child of David and Peggy Roddy Haston.  So he was a grandson of David Haston and a great-grandson of Daniel Haston.  He was born two or three years prior to the death of Daniel Haston, so Daniel may have held him but M.G. would probably not have had memories of Daniel Haston.

You also saw that he was an illegitimately born child–a “bastard.”  Today, that word is a curse word.  In M.G.’s lifetime, it was a nasty “b word” that carried a curse with it.  

Under English common law, children born out of lawful wedlock were classed as bastards.  In the eyes of the law they had no parents, no kindred, and no ancestors.  They were not, then, entitled to a surname except such as they won for themselves by reputation, and they were heirs-in-law of no one.  The great majority of them were apprenticed at a tender age to a master and condemned to a lowly existence.  Bastards ordinarily assumed the surnames of their birth mothers, but they otherwise suffered all of the common-law disabilities.  Bastard children were thus disadvantaged from their birth. 

George Stevenson, “Bastardy,” NCpedia

A few years after he was born, his mother married William (“Black Bill”) Lewis and he grew up in that Lewis family, at least part of the time.  Can you imagine how his peers, including his Lewis step-siblings, used the “bastard” label against him?!

And to make matters even worse for M.G. Haston, his birth-father was very probably his uncle, Arthur Mitchell, Jr.  – the husband of his mother’s sister.  Certainly, this must have put him in an awkward situation sometimes within the Haston family.

BUT – historical evidence suggests that he was loved among his Haston relatives, especially his Haston grandparents’ family, the David and Peggy Haston family.

Some Highlights of M.G. Haston's Life

The great majority of them (illegitimate children) were apprenticed at a tender age to a master and condemned to a lowly existence.

M.G. Haston was not like the “great majority” of base-born (common term of that era for illegitimately born children).  He would not allow himself to be “condemned to a lowly existence!”

August 4, 1845 – Five months after his assignment to a road crew, Montgomery G. Haston shows up in the Van Buren County Court in August 1845 with a certificate showing that he had been elected as constable of the 4th district in Van Buren County.  While there, he took the oaths for that office.  The Fourth District began just east of the Big Spring Branch and David Haston place and included the entire Cane Creek area.  

Think about it—he was age 21 or maybe not quite 21 years old and he was elected to be a constable!  He must have been a tough dude with a high degree of community ethos!  In those days especially, the job of a constable was a tough one.  Constables were largely responsible for law and order in their districts.  Montgomery must have been well respected in his district and deemed capable of fighting crime and apprehending and arresting criminals. 

October 5, 1846 – Montgomery G. Haston was appointed to be an overseer of a crew to open a road from Denny’s still house to the limekiln on the side of the mountain, a second-class road.  William Lewis (his stepfather) and David Lewis (his half brother), as well as Isaac Haston, Carrel [sic] Haston, James W. Haston, John Haston, and several others were on Montgomery’s crew—it was a large road crew, more than 20 men.  This was quite an assignment for a 22-year-old man, especially with his stepfather, half-brother, and four Haston relatives on his crew.[i]  Surely it tells us something about his leadership abilities.  David Haston was one of the justices who made this appointment.  I can’t help but wonder if David Haston was behind this assignment in order to prove something to some of these men on the crew, as well as build Montgomery’s confidence and self-esteem.

[i] Van Buren County Court Minutes, April 1840-May 1855, 182.

March 27-28, 1847 – On the 27th of March 1847, M.G. Haston and Rachel Wheeler received their marriage license and were married the next day by David Haston, Justice of the Peace.  Rachel Wheeler was born in 1829.[i]  Her parents were Burdin (or Burden) and Sally McReynolds Wheeler. 

[i] Van Buren County Court Minutes, April 1840-May 1855, page 19 in the marriage records section following page 38 of the 1840 court minutes.

July 5, 1847 – George Wender (or Winder), an orphan boy about 17 years of age, chose M.G. Haston (about age 23) to tutor him, which required a bond.  David Haston was serving as a Justice of the Peace for this session.[i] 

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee Court Minutes, April 1840-May 1855, 209.

September 24, 1848 – Birth of David Lavender (D.L.) Haston.  M.G. and Rachel’s first child was born at this time. 

According to the family Bible, Montgomery and Rachel’s first child was named David L. (Lavender) Haston.  We don’t know for sure if M.G. and Rachel’s son was named for David Haston.  But when you study the pattern of Haston relationships in his life, the evidence is quite strong that Montgomery and Rachel were honoring David Haston, the father of Mary/Polly Haston, by giving their first son the name David.

If Polly’s illegitimately-born son lived with David and Peggy Haston for the first three years of his life, David would have been Montgomery’s surrogate father in those formative years.  And since the boy didn’t have a birth-father who could and would take care of him, David would probably have taken a special interest him, perhaps more so than his other grandsons.  And the bonding that would have happened in those first three years would have been tight and permanent, assuming the relationship was as loving as evidence seems to indicate it was in the David Haston family.  So it seems only natural that Montgomery and Rachel’s first son would have been named David.

January 2, 1854 – M.G. Haston and David Lewis (probably the half-brother of M.G. Haston), had recently been involved in a brawl: State vs. David Lewis and M.G. Haston (affray).  M.G. and David were charged $4.00 (apparently $2.00 each) for the court costs.[i] 

[i] Van Buren County Court Minutes, April 1840-May 1855, 442.

After January 1854 to or before November 3, 1858M.G. Haston and his family moved to Walker County, GA for a few years.  The answer to why he went to Walker County, Georgia is connected to his wife’s family, the Wheelers.  Rachel’s father was Birden Wheeler, a brother of John Riley Wheeler who had a mercantile business in the Sequatchie Valley.  

John Riley Wheeler, Rachel’s uncle, moved his mercantile business from Bledsoe (soon to become Sequatchie) County, Tennessee to the Cedar Grove community of Walker County, Georgia (south of Chattanooga, TN) at, or about, the same time M.G. moved his family there from Van Buren County.  They very possibly traveled together.  Maybe M.G. was seeking to make a quick small-fortune as a merchant with Rachel’s Uncle Riley.  And as a consolation, there his illegitimate birth would have been unknown—sheltering him from conflicts with his Lewis half-brothers and others.

November 3, 1858 – On November 3 1858 M.G. Haston bought four tracts of land (1,163 acres more or less) from Nathan Durham at a price of $900 in Van Buren County, Tennessee.[i] 

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee Deed Book B, 548-549.

April 2 & 3, 1860 – M.G. Haston was a Justice of the Peace in this April 1860 court term.  He presented his commission and was sworn in and entered into the duties of the office.[i] 

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, June 1855-December 1860, 376.

October 1, 1860 – M.G. Haston, along with John M. Billingsly and D.P. Myers, was a judge in the 4th district for the 1860 presidential election.  This was the election in which Abraham Lincoln was elected, the election that ultimately precipitated the Civil War.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, June 1855-December 1860, 422.

December 3, 1860 – M.G. Haston and William C. Haston were appointed to lay off and set apart to Nancy Jane Myers, widow of Dillard P. Myers deceased, one year support and report the same to the next term of court.[i]  

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, June 1855-December 1860, 432.


NOTE: D.P. Myers was a younger brother of Lansden E. Myers, who was the father of “Josie Myers” that will play an important role in the next article in this series.

June 3 & 4, 1861 – M.G. Haston, one of the Justices of the Peace in this session, was appointed on Tuesday, June 4, as Captain of the Home Guard in the Fourth District of Van Buren County.  J.J. Walker was the 1st Lieutenant and W. Wheeler the 2nd Lieutenant.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 60, 66.

July 1, 1861 – M.G. Haston was appointed to be the man in the Fourth District to look after the “wives and children of the volunteers now in the service of our country” and report their needs to the chairman of the county court.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 67, 72, 74.

July 2, 1861 Tennessee Admitted to the Confederacy

April 7, 1862 – William C. Haston, David’s youngest son (and M.G. Haston’s “younger uncle”), was elected as Sheriff, as of March 1, 1862.  In this April 7 session, Isaac T. Hastin, Mongumry [sic] G. Hastin, and John J. Walker entered into a couple of bonds as his securities.  One bond was priced at $12,000 and there was another for $500.[i]  W.C. Haston had previously served as constable in the Third District and Deputy Sheriff for the county.[ii]  Being the County Sheriff during the Civil War must have been a hugely challenging job! 

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 108-109.

[ii] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 65.

Apparently in preparation for the impending first Confederate Conscription Act, “This day the Chairman in open court appointed…men, one in each civil district of Van Buren County, to take down in these districts respectively all the able bodied men thence subject to military duty over the age of eighteen and under fifty five years old and report the same immediately to Adjutant General of the State of Tennessee.”  W.C. Haston was the appointed man in the Third District and M.G. Haston was appointed for the task in the Fourth District.”  Both of these men were well within the age-range specified for the lists.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 110.

Montgomery G. Haston was voted in to fill the office of Revenue Collection (Tax Collector) for two years. 

November 3 & 4, 1862 – M.G. Haston was one of the Justices in this term of court.  He was appointed to “enroll the Confederates of Van Buren County” in his Fourth District, as were all of the other Justices of the Peace for their districts, including William C. Haston for the Third District.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 132.

March 2, 1863 – M.G. Haston resigned as the Confederate enrolling officer for the Fourth District of Van Buren County.  No reason was stated.[i]

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 150.

April 6, 1863 – M.G. Haston, Esqr. resigned his office as Justice of the Peace for the Fourth District of Van Buren County.  He also resigned from his office of Tax Collector for Van Buren County at the same time.  Perhaps it was becoming clear to him that the county government was facing a shutdown.  But he did submit a report of lands and lots and their owners, as well as the amount of taxes they had not paid.[i]   

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, January 1861-June 1866, 156, 161.

M.G. Haston's Confederate Military Experiences

At the time M.G. Haston resigned his public offices in Van Buren County, he was approaching 40 years of age.  He owned more than 1000 acres, was married with a wife and several young kids to feed and care for, and had been fulfilling some key roles in trying to hold the county together during a very difficult time.  But Middle Tennessee was on the brink of being overcome by Federal soldiers.  

In the spring of 1863, M.G. Haston and other citizens of surrounding counties knew they were facing the possibility of a Federal Army occupation.  And they knew what occupation by enemy troops would mean.  Pro-southern guerilla fighters–some of whom were nothing more than thieves, robbers, and murderers–were dangerous enough.  But a massive occupation by Federal troops would be devastating to farms and their families.   


The only thing preventing that occupation was the Army of Tennessee under the leadership of General Braxton Bragg.  But Bragg’s army had fought to a draw in Murfreesboro’s Battle of Stone’s River and retreated to take a stand at Tullahoma.  Bragg, and all of western Middle Tennessee, were facing the realities of (1) a win at Tullahoma and a forced retreat of the Union Army, or (2) a surrender of south-central Tennessee to a swarming army of enemy soldiers.

M.G. Haston joined Company C of the 35th Regiment Tennessee Infantry as a private on June 16, 1863.[i]  He enrolled in McMinnville for a term of service of three years or the entire war, with Colonel Nixon as his enrolling officer.    

[i] “M.G. Haston,” Fold3.com, accessed June 6, 2020, https://www.fold3.com/image/76762118?terms=haston,40.

Tullahoma (TN) Campaign - June 24 - July 3, 1863

After a few days of positioning and fighting in miserable rain, General Bragg chose to retreat to Chattanooga.  Much to the disappointment of many of his troops, especially those recruited from southcentral Tennessee, Bragg left businesses, farms, and families (especially pro-Southern families) wholly unprotected.  

Immediately, many of the Confederate volunteers from that local area began to desert, to go home to protect their wives, children, and property.  The defensive mode became personal to many of them, the dike had burst and the flood of enemy raiders was at hand.

M.G. Haston remained with Bragg and the Army of Tennessee in the retreat to “Tanner’s Station” (Tyner), east of Chattanooga.  He reported for the July 17, 1863 muster there.  But deserted on July 31.

Some Thoughts About M.G. Haston's Civil War Experience

For a starter, let me say: I do not think M.G. Haston deserted because he was a coward. 

The most thorough and best documented book on this topic is More Damning than Slaughter: Desertion in the Confederate Army by Mark A. Weitz.[i]  Weitz states: “Studies to date suggest that deserters were not cowards, or at least most of them were not.  When it struck, desertion took quality soldiers and undermined good units.”[ii]

[i] Mark A. Weitz, More Damning than Slaughter: Desertion in the Confederate Army. (Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press, 2005).
[ii] Weitz, xvii.

  • If you have closely followed the earlier adult life of M.G. Haston, you will likely agree that he was an intelligent, bold, strong, courageous man who did not back down from personal confrontations or common challenges of life. 
  • In 20 years, he climbed more rungs of the civic leadership ladder in Van Buren County than most of his contemporaries ascended in 50 years.  No doubt, he turned the “lemons” of his life into “lemonade”—his uphill struggles as a “baseborn” child made him wiser and stronger than he would have been otherwise.

  • That is why the word “deserted” on his Confederate army record seems so wrong, so uncharacteristic for him.  I am not a descendant of M.G. Haston, although we are genealogically connected through David Haston.  So as I share my thoughts here, I am not trying to sugar-coat his desertion.  But knowing what I know about the events of the war occurring in Middle Tennessee when he enlisted and the longer-term results of those events, I think I may understand what led to his desertion.

  • With the eastern end of the Confederate defensive line within 30 miles of his home, it is likely he volunteered to help turn back the tide of a Yankee invasion, to protect his family and his farm.

When M.G. Haston enlisted on June 16, 1863, he left many acres of farmland behind—a farm and home broadly exposed at the crossroads of two main roads.  He left a wife and six kids at home—David L. (age 15), William Riley (age 12), Mary Jane (age 8), James Birden (age 6), Thomas M. (age 2), Joel M. (age 4 months). 

M.G. Haston, like the other Hastons in Tennessee, was not a slave owner.  He was not fighting to protect the institution of slavery.  He was fighting to protect those things and the people he loved, especially his wife and his children.  And when it became necessary to be at home to protect them, that’s what he chose to do.

Death of Montgomery Greenville Haston

December 20, 1869 – Montgomery G. Haston died on this date, a young man of about age 45.  The end of Montgomery G. Haston’s life is just as mysterious as its beginning, for those of us more than 150 years removed from his.

July 25, 1914 – Rachel Wheeler Haston died of heart failure and was buried the following day, July 26.  The grave adjacent to and north of M.G. Haston’s grave is probably hers.

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23 – Jakob Markt – We’ll Stop and Shop Where the Swiss Shop

23 - Jakob Markt - We'll Stop & Shop Where Locals Shop

One of the favorite shopping places for locals and tourists is the Jacob Markt.  Here is the best place to buy Swiss lace curtains, Swiss-style clothes, and delicious Swiss chocolate bars.  While the women shop (maybe some of us men too!) others can drink a free cup of coffee.  


Share this with Hastons or related family members who might be interested in the June 14-27, 2023 Hiestand-Haston European Heritage Tour.

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23 – Swiss Alphorns and Yodeling

23 - Swiss Alpine Music: Alphorns and Yodeling

Two of the most famous features of historic Swiss culture are the Alphorns and yodeling.  Our June 2023 Hiestand-Haston Heritage tour group will enjoy a bit of both types of Alpine Music.

The Swiss Alphorns

Enjoy this brief video example of Swiss Alphorn music.

With the passing of time, the alphorn almost totally disappeared as an instrument used by Swiss shepherds. It was only with the romanticism of the 19th century and the revival of folklore and tourism that the alphorn experienced a renaissance and even became a national symbol.

The alphorn has long been a tool used by shepherds. It was used to call the cows from the pastures and into the barn at milking time. An engraving from 1754 shows a shepherd using the alphorn to motivate the cows to cover the last steep stretch on their big climb up into the Alps. A glass painting from the Emmental Valley dating back to 1595 shows the alphorn being blown, probably to pacify the cows during milking. The blowing of the alphorn in the evening is also a traditional theme in art. This sound served as an evening prayer, and was mainly practiced in the Reformed cantons, while in the German-speaking Catholic cantons in Central Switzerland, the call to prayer was preferred. The main function of the alphorn was, however, for communication with the herdsmen on the neighboring Alps and with the people down in the valley below.

After 1800, as the production of cheese increasingly shifted from the Alps to the dairies in the villages, the alphorn was used less and less. After the alphorn was hardly heard at traditional festivals any more, the Bernese official, Niklaus von Mülinen, began to repair alphorns in the 1820s and distribute them to talented players in Grindelwald. Although the alphorn had more or less lost its original function in the mountains, it now won the hearts of its audiences as a musical instrument – and has become a tourist attraction and a symbol of Switzerland.  —Source of the above background on the Swiss Alphorn

Swiss Yodeling

This video is really cool!

We travel with our eyes, yes, but also with our ears. And some of our favorite places have distinct, unique sounds, sounds that take us back to our experiences there when we hear them. Perhaps no sound is quite as evocative of place as Swiss yodeling. While it is performed for pleasure and entertainment now and has become a well-known folk tradition of Switzerland, the evolution of yodeling was one of rural practicality. 

Yodeling evolved in the central region of Switzerland in rural Alpine communities as a vital form of communication. It was used to call to cow flocks. But more importantly, it was used to communicate from village to village and mountain to mountain, for communities separated by deep Alpine valleys and rugged terrain. Yodelers were calling from hill to hill. 

Of course it has evolved over the centuries to become an art form in the choral tradition. As the pragmatic call turned into an art form, natural yodeling became the norm. A prime singer improvises and others join in the harmonize, sort of riffing off of the leader. Sometimes bells are used.

In the 19th century yodeling morphed into songs that included two, three, and four-part harmony. This is what we know and enjoy today, at festivals and other performances. Songs are normally accompanied by an accordion called a schwyzerörgeli.

Today the Swiss Yodeling Association keeps the practice alive, organizing competitions. Yodeling has evolved into songs that have lyrics mostly in German, some in French, and are performed in regional festivals and cantonal competitions. Vocal styles still vary a little from region to region.  And there is still a happy tradition in the rural communities of the Alps for people to yodel on their own, just for fun.  —Source

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38 – Mystery of the Father of Montgomery Greenville Haston

38 - Mystery of the Father of Montgomery Greenville Haston

Based on the evidence cited previously, I think we can confidently assume Polly Haston was the mother of M.G. Haston, the child who was born out of wedlock on October 16, 1823, or 1824.  But who was the birth-father of M.G. Haston?

Due to the limited mobility of people in those days, especially for females, the man who fathered M.G. Haston was almost certainly someone from the general neighborhood where David Haston’s family lived—maybe someone who lived very near them, maybe someone they went to church with, maybe a boy she attended school with, or maybe even a close relative.

Was M.G.’s birth-father William (Black Bill) Lewis, the man Polly married a few years later?  He certainly was not, as you will soon see.

The DNA Investigation

DNA testing, particularly Y-DNA testing, provided a means for beginning to identify M.G. Haston’s father.  DNA tests were not available to earlier Haston researchers, which probably explains why M.G.’s father’s identity was unknown for so many years.  Y-DNA is only passed from father to sons.  And because it is passed down virtually unchanged for several generations, from one generation of males to the next generation of males, it is a very reliable means of determining patrilineal (male line) connections back into historic times.

In April 2020, William Lowell Haston, a descendant of M.G. Haston (through M.G.’s son William Riley Haston) submitted a Y-DNA test to FamilyTreeDNA in order that we might begin to answer M.G.’s birth-father question.  The Y-DNA of a David Henry Mitchell matched perfectly (111 of 111 markers) with the DNA of Lowell Haston. 

In November 2020, Marlin Shelton Haston, a male-line descendant of M.G. Haston (through M.G.’s son Isom B. Haston) submitted a Y-DNA test to FamilyTreeDNA to check to see if another male line from M.G. Haston traced back to the same Mitchell family.  The Y-DNA of a David Henry Mitchell was an extremely high match (109 of 111 markers) with the DNA of Lowell Haston.  And the two mis-matched markers were only slightly off of a match.  Apparently there were a couple of minor mutations down Marlin’s line but Lowell and Marlin’s results were essentially the same. 

Note: William Lowell Haston, Marlin Shelton Haston, and David Henry Mitchell all gave me permission to use their names in reference to their DNA data.

Two different male-line descendants from M.G. Haston matched the same Mitchell family!  It’s now a “no brainer” that Montgomery Greenville Haston’s father was a Mitchell from the same general family that David Henry Mitchell descended from.  But which man, from this extensive Mitchell family of early White County, Tennessee, was the father of Montgomery Greenville Haston?

From DNA to Historical and Genealogical Evidence

Y-DNA cannot pinpoint the specific paternal ancestor who was the father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.  It can only tell you the general family and give you an idea of how long ago he lived.  From the Y-DNA test results, we were able to focus on the Mitchell family that lived in southern White County, Tennessee at the time M.G. Haston was conceived.  That would have been the family of Arthur Mitchell, Sr. who had two sons that lived near (just across and north of the Caney Fork River from) David Haston’s family–Spencer Mitchell and David Linn Mitchell.  At some point fairly early, David Linn moved out of Hickory Valley and into the town of Sparta.  Spencer remained in southern Hickory Valley and was a co-founder, with David Haston, in the founding of the Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

There is not space in an article such as this to tell you all of the evidence that points to the probable father of M.G. Haston.  That will be much more fully developed in the M.G. Haston chapter of my upcoming book.  But here’s the gist of what we know:

First: Spencer Mitchell’s son, Arthur Mitchell, Jr., married David Haston’s oldest daughter, Malinda Haston, the older (by less than 2 1/2 years) sister of M.G. Haston’s mother, Mary/Polly.  Arthur and Malinda were about two years apart in age, so they would have grown up together, from childhood, as friends attending the church where their parents were key leaders.  

Second: Beginning in the mid-1820s, Arthur Mitchell owned land on the south side of the Caney Fork River,* not far from David Haston’s family, Malinda’s folks.  Arthur and Malinda would have been in and out of David and Peggy Haston’s house often.  

Third: Family records indicate that there was a five year gap between the births of Arthur and Malinda’s first and second (known) children.  Margaret/Peggy Emeline was born in 1821 and Elizabeth was born in 1826.[i]  We don’t know the reason for the gap—perhaps there were tragic issues with pregnancies or births.  But possibly there were marital problems during those gap-years.

[i] Jacalyn McCoy, “Arthur Mitchell,” MyHeritage Family Tree, accessed June 6, 2020, https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-1-228636901-1-500170/arthur-mitchell-in-myheritage-family-trees?s=755697951.

It may be significant that Polly Haston’s illegitimate child was born in the middle of that gap, October 16, 1824 (or 1823), if M.G. Haston was the child. 

Fourth: And this is Important!  There must have been an overwhelming reason for Polly’s refusal to name the birth-father of her child—that was the most common procedure.  If the father of Polly’s son was her sister’s husband and a co-member of her church, that would explain why Polly resolutely refused to reveal his identity.  

And, given David Haston’s code of Christian morality, if the father of Polly’s child was single, David would probably have forced him to marry his daughter.  But, due to the potentially family-destructive nature of the situation, David probably thought it wise to keep the secret a secret. 

How Close were the DNA Matches?

Comparing Y-DNA marker results with another DNA donor can reveal the probability of a common ancestor and thus, a familial relationship.  The more generations that separate donors from the common ancestor, the greater the probability of their relationship.

Assuming that Arthur Mitchell, Jr. was the father of M.G. Haston, the six generations that separate Marlin Haston and Arthur Mitchell, Sr. tell us there is a 95.69% probability that Marlin and David H. Mitchell had a common ancestor, in this case Arthur Mitchell, Sr. 

At seven generations between Lowell Haston and Arthur Mitchell, Sr., the probability increases to 99.53%!

These probability percentages hold true regardless of when or where two people live or lived in the world and how far apart they were geographically.  But when you add the fact that they lived in the same county, or even the same neighborhood within a county, the probability of an ancestral connection increases significantly.

Bottom line: The Y-DNA submissions of these three men proved to be very high matches, indicating a near-certain paternal line connection.  Montgomery Greenville Haston was, by paternal birth line, a Mitchell.  By known historical evidence, with a fairly high degree of confidence, we can  assume that he was the son (and nephew) of Arthur Mitchell, Jr., husband of Malinda Haston.



"Totality of Circumstances"

In United States law, the totality of the circumstances test refers to a method of legal analysis where decisions are based on all available information, especially in situations where direct evidence is not available.  When the totality of circumstances standard is applied to the question of Montgomery G. Haston’s birth-father, the historical circumstantial evidence points to Arthur Mitchell as having been M.G. Haston’s father. 

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37 – Mystery of the Mother of Montgomery Greenville Haston

37 - Mystery of the Mother of Montgomery Greenville Haston

As far as we can tell, the parents of Montgomery Greenville Haston–and how he fit into the Daniel Haston family–were unknown for well over 100 years!  Even the most diligent Daniel Haston family researchers were stumped!

Montgomery Greenville [not Greenfield, as some have asserted] (M.G. or “Gum”) Haston lived a relatively short life even for his era, only about 45 (or 46) years.  When he was about 15 ½ years old, Van Buren County, Tennessee was created.  For a few years in the mid-1850s, M.G. moved his young family to Georgia to join members of his father-in-law’s family.  But most of his adult life was spent in Van Buren County.  But who was he?  How did he fit into the Haston family?

David Rhea Haston was a Haston-Haston, meaning his father and mother were both Hastons, from different sub-branches of the family.

Dave R. and Estelle Haston of Sparta, Tennessee spent several years researching the Haston family.  They traveled many miles and wrote lots and lots of letters and compiled a very impressive summary of their research.  The above quotation was taken from a July 12, 1984 letter that Estelle wrote to Margaret Banks, another family researcher of that era.  Estelle’s admission, “We do not know where he (Montgomery Greenville Haston) came from or anything about him,” was the typical response for many, many years.  

Unveiling the Mystery

August 16, 1824 (or 1823?) – As is true with many people born in the early 1800s or earlier, pinpointing the year of M.G. Haston’s birth is not without its challenges.  It is very possible that M.G. himself was not certain of his birth year.  M.G.’s present grave maker in the Big Fork Cemetery, which was probably erected much later than his burial, displays August 16, 1823, as his birth date.  This date was probably based on his Bible record.  But the 1850 and 1860 census dates suggest he was born in 1824, and there are other reasons to believe that he was born in 1824.  

October 15, 1824 – On Friday, October 15, 1824, David Haston was performing his Justice of the Peace duties as a judge in the White County Quarterly Court. David’s 20-year-old* unmarried daughter, Mary (nickname “Polly”) Haston, came before the court and “refused to declare the father of the Bastard child begotten upon her and paid a fine of five dollars as required by law.”** Her father, David, “acknowledged himself indebted to the State of Tennessee in the sum of Five hundred dollars, to the use of the State to be rendered nevertheless to be void on condition that the said Polly Haston shall at all times keep her said child from becoming chargable [sic] to the County of White….”

*Mary (Polly) Haston was born January 22, 1804, according to the family records in David Haston’s Bible.
**From looking at several hundreds of bastardy bond cases in Tennessee and North Carolina records, it seems that (although it did occur occasionally) it was uncommon for the mother not to declare the name of the father.

There must have been some unusually serious reason why Polly refused to name the father.  Was it someone who would have been extraordinarily embarrassed by her exposure of him?  “Stay tuned” for the next article.  

Bastardy Law

The earliest Tennessee laws regarding the births of illegitimate children (“bastards”) were based largely on North Carolina laws, which were based on English common law. 

Under English common law, children born out of lawful wedlock were classed as bastards.  In the eyes of the law they had no parents, no kindred, and no ancestors.  They were not, then, entitled to a surname except such as they won for themselves by reputation, and they were heirs-in-law of no one.  The great majority of them were apprenticed at a tender age to a master and condemned to a lowly existence.

Bastards ordinarily assumed the surnames of their birth mothers, but they otherwise suffered all of the common-law disabilities.  Bastard children were thus disadvantaged from their birth.  From as early as 1700, the mother of an illegitimate child could voluntarily appear before two justices of the peace and name the father of her child in a sworn statement, or she could be summoned by them and interrogated as to the father.[i]

The bastardy law under the first (pre-1834) Tennessee constitution stated:

Any two justices of the peace, upon their own knowledge, or information made to them, that any single woman within their county, is delivered of a child or children, may cause such woman, *after the expiration of thirty days from the time of her delivery, and not before, to be brought before them, and examine her upon oath concerning the father, and if she shall refuse to declare the father, she shall pay a fine of three dollars twelve and a half cents, and give sufficient security to keep such child or children from being chargeable to the county, or shall be committed to prison until she declare the same, or pay the fine aforesaid, and give security aforesaid.[ii]

*This must be by voluntary appearance and oath of the woman since, 1819.

[i] George Stevenson, “Bastardy,” NCpedia, accessed June 24, 2020, https://www.ncpedia.org/bastardy.

[ii] Haywood, Cobbs, Whiteside, and  Chase, 22.

Was Mary/Polly Haston the Mother of Montgomery G. Haston?

The August 16 part of Montgomery G. Haston’s birth date is clearly established from his Bible record.  It’s the year of birth that is in question.  If he was born August 16, 1824, as census records appear to indicate, he was born almost exactly two months prior to Polly Haston appearing in court in the bastardy case (October 15, 1824).  And the October session of the County Court would have been the next court session after the birth of Polly’s out-of-wedlock child.*

*As per an act of 1819, White County Quarterly Court terms began on the “second Monday in April and October and the third Monday in January and July.”[i]

[i] “Private Acts Compilations – White County, Tennessee (Administration – Historical Notes),” County Technical Assistance Service, accessed June 28, 2020, https://privateacts.ctas.tennessee.edu/content/administration-historical-notes-23.

This evidence alone should cause us to wonder—Was Polly Haston’s illegitimately born child Montgomery G. Haston?  

But there are several pieces of additional evidence that appear to answer that question in the affirmative—Yes, M.G. Haston very probably was that illegitimate son of Polly Haston.  For one thing, in the court records  M.G. Haston frequently appears connected, in various ways, with David Haston or other members of the David Haston family.  In every case, the Hastons with whom M.G. Haston was security bond-connected were from the David Haston family. (David Haston 2, David MC Haston 1, Thomas C. Haston 1, William Carroll Haston, 9). 


Additional evidence emerges, piece by piece, throughout the chapter that is dedicated to Montgomery G. Haston in my forthcoming Daniel Haston family book.  

And if Montgomery G. Haston wasn’t Polly’s illegitimate child, then we don’t know who the child was. 

Next article: Who Was Montgomery G. Haston's Father?

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36 – David Haston – A Founding Leader in Van Buren County, TN

36 - David Haston - A Founding Leader of Van Buren County, TN

David Haston spent much of his time in the final 20 years of his life helping to establish Van Buren County.

Haston Family - Early Influences in Van Buren County, TN

Several of Daniel Haston’s children and grandchildren had already left Tennessee by the time Van Buren County was created in 1840.  Others left soon after the county was established.  But the many of those who lived in White County and Van Buren County for the remainder of their lives impacted their communities and counties positively and significantly.

Courtesy of Tennessee State Library and Archives

June 1, 1840 – The sheriff of Van Buren County handed into the county court the Justice of the Peace commissions for David Haston and his son Isham B. Haston.  Their official commissions were recorded on April 23, 1840 David and Isham B. participated as justices in this session of the court.[i]  So David Haston brought his 20+ years of White County Justice of Peace experience with him to the new county.

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, June 1840 session, 11. 

July 1841 – David Haston appears on an “enumeration list” of Van Buren County white males over 21 years of age.[i]  There were 11 Haston men on the list: D. McHaston, David Haston, J. Haston, J.B. Haston, James A. Haston, James C. Haston, James W. Haston, John C. Haston, Joseph Haston, Thomas C. Haston, and William B. Haston. 

[i] Medley, 60.

David Bought and Sold Seven Spencer Town Lots

January 5, 1848 – David purchased seven lots when the town of Spencer (county seat of Van Buren County) was “laid off.”  He sold them later.  One of them (Lot # 44) was sold to the Christian Church on February 5, 1853 for $20.  David originally paid $14 for the lot.  Aaron Seitz and W.B. Huddleston were bishops of the church at that time.  Willie Steakley and William Lewis were witnesses to the transaction.[i]  But there is no evidence to suggest that David was a member of that church.

[i] Van Buren County, Tennessee Deed Book B, 222, 223, 269.

Final Years in the Lives of David & Peggy Roddy Haston

January 27, 1854 – David sold five tracts of land (apparently all of his land) to his youngest son, William Carroll Haston, for the meager price of $1,000. 

February 24, 1857 – The David Haston family Bible record says that “Marget Haston died the 24 day of February 1857 A.D.”  This matches the information given in William Carroll Haston’s biographical sketch which says that “the parents both died before the war, the mother preceding her husband three or four years.”[i] Peggy and David were married nearly 57 years, an amazing marriage in any era.  She was only 14 ½ years old when she married David, who was eight years older than her.  Peggy gave birth to at least 13 children, and “mothered” several others.  Peggy Roddy Haston is buried in the Big Fork Cemetery, near where she and David lived. 

[i] Author, Van Buren County Historical Journal, Vol. VIII (Spencer, TN: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1988), 77.

April 1, 1860 – The David Haston Bible record indicates that he died on April 1, 1860.  He and Peggy are buried on the front row of the Big Fork Cemetery, about a mile from where they lived.

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22 – Oldest Mennonite Church in the World – Langnau, Switzerland

22 - World's Oldest Mennonite Church - Langnau, Switzerland

On Thursday, June 22, 2023, members of the Hiestand-Haston Heritage Tour group will see the oldest continuously active Mennonite Church in the world.

Langnau has a history of Anabaptism going all the way back to March 1525.
Today, Langnau has the oldest Mennonite church in the world, dating to 1530.

Its history is a story of suffering without equal.  Only after 320 years did the severely tried congregation, which remained steadfast, receive full liberty of conscience. This occurred through the Bernese cantonal constitution of 1846 and the Swiss federal constitution of 1848

Much like the area on the southeast end of Lake Zurich in Canton Zurich where our Hiestands came from, the Emmental Valley in Canton Bern was a “hotbed of Anabaptism” in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Some of the Mennonite families who lived and scattered out of the Emmental Valley were the Baumgartners, Lehmans, Gerbers, Burkhalters, Bergers, Hoffstetters, Rothlisbergers, Bauers, Bachmans, Schwartzs, Mosers, Mullers, Neuenschwanders, Grimms, Josts, Hofers, and Kipfers.  

The Emmental - Valley of the Emme River in Canton Berne

Langnau, a District in the Beautiful Emmental – the Valley of the Emme River

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