Lila Woods Robinson wrote this history in 1946.
Ann McFadin Miller provided this typescript of it
to Roger Bartlett in July 1973.
The underlineations are in the typescript.
Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
August 4, 1946
My dear Hunt Cousins
unto the 4th and 5th Generations —
Greetings at this Iowa State Centennial celebration!
Our beautiful and beloved Iowa has attained a superior place in these United States. With its birth, 'way back in 1833, we became part of it, therefore we have every right to personal pride in the State's accomplishments. We have made the tall-grass-prairies produce food for the wide World; have had a part in the development of its material wealth and just and gracious laws, its high standard of education and culture. Iowa is not a spectacular State. We are not a spectacular Family, but honesty, industry, integrity above legality, devotion to duty and to family, and the generous social virtues are in the very fiber of every Hunt.
These virtues have had a wide influence because we are a numerous family.
Our great-grand parents
Esther Bartlett, 1783-1857, and John Beale Hunt, 1776-1850, who were married in Tennessee in 1802, had eleven children. They were
Lydia Hunt who married Robert Coles,
Charles Wesley who married Eliza Foster Berry
Jesse who married Delinda Kirkpatrick
Mary (Aunt Polly) who married Thomas McAdams
Samuel Beale who married Martha McGee (Aunt Patsy)
Nancy Ann who married Anderson Wilson
Wm. Claibourne who married Ann Smith
John Bartlett who married Mary Love
Esther who married Peter Lindsey DeLashmutt
Louisa and )
Sarah Almira ) who never married.
I could name many of the next generation and the next and next.
With many relatives our family came from East Tennessee to Madison Co., Illinois, in 1810-12. The War of 1812 came and Uncle Sam was born in the block-house built on his Uncle Joseph Bartlett's farm in Pin Oak twp. Later the family Hunt moved to Bond Co., Lydia, Polly, and Nancy Hunt were married in Bond County, and Esther, Claibourne, John, Louisa and Sarah were born there.
John Beale and Esther Hunt had taken their family to McDonough Co., before the Black Hawk War. Grandpa ("Uncle Wesley" to you) served in that War, along with Lincoln and the other Mounted Illinois Volunteers. The next year Iowa was open to white settlement. Soon the Hunts crossed the Mississippi, and bought the good earth of Iowa for $1.25 per acre.
Nancy and Anderson Wilson had preceded her brothers. Their daughter Belle was the first white child born in Des Moines County. In 1932 she died at Albia, 99 years old. Uncle Anderson Wilson died while his 5 children were young and Aunt Nancy had a cramped, hard life. She could be proud of the 8 children of her son Dodge. One of his girls lived a long time in Persia, the wife of a Presbyterian minister. Some of their children were educated at Princeton University. At 14 Dodge Wilson was a drummer boy in the Union Army. I know no other Civil War veteran in the family, though all were opposed to slavery.
Aunt Lydia, eldest of the Hunt children, married very young, soon became a widow, and in 1826 married Robert Coles, a scholar and a gentleman who was born in New York State. In 1839 he was Enrolling Clerk in the 1st Legislature of the then Wisconsin Territory. He cleared 7 farms in Ill. and Iowa. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce appointed him Registrar of the Land Office at Chariton and in 4 years he disposed of almost 2 million acres of the Public Land. Wesley Coles' daughters in California, are among my favorites.
You know that our own grand-fathers lived beyond four score years, but did you ever hear that Aunt Polly and Aunt Esther passed 90? And their grandmother, Mary Bartlett, lived more than a century? Cousin Margaret McAdams Barry told me that. And that our Great great-grandmother Bartlett was always greatly beloved, very religious, and blind for many years. When Great-great-grandfather Nicholas Bartlett died in Tennessee in 1814, Mary, his wife, came to her Ill. children. After a few years she went to her daughter in Shakertown, Kentucky, where she died. You should visit amazing Shakertown!
The Shakers, like all cultists lived close together. They formed a cooperative, tight religious government. They believed in and practiced celibacy. Families were divided when they entered and the Colony grew by converts. All worked and the colony became rich. But by 1923 the last Shaker died, there were no more converts, and the Good Will Industries have taken over. It is such an interesting village between Lexington and Harrisburg in the most beautiful part of lovely Kentucky. Visit it some time. You will be amazed, even thrilled. The fine Guest House has a marvelous winding stair. In the whole World there are only two others like it—one in Paris, the other in Iowa's first capitol at Iowa City!
We do not know Mary Bartlett's parentage, when and where born, nor when and where she married Nicholas Bartlett. We have thought she was a French Quaker. But we know she was a beloved woman who always lived on the Frontier—Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois—she traveled the Wilderness Road 150 years ago. She was the mother of two sons: Joseph and Jesse Bartlett, and the daughters:
Rachel Hutson of Alabama
Esther wife of John Beale Hunt
Fannie wife of George (?) Teas
Rhoda wife of Ruben Rogers—(Augusta, Iowa)
Leah wife of Robert D. Pearce (Madison and Sangamon Co's., Ill.)
Sarah wife of James Pearce (Records give David Pearce)
Mary wife of Solomon Pearce
Lydia wife of a Mr. Sutton
The Pearce family were always Bartlett intimates. The Teas were superior. No doubt the other allied families were, too. Alliances tell much about the quality and the standing of the original family, you know, and they knit a community into a family web.
Among those we know Aunt Esther Hunt married the newly arrived Virginian Peter Lindsey DeLashmutt, brother of her chum, when he came riding a white horse into the settlement. She told me how romantic it was. She was only 16, as were her sisters at marriage. She was smart and dear! In 1914 she died, leaving 70 descendants. DeLashmutts of today are choice cousins. Uncle John Bartlett Hunt married Mary Love who was a niece of Uncle Lindsey DeLashmutt. Uncle Claibourne married Ann Smith, born in England. Her brother Ellison married Uncle Jess's daughter Mary, and her sister Illi Hunt married Will Smith. Kate Hunt married Woods Robinson. Frankie Robinson married Will Hilleary. Horace Hilleary married Julia Gearheart. Charles Rush Hunt married Fannie Gearheart. Wm. Bartlett Hunt married Alice Stewart. Clara Stewart married Will Hanna. Charles Hanna married Mina Hilleary and their son Carmen Hanna married Helen Hunt.
Your Uncle Wesley, Uncle Jess, Uncle Sam, went back to Illinois for their brides. Aunt Linda was a Kirkpatrick, a family esteemed in Tenn., Ky., and Ill. Uncle Sam married a mere child not 15—the gay Martha McGee (Aunt Patsy). Grandma (Aunt Eliza) had Foster and Sayre ancestors in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635.
The wonderful Pioneers! With only an axe, hoe, scythe, and hand-plough, and back breaking labor with patience and sublime faith—they cut, hued, and split the timbers for those miles of picturesque rail fences, and broke the sod and planted the corn—5 grains to the hill. "One for the cut-worm, one for the crow, one for the rich earth, and two to grow." The littlest children helped drop the seed corn.
Most of us know and love the fine old Hunt farms, 12 hundred acres side by side. We love them enough to feel akin to that Gunner on a Ship in 1942 who said "An Iowa cornfield is the prettiest place I know." The Gunner said, "So tall, so green, so gold."
I'd like to pick corn there all day long till I grow old.
I've seen many states from East to West,
But none like Iowa. I like it best.
It has a peace. Have you ever seen
The winds like colts in these fields of green?
And the little towns so safe and calm--
Snug as a penny held in a palm.
I wish I could walk again down a street
Where a fellow knows every man he may meet--
And work in the fields and shuck the corn
Glad I'm a man. Glad I was born!
I wonder if you know how good a farm can be?
Just to feel of its mud would be Heaven to me."
Marcia Lee Masters
Side by side these brothers lived their long lives. Side by side their bodies lie in Aspen Grove.
Their first homes were log-cabins, of course. In the early 50's they built their big brick houses. The same contractor using the same pattern built the new homes, yet they were different. Uncle Claibe had no front porch. Uncle Jesse's porch had a gallery above, southern style, and a wisteria vine. Grandma was the only one who added a big and complete kitchen. Aunt Patsy had the fine furniture with a great gilt mirror and a square rosewood piano. Aunt Patsy took the premiums at the County Fair. aunt Patsy had the prettiest children with their bright big brown eyes and curly hair. Aunt Linda's had the aristocratic profiles. Aunt Ann's children were taught real thrift and skill with their hands and their time. That was the venturesome family—Charley took a Dakota claim and lived in a sod house. Essie, for her health's sake, alas, taught school in Colorado, which then was as far away as South Africa today. Mattie Jackson moved to a Cuban plantation after the Spanish-American War, and her daughter, Josephine Driggs, lived 5 years in the Philippines. The children of Wesley and Claibourne were blondes as were their mothers. Aunt Ann said "Lizie and I were so fair we looked as though the sun never shone upon us." Those were the sun-bonnet days. These are the days of the sun-tan!
Aunt Linda was the ever-helpful that the others leaned upon. Her daughter Esther Virginia followed in her foot steps. The awful winter of the Typhoid Fever (1875-76) when Uncle El and Uncle Joe died, and Grandma, Aunt Lou, Uncle Charlie and Uncle Will were so desperately sick at the same time, everyone helped. Cousin Ess, Mamma and Bruce Robinson were the nurses. Then Mamma and Cousin Ess were laid low with the dread fever, and Cousin Ess died.
When she was 35 she did an amazing thing. She sought higher education and graduated from Knox College!
Grandpa Hunt was of like character. He came to Illinois when he was 7 and rode horseback all the way from East Tennessee. When he was 21 he returned there "for schooling", and earned a certificate from "Liberty Hall." The principal, John Hass, was a scholar and a renowned1 school master. Wesley Hunt kept a school those first years in Iowa, and his deep and constant reading made him a learned man.
Of course in a new country Agriculture, fundamental of Life itself, is the occupation of all. From the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific, Agriculture is still chief interest of the Hunts, but it has become Big Business. All have been interested, informed, influential, in Public Affairs but few have held office. We have had 3 sheriffs—Clay DeLashmutt, Sam B. Hunt, and Harry here today. Uncle Will was a member of the Iowa Legislature two terms 1896-1900.
Like you, with the general understanding that comes with the years, my appreciation of our fore-bears has increased and I want to know the family before Iowa. Therefore I have spent my substance on the hobby "The Genealogy of my Family." In 1934, I went to Edwardsville, where descendants of great-great Uncle Joseph Bartlett lived, and saw his original farm (still owned by the family) the beautiful Bartlett cemetery, and the site of the Block House where Uncle Sam Hunt was born in 1813. The great-great-grandson of Leah Bartlett Pearce, Mr. J. Alonzo Matthews of St. Louis, escorted me. We spent a few hours with Joseph Bartlett's grand-daughter, Lydia Gonterman2 a delightful woman who had been a rich belle in her youth, and was beautiful then at the age of 98. She and her daughters told me and showed me much.
A stop to visit Cousin Margaret Barry at Litchfield, followed. Cousin Margaret, Aunt Polly McAdams's youngest daughter, was lovable indeed, keen spry and generous. She and her daughter Ella Whitlock took me about Montgomery County with its many Hunt and McAdams landmarks. Like many of the relatives we know, Mr. Matthews, Mrs. Ganterman3 and Margaret Barry had very expressive eyebrows! that must be a Bartlett characteristic. I was amused to find Aunt Polly had had the Hunt habit of naming sons for great men.
You will recognize our John Benton, Jesse Elbridge, Charles Rush, Lee Beale; Uncle Claibe's Wm. Albert, for Queen Victoria's husband, and Bell for a southern presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party. There was a Buchanan, Polk, and Douglas among Uncle Sam's children. Aunt Esther's Clay DeLashmutt was ever popular. Then there was Aunt Nancy's Augustus Caesar Dodge, Aunt Lydia's Wilberforce, and Aunt Polly had a La Fayett!
In 1937 I went to Knoxville, Tenn., gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains; for 10 days I searched the fine library and the Knox Co. records. I found land deeds, and the last will of our great-great-grandfather Nicholas Bartlett, a man of large property and apparent fine character, who died in 1814. Then his beautiful farm, the site of his mill, and the farm where his grandson, my grandfather Wesley Hunt was born in 1805, were identified and visited. All is now "The Little River Dairy Farm" which is on the highway between Knoxville and Maryville, County seat of Blount Co. The Little River is the boundary between Knox and Blount Counties. The Nicholas Bartlett and the John Beale Hunt homes were on opposite sides of the stream.
In Maryville the only information obtained was from an old man (Mr. Parham) who for a few dollars told me a few of his treasured stories of early Tennessee. He was a recognized authority on local history. He asserted that the Bartletts and the Hunts were Quakers. We knew them as Methodists.
In the Court House yard, attention is arrested by a shoulder-high boulder bearing a bronze tablet quoting Elizabeth Paxton Houston's charge to her fighting sons, one of whom was America's valuable and most spectacular hero General Sam Houston. Some of our Bartlett-Teas-Pearce-Hunt kin followed him, their neighbor, into Texas. The tablet reads:-
"I had rather my sons should fill one honorable grave than that one should turn his back on an enemy. Go, and remember, too, that while the door of my cottage is open to all brave men, it is always shut against cowards."
Such were the people of East Tennessee.
From my research I have learned that Nicholas Bartlett was a resident of Greenbrier Co., Virginia in the 1780's and his son Joseph and daughter Esther were born there. That his wife's first name was Mary. That he was in Tennessee while it was still a part of North Carolina. That in 1796 (the year Tennessee became a State) James Pearce was his partner, and that 3 of his daughters married 3 Pearce sons. That his farm was more than a section of land—a beautiful farm in a beautiful part of these United States. That most of his children came north in about 1810—forsook their native heath and aging parents for a vision of a far country. That beside many descendants in Illinois and Iowa, there are many in Texas, some of whom are friends of some of the Northern cousins, today. That he came to Illinois "to bring Esther Hunt her share" of his property. That he died in Knox Co., Tennessee in 1814.
I am hoping to yet prove him a soldier of the American Revolution, though he may have been a Quaker. He was an Indian fighter in Tenn., as most Pioneers of America have had to be in self defense.
On such missions we learn important things at the last minute—or after our return home, alas! Thus I stopped two hours between buses at Jonesboro, Washington Co., Tennessee, the oldest town in the State and the quaintest. I interviewed the postmaster and the banker. I had no way to get to Grandpa's school, Liberty Hall, miles away, in 1828 kept by Prof. Hoss, a famous scholar according to the history books. For "the 3 R's his fee was $3.00 a term; for higher education it was $5.00 a term."
Fifteen minutes before my Virginia-bound bus was due I found the record of the will of our great-great-grandfather Simon Hunt. Having no time to copy it, I left a $3.00 fee with the County Clerk for a certified copy to be sent to me. That Will, of 1814 mentions "dear wife Mollie" and sons Samuel and Wesley, daughters Nackey and Sallie Roberts, and "others who have been given their share." Of course John Beale Hunt was one of the other sons, because we know Samuel and Wesley, Sally and Nackey were his sisters and brothers. By 1814 Joshua and Abraham had left home too.
There were wills of many Hunts of that period, several with Bible names, and I am thinking that Simon's brothers were his neighbors. With time, I am convinced that interesting facts regarding the Hunt family would be disclosed at Jonesboro. I should like to spend a summer in that neighborhood, high cool and scenic. On the front of the Court House appear the Ten Commandments.
I went to Bristol, Natural Bridge, to Staunton birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, to Charlottesville to see Jefferson's home and tomb and Ash Lawn, James Monroe's home, taking the fine Robert Lee Highway which was once a part of the torturous and marvelous Wilderness Trail and in six days I was in Washington where I stayed a month.
Repeatedly I worked in the Congressional Library and the D.A.R. Library. Also in the Library of the Maryland Historical Society, at Baltimore because we are told that before the American Revolution Simon Hunt, aged 13, arrived at Baltimore from England. That he became a ships' Carpenter in Baltimore. Supposedly that is where his son, great-grandfather John Beale Hunt was born in 1776. No proof. Though Maryland seems to have been full of Hunts and Beales. Simon Hunt just must have been in the Revolutionary War! No record found.
The money, the time, the wearisome effort I have spent! And what a revelation I've had of the beauty, the people, the history of America. I feel I know the people I sought, their surroundings, their times, their daily life.
But the facts of parentage, the place and date of birth and marriage, to whom married, military service, how they got to these places elude me. Do you know? If so, will you send me word?
Going to North Carolina via Shakertown we often were on the Daniel Boone Trail. We went through the Cumberland Gap, thus we re-traced the Bartlett-Hunt trek north.
In Lexington, Kentucky, in the former home of John Hunt Morgan, there is a museum. He was the Confederate General known as "Morgan, Morgan the Raider" of "Morgan's terrible men." His mother was a Hunt. Several of the name of Morgan have married into the relationship, but the Hunts of the North and of East Tennessee were against secession and the Confederacy.
Every year Marshall Lee Hunt and his family have a reunion at McComb, McDonough Co., Illinois. About 35, such nice people, attended in 1942 when Aunt Lou Peasley and sons took me. Mr. Hunt was then 75. Marshall Lee Hunt is a son of Simon Wesley Hunt who was a son of Joshua Hunt who came from Tennessee. This Joshua must have been a first cousin of our grandfathers Wesley, Jesse, Claibourne, Samuel. Marshall Lee Hunt had an Uncle named Dr. Isaac Hunt living in Illinois.
So, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and we are in Iowa where we have been 112 years, knowing that we are come from brave and worthy people, the like of whom have produced the American way of Life. Remembering
"We are what we are because we stand upon the shoulders of those who have preceded us," and praying that their Torch may ever burn brighter because of our tending.
With warm regard, I am
Lila Woods Robinson
Notes by Roger Bartlett:
1. Appears as "renounced" in the typescript.
2. Appears as "Ganterman" in the typescript.