The Old Hunter Home

By Leona Newton White

Leona Newton White was a granddaughter of Jacob Hunter (II) and his wife Mary Moore Duncan Hunter.  Copies of her notes were given to the Jacob Hunter Trust by Leona’s grandson James Mason.  These memories describe Jacob and Mary’s home just north of White Ash, IL where the Jacob Hunter Cemetery is located. 

The Jacob Hunter home was in a beautiful scene.  It was a large building with large rooms.  I don’t remember how many, probably five or six.  It sat on a slight rise, the ground sloping away to the east, north, and west.  The barns and outbuildings were to the north and a creek with high bluffs ran to the north of it. There were pine trees and old-fashioned flowers in the yard and there was a welcome to all who entered its doors.

Friends traveling through knew that they would always be made welcome.  To the east of the house was an orchard of the best apples I ever ate.  We used to pound them on a board or fence rail and get them good and mellow and then eat them.

My grandfather died at 66 years, long before my mother was married, so I never saw him.  But my mother told me he was of small stature and one of his arms was smaller than the other, but he had great strength in it and was a very hard worker.  She said he had the kindest disposition of anyone she ever knew and had beautiful blue eyes.  He was Scots-Irish and was greatly beloved by his family and all.

The family cemetery was just a short distance south east of the house on the brow of a hill.  It had a lot of cedar trees in it and was enclosed with a rail fence.  Only Hunters and their kin are buried there.  [This is not correct; there are over 80 graves, mostly unmarked in this cemetery.  Leona most likely recognized only the graves with markers that were Hunter relations].

One of the Hunters that are buried there served under General George Washington and served in the Battle of New Orleans and is said to have killed General Packenham (the British General).  [Leona is describing Henry Hunter who served under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.  Henry Hunter was Jacob (II)’s first cousin, once removed.  Henry and his first cousin, Emmanuel Hunter (Jacob (II)’s father) came to IL from TN around 1818] His captain commanded him to take aim and fire and he said as he fired, the General dropped. [It was actually General Jackson, standing next to Henry Hunter who ordered him to fire on General Packenham.  This story can be found on the Jacob Hunter Trust website and in the January 2012 issue of the Jacob Hunter Trust Newsletter] The battle was going bad for us but after their leader was killed, the battle turned in our favor and we won the Battle of New Orleans.  It also turned the tide of the War and we won it.

The story goes that General Packenham told his men before he went into battle that if he got killed not to bury him on foreign soil, but to send his body back to England to be buried there.  There was no way of embalming so they put his body in a large barrel of rum and shipped it back to England.  The sailors on the ship discovered a barrel of rum in the hold of the ship and, not knowing it contained the captain’s body, they removed the bung and drank the rum.

After my grandfather died my grandmother did what so many widow women did at that time.  She deeded the farm to her oldest son with the promise that he would keep and care for her as long as she lived.  After this, she visited among her other children and friends but always held the farm as her home.  As far as I know she was the last person buried in the Hunter Cemetery.  [Mary Moore Duncan Hunter died on August 21, 1896.  There were a few other burials after that.  The two Odum babies in 1899 and there may have been a few others] There is no road to it now and it is grown over with brush and weed as so many of the graveyards of the early pioneers grave yards are now.  It has been cleaned up several times, but having no road to get to it, and no one to care for it, it has fallen into decay. [Thanks to the generosity and dedication of many, the Jacob Hunter Cemetery is no longer in decay]

Jacob and Mary Moore Hunter were the parents of 8 children, 3 boys, and 5 girls.

  1. Thomas Hunter
  2. Cynthia Hunter (Weaver, 1st marriage) Odom (2nd marriage)
  3. Rachael Hunter Belcher
  4. George Hunter
  5. Monroe Hunter
  6. Susan Hunter Powell
  7. Lucina Hunter Newton
  8. Sarah Hunter Ackman

Lucina Hunter Newton was my mother.  She and George Newton were the parents of nine children: Ora Newton, Wilburn Lorin Newton, Leborn Newton, Lula Newton (Jacobs, 1st marriage) McPerson (2nd marriage), Leona Newton White, Elsie Newton (Hendrickson, 1st marriage) Holloway (2nd marriage), Girlie Newton Miller, Jake Newton, Henry Newton.

Leona Estella Newton White was born on Jan 5, 1886.  She was the daughter of Lucina Evaline Hunter (b. 3-30-1853 d. 11-12-1933) and George Augustus Newton (b. 9-23-1846 d. 11-8-1921).  She married Edgar Madison White (b. 4-18-1881 d. 9-19-1943).  Leona was killed, along with her daughter Helen Marjorie White, by a tornado that devastated Marion, IL on May 29, 1982.