By Still Hunter, Jr.
January 5, 2012
Beginning in the early 1980’s, the noted genealogist, Elizabeth Shown Mills CG, CGL, FASG, researched the family of Still Hunter, Jr. of Birmingham. Over ten separate reports were done beginning with research into the family origins of Hardy Hunter who died in 1856 in Arkansas and who was known to have been born in North Carolina in 1777. Hardy Hunter was the proven great-great-grandfather of Still Hunter, Jr.
Ms. Mills eventually proved that Hardy Hunter was descended from the wellresearched William Hunter of Nansemond County, Virginia. Many inventive techniques were used by Ms. Mills, including proving relationships by studying the migration of related families over several generations. This research was summarized in two reports entitled Backtracking Hardy Hunter. These reports were published in the Spring and Summer, 1986, editions of The APG Quarterly, the official publication of the Association of Professional Genealogists. These studies have been used in several college courses of genealogy as an example of ways to prove family relationships when facts are scarce.
After the basic work of tracing Still Hunter’s family line was done, Hunter engaged Ms. Mills to attempt to trace the origins of William Hunter of Nansemond County who arrived in Virginia prior to 1685. Although there had been extensive research of William of Nansemond, it was unknown where he lived before Virginia. Working with other well-regarded Southern genealogists, Ms. Mills found many similarities between William of Nansemond and a William Hunter who lived in Barnstable, Massachusetts, prior to 1685. The theory was proposed that these two Hunters might be the same person.
Many similarities of family names, ages and association with others, primarily Quakers, were found between the two men and their families. William Hunter of Barnstable was a Quaker. The children of William of Nansemond were known to be closely associated with Quakers in North Carolina. For example, in Onslow County, NC, where Nicholas 2, son of William of Nansemond, moved had no less than 22 families from the Barnstable/Plymouth area who settled near the Hunters. Nicholas 2 and several of his family members were witnesses at a Quaker wedding of the Wilson family. The naming patterns of both the Massachusetts and Virginia/North Carolina families were quite similar. The dates for the two families were compatible and there were no conflicts in time for the assumption that the two William Hunters were the same man.
The last study done by Ms. Mills in 1989 recommended strongly that a Boston area researcher be engaged to prove or disprove the theory that William Hunter of Nansemond County, Virginia, was the same person as William Hunter of Sandwich, Massachusetts.
In 2011, Still Hunter, Jr. employed Ms. Mills to find a researcher and attempt to verify the William Hunter theory. She engaged Melinde Lutz Byrne, FASG, to follow up on the research.
Within a few weeks, Ms. Byrne conclusively proved that William Hunter of Barnstable, Massachusetts, did NOT leave the Massachusetts Colony therefore proving that he was not the same person as William Hunter of Nansemond County, Virginia. The Byrne report, along with her research notes, will be published on the Jacob Hunter Trust web site. It will also be submitted to Ancestry.com in order to put to rest as incorrect the earlier theory about William of Nansemond’s origins. A group of the descendants of William of Nansemond intends to continue research as to where William Hunter lived before coming to Nansemond County Virginia prior to 1685. It will not be an easy task!
Still Hunter, Jr. (1)
(1) My line is William1; Nicholas2 of Onslow, NC; Job3 of Onslow &Duplin, NC; Nicholas4 of Duplin, NC; Hardy5 of Duplin, NC, Wilson Co, TN, & Sevier Co. Arkansas; William Edward6 of Sevier Co., Ark.; Still7 of Ark. and Jasper, AL; and Still Jr.8 of Jasper & Birmingham, AL.
Download the full report (25 pages, .pdf).