A History of the Hunters

By Martha Susan Hunter Cole

Since the grandfather and grandmother James and Martha Harris Hunter’s descendants scattered over different states have been inspired by love for their paternal name to gather themselves together to learn more about those who have gone to their eternal home and something of us that are living, I, being the oldest one living, will try to give them some of the history that I’ve been told and some that I observed and experienced.

            Grandfather settled near the road from Cross Roads Church at Hohenlinden, Mississippi, and raised ten children, nine sons and one daughter.  Three sons lost their lives in the war between the Northern and Southern states.  One died at home.  The five that came home married ideal womanly characters.  Both husband and wife worked together to build country and home.  I never knew of one of them drinking any intoxicating drink.  They were all deacons in different Baptist churches.

            In about 1850 the citizens that had settled on and along this dividing ridge (names: Hunter, Womack, Wofford, Henley, Glasson, Arnold, Ross, Skelton, and others) banded themselves together to build our dear old Mt. Pleasant Church here on the Ridge Road running north to Houston, county seat of Chickasaw County, and the road running east to Aberdeen and Columbus, Mississippi.  There have been many of God’s believing, faithful children, with three ordained ministers to go out from this church to live and tell the word of God’s plan of Salvation.

            I will tell you something of the life of Father and Aunt Frances.  Father was never well after the war, and his spirits were broken at giving up his servants, the best set of Negroes in all the country.  The old [Negro] mother Polly’s life [she remained with the Hunters] has been an inspiration to me through my lifetime.  Father was a law‑abiding, progressive‑minded man. He taught, and loved education.  He was the first to have a cook stove, sewing machine, John Deer grain harvester or reaper, a McCormick hay mower.  He liked to raise stock and was the first to bring Jersey cattle into this community, as well as Poland China hogs and Marino and Cutwood sheep.  He had his own work and repair shop and took the overhead ceiling from the hall of his residence and made caskets for his neighbors who had not prepared for burial of their families—all without cost.

            I, in my childhood, carded many bats of cotton to pad the caskets.

            He was married twice, first to Miss Mary Jane Spencer, of a fine Baptist family.  To them two children were born: Henry Hudson went to Delhi, Louisiana, and died there unmarried, and Henrietta Hunter, who taught school for some years and married H. N. King, the son of a prominent widow in Montgomery County.  To them three children were born who lived to be grown.  The entire family have died some years ago.  In 1860 (January) he married Mrs. Sarah McMullen Bingham, with one little girl, Victoria, who developed into a noble Christian character of womanhood and married H. H. Womack, the son of a prominent citizen.  They two developed into leaders of their church and civic activities of their county and community.  They raised nine children who have cultivated and lived the principles given them by their parents, living and teaching the Baptist faith from their old home through different states.

            Father and Mother raised four children, two sons and two daughters—Willie [James William], Sudie [Martha Susan], Tom Ed [Thomas Edwin], and Iva [Iva Norah]—none of us great but, after the old traditions, home owners, lovers of home and children, who have raised fourteen grandchildren with only one to depart from the Baptist church; and they are all types of good citizenship.  I wish time would permit me to tell the history of our grandchildren, but I must go on to tell of our grandmother and Aunt Frances, on information I learned from my grandmother and her old colored servant. Grandmother [Martha Harris Hunter] was a very domestic, energetic homemaker.  Her old servant said she was a spotless housekeeper and brought up her boys to be clean in person and character.  She had seven sons and her only son‑in‑law to go into Civil War—two sons and the son‑in‑law killed [Leonidas W. Hunter, Baldwin Whitson Hunter, and George Washington Womack].  Five came home and married but with courage to rebuild their home.

            Grandmother’s home was broken up, and she made her home with her daughter Frances and helped to care for her five orphan children and three of her son Leonidas’s children.  She was very positive in her thinking and talking.  She, with her daughter Frances Womack, with the help of Silvanus and two sons Pinson Hunter [and Gregory Turner Hunter], raised the seven orphan children to be sober, clean, noble characters. [One of these,] J. A. James Hunter was a Baptist preacher.  He married Miss Rebecca Crow.  They raised two fines sons and two daughters.  A. J. Andrew Womack [Frances’s son] was strictly a Christian moral man, never using any ugly, bad language.  He never used tobacco, never used strong  drink—not even coffee—was clean in mind and person, never looked dressed‑up or dirty except when running his sorghum mill making molasses for the public.  He always wore suits and clothes that his mother made.  He had his first ready‑made suit when he was twenty‑seven years old—when he married Miss Mollie (Mary Jane) Skelton, of a prominent family, in the year 1883, when he built his home and lived sixty years and raised twelve noble children who constituted one of the happiest homes I ever visited. All were around his bedside when he went to meet God at the age of eighty‑eight years.  They were the most congenial, loving old couple I ever knew.

            I thought Aunt Frank was a high type of Christian womanly character, a real mother and homemaker.  I thought she could sew and make clothes the best of anybody that I knew—except my mother.  In all other work she excelled my mother.  Mother was the best entertainer.  Aunt was the best cook of everything and delighted in cooking and having something to cook.  She cold spin the prettiest thread, weave the most perfect cloth, knit the prettiest socks, piece and quilt the prettiest quilts. And though she never sat in legislative hall, none could excel her in legislating her own family and home.  Her discipline was firm and kind.  We should all honor her.

            Her oldest daughter, Caroline, died in young ladyhood, with typhoid fever.  Her daughters were women after their mother’s type.  Jane married into a good family—J. W. Wright.  She died of typhoid fever and left four children.  Her mother and husband J. W. Wright raised them to be grown and stamped them with truth and honor to make good citizens in their country.

            Martha married Ira Wofford, son of J. P. Wofford, one of this country’s first families.  He was a Baptist preacher of Mt. Pleasant Church.  They raised two sons and two daughters, all following the family tradition–homemakers and good Christian citizens.  Martha and Ira were happy homemakers for more than sixty years and died in their eighties.

            Sallie, a fine, sweet girl, married Charlie Chandler.  They raised two fine girls and educated them at Blue Mountain College. Carrie, the oldest, contracted lung trouble, and they carried her west to Amarillo, Texas. After a few years she and Sallie, her mother, died and are buried in Amarillo cemetery.  Arbena, the second daughter, married and lives in one of the northern states.

            [Martha and James Hunter’s sons] Dock [Gregory Turner Hunter], Henry [Saunders Hunter], and Pinson [Calvin Hunter] settled near Coffeeville in Yalobusha County.  For some reason Uncle Henry could not come [back home] as often as Dock and Pinson.  As long as Grandmother lived, they tried to come for a visit in the summer months, which was a hard trip in a wagon or buggy. But we were all happy.  And Aunt Polly [the Hunters’ former slave], who had been with the Hunter family since twelve years of age, and son George, was called to kill a lamb, fry chicken, bake chicken, pies, apple pies and egg custards, that we might eat and be merry.

            Their sports were going early in the morning for a turkey or squirrels.  Henry at one time brought home two turkeys killed with one shot.  Some days they would go for a deer hunt or drive, as they would call it.

            Pinson raised four fine sons and three daughters.  Henry died and left one son and three daughters.  His widow moved with her family to Texas.  A son died in early life. Daughters and granddaughters developed into leaders of their state.

            In later life Dock moved to Arkansas.  His only son left one son and two daughters.  Sam [Marcilus Samuel Hunter] settled in Louisiana and never left any children.

            Why not love a family tree with its name in history for more than 175 years, not one of its branches has been tried in criminal court or imprisoned for crime.

            Of Father’s two sons, J. W. (Willie) and Tom Ed, there are three grandsons and seven great‑grandsons living, and it is hoped that the prayers of their forefathers and mothers will be answered—in their walking in the paths of truth and righteousness that will cause the family tree to grow and bloom as a rose throughout eternity.

                                    —Written by a daughter, Mrs. Sudie Hunter Chandler Cole

Two fine sons and two daughters—Arthur, Rosa, Myrtle, and Leonidas.  Andrew Womack was strictly a Christian, moral businessman, a director of the Mantee Bank for twenty‑five years, which remained strong through the Depression and period of bank failures.  Never drank strong drink nor even coffee.  He lived with his mother, wore clothes she made from clolth that she spun and wove herself until he was twenty‑seven years old.  Then he bought his wedding suit and married Miss Mollie Skelton, of a prominent family, in the year 1863.  Then built his home and lived 60 years, raised twelve children who constituted one of the happiest homes that I ever visited and was all around his bedside when his soul went out to its eternal rest at the age of eight‑eight years.

Neither Grandmother, Aunt Frances, or any one of their sons or their widows ever received a pension for service in War of 1812, Indian, or Mexican War, or Civil War. [Not quite true. In 1879, the year of her death, Martha Harris Hunter applied for and received a pension of $8.00 for her late husband James ’s service in the South Carolina militia, War of 1812. Martha Susan Hunter Cole herself, very late in her life, received a small pension as the widow of a Confederate soldier.]

The children of James A. and Martha Harris Hunter: Silvanus Gardner Hunter (1823‑1900), James Hunter (ca. 1824‑1848, died in Mexican War), John Hunter (ca. 1820s, died in childhood), Leonidas W. Hunter (1828‑1863, died in the Civil War, Battle of Lookout Mountain), Marcilus Samuel Hunter (1830‑1888), Frances Caroline Hunter (1834‑1914), Henry Saunders Hunter (1838‑1886), Pinson Calvin Hunter (1841‑1910), Baldwin Whitson Hunter (1843‑1862, died in the Civil War, in Tenn.).

Martha Susan Hunter Cole gave this talk at the Hunter family reunion held at Mt. Pleasant Church in 1950. The daughter of Silvanus Gardner Hunter and Sarah Hannah McMullen Bingham Hunter, she was born in Hohenlinden, Miss., in 1867.  She was married first to Jefferson Davis Chandler, who died a year after their marriage, and then to Seborn McKelva Cole, a Baptist minister in Maben, Miss.  She died in 1960 and is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Webster County, Miss.

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