Summary of the Family History for Henry Hunt, Sr. of Sparta, Georgia

Four Centuries of Progress 

Introduction

The Hunt family was based in Hancock County, Georgia for over a hundred years and has descendants and relatives all over America.[1] The Hunt family is one oldest in the country and has been in America for four centuries. What is unique and interesting is that the Hunt family was multicultural and multiracial in the 1800s Deep South. As was a tradition in Hancock County, Georgia in the 1800s where Sparta is located, interracial families were not uncommon. They had to protect themselves with discretion to maintain their wealth and avoid state and federal laws designed to disenfranchise them, as people of color.

Henry Hunt was a member of the Hunt family which inspired this summary overview. Henry Hunt fathered Wayman, Hunt, Sr. who fathered Wayman Hunt, Jr. who fathered Kenneth Hunt senior. Henry Hunt, Sr. owned land next to one of the original plots of land owned by the Hunts of Sparta (see below). There were many original Georgian Hunts who were related and who all settled before Georgia became a state Georgia in 1776. Some settled after the Revolutionary War and many received land grants throughout the state. This is true of both the Hunt and the Sayre families.   Understanding the Hunt family history and the history of the larger Hunt and Sayre families is to understand the true complexity of our genetic connections, both in an American context and in a historic context, given the years in which the Hunt family was multiracial.

Sparta, Georgia was one of the richest places in the country in the early 1800s with educational academies and high culture, but also was based on plantations and the use of enslaved Africans. Hancock County was emblematic of a Southern culture that highlighted a slave-owning and racially intolerant society. However, there was also a free African-American population in and around Sparta with interracial families, like the Hunt family, many of which eluded government censuses on purpose, but that were in plain sight. For that reason, it is important to document the Hunt family, its interracial nature and its link to both the Hunt and Sayre families in the United States as far back as the 1600s.

As early as 1810, with the birth of Susan Hunt who was part White, Black and Native American, the Hunt family became multiracial.[2] Susan Hunt had three children with Nathan Sayre who descended from the Sayre family who were founders of Southhampton, New York in the 1600s.   Hunt family members were early settlers of the North and Southhamptons and celebrated by historical societies.[3] The Hunt and Sayre family members interacted and married in South Hampton, New York, as well as at the founding of many towns in the United States throughout its growth.

In the case of Southhampton, New York, John H. Hunt published the historic book of records for the town of Southhampton where the Sayre family and the Old Sayre House were documented as founders and owners of one of the first structures built in Southhampton. In the 1800s, a Sayre grandson was in a long-term interracial relationship with a free Colored Hunt family member named Susan Hunt, in Sparta, Georgia and they reared three children. This was also true of Robert Sayre who also moved to Sparta, owned land and had children with a woman of Color. Both became Confederate solders. Both were rich, enslaved Africans, freed Africans and maintained long-term relationships with woman of color. Their families, both Sayre and Hunt clandestinely supported these arrangements, although there were those who opposed such.

Captain Nathan Sayre was provocative in that he was a state legislator, Judge and scholar on inter-racial relations and mixing theories.[4] Judge Sayre took extraordinary steps to protect his family and children. He transferred his wealth to his family and arranged for other White Hunts to execute his wishes. Judge Sayre was not alone in Hancock County. The book, Ambiguous Lives, by Adele Logan Alexander summarizes this tradition and some of the legal and cultural aspects that upheld these Hancock County traditions.

These traditions were revolutionary in the Deep South and may have seemed nearly impossible in the slave-owning South in general, but not in Hancock County and not where the paradox of personal and business lives can differ for plantation owners. From this environment, Henry Hunt was raised. Henry was related to both the Black and White Hunts in Georgia and was born in 1837.[5]   Henry Hunt became a founder and first preacher of Hunts AME Church in Sparta, Georgia and died in 1908. Some of his descendent went to Chester, Pennsylvania for work during hard times to meet up other Hunt relatives who came from Sparta. The Hunts in Chester chose a variety of professions, but continued a tradition and focus on education. Today, those Hunts are spread across many states, but share a common and lengthy Georgian history, as do many Hunts across the nation.

The Sparta Hunt family legacy is commemorated with a bi-annual reunion and heir property, which evidences the existence and traditions of the Hunt family in Sparta, Georgia. The attached papers and bibliography offer a glimpse of the Hunt history and the American diversity with in it.

Authors Statement

The information and sources gathered in the Martin Hunt Archive Papers can be used to more fully document over 400 years of Hunts in the United States of America and further elsewhere.[6] These notes and case studies offer an enriched view of America history and the full complexity of free people of African-American descent in the Deep South. The Hunt’s multiracial family fought to reap the benefits of American liberty, as guaranteed by ideals in the Constitution. With a full understanding and intention of our grandfathers, this multiracial and multiethnic family is important to the remembrance of the journey and ideals of America.

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[1]Ambiguous Lives by Adele Alexander Logan who descended from the Hunts of Sparta, Georgia, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1557282145?keywords=ambiguous%20lives&qid=1444588211&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1; Adele and her daughter are prolific writers; Many of Adele’s book contain Hunt family history; http://www.amazon.com/Adele-Logan-Alexander/e/B001K8QP0K/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 ; Adele’s daughter was the poet for Barak Obama’s inauguration and is the author of The Light of the World published in 2015; http://www.amazon.com/Light-World-Memoir-Elizabeth-Alexander/dp/1455599875/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444588719&sr=1-1&keywords=the+light+of+the+world; http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Alexander/e/B001HPTGHA/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

[2] Hunt reference – http://sophia.smith.edu/~jmoulton/sessions/sessionshistory.html; Sayre reference – http://www.southamptontownny.gov/227/Historic-Records-Books

[3] See Ambiguous Lives

[4] Nathan Sayre; http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19471382; See also the book, Ambiguous Lives.

[5] This Henry Hunt is not to be confused with another Hunt descendant Henry A. Hunt; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_A._Hunt ; There are a large number of Henry Hunts, both in Sparta and in Georgia who are Hunts and related to each other. The Henry Hunt researched here was the owner of the Hunt land at 101 Militia Road in Sparta, Georgia. It is believed that he is also the founder of Hunts Chapel in Sparta, Georgia as reported in Ambiguous Lives.

[6] Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates traced Elizabeth Alexander’s Hunt lineage Alexander’s lineage back 37 generations. Notable ancestors include 23rd great-grandmother Joan, Princess of England, 24th great-grandparents King John I of England and Clemence, Mistress of the King, and 37th great-grandfather Charlemagne, first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; (see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/facesofamerica/profiles/elizabeth-alexander/13/ ).

The Martin Hunt Archive Papers

  • A Hunt Family Bibliography
  • The Travel down to Sparta
  • A Quick Spartan History
  • Reverend Henry Hunts founding of Hunts AME Church
  • President Obama’s Poet and African-American Studies at Yale (see Elizabeth Alexander)
  • The Beginning of Kentucky and a Nobel Prize
  • Friends of Booker T. Washington and Starting Tuskegee
  • For TV and the Movies – The Great Gasby, Gone with The Wind and Citizen Cane
  • The Unionists and Confederates
  • Land Grants
  • History of the Sayres – See Books
  • The Foreign Service folks – Book
  • Hattie Hunt 1954 – (http://www.ilchs.org/sites/default/files/nettie_hunt2.jpg )
  • Henry A. Hunt in Georgia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_A._Hunt )
  • The Cousins from Sparta in Chester
  • The Hunts and the Sayres in American History – Striking Coincidences
  • Sample Hunt Educational History – Clark Atlanta, Tuskegee, Lincoln, Cheney State, West Chester, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Swarthmore, University of Delaware, Delaware State, Bryn Mawr, Williams and University of Pennsylvania