Historical Society hears tale of emigration
by BETH ALTENA
Virginia Cox was the speaker at a recent Rockford Area Historical Society meeting at the Rockford Community Cabin. Arriving from Virginia, where she resides, Cox also attracted other out-of-area relatives from her Hunting family as she shared the history of Huntings through the years.
Virginia said she loved growing up in Rockford and hearing stories of the family. She has a book about the settling of Pine Plains, New York, where the Huntings traveled to from Long Island. Prior to living in Long Island, the original Hunting emigrants came from Suffolk County, England.
“I have spent over 20 years doing genealogy,” she told the audience.
Cox has used historical societies, cemeteries and family histories to trace the movement of Huntings through time. She attributes much of her good luck to the Mormons, who keep excellent records.
She traced a coat of arms for the family back to a Morgan Hunting, and found a letter from1894 from a Josephene Hunting asking why the family didn’t have a motto—having one for a family used to be the norm.
In Suffolk County, she found Roger Hunting, whose son, John, wanted to come to America. He ended up in Dedham, Mass., outside Boston. He had a wife and six children and organized the Church of Dedham. One of John’s sons was also John, and he had a son named Nathanial, who graduated from Harvard in 1693.
He moved to East Hampton where he became a reverend, replacing a reverend who had served for 50 years. He himself served for 50 years and was replaced by a successor who also served for 50 years. This coincidence Cox found quite interesting—that in 150 years a church had just three reverends. While reverend, Nathaniel was the first to keep records of marriages and births within his church—an important historical note.
It is also of interest to remember that at that time the country was under British rule. When Nathaniel became a reverend, he was paid 60 pounds of silver a year and a parsonage in which to reside. That parsonage would stay in the family for the next nine generations—a total of 229 years.
When Nathaniel died, his widow turned the parsonage into an inn, which operated for the next 186 years as such. It was finally sold to outside the family in 1959. The property is still standing and still has the original Hunting family furniture and is called The Hunting Inn Lodge.
Nathaniel’s son Edward married Mercy Milford. Their home remains standing and is on a historical tour. Edward’s son was Isaac, and he married Ruth Stratton and moved to Plains, New York. He had been a captain in the Revolutionary War and wanted to buy land. He took a sled and a horse to Plains, and was shocked when someone there offered to feed his horse a peck of wheat. Wheat back home was valued food for humans, not animals, so Isaac considered Plains a very prosperous location.
His relocation took place in 1783 when he bought a property for 1,400 pounds in New York currency. That home, the Isaac M Huntting home, is still standing as well. At this time Isaac changed the spelling of his name from Hunting to Huntting to distinguish the family from those back in East Hampton. That spelling was to be used for more than the next 100 years before being changed back.
And now we near the Rockford settlers. Isaac had a son named Isaac, who had a son named Morgan. Morgan moved to the township of Cortland, where he bought 160 acres on the corner of Shaner Avenue and Twelve Mile Road. He brought with him his six children and was a Mason. His tombstone can still be seen in the Courtland Cemetery.
His son, George Samuel Hunting, married Mary and the couple had four children. One was named Lewis, and he was the grandfather of Virginia Cox, nee Huntington. In the 1870s George went to California to mine for gold and that ring was among the family memorabilia Cox brought to the meeting.
Lewis made a living in tinning and had a plumbing business and hardware business in Rockford. Articles in the archives of The Rockford Register describe the wedding of Lewis to Etta Aldrich. In1923 they lived in the Victorian home that is located at Division and Main Street (across from Independent Bank).
Virginia’s father, son of the couple, was George Hunting, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with a party in the Community Cabin in 1945. His brother, Frank Hunting, had a body shop at 51-1/2 E. Bridge Street, now home to Sassy Pants Girls Boutique.
Editor’s note: The Rockford Squire was in that same location for over 17 years.