Saturday, May 16, 2015

Captain Jack

Recently I found another great story from the vast riches of my latest client’s family tree.  This one crosses two centuries and four states.  It’s the story of his 5th great grandfather, John “Captain Jack” Hurst, and his two wives and many children.  For the details of this story, I draw from the work of many researchers before me, who left notes on several trees on rootsweb.

John Hurst was born in 1732 in Virginia; his father William had come from England in 1715.  He was married to Lydia Ann Smith around 1760, and they had ten children.  (One daughter, Nancy, was most likely an orphaned niece of Lydia’s whom they adopted.)  But Lydia died in 1786, not long after having her last child.  This left John, who by now was a Revolutionary War veteran and a prosperous landowner in Virginia, a widower at age 54—but not for long.

John was called “Captain John” or “Captain Jack” during his lifetime, but this was a nickname.  His rank in the military was Lieutenant, according to what scant records exist, and that’s what the military grave marker issued in 1955 says (application pictured).  His large family was often referred to as an “army,” so perhaps that’s where the nickname came from.  

Researchers John & Cindy McCachern relate this story about John’s second marriage: 

“John heard of Mary [Lindsey], a widow in Georgia, and hitched up his 4-horse team and, taking several of his slaves and provisions for the journey, went to see her.  Immediately on his arrival, he proposed and gave her until the next morning to think about it.  Next morning after breakfast he pushed back [the table] and said (he had a deep commanding voice), “Well, what do you say about it?” and she said “Yes.” He gave orders to his slaves and promptly loaded up her household effects and along with her children, took them to his Virginia home.” 

Descendant Benjamin Franklin Hurst gives these details about their life afterwards:

“John [Jack] Hurst was raising an army of his own which was destined to fight battles west of the Cumberland Mountains, as we shall see...  He chose his first move to Green County, Tennessee about 1790 and remained there ten years…  He then gathered his large family of sons and daughters and many grandchildren, and moved north-eastward through Kentucky, stopping at Beargrass Creek in what is now Bullitt County, Kentucky.  

John Hurst, now 71 years of age, marshaled his forces and crossed the Ohio River in 1803.  John settled his “army” twenty miles west of New Albany, Indiana…  John Hurst had now found his Paradise in a new land far from the grand old dominion of his nativity.  He now had all of his family with him, with the exception of one, son, John, who broke ranks and strayed off to Kentucky…  In 1806 this John Hurst and his family drifted across the Ohio River and renewed his place in the hitherto unbroken ranks. It was a second lucky twist of fate that his son William 14, was not drowned in crossing the Ohio River, or else you would not be reading this story.”

John and Mary each had around ten children from their first marriages.  But this is one “blended family” that truly got along!  They stayed together as they moved westward from Virginia, and two of John’s children from his first marriage ended up marrying two of Mary’s children from her first marriage.  Yes, indeed—two different pairs of stepsiblings ended up marrying.  Elijah Hurst married Mary Lindsey, and Leah Hurst married Jesse Lindsey.  And thus, Leah and Jesse became my client’s 4th great grandparents.

John became quite the leader in Hursttown, Indiana.  According to a history of the area written by Mrs. Victor MacIntosh, John deeded land for a school house, a Methodist church, and a cemetery.  Other families came and settled near them, and Hursttown became a community center with a post office, shoe shop, and blacksmith’s shop.  John served as sheriff of Harrison County from 1812 to 1816.  Whitten Chapel, the church he founded, was the first church built in Jackson Township.  One researcher claims that John bought eighteen quarter sections of land and gave one to each of his eighteen sons and stepsons, so that they would settle there. 

Captain Jack died in 1825 at the ripe old age of 93 and is buried at Hursttown Cemetery in Harrison County, Indiana.

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