This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Hunt family was the 1st of the series.
Goodman Thomas Hunt was a yeoman, a father and a respected man of property as indicated by the title "Goodman" with which he was addressed by his neighbors of the East Dorp.
A churchman, too, of such strong convictions, judged a historian of a century ago, that they "may have been the reason he was admitted on sufferance."
Goodman Hunt's "admission on sufferance" applied to his arrival in West Farms, a farming crossroad community in East Dorp or West Chester, in 1667 to establish his home after a gradual migration from Plymouth Colony through Stamford. History hints that Goodman Hunt may have been one of Cromwell's Round Heads, a stern Puritan who might be accepted "on sufferance" by the more temperate and easygoing Anglicans of the new English colony on the shores of what was then the southern reach of Westchester County and is now a part of the Bronx.
Over a Column of Hunts
From Goodman Thomas Hunt, yeoman, who bought a farm just above the present neck of land called Hunt's Point, and his five children are descended most of the Hunts whose names fill a column and a half in the Westchester phone book. The blood is strong and persists today also among many other families that stem from the Fowlers, Gedneys, Purdys, Oakleys, Odells, Ackers, Buckhouts and Bulletts of Westchester, to name only a few.
Thomas Hunt's descendants have carried the strain of the yeoman from Huntingdonshire, Eng., to every state. In Westchester history the Hunts will be found as teachers, village officials and soldiers in all our wars. Levi Hunt (1826-98) was a powerful force in organizing public schools in Chappaqua. Joseph Hunt (1779-1865) was the first Supervisor of Ossining, after the name was changed from Sing Sing. Another Joseph Hunt for years ran the once famous Black Horse Tavern at Croton, during Revolutionary War days. Arnold Hunt of Scarborough was a famous local leader of the militia during the Revolution. Hunts Point gained its name from Thomas, a grandson of Goodman Hunt, who owned the neck that thrusts out into the East River.
Thomas Hunt of Hunt's Point died in 1808 but it was 1915 before all legal rights and title to the real estate of his old farm was finally settled and hundreds of heirs, from all over the nation were involved in the many years of litigation over the land which with each decade became steadily more valuable.
Example of Expansion
Elliot Baldwin Hunt of Ossining, head of the accounting department of the Westchester Surrogate's Court and president of the Westchester Historical Society is one of the direct descendants of the Thomas Hunt of 1667 who bought the Grove Farm in old West Chester, and his lineage offers a good example of the expansion of an American family.
Elliott Hunt's family line stems from Joshia, a son of the Goodman of Grove Farm. Joshua was born in Stamford in 1680 before his father came to Westchester and he, like his father, was a farmer. His son, Stephen, born in 1709 had nine children and was also a West Farms farmer.
Stephen's son, Arnold, of the fourth generation, was born at West Farms in 1736 and migrated to the Hudson Valley. He was lured from the ancestral acres by the very attractive terms which the Lord of Phillipse Manor was making to tenants for his manorial acres. Arnold rented land in Scarborough, at Sparta, and in 1785 was able to buy from the Commissioners of Forfeiture, the 183 acres he had occupied as a leaseholder of the Loyalist Phillipse family.
Arnold was a great patriot and once the British tried, unsuccessfully, to kill him by hanging him to his own apple tree in a vain attempt to extort the $300 which he had buried in an iron box beneath the tree.
Arnold and many of his descendants lie buried in the Sparta Cemetery which at the time of his death in 1792 was surrounded by the Hunt farm. Arnold's son Ichabod, who died in 1847, was a family man and farmer. His son, Lewis, (1801-1876) was Elliott Hunt's great-grandfather. He bought a big farm farther up in what is now Scarborough. The rocky hill which was his goat pasture later was incorporated into the Law estate and became the site of the old Briarcliff Lodge Hotel (now a school). As farming became less profitable, Lewis added a string of fishing boats in the Hudson to his enterprises and the needles with which he knitted his own nets are prized heirlooms in the Elliott Baldwin Hunt family today.
Lewis' son, William, became a builder and a wheelwright, and many houses that he built and owned in Ossining stand today as good as the day he built them. He died in 1898. His son, Preston James Hunt, father of Elliott Baldwin Hunt, died in 1941 at the age of seventy-three, indicating that the long lived Hunts can promise to the fifty-six-year-old Elliott Hunt of today a good long life ahead. The name will not die through the Ossining branch of the Hunts for Elliott has two sons, Elliott Jr., married at twenty-two, and David Purdy Hunt, seventeen, both of Ossining.
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