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The Hurst Families of Pulaski County, Virginia


There have been members of the Hurst family in the area now Pulaski County, Virginia, since at least 1785. At that time the area was in Montgomery County. Later, part of the area was in Wythe County. After Pulaski County was formed in 1839, there were about 39 Hursts from two different families represented in the 1840 census.


Possibly the first Hurst in the Pulaski area was William Hurst, son of William “Brindle Bill” Hurst of Shenandoah County. Brindle Bill had died at his large farm about four miles south of Front Royal in 1781, splitting his property between his six children. Son William got a grant on the south side of the New River in Montgomery County. The area was probably in what’s now Pulaski, since his brother Capt. John Hurst got a grant on Mack (Max) Creek and Persimmon Bottom in 1785 – definitely Pulaski. William’s further travels are a little vague, but Capt. John moved first to Greene County, Tennessee, then eventually settled in Harrison County, Indiana. John’s second wife was Mary Barksdale Lindsey, the widow of William Lindsey; they were the ancestors of the Lindseys of Pulaski and Carroll counties. Even though these first two Hursts didn’t stick around, their mother’s family’s descendants did. Their mother was Judith Calfee.


Those first Hursts were part of the large family group known as the “Hursts of Shenandoah.” Before they reached the Shenandoah Valley, family members had lived in Stafford County and probably Northumberland County before that. The earliest record of the Hursts in Northumberland is from 1650. The probable ancestor of all the Hursts from Stafford County was John “of Stafford” Hurst (c1675-1747).


Leaving even less a footprint in the area was a first cousin of the above two Hursts known to history as John “Mill Creek” Hurst. John was the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Hurst, all or most of whose children were born in Stafford. Before the Revolutionary War, they moved to Shenandoah County, but in what is now Page County. John was married twice and had 16 children, but he and his family mostly kept moving down the road until they reached Claiborne County, Tennessee.


John was soon followed by his brother Absalom Hurst (1750-1830). Absalom was born in Stafford, lived in Shenandoah/Page, then bought land from his nephew Thomas Hurst on Little Reed Island Creek in Wythe County in 1804. Absalom is supposedly buried at the Bethel Baptist Church in the Hiwassee area of Pulaski, but there is no cemetery there now. The Hursts were members of the Church of England when in Stafford, but became Baptists during the Revolution. Many in Pulaski are still Baptists. Absalom was the ancestor of most of the Hursts who have ever lived in Pulaski.


After Absalom Hurst died in Wythe in 1830, his children executed an heirs deed whereby his youngest son William “Big Bill” Hurst bought out the interests of his four siblings in the Little Reed Island Creek property. Another possible sibling, Jeremiah Hurst, may have received some compensation in advance when he moved to Claiborne County; by 1830 he was even further west in Morgan County, Tennessee. This may have been the time when Absalom’s eldest son John Hurst moved to the Hiwassee area of Pulaski. From this time there are two families I call the “Wythe County Hursts” (my line) and the “Hiwassee Hursts.”


Absalom’s son John Hurst (1769-1855) and his wife Mary “Mollie” McCarty had nine children, but most of them moved to Claiborne County. (Sorting out those Hursts from the even greater number of descendants of John “Mill Creek” Hurst in Claiborne is a chore, but see my attempt here.) The one son who remained behind was Thomas Hurst (c1790-1834) who married Jemima Breeding (c1793 – after 1870). Three of Thomas and Jemima’s sons were Wesley Hurst (1815-1857), Allen Hurst (1825-1904), and Calvin Hurst (1829-1913). The fourth son, William Hurst (1821-1896), had moved to Carroll County by the 1850 census, then on to Mercer County in 1851. This William and his three wives had 11 children; by 1930 these Mercer County, West Virginia, Hursts outnumbered the Hursts in Pulaski by about 120 to 81. Thomas and Jemima also had four daughters, who married into the Stone, Whittaker, Nester and Crowell families.


From 1850 to 1860 virtually all the Hursts in Pulaski were descendants of the brothers Wesley, Allen and Calvin and lived in the Hiwassee area. Between the three, there were at least 29 children. Wesley and his wife Charity Nunn had five daughters and one son, John Wesley Hurst. Allen and his wife Nancy Cook had six daughters and seven sons, Reason Vinceton, Chester, Allen Princeton, Dr. James Calvin “Jace,” Samuel Need, Benjamin Caudill, and William Wysor. See Samuel Need Hurst’s biography for a good discussion of one of these families. Several descendants of Wesley Hurst are buried in the Moore-O'Dell Cemetery in Hiwassee. Allen Hurst and many descendants are buried in a Hurst Cemetery #3 in the Tinytown area of Hiwassee. Calvin Hurst and descendants are buried in Hurst Cemetery #2, also in Hiwassee. Of course, Hursts are buried in many other Pulaski cemeteries, including the Oakwood Cemetery.


During the Civil War, Hursts from Pulaski naturally fought for the Confederacy. Allen and Calvin were in the 45th Virginia Infantry. The situation was different in Claiborne County in a pro-Union area of East Tennessee. But several of Absalom’s descendants there were on the Southern side. After the war was over – perhaps no longer feeling welcome in that area – some of them moved back to Pulaski. The largest group of these was Samuel Hurst (1820-1895) and Virginia Breeding (1823-1909), both originally from Pulaski, and most of their children. For some reason they did not move back to Hiwassee, but settled in Newbern on the other side of the New River. Samuel was the eldest son of “Squire” John Hurst, another son of John Hurst of Pulaski, whose father was Absalom. The “Newbern Hurst” sons who moved with their parents were Garrett, Estell, Jackson, Milton and Samuel. Only the youngest son, Albert Monroe, was born in Pulaski. In 1870, Garrett Hurst, after marrying a Civil War widow, Nicotia Miranda Quesenberry Clark, moved his family to Cooke County, Texas, where they prospered. From the remainder of the sons who stayed in Pulaski, there were at least 40 children. Samuel and Virginia had two daughters, but they died young before the move to Pulaski. The “Newbern Hursts” are known for their regular reunions in Newbern or Dublin; the latest one in 2005 had about 100 attendees.


Daniel M. Hurst (1840-1926), was a son of William “Trigger Bill” Hurst, yet another son of Pulaski’s John Hurst and Mary McCarty. He also had been a Confederate soldier, so perhaps he accompanied his first cousin Samuel Hurst to Newbern. Daniel is buried in the Hurst Cemetery #1 in Newbern along with many of his cousins.


A completely separate Hurst family has lived in Pulaski County from the day of its formation. This line began with the marriage of William Hirst and Rachel Cummins in Loudoun County in 1798. William Hurst was listed in the Montgomery County census in 1810, the Wythe census in 1820 and 1830, but his estate was inventoried in Pulaski in 1839. The family had lived on Big Reed Island Creek in the southwest corner of Pulaski near Allisonia since at least 1826. William and Rachel had at least four sons, Joseph, William Jr., Jesse Thompson and Franklin, plus three daughters. The sons were all in Pulaski in 1840; but by the 1850 census William Jr. and Franklin were in Carroll County, which is why the family is generally known as the “Carroll County Hursts.” However, son Jesse Thompson was in Pulaski except for the 1870 census, and he died in Pulaski. Son Joseph was in Wythe in 1850, but soon moved to Warren County, Indiana. Descendants of William Jr. and Joseph have identical Y-chromosome DNA, which is completely different from that of the larger Hurst family in Hiwassee, Newbern and Wythe. Many of these Hursts are buried in Carroll; but at least one family moved back to Pulaski with several burials in the Oakwood Cemetery.


James Monroe Hurst (1841-1930) had an interesting history. His father was another Samuel Hurst, whose descendant’s Y-DNA is virtually identical to that of the “Carroll County Hursts,” and may in fact have been another son of William and Rachel. His mother was Lucinda Hurst, of the “Wythe County Hursts.” So James’s early life was spent in Wythe on Little Reed Island Creek, but from 1880 on he lived in Dublin and Newbern. James served in the 51st Virginia Infantry.


The above Hursts did not live in isolation, of course. They had multiple marriages with several other Pulaski families including Breeding, Nunn, Duncan, O’Dell/Odell, Quesenberry, Southern, Moore, Ashworth, Lindsey and Crowell. Probably a high percentage of the current residents of Pulaski, especially south of the New River and in Dublin and Newbern, have Hurst ancestors. The connection to the Hursts in Wythe, Carroll, Claiborne and Mercer counties has been discussed above, but others moved to Montgomery County, Roanoke, and to many other states.


Further information on Hurst families of Virginia.


Descendants Report for Thomas Hurst and Jemima Breeding.


Descendants Report for Samuel Hurst and Virginia Breeding.


Descendants Report for William Hurst and Rachel Cummins.


© Copyright 2006 William R. Hurst


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