Cemetery Markers for David and Andrew Hunter, Old Methodist Cemetery, Tionesta, Forest, PA
The Hunter families of Northwestern Pennsylvania are of Scotch-Irish ancestry, a hardy race in which the Scotch stability, shrewdness, mental vigor and physical energy are blended with the geniality, warmheartedness, ambitions and versatile genius of the Irish. These Hunters come from County Tyrone and County Down in Ireland. Poland Hunter , born in 1760 in Ireland, arrived in Westmoreland, Pa in the latter part of the eighteenth century. His wife was Jane Simpson , an English native, who is reputed to have married Poland against her family's wishes. It is said that this is the same Simpson family from which Ulysses S. Grant is descended.
Poland and Jane were of true pioneer stock and with all the hopefulness of the Irish and the determination of the Scotch blood, built a rude cabin cleared a field in the forest and thereby supplied the wants of their growing family. Sixteen children were born to Poland and Jane, twelve of which grew to maturity. In 1795 Poland Hunter and his family moved to Tionesta and as a squatter appropriated the Island which bears his name, located at the mouth of the Tionesta River. Here he built his permanent home, farmed the island and as a permanent settler obtained from the state a patent establishing ownership. Poland and Jane lived on the island most of their lives, although in later years Poland moved to the west side of the river. At the base of the hill known as Hog Back near Hunter Run he built the first grist mill in Forest County. When he died Poland Island was left to his son William for taking care of him during the last years of his life. Ownership of the island remained in the Hunter family until 1864 when the heirs sold it and the land bordering it on the river shore for $14,500. Later owners include: R.J. Harmon, Dan Mullet, the Pioneer Material Company, Jamieson Lumber and Supply Company, Frank Ellis and F.R. Lanson. Jack Sherman purchased it in February 1953 and established the Tionesta Sand & Gravel Company.
In addition to farming, Poland engaged in lumbering, kindred pursuits in those days.. The History of Warren County related the following anecdote about Poland Hunter, "About the year 1810 while Henry Kinnear was acting in the capacity of constable in Venango County, he had a warrant for the arrest of a notorious ruffian and desperado named Polen Hunter. Against the threats of the criminal, Kinnear attempted his forcible apprehension, when he received from Hunter a wound in the hip from which he never recovered. It is said that he succeeded in obtaining pecuniary redress for his injury."
The History of Forest County, published in 1868, tell the following story, �Poland Hunter was a pretty rough specimen of Irish humanity. He would sometimes take on more tanglefoot than he could walk straight under and staggering against a stump would say , 'H--l agin a stump and Poland agin that.' Poland Hunter shot a man by the name of Kinnear who had a warrant for his arrest. Hunter peppered him with shot about the legs. The wound was not mortal. Hunter said that shooting him had made him a storekeeper and if he would let him shoot him again he would make a wholesale merchant out of him. William Hunter was a chip of the old block. Whenever he got too much crooked whiskey his temper got the best of him and everybody was in his way. He and a man by the name of Groff always fought when they met. Groff was small but full of grit. In one of their fights Hunter bit Groff's finger. The next day Groff was crossing the river to Hunter's grist mill. He hallooed to Hunter when half-way over the river, I'm bringing you another grist of finger nails to grind.�
Though there are no historical records documenting the reason for the warrant on Poland Hunter, it is likely the result of legal dispute with John Range Sr. over the ownership of Hunter's Island. Chief Cornplanter was called in to be a witness and to testify that he had passed through the back channel in a canoe, thereby proving that Hunter's Island was indeed an island. Hunter won the first case ever tried in Venango County. Later on, Poland's son William would marry Lt. John Range�s granddaughter, Sarah Range .
Poland Hunter prospered and survived the hard life of a pioneer until 1840, dying at the age of eighty. His wife Jane, companion to all his privation and success had died two years earlier. The party spirit ran high, both then and now and Poland Hunter and his children were stalwart adherents of the Democratic party. Burial was in the private Hunter cemetery on the west side at the approach of the hill from Tionesta to Oil City.
Children of Poland Hunter and Jane Simpson:
- Harriet Hunter
- Jane Hunter
- John Hunter
- Moses Hunter
- Ellen Hunter
- George Hunter
- David Hunter (b. 1786, d. 17 May 1862 in Tionesta, Forest, PA, buried in Old Methodist Cemetery, Forest, PA) married Mary Gates daughter of Henry Gates and widow of Joseph Dale (d. 5 June 1872 and buried in the Old Methodist Cemetery, Forest, PA)
- Andrew Hunter (b. 1788, d. 19 Apr 1814, buried in the Hunter Family Cemetery, Tionesta, Forest, PA)
- William Hunter (b. 1794 in Westmoreland Co, PA) married on 6 Aug 1815 Sarah Range (b. 27 Mar 1800 in Hartford Co, MD)
- James Hunter (b. 1797, d. 20 May 1813, buried in the Hunter Family Cemetery, Tionesta, Forest, PA)
Special thanks to James Ball for providing this information.
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(c) Forest County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project