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On the hunt to find Judge Hunt

By Staff | Mar 3, 2019

Judge Byrd Allen Hunt relaxing on his front porch in Middletown, California.

I have revealed in past columns that I am not a native Minnesotan. The ugly truth is that I was born and raised in Southern California. I lived there until I was 14 years old.

That probably explains my severe aversion to winter, cold, snow and why I always seem to be freezing.

Even after 50 years, I have never truly acclimated myself to cold weather.

I know, I know. Many folks my age don’t care for it, which is why there are probably more Minnesotans currently in Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean islands than there in Minnesota right now.

My family history actually has a California background, in a roundabout way.

My mother was born in Minnesota and my father was born in Florida but grew up in Tennessee. They both ended up in San Diego, where they met, married and had me and my three younger brothers.

Eventually, however, they decided Minnesota was the place to live and we moved here in 1968.

But there is more to my Hunt family connection to California than just my parents and me.

I have always been slightly jealous of all the folks that live here in Minnesota and always have. In fact their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents probably lived here.

My Hunt family has always been composed of many nomads. Let me explain.

My great-grandfather, Judge Byrd Allen Hunt, was born in Clark County, Missouri, but left and traveled by oxen wagon train to Middletown, Lake County, in northern California.

There he eventually was married and he and his wife had three children before she suddenly died.

So, great grandpa Byrd married again to a woman named Viola Jane York Adams Hunt. She also had been married before to a man named Adams, and he had died at the age of 25, after they had had one child.

Now great-grandma Viola Jane’s maiden name was York, and the town of Yorkville, California, was named after her grandparents.

Byrd and Viola had six more children together. One of them was my grandfather, Richard Wesley Hunt.

He left California and moved to Florida and met and married my grandmother, Carrie Belle Jernigan. They eventually moved to Chattanooga and had three children, one of which was my father, Charles Harlan Hunt.

He went to San Diego because he enlisted in the Navy right out of high school.

My parents had four boys all of whom have lived in several different states, from Wisconsin to Texas, Colorado to Florida and even North Dakota.

My wife Pam and I are the renegades who moved to North Dakota for four years right after we were married. Our oldest son, Nate, was born while we lived there.

Nate, of course, moved to California seven years ago while working for Seneca.

So you can see the progression. It seems someone from every other generation in my family moves to California.

I have never really known a lot about my Hunt ancestors, but lately I have been on a ‘hunt’ to find out as much information as I can.

My great-grandfather Byrd Hunt was actually a real judge. I imagine it was some type of circuit or town judge deal, because he never was a lawyer. He was, in fact, a member of the teamsters’ union because he ran a dray service with his team of horses pulling wagons.

He was also a well-known fiddler and won quite a few awards for his fiddling ability.

He died in 1947, just three years before I was born, at the ripe old age of 90.

If you are one of the ones who knows all about your family history, consider yourself very lucky.

I don’t know much about mine, but the ‘hunt’ for more info will be continued.