John Henderson Hundley, A Vintage Vignette

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John Henderson Hundley
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
August 26, 2009

When I first encountered the name John H. Hundley, it was in association with my research about Lucy Lanier Ives Clark, pioneer of Redstone Arsenal land. My first thoughts were about possible linkage to Horace Lawson Hunley (a variant spelling of Hundley), the Confederate inventor of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. There could be a connection, but I have not yet pursued such a determination. As my research into history of the area around the town of Madison evolved, I again encountered the Hundley name on land between Triana and Madison, as well as in Limestone County along the Tennessee River at “Hundley Hill” plantation. Later I encountered the surname in Madison itself, when in 1905 Jim Williams had the land south of Maple Street, east of Church Street, and north of the railroad surveyed. The parcel was called “the Hundley lots”, indicating a Hundley presence within the town.

John Henderson Hundley appeared in Madison County records in the 1830 census, living near New Hope. Nearby were the families of James Robinson, Adams Lanier, and Lazarus Lanier, who may have been relatives of Lucy Lanier. Lucy had married John Ives in 1823 and was living with her husband and daughter in 1830 on what is today southwestern arsenal land. Moreover, in 1829 and 1830 John H. Hundley purchased parcels of land just west of the arsenal (south of Swanscott Road and near the Limestone County line) from Hardy Robinson.

In the book “Lanier” by Louise Ingersoll, it is shown that Lucy Lanier was born in 1790 Virginia. She was a daughter of William Lanier and Rebecca Robinson. William Lanier died in 1815, so his daughter may have come with relatives to Madison County, where she married John Ives. Likely, it was the Robinson connection that tied Lucy to the Hundley family. John Henderson Hundley married Malinda Robinson in Virginia before patenting government land in the southeastern area of this county. His later motivation to buy Robinson land in the southwestern part of the county was possibly due to the all-year ability of riverboats to reach Triana but not Whitesburg landing. Malinda was the only daughter of Daniel Robinson and therefore not a sister of Lucy’s mother Rebecca Robinson Lanier. Still, Lucy’s stipulations that only children of Malinda would inherit her property plus John Hundley’s numerous interactions with the Robinson families in Madison and Limestone County indicate linkages.

John Hundley by 1840 moved to Mooresville, where he was postmaster, farmer, preacher, and physician. Henry J. Hundley, 10 to 20 years older than John, was living in that area in 1830, but he was not found in the 1840 census. John and Malinda had at least six children: Oscar, Orville, Daniel Robinson, Samuel, William Henderson, and John Henry Hundley. Orville wed Mary Holding and had a son named Oscar in 1854. Oscar became Huntsville city attorney, state representative, and state senator. He lived with his family in Madison in the 1860 census, but afterward was enumerated in Huntsville. He was also reported to have built a house in Birmingham.

Daniel Robinson Hundley, son of John and Malinda and specifically named in separate provisions of Lucy Clark’s will, also became an attorney. He practiced law in Chicago until the Civil War commenced. He returned to Limestone County and organized the 31st Alabama Infantry of the Confederate Army. He was captured at the Battle of Big Shanty in Georgia and imprisoned at Johnson’s Island. Daniel wrote several books during the era and is quoted as an authority on Southern life by social historians. After the war, Daniel and his wife Mary Hundley Hundley lived back at Hundley Hill by 1877. Mary was a daughter of Ann Bouldin and Elisha Estes Hundley, a brother of John Henderson Hundley, Daniel’s father. Daniel and Mary named a daughter Lucy, probably in honor of Daniel’s benefactor, Lucy Clark. Lucy Lanier Ives Clark was not a part of the Hundley genealogy, and she left no direct descendants as her legacy in this world. Yet, she certainly influenced and shaped the Hundley family destiny and enabled its noteworthy accomplishments in the history of Alabama.

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