There is no name in Des Moines county which carries with it more of integrity of uprightness of earnest citizenship or calls forth more universal expressions of regard than that of W. Claiborne Hunt now among the oldest settlers in the county. Whatever of virtue in the character of Mr. Hunt whatever of quality in his living has been directly founded upon traits inherited from an ancestry rich in the virtues of patriotism loyalty steadfastness and principle which today places him in the foremost ranks of the highly honored and respected men of the community.
Mr. Hunt was born Jan. 21. 1818 in Bond county Illinois and is a son of John Bael and Esther (Bartlett) Hunt. His father was born in Baltimore Md. Feb. 2 1771 and located in Bond county in 1811 where he bought a large farm and was engaged in general farming for many years. He died Feb. 21 1850 at the age of seventy-nine years. The mother of our subject was born in Greenbrier county West Virginia June 27 1773 and survived her husband eight years dying Sept. 10 1858. They were the parents of eleven children of whom all are dead but three: Claiborn of this review: Esther the wife of Peter L. Delashmutt of Montgomery county Iowa; and Louise Hunt who resides near Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Hunt were devoted members of the Methodist church and the former was a firm Democrat but by no means an office-seeker. He served all through the War of 1812 stationed at Edwardsville Madison county Ill.
Claiborn Hunt attended the district schools in Bond county for a short time and then later pursued his studies in a little old log schoolhouse in McDonough county Illinois. He then remained on his father's farm till he was about twenty-one years of age when he went to Eddyville Iowa in 1836 and lived alone on a piece of land for awhile.
Nov. 21 1843 Mr. Hunt married Miss Ann Smith who is a daughter of Peter and Martha (Ellison) Smith and was born in Sutton England Aug. 15 1821. A full history of her parents will appear in the sketch of her brother Samuel Smith on another page in this book. Mrs. Hunt was educated in the Moravian school in England and came to America in 1835 with her parents. After the marriage of this worthy couple they settled on forty acres of land in Union township Des Moines county and at first lived in a little log house in the old-fashioned pioneer times. From time to time he added more land made the improvements of a substantial kind which are necessary for the progressive farmer and built a comfortable brick residence. He carried on farming and stock-raising and continued to live on this farm which had increased to one hundred and fifty acres under his careful management and general supervision for over fifty-seven years. In 1901 Mr. Hunt sold his entire farm and shortly afterward moved to the city of Burlington and purchased a beautiful home at 101 Woodlawn Avenue where he and Mrs. Hunt can have more frequent social intercourse with their many friends and acquaintances and spend the evening of their active and well-spent lives in ease and pleasure. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hunt were born eight children of whom six are living: Laura married Albert Gunn of Cobden Ill. and died in 1901 leaving three children Josephine Lucy Elizabeth and George: William A. an employee of the Rand Lumber Company of Burlington Iowa residing at 101 Woodlawn Avenue. He has one son Harvey who is a railway postal clerk and lives with his parents. Josephine died Sept. 28 1872. Esther is the wife of H. J. Whipple who had three children by his former marriage (Amy Elsie and James) who are students in a Boston college. Mr. and Mrs. Whipple formerly resided in South Dakota but now live in Cuba. Charles C. who is also in Cuba with his sister Martha B. married Fremont Jackson and lives on a farm in Kansas. She has three children Claiborne Josephine Denirah and Frances.
Francis Bell a farmer in Union township and has three children Nixon Claiborne Gray and Robert. Dr. John P. a prosperous dentist in Mt. Pleasant Iowa has seven children: Ethel May James Arthur Paul Annie Christine Alice and Walter.
Mrs. Hunt has been a devoted member of the Methodist church for over fifty years and in her younger days was much interested in Sunday-school work. Mr. Hunt has always cast his vote for the Democratic candidates but did not care for office though he served his district as school director for six years. Time has dealt gently with this aged and worthy couple as soon the sixty-second anniversary of their marriage will be celebrated — a happy occurrence which falls to the lot of but very few. Mrs. Hunt made a visit to the land of her birth alone several years ago and Mr. Hunt is also physically able to visit his children often. They have noted many vast changes in the county during their long sojourn through life and can give some very interesting accounts of the pioneer times of fifty years ago. What Mr. and Mrs. Hunt have accomplished in life by their moral and upright lives cannot be measured in words; the fruits of their living will go on beyond the borders of the present and blossom again bringing into the lives of those yet to come the beauty and richness of unselfish pioneer lives strong in the elements upon which a statehood is always founded.