August 16, 2014 10:33:21 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
The homes of our childhoods are often dear in memory. Their walls and roofs, though inanimate, can inspire fierce devotion. Jane Fulton Hunt of Columbus feels that way about Farview, an ancestral home that has sheltered generations of her family dating back to 1835. What began as a quest several years ago to research family history has turned into a 177-page hardcover book: "Farview Then and Now."
It is a story about the Fulton family, a Scots-Irish clan that has spread across America, perhaps even farther, Hunt says. But it is also a book about the South, of events and circumstances that impacted every family line.
Farview, circa 1835, is located not far from Livingston, Alabama, in Sumter County, and is listed in the Alabama Historical Society's Registry of Landmarks and Heritage. Built by William Frierson Fulton I, it has never been out of the family. Hunt and her three siblings are the home's owners now, and each has a week every month to retreat there.
"The house has been lived in by five generations," Hunt says, her eyes alight as she shares snippets of story after story. There are tales of life during the Civil War and World Wars, of family faith and hard work. Of courtships, horseback rides, chores, Scottish High Teas and a picnic broken up by a bull who proceeded to raid the peanut butter. Hunt's pages tell of family members whose lives are intertwined with the history of the region and country; one became a chancellor of Ole Miss. Another, still living, was held by the Japanese for years as a prisoner of war.
In their own hand
An era is preserved in numerous images of handwritten documents dating back to the 1800s -- ledger sheets, wills, letters and journal entries. Most were discovered in a desk in the home. The compilation also includes more recent history.
"I couldn't have done this without Jim. He is organized; I'm helter skelter," Hunt says, meaning her husband, Jim Hunt. He was there as his wife tackled the research required at sources including courthouses in Livingston and Eutaw, Alabama, at the Mississippi State libraries and the library at the University of West Alabama.
Hunt's sons, Dean Stewart and Lawrence Stewart, assisted with the design and publishing of the book.
The labor of love was done, in part, as a tribute to Hunt's mother, Alice Ramsey Fulton, and her grandmother, Annie Morrow Fulton. Both women loved Farview and "put that house back together with spit and polish ... my mother and grandmother saved the house," the author says.
The book preserves an overview of more than 180 years of history for Hunt's many relatives spread throughout the country, and offers insight for others on what life was like.
"I'm just thrilled it's done and hope that people will receive it lovingly," Hunt says, "and that young and old will develop a greater interest in their forefathers."
Hunt will attend a book signing Tuesday hosted by Dr. and Mrs. Joe Boggess from 2 to 4 p.m. at Whitehall, located at 607 Third St. S. in Columbus. The community is invited. The book is $40.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.