Monday, April 6, 2015

His Mother's Sister: A Hawks Transformation

"He was left an orphan when quite young. His mother's sister, Emily Hawks, raised him and gave him the name of Hawks."

Family lore says my 4th great-grandfather George Henry Hawks was originally born with the surname Jucket (see Jucket to a Hawks: Finding Truth in Lore).

The investigation into the identities of George Henry Jucket Hawks' (GHJH) parents led to an unexpected twist. The quote above, taken from a letter penned by a purported Jucket niece of GHJH, revealed a tantalizing piece of information that, if true, suggests that his maternal aunt played a significant role in his transformation from a Jucket to a Hawks.

Are there facts to support it?

Thanks once again to New England's faithful record-keeping, GHJH's mother, Lucy Hawks, is listed in the Massachusetts-published family census for Silas Hawks. Born in February 1799, she was the eldest child of Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks.

Scanning down the list of births, there is a likely candidate that supports the letter's claim: a sister, Emily Amelia Hawks, was born in November 1817. This confirms that Lucy did indeed have a sister named Emily.

Silas Hawks Family Births

You may recall that the headstone for Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks includes death date inscriptions for some of their children. Among those inscriptions is one for LHJ who died March 30, 1832 at age 35.

The Massachusetts birth record indicates that LHJ (Lucy Hawks Jucket - according to working theory) was born in 1799. However, the stone records a birth year of 1797 (1832 year of death - 35 years old at death). This slight discrepancy could very likely be chalked up to human error.

Curiously, if Emily Amelia Hawks was in fact the sister in question, then she was only 14 years old when Lucy died and young GHJH was orphaned. As Cousin Tex noted, this was "a little young, but I guess not impossible" for Emily to take on the role of adoptive mother.

Deferring to the claims laid out in the letter, it's entirely possible that young GHJH (who was only four years old) lived with Emily and her family while she took on the primary mothering responsibility.

In Pursuit of Emily

GHJH's Timeline: GHJH was likely enumerated in the household of Daniel Jucket in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts in the 1830 U.S. Federal Census. His next documented appearance was in December 1848 in Menard County, Illinois when he married at the age of twenty.

Where was he before leaving Massachusetts, and when did he leave Massachusetts for Illinois?

Making Sense?

1840: Where was Emily Hawks in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census? Although she was an adult (about 23 years old) she wouldn't appear by name unless she was the head of household. Her father Silas died in 1831, so there wouldn't be a household under his name either. At this time, GHJH would be about 12 years old.

No hits yet, but it's possible that individuals of their age can be located in the household of one of Emily's siblings.

1855: Cousin Tex located an 1855 Massachusetts state census that enumerated a 37-year-old Emily A. Hawks who lived with a handful of people all labeled as paupers. This Emily's age puts her birth year at 1818 making her a close match to our 1817-born Emily Hawks. GHJH was, of course, no longer living in Massachusetts.

Curiously, the family enumerated below Emily were Blodgetts. Blodgett was the maiden name of Lucy and Emily Hawks' mother Mary. Is this our Emily A. Hawks?

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1855 Census

There is no record of her in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. Was she was living with one of her siblings or with her mother's Blodgett family? Perhaps wherever she was in 1840 is where we will find her in 1850.

1860: In Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census enumerated an Emily A. Hawks who was 42 years old and a pauper. She lived on land that's labeled as a "pauper farm."

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1860 Census

1865: Again in Deerfield, Emily Hawks was enumerated as a single female pauper in the 1865 Massachusetts census. Her age was listed as 47, five years older than her appearance in 1860.

Deerfield, Franklin County, MA 1865 Census

This is the last census appearance for Emily A. Hawks so far. Did she die between 1865 and 1870? Perhaps. Or, with a more positive spin, did she marry and find happiness outside of the pauper farm? I sure hope so.

Shadow of Doubt: To keep us on our toes, another inscription was discovered on Silas and Mary (Blodgett) Hawks' tombstone. On a different side from the LHJ inscription, the stone obelisk is engraved: EH Died July 10, 1838 Age 27.

Who is EH? Is this Emily Hawks? There were no other children enumerated in the family of Silas Hawks whose names began with "E".

Someone who died at 27 in 1838 would have been born in about 1811. This doesn't match Emily's birth date of 1817. In July 1838, GHJH was only ten years old. Was he orphaned for a second time? Or is "EH" a different relative entirely?

A public family tree on (gasp!) provided a clue. According to that tree, Lucy and Emily's brother Silas Hawks, Jr. married a woman named Eunice. It lists her birth as 1811 and her death as July 10, 1838. Certainly, these dates need to be substantiated, but if proven true, this would alleviate the doubt cast by the mysterious "EH" inscription and confirm that our Emily got to live another day.

The engraving directly above "EH" adds credence to the in-law inscription theory. The inscription says: PFH died July 19, 1836 Age 22. Find A Grave lists this as the grave of Pheba Frary Hawks who was the wife of Lucy and Emily's brother Richard Hawks - their sister-in-law. Perhaps this face of the obelisk was reserved solely for in-laws.

The facts appear to support the theory that different faces of the obelisk were reserved for in-laws and blood relations. When you look at the LHJ-inscribed side, the theory holds up. Below LHJ is the inscription HH, which was for Silas and Mary's son Henry who drowned in the Connecticut River - Lucy's brother.

Based on this additional information, EH could very well be Eunice Hawks. Emily did not die in 1838.

A Ringer: Another complication is the fact that Emily Hawks is a common name in Massachusetts during that time. There are at least two ringers thrown into the fray.
  • Emily Hawks born in September 1818 in Charlemont to parents Thomas and Sally Hawks.
  • Emily Hawks born in June 1819 in Deerfield to parents John and Emilia Hawks.
Trawling through the records, it's important to be mindful of these individuals and work to eliminate them as contenders. Fortunately, neither one is listed with a middle initial of "A".

Questions Remain
Did Emily Hawks die in 1838 or did she live to appear as a pauper in the 1855, 1860, and 1865 census records? I have a gut feeling she did not die in 1838 (that the grave's inscription really is her sister-in-law Eunice), and that she was - sadly - a pauper for much of her adult life.

Unfortunately, the written records we've uncovered to-date fail to provide definitive answers. The more we dig, the more questions we uncover. Why did GHJH move to Illinois? What became of Emily? Why was she a pauper? When did she die and where is her grave?

What's Next?
  • A review of the 1840 census records for Franklin County may reveal some of Emily's siblings with tick marks in age categories that could be her and GHJH.
  • Emily (or another Hawks sibling) may have filed a guardianship record for GHJH in Franklin County. This tip came from the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
  • A review of tax records for Franklin County, MA and Menard County, IL could determine when GHJH quit/started paying taxes. This can help pinpoint his location and narrow the timeline for his whereabouts.
  • A review of Menard County land records could determine in which year GHJH purchased property (if at all). 
  • Franklin County will or probate records for Silas Hawks (if they exist) could shed light on the family dynamic at the time of his 1831 death. For that matter, do any probate records exist for GHJH in Benton County, Arkansas?
  • Map out life sketches for GHJH's purported siblings and father, so we have a better understanding of the cast of characters that play a role in this puzzle.

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