Friday, April 3, 2015

Jucket to a Hawks: Finding Truth in Lore

Family lore says that my 4th great-grandfather George Henry Hawks was born with the surname Jucket. Following the untimely death of his parents, George was adopted by a maternal aunt. She raised him with her Hawks surname, which he carried for the rest of his life and passed on to his children.

No birth or adoption record has been found to corroborate this story.

Who were George Henry Jucket Hawks' biological parents? What evidence exists to substantiate this family legend?

GHJH Marriage, December 1848
GHJH: A Biographical Sketch
Census records (and his tombstone) tell us that George Henry Jucket Hawks (GHJH) was born January 7, 1828 in Massachusetts. He married Amanda Miller Johnston in Menard County, Illinois in December 1848. They had twelve children, nine of whom lived to adulthood.

The young married couple appeared in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Menard County with their first child, Robert Johnston Hawks. GHJH was listed as a farmer.

By 1860, the Hawks had migrated west to Lucas County, Iowa. In that year, the farm family boasted four sons, including my own ancestor Edmond Hawks. Fast forward a decade and the family grew to include eight children.

In the 1880 census, the family appeared in Republic County, Kansas where GHJH continued to farm. Based on the Hawks' appearance in the 1875 Kansas state census, we can conclude that they moved from Iowa between 1870-1875.

By 1900, GHJH and Amanda had moved to Washington County, Kansas near the state's northern border with Nebraska. Within a couple years, the aging couple joined two of their sons in Arkansas. On September 24, 1906, GHJH passed away following a short illness. He was buried in Springtown Cemetery in Benton County, Arkansas.

Photo by Family Sleuther

His obituary noted that he was, "a faithful, consistent Christian, and in his earlier years was a minister of the Presbyterian church, a man of fine intellectual powers and one who has accomplished much good in the world."

Family Legend
Different versions of the Jucket to Hawks adoption story have filtered through the descendants of his nine children. Each hints at the same kernel of truth.

Take me, for example. I descend from GHJH's son Edmond Oscar Hawks (my 3rd great-grandfather). Our published family history briefly touches on the topic, stating, "Family legend has it that [GHJH] was adopted and that his birth name was Juckett."

Similar accounts brought me in contact with descendants of nearly all of GHJH's children. Most recently, a descendant of his daughter Emma shared her family's iteration, which claimed that Emma not GHJH was adopted. Given that this particular descendant and I are genetic cousins (and therefore must share a common ancestor), it seems likely that the adoption story was muddled in its retelling over the years, like a game of telephone.

As I reached out to distant Hawks relations, I connected with a rock star research partner - a cousin in Texas from the family of GHJH's son Andrew Jackson. Together, we've lobbed a bunch of theories against this brick wall to see what sticks.

Cousin Tex connected with a great-granddaughter of GHJH who shared a letter addressing the adoption question, providing the most compelling clues to-date:
"Lucy Hawks married Daniel Jucket in Deerfield, MA on 12/7/1820. George Henry Jucket was their son (father of A.J.Hawks). He was left an orphan when quite young. His mother's sister, Emily Hawks, raised him and gave him the name of Hawks. He was born in MA." -Emma Jucket, daughter of Edmond Jucket, brother of Geo.Henry Hawks
Cobbling Family Together
This letter from a purported Jucket niece of GHJH was genealogy gold. With names for his parents, aunt, brother and niece, there was plenty for us to investigate. Could we substantiate the letter's claims?

First up were the parents. We found a record confirming that a Daniel Jucket and Lucy Hawks - both of Deerfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts  - were married on December 7, 1820.

Daniel Jucket and Lucy Hawks - December 1820 marriage 

Thankfully, New England had a penchant for keeping vital records in the early 1800s. We found a family census that enumerated Lucy Hawks' birth. She was a daughter of Silas and Mary Hawks, "born at Charlemont, February 25th, 1799." Charlemont is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Family Census for Silas Hawks Family

Cousin Tex made the next exciting discovery confirming that we were investigating the correct family. Scrutinizing the headstone for Silas and Mary Hawks, she noticed that the stone obelisk was inscribed with the initials and presumed death dates for some of their children. One set of initials stood out among the others: LHJ Died March 30, 1832 Age 35

Silas Hawks Headstone with LHJ inscription
Photo by FindAGrave user Theresa.

Are LHJ the initials for Lucy Hawks Jucket? Is this the grave of GHJH's mother? The initials and untimely death align closely with family lore.

Backing up, we found a Daniel Juckett (sic) in the 1830 U.S. Federal Census, living in Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts. There is one male 30-39 and one female 30-39 living in the household. The female age bracket matches the age range for the above-mentioned Lucy. 

This census indicates that there are five children (four boys and one girl) in the household. One boy under the age of 5 would be our GHJH (the birth year engraved on his headstone is 1828).

1830 U.S. Census for Franklin County, Mass. Enumerates Daniel Juckett family

Daniel Jucket and Kids
What happened to Daniel after his wife Lucy died? He has no marked gravesite in the cemetery where Lucy rests. Is it possible that he survived her but didn't raise his five children? Did any - aside from GHJH - live to adulthood? 

A record search found a Daniel Juckett (sic) from Sunderland (a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts near to Deerfield) marrying Mary Kentfield on September 2, 1833. Is this our Daniel Jucket? Lucy passed away the year before, so an 1833 marriage certainly fits the timeline.

Daniel Juckett marries Mary Kentfield - September 1833

Seven years later, the 1840 census enumerated a Daniel Juckett (sic) in Enfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. His age is between 40 and 50 making him a prime candidate to be the 30-40 year old Daniel Juckett that was enumerated in the 1830 census. There are only two children in the household - a boy and a girl - both under the age of five. 

1840 U.S. Census for Enfield, Mass. Enumerates Daniel Juckett family

These two children were born after the 1833 marriage to Mary Kentfield, strongly suggesting that she is the mother. The absence of any other children indicates that Lucy's children are not with this Daniel Jucket (which aligns with family lore).

In fact, we can trace Daniel and Mary (Kentfield) Juckett through state and federal censuses from 1850 to 1880. These records tell us that they had at least three children: Charles, Mary, and Eliza. However, no children born before their 1833 marriage appear with them in the census records.

Again, what about the identities of the five children in the 1830 census that belong to Daniel and, very likely, Lucy Jucket?
    Alonzo Jucket: The New England Historic Genealogical Society pointed us to an October 1864 death record for an Alonzo Jockett (sic). Alonzo was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts to parents Daniel and Lucy. He was 43 years old at the time of his death, which places his birth at about 1821 (the year after Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket married). It seems probable that Alonzo was their first son and kept the Jucket surname.

    Alonzo Jockett 1864 Death

    Edmund Jucket: A broad record search turned up a death certificate for Edmund Blodget Jucket who died in Providence, Rhode Island on April 17, 1879. According to the record, Edmund was born in 1825 in Massachusetts to parents Daniel and Lucy Jucket. Edmund's middle name, Blodget, is also the maiden name of Lucy Hawks' mother Mary. 

    Edmund Blodget Jucket 1879 Death

    Based on these records, I believe it's evident that Alonzo and Edmond were the eldest sons of Daniel and Lucy (Hawks) Jucket. If they are the siblings of GHJH, then we're still on the hunt for two more children who appeared in the Daniel Jucket household enumerated in the 1830 census.

    How about Lucy's sister who supposedly raised GHJH?  Are there actual records that can link GHJH to the Juckets? We're just getting started finding the truth in lore. Stay tuned as the search continues!


    1. Fascinating! Thank you for sharing how you put that together piece by piece and your thought process along the way. I learn so much from posts like these.

      1. Thank you for stopping by, Jo, and for your comments. I appreciate it. By the way, I enjoy your blog's NoteWorthy Reads. Very helpful.

    2. Thank you! And, I came back to tell you that since it really stuck in my head (still fascinating), I've included this post in my NoteWorthy Reads post for this week:

    3. Thank you! And, I came back to tell you that since it really stuck in my head (still fascinating), I've included this post in my NoteWorthy Reads post for this week:

      1. Thanks for featuring this post among your NoteWorthy Reads, Jo. I appreciate it!