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JOHN HAWKINS' FAMILY

OF ORANGE, ROWAN, AND RANDOLPH

COUNTIES NORTH CAROLINA

In 1744, Lord Earl Granville, heir to large tracts of land which were granted by King Charles II in 1633, controlled all the territory lying between the Virginia line on the north and the parallel of 35ø 34' on the south. Earl Granville disposed of his lands in Carolina upon favorable terms; he desired to increase their value by rapid settlement. There was considerable dissatisfaction with the colonial government in many colonies not the least of which was the opposition to religious freedom.  Influenced by the inviting nature of the climate and soil, the peacefulness of the Catawba Indians and the laxity of North Carolina laws in comparison with those of other Colonies on the subject of religion, many frontier families made homes for themselves in North Carolina. As early as 1740 a few families were located on the Hico, Eno, and Haw rivers.

John Hawkins I, the oldest proven ancestor of the my line of Hawkins, migrated to Orange county North Carolina from Baltimore County Maryland; possibly as early as 1765.  The Orange county Deeds Register list a transfer of 308 acres of land by Earl of Granville to John Hawkins in 1765.  According to a diary kept by his granddaughter, John Hawkins was in Hillsboro, Orange County in 1768 for on April 2nd of that year, he married Mary Waller, who had moved to Hillsboro from Halifax County North Carolina.  Little official records have been found for him until 1777 when the Orange county Inferior Court lists John as being appointed as Justice of the Peace in May, 1777.  It was the year after the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the new Congress, and he served in Orange County politics in different capacities until his death in 1786.. In February, 1778, France signed a treaty of alliance with the United States and the American Revolution became a world war. That very month, in Orange County, John Hawkins and other Justices of the Peace were appointed to take an "oath of allegiance" to the state of North Carolina from males greater than 16 years of age.

In 1780, the British attacked Charleston, which fell in May. John Hawkins presence in the Inferior Court of Orange County was conspicuously absent from 1780 to 1783. This author is yet to document, with certainty, the service of this John Hawkins in the revolutionary war, but it might be assumed that because major battles occurred near his home in Orange County he was actively involved. Moreover, in the inferior court minutes of November 1786, he is referred to as "Capt. John Hawkins".   Lord Cornwallis, commanding the British had pursued American General Nathaniel Greene for several months. British defeats at Cowpens and King's Mountain had frustrated British attempts to quell the American rebellion in the South and Cornwallis was determined to destroy Greene and his troops. The final confrontation occurred on March 15, 1781 at Guilford Courthouse. The British retained the field but the Americans had worn them down, depleted their supplies, and slipped away yet again and continued to be a formidable foe. The battle at Guilford Courthouse directly contributed to Cornwallis' decision to move to Yorktown and was the beginning of the end of British rule in America. Guilford Courthouse was located just across the western Orange county line near St Asaph's District.

John resided in St Asaph's District with his wife Mary and five children. In May 1779 the court appointed him as Magistrate of St Asaph's District. In addition, John I was often appointed by the court to receive a list of taxable property from inhabitants in St Asaph's District; i.e. to receive list of taxable property from inhabitants in his "respective district".  John, his wife Mary, daughter Mary and sons Hardress and John are found in a list of taxpayers from St Asaph's district early as 1785. 

John Hawkins II was born to John I and his wife in 1773. In 1786 CAPT John Hawkins was appointed as Sheriff of Orange county for the 1787 year but died that year, before completing his term in office. However, before his death in 1786, John purchased 575 acres from Nicholas Grierson and his wife.  The land was situated on Beaver Creek in Orange and Guilford counties just southwest of what is now the village of Allamance.  John must have had at least one son of age in 1787 for in that year, he appointed Hardress to serve as Deputy Sheriff under him. In the Court of March 3 1787 the inquisition on the body of John Hawkins deceased, was returned and recorded. Three months later, the court ordered that the widow of John Hawkins be allowed "30 pounds for exofficio services" of her husband. In May of 1787, his widow Mary was appointed as Administrator of his estate. The custom of the time was that, a wife had a right to one-third of her husband's land effective at his death, although during marriage his control was absolute. CAPT John's widow would retain this one-third of his property after his death and apparently she was still living in Orange county for the 1790 tax records shows a Mary Hawkins living in St Asaph's District.  Records show that in May of 1794, CAPT John's estate was settled.  In March of the previous year, CAPT John's daughter, Elizabeth, married John Dick and in October, his oldest daughter, Mary, married Emsley Parke.  Elizabeth was widowed by the end of the 1793 and was remarried to Thomas Crowder in December 1795. Frances married Sampson Duggar about this time.  Shortly thereafter, Hardress, Elizabeth, Mary and Frances moved to Hancock County Georgia. 

Mary, John's wife,  must have died before 1800 for in May of that year, CAPT John's two sons, John JR (II) and Hardress divided the property of their father in Orange county. In November of that year, John II sold his Orange County land to Samuel Dick. Samuel was the brother-in-law of John II and Hardress' sister Elizabeth who married John Dick in March 1793.  Prior to divesting his Orange County property however, in 1797, John II was in Rowan county where he purchased 375 acres of land from Henry Cules and Lewis Beard. Witness to this land transaction was John Goodman whose daughter, Polly, had married John II in 1796. In 1798, John II purchased 203 acres of land from David Woodson. Both this and the Clues/Beard parcels had been confiscated from a revolutionary war loyalist, Henry E. McCulloch, in 1785 and purchased by Misters Cules, Beard, and Woodson. These lands were located on Abbott’s Creek which lies just east of present day Lexington, North Carolina and was in then Rowan county. John Hawkins II and Polly Goodman had five children.  During the next seven years, John was involved in numerous property transactions along Abbott's creek.  In December 1804, John sold 130 acres of land on Abbott's creek to John RIDELL for $350. He and his family apparently had already moved just across the county line into Randolph County where he bought 180 acres of land situated on Uwharie River from father-in-law, John Goodman in February, 1804. At sometime after the birth of their fourth child, Dolly, Polly Hawkins died and in 1810, John II married Elizabeth Varner Daughter of Jacob Varner. John II fathered eleven children with Elizabeth Varner.  In May 1825, John II sold his property to his eldest son, Benjamin and moved his wife and family to Marion County Indiana. Although some of John II's children became part of the westward movement to Iowa, Nebraska, and California, others stayed and made homes in Marion County.

Benjamin, John II eldest son, married Elizabeth Kindley in 1825 and settled in Randolph County. Benjamin and Elizabeth Kindley had three children.  Sometime after the birth of their third child Pleasant, Elizabeth Kindley died and Benjamin married Elizabeth Varner in 1831. Benjamin's second wife was the daughter of Andrew Varner and the niece and namesake of his father's second wife. In 1833, Benjamin purchased 64 acres of land adjoining property he already owned on the waters of the Uwharie from Jacob Varner. During the next 8 to 10 years, Benjamin and Elizabeth worked the farm in Randolph county and had the first six of their children.

More and more people were streaming into Randolph county and land was selling at premium prices. However, the new 'southwest territory' was opening up in Alabama and Mississippi where land was available for the asking or at very cheap prices. The Third Choctaw Cession ceded by the Choctaw Indians in the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was completed in 1830. Other North Carolina families well known to Benjamin, such as the Goodmans and Varners had already taken advantage of the opening of this new territory. Benjamin's needed more land to ensure adequate income for his growing family and around 1842, moved his family to Smith County Mississippi. In Mississippi, Benjamin and Elizabeth added three more children to their family.

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