The youngest son, of twelve children
of Col. John Davis Hawkins of “Spring Grove” estate in
Franklin County, N.C. and Jane Anderson Boyd of Boydton,
Virginia. At the age of twenty three years James Boyd
Hawkins married Ariella Alston of Halifax County, N. C.
on 02 Feb. 1836 in Butterwood, N. C.
While still in North Carolina, James
and wife Ariella “Ella” reared six children: Sally,
Willis (married Leah T. Irwin, 03 Nov 1857 in Warren
County, NC, and later served in the Caney Mounted Rifles
of Matagorda County, and died in the War of Northern
Aggression in 1863, buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh,
NC), Virginia, James Jr., John D., and Ella (died
young). The family moved to the banks of Caney Creek,
near the coast, in Matagorda County, Texas in 1846.
James bought a number of slaves with him from N. C. to
work his new Sugar Plantation of 3074 acres (originally
part of Colonial Headright League of Land) purchased at
prices from three to five dollars per acre.
James and “Ella’s” first born in
Matagorda County was Frank Hawkins who would marry
Elmore Rugeley, in 1887, and eventually manage the J. B.
Hawkins stock ranch (over 40,000 acres) from the
Hawkins’ palatial plantation home on Lake Austin after
the days of sugar and molasses manufacturing for the
Southern Cause. Other Texans born to James and “Ella”
were Annie (died in infancy), and Charles Edgar (married
Annie Hardeman, 06 Jun 1880).
The Matagorda County, Texas
plantation was a combined venture between J. B. Hawkins
and his younger brother, by eight years, John Davis
Hawkins, Jr. of Franklin County, N.C.
John D. Hawkins, Jr. established
“Swan Lake” cotton plantation (1973 acres), bordered by
Swan Lake in the west and in the east by the western
bank of the Tallahatchie River, in Tallahatchie County,
Ms. about 1850 with slaves from Franklin County, North
Carolina. The 1850 slave census of Franklin County shows
him with seventeen slaves, ten of them women.
Additionally, John D. Hawkins, Sr. had moved from Warren
County to his “Spring Grove Estate” in Franklin County
and in 1850 had fifty eight slaves.
The J. B. & John D. Hawkins, Jr.
slave list is in John D. Hawkins, Jr. hand and contains
the enumerations plus names, sex, ages, and
In 1852, the J. B. Hawkins and
John D. Hawkins, Jr. plantation on Old Caney housed
twenty nine of John D. Hawkins, Jr. slaves moved from
Swan Lake plantation to Caney Creek. At that time, J. B.
Hawkins had thirty three slaves working the Caney Creek
plantation along with ten slaves belonging to his
mother-in-law Sallie M. (Potts) Alston.
In 1856, James B. and John D.
purchased a “negro girl Eliza, age about 27”, for $900
from Tom G. Forister and wife. She subsequently gave
birth on 16 Sept. 1856. She and the child, along with
twelve additional John D. Hawkins, Jr. slaves were
relocated from Mississippi to Matagorda County in
The above totals eighty six
slaves, the majority from North Carolina that was
relocated to the James B. & John D. Hawkins, Jr.
plantation on Caney Creek, Matagorda County, Texas.
Slave values were from $150 for a
one year old child to $1200 for Ezehill. Horace, a house
servant, was valued at $800. Osborn, a brick mason, at
The six oldest slaves were all
“fifty” except Shade who was fifty-five. There were
approximately nine children five years or younger. There
were approximately twenty-seven women.
Of extraordinary interest is the “1867
Voter’s Registration for Matagorda County, TX”,
precinct 2, dated August 13 which shows the following
Hawkins from North Carolina (and number of years in
Texas): Washington (20), Horace (20), John (14), and
“Andy” i.e. Anderson (21). As these four individuals are
listed on the J. B. & J. D. Hawkins, Jr. slave list and
none (except John, James’ son, who had been in Texas 21
years) are family first names from N. C., nor are James
B., Frank, or Edgar on the 1867 voter’s registration
list, I surmise these four individuals are ex slaves
registered by the Carpet Baggers.
After the civil war and the loss
of slave labor, the plantation on the Caney began using
convict labor and as late as the 1880 census employed
four convict guards.