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James Boyd Hawkins

John D. Hawkins, Jr.

Hawkins Family Cemetery

Hawkins Lake House

Original Hawkins Family Home

Rugeley-Hawkins Family Cemetery



Written by Herbert Fargo Clark II
Great Great Grandson of John D. Hawkins, Jr.


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 special skills.

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 October 1856.

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 $1000.

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.

1888 Newspaper Account of Trip Through Matagorda Tells About People, Lands and Development

Col. J. B. Hawkins has an elegant residence located in the midst of a 30,000 acre pasture a few miles further on the Matagorda road. It is surrounded by a charming grove of forest trees planted by the colonel, who was absent from home, on his Caney plantation. But we found the latch string on the outside, and Mr. Frank Hawkins and his charming young wife, nee Rugeley, ready to tender a kind hospitality. Col. Hawkins also has an apple orchard, now laden with fruit. Mr. Frank Hawkins has a steam yacht, on board of which he entertains his friends in excursions on Lake Austin. From the observatory above the mansion, Matagorda, sixteen miles distant, was plainly visible. Mrs. Hawkins has a penchant for poultry, and some three or four hundred answer her call for the distribution of feed. Mr. Hawkins represents the colored element as being perfectly quiet, orderly and contented.

--The Daily Tribune and The Matagorda County Tribune, Century of Progress Edition, Section Four, August 26, 1937 Quoting a publication of a newspaper, The Old Capital, published in Columbia, Texas, Saturday morning, July 14, 1888.


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Mar. 18, 2006
Apr. 19, 2008