Thursday, March 4, 2010

Civil War Pension File = High Hopes

One of my husband's family mysteries is right there on his paternal side - who are the ancestors of John Goodwin Hawksley?

Thanks to my visit to NEHGS a few years ago, and not enough hours spent looking through the Isaac Adams manuscript file (there are never enough hours - it is like being a kid in a candy store!), I found this wonderful document:

This is a document written by John Goodwin Hawksley's niece, Mary Elizabeth (Adams) Foster.  She was the daughter of John's sister, Margaret Elizabeth Hawksley, who married Isaac Adams (son of Isaac Adams and Rhoda Babcock).

The Adams family ended up in New Brunswick due to their Loyalist convictions, as did the Goodwin family - the ancestors on John's maternal side.

John's mother was Mary Goodwin.  Her father was a Loyalist from New Jersey.  We don't know her parents' first names; only that her father was, of course, a Goodwin and her mother was a Workman.  We also know the names of Mary's siblings, thanks to this letter.

The letter mostly gives clues, but not much concrete information.  I began piecing the Goodwin family together in hopes that working sideways would yield more information.  Fortunately, I "met" a Goodwin descendant online, and she and I have worked together to create a fuller family tree.

However, the Hawksley question remains.

This letter says simply that Mary Goodwin married "an Englishman".

I have guesses and ideas based on the area (Frederiction and St. John, New Brunswick) of why this Hawksley man might have been there (for example, was he a British soldier?), but no definite information.

I also know that Mary Goodwin, after having her 4 children, married again on 14 October 1824, placing Mr. Hawksley's date of death between 1816 (when the youngest child, Margaret was born) and 1824.

Thus far, death records have not given us the name of Mr. Hawksley (or the mother either - finding her was a lucky break based on my research at NEHGS and then connecting that to the 1860 census, in which Mary Madigan lives with her daughter, Margaret (Hawksley) Adams).

What is next?

Certainly, there are plenty of possibilities open, and most of them point to actually visiting Fredericton, where the 4 Hawksley children were born.

But there is at least one U.S. possibility.

John Goodwin Hawksley and his wife, Lucy Lilley, had 2 sons who fought in the Civil War.  The eldest, John Allen Hawksley, made it home to marry and have children.

The second son, Samuel, went missing in action at Hatcher's Run in Virginia, on 6 February 1865.

He had no wife or children, but his parents filed for a pension for his service in 1877.

If this is the case, wouldn't John and Lucy have had to submit proof that they were Samuel's parents?  Samuel was born about 1847 in Richmond, Carleton County, New Brunswick.  Would this proof be in the form of a birth record?  Probably not. 

It might be a baptismal certificate, and such a document might help me work my way back along a paper trail of baptisms, perhaps to John and Lucy's wedding, and perhaps even to John's parents.

Maybe, and maybe not.

This pension file could be the one thing created by John Goodwin Hawksley that might answer our questions, or at least give us some direction to find those answers.


  1. I love this naming pattern where the boys have their mother's maiden name as a middle name. It's not something I see in my Acadian and French-Canadian ancestors.
    I also love the way you set out your thinking as you do your research. I feel as if we're having a conversation!
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. Hi,
    I came across your article as I am researching my Goodwin family line. I've been able to trace back all the way to the birth of one of my great grandfathers, James (Jas) Goodwin around 1825. He married a Catheryn also presumed born in 1825 but whose maiden name we don't know.

    The challenge is that James wasn't born in New Brunswick so I have no mother/father records on him. They noted his name as Jas in many official documents which leads me to believe he was American since using the Jas nickname for James seemed to be an American trend at the time.
    Since people could cross the US border freely until 1908, there is also no immigration documentation.
    Your article looks promising.
    Anything you have that might help me fill in these gaps would be great!

    John Goodwin

    1. Hi John! I don't know if I can be of any assistance, but I am going to email you and do my best. :)