PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  762

JAMES HAWKINS,  now retired from business, and a resident of Rockville, Tolland county, since 1874, is a man who can pass his declining years in comfort, sustained as he is by the accumulations and savings of industrious and honorable years of business.

Mr. Hawkins was born Dec. 12, 1822, in Trowbridge, England, and is a son of James and Mary (Blake) Hawkins.  They were poor people and while not able to give their son that start in life their fond hearts desired, reared him in honesty and integrity, and these principles became a part of his daily life, a working force to the making of a good character.  They were strict Baptists, and he was early inculcated with a love and devotion to that faith that have remained with him in after years.  His schooling was of a fragmentary character, and when he was nine years of age, he began to earn his own living in the world.  He went into the mills, became a “dresser,” and followed that trade until his coming to this country in 1845.  He had saved some money, and felt assured that he could do far better with it in the New World than in his native land.  Accordingly he left from Liverpool in the sailing vessel, “The United Kingdom,” and after a voyage of six weeks and two days reached the city of New York.  There he was employed for domestic service for a short time, and tried carpenter work.  This was in poor demand at the time, and he became a groom and then a coachman for Silas Holmes, who lived at No. 48 Bond street at that time an aristocratic section of the city, and who had his summer residence at East Greenwich, R.I.  Mr. Hawkins entered the employ of Mr. Holmes and remained with him until 1860, when that gentleman died.  On his death bed he asked Mr. Hawkins to remain with his widow.  She died in 1865, and remembered him handsomely in her will as her husband had done in his.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Holmes died in East Greenwich, and Mr. Hawkins brought their bodies to New York.  While Mrs. Holmes lived a widow she made her home at East Greenwich, and it was the duty of Mr. Hawkins to take charge of her large estate.  After her death, her relative, W. Henry Schieffelin, a member of a noted drug firm, engaged Mr. Hawkins as the overseer and manager of his country home at Ketona, in the town of Bedford, Westchester Co., N.Y., and in that gentleman’s employ nearly the next ten years were spent.  At the end of this time the farm was sold, and Mr. Schieffelin offered Mr. Hawkins any position in his store in the city.  Mr. Hawkins, however, did not care to engage in active business at his time of life, but came to Rockville in 1874 and bought all the land on the east side of Webster street from Mountain street to the home of Lorenzo Webster, containing at that time but one small house.  There he built three houses.  He also bought a large lot on the west side of Webster street, which he still owns.  With his home he built a fine barn, and for several years kept a number of the finest turnouts in Rockville.  His horses and carriages were his pride and pleasure.  These he kept for his own comfort, and their fine appearance betokened the kind heart of the owner.

In 1848 the parents of Mr. Hawkins and five of their children, Mary, Martha, Emma, Benjamin and Charles, came to the United States.  A son, William, remained in England until 1854;  John, another son, had come to the United States in 1844;  Joseph, in 1846, with James making a family of nine children.  The parents settled in the city of New York, where the mother died in 1852, at the age of fifty-six.  The father died in Rockville, March 7, 1884, in the home of his son James.  Of his children, William died in Hartford, whither he had removed after settling in Coventry in 1854;  John is a retired tailor in Jersey City;  Mary died in New York soon after her arrival in this country;  Joseph died in Jersey City;  Martha married George Webb, a surgeon in the police service in New York (he died in the service, and when her brother James removed to Rockville, Mrs. Webb, a widow, and her three daughters made their home with him.  She is still living with him, and of her daughters, Emma, the oldest, married Frank Rogers and has one daughter, Bernice;  Alice J. married Edward Badmington, and is the mother of three children, Gladys, Leslie J. and Rodney;  Georgia died at the age of twenty-one years;  Emma is living in New York, as the widow of Martin Kelly, at one time prominent in the City Hall);  Benjamin is a retired hardware dealer in New York;  Charles H., the youngest son of this family, served three years in the United States regular army before the Civil war, and when that came on he became a first lieutenant and later became a captain of the 2d N.Y. Vol. Cav.  He was wounded while in action, his limb being shattered while on his horse, and as amputation became necessary, three operations were had, to no purpose, and he died in St. Luke’s hospital in New York.

James Hawkins visited the home of his youth in 1882, and could hardly realize the vastness of the change from the old conditions, even in England, the land of conservatism.  Today he is a remarkably well preserved and hearty old gentleman, small in stature, but possessed of much will and determination.  He generally votes with the Republican party, but seeks the best men for local offices.  

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel


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