Matthew Hawkins: the man, the mystery, the multitude
Rev. Matthew Hawkins, my wife’s great-grandfather, was born a slave around 1858 in Tennessee. In 1878, he married Henrietta Dosie Tyus in Haywood County, Tennessee. Oral tradition suggests he married two Tyus women (an aunt and niece). I travelled to Brownsville and stood in the courthouse searching through old, dusty marriage records, but I have only found records for Henrietta Dosie. It is possible I missed the other marriage or that it was not recorded. Matthew Hawkins had 5 children with his first wife (or first two). He moved to Arkansas in the late 1880s where he received a federal land grant for 160 acres south of Center Ridge, Arkansas. In 1893, he married my wife’s ancestor, Mamie Rice (1876-1947), and this union produced 12 more children. In addition to farming, Matthew Hawkins was an active Baptist minister and pastor in the community. He was instrumental in the founding of the Cypress Creek Church District in 1891 and ministered at several local congregations including the Bethlehem, Holly Springs, Hopewell, New Prospect, and Sweet Home churches. Rev. Hawkins died in July of 1922. Mamie later married her daughter’s father-in-law, Elford Hammons until his death.
Although we know a lot about Matthew Hawkins in Arkansas, we do not have much information on his early life. I have seen no records for his parents, but census records sometimes list his ethnicity as mulatto. I ordered a copy of his Arkansas death certificate from the state office, but they were unable to locate it despite having him in their index. I know nothing of his siblings beyond a piece of oral tradition that he came from Tennessee with a brother who got separated and went a different direction. I do know he traveled to Conway County around the same time as a brother-in-law, Randal Tyus, but they were hardly separated. Their land grants were across the highway from each other. Another mystery surrounding Matthew Hawkins is his 1891 marriage to Mary Jenkins. The certificate was filled out but never executed. There are many possible explanations, but we may never know exactly what happened. Another intriguing question about Matthew Hawkins is his unknown grave site. My wife’s grandfather (before his 2001 death) suspected he may be buried at the Bethlehem or even one of the abandoned African-American burial sites in the Center Ridge/Springfield area. Like many people in his era in rural Conway County, Rev. Hawkins does not have a tombstone inscription. Despite being involved in the community and having a large family, he apparently has only a fieldstone to mark his grave.
Despite dying 90 years ago, Rev. Matthew Hawkins left a large legacy behind. Many of the churches he pastored are still in existence. He had 17 known children and around 70 grandchildren. Many of them still feel pride in the Hawkins name and the rich heritage he provided them.
Below is some information on his children:
1) Rosina Hawkins (1880-1936) married two ministers: Thomas S. Payne (1870-1909) and Keifer F. Stevenson (born 1884). She had five known children and four step-children.
2) Dosie Hawkins (1881- abt. 1921) married Edward D. Jenkins (1878-1946). I know of only one son, Luther, who died at age two.
3) Jackson Hawkins (born 1884) married Amanda Jordan (1887-1988) and had at least four children.
4) Minnie Hawkins (1887- abt 1918) married John B. Bennett (born 1886) and had four known children.
5) Tiller Hawkins (1889-1920) married Dennis S. Abrams (born 1884) and had four known children.
6) James H. Hawkins (1894-1936) married Lucy Clinkscale (1891-1936) and had eight known children and one step-daughter. They lived in Birdtown, Arkansas before he died of pneumonia in his early 40s. He is buried with his wife in Bethlehem Cemetery.
7) Alice Hawkins (1896-1988) married James Paul Morris (1886-1965). They had four children and are interred at Friendship Cemetery atop Morris Mountain in Center Ridge, Arkansas.
8) Dalice Hawkins (1897-1969) married Thomas Pierce Dooley (1897-1977). She had three children and died in Kansas City, Kansas.
9) Birda Elizabeth Hawkins (1900-1968) married William Peters and had 2 known children before her death in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
10) William C. Hawkins (1902-1975) married Ethel Morris (1904-1926) and had one son. He later married Mirrie Clinkscale (1907-1998). He is interred at Bethlehem Cemetery.
11) Texana Hawkins (1904-1986) married Pierce Hammons (born 1901) and had four children.
12) Matthew Hawkins (1906-1938) was very popular with the ladies, and this may have led to his untimely death.
13) Roy Hawkins (1908-1992) married Mayme Morris (born 1908) and later Mollie Ann Smith (1915-1991). He had six children and is interred at the Zion Grove Cemetery in Faulkner County, Arkansas. He was well-known for his gardening and farming as pictured below.
14) Nathan Hawkins (1910-1985) married Q.T. Garrett and had one known child. He died in Kansas City, Missouri.
15) Naomi Hawkins (1912-1987) married Roy Jenkins (born 1892). She raised four step-children. Aunt Daily is buried at Holly Springs Cemetery.
16) Ruth Hawkins (1914-1997) married John T. Maxfield (1913-1971) and had six children. She is interred at Bethlehem Cemetery.
17) Tolly Bishop Hawkins (1917-2001) married Classie O. Clinkscale and had 11 children. He operated a dairy farm in Center Ridge and is interred at the Sweet Home Cemetery.
Yes, this entry was long. Thanks for reading. Leave a comment!