Hawley Family papers, 1794-1953

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Hawley family
The Hawley family includes Nathan Hawley, his wife Elizabeth Swearingen Hawley; a son, Thomas Swearingen Hawley and his wife Carolina Joy; and grandchildren Elizabeth Hawley Locher and Nelson Joy Hawley. This collection contains family correspondence, personal accounts, and other writings and ephemera documenting Thomas Swearingen Hawley's 1860s Civil War service as a surgeon in the Missouri 11th Infantry; a transcribed copy of Gideon Hawley's 1754 missionary voyage through Massachusetts and New York as a preacher to the Iroquois along the Susquehanna; a diary from Nelson Joy Hawley's service as a surgeon during World War I; and other scrapbooks and a small number of photographs.
1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Includes correspondence (original and photocopied), writings, genealogy, pictures, and miscellaneous. Letters written by Thomas Swearingen Hawley between 1861 and 1865 document his experiences as a surgeon with the 11th Missouri Infantry during the American Civil War. Among his letters are many written shortly after the end of the Civil War from Demopolis, Alabama. Hawley's wife, Caroline Joy Hawley, joined him in Alabama, and their letters to family members describe the attitudes and living conditions of the people of Alabama. In letters to each other in the early 1860s, the Hawley women wrote about domestic matters, occasionally referring to current events and politics. Later 20th century correspondence includes dispatches from Nathan Joy Hawley discussing current events, his genealogical research, and other family news and hobbies. Writngs include a typed copy of Gideon Hawley's journal of his missionary service to areas in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania in 1794, containing descriptions of his encounters with the Oneida, Mohawk, Susquehanna, and other Iroquois tribes and communities. Also includes 14-year-old Elizabeth Hawley's diary of her summer trip to visit her aunt Lettie in Delaware, Ohio in 1882, and Nelson J. Hawley's 1918 record of his experiences as a surgeon during World War I. Hawley's narrative is typed in the format of a diary, and discusses his journey to Europe as well as his difficult and gruesome time in the trenches and field hospitals of France. Additional volumes include two autograph books containing poetry and scraps; a scrapbook containing advertising trade cards; and a scrapbook containing printed and manuscript lyrics, most of them minstrel songs. Genealogical material on the Hawley and related families and a few family photographs are included.

Biographical / historical:

The Hawley family immigrated to the American colonies in the 1600s. Gideon Hawley, a missionary to the Six Nations in 1754, briefly served in the Revolutionary War and was later appointed as a representative for the Mashpee nation to help petition Massachusetts for their right to self-government.

The bulk of the materials present in this set of family papers start in the mid-19th century and regard the descendents of Rev. Nelson Hawley and Elizabeth Phelps Swearingen. The couple married in Ohio in 1835. One of their sons, Thomas Swearingen Hawley, was born in 1837 and was a surgeon in the Missouri 11th Infantry during the American Civil War. He and his wife, Caroline Joy, married in 1865 and settled in Alabama. Eventually the family returned to Saint Louis, Missouri, where many are now buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. The couple had several children, including Elizabeth Phelps Hawley Locher and Nelson Joy Hawley - both have significant correspondence present in the collection. Nelson Joy Hawley also became a surgeon and served in the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.

Acquisition information:
The Hawley Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 1986.
Processing information:

Processed by Kimberly Sims, May 2011

Encoded by Kimberly Sims, June 2011

Updated for remediated and inclusive description by Meghan Lyon in October 2022

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Hawley Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.