As all beginning genealogist, I relied on online public family trees to start my research. Over the last year, I have been going back over my research, verifying information, adding sources and filling in the gaps. During my research, I started to add sources for my second great grandfather William Hawley. This is when I came to the realization that I have not yet found any document or source that proves that William's parents were Rev. William Chester Hawley and Mary Oakley. So my search began, to find a source to prove what I already knew. At least that was what I thought.
During my search for the missing source records to prove the parentage of William Hawley, I actually believe that I accomplished the exact opposite. I no longer agree with my original conclusion that William Chester Hawley and Mary Oakley are the parents of my second great grandfather William Hawley. I have created an excel spreadsheet to compare "My William Hawley" with William S. Hawley, the son of William and Mary. By grouping known events for these two men by year and analyzing the differences, I believe that I am able to confirm my new assumption.
Comparison table William S. Hawley and William Hawley
As you can see in 1855, William S. Hawley was living with his parents, William Chester and Mary (Oakley) Hawley, in ward 14 of New York City, New York. In the same year, the assumption is that William Hawley was married to his first wife Mercy. The marriage year is assumed based on the birth of their first son Francis on January 3, 1856. This comparison could be argued, due to the fact that I have not yet found a marriage certificate for William and Mercy. However, I'm not giving up yet.
In 1860, William S. Hawley is still living with his parents in Ward 14 of New York City. While, William and Mercy Hawley are now married and can be found living in Nunda, Livingston, New York with their two sons Francis and Charles.
Between the years 1861 and 1867 the two men lived very different lives. In 1861, William S. Hawley enlisted in the US Army to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. He re-enlisted in 1863 after the completion of his first 3-year term. He was discharged in 1865 in New York because he was wounded. He was shot in the left foot which required amputation. During this same time period, William and Mercy Hawley, still living in New York, had their third child Minnie Belle Hawley in 1864. Around 1867 William, Mercy and their young family moved from New York to Northern Michigan. William has started farming on a homestead in Long Rapids, Alpena, Michigan.
By 1870, William S. Hawley is still living in New York and has checked into the New York State Soldiers and Sailor's Home. He is listed as single. William and Mercy Hawley are living in Long Rapids, Alpena, Michigan with their three children.
By 1872, William S. Hawley, Still living in New York, has checked out of the New York State Soldiers and Sailor's home. William's wife Mercy passed away the previous year. William has received a land patent for his homestead in Long Rapids. William has remarried to Sarah Ann Healy and they have had their first child Ellen Hawley.
The next time I find William S. Hawley in the records he is living at 391 S. 5th St. in Brooklyn New York with his mother Mary (Oakley) Hawley who is listed as the widow of William C. Hawley. William and Sarah now have two more children; William Martin and Mary Ann Hawley. That year William and Sarah sell their homestead in Long Rapids to Joshua Brickford. In 1877, William S. Hawley is living in the same home, in Brooklyn, with his mother Mary. The same year, William's daughter Minnie Belle Hawley in married in Long Rapids to a sailor from England by the name of Joseph Biddlecomb.
As you can now clearly see, it is nearly impossible for William Chester Hawley and Mary Oakley to be the parent of William Hawley. They did have a son named William born around the same time and in the state of New York. However, by following the life of William S. Hawley it becomes evident, that my original assumption was incorrect. Besides the fact that William S. Hawley and my second great grandfather William Hawley were living lives in two different states, the fact that William S. Hawley lost his left foot due to a war injury makes it even clearer that they are two different men. As you can see from the photo below, taken about 1876, my second great grandfather, William Hawley appears to still have both of his feet.
Although, I don't like to admit that I jumped to an incorrect assumption based on other's research, that is part of what being a good genealogist is all about. I also believe that the process of finding my mistakes and learning from them makes me better at what I am doing. So, lesson learned. It's time to move on from here. It appears that I have another mystery on my hands that needs to be solved. Who were William Hawley's parents? I can't wait to find out!!
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My name is Rebecca Walbecq. My maiden name is McKenzie. My Genealogy journey began about 15 years ago after talking to my grandma about her family. The spark was lit and since then genealogy has become my passion!
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