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Biography of David Hawes

David Hawes, the subject of this biography, father of Major Chas. W. and Frank B. Hawes, was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, October 19, 1809, and died in Rock Island, Illinois, April 20, 1900, aged ninety years six months and one day. In all that makes for good citizenship, it may be truly said that David Hawes was a model. He was one of the earliest settlers of Rock Island His grandfather, John Hawes, was a Revolutionary soldier, fighting with the American patriots at Lexington and Bunker Hill, and later participating in the capture of Ticonderoga, being wounded in this latter engagement.

David Hawes resided in Massachusetts until 1835, when, in company with Lemuel Andrews, his brother-in-law, he set his face westward. He reached St. Louis a month later, and in October of 1835, arrived in Rock Island. Rock Island, at the time of his arrival here, was a trading post for the Sac and Fox Indians. There were but ten houses in the village inhabited by white men. In December of 1835, Mr. Hawes returned to St. Louis, overland, accompanied by Mr. Andrews. They followed the old Indian or “Cow” trail. The trip was one filled with hardships. Lost in a blizzard, Mr. Andrews almost succumbed and Mr. Hawes struggled through the storm to the nearest settlement. Mr. Andrews was rescued in the nick of time. In January of 1836, Mr. Hawes returned to Massachusetts from St. Louis, and returned to Illinois, accompanied by his wife, who was Miss Julia M. Babcock, of Ware, Massachusetts, locating at Naples. He engaged in the hotel business at that point for a short time, but in September, 1857, again located in Rock Island. For a time he conducted the old Rock Island House. On September 15, 1870, Mrs. Hawes passed away. Two years later Mr. Hawes was united in wedlock to Mrs. Susan B. Arnold, who survives.

Always of a devout turn of mind, due, no doubt to his Puritan ancestry, it was not until 1850 that Mr. Hawes united with the Baptist Church of Rock Island. On March 27th of that same year he was elected a deacon, and remained a member of that church and an ordained deacon to the day of his death. His conspicuous Christian life, indeed, won the distinction of ordination. It is stated that he was the only deacon ever ordained by the Baptist Church in Rock Island.

From the date of his location here, Mr. Hawes took a leading and active part in every movement designed for the growth and betterment of Rock Island. He was instrumental in the construction of the first sewer in Rock Island. He served the city as alderman and later as acting mayor, and in 1860-1862 was sheriff of Rock Island County. He also held the office of United States Gauger at this point for a number of years, held the office of coroner for twelve years, and for many years prior to and at the time of his death was a justice of the peace.

At the time of his decease, in 1900, besides being the oldest member of the Baptist Church, he was a member of the Old Settlers’ Association, with which he affiliated as a charter member, and had held continuous membership in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, joining in 1848. His funeral attested the love and esteem in which he was held by the people of Rock Island generally. The services were held at the First Baptist Church, the ceremony being conducted by the pastor, Reverend G. B. Simons, assisted by Reverend H. C. Leland, pastor of the Orion Baptist Church. Rock Island Lodge No. 18, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, conducted the services at the grave.

David Hawes was an earnest Christian, a conscientious public servant, devoted to his family and ardent in his patriotism. He lived the perfect Christian life.

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