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April 14, 2010 > History: The Hawley Family

History: The Hawley Family

James Hawley was born in England in 1822. He came to Brooklyn, New York with his family at the age of three and spent his early childhood years earning a common school education. James learned the carpenter's and builder's trade and worked at this trade in New Jersey. In 1845, he married Hettie Munn.

James responded to the call of the gold rush and sailed around the Horn to San Francisco in 1849. He worked at his trade there until he came to the future Washington Township to enlarge a flour mill for Jose Vallejo. Hawley and Vallejo farmed land along Alameda Creek that was part of Vallejo's Rancho Arroyo de la Alameda. It became known as the "Bell Ranch" because of the bell they hung to call workers to meals. The ranch provided the name for the Bell Ranch Bridge that was later built over Alameda Creek.

Hawley bought a cargo of lumber and erected the Red Hotel, one of the first frame houses in Mission San Jose. He sent for his family, and they came by way of the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco and then to Mission San Jose. The Red Hotel was their first California home. The 1852 Santa Clara County School census lists Charlotte and Emma, daughters of James and Hettie, as residents of Mission San Jose.

Hettie and James resided in the Red Hotel until they purchased land along the Centerville-Alvarado road and built their house. A local paper noted that they had an artesian well on the ranch. Business directories listed James as a farmer and carpenter. The farm, located across from the Beard Ranch, and was usually shown to be 40 or 42 acres. The great flood of 1862 washed out a deep pond in back of the ranch but the house escaped damage because it was located on higher ground. The home was still intact in 1950.

There was no school near the road so the Hawleys joined with other local residents to establish the Alviso District. James then helped build the school. At times he served as a trustee. No doubt the Hawley children attended nearby Alviso School.

James drilled an artesian well on his place in 1875 and struck a good supply of flowing water at about 75 feet. He moved his house to the main country road on higher ground and in a more accessible place.

Although James farmed at times, he found it more profitable to work at as a carpenter. He was also interested in mining and joined several local residents in a mining venture in Alaska. The boat carrying some of the men and equipment sank and the project was abandoned. James was also engaged in the lumber business for a while and constructed lighthouses along the Pacific Coast.

Mr. Hawley was one of the strongest Republicans in Alameda County; he cast his first vote for Henry Clay. He was also a charter member of the Crusade Lodge I.O.O.F. of Alvarado and at the time of his death was one of the oldest Odd Fellows in California.

Hettie and James had six children; five daughters and one son. Charlotte married Charles Whipple. Their children included James who became a star football player, mining engineer, and the husband of Laura Thane.

Emily married John Ingalls. He was described as the only son-in-law who was not a local pioneer. However he was the secretary of the Cypress Cemetery Association formed in 1873. She was a member of the 1853 class held in the mission adobe.

Clara married George Patterson, the largest land owner in the area that included the present Ardenwood Historic Farm. Their children are Henry and Donald. Clara married William Layson after George died. Clara became a community benefactor and noted social hostess. She wrote a booklet in 1907 entitled, The Hawleys in the United States.

Elizabeth married John Lyman Beard and they raised six children. They lived in Warm Springs before establishing their home by Alviso School.

John was chosen a state senator in 1896.

Edwin, the only son, married Belle Coulter and their son was named James.

The youngest daughter, Hettie May, named after her mother, remained the only single Hawley.

Hettie Munn Hawley was one of the earliest members of the Alvarado Presbyterian Church but transferred to the Centerville Presbyterian Church in 1892. She was also a charter member of the Alvarado Rebekah Lodge.

Hawley family members were supporters of the Alameda (later Centerville) Presbyterian Church. Several were listed as active members. James and Dr. J. M. Selfridge were appointed by the trustees to draft a plot plan for the cemetery so lots could be bought.

James was described as "a man of sterling character, honest, upright in business and a kind, accommodating neighbor." Hettie maintained an active interest in social affairs and charitable concerns. They were married 61 years.

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