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Charles Wesley Hawkesworth: Encyclopedia Arctica 15: Biographies
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Charles Wesley Hawkesworth

By Mrs. C.W. Hawkesworth
Received May 20, 1948
Recopied with revisions by VS
June 1, 1948

Charles Wesley Hawkesworth

HAWKESWORTH, CHARLES WESLEY (1878-1940), for three years the most
northerly representative of the U.S. Government in Alaska, was born 19th April,
1878, in Port George, Nova Scotia, in the home of his maternal grandmother.
When he was three months old, the mother returned to Leadville, Colorado, with
her two older children and babe where the father was employed. In 1882, the
family moved to Cambridge, Mass. Four years later the mother died. His
father was kind, but strict in bringing up his children in habits of respect
and obedience. Charles was lively, active boy, impetuous, affectionate
and placable, sensitive and impressionable. He was orderly, solicitous
always to do right, industrious and persevering. His summers were usually
spent on the farm of George Hale at Newbury, Mass. where he enjoyed pleasant
companionship, the love of what was intellectual and beautiful, the love of
literature and converse of the minds of the great and good. He received his
elementary schooling at Amesbury, Mass., and in 1893.entered Kimball Union
Academy.
Charles Hawkesworth volunteered in the Spanish-American War, Company
G, first New Hampshire Volunteer in 1898. After the war he returned to
Kimball Union Academy and graduated. He was captain of the basketball team,
and outstanding in the Academy activities. Deciding to study for the
ministry, he entered Bangor Theological Seminary at Bangor, Maine, studying
there until 1904. Then he entered Bowdoin College at Brunswick, Maine,
and graduated with the class of 1906. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi
Fraternity and outstanding in football. After graduation from Bowdoin
College, he felt the urge to go west and preach. Coming to Walla Walla,
Washington, he supplied, for a short time, at a small church in Sunnyside, near Walla Walla. He received a call to the Congregational Church at
Arlington, Washington, and stayed there until June, 1907.
June 7, he married Miss Ida Ruth Rear at the home of her parents
in Snohomish, Washington.
Through the friendship of Mr. & Mrs. John Kilbuck, who were
teaching and working with the Eskimos at Wainwright, Alaska, under the
U.S. Bureau of Education, Department of Indian Affairs, Hawkesworth decided
that teaching among the Eskimos was the life he wanted. On his applying to
William Lopp, Government Superintendent of Indian Schools for a position,
Lopp replied he could assign him to teach the most northerly school in Alaska,
where Hawkesworth would also be supervisor of the reindeer herds which the
Government had introduced into that section. Needless to say, he accepted.
Transportation was arranged for Mr. & Mrs. Hawkesworth for Point Barrow, Alaska.
They left Seattle, Washington, June 18, 1907, for Nome, Alaska,
where they were to go aboard the United States Cutter Thetis , which made
yearly trips to Barrow. They reached Nome, June 27, and left for Barrow
July 4th. It was an exciting trip as the ship had to force its way through
ice floes, always watchful for open leads. While bucking the ice, the ship's
rudder post was broken and the Hawkesworths were transferred to the small
sailing vessel, Volante . Upon boarding her they were informed by Captain
John Backland that they were nearly out of fresh water and asked to try
and not use more than one cup a day. Having learned how the Thetis coped
with the fresh water situation, Hawkesworth suggested to the Captain that
he go over to an old-looking floe of sea ice, a short distance from the ship,
and obtain all the fresh water needed. The Captain was dubious, but after
some discussion as to how it was done, he consented to take three of his
sailors, Hawkesworth and himself, and row over in the dinghy to the floe. Captain Backland, still doubtful as to the water, cautiously sipped from
the tin cup which he had brought for tasting. He drank, smacked his lips
and let forth a whoop that could be heard on the Volante . As a result of
this experiment, the Volante was well supplied with water. She was a
Government supply ship, carrying freight to the villages along the coast;
on her return south she would bring out whalebone, furs and ivory to be
sold in the States.
At the village of Wainwright, Kilbuck, who was the local government
teacher, was invited aboard, to sail to Barrow and meet his wife, who had
been visiting at the home of Mr. Spriggs and his wife, in charge of the
Presbyterian Mission. Kilbuck had the sad news to break to his wife of
the death of their son and daughter who were attending college in the
states. Sad at heart, the Kilbucks returned to their station at Wainwright.
The Volante reached Barrow, August 22nd. There was much freight
to be landed and Hawkesworth had his first experience with Eskimo labor,
which was not paid for in cash, but in trade — calico, drill for snow
skirts, thread, needles, ammunition, hard tack, rope, flour, coffee, etc.
The Eskimos refused to work on Sunday. They had learned to believe that
to do so would be a sin and would keep them from entering heaven.
Mrs. Hawkesworth had received a piano as a wedding gift from her
parents; but Captain Backland advised against taking it, saying, that an
organ would be better because its tone would not be ruined by the hard
trip. He told her to purchase an organ with mirrors and a fancy top,
which she did. The Captain transported the organ, free of charge, as his
wedding gift. Many times the Hawkesworths wished the Eskimos were not so
curious as to what made the organ sing. They loved music and so the organ
was played for all occasions.
School bagan September 1st with an enrollment of 90 pupils.
Hawkesworth's greatest joy was in teaching these eager, studious boys and
girls and watching them respond. They enjoyed the reading material he supplied
them and were welcome to come into the Hawkesworth's home at any time. The
church services were also held in the school room.
In their Barrow home, near Alaska's north tip, the Hawkesworths met
a number of polar explorers. The one whom they knew best, because he came
so often and had so much in common with them through interest in the people,
was Vilhjalmur Stefansson. He and they spent many happy hours together.
At the end of the third year, in 1910, Hawkesworth felt that he
wanted to go east and enter Columbia University for more intensive study,
since he had decided that teaching was to be his profession. So, upon
arrival of the Cutter Bear , which brought Mr. and Mrs. Cram, who were to take
over the Barrow school, Mr. & Mrs. Hawkesworth boarded the Cutter Bear to
go as far as Nome, intending to proceed from there by the steamer Victoria
to Seattle. But, upon reaching Nome, an urgent telegram from the Bureau
of Indian Affairs awaited Hawkesworth, requesting that he go back by dog
team to visit and inspect all the stations and reindeer herds along the
coast as far as Point Barrow. This he did and came out to Seattle the follow–
ing summer, in 1911. But it seems that Hawkesworth was not to go to Columbia;
for the Interior Department wanted him to go to Southeastern Alaska to help
the Haida Indians establish themselves in a new place where they could have
their own businesses and live their own lives away from the influence of the
whites. The Department said they wanted a man of vision, character and the
ability to lead and understand the needs of these people in their new adventure.
November 11, 1911, Mr. & Mrs. Hawkesworth and the inhabitants of
the little Indian village of Klinquan, started by gas boats with their be–
longings and lumber from the torn down old school house, for the site chosen to be their new home. Upon reaching this place, the first thing to be
done was to cut down trees and clear space enough to put up tents in
which to live until the school could be re-built. It was to be used also
for church services, council meetings and entertainments for the people.
A co-operative system was established so that all could share in the
profits. The government made the loan to build a saw mill, besides setting
land aside for the people to build their homes on. The business of the store
made a handsome profit, which was shared. The council voted that no white
men should ever be permitted to come to their town and set up any business.
The town was named by Mrs. Hawkesworth and called Hydaburg. It
is located in the southeastern part of the Prince of Wales Island, ninety
miles west of Ketchikan. Its site was chosen because of its fine harbor and
for its nearness to the fishing grounds, so vital to the native life. Hydaburg
prospered through its fishing and cannery. Hawkesworth was the first Post
Master at Hydaburg.
At the end of the fifth year at Hydaburg, Hawkesworth was assigned
to Juneau, Alaska to be in charge of schools and hospitals. These government
schools are placed in Haida, Klinket and Tsimshean villages. He was able to
expand so much of the vocational, educational and hospital work, that a number
of the young women, who were instructed in nursing, became helpers in the
hospitals and are now proficient in nursing and teaching.
Hawkesworth was active and prominent in fraternal and social
organizations, international, national and Alaskan. He received an honorary
MA Degree from Bowdoin College in 1939. He died suddenly November 4, 1940.
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