CHARLES W. HAWK. When the historian of the future compiles the annals of Stevens County, reckoning up those who plowed the virgin soil, erected the first homes and laid the basis of all that came afterward, there will be room on the honor roll for Charles W. Hawk, who homesteaded in East Center Township in 1906 with the first permanent colony of that region.
To go as far back as possible in recounting his story, it should be stated that his great-grandparents lived in Pennsylvania. Grandfather Michael Hawk was born in Pennsylvania, but was only a boy when he went with his people to Butler County, Ohio, where he made an honorable place for himself in the country district, his specialty being the operation of a sawmill, which converted some of the hardwood timber of that region into lumber, his mill being located on Indian Creek. In the early decades of the last century, before the military spirit aroused by the two wars with Great Britain had died out, he attended the "muster days" and was honored with the rank of major of the militia. He married Elizabeth Richmond, and they spent their last years in Illinois and were buried at Shelbyville. Among their children were William, Eli, David, Mrs. Maggie Stewartson, Susan, Emma and Philip.
The father of Charles W. Hawk was Eli, who was born in Butler County, Ohio, January 13, 1835, grew up there, and spent considerably more time hauling logs to his father's mill than attending school. He married Sarah Dutton, of a family of farmers in Butler County, Ohio. They spent a number of years on a farm in Shelby County, Illinois, where they started their family, but did not succeed in gaining a competence and it was to better their condition that they finally set out for the cheap lands of Central Kansas. Some time in the year 1884, while the people of the nation were preparing to put the first democratic adminstration into power since the Civil war, Eli Hawk started out with two of his daughters with a wagon and team and drove all the way overland to Stafford County, his wife and other children later following him by rail. Entering a homestead in York Township, he used a port of his very modest capital to make such improvements as a sod house, and that sheltered him and his until the Government gave him his deed of title. Then came a more modern home, and the quarter section gradually assumed the condition of a good farm. During the early years his children worked out, contributing their wages to the family upkeep, and thus obviated the necessity of putting a mortgage on the farm, as so many of the neighbors were forced to do.
Eli Hawk reached Stafford County in time to assist in organizing the first school district in his community and put up the first schoolhouse, and was a member of the school board most of the time he lived there. He was also road supervisor of his district. In politics he has always been a democrat, and both he and his wife were birthright Quakers or Friends. His wife died in Seward County, and was laid to rest there. Their children were: Nannie, who married Will Burns and died in Stafford County; William M., of Protection, Kansas; Emma, who married Bart Hartnett, of Stafford County; John N., of Seward County; Dora O., wife of Dell Parnham, of Edwards County; Maggie B., wife of Dan Kitlen, died in Stafford County; Michael Henry, of St. Joseph, Missouri; Charles Wesley, who was next to the youngest; and Nellie Bess, wife of Ellis Linder, of Vici, Oklahoma.
Charles W. Hawk was born in Shelby County, Illinois, May 3, 1877, and from the above account it will be seen that he has been a Kansan since he was seven years old. Each year he attended a brief term of country school until he attained working age, and his practical education was through the experience of helping develop the Stafford County farm and taking care of the stock. At the age of twenty he made his first independent venture, buying on time a team and harness for $75 and renting a farm. His first crop of corn made him forty bushels to the acre. At that time Stafford County was still considered Western Kansas. In a few years he began to regard himself as fairly independent, having some stock and other property, and a family. But a season came when he lost some of his most valuable stock, and sickness in the household used up all the surplus, so that he felt under the same spur of necessity which twenty years before had driven his father westward in search of cheap land and better opportunities.
Thus it was that in 1906 Mr. Hawk arrived in Stevens County and homesteaded the northeast quarter of section 14, township 33, range 35. On that he remained until he secured his patent, until the land was improved, and until the tide of success had turned in his favor. He had brought to this county, besides his wife and four young children, a team of mules, a blind mare, a wagon and two heifers. Behind him he left the record of $450 in debts, and nothing ever gave him greater satisfaction than when they were paid.
His first improvements were a small frame house 16 by 16, and a board barn covered over with straw to shelter his stock. He has always kept cattle, and all in all they have been a valuable resource. His crops seldom failed to realize something, and between seedtime and harvest he spent much of his time running a well drilling machine. This work brought him his cash income and kept the family in food and clothing. He was drilling wells over portions of two years. The third year he raised over 1,800 bushels of wheat, which went to market at over $1 a bushel. That was a year of good fortune, when debts disappeared and a better house replaced the little frame shack. On the whole he has done well at grain raising, though wheat has made a stand only about half the seasons.
After six years he sold his homestead, and with the proceeds bought the west half of section 23, township 33, range 35. Half of it had been plowed, but otherwise there were no improvements. His present home, with a five-room residence, barn 48 by 58 feet, with mow capacity of ninety tons, granary holding 5,000 bushels, poultry house, and other buildings, represent the labor and investment of the last five years. On his former place be developed a very successful orchard, but his efforts in that direction on his present farm have been less favorable.
While busied with his own affairs, Mr. Hawk has never felt that he could neglect participation in those things which represent the well being of the community. He has served as a member of the school board in District No. 35 ever since occupying his present place. He cast his first presidential ballot for Bryan, and has supported subsequent presidential candidates on the democratic ticket except in 1904 when Roosevelt was his choice. His wife and the children are members of the Friends Church.
In Stafford County March 17, 1897, he married Miss Sarah Etta Titus. Their four daughters are Vineta Elizabeth, Eunice Jane, Maudie May and Linnie Letha.
Azariah H. Titus, father of Mrs. Hawk, is now a retired resident of Liberal. He was reared on a farm in Mercer County, New Jersey, where he was born November 1, 1853, a son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Hunt) Titus, the latter a daughter of Azariah Hunt. Joseph Titus was a son of Samuel and Sarah (Hart) Titus, the former a shoemaker and farmer near Pennington, New Jersey, and their other children were William, Charles, George, Samuel, Bennie, Mrs. Phoebe Gulick, Mrs. Sarah Cox and Mrs. Mary Frances Wilson. The children of Joseph and Elizabeth Titus were: Mrs. Sarah Vreeland, of Sussex County, Delaware; Azariah H.; Edward and Samuel H., of Stafford County, Kansas.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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