Georgia Genealogy Trails

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Crawford County, Georgia


Biography of Col. Benjamin Hawkins


H. R. 10579, In the House of Representatives
Introduced March 7, 1930, by Mr. Rutherford of the Sixth Congressional District
A BILL
To provide for the erection of a suitable memorial to the memory of Colonel Benjamin Hawkins at Roberta, Georgia, or some other place in Crawford County, Georgia.



COLONEL BENJAMIN HAWKINS
Benjamin Hawkins was born in 1754 in what was Butte, but now Warren County, North Carolina. He died on the 8th of June, 1816, in Georgia at his residence, "Creek Agency", situated on the Flint River in Crawford County.

His parents were Colonel Philemon and Delia Hawkins, both of whom lived to an advanced age, and died in the county in which they were born. They had four sons and two daughters: John, Philemon, (these two left large families), Benjamin and Joseph, the four of whom were colonels in the Revolutionary War; Delia, who married L. Bullock, and Ann who married Micajah Thomas, were both short lived, and left no children.

Benjamin Hawkins had one son and five daughters, but only three of the girls reached maturity. Jeffersonia, his youngest daughter, married Francis Bacon, of Massachusetts, who established himself upon the site of the old Agency about 1825, and founded the now dead town of Francisville. After Mr. Bacon's death, Jeffcrsonia married a second time to Dr. Jeremiah G. Harvey. They are all buried near the old wire road leading from Macon to Columbus, where the town of Roberta now stands.

Benjamin Hawkins was a man of rare attainments, and his educational advantages were the best the country afforded. He attended Princeton College and remained there until the Revolutionary War suspended the exercises, at which time he was a member of the senior class. The intercourse which General Washington had with French officers, and not being able to speak French, rendered it necessary that he should have some member of his official family to aid him in that particular. He formed an acquaintance with Colonel Hawkins, who spoke French fluently, and pressed him into his service, where he remained for some time.

He was at the battle of Monmouth with Washington in 1779, and also in attendance upon him in this great battle, was his faithful servant "Mingo" who later refused his freedom, preferring a home with his master in Georgia. "Daddy Mingo" lived several years after the death of Colonel Hawkins, and his remains were interred at the feet of his distinguished master.

The North Carolina Legislature in 1780, chose Colonel Hawkins as commercial agent to procure all things needful, at home and abroad, for the use and support of the war and defense of the state. During this time, he acted as aide-de-camp to Governor Nash. On the 13th of May, 1782, he was elected by the General Assembly, a member of Congress to the old Confederation for one year, and was re-elected on the 14th of May, 1783, for a like term and was present in Annapolis in that year, being the memorable Congress before whom General Washington appeared, to lay down his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the American Armies.

In 1785 Colonel Hawkins, being a member of Congress, was appointed and unanimously nominated by the whole North Carolina delegation in Congress, a commissioner, together with Daniel Carrol and William Perry, to treat with the Cherokees and all other Indians south of them. He was also appointed by Congress a Commissioner, associated with General Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin and Lachland Mcintosh, to negotiate with the Creek Indians. They concluded the Treaty of Gilphinton, and in the same commission concluded the Treaty of Hopewell with the Cherokees. Colonel Hawkins was closely identified in the negotiation of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Indians. His name together with those of George Gylmer and Andrew Pickens, were signed as Commissioners on the part of the United States, to the Treaty held at Coleraine in Camden County, Georgia, on March 18, 1797.

A Treaty of Limits between the United States and the Creek Nations of Indians was held near Milledgeville, at Fort Wilkinson. On the part of the United States the signers were Benjamin Hawkins and Andrew Pickens, and for the Indians it was signed by forty chiefs and warriors.

A Treaty with the Creeks at the Agency near the Flint River on November 3, 1794, signed by Hojoie Micco and other Indians, also bore Hawkins' signature.

In 1802 Colonel Hawkins recommended the establishment of a fort and trading post on the Old Ocmulgee Fields. The right to establish such a post was obtained by the Fort Wilkinson Treaty. Colonel Hawkins selected a site on an eminence near the Ocmulgee, where the city of Macon now stands. A tract of land of one hundred acres was set apart for the use of the post and fort. The fort was considered one of the most formidable ones on the frontier, and was named Fort Hawkins, in honor of Colonel Benjamin Hawkins.

When he was looking about for a desirable place to build his home in the Creek Agency, he sought out the trail that led in a direct route to Milledgeville, the old capital, and built on the side of it. This trail was known as the Horse Path, and was "as straight as a crow could fly" to Rock Landing near Milledgeville. This path became a thoroughfare for people going from Fort Mitchell to Fort Hawkins. The Macon Columbus road was afterwards built over the old Horse Path, by the friendly Indians under the direction of General Blackshear and Colonel Hawkins.

During Colonel Hawkins' occupancy of the old Agency, he not only cleared a large acreage of land for farming purposes, but built mills, and storehouses and here established one of the most popular trading posts in the state. Aside from the performance of his official duties, Colonel Hawkins devoted much attention to raising cattle and hogs. So extensive became his herd that at one time he is said to have possessed not less than five hundred calves. The care of these animals, and the details of the Agency furnished employment for many subordinates.

The Flint River was utilized as a convenient dividing line to separate the grown kine from their young. Across this stream a substantial bridge was constructed, with a gate at either end. This large stock of cattle and swine enabled him to entertain the Indians, who constantly visited him, with abundant though primitive hospitality, and materially assisted in perpetuating the kindly and widespread influence which he exerted over them. While he lived, his cattle brand was rigidly respected by the red men, although soon after his death, if reports be true, the Creeks oblivious of former obligations, stole numbers of these cows and hogs.

Benjamin Hawkins was a gifted diplomat, and his army of seven hundred friendly Indians was well disciplined. It is said that he gained their love and bound them to him by "ties as loyal and touching as those of old feudal allegiance and devotion." The Indians of Chehau were closely allied to him, and frequently furnished him with valuable information in regard to the treachery of the British and the unfriendly Indians.

It has been conceded to some of our patriots, that they were great in war. Benjamin Hawkins was not only great in war, but like Washington, was great in peace. It was he who most strongly advocated terminating the War of 1812. He knew well how to approach the "children of the forest," and the simple diplomatic way in which he addressed them is displayed in his quaint letter to the chiefs of Ammicculle at Chehau :
"The time has come when we are to compel our enemies to be at peace, that we may be able to sit down and take care of our families and property without being disturbed by their threatening and plundering of us. General Blackshear is with you to protect and secure the friendly Indians on your river, and to aid in punishing the mischief-makers. Go you to him; see him; take him by the hand and two of you must keep him. You must point out sixty of your young warriors under two chiefs, to be with, and aid under the orders of the General 'til you see me. He will supply them with provisions and some ammunition. You must be very particular about spies. You know all the friendly Indians and all who are hostile. If any spies come about you of the hostiles, point them out to the General. And your warriors, acting with the General, must be as quick and particular as his white soldiers, to apprehend or put to death any enemy you meet with. Your warriors will receive the same pay as the soldiers in the service of the United States.
"I am your friend and the friend of your nation."

The archives at Washington show that Colonel Hawkins tendered his resignation as "Indian Agent" to every president from General Washington to the time of his death, but not one of whom would accept it, telling him he must remain, that his services were indispensable. When he died Governor Mitchell was appointed to fill the place, but he did not remain long at the Agency, and was succeeded by Colonel John Crowell.

Colonel Hawkins is buried on a bluff overlooking the Mint River in Crawford County, about live miles west of Roberta. Only a crumbling rock wall remains to mark the grave.

The United States government owes it to the memory of this pure patriot who, for the sake of his country, lived and died among the savage Indians, to erect above his ashes, a monument which will serve to keep his name in green remembrance; and as Hon. Lucian Lamar Knight in his "Georgia Landmarks Memorials and Legends," says, when the shaft is finished, let it contain a similar inscription to the following:

"Here lies the body of Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, a soldier of the Revolution, a friend of Washington, a Senator of the United States, a scholar, a man of letters, as a mediator of peace, in a time of great national peril, he abandoned the delights of civilized societv, and for sixteen years dwelt among savage tribes. To him belongs the crown of life, for he was faithful even unto death."

Taking these facts into consideration, none of our great men who have had magnificent monuments built to remind us daily of their deeds of valor and heroism, are more deserving than this patriot, who sacrificed his life for what he felt to be his duty.
History of Upson County, Georgia, Macon, Ga.: Press of J.W. Burke Co., 1930
Transcribed by K. Torp



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