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John Willis Alston and Mary "Mollie" (Knox) Hawkins

John Willis Alston Hawkins

Mollie Knox Hawkins
HUGE THANKS to Caroline Luck for sharing this photo!

John Willis Alston Hawkins was born in 1845 in Stewart (now Webster) County, Georgia. He grew up on the Hawkins plantation outside what is now Preston, Webster County, Georgia.

He was married to Mollie Knox. To this union no natural children were born. One son Henry Estes Hawkins was adopted sometimes between 1876 and 1880.

One story was told in the History of Webster County was of a young Mollie Knox. "The citizens of nearby Preston, are considering placing a marker on the courthouse square where the first raising of the Confederate flag in Georgia is said to have taken place on March 31, 1861. The heroine of this true story, Miss Mollie Jossey Statham, died in Richland in recent years.... At the very beginning of the War Between the States, three companies of soldiers were sent to Preston for three months training, camping around the school building...A group of ladies from Atlanta were returning to Atlanta by train on the night of March 4. They sat up all night sewing on a flag which was the Stars and Bars. The train stopped at Fairburn the morning of the 5th and the Stars and Bars were displayed on a staff for the first time in Georgia...It was decided to place a 60 foot flag pole on the courthouse lawn from which to fly the Confederate flag to show their loyalty to the Confederacy. In order to select the young lady who would hoist the flag for the first time, votes would be cast as to which was the most popular girl in Preston. There were three girls (one chosen by each company) in the contest, who had been very active in collecting food for the soldiers. They were Misses Mollie Jossey, Mollie Swinney and Mollie Knox--three Mollies. Much excitement reigned and after the 600 some odd votes were cast it was found that the winner was Miss Molly Jossey."

John Willis Alston Hawkins was a Confederate soldier in the company called Webster Rifles. John served as a Private, CSA Infantry, Co. A, 17th Regiment. He entered the service on August 13, 1861 and surrendered at Appomatox, VA on April 9, 1865.

John was associated with the Methodist Church. He was a trustee in this church. He was also a man who had some education, as he was able to write as shown by the fact he was the census taker one year.

John worked the plantation as an adult and it has been recorded Mollie operated the hotel on the southwest corner of the square for a number of years.

John Willis Alston Hawkins was also on the Grand Jury which led to the hanging of the first woman in Georgia.

A story of John's later years told of him being a fixture in a rocking chair on the porch of the Preston Hotel, along with Jim Stapleton, John Freeman, Col. Souter, George Thornton, and J.O. Rees.

John W. A. Hawkins had an obituary in the Americus Tri-Weekly Republican dated May 15, 1935. It states in error that his name was J. W. H. Hawkins. This obit states that he was a judge, but I have found no other evidence of this fact.

At this time, the date of Mollie Hawkins death is unknown. John Willis Alston Hawkins died on May 15, 1935 of old age according to his death certificate. He is buried in the Preston Cemetery, Preston, Webster county, Georgia. There is an unmarked grave next to his which I believe to be that of Mollie Hawkins.

History of Webster County, Georgia
Sumter County Georgia Newspapers
Personal correspondence and census work

John WA Hawkins Graves
John WA Hawkins Obituary
John WA Hawkins and Mollie Knox Wedding Announcement
John WA Hawkins Civil War
John WA Hawkins in the Americus Newspaper
John WA Hawkins Death Certificate