A letter to the editor this week

I can’t let it pass. In his splendidly researched article on the Apalachicola Land Company, (See Nov. 21 Times Chasing Shadows "Franklin County’s first land bubble") James Hargrove cited with a photo Judge George Hawkins as the last holder of the corporation.

Hawkins, himself, is of some local notoriety. A native of New York, he early established a law practice in Marianna and Apalachicola. Active in Florida politics, he was one of the original three justices of the Florida Supreme Court when statehood was achieved in 1849.

Some 10 years earlier he had served as an officer in the Apalachicola Guards during the Second Seminole War. During a skirmish, he was shot. Asked if he was badly hurt, Hawkins replied "Just enough to send me to Congress." Soon after, he was elected as Florida’s only national representative and was the first member of Congress to resign his position upon Florida’s secession from the Union in 1861.

In an April 1947 feature of "Ripley’s Believe it or Not" in the Florida Times Union newspaper, the Florida Supreme Court Justice George Sidney Hawkins was credited with having had seven wives but "ventured no estimate of his children." (There were only four.)

He died in 1879 and was buried in Marianna next to six of the beforementioned wives. His last spouse, Rosalie Tillinghast Hawkins, survived him by over 20 years.

His home here was a Gulf Coast cottage on the corner of Avenue C and Fifth Street, the front half of which was moved to Apalachicola by barge at his behest in 1844 from the ruined city of St. Joseph, now the site of the newer Port St. Joe. Family lore maintains that he purchased the house for $10.


Wesley W. Chesnut

Judge Hawkins’ great-grandson