Coleman Hawkins

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Coleman Hawkins

Birthplace: Virginia (WV after 1863), United States
Death: December 05, 1883 (50)
Stony Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana, United States (self-inflicted gunshot wound; suicide)
Place of Burial: Maplewood Cemetery Anderson, Madison County, Indiana, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Aaron Leslie Hawkins, Senator and Ann Catherine Hawkins
Husband of Elizabeth Hawkins (Blazer)
Father of James M Hawkins; George G Hawkins; Mary C DeWitt (Hawkins); Philip Dickey Madison Hawkins; Rosa Jane Johnson (Hawkins) and 9 others
Brother of Sarah Lough (Hawkins); Lucinda Hall (Hawkins); John H Hawkins; Henry J Hawkins; Letha Morgan (Hawkins) and 5 others

Managed by: Colonel Joel Andrew Hawkins, Vie...
Last Updated:

About Coleman Hawkins


Coleman Hawkins was for many years a resident of Stoney Creek township, in the vicinity of Johnson's Crossing, on the Midland Railway. He was one of the wealthiest and most highly respected citizens in that neighborhood. Near his residence was a neighbor by the name of John J. Johnson, with whom the best of relations had always existed. This lasted up to the year 1883, when a bitter feeling was aroused between them over the construction of a ditch running through the neighborhood. Mr. Johnson was the postmaster of the village, and on the evening of the 5th of December, 1883, took a mail pouch to the station to place on the train. He met Mr. Hawkins on the platform of the depot. When the train had left, Hawkins, arising and stepping alongside of Mr. Johnson, asked him "what he had to say about the ditch matter, if there was not some way by which its construction could be stopped and a compromise be effected." Johnson answered that he had told Mr. Hawkins on a former occasion what he was willing to do and that was the end of it. At this remark Hawkins drew a revolver and Johnson told him to put it up, that he did not want any trouble with him. Johnson then walked away, when Hawkins fired upon him, the shot taking effect in the back just left of the spinal column and below the shoulder blade. Johnson ran into the station house and closed the door after him. As he shut the door another pistol shot was fired, the ball just passing the door. Hawkins then rushed to the window, about six feet from the door, broke out a pane of glass, and fired four or five additional shots, two of which took effect in Mr. Johnson's body, one on the left side of the face and the other in the forearm. One shot passed through the stove pipe in the room and another through the ceiling. Johnson now opened the door and ran past Hawkins into a field that led to his residence. Hawkins having emptied the chambers of the revolver, drew a second one and resumed pursuit of his victim. He fired four additional shots, one of which lodged in Johnson's right shoulder. Four bullet holes were found in his coat in different places where his body had escaped injury. Johnson ran until his strength was fast failing, when he turned on his pursuer and clinched him, forcing him to the ground. At this moment Miss Rosa Johnson, a daughter, having heard the the firing at the station, ran in that direction and came up to the two men as they locked arms in a hard struggle. She took hold of the pistol and wrenched it from the hand of Hawkins. John Hawkins, a resident of the neighborhood, was also attracted to the scene and separated the men. Upon getting up Hawkins remarked that if Johnson would let him go he would let go of him. Hawkins then returned to the railroad track and walked west a few rods and entered a field, which he traversed in a southwesterly direction, towards a barn on his farm. His wife also had heard the shooting, and, fearing something was wrong with her husband, as she had seen him going in that direction but a few moments before, started out to look for him. She saw him going toward the barn from across the field and started thither, in company with her son Rufus. Before they reached the barn the husband and father had entered a shed, hiding himself from view. Just about this time the sharp report of a pistol was heard. Hastening to the spot they found Hawkins sitting upright against the side of the shed with a splash of blood on his left cheek, just below the eye; in his hands he grasped the revolver with which he had committed the awful deed. He was unconscious when his wife and son arrived, and died within a few minutes. Mr. John J. Johnson, his intended victim, lived many years after this occurrence, having to all outward appearances fully recovered from the effects of the shooting, although he carried in his person four 32-calibre leaden balls up to the day of his death, which occurred at his home near the scene of the tragedy only a few years since. As stated above, the cause of this act was due to what happens in such cases where a bitter feeling arises over the construction of a ditch. Johnson's farm lay above that of Hawkins', and the natural drainage of the former was on the latter. For three or four years Johnson had tried to prevail upon his neighbor to give him an outlet, so that he might drain his land. For some reason Hawkins steadily refused to grant the request., not withstanding Johnson had been compelled to pay an assessment for the construction of the ditch through the property of Hawkins, and which could be of no value to him unless he was allowed to drain into it. Johnson, after all of his persuasive powers had failed, had resorted to the courts to force an outlet through the land of Hawkins, which so wounded the latter's feelings that he committed the awful deed. the prominence of both parties and their good reputation in the community placed them above suspicion of anything of this kind. it caused a great deal of excitement in the neighborhood and grief among the friends of both families. The pistols with which Hawkins committed the crime were purchased of Nichol & Makepeace. Hawkins bought one of them on a certain day, and another the day following, saying the the one he had bought first was not a good one. Johnson was sixty-one years of age and Hawkins about fifty-five when this tragedy took place. Hawkins was a man easily enraged, and was vicious for the time being with all about him, but generally was of a very pleasant disposition. Johnson, on the other hand, was one of those sympathetic, quiet, good-natured men, who scarcely ever become angry, and was highly respected by everyone who knew him. The remains of Coleman Hawkins were interred in the Anderson cemetery, over which was erected a handsome granite shaft that can be plainly seen from the Alexandria road as the traveler turns to the right after passing out of the iron bridge crossing White river. The widow of Coleman Hawkins yet resides on the old farm, and has earned for herself the reputation of being one of the best farm managers in the county, having carefully preserved the fortune left by her husband. Forkner's 'History of Madison County' 1884, pages 965-968

Notes: Neither this account or the obituary of John J. Johnson mentions the fact that Coleman Hawkins' daughter, Rosa Jane Hawkins, was married to John J. Johnson's son, John Marshall Johnson. The two had been married in 1881 in Madison County. The couple remained married after this event took place, but this event no doubt put a strain on family relationships. Also the neighbor John Hawkins mentioned in the account was Coleman's son. VCR 11-9-02

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Coleman Hawkins's Timeline

March 27, 1833
Virginia (WV after 1863), United States
Age 19
Madison County, Indiana, United States
Age 26
Indiana, United States
February 26, 1861
Age 27
Madison County, Indiana, United States
May 23, 1863
Age 30
Madison County, Indiana, United States
Age 31
Madison County, Indiana, United States
Age 31
Madison County, Indiana, United States
April 1, 1866
Age 33
Madison County, Indiana, United States
April 1867
Age 34
Madison County, Indiana, United States
December 23, 1869
Age 36
Madison County, Indiana, United States