Thank you for visiting!

Genealogy Profile: Chester Hawley

Pam Hawley Marlin   October 2021

The following genealogy profile is based on research compiled by the author. Chester Hawley is the author's third great-uncle. View Hawley Family Tree.


Chester Hawley, Overseer of Highways for road district No. 45 in Clarendon, provides an annual account. Clarendon Historical Society


Beginnings - New York and Michigan

Chester Hawley, the author 3rd great-uncle, was born in New York in 1811 to John Hawley Sr. and Betsey (Malbone) Hawley. Chester grew up in Clarendon, New York and lived on adjacent property with his father, John Sr. and brother Calvin Bateman. Chester married first wife, Elmina Wheeler in Clarendon. After moving to Michigan in 1854, Elmina died and Chester married his second wife Catherine Abbott.

This line of Hawley men made their living as farmers. Each one owned many acres of farmland in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, and Kansas as the family migrated west. It was not unusual for the Hawley patriarch and his sons to establish their homestead on the same farmland for a time before the eldest son would venture out on his own.


Clarendon, Orleans County, New York

Chester potentially lived in the original Hawley house still standing today about 4 miles outside of Clarendon on Merrill Road. According to the map below, Chester's father and brother, John Sr. and Calvin Bateman, lived in section 82. Though Chester is not listed on the map, he owned section 104, just west of section 82. The map does not indicate that there is a house in section 104, so Chester and his family may have lived in John Sr.'s house. As indicated on the map below, there was a creek located between John Sr. Chester's property. That creek is still there today.

The 1850 Clarendon census lists Chester with his wife, Elmina, and three children, Helen, Byron, and Theron. The census taker inacurately spelled the last name as "Holley" insead of "Hawley."

John (Hawley) Holly and Calvin Bateman (Hawley) Holly on Lot 82 of the 1852 Clarendon, Orleans County, New York land ownership map. Chester owned section 104. Library of Congress

The John Hawley Sr. house located on Merrill Road in Clarendon, New York. The two-story section of the house is original. P Marlin 2021

The original Hawley property located on Merrill Road in Clarendon, New York. P Marlin 2021

Chester Hawley family listed in the 1850 census. Ancestry

Chester Hawley listed on tax document. Clarendon Historical Society

Chester Hawley listed on tax document. Clarendon Historical Society


Road Book

Clarendon's roads were a serious matter to its residents. The Clarendon Historical Society has many historical documents that are road lists or road warrants. These documents consist of the names of residents within certain districts who were assessed a certain amount of work days on the roads according to the value of property they owned.

Chester Hawley is selected Overseer of Highways for road district No. 45 in Clarendon, provides an annual account. Notice Chester's original signature. Clarendon Historical Society

A list of the overseers of road districts. Chester is overseer for district No. 45. Clarendon Historical Society


Political Preference

School's were a first priority in early Clarendon as indicated by the information provided in local school district reports. In the 1840 election year, a No. 6 school district report lists John Sr., John Jr., and Chester Hawley as supporters of incumbent President Martin Van Buren supporters. Van Buren lost the election.

The Whig and Van Buren supporters in school district No. 6. John Sr., John Jr., and Chester Hawley are listed as Van Buren supporters. Clarendon Historical Society. P Marlin 2021


Second Free Will Baptist Church

John Hawley and his son, Chester, were organizers of the Free-will Baptist church of Clarendon. The church held meetings in schoolhouse No. 10 located about a mile from john Sr.'s house. The schoolhouse was located across from Robinson Cemetery on Byron-Holley Road. Today the schoolhouse is a private residence. The original schoolhouse from 1846 is long gone.

The following is an excerpt from Historical Album of Orleans, New York.

"A Free-will Baptist church was organized at East Clarendon at an early day, and retained an existece until about 1850, when it was absorbed by an organization of the same denomination in the southwestern part of the town, known as the Second Free-Will Baptist Church of Clarendon which was formed in 1846. The following is an extract from the records of that church: "Pursuant to appointment a meeting was held at the schoolhouse in district No.10 in Clarendon, April 7th 1846, at which time Elder Archibald Bennett, Elder Eli Hannibal and Elder Ferguson formed in union twenty-three members and organized a church." A sermon was preached by Elder Bennett, a covenant read and charge given by Elder Ferguson, and the right hand of fellowship extended by Elder Hannibal. Chester Hawley was elected church clerk and treasurer: Jehial Glidden was chosen deacon, and John Hawley, assistant deacon. Rev. Archibald Bennett became the first pastor of this church and remained until May 1st, 1851: he was followed by Rev. A. Gilman for a time. Up to this time public meetings had been held, for a most part, in schoolhouse district No. 10."


Move to Comstock, Michigan

In 1858, Chester followed his father and brothers to Michigan. Per the following deed, Chester purchased 40 acres of land in Comstock, Michigan on November 30, 1858. This property was located about 2 miles from where his brother, Calvin Bateman, and originally his father, John Sr., owned property. According to the land ownership maps below, Chester's name stayed on this property for many years after he and his second wife died (years 1873, 1890, 1910 and 1928).

The deed to Chester's purchase of property in Comstock in 1858. Family Search Images


Calvin Bateman Hawley (prior John Sr. property) and Chester Hawley in sections 18 and 10 on the 1861 Land Ownership Map for Comstock, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Library of Congress


Chester Hawley in section 10 of the Comstock, Michigan land ownership map, 1910. See Historic Map Works


Chipman Preserve

Today, the 40 acres of property that Chester Hawley once owned is now part of a several hundred acre tract called Chipman Preserve. In 2002, the Chipman family donated the land to Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy as a way to restore it to its native habitats -- woodlands, savanna and prairie. The Preserve is now home to red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, coyotes, eastern box turtles, red fox, and all kinds of birds. I took opportunity to explore the Preserve's landscape and see first hand the land my ancestor lived on and farmed for so many years. Whatever house that once stood on the property is long gone.

Chipman Preserve, Comstock, Michigan. P Marlin 2021

Chipman Preserve, Comstock, Michigan. P Marlin 2021

Chipman Preserve, Comstock, Michigan. P Marlin 2021


Journey's End

In 1863, Chester's wife, Elmina, passed away and was buried in Comstock Cemetery. In 1864, Chester married his second wife, Catharine Abot. He was 53 and she was 30. Catherine and Chester had 5 children before he passed away in 1877. Chester is buried next to his first wife, Elmina. Elmina has a headstone, however, Chester does not.

Chester Hawley and Catherine Abot marriage record. Family Search


Chester Hawley Obituary. Kalamazoo Gazette


Elmina Hawley gravesite in Comstock Cemetery. Chester is located to the left (no stone). P Marlin 2021

The Hawley plot in Comstock, Michigan cemetery where John Sr. and Betsey Hawley and Elmina and Chester Hawley are buried. Elmina and Betsey's (forefront) stones are the only ones remaining. P Marlin 2021