Putnam County


William Edward Hawthorne, editor and proprietor of the "Echo," at Granville, his native city, was born June 7, 1859. His ancestral, lineal and collateral branches have for various generations been distinctly American and prior to that time was of English, Scotch and Irish lineage. Research into family records brings to light the fact that the Mayflower brought to America the progenitor of the Hawthorne family, of which William Edward Hawthorne is a representative. In correspondence with Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, it is found that this Concord man of letters is a representative of another branch of the same family. There is also an Irish strain in the ancestry and when Mr. Hawthorne met the famous Irishman, Michael Davitt, who was then touring the United States, said to him in the course of conversation that he traced his ancestry back to the McFaddens, Davitt replied, "McFadden, McFadden, they'd throw no stones at ye in County Cork. The McFaddens are a great clan."

William Hawthorne, father of William Edward Hawthorne, and the fourth in the line of descent to bear that name, was a farmer by occupation and on removing to the middle west entered land from the government four miles southeast of Granville. He paid for this tract a dollar and a quarter per acre and today it is worth two hundred dollars per acre. He married Susan Findley, who died when their son, William E., was six years of age, after which the little lad spent four years with his grandmother, Mrs. Margaret (Hawthorne) Moore, who was one of the early pioneer residents of Granville township. William Hawthorne, Sr., was born in Ohio and was only three years of age when brought by his parents to Putnam county, Illinois. Following the loss of his first wife he married again and removed with his family to Normal, Illinois, where his son and namesake attended school for three or four years. The father then removed to Indiana and William Edward Hawthorne was upon the home farm in Porter county between the ages of twelve and twenty-one years. He attended the public schools and pursued a scientific course in the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso. In early manhood he engaged in teaching school successively in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, after which he returned to Michigan. He was never graduated from any educational institution but has always been a student of men and literature and his special text-books have been the Bible, Shakespeare and the American classics. These certainly are sufficient to give a man broad knowledge and familiarity with the best that has been produced by the writers of the ages. His pursuits in early life were similar to those of most boys who are reared upon a farm. He remembers of his stepmother requiring him to stay up most of the night studying the catechism. At the time of her second marriage she was the widow of a Presbyterian minister and was a most excellent and superior lady, to whom Mr. Hawthorne ascribes the credit for the cultivation of his taste for things of refinement. The desire for knowledge being awakened in him he improved his opportunities for the acquirement of a broader education than the public schools afforded and he paid his tuition with money which he had himself earned, never receiving a dollar from any one except to return it when his labors as a teacher made the discharge of the financial obligations possible.

On attaining his majority Mr. Hawthorne went to Michigan and worked for his elder brother in a grain elevator at Marengo. It was there that he taught his first school, and after his return to Indiana he engaged in teaching in that state for a year prior to his removal to Florid, Putnam county, Illinois. He afterward went to Vermontville, Michigan, where he held his first principalship for two years. He taught his last school at Essexville, Michigan, a suburb of Bay City. Each year during his experience as a teacher brought him an advance in salary, indicating his growing ability in the profession. In the fall of 1884 he took charge of a general store in Granville, Illinois, for H. Bateman and in the following autumn in connection with G. L. Brando he established a hardware and grocery store in the building formerly used as the Granville Academy. For fifteen years he was thus engaged in merchandising and retired from that line of activity two years after his election to the office of superintendent of schools in Putnam county, which office he occupied for eight years, during which time through his efforts, the standard of public instruction was greatly raised and the schools were placed upon an excellent working basis. He was also town clerk and postmaster while engaged in merchandising and likewise served as village treasurer and village clerk during that period. In 1901 he organized the Granville Mercantile Company, conducting the business for four years, and in 1903 he established the Granville "Echo," which was under the management of his brother-in-law, B. B. Blosser, until 1905, when Mr. Hawthorne abandoned the field of mercantile effort and took control of the "Echo" printing business, in which he has since continued.

Aside from his official acts while an incumbent of political positions Mr. Hawthorne has done much important public service as a private citizen. He has given his cooperation to many progressive public movements, serving as secretary of the Granville Lecture Association, while for the greater part of twenty years he has been secretary of the Granville Cemetery Association, performing the duties connected therewith with satisfaction to those concerned and with financial success. In politics he has always been a stalwart republican and has done some effective campaign work. He has never been connected, however, with fraternal, political or social organizations or clubs, his relations with organized bodies being restricted to the church. When yet a boy he became a church member and is religiously cosmopolitan, having belonged at different times to the Methodist Episcopal, the Christian, the Presbyterian and the Congregational churches. Wherever he has lived he has connected himself with the orthodox church of the community and has been Sunday-school superintendent for perhaps twenty-five years of his life, while in one way or another he has been connected with church work for a long period. At the present time he holds membership with the Congregational church at Granville, but occupies no office therein.

Mr. Hawthorne was married March 14, 1882, to Miss Emma Emelia Opper, of Granville, a daughter of C. G. and Anna Opper. The first few years of their married life Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne attended and taught school together. Nine years following their marriage twin boys came to bless their home, and so delighted was the father that he hastened to his office and had the following announcement printed and distributed among his friends:

Often have the poets told us
In their lyrics of the deep,
Awful calms are but the presage
Of the storms that o'er them sweep.

Thus, perhaps, protracted stillness
On a calm domestic sea
Signifies that force is gathering
For the squalls that are to be.

Weighed we anchor on life's ocean
Sunlight flooding us in torrents,
But two little squalls have struck us,
William Henry and Orin Lawrence.

In 1894 twin daughters blessed the home, these being Helen and Marie. The next in order of birth is Charles Findley, who bears the name of President Blanchard of Wheaton College as well as the name of his grandmother. The youngest in order of birth is Edward Everett, who was born in 1902. The mother, as the name implies, is of German ancestry, and as she speaks, reads and writes the German language she is likewise educating her children in the German tongue. Five of the children are now attending school.

Mr. Hawthorne is himself a twin, his brother being 0. E. Hawthorne, a resident of Marshall, Missouri, who is agent for the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company. He is married and has a son and daughter, Lucile and Ray, who are still with their parents.

Mr. Hawthorne believes fully in the principle expressed by the Bard of Avon when he said, "There is a Divinity that shapes our ends," and while he recognizes the fact that he has perhaps not improved all his opportunities, that Divinity has never failed, and on every occasion he expresses himself as a willing devotee at the throne of that Divinity. Mr. Hawthorne was blessed with the influence of Christian parents, and to this, combined with the influence and encouragement of his excellent wife, gives credit for the position to which he has attained in the moral, business and social world. He bears testimony to the power of associations as potential in forming character. Next to his wife, no one has so influenced his life as his elder brother whom he considers an ideal man. His father's example, too, has always been that of a Godly man, while his intimate friends have been ever men of the highest noble character. This brief sketch of the writer of our historical narrative of Putnam county does not pretend to be a biography, entering into detail but simply a suggestive outline, leaving the completion to his future biographers after the records are all in.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 135.

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