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Biographical Sketch: Orpha Packwood Hawkins

In my previous post I evaluated what I knew about my 3x great-grandmother, Orpha Packwood and put forth a series of research questions that I felt needed to be answered.  Here is what I found out about her.

Orpha Packwood was born about 1808 in Patrick Co., Virginia to Elisha Packwood, Sr. and Mary “Polly” Burnett.  Sometime around 1819 the family moved to Clark Co., IN where they can be found on the 1820 census.  They eventually ended up in Bartholomew Co., IN where they were enumerated on the 1830 census and several of Orpha’s older siblings were married.

Around 1834 the Packwoods began emigrating to Missouri and Orpha settled with her father in Monroe Co., MO.  Elisha Sr. and Elisha Jr. can be found living side by side on the 1840 census for Monroe county and just several residences away is a man by the name of Wm. Hawkins.


This would be William Henry Hawkins, brother to James Lewis Hawkins who married Orpha Packwood.  Their brother, Charles Washington Hawkins, married Orpha’s younger sister, Mary Packwood.  In the mid 1830’s James and Charles were still living with their widowed mother, Ailcy Lewis Hawkins, in nearby Ralls County but probably visited their brother William often and began courting the Packwood sisters.

On 13 May 1838 Orpha married James L. Hawkins in Ralls Co., Missouri and had daughters Mary Margaret in 1839 and Ailcy Judith in 1846.  They remained in Ralls Co. at least through 1854 when daughter Mary Margaret married my great-great grandfather Elkanah Cross on November 5th.  It’s interesting to note that between 1844-1845 the majority of the Packwood family, including Orpha’s father Elisha, left Missouri to follow the Oregon trail and settled in various areas of Oregon, Washington, and California.

By 1860 it appears that James L. Hawkins has died although it’s possible that he was away fighting the civil war at the time of enumeration.  On the 1860 census Orpha and youngest daughter Ailcy can be found living with her daughter Mary Margaret Cross and her family in Bates County, Missouri although it’s unclear what brought the family to this area.

By the 1870 census Mary Margaret Hawkins Cross and her family are now residing in Barry County, Missouri, but without Orpha or Ailcy.  Mary M. Cross filed for a pension for her husband Elkanah’s civil war service so I know from a letter in her pension file that they were in Barry County by 1861.  It doesn’t appear that Orpha went with them which I find interesting because on the 1870 census they are residing just a few residences away from Orpha’s brother John Ira Packwood who had returned from California with his family.


I can find no trace of Ailcy Judith in 1870 so it’s quite probable that she died.  In 1870 Mary Margaret’s youngest child listed on the census is Allice J and is in all likelihood actually Ailcy J. named after her younger sister and her paternal grandmother.  Unfortunately, this child didn’t survive to the 1880 census so we will probably never know for sure.  I did find a listing for Orpha Hawkins in the 1870 census enumerated in Franklin, Dent, Missouri with a Joseph and Emma Beatt and listed as house keeping.


I have never come across any other Orpha Hawkins’s in my research so I am 99% certain this is my 3x great-grandmother but I have been unable to tie her to anyone in this household or in Dent County to explain why she wouldn’t have moved on to Barry County with her daughter and grandchildren and where her brother was living.  This is the last trace I can find of her at this time.

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Orpha Packwood b. 1808 Virginia

Orpha Packwood is my 3x great-grandmother.  She is the mother of Mary Margaret Hawkins and the wife of James Lewis Hawkins.  I haven’t spent much time looking into her family as I know that this is a pretty well-documented family line.  I have to confess to being guilty of copying information on her family line from other trees.  I do try to make sure some kind of documentation is present to back the information up but sometimes things slip through.

What do I know:

  1. Orpha Packwood was born in Virginia about 1808 (1850 and 1860 census).
  2. She married James Lewis Hawkins 13 May 1838 in Monroe Co. MO (Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002).
  3.  I have placed her in the 1850 and 1860 census.


James L. Hawkins and Orpha Packwood_1838marriagerecord_MonroeCo_MO2


James L. and Orpha Hawkins_1850census_Ralls Co_MO2


What Do I need:

  1. Exact birthdate
  2. Death date
  3. Is there a more official marriage record with more information that I can obtain from the county?
  4. Earlier census records
  5. Proof that ties her to her parents, Elisha Packwood and Mary “Polly” Burnett.
  6. How she came to be in Missouri from Virginia.
  7. There is an Orpha Packwood listed in the 1870 census for Franklin, Dent, Missouri.  Is she my Orpha Packwood and if so why didn’t she move with her daughter to Barry Co. since she was living with her in 1860 in Bates Co?


Okay then.  Now I have my first research plan with a set of questions to be answered so it’s time to go ancestor hunting!