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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sarah Hawkins: Whose Wife Really Was She?

Even though I addressed in my last blog post, "In Pursuit of Edy," the fact that Sarah Hawkins was not the spouse of my Alexander West I, I perceive a need to write an additional post in order to clear up the misconceptions surrounding her.
The Sarah Hawkins, in question, was probably born in 1773 and died in 1839.  Many on-line family trees provide her name as the spouse of Alexander West I and the mother of his children. 
My Alexander West I was born between 1720 and 1730 and died possibly after 1790 but before 1800. He is recorded in family lore as being “a pioneer settler of western Wilkes County,” and “the deep taproot for many families still living in Wilkes, Caldwell, and Watauga counties as well as across the nation, [including] such families as Wests, Barnetts, Smiths, Holders, Hartleys, Swansons, Presnells, McCrarys, Allens, Paynes, Hendrixes, Armeses, Crumps, Craigs, Murrys, [and] Bells.”[i]
He lived in the North Carolina counties of Orange, Surry, Wilkes, and Burke and was the father of at least two sons and some daughters.  One son, Alexander West II (1751 Orange County, NC-1834 Burke County, NC) married Hannah Langley.  Another son, John West (abt 1760 Orange County, NC-bef 1810 South Carolina) married Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon.  Edith “Edy” West (abt 1772 North Carolina-1855 Benton, Alabama), who was likely his daughter, married Archibald Fowler.  Some researchers believe that another daughter, known only as “Miss” West, married a neighbor, Bray Crisp.
When one considers the dates, one can easily recognize that the above-mentioned Sarah Hawkins was born 22 years after the birth of Alexander West II, 13 years after the birth of John West, and 14 years after the birth of Edith “Edy” West.  Therefore, she could not have been the wife of Alexander West I and mother of these children.
But for those who believe that Sarah Hawkins married Alexander West, don’t despair!
Sarah Hawkins DID marry an Alexander West, BUT he was the son of Solomon West (1726-1830) and Isabella Boyd (1735-1785).  This Alexander West was born in 1776 and died in 1860.  He married Sarah Hawkins in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1795.  Sarah Hawkins would have been 22 years old, and this Alexander West would have been 19 years old at the time of their marriage.
Even though both lived during the same period in history in Western North Carolina, definitive documentation and genetic testing do not establish a familial relationship as brothers or other relations between Solomon West and Alexander West I.  However, as I have stated in previous posts, the name “Alexander” is perpetuated among the descendants of both of these men.  This perpetuation of the name indicates that one of the ancestors, a father, a grandfather, or an uncle, must have been named Alexander.
At this time, the wife of Alexander West I is not known.
I do understand how confusing it is to determine who each of the many Alexander Wests were.  I, also, understand how easy it is to assume that Sarah Hawkins was the spouse of Alexander West I.  As new information becomes available to us, we, as conscientious researchers, will find it necessary to make changes in our information, however difficult that may be for some of us.  Otherwise, we will perpetuate inaccurate data.


[i] West, John Foster. “History of West Family Is Given,” The Journal-Patriot North Wilkesboro, N.C., Nov. 8, 1976.

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