James Hawkins, Portland, Maine, 1860 to 1892

In 1871 Mr James Hawkins of No. 1 High Street Court, Portland, Maine, received a letter postmarked in Wexford, Ireland.* Who was James Hawkins and does this postmark tell us anything about his place of origin in Ireland?

Although I didn't find Mr Hawkins at that address, [see update below] I am pretty sure that he is the man of that name living at 8 Maple Street according to the 1869 Portland City Directory. Maple Street is 2/10 of a mile from 1 High Street Court. And he might also be the James Hawkins, mariner, age 22, boarding with the John Deehan family in Portland in 1860.1,2

I'm fairly sure that James Hawkins, mariner, is the same as the next man, for reasons which will become clearer as we go on.

On July 9, 1861, a James J Hawkins married Margaret McGlinchey in Portland, and in 1870 they were in Ward 6 with three children: Margaret (age 8), James Jr (5), and Ida (1). Margaret, the mother, died June 18, 1877, of typhoid fever, and James, the father, died September 4, 1892. They are both buried in Calvary Cemetery.3,4,5,6

Now for what I didn’t find

  • James' naturalization information, although he said in 1870 that he was a citizen, and images of Maine, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1990, and of United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906, are both at familysearch.org.
  • James' passenger manifest. Actually I didn't even look, since I have seen a few from that era and they don't tell you much.
  • Any other Hawkins men in Portland that might have been James' siblings.

On the other hand:

  • James' death record said that his parents were James J Hawkins, a sea captain, and Margaret Furlong, both born in Ireland. On Griffith's Valuation, those two surnames overlapped most often in County Wexford. By the way, this helps tie in James Hawkins, mariner, with the James who married Margaret McGlinchey, if he was following in his father's footsteps.
  • With the help of ancestry.com's index, I found baptisms of Pat Hawkins, March 2, 1825, Pat Hawkins again, May 29, 1826, and John Hawkins, May 9, 1828, all in Wexford Parish, Ferns Diocese. All were sons of a couple named James Hawkins and Margaret Furlong.
  • But no baptism record for a James Hawkins born to this couple.
  • On Griffith's Valuation of the town of Wexford, Civil Parish of St Mary's, there is a James Hawkins leasing a house and yard on Stonebridge Lane. Stonebridge Lane is on the waterfront, which seems like a good place for a sea captain to live.

The bottom line

Some of the recipients in this series of postal cover articles have been easy to trace back, and a few were impossible. In the case of James Hawkins I would say we broke even. We have a likely county of origin, but we need more help from the American records.

It was a little disappointing to find out, after working backward, that James and Margaret (McGlinchey) Hawkins do not have descendants. Their children James and Ida are in the same household in Melrose, Massachusetts, in 1920, both single and in their 50's. Daughter Margaret married in Portland in 1909 at about age 47, and she and her husband Earl Ebersole are in Lansing, Michigan, in 1920, without children.

But maybe our James Hawkins did have siblings, possibly the Pat and John baptized in Wexford Parish, and one of their descendants is interested in knowing what happened to their ancestor's brother.


When I moved this article to the new website I took another look at the Portland City Directories. The earliest I found James was in 1866, working as a clerk. Soon after, he opened up a lunch "saloon" or oyster house and stayed at that for many years. A few years before he died he became an insurance agent. The listings are as follows:

1866 James J Hawkins, clerk, 22 Cotton
1869 James J Hawkins, 8 Maple Street
1873 James J Hawkins, eating saloon, 356 Commercial, house same address
1875 James J Hawkins, laborer, 2 High St place
1877 James J Hawkins, lunch saloon 333 Commercial, house 1 High Street Court
1879 James J Hawkins, lunch saloon 339 Commercial, house 1 High Street Court
1881 James J Hawkins, lunch saloon 333 Commercial, house 1 High Street Court
1881 Business Section
Oyster and lunch rooms, James J Hawkins, 333 Commercial
1883 James J Hawkins, lunch saloon 459 Commercial and 132 Center, house 39 Cotton
1883 Business Section
Eating houses, James J Hawkins, 132 Center and 459 Commercial
1885 Business Section
Eating houses, James J Hawkins, 281 Commercial
1887 James J Hawkins, eating house 255 Federal, house 39 Cotton
James Jr clerk, bds 39 Cotton
1888 James J Hawkins, eating house, house 39 Cotton
1889 James J Hawkins insurance agent, house 39 Cotton
James Jr, clerk, bds 39 Cotton
1890 James J Hawkins insurance agent, house 39 Cotton
James Jr, clerk, bds 39 Cotton
1892 James J Hawkins, insurance agent, house 8 Parris
Jame Jr, clerk, 507 Congress, bds 8 Parris
Maggie, seamstress 238 Middle, bds 8 Parris


1. 1869 Portland Directory page 125, image 62 at ancestry.com

2. 1860 Census, John Deehan, Ward 4, Portland,  https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDH2-9SG

3. Maine Vital Records, Copy of an old marriage, Hawkins-McGlinchey, 1861, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2HV8-XTZ

4. 1870 Census, James J Hawkins, Ward 6, Portland, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6DX-Q3M

5. Maine Vital Records, Copy of an old death, Margaret E Hawkins, 1877, at https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2HKK-HF9 and https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2HV8-XY9

6. Maine Vital Records, deaths, James Hawkins, 1892, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VZQ6-WTP

7. Irish Catholic Parish Registers, at the National Library of Ireland, http://registers.nli.ie/

8. Griffith's Valuation, this time at ancestry.com

9. 1920 Censuses of Melrose, Massachusetts, and of Lansing, Michigan.


^*.The image of the envelope sent from Wexford, Ireland, to James Hawkins in Portland, Maine, was once at Jim Forte's Postal History site but is no longer.

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