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GeneaSpy is an avid genealogist who attends national, regional, and local genealogical conferences, to learn about genealogy.

Friday, January 12, 2024

On the 125th. Anniversary of my Grandfather’s Birth - James Boardman Hawthorne

On the 125th. Anniversary of my Grandfather’s Birth - James Boardman Hawthorne 

On a cold Thursday, 12 days after the New Year, in 1899, my grandfather was born in Greenville, Alabama. His mother, Kathryn Ann (Albertson) Hawthorne, was the daughter of a Danish immigrant. His father, Alexander Travis Hawthorne, was the son of a Major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Boardman, as his family called him, was named after his father’s uncle, Rev. Dr. J. B. Hawthorne, a famous Baptist preacher in the South. 

Boardman with his mother Kathryn
Greenville, Alabama ca. 1900

Boardman's father, Alex Hawthorne

   When I asked him about his birth, he said that it was snowing, and the snow would blow into the house from the cracks in the shutters. His mother had to make sure he was covered up with blankets. Decades later, I researched old weather maps and news articles to see if this happened… and sure enough, it did!  The blizzard of 1899 started in February 1899 (a month after he was born) and covered all of Alabama and down into Florida.

Temperature map of the United States during the storm

   According to the 1900 US Federal Census, his father was a farmer, and his mother was at home with the children: Boardman 1, Etta Mae 4, and Travis 8. Another child who was born in 1889, named Ethel, did not survive past that year. 

  Boardman had many aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived in Greenville as a child, and more in nearby Camden. His Danish grandfather lived in Manhattan, New York at the time, and his 64-year-old grandmother, Clara (Ford) Hawthorne, was living in Greenville. 

Boardman's grandmother, Clara (Ford) Hawthorne

   My grandfather instilled love and compassion in his own family, which has been carried down through the generations. Boardman has 42 living descendants as of January 2024, with more on the way. 

Boardman with wife Myrtle and their children.

Boardman's legacy lives on...