ESTHER HILL HAWKS, M.D.
1833 - 1906
ARMY NURSE, ASST. SURGEON, TEACHER
OF FREEDMEN, PHYSICIAN.
HER FAVORITE MOTTO
"ON THE PROPER TRAINING OF THE CHILDREN
RESTS THE HOPE OF THE WORLD."
JOHN M. HAWKS, M.D.
1826 - 1910
ASST. SURGEON 22ND AND SURGEON
21ST U.S. COLORED TROOPS
Esther Hill, the daughter of Permenas Hill and Jane Kimball, married Dr. John Milton Hawks, son of Colburn Hawks and Clarissa Brown, 5 October 1854 in Manchester, New Hampshire. During their honeymoon in Florida, they were both abolitionists, she wanted to become a doctor to help the black people in the south. Esther began to study her husband's medical books in order to attend medical school at the New England Medical College for Women. In 1857 she was one of the first woman doctors in the U.S.
During the Civil War Hilton Head Island off South Carolina was occupied by the North it became a haven for freed black slaves. NH native and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase sent a envoys to oversee the construction of new towns and services for the freedmen. Plans were set in place for education, housing, employment and hospitals. Dr. John Hawks joined the U.S. Colored Troops to care for the freed slaves at Hospital #10 and his wife, wanted to come as a nurse, since female doctors were not allowed. Her application as a nurse was also rejected so she came as a teacher.
Esther did serve as director of the hospital in her husband's absence during the war because replacement surgeons were not sent. When the valiant men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry lost their attempt to take Fort Wagner (as seen in the 1989 movie Glory), the wounded were sent to hospital #10 and healed by the Drs. Hawks. From her diary "The only thing that sustained us was the patient endurance of those stricken heroes lying before us, with their ghastly wounds, cheerful and courageous."
Esther Hawks spent the rest of the war educating Black soldiers and their wives and children. After the war the freedmen and the Hawks settled in Port Orange, Florida as homesteaders in their own right. Dr. Esther Hawks was a teacher in the first integrated school at Port Orange until it was burned by protesters in January 1869. They removed back North to Lynn, Massachusetts and she took up a medical practice again. She died in Lynn and was buried here at Pine Grove in Manchester, New Hampshire, her birthplace. Dr. John Hawks died in Hawks Park, now Edgewater, Florida and was buried there. His name is on his wife's tombstone, as a cenotaph memorial.
For more information:
Civil War Women website http://civilwarwomenblog.com/esther-hill-hawks-3/
Wikipedia John Milton Hawkes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Milton_Hawks
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Copyright 2014 (c), Heather Wilkinson Rojo