my Ralston Family story


Dr. Ashton W. Hawkins [1824 – 1888]     Doctor, Lawyer, Preacher




Ashton, the son who wore many hats, practiced medicine as well as law, preached the Gospel as a Methodist minister, established and published The West Tennessean and the Olney, Ill.,Hawkins Ashton Williams Journal.


When the [Civil] war began, the Hawkins family -- like many others -- was divided. Polly, his mother, and half of the brothers took the side of the Confederacy. John Milton, his father, and the rest sided with the Union. Ashton was among the sons supporting the Union, and he joined the Union's 7th Cavalry as a doctor, attaining the rank of captain.


Ashton, in a letter on 24 May, 1861, to his former father-in-law, Col. Lilly, discussed the difficult situation facing the state and the nation:


You properly style these dark and troublous times. They may be called dark in more than one sense. They are dark from the fact that, sanguine as my disposition is, I confess I can see no  ray of hope  gilding our future prospects as a people -- dark from the fact that reason no longer guides and controls the minds of our people but her throne is usurped by prejudice and passion - doubly dark from the fact that our people are thirsting for the blood of their brethren.


As to the cause of the evils which now environ us, I would point to the corruption of our politicians. The dissolution of our Union is a thing premeditated and labored for years past. For this end the Democratic party was disrupted at Charleston and Baltimore, thereby invoking a purely sectional contest in which the North was bound to triumph. The Cotton States having seceded upon an allegation of grievances, it then became an object to drag the border slave states into the whirlpool of secession - to this end was the hasty military preparations of the South and the pusillanimous attack upon a handful of starving men at Fort Sumter...


You and I as well as every citizen of Tennessee is today a citizen of the United States and yet by the recent action of our Legislature in forming the league, we are today at the disposal of a man assuming to be president of a nation at war with our own government bound to take up arms and fight at his bidding...


The Tennessee Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 42, No. 4, Winter 1995, p. 147-149.