John Hawley – The Hawley House

Written By: nppladmin - Jan• 13•22
Originally published on Facebook January 7, 2022.

Happy 2022! We are back with another segment of North Platte History: John Hawley and the Hawley House.

John W. Hawley was born on April 13, 1839 in Stockport, Cheshire, England to George and Nancy (Pearson) Hawley.

In 1858, John and his family immigrated to Nova Scotia. In 1859, John marries his first wife, Edna Ingham. No children were born to this union and researcher’s suspect that Edna either refused to go to America, or died during the journey, or John simply married her and then left her to go to America with his parents and siblings. Edna Ingham Hawley has mostly been lost to history.

In 1862, the John Hawley and his parents moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1873, John married Lucy McDonald (1846-1886). Lucy and John had four children together: Elizabeth Jane (1875-1949), Emma (1877-1963), Fannie (1879-1957), and William (1883-1956).

In 1879 John (age 40) and his entire family (parents, wife and children) move to North Platte, Nebraska. According to census records in 1880, John listed his occupation as a baker. Sometime between 1880 and 1885, John Hawley purchased the building located at 216 East 6th Street. By October 24, 1885, the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune stated that Hawley was building an addition onto the old structure. On October 29, 1885, the paper announced that The Hawley House was the first three-story building in town. The Hawley House, a local hostel or hotel, became famous for the food it offered to weary travelers. A short newsy article in 1886 stated that Hawley House food was the type that, “sticks to the ribs.” From 1883 to 1888, Mr. Hawley acted as the justice of the peace in North Platte, as well as a County Judge. Because Mr. Hawley could act a justice of the peace, there were several marriages that took place at the Hawley House.

On April 28, 1886, Lucy died at age 46 from heart complications, leaving John with four children to raise. On November 19, 1886, John W. Hawley marries for the third time, to a Catharine Smith, in Omaha, Nebraska. No children are born to them and on May 28, 1887, a divorce announcement is listed in the Lincoln County Tribune. Researchers believe Catharine returns to Virginia, where she dies in 1892. For the next two years, John Hawley becomes politically active, acting as a judge and justice of the peace for the North Platte Community. In 1888, he unsuccessfully runs for City Council Ward 1.

And, by April 14, 1888, Hawley lists the Hawley House for Sale in the Lincoln County Tribune. The “For Sale” advertisement runs a few times and then disappears. When the Hawley House isn’t full of guests, he also takes in the poor and charges Lincoln County for room and board.

On September 8, 1888, the Lincoln County Journal reports that John W. Hawley has set out to Indiana to bring back a wife! Researchers are always amused by the society information that was deemed newsworthy in the 1800’s. John Hawley marries a fourth time, on September 12, 1888 to Dinah Ellingham in Indiana. John and Dinah have two children, June (1891-1975) and Harry Charles (1892-1965).

During the first six months of 1889, Dinah and John make improvements to the Hotel. And over the next three years, things seem to go smoothly. John is still the Crime Judge, Justice of the Peace, and active in Republican politics. On July 17, 1889, LT Roberts is listed as the proprietor of Hawley House.

On October 23, 1893 tragedy struck the Hawley House. Early in the morning smoke was seen coming from the third floor of the building. Firefighters were called didn’t have sufficient water pressure to fight the fire. By the time they got enough water pressure, the fire had spread through both the second and third floors. Both floors collapsed after the fire was out. The only thing left standing were the side walls and back end of the building. Hawley had insurance on the building and furnishings. The cost to rebuild the three story building was estimated around $2,500; and the cost did not include furnishings.

At the time of the fire, Hawley had been trying to sell the building. After the fire, John Hawley moved to Sutherland onto a farm he owned. He immediately started rebuilding the building in North Platte. By 1894, the Hawley House is fully rebuilt and operational as a hotel; and, is on the market, for sale or rent. By September 28, 1894, the building had been sold to W.C. Pitt and was renamed as the Central Hotel. The hotel was remodeled and bought and sold several more times. In 1911, the building again caught fire and the second and third floors were a complete loss. The owner, Patrick Ruddy had insurance and rebuilt the hotel. In 1918, William Maloney purchased the land and adjacent corner lot. He had plans to build a new undertaking parlor on the spot. In 1923, Maloney raised the building” and built his new building.

As for John W. Hawley and his family:

On March 25, 1896, John Hawley was found dead in a field where he had been working. His death was due to a hemorrhage. He had been suffering with excessive coughing and the strain caused the hemorrhage. He then fell from the plow he was riding. He was a member of the A.O.U.W. (Ancient Order of United Workmen-a fraternal organization providing mutual social and financial support after the Civil War.), Maccabees, charter member of the Woodmen Society and other fraternal organizations.

The 1910 Census shows that Dinah moved to Hartford Indiana with June and Harry. She is windowed and working as a dressmaker. Dinah died of a heart attack on June 19, 1932 in Wabash, Indiana. The 1930 census shows June is married and living with her husband, Clyde Overmyer and their two children, with Dinah. Harry dies in 1965 in Wabash, Indiana as well.

Thank you for reading the Hawley House history, and we hope you join us next week for more North Platte history!

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