Passing the Torch: From Oswald, to LaRhea, to Me

I recorded the following in my journal on May 29, 2018, but I wanted to post it here because it goes along with the story that I will share in my next post.

I have been really wanting to find out more information about Jane Elizabeth Clayton. (Read that story here.)

I would love to learn more about her life and I would especially love to see a photo of her if possible. But I just don’t know where to go for that information.

Today, I realized that I am related to her through the Hawkins/Aucock line so I decided to see if I could find any information about her (or our mutual ancestors) in the Hawkins Family History book that my Grandma Marchant compiled.

Anyway, in my searching, I ran across some really interesting information about my great-grandpa, Oswald Thomas Hawkins, and the miracles that he experienced with doing family history work on the Hawkins line back in the 1950s and 60s.


Oswald in the 1960s


I typed up what was written in the book…

Genealogy Report – Oswald T. Hawkins

Research Report: Family Reunion held July 4, 196? at Logan Park, Utah

“The story has been handed down that James Richard Aucock Hawkins bought a business in London, England from a man by the name of Hawkins, and thereafter took the name of Hawkins. On the bulletin board you will see a copy of the birth certificate of my father showing he was born under the name of Aucock. There are many ways to spell Aucock, Aukett, Auckett, Awcock, etc. When I started work on the Aucock line we had back to William Frederick Aucock, my great grandfather, his wife, Rhoda and some of their children. This was in 1958.

I spent about a year or more floundering around through the records in the library and I did spend a considerable amount of time on the 1851 census of Surrey and Middlesex counties. This was most discouraging. I think the first names I found in the census were those of my grandfather James Richard Hawkins and grandmother Ann Sewell and family.

For two years I could not get anywhere. Then it finally started to drift in. When I first met Brother Garden (he was directing research at the Genealogical Society) and told him that I was asked to take over the research, he raised both hands and said, “Brother Hawkins, we are up against a stone wall. We don’ know where to look for your great grandfather, William Aucock or where he was born.”

I was looking through the 1851 census of Middlesex England and I ran across the records of Charles Robert Aucock, son of William Frederick Aucock. This showed Charles Robert, his wife and three children., This Charles Robert, my sister Alice had found and was identified as one of the sons of William Frederick Aucock, a brother to James Richard Hawkins.

This Charles Robert was with me when I was looking at the 1851 census. I moved to one side so he could read the film along with me. His presence was so strong that I turned my head and glanced over my shoulder to see if I could see him. He was with me just as surely as you see me standing here before you.

About the 1st of December 1959, I was prompted to place an add in the missing relatives column in the News of the World, London which read:

AUCOCK, William Frederick and Rhoda Brewer. Any descendants of same, known to have resided Southwark and Lambeth districts of London around 1851, communicate, great grandson Oswald Thomas Hawkins, 1452 Murphys Lane, Salt Lake City, Utah U.S.A.

I received several letters as a result of the ad.

This was the first contact with relatives in 106 years since James Richard Hawkins, Ann Sewell and family emigrated to America in 1853. I received the following letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Paxton, Romford, Essex, England.

“Your advertisement in the News of the World dated 6th December, 1959 has been brought to my notice and from the following information I can give you, it would appear that I am a descendant of the persons mentioned in your advertisement.

My name is Elizabeth Matilda Paxton (formerly Aucock) and my father’s name was Bartley Aucock, who was born in Bermondsey in 1856 to Charles Robert Aucock, born in Southwark in 1817, he married Joanna Moss in 1843, and they had seven children of whom my father was one.

Hoping that the above information will be of help to you, and trust that I may hear further from you.”

Sincerely, Elizabeth Paxton


Elizabeth Paxton is now 90 years old.

I immediately wrote her and she sent me a copy of the genealogy which had been compiled in September 1884 listing all of the children of William Aucock and Rhoda Brewer, my great grandparents. It even stated James Richard Aucock, my grandfather immigrated to America in 1853, but they did not know that he had taken the name of Hawkins. A copy of this genealogy is posted on the bulletin board so that you may look at it. Also pictures of some of our relatives I have been corresponding with in England. It is interesting to know that their families are very small and that you can count their descendants on one hand.

This genealogy stated that the oldest son had bee christened at Eastborurne, Sussex, which is on the southern coast of England. Because of this lead the research has been completed back to the beginning of keeping records in 1558 at Eastbourne.

On January 6, 1964, I was looking through the 1851 census when I found the name William Aucock, the oldest son of William Aucock and Rhoda Brewer, age 49, occupation, ironmonger, born at Eastbourne, Sussex, England, this very information is what I had needed back in 1959. Had I found this information before I placed the ad in the News of the World, I would never have had the ad placed or would have I contacted our relatives in England. I feel that the inspiration of our Heavenly Father directed my work. We now have contact with about 20 families in England and not one of them belong to the LDS church. (Ironmonger is a dealer in iron and hardware commonly known as a hardware store.)

I believe what is to be, will be and I thank our Heavenly Father for his guidance. Only those who do genealogical research work will know the joy, the comfort and the satisfaction that comes from it.

My patriarchal blessing states that I would have names given to me from generation to generation. This has truly come to pass. I thank my wife, Jennie, for the wonderful help she has given me. All my family has given me their helping hand.

How blessed we as descendants are to have grandparents who sacrificed so much for us. No doubt they had many hardships of which we do not know.”

William Edward Hawkins and Margaret Thomas Hawkins Family. Oswald is front left on floor(circa 1902)


I hadn’t realized before that it was Oswald that really took charge of doing this family history work and researching and gathering a lot of information and records.

I’m not sure how it happened, maybe Oswald asked LaRhea to carry on the work and compile everything? Or maybe she just felt the inspiration from the spirit to do that. But in any case, it appears that then, 20 years later, Oswald’s daughter, LaRhea (my grandma) had the “torch passed to her” to carry on the work of preserving the Hawkins line.

LaRhea, about 1940
LaRhea, about 1987


She compiled several family history books about different family lines, one of which was the Hawkins line.

I find it really interesting that my Grandma completed this book and had it printed in 1988 – the year that I was born. I know that I tend to see connections and associations where they may very well just be random coincidences, but I like to think that perhaps this wasn’t a coincidence. It’s almost like another little sign that in a way, I was meant to be the one (probably not the only one) that Grandma would “hand the torch” to to carry on this Hawkins family genealogy work.

Something that I remember from my experience during my Grandma Marchant’s funeral was that I felt really compelled to carry on her legacy and example of family history. At the time, I didn’t really think of it in any specific direction, but more of just being a better historian and record keeper.  

The table that was set up at my Grandma’s funeral with things that she loved to do – quilting, gardening, oil painting, color tinting photos, stitchery, scripture study, music, and family history

That thought during her funeral has motivated me to become more and more passionate about record keeping over the past 8 years since her death and that stroke of inspiration that I had during her funeral. 

She passed away in January 2010, and in that year alone, after attending her funeral, I compiled a scrapbook for my mom with her childhood photos, a book that contains the story from when Jershon and I met until when we got married, a book with Little Brown Bear Stories (stories that my Grandpa Hall used to make up and tell us all the time), abook of childhood memories and photos as a Christmas present for my parents, and I started compiling my personal history (which took me an entire year to compile, so I finished it in late 2011).  You can read about the details of those projects here.

I am also starting to wonder now if perhaps that inspiration to follow my Grandma’s example was her way of “passing the torch” on to me -that I would be one to carry on the work of the Hawkins/Aucock line.

Passing the Hawkins Family History torch from Oswald, to LaRhea, to me

So far, I haven’t done a ton of research and temple work on that line – but I did find Jane’s husband and children (all but 1… still don’t know where to find the 12th child). And I have found some other family members as well.

Like I said, I seem to make associations and connections when perhaps none are meant, but I’d like to think that these little moments of clarity are Heavenly Father’s way of showing me my purpose in this area of my life and giving me some direction and encouragement.

(end of journal entry)


This story keeps evolving as the years go by, and as I wrote this journal entry 2 years ago, I have more to add.  I’ll post about that tomorrow…

1 Response
  1. Estelle

    I just loved reading this Shelly! It’s so powerful how the family history of these branches of your tree have been passed down through the generations. To be building on each others work. It is such a blessing 💓 The photo of you and your fellow torch bearers is so precious!

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