poetry and prose about place

log cabins and humble beginnings

with 12 comments

In a recent post (October 17, 2012), I wrote about my shoemaker great-great-grandfather, Josiah Hawk, and his daughter, my great-grandmother, Ella Hawk.

schoolhouse in Upper Canada Village, Ontario

When I was in Upper Canada Village in Ontario in September, I saw many houses and a way of life that reminded me of  Ella’s family history.

Ella’s story begins before she was born, with the Hawk and Kresge families of Monroe County, Pennsylvania.  I know a lot about these families, since both families have relatively complete genealogies.

Both the Kresges and Hawks were part of a large community of German immigrants who lived in the vicinity of Gilbert, Monroe County, from the late 1700s onward.  In 2004, my husband, son and I visited the area and I went to church in the community.  The congregation welcomed me warmly and I was told many of the people in the church shared my ancestry!

pioneer home in Upper Canada Village, Ontario

The Census of 1790 lists both of Ella’s great-grandfathers, Coonrod Crase (Conrad Kresge) and Conrad Hawke.  Conrad Kresge had a son Johannes whose daughter Sarah Ann, was Ella’s mother.  Conrad Hawke had a son Michael Hawk, whose son Josiah (the shoemaker) was Ella’s father.

The Kresges and Hawks were true pioneers and life for them was difficult.  In about 1777, while clearing land, Conrad Kresge lost one of his sons at the hands of a band of Native Americans, who carried out raids on the community.   This story is depicted in a memorial to Conrad Kresge in the Gilbert cemetary.

Memorial in Gilbert cemetary, depicting story of Conrad Kresge clearing land, and his son who was killed by an arrow

Although no other stories have survived the years, I have been able to learn quite a bit about these people from the genealogies.  For example, I can piece together something of my great-great-great grandfather Michael Hawk’s life in Middle Creek, Pennsylvania.  For example, for the year 1807, when he was 13 years old, he was the youngest of nine children.  Of his five brothers and three sisters, only his older brothers John (19 years old) and Peter (16) remained at home.  Siblings Nicholas (25) and Suzanna (23) had been married the year before, and on October 29, 1807, Suzanna gave birth to a set of twins, no doubt an exciting family event.  His much older brother John George (37), living in the community of Effort, and his sister Anne Margaret (33), in Chestnut Hill, must have seemed a generation away, since  John George’s daughter Elizabeth, Michael’s niece, was only four years his junior.



Michael, alone

(Middle Creek, 1807)


November has worked its way

into the wood pile, I use Papa’s axe

to split kindling, I blow rings into

the cold air, everyone is away, gone to

Chestnut Hill to see

Suzanna’s twins


everyone leaves –

they become like strangers

Catherine, run off to Seneca Lakes,

Nicholas married last year,

John and Peter, itching to go


Mama calls me her baby

well, I’m the same age as the Kresge boy,

killed by an arrow thirty years ago –

but that’s an old story


I look across the cornfield

to the oak woods where leaves still cling,

they glow like copper

noone lurks there now


Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

gravestone reads: Michael Hawk – was born Feb 8th 1794 – died April 20 1846 – Aged 52 years 2 months 12 day

Written by jane tims

October 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

12 Responses

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  1. Links with the past can be very fulfilling- glad to hear of the good people around Gilbert.


    Watching Seasons

    November 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    • Hi. Even though I was only there for a day, they made me feel very welcome in their church. Jane


      jane tims

      November 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

  2. How wonderful and fascinating to know so much of your family history. Middle Creek, Pennsylvania is a beautiful area. I’ve been hiking around there.



    November 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    • Hi. I want to go back someday. We were there only for a couple of days, just enough to know what the landscape is like. Oh, to be able to travel back in time!!! Jane


      jane tims

      November 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm

  3. Wow what a fascinating account of your family-tree Jane. And your pictures are great. You’re so lucky that you’ve been able to piece together so much – I don’t know anyone else who can say their ancestor was killed by Indians. I cannot imagine how scary it must’ve been for his wife and kids if he was killed while farming the land.

    I’m also going to look for the book singing bones recommended – The Lake of Dreams.



    October 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    • Hi. The Kresge family has worked very hard on their genealogy, even holding a gigantic family reunion every year. Someday I hope to be able to attend! Jane


      jane tims

      November 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

  4. As always such a delight to read your beautiful, evocative poetry.



    October 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

    • Hi. Thanks very much for your comment. I don’t comment often, but every time you post, I love your photo and poem. Jane


      jane tims

      October 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

  5. My ancestors were also Pennsylvania Germans. I often think about what life must have been like for them. If only our ancestors had kept journals…oh, the stories! I would love to know what they were like, what made them laugh, what they loved and hated and secretly longed for.


    Deborah Carr

    October 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    • Hi. A single small bit of hertitage has come to me from those days. My Mom always had a second Santa, called Kris Kringle, leave a small gift at New Year’s. I think it was a remnant of a tradition given to my grandmother by Ella, who was her mother-in-law. Jane


      jane tims

      October 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

  6. Jane, you are very lucky to know your ancestory and even to be able to visit some of their gravestones! Have you heard of the novel The lake of Dreams? You might like it, it is based on a modern-day young woman who learns about her family’s secret history and how it affects her own life. Thanks for the nice post and poem, SB



    October 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    • Hi. No I haven’t read the book, but I am always on the search for a new read. Glad you like the post. Jane


      jane tims

      October 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

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