Alabama State Treasurer

William Hawn

State Treasurer: 1834-1840


William Hawn, civil engineer and auditor, was born December 27, 1837, at Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, and died May 11, 1909, in Washington City; son of William and Mary (Phelan) Hawn, the former a native of Virginia, who removed first to Huntsville, and later to Tuscaloosa, elected State treasurer of Alabama, 1835, and resigned in 1840 to become cashier of the State bank; grandson of John and Priscilla Oakes Morris (Ford) Phelan of Huntsville, the former was captain of Irish volunteers, Queens County, removed to New York City in 1793, where he became clerk in the Manhattan bank, and later cashier of the Bank of New Brunswick, N. J., and finally settled in Huntsville, the latter the niece of Sir Richard Oakes of Scotland; great-grandson of Dennis and Mary (Lalor) Phelan of Queens County, Ireland, a native of Marysboro, who emigrated to Petersburg, Va., where he died in 1830; great-great-grandson of John and Mary (Shugan) Phelan of Gloucester Castle, Kings County, Ireland and grandnephew of James Phelan, Bishop of Assory. The Hawn family came to America from Germany after the American Revolution. The Phelans were of Irish stock.


William Hawn's education was limited to private schools but by diligent application he acquired the profession of a civil engineer. In 1853 he entered an engineer corps to survey the N. E. and S. W. Alabama R. R. to be constructed from Meridian, Miss., to Chattanooga, Tenn., but after about eighteen months operations were suspended. He then entered the service of the Southern and Western produce co., a wholesale firm in Mobile, but in 1859 he removed to New Orleans for a year, after which he returned to Mobile and joined the "Gulf City Guards" and went with this organization to Fort Morgan, before the State seceded from the Union. He was detailed by Quartermaster General Duff Greene, for service in his office in Mobile, but not being satisfied with this service he returned to New Orleans where he Joined Co. B, Crescent rifles which rendezvoused at Camp Moore and became part of the Seventh Louisiana infantry regiment. On account of permanent disabilities received in battle, he was discharged from the service, but became a clerk in the ordnance department, later to be military store keeper with rank of captain.


In 1869 he removed to Selma where he became deputy collector, U. S. internal revenue. He later accepted employment with the builders of the Selma, Marion and Memphis R. R., and became the agent for that line at Greensboro, and later its general agent with headquarters at Selma. In 1880 he entered the service of the Selma, Rome and Dalton R, R. and when that road became the property of East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia R. R. co., he removed to Knoxville, Tenn., where he became a clerk in the auditor's office; was promoted auditor in 1885, and for ten years served in that capacity. He became assistant auditor for the Southern railway co., after this date with headquarters in Savannah, Ga., but was later removed to the Washington headquarters where he retained his position in the auditor's office for many years. Married: February 5, 1862, at Richmond, Va., to Mary Harrington, daughter of Hon. James and Sarah Ann (Ward) Thomson, who lived in New York City. Children: among these, 1. Henry G., of New York City; 2. Phelan. Last residence: Washington, D. C.


Owen, Thomas McAdory, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978 (1921), III, 773.