Joseph/Samuel/Thomas/Ezra/Thomas/Abijah/Thomas/Marcus Clinton/Mary Elizabeth Hawley
Mary Hawley may be one of Newtown’s most well-known benefactors, but her personal life is so obscured by Victorian ethos that in reality, she is hardly known at all.
Born the oldest child to Marcus and Sarah Booth Hawley in 1857, Mary (or “Mame” as her family called her) was the only girl and the only offspring to survive into adulthood in this prominent Newtown family. It may have been the tragic loss of her siblings that compelled her mother to keep her under close watch, but the shy and quiet Mary rarely ventured from her home. She did not seem to take part in the activities of the young people in town, except to attend church regularly.
Within this limited life, Mary Hawley was introduced to Rev. John Crockett, a visiting pastor for the Trinity Episcopal Church. In the spring of 1885, at the nearly-spinster age of 28, Mary Hawley wed John Crockett and the
Mary Hawley, c. 1876
couple departed immediately for a honeymoon to Europe. It was a short-lived marriage that doomed Mary Hawley to a life of reclusive existence, but changed the course of Newtown forever.
Details of the brief marriage are either scarce or simply conjecture, but it is known that several weeks after the wedding, Mary returned from Europe accompanied only by her parents. The marriage was dissolved shortly afterwards. Interestingly, had the relationship turned out differently, so would have the nature of Newtown. As was the custom of Victorian times, a woman’s belongings and inheritances became the husband’s property. As the sole heir to her father’s fortune, it’s possible that Newtown would not have benefited from Mary Hawley’s magnificent legacy had the marriage worked out.
But the future high school, library, cemetery, town hall and other gifts were not on the minds of the people of Newtown as their lips perpetuated salacious rumors and lies about the Ill-fated marriage and of Mary herself.
Mary Hawley reverted to her maiden name and retreated more deeply into a solitary life that was dominated by her mother and
town gossip. After the death of her father in 1889, Mary’s solitude grew deeper, and her mother’s grip grew stronger. Sarah Booth Hawley is said to have treated her daughter like a prisoner in her home, hiding Mary from the people of Newtown who also treated her poorly.
But when her mother died in 1920 at the age of 90, Mary, at 63, became more outgoing and began her philanthropic endeavors, sharing the inheritance from her father’s railroad and hardware fortune with a town that hardly knew her.
She began her endowments with the new high school in 1921 (now Hawley School) and continued her philanthropy with the Edmond Town hall, the landmark building that sadly, she did not live to see completed in 1930. Some of her other well known contributions to the town include the Soldiers and Sailors monument, the memorial bridge and the dredging of Hawley Pond, as well as funds to provide for the care of the cemetery; its beautiful gates and the Memorial Vault.
Mary Hawley died on May 11, 1930, leaving a legacy of kindness and goodwill to a town that is eternally grateful. While her life may have been mysterious, her generous spirit will always be known and appreciated by fellow townspeople for generations to come.
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-8174059-2']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);