Historical Marker #1918 commemorates the Hawes family and their contributions to Daviess County’s history, particularly in the Yelvington area.
Richard and Clary Hawes settled in the Yelvington/Maceo area in 1810. They arrived three years before the death of Joseph Hamilton Daviess and five years before the founding and naming of Owensboro. After the death of Richard, Clary operated the Hawesville and Canellton ferry, which was licensed to her in 1834. This eventually grew to be the largest ferry operated in Kentucky. Their son, Richard Charles Hawes, was a Confederate Governor of Kentucky during the Civil War.
Interestingly, the man who inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was reputedly a slave who lived for a time in Daviess County and was owned by a member of the Hawes family. Josiah Henson was purchased with his mother when he was five or six years old by Isaac Riley in Maryland. After twenty years, Isaac fell into hardship and was sued by his brother-in-law. He charged Henson with the responsibility of transporting eighteen slaves to his brother, Amos Riley, who lived in Daviess County, Kentucky in 1825. Amos owned a plantation situated about five miles south of the Ohio River and about fifteen miles above the Yellow Banks.
After three years in Kentucky, Henson began preaching in the Methodist church, and a white minister suggested he petition for his freedom from Isaac. In 1828, Isaac sent an agent to sell all of his slaves except for Henson and his family. At that time, Henson traveled back to Maryland with funds he had raised while preaching to buy his freedom. Henson and Isaac settled on a $350 purchase, but Isaac later told Amos it was to be $1000.
After being sent to New Orleans, Henson eventually escaped to Ontario. His story was printed in Boston in 1849, and was supposedly the inspiration for Uncle Tom in Stowe’s novel, which was published in 1852.