Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hannah Middleton Hawkey (Sinfield)

"I've researched my family tree and found no pirates or horse thieves, although there was this one ancestor who was drummed out of Attila's army for conduct unbecoming a Hun. "...Robert Brault.

My wife has found someone who was hung...or is that 'Hanged'? (and it wasn't on the family tree!). I've found loads of skeletons in the cupboards and, depending on how you view theft, a few thieves to boot.

Just to clear a point...Bev didn't find anyone hanging. She found that an ancestor had been hanged many, many years ago...for something he would never be hanged for today!

Hannah, however, was different. She was my great, great, Aunt and has quite a tale to tell.

She was born in 1822 in Sunderland. I don't really know anything of her childhood but I do know that her Dad was a sailor who was on the first ship to sail from Sunderland to Quebec.

Hannah married Foster Hawkey in 1847. Foster's first wife had died leaving him with James their only son .

On September 19th 1852, just five years into their marriage, he was swept off the mast he was repairing during a storm, and drowned.

Hannah found herself alone with James from Foster's first marriage and three of their own children...John, Margaret and Hannah.

For a fee of 45 dollars, she left Zion Street in Sunderland and boarded the Ship 'Horizon', docked at Liverpool... heading for a different Zion. The ship docked in 1856 at Boston.

I think it was at this point that she was assigned to be a part of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company.

She was 33 years of age with three of her children with her...Hannah (3), Margaret (4) and James (14)...I haven't found out yet what happened to her other son John.

They had to build their own carts for the trek West to 'Zion' in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was one of 575 people, 156 carts and 7 wagons.

Food was scarce and delays frequent due to the cart constantly breaking down and having to be repaired.

James froze to death before the family were eventually rescued by those sent out to find them by Brigham Young...a decision that is well documented in Church History.

She entered SLC on the 20th November 1856 where it was discovered her toes had burst open. The wool coverings (no shoes) that she had wrapped round them had miraculously prevented infection and, as a result, managed to be walking the following Spring.

In the Summer of 1857 she married Samuel Sinfield in Ogden, and in 1869 moved to their new log cabin in Paradise, Cache County, Utah.

She wrote of her experiences, including the 'grasshopper plague', and died in 1903 aged 81.

I have, of course, skimmed over the individual faith, courage and heart-rending implications of that journey for so many as they 'inched' their way to a better life, but it's well documented for those who wish to follow it.

For myself, a tear is always shed when I read of Hannah and other's experiences.

When I joined the same Christian faith in 1974, I had no idea of the rich 'Mormon' heritage running through the family. I thought I was the first...until I researched my family history.

Randi hints that perhaps they were influencing my journey in some way (I'll have to check her exact words), and I think she's probably right.

I know I should really stop here, but this is a journal and I'd like to share my own little light-hearted journey of the day. It began this very morning as Bev and I walked across the field to work. The sun was shining just like yesterday and we were in a mood to match.

I asked...'How many steps before we reach the other side'? 800 Bev replied. I was adamant at 340. The exact number of steps was 340 which made me the clear winner.

I did in fairness reserve my answer until the last step. Do you know, my own wife doesn't believe I was being honest! I think that's terrible!

I wonder how many steps Hannah and the family made to Salt Lake City?

I'm off to the cinema with my son now (Bev has no interest in Angels and Demons), but I've read the book and am looking forward to it.

Hannah... when I can get the picture to upload.


  1. Dear descendant and relative. My wife and I have enjoyed reading your blog. Hannah Middleton Hawkey has many descendants living in the greater Utah area. I don't know if you have ever had the opportunity to go to Hannah or her daughters gravesites but they are so beautiful with such a special spirit there. We have been to Martin's Cove and seen the actual place Hannah and her young family waited to be rescued. When you are there you know it is a sacred place. The only grandfather I have known is my great grandfather, George Foster Mills, son of Margaret, the 4 year daughter of Hannah that came across the plains with her.

    We have a great heritage. We are so grateful you found the gospel. Steven J. Porter / Centerville, UT

  2. Steve, what an incredible surprise. I am amazed that you've managed to find me. How did you do it?
    I have only recently found out about Hannah, so no, I've never had the opportunity to visit. I just can't believe this is happening. It's such good news. You must tell me all about you and your family. Do you have email?
    Please continue to comment. Don't disappear!

  3. Ken, thanks for your fun response. My wife and I were so excited to read your response and blog today. Yesterday I simply typed into Google "Hannah Middleton Hawkey" and two descendants I had never known - you and Daren Snider, a professor at the University of Nebraska of Kearney - German Studies, showed up. Daren is Hannah's great, great, great grandson. He responded back to me as well. There are many descendants from Hannah here in Utah. Just from my father and mother's family there is now 44 members and still growing. Please feel free to email me. My wife and I are so interested to hear about you and your family's life story. My email address is and Jan my wife's is We are anxious to hear from you. Please let us know what your email address is.

  4. Hello. I enjoyed your account of Hannah's life. I am her great-great-great grand daughter. My grandfather was the son of Hannah's daughter Jane Charlotte Sinfield.
    My grandfather passed away last month and since, I have been trying to learn more about the ancestor of whom he was so proud.
    It is a comfort to find even distant family ties.
    Thank you.

  5. Dear distant cousin, I found your blog today as I googled Hannah Middleton Hawkey Sinfield. She is my great great Grandmother. I am the great grand daughter of Henrietta Sinfield Price, her daughter. My mother was born and raised in Paradise, Utah, where Hannah later lived and died. I have been there to visit and the cemetery is beautiful. I google my ancestors quite often, and I have been amazed at the stories and pictures I have found on line. I am very proud of my pioneer heritage, and it is great to be able to teach my children of the sacrifices that our ancestors made, and to make it possible for us to be where we are today. Most of the genealogy has been done on our line, but I try to find stories and pictures. You didn't say how you tie in to Hannah's line. My email address is I would like very much to hear from you. Jeanine Taylor

  6. Hello
    Greetings from the North of England
    Sorry to bother you, but came across your email address while researching my wife (and Daughters family history)
    I have just discovered that my wife- Elaine Middleton, is the (let me get this the Great-great-great- great grandaughter of John Middleton-father of Hannah Middleton.

    Basically it goes like this ~

    John Middleton (1775 - 1847)
    Father of Hannah

    John Middleton (1800 - 1881)
    Son of John

    Thomas H Middleton (1838 - 1916)
    Son of John

    John James Middleton (1860 - )
    Son of Thomas H

    Frederick Stanley Middleton (1910 - 1997)
    Son of John James

    Malcolm Middleton (1948 - )
    Son of Frederick Stanley

    Elaine Middleton (1969 - )
    Daughter of Malcolm

    It was amazing to see a picture of Hannah Middleton, and am I correct in reading that the ladys travel to America is part of folklore?
    We still live in the North East of England, we have our daughter too, and reside 38 miles away from Sunderland.
    I would love to be able to tell my wife more about this very very courageous lady.
    Best Wishes
    Johnny Drummond (Husband of Elaine Middleton)

  7. I came across this blog while trying to research Hannah, thank you for the story. My husband is her great, great, great, great grandson through her daughter Jane Charlotte. This week we are going as a ma and pa on our stakes pioneer trek. I will be walking in Hannah's memory, her story has touched me greatly as I have two daughters close to her daughter's ages when she crossed the plains. After reading people's comments I will also be thinking of all the posterity that has come as a result of her sacrifice across the plains.

  8. I can't believe I've let time go by without responding to you all. It's so heartwarming to have family (albeit distant) making contact and having Hannah in common. I'm so proud of her. I'm off to France next week, but when I return I will pick up the threads and will be determined to make contact with you all. It's fantastic to hear from you.

    Good luck with the trek, Emily...I'll be thinking of you both.

  9. Hello,
    I'm also a descendant. You mentioned she wrote of her experiences. I'd be very interested to know how I could see her writings.
    Thank you!
    P. Speed

  10. Glad to find a cousin.

    I am also a descendant of Hannah Middleton Hawkey Sinfield. She is my great great great grandmother. My father grew up in Paradise where Hannah lived the rest of her life after she married Samuel Sinfield upon arriving in the valley. I come through Hannah & Samuel Sinfield's daughter, Jane Charlotte (and her daughter Zoe).

    I keep a genealogy blog following the history of this line. You might be interested in the following posts:

    Headstone Photos

  11. Hi Wendy
    Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. I do appreciate you getting in touch, but it has been unusually hectic around here. Although I've already visited the blog entries, I look forward to reading them in more detail. She was a fascinating woman by all accounts. As you know, I'm from Sunderland myself and still have family there, so I often imagine her beginning her voyage. My son visited her burial place a few years ago and we hope to do the same and visit some of her descendants while we are there. So, who knows, we might be seeing you in a year or so. I'll check to see if I have anything you don't have over the coming weeks. Did you read the book written by Jana Richman which highlights Hannah?

    I'll be in touch again soon. Oh my goodness. I've just checked out the blog entry. I can't believe I've not responded to other descendants.
    Kind regards