A personal journey toward genealogy, colonization, Fort Wayne history

| November 15, 2013
Eric Hackley

Eric Hackley


How did I become interested in genealogy, colonization and Fort Wayne history? To fully answer that question, you will need to accompany me on a journey that began many years ago, during my junior year at Elmhurst High School. A life altering moment happened one day in my U.S. History class that was being taught by Mr. Robert Passwater.

During one particular class, Mr. Passwater warned me about being disruptive in class. I responded back to him in a direct fashion and he relocated me and my desk into the hall for the next few days. As I had to sit in the hall for an entire hour each day I was kicked out of class, I began to get bored and for some reason, I began curiously looking through my U.S. History book, beginning with the name index as I looked for the name Hackley. I found the name Richard Hakluyt. I looked at the name Hakluyt and knowing how American names morphed as they changed from Old English to the American version, I said to myself, “It looks like Hackley to me,” so I started reading about him in the very beginning pages of the my U.S. History book.

As years went by, I discovered that Hakluyt did turn into Hackley as evidenced in a book, “The Life and Times of Charles Henry Hackley.” His Hackley genealogy shows the spelling changes of De Hackluite, Hakluyt and a few other variations in route to Hackley from the 1400s to 1600s. Richard Hakluyt (1552-1606) taught cosmology at Oxford University and was known as the chief promoter of American Colonization. He created propaganda to persuade Queen Elizabeth to financially back his and Sir Walter Raleigh’s plans to plant a colony at Roanoke in 1584. This venture became known in history as the “Lost Colony” and all the people froze to death waiting for supplies from England. Although Hakluyt never visited the Americas, his name does appear on the Virginia Colony Charter in 1606.

The first of my branch of English Hackleys to be born in Virginia was John Hackley in 1655. In 1691, he and his wife Elizabeth Boulware had a son, James, born in 1691. James and his wife Elizabeth Shippy Hackley had a son John, who was born about 1716 in Essex Co., Virginia. John and his wife Judith Ball Hackley were married on March 16, 1734. President George Washington had family relationship with the Hackleys of Virginia because his mom, Mary Ball Washington was first cousin to Judith Ball Hackley.hackley family tree

John and Judith had many sons, but for the purpose of this essay, I will only focus on two of them: Captain James Hackley Sr., born Nov. 11, 1751 in King George County, and his older brother Francis.

Capt. Hackley Sr. fought in the Revolutionary War in 1776 under George Washington. In fact, many other Hackleys fought under George Washington at this time of our history. Capt. James Hackley Sr.’s son, Capt. James Hackley Jr. was born April 11, 1790. This is the Capt. James Hackley Jr. who married Rebecca, the daughter of William Wells and granddaughter of Chief Little Turtle. William Wells, at 12 years old, was kidnapped and raised by the Miami and assumed the Indian name of Apekonit of the Miami, eventually marrying the daughter of Miami Chief Little Turtle. Wells fought along side of Little Turtle at Harmar’s defeat and St. Clair’s defeat.

Dennis Neary wrote and produced “Three Rivers in Time,” a documentary that said William Wells scalped so many Americans at the 1791 St. Clair’s defeat that he couldn’t raise his right arm. When Anthony Wayne joined the Little Turtle Wars in 1794, the first thing Wayne did was to hire William Wells, made him Indian agent and gave him the rank of captain. Williams Wells was then employed by the American Army. At the 1794 Battle at Fallen Timbers, Wells fought against the very same Indians that he had fought with against the Americans. The Potawatomi never forgave William Wells and called him a traitor. They finally caught up with Wells 18 years later on Aug. 15, 1812. The Potawatomi shot William Wells in the chest, scalped him, broke open his rib cage and pulled his heart out and ate it. William Wells, again, is the father-in-law of Capt. James Hackley Jr.

Capt. James Hackley Sr.’s older brother Francis Hackley, (1740-Oct. 21, 1817), is buried in Franklin County, Ky. Francis, at 50 years old, had a sexual relationship or encounter with an African slave and produced a daughter who carried the name Francis Hackley, born in 1790 in Culpeper, Virginia. Francis became the mother of John William (Billy) Hackley, born in 1807. Francis (the African offspring) is my great, great, great, great grandmother and she and Capt. James Hackley Jr. were biological first cousins.

John William Hackley and wife Ann became the parents of 16 children. Their youngest son was Jerome I. Hackley born free in Niles, Mich., 1849. Jerome is the father of Albert, born 1880. Albert is the father of Donald Hackley, born 1901. Donald is the father of Charles M. Hackley (1927-2000), born in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Charles M. is the father of me and Sandra Hackley. Sandra has two daughters, Jaylene and Juliandra. My daughter is Erica and granddaughter is Keziah. From Keziah to John Hackley spans 11 generations and 257 years. So John Hackley, the grandfather of brothers Capt. James Hackley Sr. and his older brother Francis Hackley, is my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

What this means is that after the enforcement of President Andrew Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act that was applied in Indiana in 1846 to herd the Indians out of Indiana, there are Hackley Miami Indians (the offspring of Capt. Hackley Jr. and Rebecca) scattered from Indiana to Kansas and Oklahoma and I would like to connect with them. These are the offspring of Chief Little Turtle and William Wells lineage. These Miami Indian Hackleys and I should have the same DNA and I want to test the accuracy of my research. If any of you know any Hackley Miami Indians locally or in Kansas or Oklahoma, please ask them to contact me at waronwillielynch@gmail.com or at fwnews@gmail.com.

Although George Washington died in December of 1799, Little Turtle and William Wells died in 1812. Capt. James Hackley Jr. and Rebecca weren’t married until 1817 after everyone had died, but that does not obscure my point that Hackleys were present at the kick-off of the 1500s English Colonization Movement, Hackleys were members of Fort Wayne’s first family of record as Chief Little Turtle was the first to sign the 1795 Treaty of Greenville and Hackleys are present in today’s society attempting to create a more potent and accurate identity for the land now called Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Therefore, my advice to high school students is, when you’re kicked out of class for being disruptive and you’re sitting in the school hall with nothing to do, explore your textbook. You might be surprised at what you may discover.

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Category: Local

About the Author ()

Eric Hackley is a veteran independent journalist, television show host and producer focusing largely on history, particularly family history in the black community. His award-winning public access television shows have featured a host of local and national icons. Hackley can be contacted at hackonomicstv@gmail.com.

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