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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
The Papers of Edward F. Hewins
The man, around whom the Edward F. Hewins Papers are organized, is the donor's father, Captain Charles E. Hewins. Charles Hewins was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, September 2, 1841 and was the second of six children born to John and Charlotte Hewins. Volunteering at the beginning of the Civil War in the Union Army, Hewins was enrolled in Company I, 42nd Massachusetts Infantry. Hewins served in Company I until January 1863 when he was taken prisoner at Galveston, Texas. During this same year, Charles' oldest brother William was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Charles however, was fortunately paroled after a short confinement in a prisoner of war camp. After a prisoner exchange was arranged at New Orleans, Hewins returned for a brief period to his home in Dorchester and then came to Fort Monroe near the close of the Civil War. While stationed at Fort Monroe, Hewins and his friend Albert Howe served under Captain Charles Wilder in the Freedman's Bureau. Following the war, both Hewins and Howe began collaborating in the general mercantile business in Hampton, Virginia.
A few years later, Charles Hewins began developing his business interests in oyster planting and harvesting. He remained in the oyster field for the rest of his life, and during the first year of business, owned and sailed two vessels, The Independence and The Farmer's Return. As one of the pioneer oyster planters of Virginia, Hewins held oyster grounds at Ballast Marsh and Hampton Bar.
On March 31, 1891 Charles Hewins married Mary E. Coats from the state of New York, at the time a teacher at the Hampton Institute. They resided until his death in the home which he had built on a tract of land purchased from the former Bates Estate.
Charles Hewins was active in community affairs and was a member of St. Tammany Lodge No. 5, A.F. & A.M., and of the Hampton Commandry, Knights Templar. In 1927 Hewins suffered a stroke of paralysis and died several months later, at the age of 86.
Among those who survived Charles Hewins was his only son, Edward F. Hewins. Edward Hewins was born in 1893 in Hampton, Virginia and is the donor of the Hewins Papers to the Old Dominion University Department of Archives and Manuscripts. Educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Edward Hewins achieved prominence in the Tidewater area as a marine architect at the Newport News Shipbuilding Drydock Company. As was his father, he was active in local civic organizations until well advanced in years.
Scope and Contents
The Papers of Edward F. Hewins contain family papers dating from 1856 to 1957, the bulk of which primarily relate to the donor's father Captain Charles E. Hewins (1841-1927). The collection is arranged into three series according to content: Correspondence, Civil War Military Papers, Miscellaneous.
The highlight of the collection is Series I in which family correspondence is well represented for the period 1862 through Reconstruction. Numerous historical references to the Civil War period, such as the Lincoln Assassination and Sherman's southern campaign, are found in the letters written by Charles Hewins. In this first subseries, are also several letters written while Hewins was a prisoner of war, describing both the camp at New Orleans and the Battle of Galveston in 1863. The Hewins letters additionally provide an interesting perspective on secessionist activities and social attitudes toward the Black "freedman", as viewed through a Unionist's eyes.
Incoming correspondence to Charles Hewins from family and business friends completes the first series. Signing her letters as "C.A. Hewins", Charles' mother is the most frequent contributor. Providing family news along with comments on local affairs, these and similar accounts from the remaining letters allow for a balanced overview of social conditions in the North and the South during the same historical period.
Series II contains photocopies from the National Archives and the US Bureau of Interior. In both cases, these copies deal with the military record of Charles Hewins. Under Series III are grouped a small number of miscellaneous materials, among which is a brief genealogical chart of the Hewins family in the hand of Edward F. Hewins.
The nature of the documents in the collection vary according to their physical state and provenance. In most cases, the items are original holographs and their entries in the finding aid are designated with the letter "H". A relatively large number of the letters, however, are photocopies of original letters. Because of their physical deterioration in many cases, these documents have been grouped by year instead of assigned an item by item entry. Also grouped by year are brief summaries of original correspondence. The synopses as well as the copies were made by Mrs. Gladys Blair, a former graduate student in History at Old Dominion University. Accordingly, these documents are designated in the finding aid with either the letter "C" or "S"l.
Gift of Mr. Edward F. Hewins, March 10, 1978
Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.
One Hollinger Document Case
MG - 26
Series I Correspondence
Subseries A: Charles E. Hewins - outgoing
Folder 1 Mrs. C.A. Hewins (Mother): (H) June 1, 1863
Subseries B: Charles E. Hewins - incoming (family)
Folder 15 Lillian H. Gay: (H) November 21, 1926
Subseries C: Charles E. Hewins - incoming (friends and business)
Folder 45 Clarence (?): (H) July 10, 1864
Subseries D: Family Correspondence
Folder 52 Edward F. Hewins to Aberdeen W. Child: ca. January 6, 1857 (enclosed
letter 9/20/41; bill 1/12/42, photograph 6/14/41)
Series II: Civil War Military Papers - Charles E. Hewins
Folder 54 Civil War Company Muster Role: (C) National Archives, 1863
Series III: Miscellaneous
Folder 57 Order of Exercises at the Gibson Grammar School: March 24, 1856