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Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore

HAWLEY, JOHN BLACKSTOCK (1866–1941). John MacDonald Blackstock Hawley, one of the first independent consulting engineers to practice water-supply and sanitary engineering in Texas, son of Dr. Augustin Boyer and Harriet Bowman (Blackstock) Hawley, was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, on May 27, 1866. He studied science and civil engineering and received his bachelor of science degree at the University of Minnesota in 1887, his master's degree in science from Texas Christian University in 1926, and an honorary doctor of science degree from TCU in 1938. He was a lecturer and an associate in scientific research at TCU from 1926 until 1929. After working as a construction engineer for the St. Paul, Minnesota, water board from 1887 until 1889, Hawley went into private practice in Chicago in 1890–91 with the firm of Harrison and Hawley, hydraulic and sanitary engineers. As hydraulic engineer for a Chicago construction firm, McArthur Brothers Company, he went to Fort Worth, Texas, in November 1891 to submit a proposal to build the city's first modern municipal water system. He supervised construction of the Holly Pump Station, which was built on the east bank of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River in 1892 and remained in use as a main high-service pump station for Fort Worth 100 years later.

Hawley entered private practice in Fort Worth as a water and sewerage consulting engineer in June 1894. From 1897 until 1907 he was Fort Worth city engineer but also continued his private practice as water-supply consultant to El Paso, Clarksville, and Itasca. His assignments included a major drainage project for New Orleans in 1898, a sanitary sewer system for Havana, Cuba, in 1900, and an irrigation project near Torreón, Coahuila, in 1909. A syndicate of New York and Pittsburgh contractors sent him to Panama in 1906 to investigate construction conditions for the Panama Canal and advise whether to bid on the work. He recommended against bidding because of the probability of large earthslides. In 1910 Hawley was consulting engineer on White Rock Lake, Dallas, the fifth reservoir built in Texas for municipal water supply. Preceding it were Lake Austin (1893), Eagle Lake (1900), Lake Wichita (1901), and Lake Randell (1909). Hawley also served on the three-member board of engineers that recommended, designed, and directed construction of Lake Worth at Fort Worth between 1911 and 1914. It was the largest municipal-water-supply reservoir in Texas at that time.

Hawley was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Society for Municipal Improvements. He lectured in chemistry at Fort Worth Medical College and taught mechanical drawing at an industrial-arts night school he organized in 1898. He was president of General Construction Company of Fort Worth, a street-paving and highway-construction firm, from 1911 until 1916. He was commissioned major of engineers in May 1917 and designed water and sewerage systems for Camp Travis at San Antonio and Camp MacArthur at Waco before going to France in November 1917. In command of the 503d Engineers, Service Battalion, during World War I, he was appointed engineer in charge of water supply and sanitation for the St. Nazaire District and Base Section No. 1, a district approximately the size of Massachusetts. During his year in France, Hawley directed the design and construction of some thirty projects. Upon his discharge in April 1919, he received the order of University Palms with rank of officer of the academy from the French government.

As the partner of Edward E. Sands of Houston from 1921 until Sands's death in 1923, Hawley designed Fort Worth's first sewage disposal plant, the Riverside plant, built in 1923–24. He was a member of the Texas advisory council of engineers from 1922 to 1924 and served on the engineering board of review for the Sanitary District of Chicago in 1924–25. With partner Harry N. Roberts he planned a large program of water and sewerage system improvements for Lubbock in 1924–25. With principal assistant Simon W. Freese, he designed Lake Crook in Paris (1923), the first water filtration plant in Austin (1924–25), and the first complete sewerage system at Corpus Christi (1926). With O. N. Floyd, he made a final examination and report on Garza Dam, Dallas, in 1927. Hawley and Freese became partners in 1927. Marvin C. Nichols was made a partner in 1928, and the firm name changed to Hawley, Freese, and Nichols in 1930. The firm designed the Great Bend Cut-Off Channel on the San Antonio River in 1929, making possible the San Antonio Riverwalk (the Paseo del Río). The firm also designed and supervised the construction of lakes Bridgeport (1931) and Eagle Mountain (1932) above Fort Worth, the first large dual-purpose reservoirs in the United States to provide separate reservoir capacities for flood control and water supply. Hawley retired on November 15, 1937, and the firm name changed to Freese and Nichols in 1938.

He married Sue Anna Terrell of Fort Worth, daughter of Capt. Joseph C. Terrell, on April 11, 1895. The Hawleys lived in Fort Worth all their married lives. They had four children. After Hawley's death on January 9, 1941, his body was sent to San Antonio for cremation, and the remains were returned to Fort Worth for interment.


C. L. Dowell, Dams and Reservoirs in Texas: History and Descriptive Information (Texas Water Commission Bulletin 6408 [Austin, 1964]). Fort Worth Press, January 9, 1941. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 10, 1941. This is West Texas, March-April 1985.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore, "HAWLEY, JOHN BLACKSTOCK," accessed July 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhabc.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on June 17, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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