Lincoln College is proud to unveil a premiere showing of the recently produced original documentary, “Our Cause Is Just,” a video on the Hawes family from Logan County in the Civil War. The premiere showing will take place on Friday, May 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the Johnston Center for Performing Arts on the Lincoln College campus.
The video documentary is a production of students in the Lincoln College Radio, Television, and New Media Department, in cooperation with staff at the Lincoln Heritage Museum. Students Zak Luken and Adam Hoffman produced and directed the original production.
“Our Cause Is Just” is the Civil War story of the John and Esther Hawes family from Eminence Township in Logan County near Atlanta, Illinois. The documentary is based upon letters written by brothers Henry and George Hawes and half-brother James Ewing—all three soldiers in battle—to parents John and Esther and family back home. The family in turn also wrote many letters to their sons, whose units were fighting primarily in Tennessee and in Mississippi. The letters date from 1861 until after the war was completed in 1865.
Eventually, the letters were handed down to a Hawes family descendant, James Hawes. Several years ago, James and Joanne Hawes donated the collection of letters to the Lincoln Heritage Museum. There are 112 letters in the Hawes collection. Photographs of the family are also part of the collection.
“What makes these letters so fascinating is that they write candidly and vividly about the political issues of the day: Union war policy, southern secessionists, Abraham Lincoln and emancipation, as well as Lincoln’s re-election and assassination,” said Lincoln College Associate Professor Ron Keller, screenwriter for the documentary. “Added to the letters themselves is the fact that there are Civil War photographs of both Henry and George and their parents, and an incredible amount of family history,” added Keller.
Lincoln Heritage Museum Director, Olivia Partlow, was the production supervisor for the documentary, Partlow remarked, "The Hawes documentary is truly a gift to our community. It was a typical Logan County family during the Civil War. No matter your demographic, we can all relate to the Hawes Family. In Logan County, their history is our history."
Museum staff, with the help of volunteers, chiefly Lynn Spellman and Steve Sauer, transcribed the letters over the past several years. Then, in the fall of 2020 work began towards the creation of a video to detail the story. The documentary draws upon many of the letters, available photographic images, and a few recreations to tell the personal story, and how a local family persevered through the trials and struggles of the Civil War.
Partlow noted the impressive work undertaken to complete the documentary saying, “The students have done a phenomenal job and put in so much hard work to preserve our local history through this project.”
The May 7 premiere will feature the documentary itself, and students involved in the production will be on-hand to answer any questions.
The public is invited to attend the free event. Due to social distancing restrictions, seating is limited to 60 attendees on a first-arrival basis. Protective face masks are also required while on the campus.