ROBERT H. HAWKIN'S FUNERAL
Friends who gathered to mourn a victim of
the yacht "mystery" disaster.
September 8, 1883
A piece of black crepe with a fold of white hung last Saturday on the door of a large white house that stands in the pleasantest part of the village of Yaphank. A soft breeze made ripples on the Carman's River that flows almost to the door, and stirred the fruit on trees that shaded the house. Indoors in a handsome casket lay the body of Robert H. Hawkins who was drowned on a pleasure cruise of the yacht "Mystery" of New Haven. He was 28 years old, and was the only son of Mrs. Isabella H. Hawkins. He was a member of the Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn, Rev. Dr. Talmadge pastor, and was held in high esteem as a noble Christian young man. His widowed mother, and sisters are connected with the Episcopal church of Yaphank.
The funeral services took place Saturday afternoon, September 1st, from the residence of his mother at Yaphank L.I. Mourners were everywhere about the house and spacious grounds. Among them were Commodore H. D. Ballard, and fourteen sailors of the New Haven Yacht Club in uniform, who had crossed the sound in a steamer which they had charted for the purpose; also several members of the New Haven Gymnasium Club, organization to which Mr. Hawkins belonged; E.W. Bullinger of New York, his brother in law, M.C. Swezey, his uncle, who is President of the New Haven Ruffie club Company of which Mr. Hawkins was Treasurer; Henry G. Newton, the Secretary of the Company, and U.D. Manvill of New Haven, and W. L. Ahrens, of New York, intimate friends of the deceased. Some Yale students, friends of Mr. Hawkins were also present. The pall bearers were E.D. Durant, N.O. King and F.P. Tyler of the yacht club, and J. Edward Heaton, Edwin M. Johnson, and Edward Sargent of the gymnasium club.
The air in the house was loaded with the scent of flowers. The yacht boys gave an anchor bearing the club's initials, the gymnasium boys a cross, and business associates of Mr. Hawkins a broken column of roses surmounted by a white dove. The tolling of a bell summoned the mourners to St. Andrews Episcopal Church around the corner of the shady street. Village mourners stood back from the door to let city mourners pass in. Almost the entire village was present.
Rev. James Sharpe, the pastor of the church, read the Episcopal service, and the Rev. Thomas Cook, of Riverhead, who is over 70 years old, preached the funeral sermon, from the text, "The only son of his mother and she was a widow." His remarks were very touching. The choir was under the leadership of Geo. M. Ackerly, tenor, assisted by Mrs. C.A. Drew, soprano; Miss M. Ackerly, alto; and Archibald Weeks, base. Edward L. Gerard who had been a lifelong friend of the departed, presided at the organ. When the favorite hymn of Mr. Hawkins was sung:
"My Jesus as thou wilt
thy will be mine"
to the tune which he had played over and over again on the piano the Sunday before he departed, all of his immediate relatives could not suppress their feelings.
As the young men took their comrade and associate to the church, the scene was the most impressive of all.
There were no loud demonstrations of grief, no wringing of hands, but the suppressed sigh, the silent tear, as in turn the New Haven young men quietly and sadly raised the earth upon the bosom of him they so much respected, while the sun set quietly in the west and the only sound that broke the stillness was the song of the wild bird in the trees that overhung the spot, and the chirrups of the insect in the neighboring field, and there within the sight of the home of his fathers for many generations we left him, while the minister pronounced the ever sad words, "dust to dust, ashes to ashes." Doubtless no incident of the journey will be better remembered by the men from New Haven than when they were arising from the dinner table just before their departure the venerable minister came into the room and putting his arms about them said: Try to emulate the example of him who has just left you and be noble young men.
Since his burial the village has been in mourning.