James Hawthorn was born in County Armagh, Ireland about 1750. His family were early Scots-Irish settlers of the back country of South Carolina, where the mother, two daughters and James, her 12-year-old son, were captured by Indians—the mother and girls were killed. James Hawthorn was at length released. He learned the blacksmith's trade in York district, South Carolina, where he married Mary "Polly" Neel, a daughter of Colonel Thomas Neel.
Hawthorne fought in several major battles and an unknown number of skirmishes during the Revolutionary War. He served under Col. Neel in the Snow Campaign in 1775, on Andrew Williamson’s Campaign of 1776, and as a Captain on the Florida Campaign of 1778-79. He served as Lt. Col. under Col. William Hill, under General Thomas Sumter, who fought at the Battles of Rocky Mount, Hanging Rock, Carey’s Ford, Fishing Creek, Fish Dam Ford, and Blackstocks. He took command of Col. Hill’s Regiment at the Battle of Kings Mountain after Hill was wounded. James Hawthorn was Lt. Col. to Col. Thomas Neel prior to Neel’s death in the Battle of Stono. Hawthorn was wounded twice during the war. He died about 1808 in Livingston County, Kentucky.
(from: King's Mountain and Its Heroes, by Lyman Copeland Draper, pub. 1881, P.G. Thomson)