Joseph's family lived on the transport freighter Juicy Lucy, registered to the Jupiter Net Colony. The freighter primarily worked the shipping lines in the Sol System, and made regular runs to Tower.
When Joseph was 14, his parents died in an accident about the freighter. Red Jupiter Bank claimed the ship, as significant money was owed on it. With no relatives, Hawthorne was put into Jupiter's orphanage system,
At 18, Hawthorne won an engineering scholarship and attended the Detroit Engineering Academy. In his second year, he failed his classes and was kicked out of school. Out of options, he enlisted in the Planetary Union Navy. His first signalment was aboard a Hoyt-class tender. After five months aboard that ship, he was transferred to the P.U.V. James Keeling.
Descriptions of Cpt. Ellis' physical appearance are sparse.
Hawthorne's performance reviews rated him as an excellent engineer.