Generation seven: William and Dianna Hodson/Hodgin

William Hodson, representing the first North Carolina-born generation of my name-line, appears to move about in what I have come to call the Shadow Meeting - individuals who attend Quaker Meeting, and in this period might even wear Plain clothing and converse in Plain speech, yet who are not official members of the Society of Friends. Without membership, though, they are not minuted in the Quaker records. Complicating the documentation of William Hodson’s life and family is the fact that he died intestate, making proof of his genealogy even more tenuous.

Likewise, detailing his wife’s place within the Saferight genealogy is at this point sketchy.

Spousal lines: Saferight/Sigfried/Sigfret/Siegfried/Seyfert.

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William Hodson was born 1768, Guilford County, the son of George and Rachel (Oldham) Hodson. He married, ca 1790, Diannah Saferight (1768-before May 17, 1852), the daughter of Henry (or Heinrich) Sigfred/Sigfried/Saferight. John K. Hodgin also lists a Nancy as the given name for Henry’s wife. William died intestate February 6, 1849, Guilford County. Four or eight reported children, possibly ten.

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Charles H. Saunders, drawing upon Glen C. Walker, names the first four children. I round out his information with data from other sources. John K. Hodgin, working from his computerized files, adds another four, though at this time I am hoping to find data on the other the other local William Hodson’s family to make sure we are not mixing two separate lines into one. (He also names a second wife, Keziah Harvey, as the mother of Ruth, but that 1825 date falls within the span of children born to Diannah Saferight, leading me to rule that out.

  1. George, born January 2, 1797, Guilford County; died November 4, 1878, Guilford County; married, January 1818, Delilah Rayle/Hunt (October 10, 1784 or 1794 -November 21, 1883). They are buried at Centre Friends. Eleven known and/or reported children, although at least one of them may be by a first husband, before George.
  2. Henry, born 1802, Guilford County; died 1876, Guilford County; married October 21, 1820, Polly Petty (1806- ), daughter of Elias and Rachel. [Rachel was the daughter of Daniel and Eunice (Hussey) Worth, who removed from Nantucket in 1771.] At least three children. In the 1860 Guilford Census his occupation is listed as miller, and daughters Lydia, 18, and Eunice, 17, are living at home (one is still attending school).
  3. Rachel, born 1805, Guilford County; died 1883, Guilford County; married August 9, 1831, John Stephenson (1809-1885), son of John and Elizabeth (Dobson) Stephenson. In the 1860 Guilford Census he is successful farmer, and they have nine children and two others living in their household; five are  in school.
  4. Diannah, born 1810, Guilford County; died ( ), Guilford County; married, 1833, William Petty (1810- ). In the 1860 Census their household is the only Petty listed in Guilford County, and they have six children, three of them still in school. His birthplace is given as Kentucky.
  5. Catharine (Ketty), born ca 1792, Guilford County; died ca 1852; married, January 13, 1813, John Shelly ( -1820), son/daughter of ( ). Three children. She then married Charles Bland and with him had six daughters. In the 1860 Guilford Census she is recorded as age seventy, living in the household of forty-year-old Elvina Armfield and eight-year-old Rosella Armfield. She is the only Bland indexed.
  6. Anne, born ca 1794, Guilford County; married, August 17, 1819 Joseph Wheeler. (He marked with his x.) They are not in the 1860 Guilford Census.
  7. Rebecca married Henry Albright. Their Guilford marriage bond is dated October 9, 1829. It may have been a second marriage for him; he marks with an x.
  8. Ruth.

*   *   *

William Hodson had long been the missing link in my attempt to connect what I had found of my Hodson line in Ohio with the early North Carolina Hodgsons. Efforts of sifting through available Census data, “ghosting in” known children into the appropriate columns, narrowed the search; nevertheless, difficulty arose in attempting to account for some of the families that migrated northward to Ohio and Indiana, making every theoretical model one of quicksand; in time, my search began zeroing in on two William Hodsons, plus a Joshua Hodson and a Zachary Hodson. Illegibility of some of the records even had me wondering whether Joshua and Zachary were the same individual. At last only one William was left, but the process of elimination could never be considered proof: my ancestor could have been living in another household, perhaps laboring for his wife’s parents. And then I received a chart from Charles H. Saunders, drawing upon research by Glen C. Walker, placing my George Hodson (1797-1878) in the family of William and Diannah Hodson and naming George’s wife as Delila Hunt.

At this point there was still no indication of Diannah’s maiden name, but the four children who were named hinted at her parents’ first names: Henry and Diannah. Curiously, her first name – that of a Greek goddess – would not have been common among these Quaker lines. I began sifting through the appropriate Census tables for Henrys who headed households in Guilford and Randolph counties, eliminating those that lacked daughters in Diannah’s age range. At last I was down to Ford, Davice (Davis), Kirkman, and Sigfret. Eventually, Clay Hodgin’s Early History of the Quaker Hodgson-Hodson-Hodgin Family (Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina; 1988) arrived, containing tables that named her as Dianna Saferight. (A word of caution: those tables do mangle several generations in this line, leading to unnecessary confusion.) Again, this is not proof, but it is plausible.

On his chart, Walker notes, “Little is known about William. He signed his name ‘Hodson’ and bought and sold considerable farm land. He died intestate and his small estate was settled by an administrator. Census records were very poor but indicated that he probably had ten children.”

Through part of this period, keeping the two Williams in the family distinct is difficult. The 1790 Census lists a William Hodgings having one free white male over age 16 and two free white females in the household; that would appear to be my ancestor, since the other William (1762-1828) did not marry until the end of 1790. That William, the son of Joseph and Margaret (Williams) Hodgson, married Mary Thornburg (1764-1842) on Twelfth Month 29, 1790.

In 1800 the Census lists a William Hodgins having one male under age 10 and one between 26 and 45, plus one female under age 10, one between 10 and 16, and one between 26 and 45; this fit seems to match my William better than the other, Joseph’s son.

The 1810 Census lists two Williams: my ancestor, William Hodson, listed near George, Isaac, and Jonathan, now has one male under age 10, one between 10 and 16, and one between 26 and 45, plus two females under age 10, two 16 to 26, and one between 26 and 45. The other William Hodson has two males between 10 and 16, and one over 45, plus one female under age 10, one between 10 and 16, and one over age 45; I assume this is the son of Joseph and Mary.

An 1815 Guilford County tax list compiled by William Perry Johnson reports, under Fentress and Sumner townships, two William Hodsons: one has two white polls; the other, a miller, has one and is estimated to be worth $368 in land holdings and $1,090 in valuation. Based on the 1810 Census, I assume that my William was the miller.

Centre Friends’ reconstructed meeting minutes have (1816?) William Hodgin and wife Mary and children Joseph, Margaret, Lydia, and Mary being granted a certificate of transfer to Lick Creek Monthly Meeting, Indiana, and endorsed to Blue River Monthly Meeting, Indiana. That would leave sons Nathan and William Junior unaccounted for in the certificate, although other family records report their lives continuing in Indiana.

The 1820, 1830, and 1840 Guilford County Census lists have only one William Hodson or Hodgin. In 1850, after my William’s death, two William Hodgsons are enumerated, as well as Diana Hodgson.

As the eldest son, William was named in honor of his mother’s father, in line with Midland England naming patterns rather than the Borderland England patterns seen in earlier Hodgson generations. Yet with his own sons, William reverts to the earliest usage, which is also more in line with German tradition. The daughters’ side, however, is less clear. John K. Hodgin’s insertion of an additional four daughters makes sense, considering the six-year gap between William and Diannah’s marriage. But since the only mention of her mother is the Nancy that John K. Hodgin lists, the Catharine or Anne names become puzzling. In addition, we might ask why Rachel, in honor of William’s mother, appears lower on the list than it does. This bits acknowledge that earlier customs are in flux, especially as one stream of tradition mingles with another.

We can surmise, to use the words of Damon D. Hickey in The Southern Friend (Spring 1981), that William was one of those who found themselves “confirmed … in a course that was independent of Friends but curiously parallel to and in close contact with them.” As Quakers discovered, “clearly it was helpful to have friendly, disowned Friends in high places.” Although William’s parents had been disowned from membership and were later reinstated, their renewed membership came too late for William, who was already a married adult; thus, technically, he had never been disowned. And though William was never as highly placed as George Mendenhall or Governor Jonathan Worth, he was positioned to act on the legal behalf of Quaker families; he and his brother, Zachariah, are noted repeatedly as witnesses to wills or marriage bonds. William witnesses the 1825 will of Thomas Ozburn (Elisha’s father and the grandfather of Eunice Ozbun, who marries William’s grandson, Pleasant Hodson) and the 1831 will of Elijah Manship, which involved slaves as well. He is the executor of his father’s will and of Mary Hacket’s 1826 will (witnessed by George Hodson).

Since both of his parents and his descendents maintain ties to Centre Friends Meeting, as do some of his wife’s family, we can assume William and Diannah attended worship there and are interred in the burial ground.

When William was about twelve years old, Centre Friends built their second meetinghouse, an event an impressionable youth would remember, especially if he participated in the “barn-raising” festivities of the labor; the 1780 structure would serve the family and their neighbors nearly a century. “Early in the days of Centre meeting,” Samuel A. Purdie wrote shortly after the Civil War (“Quakerism in Dixie,” edited by Thomas D. Hamm, The Southern Friend, Spring-Autumn 1999),

the needs of their large congregation compelled them to build a large meeting house. They entered earnestly upon the work, and the result was a house in [which] the people of Centre still meet to worship God. The structure is one of the most curious of Friends’ meeting houses in America, and is worthy of passing notice. The walls are built of three-inch poplar plank, morticed into upright oak posts, and securely pinned, the points of the pins often projecting inside, although not intended for ornament. The side walls consist of two ranges of posts, one above the other, with a plate or beam between them. There are, I believe, seven posts in each row, requiring six lengths of plank for each side, making a total of 130 mortices on each side. The ends are built on a similar plan. The places between the planks are stopped with mortar and sticks. The whole structure has been weather-boarded, but bids defiance at all efforts at ceiling, save the gum-ceiling over a little more than one-half of each room. The remainder of each room is occupied by the loft or gallery, to support which, and to give strength to the whole structure, recourse was had to a curious combination of braces and supports, which makes the upper part of the building look about as much like an effort at ship-building as at house building.

This generates a much different picture of the meetinghouse than one would imagine in hearing it described as a log cabin fifty-by-thirty-eight feet built in “puncheon” style and raised, with one hundred men lifting a side – probably framed, roofed, and sided in a single day. Purdie’s portrayal of the upper part of the interior suggests that its design was influenced by shipbuilding Friends who had arrived only a decade earlier from Nantucket Island.

That same issue of The Southern Friend contains another piece that can assist our understanding of Quaker-influenced life in the Piedmont region at this time. “Quaker Plan Houses of Deep River Quarterly Meeting, Guilford County, North Carolina,” by Benjamin Briggs, surveys residences built by Friends before the Civil War and finds some unique commonalities of design, in part arising in an attempt to maintain a distinctive Quaker identity. “The issue of slavery particularly separated Friends from the mainstream of southern society,” Briggs writes. Turning to house construction, “This investigation found that another material manifestation of Quakerism [in addition to the peculiar dress and speech] was the Quaker plan, otherwise referred to as the ‘Penn plan.’ Though interpreted through different proportions, architectural styles, and materials, the house type was used almost exclusively by members of the Society of Friends to distinguish themselves materially from others in an effort to foster a sense of solidarity within an increasingly intolerant environment.”

Essentially, these houses are based on a three-cell plan that includes a fireplace on the exterior wall “serving a kitchen or hall that runs the depth of the house, and is adjacent to two rooms of equal size. … Enclosed, or boxed, stairs usually lead from the hall to the second floor, where the plan becomes less rigid.” The design often incorporates a single-room annex extending from the parlor.

While the survey confines itself to Deep River Friends, the style also influences houses at Centre. Looking at newspaper clippings reporting a fire that destroyed the birthplace of broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, just east of the Centre meetinghouse, one can discern the “Penn plan” proportions, even when the story describes the oldest part as a log cabin as “20 feet square with a big fireplace.” The parlors appear to have been added, in log, at the end opposite the fireplace, in accord with the style. Photos taken after the fire expose the original logs, which had previously been covered in siding, and these clearly show how the addition worked.

This, too, becomes an aspect to be considered in examining family roots in Guilford and neighboring Randolph County.

For whatever reasons, William and Diannah made crucial decisions – probably with little or no deliberation – that nevertheless kept the family under the influence of Friends Meeting. While his parents rejoined Centre Meeting a few years after his marriage, he and his wife apparently did not apply for membership. Although the minutes from those years are lost to fire, we find no subsequent evidence that any of their children were members, which would have been a consequence of their parents’ joining. William and Diannah could have drifted away altogether, possibly coming into the emerging Methodist orb, which seems to have been especially attractive to those from Quaker stock. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, had, after all, been profoundly influenced by Quaker thought, and the principle theological treatise of Friends, Robert Barclay’s Apology, countered Roman Catholic and Anglican as well as Calvinist theologies – but not Methodist reasoning, which had not yet been formulated. Perhaps family ties and the neighborhood itself were a sufficient reason to continue along at the fringe of the Quaker culture and community.

Then there’s the matter of livelihood. Unlike his father or Grandfather Hodgson, William’s occupation is described as a miller. We can ask about the nature of the work itself. Was it essentially seasonal, with harvests coming in during dry weather, rather than rainy winter and spring? Was it part-time labor, or a full-time concern? How big was his operation, anyway? And was it a grist mill, for wheat, corn, and the like, or other operations, such as a sawmill? Assuming the mill was on the Polecat, we can ask how steady the streamflow was, how much water he impounded, how he coped with flooding, how much of the dam building and maintenance he did himself and how much he contracted out, how much of the actual mill construction and maintenance of the burrs he did himself. Did any of this come down to him through Peter Dicks, the settler at Centre who was not only a Quaker minister and kinsman, but a miller as well? And would any of this translate into the construction and operation of a gold mine?

Even if William Hodson was primarily a miller – and presumably, also a farmer, to whatever degree – he is also found actively engaged in land transactions.

Randolph County, for instance, records turn up a number of real estate transactions involving William Hodson, including 1831 as grantee and grantors John and Baptist Clark, 112½ acres; 1832 as grantee with grantor John Clark, 112 acres; 1837 as grantor of 100 acres to Warwick Davis; and 1841 as grantor of a half acre to James Frazier.

William also appears in Guilford County land transactions. In his Guilford County: A Map Supplement, Fred Hughes writes, “In 1819, Edward Poor leased land from William Hodson (Hodgin) for the stated purpose of mining gold. Poor agreed to pay a fee of one fourth of the gold found, and posted a bond of $5000. Robert W. Hodson and his brother Jeremiah did some prospecting, found gold, and developed their own operation.”

Mary Browning dates the agreement January 25, 1819. In her “Remembering the First Jamestown Gold Miners, published December 11, 2005, in the News & Record, she writes “at some time before 1819 gold had been discovered on William Hodson’s property near Deep River in Guilford Co.” She adds that the document recorded with the county register of deeds entitled Poor to “work & use wood & water in working a gold mine on the land of said William” and was to pay Hodson one-fourth part of the gold or other metal recovered. She remarks, “Edward Poor was successful enough during the next few years to cause the honorary title of ‘Captain’ to be placed on his tombstone. He died in 1827 and was buried in Old Union graveyard, also called Holton-Vickrey cemetery, on River Rd.”

In addition, she reports that Robert W. Hodson also owned one of the early mines, 1825-1831, before he moved to Indiana. In an 1879 letter to Philip Horney Hodson in Guilford County, Robert wrote of panning for gold with his brother Jeremiah in 1825. After that, for four years, they worked what they called the Horney Mine, location kept secret: “Some days we did not make more than $1.00 in the hand, on other days much more. The largest day’s work we ever done, was to dig out the ore, haul it to the washing place and wash out a little over $90.00, or $30.00 to the hand. We only went a little over fifty feet deep while I worked the vein. The vein thickened from near a foot on the surface to near five feet in the bottom. We sold out, I think, in the Spring of 1831 to Andrew Lindsey, James Robbins and Jesse Shelly.”

For a comparative sense of their earnings, consider that a steak dinner in a fine hotel could be had for a nickel, the same price as overnight accommodations. So, in today’s terms, they may have made the equivalent of $600, on the slow day; their biggest day, in contrast, netted the equivalent of $18,000.

In detailing the rise and importance of the North Carolina mines, Hughes explains, “When the United States began making its own coins, French, Dutch, and Spanish coins were melted down and recast into blanks for the coin stamps. The first gold coins made from virgin gold were made from North Carolina gold. The state was the premiere producer of gold until the gold rush into California” in 1849. Hughes notes that having the Carolina finds occur on privately held property prevented a gold rush in the Piedmont region. “Many of the early mines were operated by farmers during times when they could not plow and plant – a second income for them,” Hughes writes. As additional ore was located below the water line, however, the nature of mining and recovery changed; the ore above the table was largely placer gold, while that below was in alloy with other minerals, which required larger investment. Among the Guilford County companies was a Hodgin Hill Mining Company, founded in 1855. Even so, by 1855 most of the gold operations in Guilford County had converted to copper production.

From twentieth century maps I find in Sumner Township the Fentress Mine and Dickens Mine, both just north of the Centre Friends meetinghouse, a Hodges Hill Mine (Hodgin, the one from 1855?) east of a Concord Friends meetinghouse in the north-central part of the township (and neighboring what the C.M. Miller map of 1908 labels as a Hodgin residence), a Beard Mine neighboring Concord Friends, and a cluster of Fisher Hill, Millis Mill, and Hackett Mine, all to the north of Concord Friends. Some of these sites may have been quarries left from the days of open-pit mining.

With so much of this activity happening around him, William Hodson nevertheless died intestate, with a small estate. Had he already distributed much of his wealth to his children, helping them set up households, farms, and other businesses of their own? Or is there another story?

The Guilford Genealogist (Fall 2003) includes two entries from the February 10, 1849, edition of the Greensboro Patriot newspaper:

Died - In the south part of this county, the 6th instant, William Hodgin, aged upwards of eighty years. The deceased for a great number of years pursued the occupation of a miller … so pleasant is the recollection of his merry old visage, and deep mellow laugh, his evidences of a kind and trusting heart. …

Valuable Gold Mine for Sale. The valuable gold mine known as the Hodgin Mine situated in the county of Guilford, 7 miles south of Greensboro, N.C., containing 105 acres of land will be sold on the premises on the 3rd day of April 1849, on a credit of 12 months. This mine has been worked successfully for Gold for several years, and for the last eighteen months it has produced over 14000 dwts of gold, at an expense not exceeding $6,000. There is also a fair prospect for copper; - opinions of experienced miners for this metal are favorably given of this mine. There is no mine perhaps in this section of the country that has produced a better profit, and none that presents as fair a prospect at this time. The sale will positively take place, as one of the proprietors wishes to leave the country, and this method is resorted to in order to make a division. Persons wishing information respecting this property can apply to J.W. KIRKMAN, Esq. near the premises or to J.W. FIELD, Jamestown, N.C. J.W. FIELD, J.W. KIRKMAN, A.B. GARDNER, S.C. COFFIN. Feb. 5th 1849

Coincidentally, the dates of the two announcements are a day apart. How much interest, if any, did William’s family still have in this property?

About their children

The life of George, by whom I descend, is detailed in a separate posting.

Turning to the other children, I have already detailed what little I have on them. Since the definitive number remains in doubt, it is difficult to determine whether a higher proportion of William and Diannah’s children chose to remain in Guilford County than was the case with William’s siblings, or whether the ones listed here are simply the ones who stayed.

Crucial points for further research

The Saferight lineage, especially, requires much work.

A clearer picture of William’s life – milling, mining, land dealing included – would be welcome. As would something of his wife’s experiences. Details regarding their children are needed, beginning with a definitive number, their names, and their destinies.

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Among the Hodgson millers

My William Hodson wasn’t the only miller in the family. Even during his life, he had a cousin William who was also a miller in Guilford County, which was quite confusing in my genealogy research, at least until that line moved north and west.

And out of that northern and western migration of Hodgson cousins, we find the brothers Alva and George settling in the Ozarks of Missouri and continuing the tradition:

The Hodgson Mill logo is found on grocery shelves around the country.

The Hodgson Mill logo is found on grocery shelves around the country.

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A breakthrough moment

For years my effort to connect what I had on my Hodson line in Ohio to George and Mary Thatcher Hodgson in North Carolina was stymied. From family Bible entries and other notations, combined with the detailed Census of 1850 and later, I was able to take the line back to George and Delilah Hodson in Guilford County. But I remained stuck taking the leap to what I had collected working from the other direction.

And then I received this chart in a set mailed by Charles H. Saunders in Indiana, confirming my hunch that William and Diannah Saferight Hodson were my missing link. Hallelujah! I remember staring at the opened package in a state of awe and deep gratitude.

SCN_0041Still, while Saunders cites respected genealogist Glen C. Walker as his source, I wondered how much credence to give this new information. Later, others told me Saunders was reliable and his extensive records, which he had kept in his car, had disappeared after his death. So I was very lucky to correspond with him when I did.

Revisiting the charts he sent, I am reminded of the deep care and generosity of many earlier serious genealogists working in an era before photocopying and then Internet options. The chart displayed here was typed on card-stock paper – a time-consuming task, at best, and more difficult than today’s “keyboarding.” Often, copies like this were deposited in local genealogical libraries, where they may still be encountered.

I also observe limitations in the findings. Delilah’s maiden name is relayed as Hunt, rather than the actual Britton, or the alternate Rayle. And we now know of more than four children.

Still, so much of our research depends on sharing what bits we have, in the hopes that a fuller puzzle can be pieced together.

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Generation eight: George and Delilah Hodson/Hodgin

Within the lifetime of George Hodson/Hodgin, a Southern sensibility takes shape within the North Carolina Quaker culture even as it bears the tensions of maintaining its unique witness in opposition to a slave-holding society. We find the traditional naming patterns breaking down, and among the boys, at least, popular names begin to include Calvin, Luther, and Wesley - drawn from other Protestant traditions.

We may ask, too, whether his wife’s given name, Delilah, expressed a defiance to her situation at birth. Conflicting information regarding her early years, moreover, creates alternative scenarios that need resolution. What we do know is that if the reported marriage date is correct, George married an older woman after the birth of her first child.

Spousal lines: Rayle or Hunt, Britton/Britain, or possibly Edwards and Stanton.

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George Hodson was born January 2, 1797, Guilford County, the son of William and Diannah (Saferight) Hodson/Hodgin. He married, January 1818, Delilah Britton (the surname is often reported as Rayle or Hunt) (October 10, 1784 or 1794-November 21, 1883). He died November 4, 1878, Guilford County, and is buried with his wife at the Centre Friends burial ground. Perhaps eleven children, one of them born previous to George and Delilah’s marriage:

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  1. Absalom Hodgin, born March 21, 1817, Guilford County; died November 29, 1888, Guilford County; married, December 31, 1840, Paulina or Pauline Clark (October 15, 1817-January 15, 1902). They are buried at Rehoboth Methodist, near the source of Polecat Creek. Eight children. His birth date, ten months before the reported marriage of George and Delilah, leads me to believe that Absalom is her child by a previous marriage or relationship with Absalom Hunt. His first name appears in many variations, though I use the Biblical spelling here.
  2. Eula Ruth, born Twelfth Month 17, 1818, Guilford County; died Seventh Month 12, 1887, Guilford County; first married George Hodgin ( – ), and they had one son. She married second, on October 11 or 22, 1854, Francis Simpson Davis (1831-1922), a dozen years her junior according to their gravestones, and they had three children. She and her second husband are buried at Centre Friends. In the 1860 Guilford Census, he is listed as Francis S. Davis and their age difference is seven years; on his gravestone, he is Simpson. In both instances she goes by Ruth. Could “Eula” be a variation of Beulah, a Hunt family name – as is Ruth? Ruth, however, is the name of Delilah’s reported mother, Ruth Britton.
  3. Jamima, born April 27, 1821, Guilford County; died July 2, 1903, Guilford County; married, September 9, 1844, or May 7, 1846, Samuel S. Davis (June 24, 1821-June 30, 1913). They are buried at Centre Friends. Four children in the 1860 Guilford Census.
  4. George Washington Hodgson, born May 4, 1823, Guilford County; died May 8, 1872; married, June 7, 1846, Nancy L. Irvin (1823- ). Six children. He may have been known as Washington Hodgin. He and Nancy are reported in the 1850 Census for Guilford County, but not in 1860; so far, I find him principally in Clay Hodgin’s table of George and Delilah’s children.
  5. Diana (Dianah), born 1824, Guilford County; died ( ), Guilford County; married, May 7 or 17, 1846, Wade Hampton Newman ( – ). Four children. They are not listed in the 1860 Guilford Census, although John K. Hodgin reports that she is buried in Guilford County.
  6. William, born 1825. Guilford County; died 1910, buried at Concord Friends. Although Clay Hodgin reports that William not marry, John K. Hodgin names Rachel Winters (November 11, 1824-August 6, 1894) as the wife, an account that fits the 1850 Guilford Census, which records a William Hodgson, 25, farmer, and wife Rachel, also 25, with children George, 4, Sophronia, 1/12, and N. Yancy (Nancy?), 3. They appear in the 1860 Guilford Census, with the additions of Alphonso, 8, and Anna, 2. Buried at Concord Friends; a link from the Concord Web page on listing of interments says, “William Hodson was the son of Delilah Britton and George Hodson. He married Rachel Winters on 22 Feb. 1844 and they had at least five children. William was a long time widower at his death.” Delilah’s surname is supported by William’s death certificate, with the information attested by J.H. Davis of Greensboro.
  7. Pleasant, born February 7, 1827, Guilford County; died May 20, 1908, Guilford County; married Eunice OSBAN (May 1, 1834-September 27, 1910), daughter of Elisha and Nancy (Mendenhall?) OZBUN. They are buried at Concord Friends. Four children.
  8. Henry “Hooter,” born March 13, 1829, Guilford County; died February 24, 1889, Guilford County; married Rachel S. (November 12, 1833-March 31, 1915). They are buried at Centre Friends. Eight children. In the 1860 Census they are dwelling four households away from his Uncle Henry Hodgin, the miller.
  9. Rachel Emmiline, born February 15, 1831, Guilford County; died 1905, Fillmore County, Minnesota; married William R. Reynolds (December 13, 1827, Grayson County, Virginia; March 8, 1905, presumably Fillmore County, Minnesota). Children.
  10. Stephen Parker Hodgin, born November 2, 1834, Guilford County; died May 14, 1907; first married Emeline Jenkins (1831-1859). His first wife died, and granddaughters Jane and Emeline were raised by the grandparents. He married second, March 19, 1866, Sarah Jane Dobson (June 1837-1922, in California), and they had five or six children. To him was bequeathed the “William Hodgin tract.”
  11. Elias or Ellis Harper, born 1836 or April 19, 1839 (gravestone), Guilford County; died December 11, 1911, and buried at Concord Friends. No mention in his father’s will when it was drawn in 1878. The only reference I find to him as such is in the 1850 Guilford Census, in George and Delilah’s household. There is, however, an obituary for Gertrude Hodgin, died Twelfth Month 19, 1876, age 4 years 9 months and 3 days, the daughter of Elias M. and Rachel E., members of Chester Monthly Meeting, Indiana.

*   *   *

I had doubted I would ever see these faces, the two oval portraits, though the reports of their display at a family reunion a quarter-century earlier had been part of the prompting that initiated my own genealogical research. Not knowing who they were, my cousin Floyd and his wife, Melba, had put the portraits out at a yard sale, along with those of Pleasant and Eunice Hodson. Fortunately, no one bought them, and later, looking at a photograph of his father’s household, Floyd realized what he possessed. Since then, the portraits have filtered away, apparently through his nephew’s lines, before I could obtain copies. Even so, I’ve caught glimpses of Pleasant’s portrait, in a formal snapshot at my grandparents’ wedding, which took place in the parlor of Floyd’s parents house in Dayton, Ohio. I keep wanting to tell the best man to move aside, so I can see Eunice, to no avail.

In January 2007, I was delightfully surprised when Hank Hodgin emailed copies of the portraits of George and Delilah – copies of the photographs that had been handed down through Henry “Hooter” Hodgin’s line. I had no reason to suspect there had been copies, much less that they had survived in North Carolina. These arrived as deeply appreciated treasures.

At last, my great-great-great-grandparents gaze at me. Initially, they are strangers, yet as we settle in, a familiarity surfaces. Considering that the portraits were likely made sometime after the Civil War, with the spread of photography, we have a husband and wife in their sixties or seventies – well past their prime. George, especially, looks weathered, as one might expect of a famer – one who had weathered the travails imposed by the Civil War, especially.

George Hodson/Hodgin

George Hodson/Hodgin

Delilah Hodson/Hodgin

Delilah Hodson/Hodgin

With Delilah, I hear my mother’s reaction, the family members wondering if she were German and remarking that you wouldn’t want to try putting something past her. The more I look, though, the more her face softens. How much of the grimness originates in her lack of teeth, and the impoverishment of war? Here is a woman who has borne eleven children, at least – as well as the likely scandal of the first – and found love and companionship with George. The more I look, the more contentment I see, and solidity. Surprisingly, it takes me a while to acknowledge she is wearing a plain dress, probably dark gray, and a Quaker covering – a soft bonnet, as well as a white shawl – something I had no reason to expect, considering that they were not officially members of the Society of Friends. It says much, though, about their practice – and why at least one of their sons would hide in the forest, rather than serve in an army, and why their grandson Joshua could go to Ohio and be welcomed into an established Quaker family. I imagine her at the wood stove or in her garden, moving about with a sense of competency. I hear Dixie Newlin’s laugh, “This is Southern cooking!” and appreciate what that means. Delilah is rounded, and probably not tall. She has a large hand, presumably placed on the other. She has known passion and, if I have pieced the evidence properly, betrayal and abandonment before she married George.

Curiously, I see something of my grandfather in her face, though in his earlier years, when he was thinner than any of us had expected, he looked more like George, at least what I’ve known as a Hodson/Hodgin appearance.

Here, when I pass the portraits around, many exclaim, “He looks like Silas!” – referring to a patriarch of Dover Friends Meeting here in New Hampshire. Of course, the more I look, the less I see of that resemblance. Still, I struggle to find the features I see in his son Pleasant, in his grandson Tom, in my father, in Arthur Hodgin, whose relationship to me is through George’s great-grandfather. There’s the shock of white hair I envy in my balding – the wavy hair Melba insisted was a Hodson characteristic and that my father had, until the U.S. Army shaved it away. George, with his sloping shoulders, wears a coat that may have no collar, a shirt with a collar but no tie, and a patterned vest – all somewhat disheveled; I cannot tell how much his dress fits Carolina Quaker custom of the time, or how much it departs, or how much is that of a farmer. His face is weathered and ruddy, and his tight-lipped expression may also reflect a lack of teeth or perhaps ill-fitting dentures. I wonder how much he resembles his grandfather and great-grandfather, as well as their struggles. His eyes are deep-set, knowing, open, and strong. There is none of the madness you see in so many portraits from the period. Delilah, on the other hand, harbors some reserve in her gaze; perhaps she is the one to ask the hard questions in their household.

I look at them together and know they wouldn’t have gone dancing. From Joshua’s reaction to Uncle Leroy’s pack of cards, I know they wouldn’t have played table games, either. They are hard-working, patient, sober, resolute.

When I return to the family portraits, I find myself searching for signs of Delilah in my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They’re apparent. The rounded, rather than thin face; the jaw; the bushy, upward eyebrows rather than George’s arched brows. Maybe some of it in Floyd’s face, for instance.

Would I have liked them? Or they, me? I think so. How unlike my Dunker ancestors they appear, or any of my mother’s lines! I feel I belong with them, more than the others. Amazing.

I return, too, to the attraction and familiarity I felt as a child when we visited log cabins on family trips. A romance, yes, but maybe there was something else, especially in southern Indiana, where so many of our kin had moved in their flight from the slave-owning Carolina culture. I try to see, as well, the blacksmith’s physique, which would have fit Pleasant’s early occupation – how thin he appears in the photo, taking after his father.

*   *   *

In the 1850 Guilford Census George Hodson, age fifty-three, is a farmer whose estate is valued at $600; his wife is three years his senior. (If we are to believe her date of birth on her gravestone, she would have been thirteen years his senior.) In the 1860 Guilford Census he is still a farmer, with real estate of $900 and personal valuation of $100; here their age difference is given as thirteen years: her sixty-five to his fifty-two.

Delilah presents us with many unresolved questions. For starters, her first name – Delilah – is not one anticipated in Piedmont Quaker culture. Although she is not the only woman named Delilah in Guilford County during that period, the name expresses a woman who brought down a Jewish hero – albeit, a flawed Nazarite. Perhaps there was a recognition of a powerful Biblical woman, regardless of her partisanship, and of Samson’s own responsibility in becoming ensnared; there may also be an attraction to the musical nature of the name itself, which is not that far removed from Dinah, a popular Quaker name carried to North Carolina by the Nantucket Friends. Again, we have questions.

Even getting her first name straight involved some initial confusion in my research: a carbon paper typescript of the Centre Friends gravestones, made by the Daughters of the American Revolution, had it Dellah, and Floyd Hodson, attempting to decipher notes handed down in our family, had Delica and Delice as possibilities.

Her surname before marrying George is variously given as Rayle or Hunt. Her legal birthname, however, turns out to be Delilah Britton. The death certificate of her son, William Hodson, records that name, on information provided by J.H. Davis of Greensboro. The linkage to the Rayle surname is found in the Spring 2009 issue of The Guilford Genealogist, where an article, “Guilford County Bastardy-Related Orders and Issues Taken From the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Minutes,” reports two cases where Matthew Rail/Rayl is named as the father, the first time in November 1794, the month after Delilah’s birth, with Ruth Britton, “a single woman,” is named as the mother, and again in May 1800, where no mother is named.

At this point, I have no knowledge of where Delilah was raised or how her mother survived. Perhaps they wound up living with Matthew Rayle, though little is known of him after the 1810 Census. It is possible Delilah went by the Rayle surname, acknowledging his paternity, or even that her mother did the same, regardless of legal status.

Matthew Rayle was raised in a Quaker family and was read out of New Garden Meeting the month before Delilah’s birth. The lawsuit over paternity came the month after her birth. The Brittons, or Brittains, were also Quaker, apparently based in Centre Meeting; details, however, are scant, as a consequence of the loss of its early records to fire. The Hunt connection has been more elusive, even though the Hunts and Rayles were closely related. My hunch is that Delilah had her first child by Absolom Hunt, who like Matthew Rayle, was read out of meeting at the time, although with some curious complications. While the Hunts were a prominent, prolific Piedmont Quaker family, the Rayles were a much smaller family at the periphery of Friends activity, and the Brittons even more so.

For all of the emphasis on marrying in accord with Quaker discipline and marrying within the faith, or in unity, Delilah represents another side of the Carolina Friends struggle, a realistic recognition of sexuality and the care of children. While neither she nor George was ever a formal member of the Society of Friends, they remained part of the community and under its care. They are, after all, buried in the meetinghouse yard.

I imagine the biggest problem in her own birth and the birth of her first child, as far as Friends were concerned, was the dishonesty on the part of men who likely made promises they never kept. While Friends have long maintained a testimony of honesty and honest dealing, there has also been an unvoiced testimony of responsibility – sober responsibility, at that. Divorce was unthinkable, as was leaving the mother of your child.

Because of their age difference, I long assumed that Delilah’s marriage to George was not her first. John K. Hodgin places their marriage in 1818, a year after Absalom’s birth.

While some sources give Delilah’s surname as Hunt, I received a letter from Betty Probst Fox of Yale, Iowa, reporting that the death certificate of Rachel (Hodson) Reynolds in Fillmore County, Minnesota, records the maiden name as Delilah Rule – a finding that led me to a futile search for possible Rule and even Ruhl connections, Quaker, Brethren (Dunker), and Mennonite. Based on the weight of the death certificate, I began leaning toward Rayle as her maiden name, and that she subsequently married a Hunt.

Complicating this, however, is the fact that the Rayles were already closely aligned with the Hunt family through two marriages, one in 1783 and the other 1792. Hunts named a son Pleasant in 1808; the name appears among the Rayles in 1811.

Whatever her origins, George and Delilah’s generation represents a break with previous traditions in several ways. In naming patterns we see middle names or initials appearing; previously, they had occurred only with George’s uncle, George Washington Hodson (son of George and Rachel Oldham Hodson), as an attempt to distinguish among the many other Georges in the family. Now, however, the practice spreads. Furthermore, we see a break between the distinctively British naming patterns. The Hodgson Borderers tradition, blending with Nantucket Biblical preferences and Philadelphia’s matrilineal/patrilineal crossings, now emerges with indications of an especially Southern sensibility: euphonious, often unique, names are chosen for children.

The Quaker culture was also beginning to shatter, partly under the pressure of maintaining a witness against their slaveholding neighbors, partly through depletion as kin continued to move away from the South, partly through an osmosis of other Protestant influences (we see Quaker children being named Calvin, Luther, and Wesley, for example), and partly through the Hicksite/Orthodox separation that had rent the Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Ohio Yearly Meetings, closely followed by an Orthodox/Wilburite separation in New England and Ohio.

In addition, the Civil War and Reconstruction would exact a heavy toll on Carolina Quakers and their neighbors alike.

In the period when George and Delilah were born, as Samuel A. Purdie explains (“Quakerism in Dixie,” edited by Thomas D. Hamm, in The Southern Friend, Spring-Autumn 1999), Centre

was a large Monthly Meeting in those days, and had much to do to keep its membership, from being stained by the gross immorality which surrounded them in a land of slavery. It always tried to enforce the regulations of the Yearly Meeting on the subject of slavery, whilst the drunkenness and licentiousness which was continually making inroads upon the church, caused them to be almost constantly active in order to cleanse its garments from pollution. Almost constantly it was laboring with its delinquent members on the subject of drunkenness, while between the years 1773 and 1806 no less than 44 cases of complaints for a breach of the moral law, on the point of chastity came before the meeting. This may be a matter of surprise to those who are unacquainted with the condition of morality in the South.

Purdie, a New York Friend coming to North Carolina shortly after the Civil War, had access to some of the now-lost Centre minutes from this period. Delilah or her mother were likely among the 44 cases Purdie alludes to, and may help us better understand why we face so many obstacles in determining her ancestry.

At the time of their marriage, George is barely 21, while Delilah – already a mother and possibly an unwed mother or a widow – is 23. By Quaker standards, George, especially, is young to be marrying.

The 1860 Census (recorded as Hodgin) has George age 52 and Delilah, 65. This time, his age is in error: he would have been a decade older. His estate, valued at $1,000, is a considerable amount for the time. His residence, too, appears within a stretch of Hodgin kin, accounting for seven of the 10 households recorded by the enumerator. Two doors away is his son (or stepson) Absolom; two doors the other way is his cousin, Simeon.

George’s will, written March 19, 1878, is witnessed by Simeon’s son, David Hodgin, a noted educator and legislator; that will is probated November 23 of the same year, indicating that George may have been suffering a chronic illness such as cancer or a stroke at the time the will was drawn. Also named at the time of probate are Susana J. Hodgin, Raley E. Hodgin (identical to the Rillie Emiline Hodgin in John K. Hodgin’s list), and Stephen G. Hodgson Jr. These additions suggest some grandchildren or others not currently accounted for in our present family tree.

George’s headstone gives his death as November 4, 1878, age 81 years, 10 months, 2 days. Delilah’s gravestone reads: “Delilah, wife of George Hodson, born Oct. 10, 1784, died Nov. 21, 1883, aged 89 yrs, 1 mo & 11 da.” In a Polaroid photo sent by Betty Probst Fox, the age can be seen as 89, though it is possible to see how some might read it as 99. Subtraction indicates the birth date is in error by ten years; likewise, the 1860 Guilford Census lists her as sixty-five, which would place her birth around 1795.

Theirs are the only Hodgson/Hodson line headstones for my direct ancestors at the Centre Friends burial ground, where they rest in the midst of many Hodgin stones as well as a few other Hodsons. Although some gravestones do represent some of my related lines, especially the Ozbuns, I found standing in the yard and expecting five or more generations of my ancestors’ earthly remains to be interred there – often in unmarked graves – a deeply comforting and yet unfamiliar feeling. (I did not yet know, however, that my final generation remaining in North Carolina is buried instead at a Concord Friends Meeting just up the road, or that George Hodson, husband of Rachel Oldham, is buried instead at New Garden, reducing my lineage of Hodgsons in the Centre yard slightly.) Because so many of the plots are unmarked, and the burials are in rows of generations before as well as after those of George and Delilah, there is a timeless sense of unity: the unmarked plots express, in their own way, unresolved lines of ancestry, perhaps even families I do not yet recognize as my own. Yet, there they are, mingling in ways that reflect their interactions as neighbors, family, commonwealth, and church through successive generations.

About Their Children

The life of Pleasant, by whom I descend, is detailed in a separate posting.

Considering the age difference between George and Delilah, I find the repetition of the older woman/younger man pattern in the life of Eula Ruth intriguing.

Another facet to reconsider is the choice of Hodson or Hodgin spellings among George and Delilah’s descendants. At least one previous genealogist has reported that the Hodson form prevailed among the lines descending from George’s grandfather. What we see here, however, challenges that observation.

Crucial Points for Further Research

The overwhelming question in this generation requires clarification of Delilah’s ancestry. First, the Hunt and Rayle lines require untangling. Which one is she, and how does that relate to the others?

Second is the matter of the Britton surname.

Then there is the matter of Absolom Hodson’s date of birth. Was he from a previous marriage? Was he illegitimate? If so, was George the father?

The date of Delilah’s birth itself appears evasive.

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Pleasant’s brother Stephen

One of the enjoyable parts of posting this genealogy is the interaction it’s stirred up with others.

As I’ve described throughout, genealogy research includes a great deal of swapping with other researchers or family members. Sometimes others have a piece that allows a big breakthrough, and sometimes it’s a colorful insight.

Here’s a newspaper clipping relayed by Diana Stasko showing Pleasant’s brother, who relocated from North Carolina to California.

Note, too, the reference to his mother as Delilah Hunt, reflecting the confusion of her maiden name, which was sometimes also given as Rayle rather than its actual Britton.

The portraits of George and Delilah (the “right” noted in the photo album) will be included in the chapter on them.


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Generation nine: Pleasant and Eunice Hodson/Hodgin

Even though Pleasant Hodson/Hodgin was not a member of the Society of Friends, his place within North Carolina Quaker culture becomes apparent in his decision to hide out during the Civil War years, rather than be conscripted by the Confederate army.

Although family documents in my possession spell the surname Hodson, other researchers report that Pleasant also used the Hodgin variation, especially on legal documents.

Spousal lines: Ozbun/Osban/Osborn, Buller, Ballard, possibly Mendenhall, Stanton, and Hoggatt/Hocket.

*   *   *

Pleasant Hodson/Hodgin was born February 7, 1827, Guilford County, the son of George and Delilah (Britton/Rayle/Hunt) Hodson. He married, January 20, 1853, in Guilford County, Eunice Osban (May 1, 1834-September 27, 1910), daughter of Elisha and Nancy (Mendenhall?) Ozbun. Pleasant died May 20, 1908, Guilford County, and he and his wife are buried at Concord Friends burial ground in Sumner Township, Guilford County. Four known children:

*   *   *

  1. Nancy Almeda, born January 6, 1854, Guilford County; died of measles, February 2, 1854, Guilford County.
  2. Luranna Ellen, born September 5, 1855, Guilford County; died June 29, 1882, (Guilford County?); married ( ) Craven ( – ). Two children: Eunice Elizabeth Craven, born August 16, 1877, and Nancy Delilah Craven, born August 18, 1879. In a family notebook, this entry then has a date, August 18th, 1901, and, in a different hand and in pencil rather than ink, “Eunice Elizabeth Sheby died August the 2 1906.”
  3. Joshua Francis, born November 23, 1857, Guilford County; died September 25, 1930, Spiceland, Indiana; married first, December 25, 1888, Josephine J. Jones, (November 15, 1867-May 13, 1891), daughter of Samuel B. and Rhoda (Coate) Jones; they had two sons. He married second, Alice McSherry (September 12, 1865-November 2, 1944), daughter of Amos and Mary Magdalene (Bayhill) McSherry; they had eight children.
  4. Thomas Franklin, born March 15, 1860, Guilford County; died December 15, 1937, Henry County, Indiana; married Anna Shipley, (1860 in Virginia-September 1926), daughter of ( ). They adopted Ethel Kelly (she would marry Paul Shipley), born January 30, 1906. Anna was killed in an interurban rail crash.

*   *   *

When I reflect on the dates of Pleasant and Eunice, what strikes me is the sweep of change and turmoil that occurred within their lifetime. There was, of course, political upheaval represented in the election of Andrew Jackson at the time of Pleasant’s birth – the ascendancy of a backwoods American culture that included Guilford and Randolph counties. In addition, a witness against slaveholding that Southern Friends were upholding intensified, in parallel with the increasingly noxious changes within slaveowning itself; the Underground Railroad emerged, in part, from the work of Coffin family at New Garden. That, in turn, was followed by the American Civil War and Reconstruction, several severe national economic depressions, and the Spanish-American War. Pleasant’s lifetime also would have encompassed the spread of railroads, appearance of electrical usage in cities, and even the automobile.

Earning a living through all of this, naturally, would require adjustments. In the 1860 Guilford County Census, Pleasant is recorded as a blacksmith, and his value is given as $50. No doubt, he was also a farmer, as subsequent Census years report.

On another front, his life also spanned major changes in American Quakerdom. The year of his birth experienced the outbreak of the Hicksite/Orthodox separation, which spread from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to its physically rowdy culmination at Ohio Yearly Meeting at Mount Pleasant in 1828, and included painful divisions in New York and Baltimore Yearly Meetings. Although New England and North Carolina Friends managed to remain intact, they were not immune from the wounds elsewhere. Subsequently, though, differences between conservative John Wilbur of Westerly, Rhode Island, and the wealthy English “evangelical” Joseph John Gurney, one of the most charismatic preachers of his day, did lead to an 1845 separation in New England, 1854 division of Orthodox Friends in Ohio, and much later separations in Iowa, Indiana (that one precipitated in 1877 when a long-respected minister, Robert Hodson, of Plainfield Quarter stood up and left the Yearly Meeting session), and, finally, North Carolina, 1902-1904. The effects of the Civil War would nearly obliterate the existence of the Society of Friends altogther in the South- a situation northern Friends, especially those in Maryland and Indiana, took pains to reverse. In the ensuing rebirth of Carolina Quakerdom, Southern Friends shifted from their traditional “silent” worship to a pastor-led formats more like that of their neighbors – one that included hymn-singing as well. The Wilburites, or Conservative Quakers, reacted by separating to continue the old ways.

When I began researching the family tree, my great aunt, Vera Haddix, began relating what she could remember of the family’s past. As a child, she had corresponded with her grandparents, Pleasant and Eunice; she had saved the letters, and believed they were among the items that had been cleaned out of the attic only a few years earlier, when she moved.

Both she and my cousin Floyd Hodson told of Pleasant’s decision to hide out during the Civil War years, rather than be conscripted into the Confederate Army. He lived at the base of a hollow tree, made shoes for the children using vines, and left them in a place where the children could leave him a basket of food from time to time – presumably in a manner that would allow them to answer honestly that they did not know his location.

Once, when the Home Guard – typically comprised of men who were excused from military service because they owned more than twenty slaves and were often known for their ruthless actions – attempted to elicit Pleasant’s whereabouts from Eunice, they threatened to kill her chickens. “Oh, no! Don’t do that! The eggs are all the children have to eat,” she pleaded. So they killed the rooster instead, Vera said.

Floyd had also heard stories of Pleasant’s “bushwhacking” in those years, across the border into Virginia.

Other references have mentioned the thick forests of neighboring Randolph County at this time, which filled not only with conscience objectors but hardened criminals as well.

In Friends at Holly Spring, Seth B. Hinshaw describes events at one Randolph County Quaker community. Tellingly, a footnote recognizes the large role of what I’ve come to call the “Shadow Meeting” – those who were Quakers to all the world, yet not officially members of the Society of Friends: “Twenty-four men asked to join the Holly Spring Meeting in late 1863 and early 1864. These were received. The records state that they had been ‘under the care of the Meeting for some time.’ ” (My emphasis.) According to Hinshaw, this was not an isolated case: “During the war years some six hundred non-Quakers in North Carolina sought membership with Friends” and, he reports, “Friends respected their convictions.”

He then details some of the events occurring in the county just past the Centre Friends meetinghouse:

In Randolph County, as in other areas, the Home Guard knew that many men were hiding out from the army (“lying out”), and they spared no means in hunting down these men. In the larger Holly Springs community, the parents of such young men, all of whom were not Quakers, were often taken to the school house beyond Buffalo Ford which was used as a sort of Confederate Home Guard headquarters and “militia camp” (as my grandfather called it). This place came to be called “The Bull Pen.” By confinement and torture, efforts were made to force parents to disclose the hiding places of their sons. Most of the time the parents did not know. Some of the boys, learning of the punishment being inflicted upon their parents, came forward and gave themselves up.

The soldiers would sometimes place the thumbs of elderly women between the lower rails of the fence, with its crushing weight upon them. Sometimes men mounted the fence to increase the weight. Failing to secure information this way, they would in some instances tie a rope around a woman’s waist and hang her to the limb of a tree. One young woman who was soon to give birth to a child died from this form of cruelty. Among the women taken to the Bull Pen was my great-grandmother, Eunice Cox. What she had to endure there is no longer known.

Hinshaw adds, “For more than a hundred years Holly Spring [and other Piedmont] Quakers had led their simple, devout, law-abiding lives as good citizens of their country, worshipping in accordance with their deep religious principles. Then without their consent, and against their conscientious convictions, they were thrown into a fratricidal war, not of their own making.” This, in addition to the fact, “Being mostly small land-owners and farmers, they were at a great disadvantage in trying to compete in the market place with the products of slave labor from the big plantations. Small wonder that the population generally was in no mood to suffer through a terrible war to protect the vested interests of big plantation owners in other parts of the State, and the South generally.”

What strikes me in this – and in the North Carolina Friends sufferings during the War Between the States, reported in greater detail in Fernando G. Cartland’s Southern Heroes or Friends in War Time (1895) – is the strength emerging from a concerted Friends Meeting. Thus, an individual act of conscience becomes a testimony, “This we believe,” empowered by a gathered host of witnesses. The burden of resistance was carried not just by the men the army sought to conscript, but also by their spouses, their parents, and their children. Meeting for Worship must have been a difficult and yet sustaining experience: vocal ministry that held the faith without sedition. Toward the end of the war, the North Carolinians had not only the dreaded Home Guard to contend with, but expectations that General William T. Sherman would turn his troops northward, devasting their homes and fields in the Piedmont Region as he had done to others in Georgia. Even though the war ended before Sherman could initiate that campaign, Southern Quakers and their neighbors alike were left in economic ruin. Some households, it has been observed, no longer owned even a sewing needle. Though the Quaker schools had continued to teach longer than any another other system in the South, they, too, were closed.

“During the last summer of the war,” Hinshaw writes of Holly Spring, though it was no doubt true across the region, “almost no able-bodied men were left in the neighborhood. Wheat was being lost in the fields, which meant intensified hunger in the winter to follow. The compassionate Levi Cox, under orders to stay in his grist mill, actually spent thirty-two days cutting grain for women who had children to feed. Finally he was told by Confederate authorities that he would be shot as a deserter if he left the mill again. He was forced to cease from his Good Samaritan labor, but he had saved many bushels of precious grain for women who were unable to swing the heavy ‘scythe-and-cradle’ used for cutting wheat.”

Apart from the few recollections I’ve already presented regarding Pleasant and Eunice, much of the backdrop for their lives through these difficulties can be gleaned from other sources, such as Seth B. Hinshaw. For Centre Meeting in particular, Samuel Alexander Purdie, especially, provides details that have not come down through other sources. A native of Columbus, New York, he was at Centre from October 1866 to 1871, before moving on mission work in Mexico. A series of essays originally published in the Herald of Peace Gurneyite periodical in Chicago, and republished in The Southern Friend (Spring-Autumn 1999) as “Quakerism in Dixie,” edited by Thomas D. Hamm, , contain not only Purdie’s observations and accounts of North Carolina Friends’ experiences, but also information drawn from Centre’s minute books, which were lamentably lost to fire not long after he had examined them. Purdie, like Hinshaw, confirms that Pleasant Hodson/Hodgin was not alone in his reaction to conscription:

… little did those favored to reside north of the terrible battle line, realize the condition of those who resided in country places far from the battle lines, in the nominal territory of the Confederate States of America. When the leaders of the would-be nationality resolved that “the last man and the last dollar” must be sacrificed if necessary to secure the independence of the South, a terrible system of tithing and conscription, carried misery and suffering to the homes of the innocent and peace-loving people, who were quietly pursuing their usual avocations at their homes. Many of them sought refuge in flight beyond the lines, but large numbers, unable to leave their dear ones, sought hiding places among the woods and fields, and wherever they could find a retreat to shield them from the pursuing conscript hunters. The old meeting house at Centre was not forgotten, and beneath one stairway is still pointed out as the hiding place of some of the conscripts. They lay there while the quiet meeting gathered and dispersed, and no doubt many a long and anxious hour was spent by them in that retreat. The conscript hunters did not forget the house, but a band of them, for a time quartered there, and many of the benches still show the effects of being used by them to lay meat on, having been deeply stained by it. One day, during meeting time, the roll of the band was called on the steps of the house, and as one by one their names were called, they stepped into the room where the quiet worshippers were seated, and took their guns and stepped out again to form in the ranks of the war, and hunt down their brethren. One day in the spring of 1865, as some of the Friends were waiting for meeting hour to arrive, they found it impossible to go to the house appointed, for the road was filled with a moving mass of human beings ere the time to start had arrived. Until the sun was about to set in the west did this mass of armed humanity continue to pour past the meeting house. It was Gen. Hardie’s corps, of Gen. Johnston’s army. As each of the three divisions marched past the meeting house, a notch was cut in a large oak, as a signal to those behind that they had safely passed that way.

Purdie then tells of Sybil (Branson) Hockett (1833-1904), the “young and heroic wife” of William B. Hockett (1825-1912), a Friend who had been forced into the Confederate Army in 1862 and was nearly executed for his refusal to bear arms, before his capture and eventual release to safety “among his friends in the distant West.” Purdie relates:

… here in that humble residence was his young and heroic wife. She had refused to hide even their horse from the sight of the Confederate officials or to grant him so scanty an allowance as to make his seizure not desirable. Now the disordered army was passing; everything seemed in danger; but the absence of her husband proved the keystone of her preservation, and without her request, a guard was placed by her house, to preserve everything from the pilfering soldiers. …

While these [Quaker] brethren were thus called from their homes, their true-hearted wives were at home and were obliged to manage, and often to participate in the severe toils of the plantation [the term used for any farm in the region, not just the large slave-holding properties]. Let us not forget their toils, their trials, their sorrows, their many anxious hours, when, with their little ones around them, the head chair was vacant, while the woods around were filled with bushwhackers (who were thus trying to escape from the dreaded conscript hunters), some of whom often lived by plunder. Between these and the dreaded conscription officers, who were seizing horses for army use, the little stock of provision which they contrived to raise, and the means of raising more, were often in imminent danger of annihilation, but a Father watched over them, and now they can say they were preserved and had enough for their daily necessities, besides feeding many of those who were lying out.

Purdie’s narrative has me wondering just how Eunice managed to get by in these years. Where did she turn for help? Her father died the same year that William B. Hockett was seized by the army. Pleasant’s parents, meanwhile, had not just their own household to manage, but those of other sons as well. Eunice had three children to care for, ranging in age from one to five at the beginning of the war to five to nine at its end – this, at a time when the schools themselves had also closed. Through Purdie’s description, though, we see that Eunice was not alone in this situation. She obviously knew and was friends with other women of emotional and spiritual courage. Their faithfulness, like that of the entire Quaker community, carried a heavy price:

The amount of property taken from Friends during the war, was very considerable. All of the best horses were seized, while hay, fodder and corn were taken by the marching soldiers to feed their horses. Hogs were often seized, while such was the condition of the soldiers of Gen. Hardie, that the wild onions in a field of grain rapidly disappeared before them. Large numbers of soldiers were camped near Centre for several days about the time of Gen. Johnston’s surrender [to Sherman]. There was often inquiry made by the soldiers when leaving the army and returning homeward concerning the principles of Friends, and the could not but admire the doctrine of peace and express their belief of the benefits of a general reception of the doctrines of the Prince of Peace.

It is impossible to imagine the range of devastation left by the war, even when Purdie’s observations can be amplified through other sources.

“North Carolina Friends were in desperate condition after the Civil War,” Bliss Forbush writes in A History of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends. “Many young Friends had died in camp or prison; others had gone west to escape the draft. They had little opportunity for education; many paid a heavy tax to secure exemption, and their Confederate money became worthless. Sherman’s and Johnson’s armies passed through North Carolina, and the foragers from both sides took the livestock and harvested crops.”

In addition, as Scott A.L. Beck observes in “Freedmen, Friends, Common Schools and Reconstruction” (The Southern Friend, Spring 1995): “Many Friends faced abject poverty due to the loss of tillable land, supplies, or buildings. As a community drained of resources, southern Quakers were barely capable of supporting and rebuilding themselves. ‘In 1865, Friends in North Carolina had no [primary] schools, no good schoolhouses, and no books,’ noted [historian Stephen] Weeks.”

Purdie describes one economic aspect that would have touched my family, which had owned a gold mine along Polecat Creek two decades earlier:

The principal works of much importance at Centre were the Fentress and Baltimore mines. The Baltimore gold mine, about half a mile from the meeting house, was a new work, and, although giving employment to several persons, its suspension was not so severely felt as the suspension of the Fentress gold and copper mines, which had long been in operation, and afforded to the people a ready market with pretty good prices. I do not know the perpendicular depth of the mine, but the hauling chain which reached into the extremity of the mine, down a slanting way, was about 400 feet long. The filling of the mine with water was a natural consequence of the stopping of the pumps, and during the war much damage was done to the works above ground, so that the expensive works have become an almost total loss. Neither of these mines have been resumed since the war …

For Friends in the South, the situation – economically and emotionally – was dire. Alarmed at their plight and anxious that a Quaker presence remain to serve as reconcilers after the war, Friends elsewhere began efforts for relief and rebuilding. Baltimore Yearly Meeting – covering much of Maryland and parts of Virginia – was itself south of the Mason-Dixon Line, though largely in Union terriority during the Civil War – factors making it especially attuned to the predicament of Friends in the Confederate states both during and after the war. “Directly after General Sherman’s march to the sea,” Forbush writes, Baltimore businessman Francis T. King “twice visited North Carolina in 1865 to distribute food, clothing, and money.”

When I was sojourning at Homewood Meeting in Baltimore, I came across a photograph of King. Mounted with it was a slip of handwritten paper, signed by Abraham Lincoln, granting King safe passage through Union lines. This, I realized, was a man who had come to the aid of my family.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting soon formed the Baltimore Association of Friends to Assist and Advise With Friends of the Southern States, naming King as its president and raising funds in Ireland and England as well as America. “In a few years he made thirty-three trips to North Carolina to study conditions and to take active measures to bring relief,” Forbush says. “Provisions and farming tools were sent south; later a farm was bought and stocked near Springfield, to serve as a model. Better breeds of livestock and new farming tools were introduced. Methods of soil restoration and cultivation and crop rotation and diversification were carried out. Higher fertility, higher production of crops in many counties, and a rise in the economic conditions of Southern Quakers resulted.”

Thus, being part of a concerted body of faith also became a source of economic assistance as well, through the response of Friends many miles from Guilford County.

“Friends schools and First-day schools [what other denominations call “Sunday schools”] were reorganized, and new ones established. New Garden Boarding School, founded in 1837, after a long period of usefulness had deteriorated during the war years, and funds were given to it for repairs and equipment.” As Forbush explains, “A normal school was established. It graduated many Quaker teachers and set a pattern for the state educational system. Within two years, thirty-eight primary schools were functioning in Quaker communities.”

The association’s first priority, says Beck, “was to provide relief and a chance at self-sufficiency for the Quaker families still in the South in order that their numbers would not continue to dwindle. Subsequently, the association intended to provide schooling for the children of those families, children who had lost four years of their educations during the war.” As a result, “By 1868, forty schools, open an average of six and one-half months each year, serving 2,588 white pupils, 1,430 of them the children of Quakers, had been established in North Carolina with the Baltimore Association’s support.”

Included in the education were black children. Beck notes that in 1869 fourteen North Carolina sites, including Centre Meeting, were serving five hundred and sixty children of freedmen – this, at the same time the Ku Klux Klan was emerging to terrify those who would reach out to help the freed blacks.

In the period after the war, Purdie writes, “But the scenes inside the old meeting house were changed. For there in the autumn of 1866 a school was opened under the Baltimore Association for the education of the children and young people of Centre. Two other schools had already been opened in the Monthly Meeting, and the one near Concord was soon afterwards. For seven months the young people gathered in the old meeting house, and long will they remember those days. The scenes there are changed again, and a large schoolhouse, with two rooms, and, when full, two teachers, is now the place where they meet for instruction.” In addition to the regular classes, Purdie reports that the First-day school in summer also had “from 80 to 130 attendants.”

Again, I can presume my great-grandfather and his brother and sister were among the children Purdie is discussing – either at Centre or Concord.

By the time the Baltimore Association closed in 1891, according to Forbush, King had “visited nearly every Orthodox Yearly Meeting in the United States to raise funds for the work and went to London and Dublin Yearly Meetings, which contributed fifty thousand dollars” – a very large sum in its day. In addition, the membership of North Carolina Yearly Meeting, an estimated 2,000 in 1861, had grown to 5,641 in 1883, while the number of meetinghouses had increased from twenty-eight to fifty-two. Though these numbers are small in comparison to other denominations, especially in a state the size of North Carolina, they provided a sufficient foundation for the survival and future growth for the Society of Friends in the South.

Writing in The Southern Friend’s autumn 1998 issue, Damon D. Hickey pursues another side of King’s labors: “Godfather of Southern Quaker Revivalism? Francis T. King and Post-Civil War North Carolina Friends.” Hickey argues that through King’s influence, the Baltimore Association appointed education superintendents whose work extended beyond the classroom and into Quaker worship itself. The second superintendent, for instance, was “Joseph Moore, an Indiana Quaker, minister, scientist, and educator,” who assumed the post in 1866 and “traveled throughout North Carolina setting up schools, hiring and training teachers, and preaching” – the latter role, as Mary Mendenhall recorded, “came as the balm of healing and the oil of joy. I was young and it seemed to me he had a different kind of God from what had become to me a kind of spy God.” Moore was followed, in 1868, by a Buckeye-turned-Hoosier, Allen Jay, “who remained a revivalist at heart.” As Hickey observes, “It can hardly be denied that, in selecting him as its education superintendent, the Baltimore Association was almost guaranteeing that revivalism would indeed come to North Carolina Friends.” Then Hickey raises the paradox: “If Francis King of Baltimore was a leading opponent of revivalism at home, why did he welcome it into this home-mission field someone whom he knew to be committed to it?” Hickey demonstrates nuances that made this revivalism milder than most, especially when contrasted to the Holiness movement.

At Centre Friends, these changes can be seen in the decision to replace the second meetinghouse – a log cabin fifty-by-thirty-eight feet built in “puncheon” style and raised, with one-hundred men lifting one side, in 1780 and used until 1879, thus serving four generations of my Hodgson/Hodson/ Hodgin ancestry. This cabin had replaced a log cabin twenty-feet-square that had been erected 1763 on land purchased from Hodgson kinsman Peter Dix; that first meetinghouse had a rock chimney and fireplace in one end, and its handmade benches rested on a dirt floor – in those two cabins Pleasant’s grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents had worshipped. In 1879, during Pleasant’s fifty-second year, the third meetinghouse was constructed, a frame structure fifty-six-by-thirty-eight feet in a traditional Quaker design having a long porch along one side and separate doors for men and women. In each of these three buildings, the men sat on the right-hand side; women, on the left. A dividing shutter would have been kept open during Meeting for Worship, with ministry arising from both men and women. Business sessions meant lowering the shutters, with men and women conducting their agendas separately. Because the women could select their own leaders and conduct their own affairs, Quakers became the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. As the evolving new pastoral system took hold, however, Centre Friends wanted their meetinghouse to look more like a “church” (early Quaker understanding emphasized that church meant the people rather than the building, but this distinction was being lost); as a result, Centre Friends removed the long porch, jacked up the meetinghouse, rotated it ninety degrees so that a gable now faced the road, removed the separate men’s and women’s doors, and added a cupola. Voila! Centre Friends Meeting now resembled a country church! That structure stood until 1948, when the current brick meetinghouse was constructed. As a frugal farming community, Centre Friends used wood from the old structure in parts of the new; during their last worship service in the old meetinghouse, only the roof and its supporting beams were left.

Pleasant and Eunice would have moved with the congregation from the second log meetinghouse through the erection and rotation of the white frame structure. From silent meeting to the appointment of a pastor. From gray “Plain clothes” and thee/thou Plain speech to more modern usage. From no gravestones to erection of Victorian-era headstones and obelisks. And, had they been formal members of the Society of Friends, from separate men’s and women’s business meetings, to a joint one. Somehow, they adapted with the rest.

Apart from those few reminiscences of the war years, we have no way of knowing how Pleasant and Eunice reacted to all of the changes in the world around them. Their adaptations and insights would have no doubt been succinct and pointed – perhaps even humorous, despite all the suffering. For now, we can merely place them against the larger context.

Unlike earlier generations in my American name-line, Pleasant and Eunice have a small family – only four children, one of them dying as an infant. Euncie, we should note, also comes from a small family: her parents had but two children.

In addition, Pleasant and Eunice remain in North Carolina while their two sons move to the Midwest after the Civil War.

Although family documents in my possession spell the surname Hodson, other researchers report that Pleasant used both versions of the surname, with the Hodgin variation appearing on legal documents.

According to oral tradition in my family, Pleasant and Eunice were buried at Centre Friends. To find headstones there for Pleasant’s parents but none for him or Eunice, however, puzzled me – only now, with at least one online family tree placing their burial at Concord Friends Meeting instead, does another picture emerge.

While Centre sits in the southeast corner of Sumner Township, nearly in neighboring Randolph County, Concord is in the north-center part of the township – roughly up both Polecat Creek and Randleman Road. According to Samuel A. Purdie, after Back Creek and Marlboro had become independent Monthly Meetings (1792 and 1816, respectfully), “Centre Monthly Meeting consisted of three meetings at Centre, Concord, and Providence”; this arrangement allowed Meetings for Worship at three locations for the convenience of neighboring members, while continuing to conduct the Monthly Meeting for church government at a central location. “Concord meeting was discontinued some years ago, nearly all of its members having removed elsewhere,” Purdie writes. “The house was accidentally burned during the war. About two miles from the place, several persons joined our society during the war, and an interesting school has been kept for two winters past by the Baltimore Association, for the education of their children.” Thus, in the final decades of the nineteenth century, Concord Meeting was reestablished and a new meetinghouse constructed, leading to its eventually being set off as a Monthly Meeting of its own. Both Centre and Concord continue in the pastoral style. The Guilford Genealogist, Summer 1995, shows two maps of Sumner Township – one the C.M. Miller map of 1908, the year Pleasant died, and the other, undated but likely from the 1980s, includes the then-proposed freeway route of U.S. 220. The earlier map includes handwritten names of households, among them an (illegible given name) Hodgin just east of Concord; there are also two Mrs. Hodgin sites each about halfway between the Concord and Center meetinghouses, just about where the later map indicates the birthplace of short-story writer O. Henry (born William Sydney Porter in 1862, died 1910); a detailed profile of him in the spring 2009 edition of The Guilford Genealogist, however, places his birth in Greensboro. .

The 1908 map also shows, just south or east of Centre Friends, a J.R. Murrow living on what the later map identifies as Davis Mill Road. Here, April 25, 1908, broadcast journalism pioneer Edward Roscoe Murrow was born in what had been built as a twenty-foot-square log cabin house beside Polecat Creek about 1786. His paternal grandmother, Miriam M. Hodgin, was another descendent of George and Mary (Thatcher) Hodgson. Like Joshua and Tom Hodson, the sons of Pleasant and Eunice, Edward’s parents concluded their prospects were better elsewhere; when he was five, they moved away, to Blanchard, Washington.

About Their Children

The life of Joshua, by whom I descend, is detailed in the next chapter.

Family Bibles have a Eunice Elizabeth Craven, born August 16, 1877, and Nancy Delilah Craven, born August 18, 1879. Eunice Elizabeth Shelly died August 2, 1906. They appear to be daughters of Luranna Ellen.

Among the documents Floyd Hodson has given me are some very frayed and yellowed loose pages, four-by-seven inches, some having a typeset header, FAMILY RECORD, and possibly taken from a small family Bible. Some other pages, torn to the same size, are faintly lined. Most of the penmanship is in an antique form common during the use of quill points. That likely done by quill is often in a brown ink; other pages, apparently by a more uniform steel point, are in black ink. Still other, obviously later, entries are in pencil or even a childlike purple drawing pencil. I note these details because the pages probably come by way of North Carolina, beginning with what I believe to be Eunice Hodson’s labors. First, then, the lined insertions, from the steel-tip:

Family Record

George Hodgin was borned January 2nd 1797
Delia Hodson was borned October 10th 1794
Nancy Osborn was borned March 20th 1812, died March 7th, 1900
Pleasant Hodson was borned February  7th 1827
Eunice Hodson was borned May 1st 1834

On the backside:

Nancy Almeda Hodson was borned Jan. 6th 1854 died February 2nd 1854
Lurana Ellen Hodson was borned Sept. 5th 1855, died June 29th 1882.
Joshua Francis Hodson was borned Nov 23rd 1857. His wife, Josie, was borned Sept 15th, 1867 [should be November], died May 13th 1891.
His son Rily [Kyle] was borned April 2nd 1891, died May 24th [23] 1891
Thomas Franklin Hodson was borned March 15th 1860

Next page:

Eunice Elizabeth Craven was borned Aug. 16th 1877
Nancy Deliah Craven was borned Aug 18th 1879

August 18th 1901

Continuing in pencil, in a troubled elderly hand, are these entries:

Eunice Elizabeth Shely died August the 2 1906
Plesant Hodson died May the 20 1908
Eunice Hodgin died Sept 27, 1910,

On the backside, again in pencil:

Joshua Francis Hodson Died Sept. 25-1930 aged 72 yr-10 mo 2 da
Tomas Franklin Hodson Died Dec 15-1937 aged 76 yr-9-

Loose page, very troubled elderly pencil:

Gorge Hodson was born Jn 2 1797 Died N o v e m b e r the 4 1878 aged 81 10 2

Other arithmetic on the page includes the dates 1936-1860, leading me to believe this was in the possession of Thomas Hodson at the time of his death: that might also explain the difficulty of the script and spelling, when we realize that his brother Joshua also had to labor when writing.

The older section, with typescript header, begins in brown ink with entries in the same hand, greatly deteriorating by the time of Joshua’s birth:

Plesant Hodson was bornd February the 7 1827
Eunice Hodson was bornd the first day of May
- 1834
Nancy Almeda Hodson was bornd January the 6
- 1854 -
Lurany Elen Hodson was born the 5 day of Sptember 1855
Joshua Francis Hodson was Born the 23 of November 1857

Page over, new hand, still brown ink:

Thomas Franklin Hodson was born the 15 of march 1860

Continuing in pencil:

George Hodgin was born January the 2 1797
Delia Hodson was born October the 10 1794

In purple drawing pencil:

Eunice Elizabeth Craven was Born Aug 16th 1877
Nancy Deliah Craven was Born Aug 18th 1879

Next page, resuming the script left off with Joshua’s birth

Nancy Almeda Hodson deceast the 2 of february 1854
Lurana Elen Craven Departed this life in June the 29 1882

In a different hand:

J F Hodson’s Wife of [his?] Josie was bornd September 15 1867 died May 13 1891 Rily son of Joshua F Hodson was born the 2 of April 1891 died the 4 of May 1891

Over page, in pencil:

Nancy Osborne died the 7 of March 1900

Perhaps these were two different records, with a later attempt to bring them together. The condition of the brown ink entry for Joshua’s birth, especially, leads me to believe it was made by an elderly person – a grandparent, at least, recording a current event. The question, then, is how far back does the recorder go, and why isn’t the recorder’s own parentage notated here?

Crucial Points for Further Research

The initial challenge on this front is determining how or even if Elisha Ozbun’s wife, Nancy, fits into the Mendenhall family. If she doesn’t, the question then turns on finding the proper surname and its ancestry.

Another line of questioning sees the first name of Pleasant’s wife, Eunice, reflecting New England traditions. Does her ancestry include the Stantons – or one of the other families that migrated from Nantucket, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts?

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Generation ten: Joshua Francis Hodson

After the Civil War, which interrupted both his childhood and his elementary schooling, Joshua Francis Hodson moved north, following both Quaker and family connections first to Indiana, where his brother would also relocate, and then, apparently through the encouragement of his future in-laws, to northwest Ohio. There he formally joined the Society of Friends and married into a respected Quaker family. After the death of his first wife, from complications of childbirth with their second child, Joshua remarried into a family that, despite its Irish surname and Roman Catholic roots, essentially continued a Pennsylvania Dutch culture in Ohio. Through his second wife’s connections, he relocated to Montgomery County, Ohio, before returning once again to Indiana.

Spousal lines by the first wife: Jones, Coate, Pearson, Tucker, Coppock, Miles, Haskett, Evans, Rodgers.

By the second wife: McSherry, Gartland, Bayhill/Bahill, Litrle/Klein, Shively/Schriver/Schauben/Schaublein, Spitler, Swope/Schwab, Wolfhardt/Wohlfahrt, Graff/Groff/Grove, Grabill, Long, Straumann, Gottschin.

*   *   *

Joshua Francis Hodson was born November 23, 1857, in Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Pleasant and Eunice (Ozbun) Hodson. He married first, December 25, 1888, Josephine Jane Jones, (November 15, 1867-May 13, 1891), daughter of Samuel B. and Rhoda (Coate) Jones; they had two sons. She is buried at or near Ludlow Falls, Ohio. He married second, June 8, 1893, Alice McSherry (September 12, 1865-November 2, 1944), daughter of Amos and Mary Magdalene (Bayhill) McSherry; they had eight children. He died September 25, 1930, in Spiceland, Indiana. They are buried at Parrish Cemetery in the village of Arlington on U.S. Route 40 near Brookville, Ohio. (Most of their children and their children’s spouses are buried in the newer Arlington Cemetery across the road.)

*   *   *

He had two children by Josephine Jones:

1. Samuel Pleasant, born November 30, 1889, Van Wert County, Ohio; died November 13, 1961, Montgomery County, Ohio; he and his wife are buried at Arlington Cemetery near Brookville. He married, March 14, 1914, Grace Mae Binkley (November 21, 1889-February 24, 1963), daughter of William W. and Alice (Koontz) Binkley, an ancient Brethren and Mennonite family. (Grace’s grandparents were Aaron and Sarah [Koonz] Binkley.) Five children: Harold Francis, Wilma Alice Bantz, Doyt B., Josephine Katherine Feiss, and Floyd Samuel. [Floyd had remembered some distant stories about two Kunz brothers who brought the family line to Ohio: in tracing Alice McSherry’s Shively ancestry, I found brothers George and Jacob Kunz from Berks County, Pennsylvania., arriving in 1804, according to Abstracts From Beers & Co.; they are among the earliest Brethren pioneers in Montgomery County, Ohio.]

2. Kyle Jones, born April 2, 1891, Van Wert, Ohio; died May 23, 1891, Van Wert, Ohio.

He had seven children by Alice McSherry:

3. Vera Lafern, born May 17, 1894, Van Wert, Ohio; died January 15, 1986, Springfield, Ohio; married, February 12, 1919, Ralph Emerson Haddix, (January 24, 1898-January 28, 1977). Four children: Lois Price, Charlotte King, Janet Cordell (all married), and James Emerson.

4. Leroy Amos, born November 19, 1895, Van Wert, Ohio; died, September 29, 1971, and married, October 11, 1924, Anna Catharine Lyon (June 5, 1899- June 15, 1986). Two sons: Joseph Leroy and David Lyon Hodson.

5. Grace Mary, born August 4, 1898, Van Wert, Ohio; died June 21, 1901, Van Wert, Ohio. [Diptheria?]

6. James Franklin, born January 28, 1900, Van Wert, Ohio; died April 1, 1982, Lewisburg, Ohio; married, February 12, 1921, Erma Olive Ehrstine (December 31, 1900-June 21, 1972), daughter of Henry and Susan (Rasor) Erstine/Ehrstine. Four children: Marion James Hodson, Myrl Yvonne Fitzpatrick, Donna Durham, and Thelma Orr. He married second, Edna (Hefelfinger) Huffman (January 1, 1902-1994), daughter of [Fawre?] Heflefinger and Cora Alice Holsinger; she was a widow.

7-8. Twins, born February 21, 1903:

Ruth Anna; died September 4, 1970; married February 10, 1922, William Emerson Jones (April 12, 1895-February 24, 1973), son of a Quaker family from Rich Square Meeting in Indiana. Two daughters: Alice Jeannette Hagerman and Martha L. Hill.

Ruby Althea; died 1994 at Knightstown, Indiana; married November 6, 1926, Golay Meek (July 22, 1906-February 6, 1962). Five children: Gerald, Miles, Golay G., Myron, and Carolyn.

9. Alice Margaret, born April 9, 1908; died July 20, 1912.

*   *   *

Joshua represents a major turning point in my Hodson family line, one that includes a major migration – from North Carolina to Indiana and on to Ohio – the first such leap since his great-great-great-grandfather, George Hodgson, moved from Ireland or England to Pennsylvania and later down the Great Wagon Road to North Carolina. In Joshua’s household we also encounter a shift from the Quaker faith and culture of his ancestors – a transformation occurring through his second wife and his children.

He was also directly impacted the Civil War, or the War Between the States, as it is more accurately known in the South. Not only was his father gone from home, fleeing to the forest as a conscientious objector, but his early schooling was suspended as the Southern economy collapsed. His father, Pleasant, spent those years “bushwhacking” in nearby forest, hiding out from the ruthless Home Guard, slaveowners whose wealth exempted them from military service. The years after the war left the region economically shattered and impoverished, and politically and socially embittered. What schooling he received was probably from Friends teaching in or near the Centre meetinghouse; the Quaker schools continued longer than any others during the Confederate regime in North Carolina. While Joshua’s second wife, Alice McSherry, was born during the war, she would have been aware of its cost on her own family – her mother’s only brother died of wounds received in Tennessee.

For Joshua’s descendants – born in the Midwest and then, a generation or two later, scattering across the nation – the question of his personality and values forms a crucial entryway into understanding values and traits that they, too, carry – an inheritance shaped in large part by Southern Quakerism and by Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.

Joshua’s decision to move northward, then, was obviously in hopes of an improved livelihood. Curiously, he didn’t move to the American West for these opportunities, as one might have predicted for that era, but to Spiceland, Indiana. Only when one understands that Henry County and its neighboring communities were the center of what I believe to be the biggest concentration of my Hodson/Hodgin/Hodgsons in the United States does his decision become clear: he headed for second- and third-cousins and other kin. More direct influence may have come in the presence of his aunt, Eunice Craven, and his uncle, Elias Hodgin, among others.

This postcard of Spiceland Friends Church was mailed by Samuel Hodson to Miss Grace Binkley in Union, Ohio, while he was "visiting Uncle Tom." It was postmarked in both Spiceland and Union on September 4, 1912.

This postcard of Spiceland Friends Church was mailed by Samuel Hodson to Miss Grace Binkley in Union, Ohio, while he was “visiting Uncle Tom.” It was postmarked in both Spiceland and Union on September 4, 1912.

When I was growing up, summertime included a function I really didn’t understand: the Hodson family reunion. Most of my aunts, uncles, and extended cousins were essentially strangers, at least from my child’s perspective. I never quite comprehended how we all fit together. Only later did I learn that this gathering was for the descendants of Joshua Hodson – essentially, my grandfather’s brother, half-brother, sisters, and their children and grandchildren. Nor did I understand my grandfather’s trips to Indiana in search of smoked hams, or his visits to Negro households, often to make a present of pickled pigs feet to others he knew would enjoy them as much as he did; now, with a knowledge of Joshua, however, these patterns begin to fit. I had no idea of our Southern roots, or of its peculiar witness against so much of what is today portrayed as Southern. Again, my grandfather’s staunch Republicanism becomes clear: his grandfather as well had likely voted Republican even before the war erupted. The Negroes, in turn, worked in this plumbing company.

Finally, in piecing together Joshua’s nature and those of his spouses, I am able to turn to photographs, some memories from others, and even a few letters – in other words, original source material, something generally missing from earlier generations. Aiding in this quest was my cousin Floyd Hodson, whose father was both the eldest and closest child to Joshua; from Floyd’s father, as well as aunts Vera and Ruby, Floyd gleaned insights about Joshua and Josie and a fascination about the family’s origins. Surprisingly, Floyd’s ruminations about Joshua, especially, coincided with and confirmed hunches I was pursuing; at other times, he offered opinions that pulled together lines of inquiry he did not know were on my mind.

For starters, I am uncertain of just when Joshua left for Indiana and Ohio. His autograph book – a 4-by-6½ inch volume maintaining a custom of the day – reflects some of his movement, as well as the changing expression of American Quakerism. Some of the dates and pronouns, for instance, uphold the old ways, the Quaker “thee” and Plain style of recording days and months, while others  use forms of general usage. In addition, we see the appearance of honorary titles, such as Mr. and Miss, a deviation from earlier Quaker direct speech.





The first entry to appear (but not first by date) is by his aunt, Lurana E. Craven, dated April the 9 1882: “When I am ded and gon and all my bones are roten Oh remember me and I Will not be for gotten. Yours truly,” an entry written shortly before her death, June 29, 1882 – which might also explain why I had been unable to find her adult activities in Guilford County: she had migrated on to Indiana, presumably with her husband.

And, the next day: “When this you see remember me if miles apart We be / Yours respectfully, J.A.C.” Could this be Lurana’s husband?

I had thought these were written in North Carolina before his departure, perhaps as a going-away present, but then I find an entry 2-5-1882 to Friend Josh from Lizzie Parker in Lewisville, Indiana; two nearby entries are dated 2-8-82: “Old. Pard. May the hinges of our friendship never rust. Your Friend, Will. Paxson. Rich Square.” And, from Madge Parker of Lewisville, Indiana: “Accept my valued friendship / And roll it up in cotton / And think it not illusion / Because so easily gotten.” Another Rich Square entry, 2-10-’82, is also placed as Bloomingdale, Indiana. A Spiceland entry of 6-12-1882, quoting Solomon, is signed W.A.J. – a Jones? Further back in the book are additional Rich Square/Lewisville entries from 2-’82. Another, unsigned but dated 2-6-1882 Lewisville, Ind., on top, and 10-9-81 in reverse below includes this tantalizing line: “May you be a good husband & find a good wife,” with the reversed: “Ever remember our quiet walk through the ‘silent city’ and the lunch on the green hillside in the summer time – written by one of the quartette.”

For a while, then, Joshua was a member of a singing quartet that appeared in various Friends gatherings. “Joshua had a very good voice,” according to what Samuel told Floyd. Samuel himself later enjoyed appearing in this manner, and before his marriage often sang solos for weddings and funerals; for the son, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” was the favorite hymn – which of its several fine settings he preferred, though, is left for our guess.

One entry, toward the back of the book, “For a Friend / May blessings attend thee / is the desire of thy friend / Eliza Burnett / Seventh Mo 9th 72.” Perhaps the entry is dated a decade off, for July 9th 1882 has one from Miss Anna Burnett, “For Josh … As ever Your Friend.”

Lewisville turns out to be about three miles east of Spiceland, and perhaps six miles east of Knightstown. Another entry is placed at Knightstown Academy High School, Jan. the 13th, 1884 – a Friends school, I presume, where the quartet may have performed. And Feb. 23, 1884, has him in Raysville, Indiana, still close to Spiceland.

In a now-faint pen is this entry:

Mr. Hodson,
A smile on the face, kind words on the tongue
Will serve as a passport all nations among.
A heart that’s cheerful, a spirit that’s free
Will carry you bravely o’er life’s stormy sea.

Your friend,
Josie J. Jones
Nov. 14, 1886
Van Wert O.

Barely two years later, they married.

Yet earlier in the year, 4-25-1886, he was still in Lewisville, Indiana. Thus, we can frame some of his movement.

Joshua and his brother, Thomas, apparently came north together, by early 1882, at least. Thomas either remained in or returned to Spiceland, Indiana, while Joshua moved again, to Van Wert, Ohio. Aunt Vera Haddix told Floyd Hodson the two “came west seeking a better and adventurous life. … They worked their way as hired hands to Van Wert County.”

The photo identifies only Tom and Annie Hodson but not the other two.

The photo identifies only Tom and Annie Hodson but not the other two.

Sometimes a portrait emerges in contrasts. Describing Thomas, for instance, Floyd wrote: “He was a very humorous person, exact opposite of brother Joshua. Married Anna (called Annie) who was, by all accounts, the biggest cut-up ever – full of fun and daring. Aunt Vera, at my last meeting with her, told me of the time my dad let her take his horse, Prince, and buggy to give Annie a ride. She wanted to see how fast Prince would go, and Aunt Vera said they went. Annie laughed her head off and told everyone when they got back she was looking for a soft spot in the ditch to land.”

Brothers Samuel, Leroy, and James Hodson each proudly owned Prince in sequence.By all accounts, he was a most remarkable horse.

Brothers Samuel, Leroy, and James Hodson each proudly owned Prince in sequence.By all accounts, he was a most remarkable horse.

That incident, however, gets way ahead in the story. Whatever the cause of their migration, Joshua appears in the minutes of Van Wert Monthly Meeting in northwest Ohio, where he requested membership and was accepted September 30, 1887. Perhaps Josie’s brother, Henry W. Jones, while still in Spiceland, had pointed him toward Van Wert with reports of opportunity in the rich farmland of the newly drained Great Black Swamp – a landscape where some towns would also subsequently experience oil booms, like those of Texas and Oklahoma. Once there, perhaps a serious desire to marry Josephine Jane Jones prompted him to get his Quaker membership in right order. For it was at the Van Wert Friends Church that he subsequently married Josie, herself from a distinguished Quaker family that had arrived in western Ohio in the early 1800s, migrating mostly from North and South Carolina. The fact that her family so welcomed Joshua into their midst indicates to me his standing as a Quaker, regardless of the earlier status of his membership. After all, hers was the kind of family that would have desired a Quaker marriage to continue the faith.

Floyd has given me their marriage license, solemnized by James Grandstaff, as well as fragments of their marriage certificate, a grandiose burgundy- and gold-trimmed document with two cut-away ovals (for portraits, it appears), a fountain, turtle doves, balustrades, ivy, lilies, an open Holy Bible, and quotations: “It is not good that the man should be alone,” “I will make him an help meet for him,” “Marriage is honorable in all,” and “What therefore GOD hath joined together let not man put asunder.” Here the witnesses are S.C. Jones and M. Emma Jones, with James Grandstaff identified as Pastor, Friends Church – all in all, a most unQuakerly looking document!

Their wedding certificate, above, and license, below.

Their wedding certificate, above, and license, below.


The certificate is quite a departure from the earlier style Quaker wedding document, which would have had no artwork and been signed by everyone attending the service.



Floyd also gave me a 4½-by-5½-inch photo album “Presented to Josie by Nora E. Cooper, Dec. 25, 1883.” (To sample the collection, go to Josie Jones’ album.) Many of the entries, especially the tintypes, cannot be identified, although the location of the various artists’ studios in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan may narrow the search. But the collection does include a photograph of a toddler Josie Jones, and another of her as a child with long tresses beyond her waist. Another of her brother, an adolescent Lambert, shows a youth in a Quaker-cut coat but also sporting a watch-and-chain and a pocket kerchief. Another pair of portraits shows her parents, and several perhaps of her grandmother in Quaker shawl and bonnet. Two other photos of Joshua intrigue: in both he wears a similar style dress coat that buttons up the front and has very little collar; one is apparently Quaker gray, while the other is a plaid. As the saying goes, “but the cut was right,” meaning it still reflected Quaker style even while deviating in color and introducing pattern.

Joshua Hodson, plain and fancy

Joshua Hodson, plain and fancy

Joshua Fancy

There is something in these as well as the photographs of Josephine herself, including one as a young woman with short, curly hair, that suggests intensity and presence of being, a person who has intelligence and powers of observation – and one attempting to blend Friends tradition with more modern ways.

Eleven months after their marriage, their first child was born. They named him Samuel Pleasant, after her father and others on her side, as well as Joshua’s father in North Carolina.

Yet barely 2½ years into their marriage, after giving birth to their second son, catastrophe struck: Josephine died of a condition in which her blood turned to milk, a complication of childbirth and nursing — or possibly undiagnosed leukemia. Ten days later, her infant son also died. The Eighth Month 27, 1891, issue of The Christian Worker, a newspaper circulated largely to Midwestern Friends, contains these two obituaries:

JONES, Josephine Jane b 1867 near Ludlow Falls, O, died 5-13-1891 near Van Wert, O, ae 23 y, dt Samuel B. and Rhoda C. Jones, m Joshua F. Hodson, formerly Greensboro, N.C., 12-25-1888, 2 ch

HODSON, Kyle Jones b 4-2-1891, d 5-23-1891, s. Joseph [Joshua] F. and Josephine Hodson, mbr Van Wert MM, O

It is interesting that Josephine’s entry was under her maiden name, possibly having been submitted by a member of her family. In Quaker tradition, however, a married woman was often referred to by her maiden name, either in conjunction with her husband’s surname or else as “wife of …” The newspaper, represented in an abstracts volume covering 1874-94, includes obituaries for Josephine’s father, Samuel B. Jones (died 6-25-1889), and brother Laban (died 3-8-1880), as well as a Gertrude Hodgin, d 12-19-1876, ae 4 yr 9 m 3 da, dt Elias M. and Rachel E. Hodgin, mbr Chester MM, Ind. Elias was probably the brother of Pleasant Hodson and thus Joshua’s uncle.

Floyd has given me an invitation to the 20th Annual Commencement Exercises of Van Wert High School, May 27, 1891 – two weeks after Josephine’s death. Among the fourteen graduates is her brother, Lambert.


In a fragment of another newspaper clipping, I can make out

leaves two children … [one] two months old. She has [been in ill] health for several months past, re[sulting] from complex troubles. Anaeminately [ex]haustion being the immediate cause of her death, her death following 3 days after that of her grandmother. She no doubt anticipated the end soon as I reproduce a strange copy by her lately:

Some day when my work is over.
Life’s lesson learned and said;
They will bear me out to a dwelling
In the city of the dead.
I shall miss the tramp and bustle
Of the hurrying march of life
And find in that still white city
The rest that comes after strife.

Thus passed from our midst one of earth’s purest spirits, sweeping through the pearly gates bearing her sheaves with her, safely housed in the heaven of rest. Interment at Ludlow Falls, Miami county.

*   *   *

Floyd has concluded that Joshua took Josie’s death very hard. I can see ways in which she, 10 years his junior, could well have been what some today would call his soulmate or the love of his life.

Sometime after Josephine’s death, he visited Rockford, north of Celina, where Alice McSherry lived. She later remembered him as being very handsome, well built, with wavy hair – the idol of every girl there, according to Aunt Vera. I suspect that his Piedmont Carolinian accent added to the exotic charm. Alice and Josephine had been close friends, and Alice had boarded with the Joneses while teaching school. In fact, she was living there when Joshua courted Josie.

Comparing photographs of Joshua and Samuel, both at age 21, Floyd said: “You can hardly tell them apart, both with a full head of wavy hair – a very Hodson trait. Joshua also was a well-built man, a good six-feet tall, slender hips and very broad shoulders, and large long arms. One thing I remember about him was his long, well-groomed mustache, a John L. Sullivan type – not handlebar, but straight out, coming to a point. In his early life it was rather narrow, but my remembrance was a heavier, thicker mustache.”

*   *   *

Here are two portraits of Joshua and Alice with some of the children.

Here are two portraits of Joshua and Alice with some of the children.

Joshua and Alice 2

Joshua subsequently married, June 8, 1893, Alice McSherry (September 12, 1865-November 2, 1944), daughter of Amos and Mary Magdalene (Bayhill) McSherry. Seven years his junior, she was willing to help the widower with his young son – and to start a family of her own.

Later, when Vera asked her mother how she came to marry Joshua, the reply came: “Well, it was just the thing to do.” Relating the story, Floyd added: “I can just see Grandma saying that. I can boast here and say we got along famously together, even though I was no blood relation to her. She was still Grandma to me. She was a very regular correspondent to me when I served in the Marines in World War II. Every two weeks I received a lengthy four- to eight-page letter with the most beautiful handwriting you ever saw, and she was in her middle seventies when I went overseas. I wish I had kept those letters now. Anyway, she told Vera, ‘When Josh would come to town on the weekends, all the eligible and beautiful girls would simply wait and line up to see this most handsome gentleman in the country walk by. He was it. He was the idol of every girl. He was humble about it, though. He would be the catch of the day. I wanted him, and later he came to the house to visit me because I was a longtime friend of his and we started going together.’ ”

Reminded of the letters, Aunt Ruby explained: “Oh, yes, Mother always prided herself with her writing. Every letter she wrote she would make notes of what she wanted to say, outline it, then write it.”

Floyd added: “She was always very finicky, extremely soft-spoken, well-dressed person. This is my recollection: never a hair on her head out of place. This is how Grandma Alice got Joshua, by her beauty and desire, though Grandma was a meek, timid person, definitely a follower, not a leader personality. In landing Joshua, she was, for one time in her life, a pursuer. I loved her very much and many tears came to my eyes when I received word, while on the island of Saipan, of her death. I couldn’t get a furlough home because we were getting ready for another campaign. The only funeral of a relative I’ve ever missed, until your grandfather, my Uncle James, died. I was in Intensive Care with my last heart attack …”

Joshua helped construct the Celina Reservoir – a place Floyd admitted fishing many times. Joshua labored there, staying the week, returning home on weekends to be with his family – taking with him a big mess of fish each time and having a “grand time with the family” on those weekends, as Aunt Vera recollected. “All the kids couldn’t wait until Dad came home.”

“He was a very energetic and hard worker in his younger married years,” Floyd noted.

In both marriages, he lived in the country most of the time. When they lived in town, however, it was on Race Street in Van Wert and, with his team and wagon, he hauled coal. He was also the fire chief, driving the team for the fire engine, where he would create quite a stir as he raced past, his mustache flying in the wind. “Every time there was a fire, we kids would run outside and wave to Dad as he drove by,” Aunt Vera recalled fondly. Other employment included street building in the city of Van Wert. And, Aunt Vera remembered, the family had a pet peacock; for years afterward, her half-brother, Samuel, kept a photograph of the bird.

Aunt Vera also remembered her girls’ Sunday School class in the Van Wert Friends Church (Quaker) and looking out to see her father seated some distance away, his back to her as he taught the boys’ class.

*   *   *

Josephine’s mother remained close to the family, serving as a grandmother to all. When she had moved to East High Street in Columbus [possibly Summit, if it was “just around the corner” from High], Joshua visited frequently, often taking Samuel and Vera along and, later, Leroy. As Vera recalled, “Grandma was a very devout Quaker and spoke ‘thusly.’ It was always ‘thou’ instead of you, ‘shouldest’ instead of should.” Once, when Samuel ran off around the house, Rhoda Jones scolded him, “Thou knowest thou should not do that!” To which Floyd added: “Aunt Vera said she was always amused at her expressions.”

Samuel’s obituary places the family’s move to Brookville, in Montgomery County, around 1904, but Floyd gave me a five-page letter to Rhoda Jones placing the change earlier; it is dated Brookville O 7/2/-02, and an envelope, postmarked July 8 and addressed in a different hand, is to Mrs. Rhoda C. Jones, 1417 Summit St., Columbus, Ohio:

Dear Mother & Family

Your letter this P M and was glad to here from you but was sorrow to here of your sickness & was so in hopes you would be able to pay us a visit this Summer & sincerely hope you will gaine your streng- suficiently to come after a while I want Samuel to go to your house some time summer if we can posably see our way clear to send him he is sitting by the table whistling and ocasionly asking me som questions he has bin gathering rasberies for severel days him and I got enough the other day to make 10 quarts and we have over 20 cans so far and lots in the woods yet to get if we can find time to pick them. I am not done making hay yet it has bin so very wet for a weeck as (most?) I could not do any thing at it. We have Plenty of new Beens Potatoes & Cabbage & Red beets know (Carie?) in Regard to your geting from Dayyton to Brookville thier is a Traction Road Runs from dayton to Grenville [Greenville] By way of Salem Brookville and soon they leve the mmain st River Bridge every hour from 5 o’clock in the Morning untill 10 at night Know we would be awful glad to have you take a sunday trip and come out and see us and if you should when you get on the Traction give the Conducter a quarter that Pays your fair from dayton to Salem and Return then tell him you want of at Mitchels Crossing that is the first X roads west of Selm, turn southe that would be to your Left looking west the second house on your left is where we ar at a 2 story frame if you will let me know I will come up and be on the look out for you we have no buggy ar carage but it is onley 1 mile, and going in to dayton the cars go in Just the same as they come out they Pas evry hour one Each way I Think you could get out here by 9 or 10 Clock. Mother Take good care of your Self O yes I got an other swarm of bees Last weeak that makes Me to swarms so far this summer I must close hoping to here from yuou soon

Fare well to all

J F Hodson

Samuel said he would write some other time. he got his grading card yesterday he was Permoted


P S if you cant Read this just bring it over and I will Talk faster Than I can wright

The penmanship deteriorates as the letter progresses. The last entries are placed upside-down or sideways, and the spelling and grammar reflect a semi-literacy (no doubt arising from an education interrupted by the Civil War), yet I am struck by the open emotion and humor he expresses.

Perhaps Alice’s earlier exposure to Montgomery County – in addition to movement of others in her family to the city of Dayton – encouraged Joshua to move to Brookville and Verona (also known as New Baltimore).

In a telephone conversation, Aunt Vera recalled bits from her childhood. A time, for instance, when my grandfather, her brother James, “nearly choked to death on ‘hooping cough.’ ” She confirmed that Joshua remained Quaker – the family observed “silent grace” before meals – and wore felt hip boots all winter: she called him “proud but with a mustache. He would help us kids. He had typhoid when [Vera] was little. Another time, he got his teeth too cold, ‘pert near died’ ” of a condition she called ensyphillus. “He had broad shoulders, never swore, a good clean man.” She recalled, too, an incident when she was eight or nine and he was using “a little horse whip to get ’em where they shoulda been” as he fed them. When he saw Vera, he snapped: “Get back in the house,” perhaps embarrassed to be seen using force of any kind. “My dad was strict on living,” she said, telling of a time Samuel had a deck of cards. Joshua “took them cards and said, ‘Here’s where those go,’ and put them in the stove. Dad was strict, but he was good.” She did observe, surprisingly, that he chewed tobacco – a practice Friends would have frowned upon, though certainly not out of character for someone raised in major tobacco-growing countryside. Telling of another experience, “He thought we was storying” – until he saw footprints in the mud and knew their report was true, the children had encountered a threatening stranger.

Of her mother, Alice, Vera said, “She wore long dresses. Was very particular. She wasn’t big – straight up, slender, was never real heavy. She always called him ‘Josh.’ Her hair was heavy, went clear to her ankles. One time, honey bees got in it” – something that must have been a hilarious recollection for the children. “She would sing, ‘Precious Name,’ you know.” Her favorite expression was “ ‘Just to think!’ She never talked much.”

Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and woe;
It will joy and comfort give you:
Take it where’er you go.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy in heav’n;
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy in heav’n.

Floyd and I independently concluded that life with Alice just wasn’t the same that it had been with Josie. For starters, there was the difference in religion: he had “married out” from the faith, and subtleties of the Quaker culture, which Josie would have noticed and responded to were, no doubt lost on Alice. Floyd remembers Alice could be “kind of bossy,” and it was always “Grandmother” to her face, never “Grandma.” When Samuel visited them in Spiceland, sometimes with the young Floyd, she would order her husband, “Josh, go change now,” even though he was in clean work clothes and his beloved felt boots.

With Josie I have sensed a degree of classy integrity – a thoroughly pedigreed Quaker. This commonality of values could have been the foundation of great romance and unity, including a shared purpose in life. In addition, if he were to fill the role of strict disciplinarian, she likely would have been his gentle counterweight. There is a Quaker tradition of “strong women and tender men,” and I sense in Joshua’s letter a deep well of emotional tenderness, contrary to what many of the children have thought.

Again, from Floyd: “We always had a large picture of Josie, my grandmother, hanging in our front living room. She was a very beautiful woman, as was Alice when she was young. I’ve seen her picture at 21, too. In the picture, Josie was standing somewhat to the side of and in back of a straight chair with her arm resting on the back. This beautiful picture is what prompted me to ask my dad about his mother. Of course, he remembered nothing of his mother, only knew what his father Joshua told him.”

With Alice, however, I find an emphasis upon appearances – the outward nature, rather than inward nurture. Their conflicts, according to Floyd, could erupt into confrontations in which neither would speak to the other for a week or more. Yet she also was one who kept “things just so,” as Vera explained. Her ankle-length hair, for example, was always impeccably combed and wound into place.

Consider this letter, to Floyd in United States Marine service in the Pacific Theater, for a demonstration of the ways she viewed her world:

Dayton, Ohio
Sept. 5-1944

Dear Floyd:

Your letter I received some time ago was appreciated so much. I am sorry I have neglected to write but I think of you. Anna (Hodson) called me the other day and said she had just received a letter from you, told how you were, and she was going to answer it right away so as to be sure of the address. I hope you receive it in due time. She said they had been to see your folks and your mother seemed better so I hope she keeps on improving and can be around sooner than expected. Vera and James’ have been to see them too. If I had been here when James’ went I could have gone along. If I were sure that I could be a help I would go and do what I could but I know that sometimes an extra person around is a worry.

Leroys took me as their guest to Lake George the week of Aug. 20. No doubt Anna told you all about our trip. I enjoyed the week very much. We went to Colwater Mich. about twelve miles one afternoon, or evening. I did take two boat rides. The last one was the day before we left. Leroy wanted me to take another boat ride. We went farther than I thought we would and on our way back the waves rolled high but Leroy kept saying the boat was safe so I kept calm but was glad when we reached the shore. Leroy had David to take our picture while on the water.

Leroy took quite a number of pictures while there, had them developed and brought them yesterday (Sunday) afternoon to show me. He took a picture of Anna Chilcote Fisher and I at Van Wert. We stopped there on our way home ate dinner first at a restaurant there. Coming out of Van Wert on S. Washington St. on by the fairgrounds and on about two miles I recognized Samuel’s grandpa Jones farm where I boarded when I taught school in that neighborhood. The road along there seemed natural to me as I walked on Fri. evenings after school in home a distance of about five miles from schoolhouse to my house. A girlfriend of Martha’s from New Castle had been neighbors there, visited us from last Thurs. until this morning. She enjoyed seeing different places, Wright & Patterson Fields, Hoffman [Huffman] dam, Cash Register [National Cash Register Co., now NCR] & c. Ruth and Will went to New Castle with Mr. and Mrs. Pitcher, former teacher there but now in Dayton, this morning to spend Labor Day with friends and relatives. This girl then rode back with them instead of going back on the train.

Jeannette went with some friends Sat. Evening to Cin. to visit friends. She came home this forenoon as some hade to work. The girl Wanda who had staid here awhile the other year to go to school visited here two weeks this Summer. Ruths’ may not get to go to Ruby’s today – if not she will call her. I had a long letter from Ruby the other day. She said they had rented the same farm for another year. That way the children keep in Spiceland school. Gerald is clerking in a grocery. I think he will on Sat. and evenings when school begins.

Martha spent five weeks at Rubys this Summer. She seems to have a good time. She intended to stay only two weeks. She to New C — two weekends to visit with friends. Ruby said Gerald had bought a banjo so they had music.

The Dayton schools begin tomorrow, Sept 5, that means a new schedule here in the morning. Will worked all the time during his vacation – even yesterday to 4 P.M. at the Cash. He is glad to get back to the schoolroom as usual. This Mr. Pitcher received a promotion and is sent to Fairview School where Will is. Ruth is clerking yet at the Home Store. Jeannette is a Senior – goes to Fairview. Martha is a Freshman and goes to Colonel White. The Montgomery Co. fair is this week. The paper said rain tonight but it is raining a little now 3 P.M. and very cloudy. Was 90° yesterday after being cool a week ago.

James called me this afternoon to invite me to go with them to a chicken supper this evening. Several members of their S.S. class – one of the members has a summer cottage outside City limit so are going there. It was very tempting but I have a cold and today a little sore throat so I told him I had better stay indoors. He said perhaps so under those circumstances but there would be another time.

I see by the paper that some parts at N.C.R. was closed from Fri. to Tues. So maybe Josephine could go home a few days. We all hope the time is coming nearer when the boys can come home. I hope you keep well and sometime soon get back to good old Ohio. I owe Marion a letter too. He and Dorothy are fortunate to be in Fla. yet where he is filling the duty assigned him.

Now remember the others who have not written have not forgotten you and wish you best of luck. I will be glad to hear from you sometime again.

With love and best wishes

Grandmother Hodson.

To my perception, the differences between her correspondence and Joshua’s are astounding. For despite her greater facility with spelling, grammar, and writing itself, very little emotion comes through. Note, even, the colon in the salutation – the opening for a business letter! Or the hackneyed “best of luck” to someone on the landing assaults of Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and other Pacific islands – positions few individuals survived. The letter has the dispassionate and nearly objective tone of a newspaper report: even on rough water, she does not write of the terror she likely wanted to voice to Leroy. Only midway through copying her letter did I realize that “Will” was my Uncle Bill Jones, later to become a beloved mathematics instructor in my own high school: again, the formality. I sense duty rather than tenderness as the motivating force in her actions – something I find too often in my own life, as well.

What is remarkable here is her awareness of the activity of the entire family – this, in a letter written only two months before her death. There is a strand of school-marm in her, but also of one who appeared to read the newspaper closely and be aware of fluctuating weather.

One point Floyd has observed is the way the children turned against their father: the later they were born into his life, the more they resented him. Floyd’s own father, Samuel, as the eldest recognized that the strictness arose out of love, a concern that the children turn out well.

Vera, the first of Joshua and Alice’s children (and second of his surviving children), also spoke fondly of her father, providing Floyd and me with many vital details.

Others, however, saw him as “a poor provider” or “mean,” and even expressed, “I never knew what she [Alice] saw in him.” He was, no doubt, caught in a conflict of values: maintaining a Quaker witness not shared by one’s spouse, and in a household distant from other Friends, can be difficult enough; the early twentieth century, however, produced many additional assaults.

My grandfather, their son James, used to speak of receiving only three oranges for Christmas, implying how poor the family had been. But when a Wilburite Quaker minister heard me relate the memory, his eyes widened: “That’s strange, we only got one!” The reason, then, was not poverty but rather the Friends’ practice of not observing Christmas – nothing in the Bible indicates Twelfth Month 25 as the birth of Jesus, after all. A single orange as a gift crept in over time, a sunny – and healthy – emblem of life despite long nights and cold weather; moreover, initially the oranges were distributed the day after Christmas.

There was, obviously, great difficulty making ends meet. For a time, the family rented its farmstead and fields from others. Vera told of one time when Joshua was away working and the cupboard was bare. Alice’s brother Grant showed up at the doorstep, carrying a bag of flour. “Oh,” she said, “I prayed for that!”

Even so, some Quaker values survived. One appears in the high regard the family held for its horse, Prince, already mentioned here. The surviving photo shows “Prince Horse and Buggy used in Courting Days Only means of transportation.” Again, from Floyd: “Some notes about the famous Hodson horse Prince – your grandfather owned him for a short time, also. My dad bought him first, as a two-year-old, while working for Harve Landis as a farmhand. My dad was probably about nineteen-years-old then. Prince was the most famous horse in the county. My dad also bought a new harness and a new buggy at the same time. My father loved horses, and getting Prince was like getting the pearl of great price. And soon Prince was to become loved as much by other Hodsons, boys and girls alike, even down to my brother Harold. I was eight-years-old when Prince was shot. I cannot remember much about him, except for rearing up on back legs and putting front feet on top of the chicken house. He was a very large horse.

“Aunt Ruby, as a little girl, would stand between his legs for protection when someone was after her. Hard to believe, because Prince was a very high-spirited horse, even until his death.”

Vera later told me of an incident when she was little and ventured into an area she had been warned not to enter because of the presence of certain men; when one approached her and she sensed danger, the horse came and stood over her, protecting her from their approach.

“Aunt Vera and Ruby both verified my father liked to race him. He was never beaten in a race.”

Racing, of course, would not have been condoned among the Quakers.

“One thing Aunt Vera relates. … My dad was courting Mom, and Joshua wanted to meet Mom, so one Sunday Dad was on his way with Mom to meet Joshua and family. My mother had just bought a new white dress, which she was wearing. On the way, a horse and buggy came up from behind them, and Prince – being a very alert horse and a proud one – started increasing his pace. He, too, didn’t like to be beaten in a race. My father tightened up the lines, which was the wrong thing to do, because this, to Prince, meant he was in a race. Unlike ordinary horses, in ordinary driving you let the lines loose and Prince kept an even gait. My dad often talked about driving Prince. He said if he was tired or sleepy, he’d just tie up the lines and say, ‘Home, Prince,’ and he’d take him home. My dad would then go to sleep. Whenever he was going along at an even pace and you took up the lines, Prince was ready for a race. You drove him more with words than with lines.

“Anyway, Prince was not going to let this horse pass him, so he took off at full speed and their buggies locked wheels, and Prince was actually dragging the other rig. And then the buggy upset, throwing my mother in the ditch, and she got grass stains on her new dress. Can you imagine my dad taking my mom to see Joshua and family for the first time, and she had grass stains on her new white dress? I guess the day went well until your grandpa – my dad’s young little brother at the time – spilled the beans to Joshua … and Dad got a good bawling out for racing again. Ha! Maybe that’s why they’re referred to as the ‘good old days.’ ”

Later, Leroy owned the horse until enlisting in World War I; he then sold Prince to brother James. In time, when the decision was made to sell the aged equine, Prince placed forefeet on the barn door and refused to budge until the new buyer had departed. The sale was off.

When I heard from my mother that much of the time at family reunion had been spent reminiscing about the horse, rather than the family roots, I concluded, “Yup, they were Quaker all right.”

Yet I also perceive in some of Leroy and James’ adult activities, especially, an outright rejection of Joshua’s Quaker ways. Both, for example, joined Freemason societies, and for some time James smoked cigars. James also delighted in the close friendships of clergy, hoping too that his youngest daughter, Thelma, would marry a preacher. (She did, but that’s another story: he became a professor and dean at the University of Southern California.)

Several formal family portraits apparently taken in the yard beside the farmhouse show a respectable, proud father, with a large mustache, seated to our left and the very properly groomed mother seated on our right. In the first photo are three sons and two daughters; in the second, with a now older family, are two sons and three daughters – son Leroy stands proudly in uniform. Yet neither photo appears to have twin daughters, and so dating the photographs becomes elusive.

Joshua and Alice are shown with granchildren Marion, Lois, and Charlotte.

Joshua and Alice are shown with granchildren Marion, Lois, and Charlotte.

For whatever reasons, Pleasant Hodson apparently never ventured north from Guilford County to see how his sons had fared. Aunt Ruby did tell Floyd, though, that Joshua returned several times to visit his parents. “He generally went alone. Suddenly,” Floyd wrote, “I remembered that at least once my dad accompanied him. Harold probably would know that, too, because when Harold took my parents in 1938 to visit the old Hodson home place where Pleasant and Eunice had lived in Carolina, my father remembered the house. Harold has a picture of it, where Joshua was born” – a site Floyd thought identical to the “plantation” handed down from the first George Hodgson.

Another incident regarding that trip after Joshua’s death has been related. As my mother told it, Samuel had heard of a woman, perhaps a distant cousin, who had information about the Hodson ancestry. Samuel and Grace arrived at the address and, as they waited on the porch, observed a number of people coming and going – something they initially viewed as a sign of hospitality and warm friendship. Then Samuel noticed all the visitors were men. Turning to his wife, in her prayer cap and cape dress, he placed his hat on his head, said, “Come, Grace, this is not a place for us,” and departed.

Or, as Aunt Vera succinctly put the incident: “Well, let’s put it this way. She just weren’t living right.” As we discover in researching family roots, life in the South after the Civil War was difficult, at best, often accompanied by family breakdown and poverty. The Society of Friends was essentially rebuilt from scratch, largely by missionary work from Indiana and with a holiness format. Not everyone chose to continue in that tradition.

Floyd Hodson also provided me with a photocopied “Memoir of Joshua Francis Hodson” from an unspecified newspaper:

The human family is so constituted, and so bound together by earthly ties that, one cannot be seriously effected save others are effected also.

Again hearts are made heavy, because of the almost sudden going of one of our numbers. With each new dawn, not one can tell what will come tomorrow.

Joshua Francis Hodson was born near Greensboro, North Carolina, November 23, 1857.

We think of him today as being a resident of Spiceland, Indiana, but during the span of his life he has lived in the state of Ohio a good part of the time.

About two weeks ago Mr. Hodson’s condition become such that he could not leave the home, and for the past several days it was apparent that his condition was serious; however, no one thought that the end would come so soon, but on September 25, 1930, at his late home in Spiceland, he silently slipped out from us at the age of 72 years, 10 months and 2 days.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Alice Hodson, and by six children: Samuel of near Brookville, Ohio; Leroy, James and Vera Haddix of Dayton, Ohio; also Ruth Jones of Spiceland, Indiana, and Ruby Meek of Shirley, Indiana. The deceased was also father of three other children who preceded him in death. He is also survived by one brother, Mr. Thomas Hodson of Spiceland, Indiana. Beside these there are thirteen grandchildren who survive him, both here and in Ohio.

It is believed that the deceased, in preference of denominational faith, held to those of the Friends church, since he used to be connected with that denomination in Van Wert, Ohio

“Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll.
Leave thy low vaulted past.
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea.”

The widow and six surviving children then “extend our sincerest thanks to all our friends and neighbors who so willingly and kindly assisted us in any way during the sickness and death of husband and father, Mr. Joshua F. Hodson.”

What strikes me in this obituary is a tone that indicates they really didn’t know Joshua, at least not in the way Samuel B. Jones’ family did in their obituary a generation earlier. More stock phrases are employed for Joshua, and less substance, than in his first father-in-law’s. Joshua’s obituary does not even indicate the cause of death (a stroke? cancer?), while Samuel’s goes into agonizing detail of the cancer’s progression. Granted, some of this reflects a different sensibility and style over four decades; but one account has an immediacy the other lacks. More troubling is the fact that Joshua was apparently not part of Friends Meeting, even though there was one in Spiceland (unlike his earlier period in Montgomery County).

After leaving a life of farming, Joshua and Alice lived in this house in Spiceland, Indiana.

After leaving a life of farming, Joshua and Alice lived in this house in Spiceland, Indiana.

Alice’s obituary fills in additional details:

ALICE McSHERRY HODSON, daughter of Amos and Mary McSherry, was born September 12, 1865, Hayes Corner, near Brookville, Ohio. She departed this life November 2, 1944, at the home of her daughter Mrs. Emerson Haddix at the age of 79 years, 1 month, and 21 days.

Surviving to mourn her loss are Samuel, Leroy, and James Hodson, Mrs. Vera Haddix, Mrs. Ruth Jones, and Mrs. Ruby Meek. Also 22 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, one brother George, two sisters, Sarah and Mary L., all of Dayton. One grandson, Pfc. Floyd Hodson is serving in the United States Marines in the South Pacific and one grandson, Sgt. Marion J. Hodson with the United States Air Corps, Page Field, Florida.

The early part of her life was spent in Van Wert County, and later she attended Vandalia High School. After receiving her Teacher’s Certificate, she taught school in Van Wert, Rockford, and Montgomery County schools.

June 8, 1893, she was united in marriage to Joshua F. Hodson, who preceded her in death 14 years, to which union were born two sons and five daughters. Two daughters, Grace Mary and Alice Margaret, preceded her in death each at the age of four years, and also three brothers, Grant, Edward, and Arthur.

Early in childhood she confessed her faith in Christ and united with the Rockford Presbyterian Church where she was active in the young peoples’ work and taught in the Sunday School. Later she transferred her membership to the Spiceland Indiana Methodist Church which she maintained and cherished to her death.

The obituary then quotes Proverbs 31:25-31.

*   *   *

I am intrigued by the directions Joshua’s sons’ church memberships took: several instances of going from United Brethren (which became the Evangelical United Brethren church before merging again to form the United Methodist denomination), into various Brethren strands: Old Order German Baptist Brethren, Church of the Brethren, or Brethren in Christ. In many ways, these were not far in theology or practice from the Society of Friends. Among the daughters, too, is a leaning toward Methodism, which historically often drew from Quaker stock. In addition, the corner of Montgomery County where Joshua and Alice settled was populated largely by Pennsylvania Dutch families; comparing the names in cemeteries there with those of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, produces nearly identical lists. Thus, we find that even though some of the families came directly west to Ohio while others, like the Hodsons and Joneses, went first by the way of the South, they still link up again.

About His Known Children

Three of Joshua’s children died in childhood. Six others married and had families of their own.

Samuel Hodson, a farmer his entire life, moved to Clark County in 1938, and in 1944 he was baptized into the German Baptist Brethren Church, a strand of Brethren tradition his wife’s family had upheld. From that time, he and his wife upheld the Plain appearance of their Dunker faith, in some ways resembling Amish although they were permitted the use of automobiles and some other modern appliances. Even so, a photograph Floyd gave me shows shocks of wheat standing in the field behind them, evidence of hard labor when the rest of the world had already adopted easier mechanized practices.

From Floyd, in a letter announcing an upcoming family reunion :

When I was in the hospital, I had time to think about many things. I can well remember the first Hodson Family Reunion we had. When I returned home from the Marines in March 1946, my mother and I were talking about our family, and I was telling her of how all you wonderful people stood by me, sending me hundreds of letters, praying for my welfare, giving me the support I needed. I said to her, “Let’s have them all to our house some Sunday this summer.” She thought it was a wonderful idea, so we got together. I drove to Dayton and gave Ralph McSherry a ride out. He had kept in contact with me regularly.

On that Sunday we all had a good time. There was plenty of good food, fellowship, horseshoe pitching, a softball game and even a few footballs were being thrown. A big kite was flown by Uncle Leroy. Uncle Bill and Uncle Emerson hit a few golf balls. During the fellowship in the afternoon, Aunt Ruth Jones said, “I think we ought to do this every year.” So the Hodson Reunion was born.

I have a recollection from early childhood of a reunion held at somebody’s farm, possibly in Indiana, and of my being afraid of Uncle Samuel in his big beard and Plain clothes. How wrong I was! Floyd continues:

I reflected on all those Sundays that were so important and enjoyable in my life and those whom God has called to Himself. … My father and mother who loved every one of you so much, lived for that day, especially the many times they hosted it. Friendliness and the sharing was a natural virtue of theirs. The name Hodson meant so much to them. They lived simple lives but added to their name’s standing.

Vera Lafern, born May 17, 1894, Van Wert, Ohio; died January 15, 1986, Springfield, Ohio; married, February 12, 1919, Ralph Emerson Haddix, (January 24, 1898-January 28, 1977).

“Uncle Emerson, what a horseshoe player! He could pound a softball over the fence,” Floyd recalled. “I can see his smile now and hear his laugh.”

Aunt Vera was still very much with us when Floyd penned his recollections of the family. I believe she presents a vivid portrait of herself in the memories she has provided in this chapter.

Uncle Emerson was a charter member of Christian Tabernacle and retired from Inland Manufacturing division of General Motors

Leroy Amos, born November 19, 1895, Van Wert, Ohio; died, September 29, 1971, and married, October 11, 1924, Anna Catharine Lyon (June 5, 1899- June 15, 1986).

Floyd: “Uncle Leroy always added interesting sidelights for the day: kites, model airplanes, cameras and projectors, pictures, always a participator.”

Anna was still alive when Floyd recorded his memories of deceased family.

Leroy founded a plumbing and heating company, and taught my grandfather the trade, hoping (I had been told) that the two brothers would eventually become a partnership; before that developed, however, my grandfather set off on his own. One version, however, gives another reason: an antipathy Aunt Anna for my grandmother, although the reason remains unknown – and, for many in the family, unacknowledged.

Leroy and Anna were members of North Riverdale Brethren Church, probably through the influence of his wife’s ancestry. He was not, however, a pacifist, having served in the U.S. Army in World War I. He was also a member of the Dayton Masonic Lodge No. 147, Gideons Bible Society, Christian Business Men’s Association, and a trustee of Grace Brethren Retirement Home and a trustee of the Dayton YMCA

James Franklin, born January 28, 1900, Van Wert, Ohio; died April 1, 1982, Lewisburg, Ohio; married, February 12, 1921, Erma Olive Erstine/Ehrstine (December 31, 1900-June 21, 1972), daughter of Henry and Susan (Rasor) Erstine/Ehrstine.

Floyd: “Uncle James, no one enjoyed the food more, unless it was me. Remember the homemade ice cream! Aunt Erma with her quiet manner always enjoyed herself being with the family.”

Although Grandpa and Grandma Hodson were active members of Euclid Avenue United Brethren Church (later, Evangelical United Brethren), in their later years, after that assembly had been dissolved and the building sold to a large African-American congregation, they joined the First Brethren Church, curiously leading back into Grandma’s earlier roots. Grandma was also active in her garden club.

Ruth Anna; died September 4, 1970; married February 10, 1922, William Emerson Jones (April 12, 1895-February 24, 1973), son of a Quaker family from Rich Square Meeting in Indiana.

Vera: “Uncle Bill was a Quaker from one end to the other. … I would have been a Quaker if there had been a Meeting closer.”

Floyd: “Aunt Ruth – I’ve never seen anyone with so much vitality and enthusiasm, loved by all. Joy bubbled forth from her like water from a fountain. She always made it a happy day. Uncle Bill was always there with his unmatched humor, a truly wonderful person to visit with.”

Uncle Bill taught high school mathematics; I remember his direct, firm, and yet friendly voice as well as his white shirts, open at the collar and without a tie – a Quaker trait, I like to think.

Aunt Ruth worked at Rike Kumler Co., Dayton’s largest department store, and was active in Ohmer Park Methodist Church more than three decades.

Ruby Althea; died 1994 at Knightstown, Indiana; married November 6, 1926, Golay Meek (July 22, 1906-February 6, 1962).

Floyd: “Uncle Golay, with his big smile and hearty laugh, enjoyed visiting. Think of the milage he put in!”

I remember Aunt Ruby, slightly built like her mother, maintaining a sharp mind well into her years.

About Joshua’s Wives’ Lineage

To allow the complexity of the genealogies for Joshua’s two wives a fuller development, I present them in separate postings.

Briefly, however, they reflect two different strands of American culture. Josephine Jones has a well documented Quaker pedigree, members in good standing with the church, unlike Joshua’s less strict Quaker lines. Alice McSherry, on the other hand, introduces a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition – not of the Anabaptist, or Plain, variety that would be the heritage his sons would marry into, and which Joshua probably would have been more comfortable encountering, but instead one more accepting of the ways of the world. We must wonder, then, how these differences surfaced in their relationship, and how they were resolved.

Crucial Points for Further Research

One of the big questions for North Carolina Quaker families, including the descendants of George Hodgson, asks how much communication and awareness occurred between lines that moved north and those that remained in the South.

Recently, Hank Hodgin wondered if I know of any stories of his great-grandfather, John Henry Hodgin (July 25, 1876-July 2, 1975), being told in my branch of the family. As a teen, John had gotten into some unspecified trouble and been sent to “Uncle Pleasant’s family in Ohio” until the incident was resolved or John turned himself around. Since Pleasant lived in North Carolina, this would have meant being sent to Joshua’s household. The period, 1889-95, covers Joshua’s first marriage, Josie’s death, and his remarriage – hardly an easy time in his life. Both John (the son of Henry “Hooter” Hodgin) and Joshua were grandsons of George and Delilah Hodgin/Hodson, and thus first cousins. John returned to North Carolina and worked more than 50 years at the Oakdale Cotton Mill. This was the first I had heard of this story, along with its hints of family bonds surviving and spanning the distance.

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