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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

Josh

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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4 thoughts on “Generation ten: Joshua Francis Hodson”

  1. I enjoyed reading about my families history. I am Vivian Meek Bibler, grand daughter of Ruby Hodson and Goaly Meek and daughter of Gerald and Viola Meek. I have pictures and letters I would love to share with the author of this article.

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