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.

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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:

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  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.

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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
Nancy Almeda Hodson was bornd January the 6
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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