(William) Elias Hodgson

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Grandfather Elias (originally William Elias) filed on a homestead somewhere in the Middle West without ever “proving up”, so when he came out here he filed again but to avoid any possible complication, he filed under the name Elias J. and went by that name from then on.

I don’t know the exact amount of education that Grandad had, but it was undoubtedly more than most people had in those days. From what Dad said of him, I gather he was neither a very practical or forceful person.

Back in the 1850’s and/or 1860’s’ when men were men and women wore hoop skirts and possibly bustles, „eddication‟ was well though of up to a point. The point was ‘the double rule of three’ (long division) and McGuffy’S Fifth Reader. Any fool knew that more ‘larnin’ than that was a waste of time and anyone who wanted more than that was considered a bit queer and something of a joke.

I can’t say, but it is my understanding that Elias did attend several different schools and finally graduated from Grinell College in Iowa (perhaps, only one year). After Elias had, been away to school for a while he came home for a short vacation, Christmas perhaps. After he had been home for a short while, his rheumatic “old Grandad struggled up out of his chair and, leaning on his cane, he says, “‘Lias, there is something out at the barn I want to show you..” Elias said, “All right,” and the old boy went his tottering way out to the barn with Elias following. When they entered the barn door, it was rather dark in there, but Grandad focused, his dim eyes upon the wall, pointing his cane, he says, “‘Lias, what is that thing up there?” says, Elias looked and says. “Why, that’s a horseshoe, Grandad.”  The old fellow cackled in great glee. “What a power of good a little larnin’ does. I wouldn’t have known it from a mare’s shoe!”

From what Dad told me, I don’t get the impression that Grandpa’s higher education ever served him to any very practical purpose; nevertheless, I imagine he got a lot of personal satisfaction from it.

When he was about twenty, he tried teaching a country school in Indiana. He was somewhat puny at the time and was thought by his relatives to be a probable victim of tuberculosis. In any event, he did not have the physical force to hold down the teaching job. A bunch of overgrown boys in their late teens or early twenties simply ran him out. To get the picture of what he had to contend with, read “The Hoosier Schoolmaster” by Edward Eggleston.

What after that, I am not sure. He went to Iowa where he met and married Sabina Bond — one of the ten daughters of Reverend Bond, a Quaker minister. She had six sisters and three half-sisters. Two of her sisters — Amanda and Hannah — married men named Jessup and later moved to California. Sabina’s mother (maiden name Kollens) I believe was either German born or of German extraction. Grandma Sabina had brown eyes, red hair, and a very volatile temperament, was very religious and had extremely Victorian attitudes as to dress, speech and morality. She would never roll her sleeves up, even to wash the dishes!

One of her peculiarities that Dad used to rave about was that she was always entertaining the preacher and would never cook a hen unless it had got on the nest to lay! Also, she would never sell a dog because of the Bible quotation about “the price of a dog. . .”


Casper W. Hodgson

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Louis Hodgson was the father of Casper W. Hodgson who founded the “World Book Company” sometime prior to 1900. It was at his request that we all added the ‘g’ to our name. An English estate was at issue. No further knowledge . . .

Casper Hodgson married a school teacher who acquired ever more “highfalutin” ideas as they went up in the world. Uncle John visited them around 1900 at their fancy home at Yonkers on Hudson, New York. He said that Casper treated him well enough but his wife was barely civil. John’s Norwegian wife, Inga, who spoke only broken English, may have had something to do with it. In the world of what Mark Twain called “dudes and dudesses, ‘I social distinctions were very strong at that time and the terms “savoir faire”, “nouveau riche”, and “It isn’t done. don’cha know” had very real meaning.

Casper had three children — two girls and a boy. He graduated from Stanford University in the same class as Herbert Hoover. He died sometime in the Thirties. He used to send bundles of his newly published books to his Uncle Elias. The books are scattered or lost. I still have one of them — rather battered — in my possession. “Indian Days of Long Ago.” Other titles were “Ox Team Days on the Oregon, Trail,” by Ezra Meeker, “The White Indian Boy,” “Breaking Sod on, the Prairie,” and “Hidden Heroes of the Rockies. If I read all of those titles and remember a good deal about each of them

Casper was a small slender man and in 1900 somewhat bald. His publishing company was mostly devoted to school books. Physiology and hygiene manuals is that we (I) studied in grade school were published by his company. John said that at the time he visited him, he claimed to have a large government contract to produce school books for the Filipinos — that was shortly after 1898, when Dewey took Manila. The book titles that I previously mentioned were, I think, intended as educational supplements and all of them had frontier history as their basic subject.

Bert Shute says that in his youth, he knew Casper. Casper had made two vacation trips to Oregon. His wife was an Oregon school teacher. I understand: He was already involved in his publishing company, but also held a Job as business promoter of one of the railroads.

And now, to a line in the Pacific Northwest

One of the things that’s fascinated me in this genealogical project is looking at what happens when a line departs from the disciplined Quaker faith or, in my case, the Brethren as well. How much of the culture and values are retained, and how much is rejected?

Michael Howard Hodgson has provided a family history that Gerald Nathan Hodgson compiled in May 1970 regarding a line that settled near Spokane, Washington.

Here’s how it starts:

“The wide plains and the mountains called to them. And the gray dawn saw their campfires in the rain.”

This is the order of my paternal descent:

Jonathan Hodgson

Nathan Hodgson

(William) Elias Hodgson — Born 1846

Delwin Wilburn Hodgson — Born 1871

Gerald Nathan Hodgson — Born March 1913

Elias Hodgson was born in Indiana before the Civil War. Was too young to serve. A kinsman, Joel, I think, joined the Union Army at fourteen years.

Nathan Hodson (spelled without the ‘g’) was married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Ratcliffe, was the mother of Louis, Elias and Simpson.

Nathan married a second time to Lucinda Fullwider and they had two daughters — Sarah Huteburger and Ruth Hodgson who married Eben Shute and became the ancestress of the Shute family. After Nathan’s death (circa 1865) Lucinda married Thomas Moore and begot additional children who are half kin to the Shutes. To complicate things further — Simpson Hodgson married Isabel Moore, a daughter of Thomas Moore by an earlier marriage. Eva Ratliffe (Ratcliffe) was his daughter. (I think.) She and her family were living in the Puget Sound area before World War II. Lester visited them in the company of Harland Shute.

Gerald Nathan Hodgson

Putting a Dent in my findings

A year ago, Michael Howard Hodgson chanced across this blog, and a lively correspondence has followed. He’s a much younger relation – and, yes, his line did spell the name Hodson, like mine, before reinserting the G in the middle.

He descends from Orphan George’s son John and a line that headed to Ohio early in the migrations. Michael’s branch eventually moved across Indiana, Iowa, and the prairie states before winding up in the Spokane region of Washington state. It’s a colorful history that will be the focus here for the rest of the year. Shall we say there are some “characters” in his past?


Cousin Michael also shared a tidbit he turned up online, one that named Orphan George’s mother as Elizabeth Gibson, born 1671 Lamplugh, Cumberland, and died 1710 at sea.

Somewhere, we also have a mention of his father marrying at Dent Meeting in Yorkshire. I’ve largely discounted that possibility – along with the claims of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, and Sara E. Welch, born April 24, 1659, in Brigham, Yorkshire – because of their distance from Lamplugh, Cumbria.

By the way, I’m always suspicious of middle names or initials used before the early 1800s, at least in my families from England. The usage seldom had them, and they’re usually inserted by later researchers. In at least one case, it was the mark an illiterate individual used over his written name.

What records I have for Dent indicate no connection with the line I’ve tenuously connected from Lamplugh, though the plot can often thicken. We’ll see.

A recent chance online encounter with Dent, though, identified the town in Cumbria, and a bit more sleuthing put the Quaker Meeting under Sedbergh Friends (where the records are likely to be found) and, more critically, under Westmorland Quarterly Meeting. In other words, Dent is in a rural pocket much closer to Lamplugh than I’d assumed. Both Dent and Lamplugh border the Lakes District. Driving from one to the other takes about 70 miles, but a hiker could take a shorter route – not that the distance would be a breeze.

A Quaker was expected to marry another Quaker, after all, and a young man sometimes relocated to a new location to court her.

Well, it is a fresh haystack to search. I’m still curious about the John Hodgson who was arrested at Sedbergh in 1660 and jailed in York, about 50 miles from his dwelling.

Dent Friends meetinghouse in England