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.


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