(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. . .”


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