Life on the prairie

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

The cold winds, snows and blizzards of the prairie states very much a part of the memories of both my parents. School was mostly reserved for winter and one reason Mom got more schooling was because her father sometimes loaded up the children in a Sled and hauled them to school behind a team of horses.

Mom was once a fairly close observer of a tornado in action. She was in school at the time she saw it — they called them cyclones. Dad was never involved in one but heard many stories from people who had been. An example: a man was caught out in open country with a team and buggy. I think the horse survived, but the buggy was torn to pieces. The man laid down on the ground with his arms around a fence post. He managed to hang on till the storm was past but the wind picked him up and dropped him repeatedly. The cyclone cellar was a common part of the scenery.

When Mom was about 18, her family, including herself joined the Society of Friends (Quakers).

I don’t remember how Mom and Dad happened to meet, through mutual friends at a dance, perhaps, or at a ‘playparty’ where people danced to vocal music such as ‘Skip-to-ma-loo My Darling’. Morm had had one boyfriend before — a young fellow named Sweet.

After their marriage, Dad went in for farm rental and sharecropping and I gather with little more success than Grandad had.

I remember a story he told about an extremely wet day in early spring when it wouldn’t have been practical to work in the field if one had been disposed to. At the time, Dad lived close to a river where there was a bridge so he took a fishing pole down under the bridge and spent most of the day fishing. As it happened, a neighbor drover over the bridge on his way to town and saw Dad there fishing and on his way home he went out of his way to stop and tell “Old ‘Lias” that his son was out wasting his time fishing before he had his spring crop planted. He got Grandad so excited that he came several miles afoot to tell Dad the error of his ways. Dad was pretty burned up about it and told Grandad that the neighbor was no ripsnorter for work and the chances were he would be through with his spring work before the neighbor was.

Another fish story that he told was of driving along a river that had shrunk from floodstage to a lower level, leaving a large school of pickerel stranded in a small side pool. He noticed them somehow and pitched out a few with a shovel, but as he was going away from home he left the rest until he came back — someone else cleaned out the pool, though, before he got there.

In the fall of 1896, Dad had a share in an enormous corn crop which could scarcely be given away.


On the maternal side

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

Her sisters were Ida, Josie and Ethel. Ida married Charles Lehman; Ethel — James Rush (Rusch); Josie first married Grant Horton — lived here for awhile in the Rock Cut area (on the Ed Olson place, as it was later known. They sold it to the Jenny Mine for $1100. Olson obtained it from the County by tax-title purchase during the depression following the crash of 1929. and left for Canada in 1909. Her marriage to Grant Horton went on the rocks and she has been married several times. She has one daughter, Mrs. Ruby L. Hoag, Barrhead, Alberta. Her maiden name was Ostertag (Easterday). As of last report, Josie was still living — 89 years old, Christmas 1970. Address — Ella J. Beecroft, Hillcrest Lodge, Room 12, Barrhead, Alberta, Canada.

Mom grew up with a cousin who lived in her home, what was once sometimes known as ‘woods colt’ — not so common then as now but never really unusual.

John Palmer Beard farmer). [??], he got religion (Baptist, I think) in his teens and retained his abiding faith for nearly 90 years. His home was in Forest Grove, Illinois, and he died at about the same time Mom did. He was very anti-Catholic and was firmly convinced that the Roman Church was the true daughter of “the great whore that sitteth on seven hills.”

There was another child [Annie] who died at an early age as a result of oversetting a kettle of boiling liquid on herself.

Adding to the mix

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

D.W. Hodson & Minnie B. Leach Joined in Marriage — September 19, 1895 At Marshalltown, Iowa — Marshall County

Marriage performed by James C/unreadable/ak — Justice of the Peace

The Leaches came from Kentucky. Great-grandfather Nathan was completely illiterate. Mom’s chief recollection of him was of an old man with a cane sitting by the fire and almost constantly twiddling his thumbs.

The Leaches still believed in witchcraft for treating of some diseases. Dad’s old folks were definitely opposed to it. A good many amateurs practiced medicine and were probably no more dangerous than some of the licensed doctors. Mom, in her early life, was afflicted with stomach worms but eventually got rid of them. I don’t know how — perhaps with castor oil and turpentine. I think she was nearly grown before she did get rid of them, however. Great-grandfather Darling was very literate and a great reader of such books as were available. Mom mostly remembered him as reading the Leather Stocking Tales and the Bible. Not a very religious man, he read the Bible for pleasure and for the sake of argument — he said you could prove anything by it.

My recollections of Mom’s early life are rather limited. She was born (I believe) at Union, Iowa, February 2, (Groundhog’s day) 1876. (Through some error, the date on her tombstone is 1877.) Died in the Spring, 1963 — 87 years.

She had more education than Dad though I don’t think she ever officially graduated from the eighth grade but she read freely and could spell reasonably well. She could also sing tunefully. She had three brothers and three sisters — Nate and Harry who spent most of their later lives in Oklahoma — and Howard — the youngest, who was a casualty of the Philippine War, believed to have fallen off a foot bridge into a swollen stream. He would have boarded a ship for Europe and World War I in a few days. His father, John Leach, lived off his insurance during his last years. Her mother (born Mary Frances Darling) died a while before Howard did.


Minnie and Delwin Hodson

Matters of health

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

Except, for occasional illnesses, Dad retained enormous physical vigor until the fall of ’29 when he suffered a breakdown from Which he never fully recovered although he lived something over twenty years longer. When he quit hard labor working out during the Twenties, it was at least partly due to the fact that the need was not so great — most of the family were married or doing for themselves.

As for Grandpa, I myself can remember him in his old age, so long as he was able to go, getting out with a grub hoe and digging brush and stumps. In the event that I do not mention it later, he finally had a stroke and lived in a more or less helpless condition for about two years longer.