A few reflections on this serialization

I hope you’ve enjoyed this serialization of Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s history of this line of the family as much as I have.

Feeling there was a gritty honesty in the telling of these memories as they stood, I decided to refrain from correcting grammar or syntax or inserting details.

This account is full of telling particulars but also retains a sense of life for many on the western frontier in this period. For that, I’m deeply grateful.

Having lived for four years in the dry interior of Washington state, I can recall many obituaries of people his age that included the line, “A Pioneer,” people whose childhood had often included the first few years in a tent, even through difficult winters.

So it’s not just a genealogical document that adds much to our understanding of the family – many other lines also drifted out of the Quaker faith and westward like this – but also a vital history of the settling of a particular corner of the Pacific Northwest.

Many thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson for sharing this with us, and our best wishes in his ongoing research.

And our gratitude, too, to David Evert Sailor who keyboarded the manuscript and mildly edited the text in May 1987.


Don Fleck’s recollections dated March 2007

With thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson for providing this.

I knew Gerald growing up as a young man in Kettle Falls, He was my Great Uncle. My Grandfather was Victor Hodgson, my mother was Leona Hodgson /Fleck/. We did not see Gerald but about one or two times a year, he did not visit often, he would usually stop in sometime in the spring. My mom always had a “Christmas” gift for him. We would occasionally visit his place on Boulder Creek. I remember he had a large pasture and always there was a bull in the pasture. For some reason we were afraid of the bull. I told this story to Gerald a short time before his death and he just laughed. He thought it strange that we would be afraid his bull. He said that he treated him well and that he was not aggressive. I could have been my sister or my cousin that said that the bull was mean. Perhaps it was from watching too much TV, rodeo‟s etc that placed that idea in my head. When we didn‟t see him in the pasture we would explore the woods to the south west of this house. I remember many visits that he made to our home, he always stopped in after a visit to Colville, it was usually in the evening. I remember on one visit we ate dinner. We had shrimp that night, to his remembrance had never had them before. I thought it curious that he ate the tails and all. Being young I never really took the time to get to know him. For this I missed a great opportunity to learn a great deal from him. Gerald died July 21, 2002, a memorial gathering was held on August 18, 2002, in the Colville Park. I was honored to have known Gerald, a short time before his death, we visited with him and I asked him why he never married. He told me that, he had cared for his parents in their old age, well into his 40‟s and by the time they were gone he stated that “I had lived so long without a woman, I couldn‟t figure what I needed with one.” There are many that knew Gerald much better than, I but I always knew him to be honest in all his dealings. He was an avid reader and loved science fiction books and magazines. I asked him if he ever tried writing a science fiction story. He said that once he tried but by the time it was done it was too much like all the ones he had read.

The old Indian horse trail

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

In the good old days, the Indians had a well-defined horse trail through here. I am told it originally came down off Kelly Hill near the south end of Toulou Mountain, crossed Kettle River at a shallows which still exists, and climbed the steep hillside at the south end of the Sandcuts and just north of ‘Mayor’ Schmidt’s field, circling above the sand slide and crossing portions of the Charlie Anderson place and portions of the Hollenbeck Place, thence taking a course along the back (the sunny) side of the mountain on which my place is located. At the upper end, the trail crosses the west end of my place and drops almost straight down the steep hill to Boulder Creek where it crosses the main stream at what was called ‘The Ford’ before taking its course up North Boulder on its way to Curlew. Portions of this trail can still be located if you know where to look.

A very large and tall fir tree once stood on my side of The Ford. A dead man, believed to have been a murdered prospector was found at the foot of this tree at sometime during the early history of the locality. The tree later fell directly across Boulder Creek and I used it as a foot bridge many times during my growing years.

During my lifetime, the Old Indian Trail took off from the public road a little ways south of the old schoolhouse, and I have seen pack trains of Indians ascend the schoolhouse pipeline to take the route around the Hill — one writer says that Indians called it ‘The Little Mountain Trail.’

My sister Elva and I heard horses traveling along it when we were herding sheep. We did not see them, however, as we preferred to hide out.

The trail saw a lot of service during the old days — Indians, prospectors, frontiersman and, according to Lawyer Thomas Oakshott, its most famous traveler was General William Tecumseh Sherman who went through here in the 1870’s on a diplomatic mission to Canada and to parley with local Indian chiefs. He was accompanied by Lieutenant George W. Goethalls, who later superintended the construction of the Panama Canal.

Legendary citizens of Orient, Washington

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

There was the local storekeeper who had paid a visit to the ‘house’. Someone warned his wife and she headed for the joint with a horsewhip. He managed to dodge her but had to jump out a window in his shirt tail.

The saloonkeeper, ‘Farmer’ Jones, was bitten in the thumb by a drunk he was trying to roll and died of blood poisoning as a result.

‘Old August’ was a German immigrant and local handyman. Someone got him drunk at a dance one night and suggested that he play the piano, which he did with surprising ability. Under questioning, he admitted that he had once done a command performance for the Kaiser.

‘Old Man Schmidt’ was a cranky old bachelor who lived at Barstow, which at that time was just a siding and an openfronted shed by the railroad. He was sometimes called “The Mayor”. The Mayor had one fixed peculiarity. He ate lots of fried food and would use no other shortening than bacon grease which, of course, he carefully saved. Some newcomers, short on money, arrived nearby. They had, as he knew, just been to Orient and back, so assuming they had any money or credit, they should have come back well supplied with groceries. Well, in the evening they (the womenfolk) came over to borrow some lard. Naturally he had no desire to give away any of his precious bacon grease, so his reply was, “Borrow? Hell! I buys my grayse!” He shut the door in their faces. Courtesy of the Old West. The Mayor died in the Ferry County Poorhouse at the age of ninety. The Poorhouse was still a very real thing in the early days of the Great Depression, and was still known by that name.