WILLIAM CALVIN HODGES. In the person of William C. Hodges the grain business of Bellevue is ably represented and capably handled and his acquaintance over a wide scope of territory surrounding his market wields a beneficent influence in the matter of trade and his establishment vies with the other leading marts of Bellevue for a foremost place as a business-winner for the town.
We have in William C. Hodges a distinguished American character. Not distinguished, especially, on account of an exhibition of genius in some particular line of our American affairs, but because of the genuineness of his American blood. The Virginia Randolphs, eminent statesmen of their day, pointed to their pride of ancestry as their greatest family distinction because the blood of Pocahontas coursed through their veins. Equally distinguished is our subject, for he is the great-grandson of a Sioux chieftan whose tribe disputed the possession of the Missouri river and all the country northwest of it in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
Mr. Laidlaw, an Englishman, established himself along the waters of the Missouri river, in the forepart of the century just passed, and engaged in barter and trade with the Sioux and other tribes of Indians. His dealings with them were so eminently fair and his manner so easy and simple that the was named by his red brethern, “the Good White Man.” He shipped his furs and other articles of commerce down the river to St. Louis and there supplied himself with wares for his trade. He grew wealthy at the business and finally established himself on a large plantation in Clay county, Missouri, and settled down to a more quiet and uneventful life. While engaged in Indian-trading he made many fast friendships among the prominent people of the Sioux tribe, particularly with a chief whose eldest daughter was approaching womanhood, and this friendship be turned to his own advantage by winning the love of the young maiden of the forest. Her tribal name is unknown and when she became Mrs. Laidlaw and was preparing to leave her family for the society of the “palefaces” forever, it was the Indian custom that all princess, when about to desert their father’s wigwam, should hand down to their next older sister all jewels and other ornaments worn as the insignia of their position and it took all the courage of our young Indian wife to make this sacrifice. She accompanied her husband to his farm and there they lived in the utmost peace and harmony together. They occasionally visited the tribe and kept in touch with the chief’s family until Mr. Laidlaw’s death, when communication ceased, except such visits as annually took place.
The Laidlaw above referred to was the grandfather of this sketch. His home was situated near Kearney Station in Missouri and comprised several hundred acres of rich land and upon it he built a three-story frame residence with twenty rooms, where he entertained lavishly and in the style of the rich frontiersman of his time. He kept a herd of buffalo for many years, as a sort of consolation for his squaw wife, and it required a corral twenty rails high to hold them. He engaged in stock-raising and farming and was one of the foremost men of his county. He died about 1855, being the father of: William and James, who died young; Mrs. Kate McClintock, Mrs. Mary Lurty, Mrs. Lizzie Wallace, Mrs. Nannie McNeeley, Mrs. Jane Waller and Mrs. Julia Halbert, constituted the remaining children, including, also Mrs. Margaret Hodges, the mother of William C. Hodges, our subject. Mrs. Laidlaw was an incessant smoker, was slow in learning to speak English and for some time she kept her little grandson, our subject, to act as her interpreter. She was one of several children and when her husband died she grew restless and wanted to return to her tribe and she was carefully watched to prevent her doing so.
William C. Hodges was born in Clay county, Missouri, March 28, 1856, a son of William F. and Margaret Hodges. The father was a cabinet maker and blacksmith, in Clay county, where his father, Calvin Hodges, settled, from Alabama, many years before the Civil war. William F. Hodges died, at the age of twenty-five, and in time his widow married Gardner Alder, of Buchanan county, Missouri. William C. Hodges was his mother’s first and only child by her first marriage, but the Alder children were: Flora, wife of William Wade, of Needles, California; James, of Clay county, Texas; Cheloma, who married A. J. Enoch, of California; Maggie, and Bertie, who was married and left a child at death.
At about fifteen years of age Mr. Hodges began life independently, having acquired only a limited education. Farming engaged him all through his meanderings, as a wage-worker and finally as the proprietor of a farm, until he came to Bellevue and engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1872 he came to Texas and as a youth in his teens he worked about in Henderson, Smith and Tarrant counties, returning to Missouri and remaining until 1874, w hen he came again to the Lone Star and worked a couple of years in Tarrant county. He then went into Denton county. He left Kansas City with three dollars, made the trip through without untoward incident and got a job at ten dollars a month from farmer Tandy, near Fort Worth. At the end of a year he was drawing eighteen dollars a month and when he reached Denton county he employed with Squire Shipley, on Zillaboya creek. He worked about in several places and finally got to croppining on the shares with Mr. Jamison. While there he married and continued to farm until 1889, when he came to Clay county and engaged in the grocery business in Bellevue the following year, which was succeeded by the grain and feed business in 1899.
Mr. Hodges was married in Collin county, Texas, on January 21, 1879, to Miss Luan Smith, a daughter of the widely known pioneer Texas, C. L. Smith, of Prosper. Mr. Smith is one of the old time head-right men of the state, was mustering-out officer in the Mexican war and has been eminently successful in business. He is a large land owner, owns the mill and elevator of Prosper and is president of the bank at that place. He is a native of the state of Kentucky, is eighty years old and by his marriage with Miss Mellissa Hawkins is the father of: Bristo W., of Prosper; Cordie, who first married Moses Taylor and second, James Hawkins, died in Denton county; Eddie is the wife of S. B. Harbison, of Deaf Smith county; Mrs. Hodges, born in 1858; Emily, wife of Mortimer Spradling, a Bellevue merchant; Kate, wife of William J. McCormick, of Prosper; J. A. Smith, of Denton; Edgar Smith, of Denton.
Mr. and Mrs. Hodges’ children are: Loma, wife of Moma Hudson, of Clay county, and has children, Fannie, Verna and John Calvin; William Edgar, with the Santa Fe Railway Company; Margaret Melissa, Hettie and Bertie.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 165-166.