More Memories about James Horace Hodges: The Flora Farm
Okay, regular non-family readers, today's post is obviously yet-another blog entry oriented toward the Hodges clan, but for folks interested in old Ozark days, gather around whether kin or kith.
Cousin Bill sent a detailed family history around to several family members, asking for corrections, and of interest for me was the following passage based on information supplied in 2008 by Uncle Bill (Cousin Bill's father, William E. Hodges) concerning life on two tracts of land farmed by my namesake Grandpa Horace Hodges near the tiny Ozark Mountian communities of Mitchell, Arkansas and Flora, Arkansas, south and southwest, respectively, of the slightly larger town depicted on the map above, Viola, Arkansas (site of Grandpa Archie's near knife-fight):
Shortly after daughter Margarett's death, Horace, Nora and son William returned to Fulton County, living first in Elizabeth, then Mitchell, and from there to the Flora farm.I'll interrupt only to note that I've seen "Margarett" spelled "Marguerite" -- by Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Cran, for example -- but I don't know which is correct. [Update: Cousin Sheila tells me that on the authority of Grandma Nora's family Bible, the correct spelling is "Marguerite."] Anyway, back to the history:
Horace worked both as a farmer and teacher. They bought forty acres near Mitchell, (south of Viola on Hwy 223), and built a small home. This house was built by Horace and brother-in-law Raymond Sanders. Several of Horace and Nora’s children were born at this Mitchell farm.I'll interrupt, again, just to note that the WPA -- which officially stood for Works Progress Administration but unofficially for 'We Piddle Along' because workers had little incentive to work quickly -- was a New Deal employment project intended for some of the millions of men who lost their jobs during the Great Depression that started with the stock market crash of 1929, an event that might be on many minds these days. As a teenager, I worked on the WPA's equivalent for young people from poor families, a governmental program known as the Youth Corps. But readers will be more interested in the family history, so let's return:
In the early 30's the farm (six miles S. W. of Viola near Flora) was purchased. It had a small log house (rented out at the time), so Horace and eldest son William (sometimes accompanied by second eldest son Paul) set up housekeeping in the barn loft, using the daylight hours to clear timber, brush and fence the farm. Nora and the other children moved to the farm's log house about two years after the purchase. This house had a combined kitchen, dining and living area and two bedrooms.
He farmed and taught the first and second grade at Cedar Park School, located close to the Wm. B. Hodges' house near Elizabeth. Horace also worked for the WPA, helping to construct the road between Viola and Mitchell (now Hwy 223). Sons William and Paul attended at least one term at Cedar Park when Horace was the teacher.
Horace, Nora and children attended the Flora Baptist Church on Sunday morning and Sunday night, with Horace teaching Sunday school. Dad describes his father as being strict (required toeing the line) but having a good sense of humor. Dad said his father read the Bible a lot and enjoyed the Salem newspaper.As we all know well by now, this idyllic life came to a crashing end, and more difficult years ensued, prefigured by that cold, snowy January day and a grave waiting to be filled:
He was an avid hunter, especially in pursuit of fox. He and father-in-law Wm. Cranford Stephens, John Barber, and Cap Robbins loved to spend the night camped on an Ozark hill, drinking coffee brewed over a log fire, swapping stories and listening to the dogs run the foxes. Note, William (Dad) recalls his Grandpa Stephens never washed the coffee pot, believing a cleaning would ruin the coffee flavor.
Horace also loved to trap and fish. The hunting, trapping and fishing put food on the family table. Some trips were several days in length, especially if the destination was the White River. The family would take the wagon, stocked with food, and camp in and under it for the duration of the trip.
Life was hard, but good for the Hodges' family, with good neighbors (including William Loren DeWitt, living straight north across Big Creek about a mile) and the family and friends in and around Flora, Elizabeth, Mitchell, and Viola.
Family outings were to church, family get-togethers, weddings funerals and the necessary trips to town for needed groceries and supplies. These trips were made afoot, by horseback or by horse-pulled wagon.
Dad recalls that his father could make anything from wood and was a good carpenter.
In early December of 1941, Horace was "skinning" [i.e., "skidding"] logs (on the Gilmore place, straight east of the Flora farm on the old road toward Mitchell) for later transportation to the saw mill, when a log broke loose from the chain, swung around, and crushed Horace's leg. He was able to unhook the team of horses, climb aboard one and seek help. He was transported to the V. A. Hospital in Fayetteville, and on to the V. A. Hospital in N. Little Rock. Horace died there on December 30, of a blood clot at the age of 48. Funeral services were conducted at the Elizabeth school, with burial at the Elizabeth Cemetery on a cold snowy January day.Readers will recall that this last, sad paragraph appeared in a recent blog entry here on Gypsy Scholar, and the larger passage parallels part of Uncle Bill's report on yet-another blog entry, but one point is still unclear to me, namely, which one of Grandpa Horace's legs was injured in the accident?
In the larger passage, I learned a few new things, such as the curious fact that my "[Great-]Grandpa Stephens never washed the coffee pot used on fox hunts, believing a cleaning would ruin the coffee flavor." In his favor, I can well imagine that if lye soap were used in the cleaning, the flavor might well be ruined for future coffee-brewing.
I learned as well that I teach like my Grandpa Hodges did, for I'm also strict but with a good sense of humor.
No brag, just fact.
And if any students post comments disputing this unbragged fact, pay no attention to them. That'd be students just misbehaving, and I'll exact appropriate punishment upon the young whippersnappers myself.