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Frank Hodges' Link to the Ewings

Frank Leroy Hodges II (+1 805.227.6889, pasotaco2 at charter dot net)

I have long been seeking the ancestry of two brothers, William Brown Hodges and Thomas Jefferson Hodges, the latter being my great-grandfather.

Recently, I read the Smith-family article[1] in a previous issue of the Journal, and my heart stopped. The article concerns the possibility that a Dr. Whitley T. Ewing may have been the father of a William R. Smith. I looked at the time line for Dr. Ewing and was amazed to see that he was living in the area of Thomas Jefferson Hodges' and William Brown Hodges' births within the timeframe of these births. This made me wonder whether there could have been a similar participation by Dr. Ewing in my heritage.

Sixteen years ago, all I knew was that I was named after my paternal grandfather, Frank Leroy Hodges. All this time I have been a Hodges. It is a good name, and I have done it proud, the first of my family to get a college degree. I make a good living as a Stationary Engineer working for the State of California, with a loving wife and children. I will always be a Hodges in name and heart. But ... Might I be a Ewing as well?

This article traces my attempt to pursue this possibility. Part 1 details the descendancy of William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges. Part 2 explains the very scarce data I have found regarding William's and Thomas' ancestry. Part 3 discusses what I have learned from David Neal Ewing, Administrator of the Ewing Surname Y-DNA Project, about a possible Ewing heritage based on my Y-DNA test and a Y-DNA test of Tennis Smith, a son of William R. Smith.

Part 1: William Brown Hodges, Thomas Jefferson Hodges and Their Descendants

William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges were, I believe, born in Pike County, Illinois. Based on death records, we have always assumed that they were born in or near Perry, Pike County, Illinois. However, recent finds by Duane Harvey Hodges[2] leads me to believe that Thomas was born November 9, 1847, near New Hartford, Illinois.[3] That was near Martensburg, Illinois. William was born in 1845 and, again, I assume this was in Perry, Illinois. However, I have been unable to find them in the 1850 or 1860 census for Perry or surrounding townships.

Both William and Thomas served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Military records include: Thomas J. Hodge (note the dropped 's'), Private, 99th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and William B. Hodges, Private, Missouri 7th Cavalry.[4]

The first census location for either was for Thomas Jefferson Hodges, enumerated in Perry Township, Pike County, Illinois, on July 4, 1870. He was a farm hand working on the farm of William Triplett and Harriett Bentley. A month later — August 17, 1870 — he married William's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Triplett (Thomas was recorded as Thos J. Hodges). They had three children born in the Perry area: Harvey (who never married), Frank Leroy (my grandfather), and Nellie (who never married).

At some point before the 1880 census, the family went west and ran out of money in Cherryvale, Drum Creek Township, Montgomery County, Kansas, where a daughter, Jessie Anna (James Elwood Stout's grandmother) was born. Within a couple of years, the family returned to the Perry, Illinois, area where three more children were born: John Leo (who married a widow with children), Edward Bailey (Duane Harvey Hodges' father), and Delbert (who died young).

Frank Leroy Hodges was born January 1, 1877, and married Anna May Easley on May 23, 1923. They were both printers. Anna was a published poet. They had two children: Ruth Mary (who married Albert Thomas Viar) and James Thomas (my father, who was born August 30, 1930, in Bayliss, Illinois). James was a 1949 graduate of Barry High School in Barry, Illinois. He joined the Navy shortly thereafter. One of his duty stations was aboard the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Rochester during the Inchon, Korea, invasion.

James Thomas Hodges married Teresa H. Whitaker on February 5, 1954. Teresa had a son — Henry Thomas — from a previous marriage. They had six more children: Frank Leroy II (me), Anna E., Frances R., Shirley K., George A., and Sharna A. I have a son named Marvin James after his two grandfathers. He is currently the last male of the Thomas J. Hodges line.

Edward Bailey Hodges married Grace Maudlin. They had one child, Duane Harvey Hodges, who is my Illinois, on-the-ground, fellow researcher.

William Brown Hodges was born June 16, 1845 (again, I assume in Perry, Illinois). The earliest census record I have been able to find for him is in 1880 in Griggsville, Illinois, living in the home of Julia Frances Hodges Hanlin (another reason to believe the two families are closely related). He next appears in the 1885 Iowa State Census residing in a Steele residence as a boarder. Note, however, that William B. married Anna Elsie Nickel on March 31, 1881. They resided in St. Charles, Madison County, Iowa. They had nine children: Flora M., Clark W., Zina E., Suzanna L., Elsie P., Bailey Ross (Danny Hodges' grandfather), William B. Jr., John W. (who has descendants in eastern Iowa), and Frank G. (his son, Frank G. Jr., now lives in Escondido, California).

Bailey Ross Hodges married Myrtle Thacker. They had eight children: Bernice (Russell Young's mother, who lived in Des Moines, Iowa, and recently passed), Ross (who was killed in action in the Battle of the Bulge), Burel (who was also killed in action in the Battle of the Bulge), Betty (who is still with us), Robert (who died in Orange, Texas), Richard (Danny Hodges' father), Ralph (who is still with us and living in Ohio with his son Russ) and Buela.

Part 2: Possible Ancestry of William Brown Hodges and Thomas Jefferson Hodges

In the first part, I have detailed the families of the brothers William Brown Hodges and Thomas Jefferson Hodges. U.S. Census records show the whereabouts of each family in each of the census years between 1870 and 1930. I have found references to the families of both brothers in these census records. I have also found many clues as to the parents of the brothers, including their death records. For example, the Polk County, Iowa, death record for William Brown Hodges shows the statement 'Son of John and Rachael Hodges'. Once I found this clue, I searched the marriage records in the Illinois archives. I found a reference to a marriage of John B. and Rachael Hodges. The marriage was performed by a Justice of the Peace in Adams County, Illinois, on August 28, 1842. No maiden name is given for Rachael. There is also no reference to the parents of either. This lack of records led me to search any and all records available for any Hodges families in the Pike County, Illinois, area. I found no further information.

I did find a census record from 1850 in the California gold camp of John B. Hodges (who was born in Tennessee) along with others from Illinois. This seems to support the family lore that William's and Thomas' father left them in Illinois with another family and traveled west to the gold fields, never to return, and thus that the children were 'orphaned' at a tender age. All of the federal census records I have for both men state that their father was born in Tennessee.

The birth records of the brothers, William and Thomas Hodges, as well as their descendants are a matter of public and private record. Who their parents were is not so clear. Aside from the clues noted above, there are some interesting possibilities which surfaced during my research.

I located another family from Pike County, Illinois, that deserved some further research. This is the family of William A. (born 1826) and Rebecca (Elledge) Hodges in Griggsville, Pike County, Illinois. William A. Hodges was the son of John Murphy Hodges — a cousin of Amos and Mary (Scott) Hodges — and Polly Clanton. They had five children, Catherine, Mary, John William, Uriah and Julia Frances.

My interest in the William A. and Rebecca (Elledge) Hodges family waned when I could not tie him to William and Thomas. I moved on until I received a picture from Duane Harvey Hodges, my father’s cousin. There were seven people in the picture, four of whom were identified on the reverse by Grace (Maudlin) Hodges (Duane’s mother). In this picture (to the right): Thomas J. is seated front row right; William B. is standing back row left; standing behind Thomas is Julia Hanlin and her brother, cousins of Thomas and William. I believe: the man in the wheel chair is William A. Hodges; the woman seated to his right (front row left) is Rebecca (Elledge) Hodges; and the woman standing to William's left (in the back row) is his wife Anna Elsie (Nickel) Hodges.



I dug deeper and found that Julia F. Hanlin was none other than Julia Frances Hodges, daughter of William A. and Rebecca Hodges. So I started thinking: What would make Julia and her brother be cousins of William B. and Thomas J.? The answer is obvious, but I could not prove it at the time. Her father would have to be the brother of William and Thomas' father. So, I’m 'headed to China' now! I dug deeper. I still could not tie John M. Hodges to William and Thomas. He was too old; he was born in 1790 (1784?). Further, he was born in Virginia whereas the census records for William and Thomas state that their father was born in Tennessee.

Duane Harvey Hodges ordered up the military records for William A. Hodges. We had found some interesting information in both William B.'s and Thomas’ military records and hoped that William A.'s record would be a similarly valuable source. The records for William A. Hodges were very extensive and included multiple pages documenting a Government investigation, in 1885, into his request for a disability pension. During William A.’s service he was tasked to stand watch at a bridge one cold and rainy night. As a result, he contracted an infection in his lungs, which became quite debilitating and resulted in his separation from the service. He was sent home and applied for the disability pension. The Government interviewed many people to establish his eligibility for this pension. I came across one interview within those records that stilled my heart. The individual deposed in the interview was Thomas C. Hodges, aged fifty-six. Thomas identified himself as the brother of William A. He would therefore have been born in around 1829 or 1830.

I returned to my research again. This time I was looking for records of Thomas C. Hodges. What I found was that Thomas C. Hodges was the youngest son of John Murphy and Frances 'Fannie' (Triplett) Hodges. John and Fannie had four sons. They were John, Rolland, William J., and Thomas C.  I started to believe that this son John was the father of William B. and Thomas J.  All I had to do was prove it.

I concentrated my research on these five sons of John Murphy Hodges. I have located only one male line coming from these five men: Uriah Hodges, son of William A. and Rebecca Hodges.

Uriah Hodges married Jennie K. Baldwin. Their son was Scott Adams Hodges who married Illma Durr. Scott died in Arvin, California — near Bakersfield, California — in 1958. They had three children: Scott Adams Jr., Donald Durr, and Helen, all born in Los Angeles, California.

[This article now concerns people who are still living and could include information that should be private, so I will tread softly.]

I have searched the California Birth and Marriage index databases and found the following information: Donald Durr Hodges married Marjorie Payne. They had several children, one of which is David Lewis Hodges. I made contact with David’s sister, who lives close by. She would not discuss her family with me and asked that I not contact her again. I will honor her wishes. Her parents divorced in 1968. Donald Durr Hodges died in 1976 in Riverside, California.

So, that is where I am at this point. If I can locate David Lewis Hodges, I will attempt to convince him to participate in the Hodges Surname Y-DNA Project. I believe that this will prove the tie of William A. Hodges to William B. and Thomas J. Hodges' parents, John and Rachael Hodges.

I have yet to pin down the ancestors of John Murphy Hodges. I am not certain of his lineage, as there is a discrepancy in his birth year. My research to date has not produced a clear picture of his lineage. And I do not have a knack for interpreting the earlier census records.

Part 3: The Meaning of the Y-DNA Evidence

From David Neal Ewing's analysis of my Y-DNA test results with respect to the results for Tennis Smith, I found that, along with some other differences, we differ at the important DYS 391 marker that puts me (FLH) in Group 1 and Tennis Smith (TNS) in Group 2. Therefore, while it is not impossible that a Ewing in the Group 2 line fathered William Brown Hodges and Thomas Jefferson Hodges, the Y-DNA evidence suggests that this is highly unlikely.

I also learned that, based strictly on the Y-DNA evidence, the Ewing project participant that is most likely to be related to me is WE3 in Group 1d. The oldest known ancestor of this group is Joshua Ewing (born October 25, 1793, in Kentucky). His son, William E. Ewing (1824-1877) who was WE3's great-grandfather, was born in Arkansas; WE3's grandfather was born in Louisiana; and WE3's father was born in Texas. That does not sound too helpful, but William E. Ewing was born in 1824 and married in 1859 at age thirty-five. He would have been old enough to father William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges long before he married in Louisiana. Indeed, he could easily have been married before and a divorce or death of his first wife might explain why William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges were adopted. This suggests that I should try to track William E. Ewing's travels. Joshua had two other sons, but it's most probable that they did not have the marker that I and WE3 share (DYS 464d = 16). Joshua's son, Elijah Gray Ewing (1820-1877), was born in Arkansas, but all of Elijah's descendants down to two other Group 1d men were in Louisiana. Joshua had a third son, John Ewing (1835-1862), who does not seem to be a good candidate for the father of William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges because he would have been too young.

A completely different line that might be considered is that of MA in Group 1a. The Y-DNA evidence here is a little weaker, because it depends on CDYb = 39 and the CDY markers are notorious for parallel mutations that can confuse things. Still, I am only genetic distance one from MA. Just looking at MA's lineage on the web site, it looks like the right generation to have fathered William Brown and Thomas Jefferson Hodges was probably born in Frederick County, Virginia, but this whole tribe seems to have moved to Ohio, and lots of Ohio folks went on to Illinois in this time frame.

Frank Leroy Hodges II was born in San Diego, California, and currently resides in Paso Robles, California. He is married with two children. He is an avid bowler and golfer as well as the family genealogist. He is currently employed by the State of California as a Stationary Engineer. His interest in family history has led him along a winding and convoluted path through the peaks and valleys of genealogical research. Throughout his genealogy research, he has remained steadfastly hopeful that the mystery of his family's ancestral origins will be revealed. Should you have any information that will help with his research, please feel free to contact him at 223 Oak Meadow Lane, Paso Robles, California 93446, +1 805.227.6889 or +1 805.712.8185, or pasotaco2 at charter dot net.


[1] Smith, William R. A Family Story, J. Clan Ewing, Vol. 14, No. 3 (August 2008), pp. 17-19. Available online at

[2] He is my father's cousin and a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson Hodges, and, by extension of my Y-DNA matches, joins Danny Hodges as a possible Ewing.

[3] From a Pike County cemetery book in what appears to be an obituary. Harvey has the specifics about the book's title and author.

[4] I have copies of these military records.