Few persons in Butler County, if there are any at all, have the grandfather who lived to be 120 years old.
But such is the case with Earl Stark, Melvin Hodge, Odie Hodge, Alvia Hodge and Arvil Hodge, all of whom line in the Three Rivers area.
Their grandfather, the late Benjamin Hodge, lived 120 years and nine months. He died the morning of Oct. 3, 1933. At the time of his death, he was the, "Methuselah of Missouri."
He settled in the Southeast Missouri area following the Civil War. Funeral services for the pioneer were held at the Mt. Zion Church, near his small farm in the northwest part of Butler county, He is buried in the church cemetery.
He died three weeks after doctors had amputated his left leg in an effort to stop advances of what doctors termed "old age gangrene," which started on his left foot.
Doctors told the family that Mr. Hodge withstood the operation remarkably well and they believed he would recover. He suffered a relapse, however, and attending physicians said they could do nothing to prolong life.
When he was six years old, or about that age, his parents, Aarons and Katherine Hodge, decided to cast their lot in the new country. They took a boat, with Ben and two other children and sailed for America. They landed in New York and made their home there while the father worked on steamships.
After reaching young adulthood, Ben set out on his own. He has been rather successful trading toys and pocket pieces with other boys in his neighborhood, family records say. He also developed a vast knowledge of horses through his work at a livery stable.
After buying a few horses, the young man started west. He bought and sold horses or traded them with farmers as he went. When Mr. Hodge arrived in Illinois, he had more than $100 cash in addition to several horses. He then worked at odd jobs, enjoyed financial success several years.
Mr. Hodge was married three times, and was the father of 19 children. 15 of that number by his third wife
He was married first at age 36 to Marget Webb, near Springfield, Ill. She died two years later, following the birth of their first child, who also died.
Remaining single until 1860, Mr. Hodge married the second time at age 58. His second wife, Mary Stretch, was 15 years old at the time. Three children were born to this union. His wife having died when the third child was born.
Seven months later Mr. Hodge married Margaret Elzia Colony, who at the time was 21 years old while he was 65, She died at ate 60.
During his period between his first and second marriage, Mr. Hodge enlisted in the Civil, War under General Price. His major engagements were fought in the Southeast Missouri and that was the reason he finally located in this section. His second and third wives were natives of Missouri.
For more than half a century Mr. Hodge considered Missouri his home.
Mr. Hodge, at age 100, declared that he could do more work than the average boy of 50.
He cultivated a small farm, built his own home, and id d other necessary work around his farm by himself. He made ties in the woods nearby during the winter. His muscles were firm and his features weather-beaten.
His eyesight was perfect, He never joined a church.
Mr. Hodge once stated: "I think we get all our punishment right here on earth --- and I fell confident that when I die, my troubles will end and I will go to heaven,"
In addition to relatives in the Three Rivers area, Mr. Hodge naturally has a host of descendants throughout the nation.
Newspaper clipping - Two clippings
NOTE: by: Mary Hudson, CC for Butler county Missouri MOGenWeb Project.
After receiving this article, I ask a resident of Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Missouri, to research the newspaper archives in Poplar Bluff, for more on this story. I now have a copy of the story as was printed October 3, 1933. (The date 1933 appears to be correct as the copy is a bit unclear.) I regret I can't copy this newspaper article to this web site. I do not have permission from the Daily American Republic to do so, and it is still within the years of copywrite material. The newspaper copy I have, does back up the material furnished to this site by the grandchild of, Benjamin Hodge. The Photograph in the DAR, is a different photograph than the one sent to me by the grandchild. But, appearances and the log cabin are the same.
The family names appearing in the DAR Obituary are:
- Aaros Hodge, Father
- Katherine Hodge, Mother
- Margaret Webb, First Wife - a child born to this marriage did not live
- Mary Stretch, Second Wife
- Mrs. Debbie Whitener, Daughter - second wife - of Butler co
- Margaret Elzina Colony, Third Wife
- Francis F. Hodge, Daughter - third wife - of Butler co
- Mrs. Effie Garrison, Daughter - third wife - of Butler co
- Mrs. Annie Owens, Daughter - third wife - of St, Louis
Funeral services were held at 2:30 in the afternoon at the Mt. Zion church,
and burial was in that cemetery, Greer service.
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