The  "Fashionable" Colorado House
and the family of
Galen & Amelia Luddington Mckinstry Hodges
 



 


This is a view of Matagorda's main street, Fisher Street, as depicted in a lithograph created in the 1850s by Helmuth Holtz, a German artist who visited Matagorda. After returning to Germany, he created the lithograph from memory. Galen Hodges decided to use the lithograph as stationery for the Colorado House even though it is labeled as the "Colonado" House in the lithograph. The Hodges home was next door to the hotel and it appears from viewing the photo below that the Colorado House was actually the building on the corner and the home was labeled as the hotel. The full lithograph is located at the bottom of this page. The Matagorda Post Office now stands on the corner depicted in the lithograph.
 



Colorado House before it was demolished in 1932. What a sad demise for the "Fashionable" Colorado House.
 


Walking down the streets of Matagorda today, it is hard for one to imagine that this small town was once a thriving seaport and summer resort area. A grocery store now stands on the block where a hotel, the "Fashionable" Colorado House, once stood.

This hotel was located on the main street in the middle of town. The owner and proprietor of the hotel, Galen Hodges, had acquired the block on which the hotel stood; and on this block he also owned a private home, a mercantile store, and a drug store. Slave quarters were located in the back of the block.

Mr. Hodges was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 18, 1812, where he taught high school as a young man. He then moved to Georgia in 1834 and on to Alabama, Florida and New Orleans. In New Orleans he learned of Texas' struggle for independence and how men were being recruited for the Texas army. He took passage on the Amelia Chase in March 1837 and landed in Matagorda on April 9, 1837. In a few days he started on foot for the Texas army, which he reached near Texana, and enlisted in the army on April 12, 1837, for twelve months in Captain Weih's Company in Colonel Wigginton's Regiment. When he was discharged, he received a large land grant.

Following this, Mr. Hodges was appointed Collector of Customs by President Sam Houston. Mr. Hodges was married to Amelia Ludington McKinstry on November 24, 1845 at Matagorda. Amelia was the widow of William C. McKinstry whom she married on March 24, 1826 in Catskill, New York. According to family history, Mr. Mckinstry was lost at sea. Mr. and Mrs. Hodges bought their private home from a Mr. McCamly in 1852 and set up residence on this block while operating the Colorado House and other businesses. During the Civil War, Mr. Hodges' losses were heavy, but he did retain his real estate.

The Colorado House was built in the middle 1800s of cypress. The lumber was brought to Matagorda from the East as ballast in ships. The hardware of the hotel was of copper and brass and square-headed nails were used in the hotel's construction.

The hotel had about twenty rooms, fourteen of which were guest rooms upstairs. The furniture was made of mahogany, walnut and cherry, much of which is rare today. The dining chairs were Chippendale Chairs and did not have a nail or screw, but were put together with wooden pegs.

Every room of the hotel had its own private dressing room. Downstairs were two great rooms that were divided and could be joined together by folding the doors back. At times this great hotel was filled to capacity and Mr. and Mrs. Hodges often had to take their personal friends into their own home.

Everything in the Colorado House was of the best and the silver was no exception. The pattern was beautiful and was marked Colorado House on the handle. The hotel also used beautiful candlesticks to hold the many candles in the hotel.

Many famous and important people visited the Colorado House, including General Andrew Jackson who arrived Sunday, May 3, 1857, after the death of his attendant. Many Confederate veterans also visited the Colorado House after the Civil War years. A. B. "Shanghai" Pierce visited the hotel often.

Many large plantation owners brought their families as well as slaves to attend to their needs. The guests brought their own transportation and also traveled to Matagorda by stagecoach which arrived and departed from the hotel. Mail carriers who rode from Austin to Galveston made overnight stops at the Colorado House. Many sailors from the schooners that shipped cotton to and from Matagorda spent the night at the hotel while their ships were in port. Many of these sailors came from the northern states of New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Some came from California and Missouri. The plantation owners came from the Deep South states such as North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Some of the guests came from the foreign countries of England, Germany, Ireland, France and The Netherlands. The fact that Matagorda shipped out cotton brought business to the town.

The rates the guests paid for a room in the 1880s were very different from today's rates. Each meal cost fifty cents and rooms were rented at one dollar a night. If washing was done at the hotel, it cost from twenty-five cents to one dollar depending on the size of the wash. To shoe a horse, the charge was one dollar and to feed the horse, fifty cents.

Four of the registers of the Colorado House are in the possession of Hodges family descendants. The registers show the many different names and signatures of the guests. In some of the registers, the horses names were even entered

The people of Matagorda and the hotel guests enjoyed entertainment throughout the year at the hotel. Many balls were given at Christmas time and the two large downstairs rooms were thrown together to make a large dancing floor. At the end of the great room was a large fireplace over which hung a large mahogany-framed mirror. At Christmas, "Merry Christmas" was written across the mirror. The Colorado House was also the scene of many soirees which were evening parties.

The stationery of the Colorado House was also of superior quality. The artist, Helmuth Holst, that drew the illustration visited Matagorda and then returned to Europe where he drew the scenes of Matagorda from memory. He sent the illustration back to Mr. Hodges and Hodges decided to use it as stationery despite the fact that that the artist misspelled the name of the hotel on the drawing. The artist understood the name to be Colonado House instead of Colorado House.

The Colorado House operated until 1885 and was torn down in 1932 by the Hodges' grandson, Albert H. Wadsworth. It no longer remains, but the memory of the magnificent hotel still remains in the minds of those who were able to see the hotel in their early days.

The Hodges had one daughter, Julia Amelia Hodges, born August 11, 1846, and married William  Bryant Wadsworth in 1882. They had one son, Albert Hodges Wadsworth, born in Matagorda, March 10, 1887. He married Lurline Andrews of Wharton on December 1, 1910.

In 1912 Albert and Lurline Andrews Wadsworth moved to Bay City, where their son, Albert Hodges Wadsworth, Jr., was born October 11, 1916. Lurline was an accomplished musician and for many years organist for St. Mark's Episcopal Church, of which the Wadsworths were longtime members. Albert was active in numerous civic affairs, and in 1934 founded the Bay City Federal Savings and Loan Association, which he served as president until his death on May 21, 1968. He had maintained the one hundred and thirty-year-old family tradition of ranching and agriculture in Matagorda County begun by his grandfather, Galen Hodges, a true leader in Matagorda county, who died May 10, 1884, Victoria, Texas. Amelia preceded him in death on November 22, 1881.

Sources include:

Three interviews with Mrs. A. H. Wadsworth, January 6,1972, February 18, 1972 and February 21, 1972

Hodges Family of New England by Almon D. Hodges, Jr.

Original lithograph of the 1850s used for the stationery

McKinstry information from Ron Ludington and Barbara
 


Sacred to the memory of
Galen Hodges
Born
Sept. 18, 1812
Died
May 10, 1884
An honest man, God's noblest
work rests here.
The kind companion and
the friend sincere.
His ear from suffering
never turned away.
Through all the changes
of life's lengthened day.

 
Sacred to the memory of
Amelia,
the much loved wife of
Galen Hodges,
Born
July 30, 1808
Died
Nov. 22, 1881
Age 72
She was a kind and affectionate
Wife, a fond mother, and friend to all.


INDIANOLA

Tribute of Respect

[Special to The News]

INDIANOLA, May 14. The remains of Mr. Galen Hodges, of Matagorda, was met at the depot last Sunday by the Odd Fellows and Masons and escorted to the T head, where they placed it on board the schooner Sea Gull, bound for Matagorda. Mr. Hodges was on his way to join the Texas veterans at San Antonio, but got no farther than Indianola, where he died.

Galveston Daily News, May 14, 1884
 


Mrs. Galen Hodges

Houston December 13, 1881

In your issue of this date I noticed a communication from Matagorda in which appears the announcement of the death of Mrs. Galen Hodges of that place on the 23d of November last. The deceased deserves more than a passing notice. She came to this state in the early days of the Republic and in common with the pioneers of that time; suffered many privations and inconvenience. She located in Matagorda about the year 1835, and soon after became the widow of a Mister McKinstery. As such she was the proprietress of the Mansion House one of the largest Hotels in the area. She soon became famous for her business management and hospitality and her hotel was always crowded with the elite of the traveling public, the Old Texans nearly all knew her well, and will recall to mind the many pleasant hours spent under her roof. She was again married to Mr. Galen Hodges a man of undeniable energy, much experience and good business qualifications, and together they lived in the town of their adoption for nearly half a century adding greatly to its financial worth and social worth. The deceased was greatly admired by the young people and to her more than any one else in that community indebted for many pleasant pasttimes. In her death the poor will miss her charities, the wealthy her console, society her influence, and the public will generally suffer an irreplaceable loss. None know her but to love her; none named her but to praise. J. P. R.
 


The Last Will and Testament of Amelia Hodges

The State of Texas
County of Matagorda

I, Amelia Hodges, wife of Galen Hodges and a resident of the State and County aforesaid, being desirous to direct the disposition which shall be made of my property after my death, and being at present in good health and as I believe of sound and disposing mind do ordain the following as my last Will and testament.

1st. It do hereby revoke all other wills executed by me of whatever date.

2nd. It is my desire that my Executor as soon after my decease as may be practicable, shall pay all the just and legal claims against my estate.

3rd. I devise and bequeath all my property real personal a mixed that my remain after the payment of my debts, to my beloved husband, Galen Hodges, and by, all my property I mean not only such property as I may have in possession at the time of my decrease, but also all my rights of action and everything, whether in reversion or expectancy, which I may lawfully devise and bequeath.

4th. I appoint my beloved husband Galen Hodges to be the Executor of my will.

5th. It is my desire that the County Court shall have no further control or jurisdiction over my estate after my decease than to require my executor to probate this my will, and to file an Inventory of my Estate, as is required by the Act of 1848, regulating the estates of deceased persons.

6th. It is my desire that my executor shall not be required to execute any bond or to give any security whatever for the just administration and management of my estate. I wish him immediately after my decease to take possession of my property of every description, and after probating & registering my will and filing an Inventory of my estate. I wish him to proceed to pay all just and legal demands against my estate, and after all such demands are paid, I wish him to retain all the residue of my property under the third clause of this Will, by which it is devised and bequeathed to him.

7th. To prevent any misunderstanding of what my Will is and to rebut any supposition that I have failed in this instrument to make provision for any person through negligence or inadvertence. I hereby declare that the foregoing provisions or clauses express my whole Will as to the disposition of my property after any decrease.

In testimony whereof I hereto sign my name and affix my seal in the presence of two witnesses, this fourteenth day of August Anno. Domini. Eighteen hundred and fifty six.

Amelia Hodges

Witnesses
James H. Bell
Wm. Russell

I Amelia Hodges being of sound and disposing mind and memory and being anxious to have every part and portion and bequest of the foregoing Will carried out do now on account of the death of one of the subscribing witnesses and the great distance of the residence of the other make this Codicil to the foregoing Will as a part thereof whereby I fully confirm the bequest of all of my estate of every kind real personal and mixed, whether in possession or expectancy to my beloved husband Galen Hodges, and my said Husband is to be sole executor as provided for in my original Will and is to administer my estate fee and independent of the control of all Courts and without bond or security in all respects as in my original Will.

On this 29th day of January, one thousand eight hundred and seventy eight, I said Amelia Hodges do sign and execute this Codicil to my original Will as a substantial part thereof in presence of witnesses.

Amelia Hodges

Signed in our presence who sign the same subscribing
Witnesses in presence of testator and in each other’s presence

Wm. E. Austin
Chas. S. Austin

Filed 1st day of December 1881
Recorded January 19th 1882

Wm. E. Austin, Clerk C. C. M. C.
 


Another Veteran Gone

[To The News.]

There is a time to die," so the preacher saith,
And I gently call thee now, said death.

MATAGORDA, May 14, 1884.--A general feeling of gloom and depression pervades our quiet but appreciative community, occasioned by the irreparable loss it has sustained in the death of Galen Hodges, an old and highly respected citizen and a Texas veteran. He died in Victoria, Tex., on the 10th instant, after a lingering illness, and at the time was en route (in company with his old comrade Uncle John Plunkett, a San Jacinto veteran,) to the annual reunion of veterans at Paris, Tex., when he was stricken down. The Masons and Odd Fellows of Indianola escorted his remains from the railroad depot at Indianola to the vessel which conveyed them home, and here they were met at the landing by a large concourse of people of all classes, and were again taken in charge by the local Odd Fellows and escorted to his residence. His funeral procession was the largest here since the war, and was a striking evidence of the esteem in which he was held. Deceased had attained to the ripe old age of seventy-one, and had resided here continuously for the past forty-six years, but was born in the State of Rhode Island. Truly an old landmark is gone. His business here was merchandising, but he was the well-known and ever popular proprietor of the Old Colorado house. Mr. Hodges, by his industry and strict integrity, had amassed quite a large fortune, which he leaves to an only child, a daughter, and the wife of our worthy fellow citizen William B. Wadsworth, who will continue the business. Mr. Hodges was our postmaster, chairman of the County Democratic executive committee and treasurer of Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge. His place among us will be difficult to fill. The most suggestive and appropriate epitaph upon his tomb, even in coming generations, would be simply Galen Hodges.

John L. Croom, Jr.

Galveston Daily News, May 19, 1884
 


The Last Will and Testament of Galen Hodges

The State of Texas
County of Matagorda

I, Galen Hodges, a resident of the State and County aforesaid, being desirous to direct the disposition to be made of my property, after my decrease, and being at present in good health and as I believe of sound and disposing mind do ordain the following to be my last Will & Testament.

First. I do hereby revoke all former Wills executed by me of whatever date.

Second. It is my desire that all just and legal claims against any estate shall be paid by my Executrix as soon after my decease as may be practicable.

Third. I devise and bequeath all my property real personal and mixed to my beloved daughter, Mrs. Julia Amelia Wadsworth the wife of Wm. B. Wadsworth, and by all my property, I mean not only what I may have in possession at the time of my death but also all rights of action and every thing whether in expectancy or in reversion which may lawfully be devised and bequeathed by my last Will.

Fourth. I appoint my beloved daughter Mrs. Julia Amelia Wadsworth to be the executrix of this my Will.

Fifth. It is my desire that the County Court or Probate Court shall have no further control or jurisdiction over my estate after my decease, then to require my Executrix to Probate my Will and file an Inventory of my property, as is required by the State regulating the estates of deceased persons.

Sixth. It is my desire that my Executrix shall not be required to execute any bond—or to give any security whatever for the first and proper administration and management of my estate. It is my wish that she shall take immediate possession of my property after my decease and she shall after probating my Will and filing an Inventory of my Estate proceed to pay all just and legal demands against my estate and after all such demands are paid, I wish her to retain possession of all the residue of my property under the third clause of this will, by which it is devised and bequeathed to her.

Seventh. To present any misunderstanding about what my Will really is—and to rebut any supposition that I had failed in this Will to make provision for any person through neglect or inadvertence, I hereby declare that the foregoing provisions or clauses express my whole Will.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and scroll seal in the presence of two witnesses this 9th day of August One thousand eight hundred eighty two.

Galen Hodges

Witnesses
J. S. Selkirk
W. S. Stewart

Filed 5th day of June A. D. 1884
Recorded August 6th A. D. 1884

Wm. E. Austin, Clerk Co. Ct. M. Co.
By Geo. Austin, Deputy
 


ARRIVALS AT THE COLORADO HOUSE

[Date unknown, possibly 1858]

Richard Reney, New Orleans

James Harper, Caney

Benj. Seaborn, Jr., Caney

Maj. G. J. Bowie, Caney

Mrs. Handly and daughter, Wharton County

J. E. Hooper, Wharton County

Geo. Cheesman, Payton's Creek

Wm. Elliott, Colorado [River near present day Bay City]

Moses Vandorn, Liveoak Creek

Miss Lydia Vandorn and sister, Live Oak Creek

P. C. Evans, Caney

C. A. Hill, Caney

Mrs. Dr. Sewson, Caney

A. W. Thompson, Caney

Col. J. L. Thorp and servant, Caney

J. W. Granger, Caney

Capt. Fish, Schooner Mystic, New York

Mrs. Sheppard, Caney

Miss Narcissa Pledger, Caney

S. W. Hardeman, Caney

Wm. B. Turner, Mobile

Mrs. Goldsmith, Wharton County

 


At Colorado House Ball Fair Ladies Float Like Zephyrs

The Matagorda Gazette, July 11, 1860--The 4th gave an impetus to things about town, which was quite pleasant and refreshing.

Our people wore unusually smiling faces, and gave early evidences that they were mindful of the glorious day, by throwing their country's ensign to the breeze, and marching to the martial step of exhilarating music through streets. Some of the little boys were "gotten up for the occasion," being dressed in quite unique costumes, and trained to perform some wonderful gyrations of the features and body. The little fellows showed that the spark of patriotism had already been kindled in their young bosoms, and that they gloried in imitating the examples of their forefathers. Having no artillery, the loudest possible noise was made with pistols, crackers, &c., which was kept up pretty much all day. In the evening, the boys were joined by several old citizens, and a grand parade was had, after which the crowd adjourned to make ready for the ball and theatre.

We understand that the theatricals passed off with great éclat; songs appropriate to the occasion were sang; together with the usual interesting performances.

But the greatest event of the day was the ball given at the Colorado House. By ten o'clock a large number of "fair women and brave men," were on the floor, and the brilliantly lighted rooms reflected a scene of joy and conviviality worthy of the "longago" reputation of the place. Among the ladies we noticed an unusual number of strange faces, but like our own townsladies, they were beautiful and moved in the mazy whirl like zephyrs o'er the rosy bowers of elysian fields. The men were attentive and gallant, and no effort was spared on their part to make the hours fly pleasantly.

About 1 o'clock the happy throng repaired to the spacious dining room of "mine host," where everything to regale and refresh the company was spread out upon a table that extended the entire length of the building, and seemed to smile under its load of good fence.

Reprinted in the 100th Anniversary Edition of the Matagorda County Tribune, August 23, 1945
 


Improving Matagorda Hotel

Matagorda, Texas, Sept. 17.--A. H. Wadsworth is having all the plastering removed and replaced with ceiling in the building on Main street occupied by his parents in their lifetime.

This building is one  of Matagorda's land marks, being built in 1849 for a hotel, and was known as the Colorado House and Mr. Wadsworth is using it for the same purpose, the new proprietor being James H. Inglehart. This building is a long two story structure with two north and two south galleries extending the full length of the building, giving a fine view of the bay on the south. There are twelve bed rooms, parlor, kitchen, hallways, etc., and the public halls this long felt want with pleasure.--Matagorda Cor., Houston Post.

Matagorda County Tribune, September 22, 1911
 


Ludington Family History
 

 


 

Copyright 2007 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Apr. 20, 2007
Updated
May 30, 2014
   

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