Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hodge Country

I came away from Marion, Kentucky, with the feeling that I'm related to just about everybody there. The Hodge family was one of the first to settle in Crittenden County and the Hodge descendants in the area are numerous. As I mentioned before, brothers Robert and William (my gggg-grandfather) owned considerable land along Claylick Creek. That land is unbelievably gorgeous with rolling hills that are lush and green after all the recent rains. Claylick Creek itself is crystal clear. I almost found out the temperature when my foot slipped and I came very near taking a dip in the family holy water.

I got to visit quite a few of the landmarks that have figured so prominently in my Hodge notebooks all these years. (I did not realize that I would come across a Hodge road sign.) The picture below is of the Emmaus Church, where ggg-grandfather John A. Hodge, a Baptist minister, conducted services once upon a time. I'm sorry to have to admit that this Baptist preacher's kid had totally forgotten where the name Emmaus came from until Lana reminded me that Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. We found out that Kentuckians have their own way of pronouncing things and that the local pronunciation is not "e-may-us", but rather "em-us".

I made a point to get a photo of the "Road to Emmaus".

Alongside a road in Crittenden County (or maybe we were in Livingston County; the Hodge family lived where Livingston, Crittenden, Caldwell and Lyon counties come together) we visited the Hodge Cave where William's brother Robert stored vegetables in the cool dark recesses.

It's always a funny feeling for me when I visit the graves of my direct ancestors in other states. Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting the grave of gggg-grandfather Felix Huddleston in Arkansas. Two years ago in Illinois and Indiana I stood at the graves of gg-grandparents Parker and Lucy Wilcoxen, gg-grandparents Anderson and Elizabeth Dunavan, ggg-grandparents John and Frances Dunavan and ggg-grandparents David and Dorothy Beauchamp. This year in Alabama I visited ggg-grandparents Samuel and Barbara Lentz and gggg-grandparents Henry and Sevilla Lentz while in Lentzville. And in Kentucky, I visited Union Church Cemetery, where ggg-grandfather, Rev. John A. Hodge, and gggg-grandparents Elisha and Frances Reese are buried. When I visit the graves of my direct ancestors, I always have the feeling that they are standing there with me and are pleased that I made the journey to pay my respects.

John's grave is the white stone in the foreground. The two darker stones in the background that are on either side of the tip of his stone are those belonging to Elisha and Frances Reese.

Here I am at John's grave.

And here I stand between Elisha (on my right) and Frances (on my left).

Also buried at Union Church Cemetery are two daughters of gg-grandfather Henry Hodge and his first wife Ailcey Bell. The stone for Laura, who died at the age of 16, is still present, but the stone for Emma, who died at age 2 has disappeared, possibly due to vandals and possibly due just to the passage of time. I feel a certain responsibility to Laura, Emma and to their half-sister Molly, buried in Texas, to keep their memories alive. These three little girls may just be names and dates in cemetery registries to some, but they are my great-grandaunts and should not be forgotten. Only two of Henry's five children achieved adulthood and only one of them lived beyond their twenties.

I have seen and stood at these graves and felt the acceptance of my ancestors. I am a Hodge.


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