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Hodges Family Papers

Collection ID: MG 49

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, legal records, genealogical material, photographs, and other documentation of generations of the Hodges family. Although the Hodges line of male descendants ended in 1893, marriages of female descendants have brought the Ainsworth, Armistead, Lindsay, Hook, and Korty families into direct line with the Hodges. Consequently, some of the material contains references to these other families. Most of the collection, however, centers on General John Hodges and two of his sons, Colonel James Gregory Hodges and William Henry Harrison Hodges. Some of the highlights of the collection include Portsmouth during the Civil War, a bill of sale for those enslaved by the family, the list of Confederate prisoners at Camp Hamilton, and copies of photographs of family members. Most of the collection has been digitized and is available in the Old Dominion University Libraries Digital Collections.


  • 1754-1979, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 03/05/1981



2.00 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Hodges family arrived in America in the first half of the seventeenth century. Although early records of the family have been lost, it is evident that they settled in the Tidewater region almost from the beginning. The oldest available document is the will of William Hodges, which was written March 19, 1754. The will indicates that William Hodges was a planter who owned slaves. Of his seven children, the only one to be mentioned in another family document is Captain John Hodges. He married Lydia Thomas July 4, 1760 and died May 12, 1802. One of his sons, William Hodges, married Sally Deans, and one of their children was John Hodges, the first member of the family of whom any considerable record remains. John Hodges was born December 31, 1786 and died July 31, 1855. During the War of 1812 he rose to the rank of Brigadier General of the 9th Brigade of the Virginia Militia. He served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1826, and was a supervisor in Norfolk County for the election of presidential and vice-presidential electors in 1832. In addition to these activities, he served an undetermined number of years as Postmaster of Portsmouth until his resignation in 1840. General Hodges bought a tract of land on the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River, which he called Wildwood. From his farm, he operated a ferry, from which the Hodges Ferry section of Portsmouth derives its name. He also bought land in downtown Portsmouth upon which he built a house that still stands on North Street. Hodges married three times. His first two wives, Ann Carney (d. 1814) and Louise Harrison (d. 1826) both died, Ann childless, and Louise leaving two sons, John H. Hodges and William Henry Harrison Hodges. General Hodges' third marriage, to Jane Adelaide Gregory in 1828, resulted in three children, James Gregory Hodges, Emma Adelaide Hodges, and Margaret Jane Hodges.

No references remain concerning the life of the younger John Hodges, except that he married Eliza F. C. Benn in 1842, a marriage that produced three children. The other two sons, William Henry Harrison and James Gregory, are more fully documented. Their lives speak of both the gallantry and the tragedy of the Civil War. James Gregory Hodges (1828-1863) married Sarah A. F. Wilson August 11, 1852, and had two sons, William Wilson Hodges and John Nelson Hodges. At the age of twenty-nine he served as Portsmouth's first mayor when the city was incorporated in 1858. The outbreak of the Civil War saw him active in the first Tidewater skirmish, which resulted in the burning of the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth. Placed in command of the 14th Virginia Regiment James found himself at Gettysburg in July, 1863. During the famed "Pickett's Charge," in which his regiment participated, James Gregory Hodges was killed.

William Henry Harrison Hodges (1824-1880) married Mary A. Griswold May 13, 1856, and had two daughters, Mary Louisa Hodges and Susan Green Hodges. He built a house on Middle Street across from his father's, still standing today. William survived the war, but he did not escape the tragedy of it. As cashier of the Merchants and Mechanics Savings Bank of Portsmouth, he was supposed to comply with the orders of the Union occupation troops under Major General Benjamin Butler. William was only one of five men in the town who refused to take the loyalty oath to the North, and when he did not obey the order to turn over the bank's money to union control, he was arrested and imprisoned from February 1864 until after the war's end. Through his ordeal he remained steadfast in his conviction that obedience to that order would not have been consistent with honor. William had no sons, James' two sons died childless, and from the lack of evidence it appears that the one son of John Hodges also left no descendants. Therefore, at the death of William Wilson Hodges in 1893, the Hodges' line died out. But the memory of their importance to the Portsmouth community survives.

Language of Materials



Correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical information, scrapbook materials, photographs. Collection primarily focuses on General John Hodges, William H. H. Hodges, and Colonel James Gregory Hodges.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into thirteen series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Legal Documents; Series III: Financial Records; Series IV: Newspaper Clippings; Series V: Military Papers; Series VI: Publications; Series VII: Genealogical Notes; Series VIII: Certificates; Series IX: Scrapbook; Series X: Cards; Series XI: Photographs; Series XII: Miscellany; and Series XIII: Oversize.

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL

Source of Acquisition

Mary Ainsworth Hook

Method of Acquisition


A Guide to the Hodges Family Papers
Kim Snyder
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US