Photograph of home of GW Hodges published with the article transcribed below.
Data Description:Newpaper Article - Hodges, SC
Submitter: Jimmy Rosamond
Date Posted:21 July 2001
THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1928
THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1928
No Policemen Walk Streets OF HODGES And Jail Doors Yawn ONCE NOTORIOUS COMMUNITY NOW MODEL OF PEACEFULNESS AND "BEST PLACE IN WORLD" Only One Man Among Three Hundred and Fifty Inhabitants Ever Gets Drunk- People Threaten to Rehabilitate Bastile In Order to Take Care of Visiting Automobilists From North Carolina and Georgia - Story of Girl Who Was Forced to Wed Indian Who Killed Her Sisters. BY MARGARET WRIGHT. HODGES, S. C., is a town without telephones. It hasn't had them in 12 years. Hodges scores unique distinction on two other counts. It hasn't had a policeman in 12 years. Out of its 350 inhabitants only one man ever gets drunk and he doesn't do it more than three times a year. Which is a record for a town once notorious for its many saloons, and dreaded from one end of the state to the other for its lawless drunkenness. WORST PLACE IN WORLD. "Once the worst place in the world, it's now the best place in the world," declares W. H. Emerson, 75 years of age, and its oldest inhabitant, who has been living there for 53 years and has seen it grow from a terror-spreading community into the most placid and peaceful of little towns. Nothing ever disturbs the village peace. A burglary has been unheard of for years. Drunkenness is a thing of the past. The only disturbance recorded in years was a street fight between two negroes, one of whom fled the community as soon as the mayor intervened. "Just move up here a little farther," said S. L. Brissie, the mayor, to the reporter who sat parked in a Ford in front of the Southern passenger station, "and you can see our calaboose there behind the station. Its door is all off the hinges, and you could throw a calf through the hole in the roof. We've been threatening, several times this year, to fix it up," he apologized. "But why fix it up if you don't ever need it?" he was asked. "Well," he drawled, with a twinkle in his eye, "somebody from Georgia or North Carolian might come through and disturb the peace, and we'd just like to be ready and have a place to put him." LEARN TO DO WITHOUT. "What about this no-telephone situation, though--just exactly why haven't you got them and how do you manage to get along without them--for instance in case of illness and the immediate need for a doctor?" "Well," he reflected, "we've just got used to doing without them--you know how it is when you get used to anything. "Not having any telephone worries everybody else worse that it does us," he said with dry humor. "Travelers passing through," he continued, "sometimes stop at a store to use a telephone and when they are told there isn't one here they exclaim, "What! No telephone, Surely this must be the only town in the Unitd States without a telephone." "Several years ago when there were two banks here, one of the men in town was visiting at a mountain resort and someone asked him where was his home and when he said "Hodges, about nine miles from Greenwood," the other fellow said, "Oh yes, I recall it--the little town with two banks and no telephones." "We used to have telephones here about 12 or 15 years ago. There were about 30 in the town and surrounding country, but the Piedmont and Northern (electrical) railway was what killed the line here. The wires of the trolley crossed over the telephone wires and ruined the connection. Every time you picked up the receiver you could hear trains shifting in adjoining towns, but you couldn't hear the person you were trying to talk to. The telephone exchange was owned and controlled from Due West and the owner didn't want to go to the expense of putting the wires underground, so he just let it fall through." "After that, " said Mrs. J. W. Cobb, who has been station agent at the Piedmont and Northern for four years, "a telephone line was built here for Mr. Will Anderson, rural policeman, who was stationed here, but he was sent to Augusta and since then there hasn't been either a policeman or a telephone in the town. That was bout 12 years ago." RAILROAD TELEPHONE. There is a telephone, entirely beyond control of the town, in the Piedmont and Northern station and owned by P. and N. officials. This, however, is not available for general use to the town and might just as well be miles way as far as casual convenience goes. In case, though, of extreme illness or death, and help is needed from another city and time is not taken, as is usually the case there, to get in a car and go for it, Mrs. Cobb will call from this phone to the P. and N. station agent in Greenwood, the nearest city, and ask him to get in touch with the doctor or undertaker, as the case may be, and deliver the urgent S. O. S. call from Hodges, Other that this telephone, which is not the town's, there is absolutely no telephonic communicatior with the outside world from Hodges, an otherwise up-to-date, beautiful and prosperous a small town as can be found in all of South Carolina. There is much wealth there as is evidenced by the number of handsome homes and the luxurious automobiles of its citizens, It has 12 stores, one bank, one modern brick schoolhouse, three churches, two hotels--and radios! But no telephones. Two main railways, the Southern and the Piedmont and Northern, pass through it, and a paved national highway skirts its border. Its sons and daughters go away to college and come back either to have fashionable weddings or to pay a brief visit before setting forth on some other worthy career. And they do it all without telephones in the old home town. The consensus of opinion among a number of its leading citizens interviewed on the subject of why Hodges citizens continue to dwell contentedly without telephones is" They have gotten used to doing without them and nobody wants to be bothered with the trouble and expense of having a line built, or the nuisance of answering phones calls. Whenever they want anything, from making a date to calling an undertaker, they just step in their Cadillacs or Fords and go see about it in person instead of depending on wire connection. PARADISE OF PEACE. To the frenzied city dweller whose nerves are on edge with the constant jangle of an insistent telephone bell, Hodges seems like a paradise of peaceful quietude. And just as that phrase "peaceful quietude" is written, one who recalls "the good old days," which were the bad old days in Hodges, says that its peacefulness of today is in sharp contrast to what it once was. "I remember as a child," she says, "that I used to be afraid to pass through Hodges on account of the drunken men reeling up and down the street." "There was a time," said Mr. Emerson, who has been in the mercantile business there for half a century, "when there were five saloons to four stores here. I've seen farmers, time and again, too poor to buy groceries in cash, give a lien on their crops in order to buy food which they would immediately take to a saloon and exchange for whiskey." The saloons were voted out years ago. This first step toward prohibition was the beginning of the present-day peace and prosperity of the jailless, policeman-less village of Hodges, which thrives undisturbed over its lack of telephones. "Is there anything else unusual about your town?" the mayor was asked. He thought a minute and answered with unconscious seriousness: "Well, we've got a pretty good cemetery. They come here to bury from everywhere. Everybody that ever has lived in Hodges comes back here to bury their dead. You see, our cemetery is well-kept. It has a good iron fence around it--and land is cheap," he explained. Hodges--a haven of peace for the living and the dead. To the question--how did Hodges originate and where did it get its name-- comes an answer that carries with it a story as colorful and thrilling as melodrama with a romance scarcely paralleled in American history. An authenic record is given in the following sketch written in 1876 and taken from the family history of the grandson of General George Washington Hodges, for whom the town is named--B. S. Hodges, who resides there in the ancestral home of the Hodges family, built by General Hodges over a hundred years ago: SOME FAMILY HISTORY. "George Washington Hodges, one of the oldest and most respectable citizens of Abbeville county, died at his late residence in the town of Hodges on Friday night last (1876) after an illness of two days, at the advanced age of 84 years, and as his career has been an eventful one, we append some sketches or incidents connected with his life which we doubt not will be read with much interest: "Gen. Hodges' grandfather, of Culpepper, and his grandmother, of Richmond, Va., were married and emigrated to this country prior to the Revolution and settled near where the town of Hodges now stands. They were the first settlers of that vicinity, where they bought a tract of land, a portion of the English grant to Salvador, the Jew, which had been sold to Rapley, an Englishman, and comprised perhaps one-fourth of the land in Abbeville county, and was for a great many years known as "The Jew's Land." "During the Revolutionary war, General Hodges' father, John Hodges, who held the commission of major in the army of the Revolution, and the general's grandfather were actively engaged in the war against the tories and the redmen. On one occasion the grandfather was at home on leave of absence, when the fact was ascertained by the Indians, who came to this house unexpectedly, shot the furloughed soldier dead in the presence of his family, tied the ladies, his daughters, some four in number, preparatory to burning them and the house, when the Indian chief, who was with the murderous gang, became enamored of the beauty of one of the sisters, Dorothy, and proposed to her that if she would become his wife her life should be saved. "Her condition then might not be easily imagined. Here she was in the hands of the murderers of her father, in the presence of his lifeless body, tied with her sisters in the house which was soon to be enveloped with the consuming element. Her only rescue from the impending doom was to swear that she would ever love, cherish and obey, and keep in sickness and health a natural enemy and the murderer of her father and sisters. The exultation of the demoniac fiends over the grief and heartrending exclamations of these defenseless and distressed creatures was beyond description. Finally, when this young lady, more beautiful than the rest, was forced to a choice, she reluctantly consented to be the wife of the Indian chief, and was loosed from the cords which bound her limbs, to be the more firmly bound soul and body by a solemn oath to the leader of these cruel assassins. Being removed from the dwelling she was rescued from the flames whilst the torch was applied to the house, and her sisters perished in her presence whilst the war dance and the song kept up the fiendish carnival. UNWILLING BRIDE. "Dorothy was perhaps the most unhappy and the most unwilling bride upon whom the genial sunlight of South Carolina had ever fallen. "She was carried west with the retreating foe of the white man, as the whites gained supremacy, and as the days, weeks and months passed she was farther removed from the pale of civilization. In the meantime, however, her husband loved her with a devotion not characteristic of the Indian. The chief was proud of and rejoiced in the possession of his beautiful "pale faced wife." His love for her and his association with her had a wonderfully refining influence over the red man. At the birth of their son his affection seemed warmer than before. If Dorothy had not learned to love her husband this child was loved by the mother as only mothers can love. Away from the presence or association of a white person, it seemed that her whole soul concentrated in her babe, and the love of father and mother met in the infant boy, and they held sweet communion with each other as to their child. "Years passed by and the Indian was as kind as one of his nature could be, and she had almost become reconciled to her fate. "After the war had smoothed his wrinkled front" Dorothy expressed to her husband a desire to see her friends and relatives in Carolina, and her husband, having unbounded confidence in her loyalty now, arrangements were soon completed for a visit to her old home. They were then living in Alabama. The Indian chief, accompanied by Dorothy and her child, set out on the journey. When the husband had come to the borders of the state, as far as it was safe at that time for him to come, pledging anew their faith and love for each other, and after making arrangements as to when he should meet her at the same place, on her return, they separated. "Little did either think that this was their final separation, but it was even so. At the time in this country there was but little facility for the conveyance of letters anywhere, but especially was this true as regards communication between this place and the territory occupied by the unfriendly Indian. As a consequence no word had been heard from her since her capture years before, and her friends had mourned for her as for the dead. "Very unexpectedly to everybody she returned to Cokesbury, and her friends greatly rejoiced. At the meetiing of her relatives tears of joy were shed and the father of General Hodges gave a grand feast to which all the relatives and neighbors were invited, and they assembled in joy to greet the long lost friend and relative. "Once more in the bosom of her family, she became the prey of a thousand conflicting emotions, until at last, when the time arrived for her return, she yielded to the intercession of her friends and cast in her lot with them henceforth. "In the course of years she seemed to forget her troubles, and being yet of fine personal appearance and possessed of attractive manners, a citizen by the name of Rosemond sought her heart and hand in marriage. In the course of time they were married, after which they remained in this county for a number of years and to them were born a number of children. The family moved west, taking all the children by the second marriage, and it is believed that there is now no descendant of this branch of the Hodges family remaining in Abbeville county. RETURNS TO FATHER. "Before their departure the little Indian boy grew up, was sent to school, and soon began to show the characteristics of the race. Having heard of his father and wishing to learn more of his father and his people, he set out before he had arrived at the age of maturity for the Indian territory from which he never returned, and from him nothing was ever afterwards heard. "General Hodges remembered seeing the Indian boy and heard the story, which we have just related, from his mother's own lips. "General Hodges father lived within a mile and a half of the present site of Hodges' depot. General Hodges himself lived all his life within a mile and a half of his birthplace. When he first went to housekeeping there was but little cleared land in the county, and game was so plentiful that it ravaged the crops-- Mrs. Hodges once having shot a deer that was feeding in their turnip patch. "General Hodges, by his industry and economy, managed to amass a considerable fortune, and when he built his late dwelling 54 years ago, it was considered the finest house above Columbia. MEMBER LEGISLATURE. "He was once a member of the state legislature, and long held a commissioned office in the militia of the Savannah regiment. In all matters of public interest he always took an active part, and at one time he was sent as commissioner to the Indians, with whom he was exceedingly poplar, and who were delighted because of his smoking with them the pipe of peace. The general could send up volumes of smoke so much larger than they could, and they were so much delighted that great numbers of the men and women of the neighborhood assembled on the second day after his arrival to see the white man smoke the pipe of peace. "The town of Hodges was named for him, on the establishment of the railroad depot at that place. When the telegraph line was finished to that place a few years ago the first message, a congratulatory epistle was addressed to him as the "Patriarch." He preserved this message, which is still in possession of the family. He was the 'Pater Familias' of the town which bears his name." Which is the town with no telephones. Read Any Good Books Lately! The floor to ceiling shelves in the "The Attic," a shop at Hodges, are crammed with books of all sizes, ages and types of contents. Proprietor Donald Hawthorn checks to keep them arranged "More or Less" by content categories. 'The Attic' In Business In the Center Of Hodges Note written on side of article reads: "When you visit Hodges, be sure to come by The Attic 65,000 old books."
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