Where To Begin…

December 3, 2016 in Allied Families, Brick Walls, Dear Diary, DNA, Hodges, McDowell, Penrod, Solving Puzzels

So much has happened since I last updated this blog.  We elected a new president, I almost died (that’s what the doctor said…I’m not sure I believe him.), I started more Facebook groups for genealogy research, and I’ve found cousins and made friends with them.

In the genealogy department, I was correct about John and Rachel Hodges.  I’ve DNA matched too many of their descendants to consider them anything other than my ancestors.  It was also while researching them that I found a whole new branch of the Thomas James Hodges family.  Thomas was married to Lucina McDowell and they had the following children together:

  1. William Prior Hodges, b. 1848, m. 1st. Mary Burklow, 2nd. Mary C Groves. d. 1926 in Cave-in-Rock, Hardin, Illinois
  2. Elizabeth Ann Hodges, b. 1850, m. 1st John Henderson Penrod, 2nd. Jesse Marcum. d. 1930 in Union County, Kentucky (this is my line)
  3. John R Hodges, b. abt 1856, disappears after 1870.
  4. Martha Jane Hodges, b. 1861, m. Jackson Lowry. d. 1924
  5. Rachel A Hodges, b. abt 1858, died between 1860 and 1870.
  6. George Hodges, b. abt 1865, died after 1870.
  7. Cealy Hodges, b. 1867, d. before 1880.

Lucina died in October of 1880.  Thomas died in June of 1890.  This is known because their headstones survive and have the dates on them.  What I didn’t know was that Thomas married again after Lucina died.

I found out by accident.  I was looking for all Hodges married in Hardin County, Illinois.  I found a Fritz Hodge born to Thomas and Eliza Flowers.  That startled me.  There was only one Thomas Hodges in Hardin County at that time, and he was my 3rd great-grandfather.  Turns out Fritz was a twin.  His brother, James Hodge, also had a birth record on Family Search.  That started an avalanche of new discoveries for us.  “Us” being my Hodges/Penrod cousins.  I posted this new information in our Facebook group and we started digging.  We found two more Hodge sons living in Hardin County and working as servants in two separate houses.  I couldn’t connect them to any other Hodges family, so I created a new tree and put Thomas and this Eliza as the parents and these 4 sons as their children.  That’s when things got really weird.

I found a James Hodge living with a Mary Escue and her husband in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  He was born the same year and month as Fritz.  He’s listed as the Escue’s adopted son.  Who were they?  Finding Mary’s death record helped clear that up.


Miranda Hodge was Thomas James Hodges’ baby sister, and a twin.  So James and Mary were actually cousins.  But Miranda and her twin were the youngest children of John and Rachel, Thomas James was their oldest child.  Thomas was born in 1823, Miranda and her twin sister, Nancy, were born in 1846.  Miranda had two daughters; Mary and Fannie.  We DNA match two of Fannie’s descendants as well.

Of course, fleshing out all these new people took a couple of days.  At first I couldn’t find anything else on James Hodge.  And as I frequently do, I worked on someone else: Caroline Penrod Tate.  While looking for her children, I found a Roy Tate living with a James and Gertrude Hodge in Crittenden County in 1920.  I didn’t think the Roy Tate was one of Caroline’s children (I was wrong), but I was sure I’d picked up the trail of that James Hodge again (I was right).  I started following James and Gertrude and found they had the following children;

  1. Joyce Carlta Hodge, b. 1921, m. Adrian Frailey. d. 2011.
  2. George Dillard Hodge b. 1924, m. Margaret J Pike. d. 1945.
  3. James Delmar Hodge, Jr., b. 1926
  4. William Donald Hodge, b. 1928
  5. Narlis Arthur Hodge (a twin; sibling died at birth), b. 1930

Then I followed all of those children and found an obituary for Narlis which named his children.  I found them on Facebook and sent friend requests and messages.  They accepted and now they’re part of one of the Facebook groups.  They shared with us parts of a wonderful letter their “Aunt Sis” (Joyce Hodge Frailey) had written and everything came together.


letter-2 letter-3









These are part of the proof that our Thomas James Hodges was the father of those 4 sons born to Eliza Flowers.

  1. Names “Mary Escue” as the woman who raised him.  Mary was Miranda Hodge’s daughter.
  2. Names the other 2 sons I’d found living as servants in Hardin County as James’ brothers.
  3. Names Fritz as the twin of James.
  4. “Dad’s [James Delmar Hodge] father [Thomas James Hodges] had a sister named Mary Nan (Hodge) Thorn.”  This is Miranda’s twin, Nancy Jane Hodges Thorn. The sons listed have been verified, and a descendant of John Thorn (Terry Butts, the son of Geneva Thorn Butts) has joined our Facebook group.
  5. “Bet Penrod” was my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Hodges Penrod, the daughter of Thomas and Lucina.
  6. “Jane Lowry” was Martha Jane Hodges Lowry, the sister of Elizabeth Hodges Penrod, also the daughter of Thomas and Lucina.
  7. “Uncle Bill Hodges” was William Prior Hodges, the brother of Elizabeth and Martha.
  8. “Aunt Sarah Burklow” was the daughter of Martha Jane Hodges Lowry.

There was a lot of joy when these pieces of paper were shared with us.  What my genie-senses had told me had been confirmed.  Before I even started the Facebook group and found the other information, I had followed Thomas Jefferson Hodge, whom I’d found in Hardin County a few years ago on a census, and created a tree for him.  This is the “Tom, Jr.” in the letter.  We have a DNA match to two of his descendants as well, and one of them is now in our Facebook group.

I bought a DNA kit for one of James Delmar Hodge’s descendants and had it sent to him.  He took the test on Thanksgiving and it’s being processed as I type this.  I do not doubt that one, if not more, of us will match him.  My cousin, Rhonda Fulford, is coming up here to Michigan on the 12th of December and we are going to Illinois and Kentucky on a genealogy road trip to meet all these new cousins.  We want to DNA test Terry Butts, the son of Geneva Thorn who was the daughter of Nancy Jane Hodges’s son, John.  Nancy was Miranda’s twin sister.  In our Facebook group, we keep saying how we were all meant to find each other.

I can’t help but remember sitting here in the basement, frustrated almost beyond endurance at trying to trace my mother’s family, lifting my head and yelling as loudly as I could, “If you want me to find you, you’re going to have to help me!” That was about 4 years ago.  I’d say they’ve helped a lot.