William Hodgson is a native of Cumberland county, England, where he was born on December 25, 1842. He is the son of Hetherington and Rebecca (Smithson) Hodgson, both of whom were also natives of Cumberland county, England. It may be stated in connection with the name Smithson, that the first cousin of Mrs. Hodgson was the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, of Washington, D. C. …
When William Hodgson was two or three years old his parents moved from England to Massachusetts and later to Minnesota, where after obtaining a meager education, William Hodgson went to work with his father on the homestead. His brothers each received the advantages of a liberal education but William was content to gain his experiences through contact with the problems of farm life.
On October 1, 1861, William Hodgson enlisted in Company E, Fourth Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, and became color sergeant of the regiment. He fought under General Grant at the battle of Shiloh, and had numerous thrilling experiences. The first important battle in which the subject of this sketch took part was at Iuka, Mississippi. September 19, 1862, this was followed by an overland expedition which had for its object the capture of Vicksburg. On March 1, 1863, Mr. Hodgson’s regiment left Memphis with the Ross and Buford brigades on the historic expedition to Yazoo Pass. A squad of cavalry with the assistance of two gunboats and the ram ‘Indianola’ cut the levee on the Mississippi side, just below Helena, Arkansas, from which point the expedition was sent later, to form part of the army which captured Vicksburg. During the campaign the regiment took part in the battles of Port Gibson, Forty Springs, Jackson and Champion’s Hill. In a charge at Vicksburg, Company E was seriously crippled, Mr. Hodgson and one comrade being the only members who were able to reach an advanced point in the forward movement. At Vicksburg the Fourth Minnesota was held in reserve, but seizing a chance to take his musket, the subject of this sketch joined the attacking force, and had scarcely pulled down the heavy visor of his cap when he received a wound in the forehead which rendered him unconscious for two hours. His skull was slightly fractured, but after he regained consciousness he again took part in the battle and after the middle of night he was taken from the field, having first been passed by the relief assistants as dead. After his recovery from the effects of the wound, Mr. Hodgson left with the members of his regiment for a four-hundred-mile march from Memphis across the mountains to relieve General Thomas, who was shut up in Chattanooga, besieged by the Confederate General Pemberton. On this march the army suffered some of its greatest losses, but was rewarded in the end by the capture of one hundred and sixty-nine prisoners.
On March 20, 1864, Mr. Hodgson was granted a veteran furlough of thirty days and upon his return to the service fought under General Sherman on the march to the sea until the fall of Savannah. He also had part in the final movement which resulted in Johnston’s surrender, and took part in the Grand Review which was held in Washington. At the fall of Savannah the Fourth Minnesota was the first in line in Sherman’s army to enter the city, and was led by the subject of this sketch as color bearer of his regiment. Mr. Hodgson was mustered out of service on July 19, 1865. He participated in twenty-three battles, of which the one at Alatoona Heights, Georgia, seemed to him the most severe.
At the close of the war the subject of this sketch returned to his home in Minnesota, where, on the 8th of November, 1865, he was united in marriage to Ellen Ware, a native of New York, and the daughter of Rev. Thomas Ware, a Methodist minister, and Sophia (Mixer) Ware, both of whom were pioneers of Steele county, Minnesota. Mr. Ware died in 1884, and his wife, who was born in 1819, passed away in 1896.
In 1866, Mr. Hodgson bought the farm owned by his father-in-law and followed the occupation of farming for a year, when he decided to sell out owing to the severe winters experienced in that locality. He bought forty acres of land in Jasper county, Missouri, where he farmed until 1873. when on the 14th of April he made his initial appearance in Hutchinson, Reno county, Kansas. In Reno county his two brothers, Harry and Thomas, and two sisters, Jennie and Mary, had built a house on the corner of four quarter sections of land, where they had taken up a homestead claim on a full section, or one square mile, in section 20, township 23, range 6 west. The subject of this sketch bought out the interests of his two brothers in Reno county, and still lives on the land purchased at that time, where he is known as the oldest living settler in that part of the county.
In political affairs the subject of this sketch has always taken an active part in Republican activities, and for one year was township trustee, and for thirty years a member of the school board. In his religious belief he is a Spiritualist. Mrs. Hodgson died on May 5, 1906, at the age of sixty-three years, after rearing a family of the following children: Minnie Rebecca, the wife of Charles Theiss and a resident of Clay township, Reno county; Alice and Ella, who died when children; Edward, a physician at Stoneham, Massachusetts; Herbert Clarence, of whom an account is given on another page of this volume, and William L., a farmer of Reno township, also mentioned elsewhere in this work.
Mr. Hodgson has kept up a lively interest in the affairs of the Grand Army of the Republic. He joined the organization at the time when the members were authorized to watch the movements of the Klu Klux Klan, and is a charter member of the Joe Hooker Post, at Hutchinson, Kansas.”
Source: History of Reno County, Kansas, Vol. 2, by Sheridan Ploughe, B.F. Bowmen and Co. Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1917, pages 336-9