Old Dominion University Libraries

Special Collections & University Archives

Events & Exhibits

Search Special Collections


Monday - Friday:
9 am - 4:30 pm

Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Hodges Family Papers


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 history of the Hodges family and the history of Portsmouth are closely intertwined.

The oldest available document is the will of William Hodges, which was written March 19, 1754. The will indicates that William Hodges was a successful planter who owned slaves. His will provides the only valid information on his life. Of his three sons and four daughters, 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. It is rather strange that there is no official notice of his death April 27, 1863, since a greater number of letters and other materials survive from that period. 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 Gregory Hodges found himself at Gettysburg in July, 1863. During the famed " Pickett's Charge, " in which his regiment participated, he was killed when a cannon exploded at his side. The remains of his body were never found.

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.

Scope and Contents

The Hodges Family Papers include documentation of generations from 1754 to 1981. 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 correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical information, scrapbook materials, and photographs have reference 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.

The papers are divided into twelve series: correspondence, legal documents, financial records, newspaper clippings, military papers, publications, genealogical notes, certificates, scrapbook, cards, photographs, and miscellany.

Series I - Correspondence

In the correspondence series, separate folders are maintained for General John Hodges, Colonel James Gregory Hodges, William Henry Harrison Hodges (2 folders), and Captain Andrew Ainsworth. Captain Ainsworth was an Englishman who joined the Union forces and served as captain of the port at Hampton Roads during the Union occupation. After the Civil War he remained in the area and one of his descendants married into the Hodges line. There is also one folder of miscellaneous correspondence. Especially interesting is a letter from James Gregory Hodges to his father, requesting marital advice. Also, William Henry Harrison Hodges' letters to his wife, Mary Abigail Griswold Hodges, and his requests for release from imprisonment provide a direct insight into the trials of war for one man. One of the letters to Captain Ainsworth from O. E. Babcock is addressed "Executive Mansion." Babcock served in the Grant administration.

Series II - Legal Documents

Included in this series are deeds of sale showing how General John Hodges acquired Wildwood and other property. Also included are wills, statements, a legal claim, and an 1809 land survey of the Western Branch land that Hodges eventually acquired. Items of special interest include a bill of sale for slaves and the 1754 will of William Hodges.

Series III - Financial Records

This is a small series consisting of receipts, a bill and a promissory note. It should be noted that the Mary Louisa Hodges mentioned on two receipts could not be the daughter of William Henry Harrison Hodges, since the dates are before her birth. How Mary Louisa Hodges was related to the family is unknown.

Series IV - Newspaper Clippings

The newspaper clippings include obituaries, weddings, anniversaries, and varied articles primarily concerning Portsmouth and the Civil War. The articles most pertinent to the Hodges family are: an account of the life of James Greqory Hodges by his brother-in-law, Judge James F. Crocker, a recounting of Portsmouth's incorporation during its 75th anniversary, and a 1979 article about the discovered gravestones of the Hodges family. Also in this series is a copy of the Union occupation force's newspaper, New Regime 5/30/1864, and maps of the Union campaign against Richmond from the Philadelphia Enquirer 6/28/1862 and the New York Herald 7/16/1862.

Series V - Military Papers

This series consists of a few military communications. The most important items are a notice for William Henry Harrison Hodges to report to the Provost Marshall's Office, and his official prison sentence.

Series VI - Publications

Five separate books comprise this series. The Outline of Scripture Geography and The Scripture Atlas are the oldest publications, both dated 1828. The Communicants' Manual and the prayer book were both possessions of Sarah A. F. Wilson Hodges, the wife of James Gregory. The Holy Trinity Church describes the activities of the church that each generation of the Hodges family regularly attended.

Series VII - Genealogical Notes

This series is a collection of various notes written by family members that give insight into family history. In some instances, personal information is revealed that cannot be found in any of the other documents.

Series VIII - Certificates

Three certificates comprise this series: a marriage certificate for William Henry Harrison Hodges and Mary Abigail Griswold, and the baptismal certificates for their daughters.

Series IX - Scrapbook

The original scrapbook remains in the hands of the donor, but a photocopy of each page is present in this series. Most of the photocopied items are newspaper obituaries and articles. The obituaries in this series provide details on less prominent members of the Hodges family, as well as a solid core of information on the Ainsworths, Armisteads, and Lindsays.

Series X - Cards

The majority of the items in this series are undated and not addressed, although Mary A. Griswold and Susan Hodges are noted. Valentines dominate the series.

Series XI - Photographs

Most of the items in this series are photographic prints of earlier prints, paintings, and daguerreotypes. Included are pictures of James Gregory Hodges, William Henry Harrison Hodges, Mary Abigail Griswold Hodges, Mary Louisa Hodges Armistead, and many other members of the Hodges-Ainsworth-Armistead-Lindsay line up to the year 1981. Turn-of-the-century photographs of Portsmouth's Confederate Monument and Trinity Episcopal Church and a later photograph of the house William Henry Harrison Hodges built are also included. A photograph of an 1832 letter from Governor John Floyd to General John Hodges, informing him of his appointment as a superintendent of the election of Presidential electors, and one of a ring made by William Henry Harrison while he was imprisoned are unique features of this series.

Series XII - Miscellaneous

Invitations, fragments of letters and envelopes.


Gift of Mary Ainsworth Hook March 12, 1981


Collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


One hollinger documents case; one oversized box

Collection Number

MG - 49

Container Listing

Box 1

SERIES I - Correspondence

Folder 1 General John Hodges
Folder 2 Colonel James Gregory Hodges
Folder 3 William Henry Harrison Hodges to Mary Abigail Hodges
Folder 4 Other correspondence concerning William Henry Harrison Hodges
Folder 5 Captain Andrew Ainsworth
Folder 6 Miscellaneous

SERIES II - Legal Documents

Folder 7 Deeds of Sale, 1825-1894 (one deed of sale stored in oversize box)
Folder 8 Wills, 1754-1832
Folder 9 Notes concerning legal matters
Folder 10 Land Survey, 1809
Folder 11 Claim, 1839

SERIES III - Financial Records

Folder 12 Receipts, 1815-1858
Folder 13 Bill, 1843 & Promissory Note, 1846

SERIES IV - Newspaper Clippings

Folder 14 Obituaries, 1855-1888
Folder 15 Weddings, Anniversaries, 1885-1905
Folder 16 Articles, 1876-1979
Folder 17 Military Matters
Folder 18 Battle Map, Philadelphia Enquirer, June 28, 1862
Folder 19 Battle Map, New York Herald, July 16, 1862

SERIES V - Military Papers

Folder 20 General Orders, Notices, Passes
Folder 21 Prison Sentence for William Henry Harrison Hodges; List of Prisoners at Camp Hamilton

SERIES VI - Publications

Folder 21 Outline of Scripture Geography & accompanying Atlas by J. E. Worcester, 1828
Folder 23 The Communicants' Manual owned by Sarah A. F. Wilson Hodges, 1849

SERIES VII - Genealogical Notes

Folder 24 Genealogical Information

SERIES VIII - Certificates

Folder 25 Baptismal Certificates
Folder 26 Marriage Certificate for William Henry Harrison Hodges & Mary Abigail Griswold, 1856

SERIES IX - Scrapbook

Folder 27 Photocopied pages of newspaper obituaries & articles

SERIES X - Cards

Folder 28 New Years' Cards
Folder 29 Valentines
Folder 30 Miscellaneous

SERIES XI - Photographs

Folder 31 Letter from Governor John Floyd to General John Hodges, 1832
Folder 32 Children of General John Hodges - William Henry Harrison, James Gregory, and Margaret Jane
Folder 33 Mary Abigail Griswold Hodges and ring made for her by William Henry Harrison Hodges
Folder 34 Mary Louisa Hodges Armistead
Folder 35 Green-Griswold Family
Folder 36 Margaret Wall Ainsworth
Folder 37 Robert Jefferson Armistead and the Armistead Coat of Arms
Folder 38 Ambrose Harvey and Adelaide Charles Lindsay and the Lindsay Coat of Arms
Folder 39 Descendants of the Hodges-Ainsworth-Armistead-Lindsay Families
Folder 40 Downtown Portsmouth
Folder 41 Unidentified Man
Folder 42 Lithograph

SERIES XII - Miscellany

Folder 43 Invitation, Fragments

Box 2 Oversize Items

Item 1 Deed of Sale between Arthur Emmerson and wife Mary Ann
Item 2 Prayer book owned by Sarah A. F. Wilson Hodges, 1849
Item 3 History of Holy Trinity Church by C. Charles Vache, 1962

Revised: 5/24/2010