Jennie Edith Martin
Jennie Edith Martin, fourth of the fourteen children of Nathaniel Martin and Hannah Strader, was born 1 November 1850 in Martintown, Green County, WI, meaning that she was the first of Nathaniel and Hannah’s offspring to be born after the family had become established in its longterm home.
Jennie grew to be about five foot, three or four inches in height. She had full lips, dark brown eyes, and dark brown hair -- features that reappeared among her children and grandchildren. Like most women of her generation she did not have a career outside the home. She was handy and quick with a sewing machine. She played piano and melodeon. (The details in this paragraph come from the notes of her granddaughter Sarah Jeanette Hodge. It should be noted that Sarah was born well after Jennie’s death and therefore learned this information indirectly.)
Jennie became a wife on 1 November 1868 -- her eighteenth birthday. She was the first of Nathaniel and Hannah’s children to wed. The groom was Jacob Sylvester Hodge, son of Daniel Freeman Hodge and Eliza Jane Bugh. Jacob had been born 18 June 1848 in Wyandot County, OH at the end of a year during which his father, in partnership with Jacob’s namesake uncle Jacob Bugh, had operated a ferry over the Sandusky River east of McCutchenville. The Bugh/Hodge clan had relocated to southwestern Wisconsin in 1848 or 1849, and that was where Jacob had spent the bulk of his early childhood. By the end of the 1860s, Jacob’s parents were living near Delavan, Faribault County, MN, nearly two hundred miles west of Martintown -- what brought Jacob to Jennie’s neck of the woods is therefore a bit of a puzzle.
The couple began their married lives as a farm family upon a large parcel of land along the Pecatonica River on the mill side just over the state line -- acreage which Jennie received as a dowry gift from her parents. Technically, this meant they had an address of Winslow, Stephenson County, IL, though they were more accurately residents of rural Martintown. In the summer of 1869 Jennie and Jacob became the parents of Nathaniel M. Hodge, the very first grandchild of Nathaniel Martin and Hannah Strader, and the first of several descendants to bear the patriarch’s given name. With a growing family, Jacob was eager to bring in extra income, so he formed a partnership with Jennie’s brother Horatio Woodman Martin. The two young men operated Martintown’s general store, which had been opened by J.W. Mitchell in 1869 and then had been run by William Hodges, the original postmaster of the village. (William was not a relative of Jacob -- one was a Hodges, the other a Hodge.)
The Hodge & Martin partnership did not last long, perhaps as little as two years (1871-1873). The birth of daughter Agnes Leona Hodge occurred during that span. She was born in February, 1872. By no later than 1875, Jennie and Jacob pulled up stakes. The 1 May 1875 Minnesota state census shows the couple had by then reestablished themselves near Jacob’s parents in Delavan. The timing of their move strongly hints that the general store failed. (There would of course continue to be a general store in operation in the village during the rest of the 1870s and beyond, but it was operated by William Edwards and Watson Wright.) The collapse of the business venture is likely to have been due to the Panic of 1873 and the dissolution of a plan to bring a railroad line to Martintown. The U.S. and Europe would take many years to fully recover from the economic downturn. The effect on Jacob Hodge seems to have been that he completely lost faith in a career as a shopkeeper and additionally lost faith in Martintown as a place in which he would prosper in any role. Once they left, the Hodges seem to have come back to Martintown on only two occasions (as hinted at in an 1897 letter written by Nathaniel M. Hodge). One visit was in the mid-1870s for a family Christmas gathering. The other time was for Jennie’s funeral.
Delavan was where Jennie gave birth to the remainder of her offspring. Third child Adrian Hodge was born 18 February 1876, but succumbed to scarlet fever less than three months later. Jennie was understandably bereaved. To have some small memento of Adrian, she traced an outline of his hand onto a piece of paper shortly after he died, and kept the drawing in the family Bible. The Bible, which later came into the possession of daughter Agnes and was in Agnes’s home in San Francisco in April, 1906, was destroyed along with the house in the fire caused by the great earthquake.
The 1877 birth of fourth child Arthur Judson Hodge could be said to be the final joyous development in Jennie’s life. Within a year or two at most, her mental stability deteriorated beyond repair. Perhaps the stress of leaving her place of origin and birth family, losing a baby, and trying to hold together a home of three surviving children was more than she could cope with. More likely, these factors merely exposed an underlying psychological fragility inherited from her father. Nathaniel Martin had suffered multiple episodes of deranged behavior. In fact, the worst of these breakdowns was still relatively current -- 1878 -- resulting in his incarceration within Mendota State Hospital for the Insane in Madison (Westport), Dane County, WI. Jennie was soon committed to Mendota as well, even as Nathaniel was being released. The 1880 census shows her as a resident there. (The enumerator put a mark in the column labelled “Insane” as part of Jennie’s entry. Every person on that page is similarly categorized.) While she was being kept there, her spouse first took refuge with his sister Mary Jane and brother-in-law Oscar Hathaway in Beetown, Grant County, WI. The census shows him as part of that household. His toddler son Arthur was there as well, as were Mary Jane and Oscar’s two children. However, Nathaniel Hodge and Agnes Leona Hodge are unaccounted for. Their whereabouts in 1880 remains a mystery. It seems likely they were housed nearby with other Hodge relatives who neglected to describe them as residents to the census enumerator.
Jennie apparently never left Mendota. She may have committed suicide. Family lore says she drowned in Lake Mendota. However, the date of death was 28 February 1882. She would not have been in the water for any legitimate reason such as a swimming party for the patients. At that time of year in Wisconsin, no one goes swimming -- water temperatures are at best just above freezing. If she went into the lake at all, it was by sneaking out of the hospital and using the water to help ensure her death. An article in the 15 March 1882 edition of The Weekly Wisconsin of Milwaukee mentions an investigation to put to rest “startling rumors” about her death, and that the result of said investigation was that she had died of brain fever. This is unfortunately not definitive. If the asylum wanted to cover up its own incompetence in letting Jennie escape her quarters and kill herself, they would have made sure an investigation resulted in such a finding. Moreover, the family would have wanted such a finding to be announced. Whatever the particulars, Jennie was dead at only age thirty-one. Her body was brought from Madison to Martintown for burial in the family graveyard.
By the time of her death, her husband (shown below right), who is described as a farmer in the 1880 census, was well on his way to becoming a physician. His obituary mentions that he was a graduate of Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago. It seems likely he completed his degree in the summer of 1882, because a document from September of that year describes him already as a physician. Inasmuch as he is still listed as a farmer in the 1880 census, he is likely to have begun his Hahnemann courses in the fall of 1880. (Or perhaps in 1881. In the late 19th Century, doctors did not have to spend many years being educated as they do today.) With Jennie gone and now armed with the credentials and skills he required for his new career, Jacob next addressed the chief remaining ingredient needed to get his life back on track -- finding someone to take Jennie’s place. Given the need for his children to have a mother figure in their lives, he did not waste time making his choice. On 14 September 1882 he married Josephine Florence Nye, daughter of Sewell Nye, Jr. and Eliza Margaret Cathcart. The bride had been born in Millville, Grant County, WI in 1854 (or perhaps late 1853). The wedding took place in Fitchburg, Dane County, WI, and the marriage record shows that at the time of the ceremony, Jacob’s residence was Lancaster, Grant County, WI. These locales strongly suggest Josephine was a woman he had met during the period he had been lodging with his sister, and/or was someone his sister knew. However, it also seems quite possible Josephine was someone he met through Hahnemann College. Her name appears on a list of Hahnemann alumni, a record which also mentions that she started practicing medicine in 1882. Jacob is similarly listed, except that 1883 is the beginning date of the establishment of his practice.
The family did not linger long in Lancaster. Soon they moved to Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, IA. The household appears there in the 1885 Iowa state census. An 1884/1885 business directory shows that Jacob was the junior partner at the medical office of Coffin & Hodge. (His partner, who might have been better able to attract patients if he had changed his name to something less ominous, was James L. Coffin.) The sojourn in Iowa was also also fated to be brief. By this point in American history great numbers of people from the Midwest were heeding the siren call of California, where the continuing expansion of the Southern Pacific Railroad network was opening up new, desirable sections of the state for development. In June, 1887, the Hodges set out for Los Angeles County, and soon made a home in Pasadena. The Coffin clan came along as well and remained close neighbors of the Hodges for many years, though the medical partnership did not endure -- James had come to the alliance as an elderly man on the verge of retirement.
Jacob would become a prominent man in Pasadena, not only as a physician but as a pioneer and community leader. In the early days, it is likely that Josephine assisted him in his professional endeavors. As stated above, she was also a graduate of Hahnemann College. Whether this means she was a nurse or one of the era’s rare female doctors is unknown. In keeping with the status of women at the time her role would have been subordinate to Jacob, and no documentation has survived that would clarify the amount of her contribution. The facts of her life fit the theory that she was a career woman. Not only had she undergone the training, but she had not let the burden of childbearing interfere with pursuit of such a course. She married fairly late in life -- age twenty-eight -- and then even after marriage did not become a biological mother. Perhaps if she had survived longer, the question could be answered, but she passed away 1 October 1892, only five years after the family had come to its new home.
Pasadena was a tiny hamlet in 1887. Coyotes ran through its dirt streets and the area, first settled only a decade earlier, was still in a primitive early phase of its existence. It was growing so fast immigrants often had to live in tents while new housing was built to accommodate them. The Hodges moved into a fine large house at 851 North Raymond Avenue. Judging by the photo below, the building doubled as Jacob’s medical office. However, an 1888 business directory confirms he had a separate office at 26 S. Fair Oaks Avenue.
The family thrived in their new environment. For the next several decades, the Hodges were a fixture of Pasadena society. In addition to the family home, Jacob acquired other real estate. One of the most noteworthy examples was a forty-five acre tract consisting of the upper portion of a hill in Linda Vista, purchased in 1888, which soon began to be referred to as Hodge’s Peak. Jacob built a twelve-foot-wide wagon road to the summit and erected a windmill there. He seems to have done so in order to power the pump that brought up water that he and his sons would bottle and sell as a health remedy called Liviti. (Hahnemann College was a homeopathic institute, and Jacob had become versed not only in traditional medical techniques such as surgery and bone-setting, but understood how to market “patent medicine” as well.) The Hodges sold their Liviti water only a few years, but it was so successful they found a ready buyer for the business.
Jacob is repeatedly mentioned in documents on the early history of Pasadena. Some references to him are mundane, such as business directory entries and a mention that he was the first financial secretary of the fraternal lodge, the Independent Order of Foresters -- Court of Drown of the Valley No. 817. On the more colorful side, he was on hand at the fringes of a great fire in 1889, treating its victims (not all of whom could be saved). In 1891 he was on the board of incorporation for Throop Polytechnic Institute, which would a generation later evolve into the famous California Institute of Technology -- Cal Tech. Son Arthur Judson Hodge would soon be among the early crops of students of Father Throop, the founder and original headmaster.
In 1894 Jacob, now president of the Southern California Homeopathic Medicine Society, convinced city officials to assist in the establishing of a hospital, a level of infrastructure previously unknown in Pasadena. It was called Dr. Hodge’s Receiving Hospital and Surgical Institute, the name being an accurate reflection of Jacob’s position as its director. The first incarnation of the facility opened in January, 1895 as Jacob leased rooms ten through fourteen of the local Masonic Temple at the intersection of Raymond and Colorado. The first patient there was a man named Ted Dobbins, who was suffering from a broken leg. In August and September, two floors of brand-new, state-of-the-art, pre-planned treatment suites and patient wards were built into the second and third floor of the Torrance and McGilvray block, at the northwest corner of the intersection of Green Street and Raymond Avenue, above the Staats real estate offices. The first patients here were a Miss Lyda Nichol and a Mrs. Putnam. This was a true hospital, with other physicians besides Jacob caring for its patients, and a full staff of nurses -- the place also served as a school for nurses. Jacob remained the director for only a few years. He found the administrative duties interfered too much with his ability to tend to his private medical practice. He sold his interest to Ella Joraschky, the facility’s original matron of nurses, and her husband August Joraschky. The Joraschkys changed the name to Pasadena Hospital. However, August apparently was not a physician. Local citizens did not have the same sort of confidence in him they had had in Jacob. Potential customers went elsewhere for treatment to such a degree that the Joraschkys went out of business in October, 1899. Soon the city founded a new hospital at a new site. The name Pasadena Hospital was retained, along with some of the equipment (and perhaps some of the staff) from the Torrance and McGilvray locale. Much later it became Huntington Memorial Hospital.
Another reason why Jacob bowed out of hospital administration might have been the desire to spend more time with his third wife. His new bride was the former Cora Wilkins, who had been born 4 August 1852 in Detroit, Wayne County, MI. Earlier in her adulthood she had been married to Charles Eldred, with whom she had lived in Chicago, where Charles and his father and brothers were lumber merchants. Two children had resulted from this union, Cora M. Eldred and Elisha Eldred, both born in the late 1870s. Jacob and Cora are likely to have met in Pasadena, but the wedding was held in Chicago 7 July 1897. Cora and her kids -- who though grown, decided to accompany their mother out West -- moved into the big house at 851 N. Richmond. By that point Jacob and Jennie’s offspring were no longer at home, or were on the verge of spreading their wings.
Jacob’s lifespan was longer than that of Jennie, but it was not lengthy. He died 22 October 1900 in Pasadena after several weeks of declining health from what his obituary variously describes as leukemia and lymphatic anemia. His cremains were interred at Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena, Los Angeles County, CA. Many other Hodges would come to rest beside him at Mountain View Cemetery. Jacob’s widow Cora Wilkins Hodge passed away 29 June 1933 in San Diego, CA. Her Eldred children continued to reside in southern California life long, both passing away in the 1950s.
Children of Jennie Edith Martin with Jacob Sylvester Hodge
Nathaniel M. Hodge
Agnes Leona Hodge
Arthur Judson Hodge
For genealogical details, click on each of the names.
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