From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing
biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.
ROBERT HODSON, of Oquawka, is one of the oldest merchants in years of continuous business in this place. In the
spring of 1858, he began dealing in drugs, groceries and hardware, and has since carried on operations along that
line. He began on a small scale, but his business has steadily increased, and he now receives a generous share of
the public patronage, which is given him on account of his fair and honest dealings and his courteous treatment of
his customers. Oquawka would sadly miss this honorable merchant, who is now so widely known throughout the
Mr. Hodson was born in Yorkshire, England, April 11, 1830, and is a son of Thomas and Sarah (Atkinson) Hodson,
who were also natives of the same country. The family numbered five children: James, who is now living a retired
life in Cannonsburgh, Pa.; John A., a grocer of Peoria; Robert; Thomas, who follows farming in Missouri; and Mary
In 1835, accompanied by his mother and brothers, Mr. Hodson came to America, making the voyage in a
sailing-vessel, which, after four weeks, landed them at Philadelphia. They first located in Wellsville, Ohio, and
during about three mouths of the year our subject pursued his studies in a log schoolhouse in Carroll County, Ohio.
During the remaining nine months he worked upon the home farm, and soon became familiar with all the duties of farm
life. In 1845 he became a resident of Martin County, Ind., but after two years returned to Carroll County, where he
spent one year at work as a farm hand. It was in 1847 that he first came to Henderson County, Ill., where he
secured work on the farm of Obediah Edmunds, spending about a year in that place. In the autumn of 1848 he went to
the pineries of Wisconsin, where he engaged in logging until the fall of 1851.
Mr. Hodson then returned to Henderson County and embarked in merchandising in Shokokon, where he continued
business until April 1, 1852, when he started across the plains to California, making the journey with an ox-team.
He engaged in mining on the Pacific Slope until the fall of 1856, meeting with excellent success, and then went by
way of the Panama route to New York, from whence he made his way to Peoria, Ill., and on to Oquawka. Here he
engaged in the lumber business for about a year; but finding it an unprofitable venture, he embarked in his present
line of business in the spring of 1858. His dealings have been eminently successful, and as his financial resources
have increased lie has made judicious investments in real estate, until he is now the owner of fifteen hundred
acres of farming land in Henderson County.
In January, 1859, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Hodson and Miss Adeline T. Phelps, a daughter of Sumner S.
and Phoebe (Chase) Phelps. Her father, who was one of the earliest settlers of Ocqawka, served as an Indian agent
for the Government, and was a Major in the Black Hawk War. His daughter was born in this city. Mr. and Mrs. Hodson
had two children, but both are deceased, Louis Arthur, having died in infancy, while Hattie Belle died at the age
of sixteen years.
Mr. Hodson is the oldest living Mason in Oquawka, having been identified with the fraternity since 1858. He cast
his first Presidential vote for Winfield Scott, has supported the Republican party since its organization, and for
the past ten years has served as Deputy Treasurer. Mr. Hodson has traveled quite extensively, has sailed on the
Atlantic and the Pacific, has made the journey from New York across the continent to San Francisco, and has lived
for a time in the pine woods of Wisconsin. His life has been a successful one. Knowing that he started out
empty-handed, and with a knowledge of the results he has attained, we know that his career must have been one of
enterprise and industry, or his present prosperity would not have come to him.