Sylvanus Boardman Hodges m Eliza L Martin 31 Dec 1875

Sylvanus Boardman Hodges was born 4 June 1852 (the year listed in his obituary) or 1853 (the year listed in his naturalization papers.) He was the youngest of nine children of Jonathan and Ruth (Taylor) Hodges of Aylesford, Nova Scotia. He may have been named for Sylvanus Boardman, founder of a Methodist church in Maine.  Later records show that he reversed his name and went by the initials “BS”. His naturalization records indicate that he arrived in Boston on March 30th, 1870, and has resided there ever since. The 1870 census was taken on June 1, and I cannot locate him.

Eliza L Martin was born 25 October 1857 in Nova Scotia. Her parents were Joseph Grant and Amanda Jane (Porter) Martin. In 1870, she was working as a servant in Clinton, MA. In 1871, Eliza travelled from Wolfville NS to Boston MA on the brig Dundee. The following year, the Dundee was damaged when it broke its moorings in Yarmouth and went aground. Boardman and Eliza were married 31 Dec 1875, in Natick, MA. Their only child, Lillian Ruth Hodges, was born in 1877 in Wayland, MA. In 1880, the family of three still lived in Wayland, and he listed his occupation as farmer/laborer.

On 3 November 1882, his naturalization papers were signed. “Respectfully represents Boardman S. Hodges of Wayland in said district, by occupation a piper, an alien, and a free white person, that he was born in Aylesford, Kings County, Nova Scotia, on or about the fourth day of June in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-three and is now about 29 years of age; that he arrived at Boston on our about the thirtieth day of March in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and seventy, being then a minor under the age of eighteen years….” Patrick Leary and Orlando Ewing, of Wayland were his character witnesses (Unknown who Orlando is – he was born in Nova Scotia, and Ewings were neighbors of, and married into the Hodges family.). A “piper” is an inn keeper. Certificat e118-129, USDC Boston, Mass, Nov 3, 1882

In 1882 BS Hodges took up a claim 5 miles west of Ellendale, ND and his wife and daughter joined him in 1883. He also operated a shoe store in Ellendale. Early in 1882, the Ellendale town site was platted, with the survey bearing the date of May 8, 1882. The plat was filed in the Register’s office on August 22, 1882. The new town was named for Ellen Merrill, the wife of S.S. Merrill, who was the General Manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Ellendale was the first town on a railroad in this entire region, and so it became a great distributing point for settler’s supplies. The permanent location of the county seat was submitted to a vote with Ellendale winning over Keystone 162-62 votes. Homes, businesses, and services flourished in Ellendale. Then, on the windy night of May 9, 1916, came the big fire. Three blocks of businesses, a church, and 21 families were burned out. With characteristic western zeal, Ellendale rebuilt.

The homestead was in Elm Township. Elm Township lies in the southern tier of townships in Dickey County, being township 129, range 64. The Elm River which flows through it from north to south, makes it a fine location for stock-raising as water is abundant and the grazing luxuriant. In its early organization it was the east half of Lorraine Township, but it soon was made a separate civil township.

The 1885 state census for Dickey County lists Boardman 33, Eliza 27, and Lillian 9. Eliza died 25 Oct 1885, her 28th birthday. Her parents had also moved to North Dakota, and young Lillian went to live with them.

In 1877, BS married Abbie Lavinia Banks, daughter of Alexander and Helen (Morse) Banks. She had previously been married to George Edward Nelson, and I do not know if they divorced or if she was widowed.

According to the 1900 census at ND, Dickey County, Ellendale city, Dist 253, he was a shoemaker who arrived in the US in 1869, and is a naturalized citizen. Abbie is with him (no children born). They have a ward, Vernet Laing, male, b Nov 1890 in ND. This is probably the same as William V. Laing born about 1891 in ND, father born Scotland, mother b NS, wife Anna b NY, depot agent for the railroad in Ellendale in 1910. I was not able to locate them later.

It appears that BS and Abbie opened their doors to younger family members. Family lore is that Albert Hodges was invited to go west and work on the Hodges Stock Farm, but because his father Frank (nephew of BS) died, Albert had to turn down this opportunity so that, as eldest son, he could take care of his mother and younger brothers. A letter about this was my first introduction to Boardman, and I actually knew quite a bit about him before I ever identified Frank’s father (Boardman’s brother) as Jonathan.

The 1910 census lists BS and Abbie at #89 Third Street, Ellendale, as proprietor of a shoe store. They were listed twice in the 1915 census, in Ellendale and in Elm, which were probably their town residence and the stock farm residence. In 1920 the census lists them on Third Street, no occupation listed, with lodger Orvis Banks, professor at state school. Orvis is Abbie’s newphew. The “Dakota Decisionmakers” website has an alphabetical listing of individuals who serve or have served in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly or the Dakota Territorial Legislative Assembly or who were delegates to either of the two North Dakota Constitutional Conventions, or who are or were members of the United States Congress. It shows that BS Hodges was in the state legislature 1923-1924.

In 1925, the state census lists 72-year-old Boardman as living in Ellendale. Boardman died there on 28 Feb 1927. Obituary: Boardman S. Hodges (March 10, 1927) Ellendale Leader: B.S. Hodges, a pioneer resident of this city, passed away at his home on Third street about noon Monday, following an illness of about a week’s duration. The immediate cause of death was senile Pneumonia. Boardman Sylvanus Hodges, son of Rev. Jonathan and Ruth Hodges, was born at Aylesford, Nova Scotia, on June 4, 1852, and at the time of his death was 74 years, 8 months, and 24 days of age. He was reared and educated at the place of his birth, and when a young man he went to Boston where he followed the shoemaking trade. At Cochituate, Mass., he was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Martin in December, 1875, and here their only child, Lillian, was born. The family came to Dakota Territory, July 6, 1883, and settled on a claim file miles west of Ellendale. Mrs. Hodges parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Jos. G. Martin, came with them and settled on adjoining land. Mrs. Hodge died October 25, 1885. Mr. Hodges re-married in 1887 to a Nova Scotian friend of his younger days, Mrs. Abbie L. Nelson, who has been his constant companion ever since, and who remains to mourn his demise. The deceased was a prominent figure in the life and development of this city. For many years he conducted a shoe business here, served on the city council, and later was mayor of the city. Later he served the county on the board of county commissioners, and while in this capacity, was instrumental in bringing about the erection of the beautiful court house. Four years ago Mr. Hodges served the people of Dickey county in the state legislature. He retired from active work a few years ago, but was always greatly interested in the city and in his farm, which he leased, and made frequent trips to see the progress of the work, and to help a bit now and then. Board, as he was familiarly known to everyone, had a great many friends because he was a wonderful friend; kind hearted, interested in others, with always a cheery word or greeting, and more substantial help when and where it was needed. He was a lover of the great outdoors, and his main diversion was fishing. Every year, in company with some of his old friends, he would go to the lakes and streams in neighboring states to spend a few days, or weeks, fishing and living in the open. Because friendships meant so much to him, Board was a member of several fraternal organizations, among them the Masonic order, the Odd Fellows, Modern Woodsmen and Workmen lodges, representatives from all of which were in attendance at his funeral, which took place Wednesday afternoon at the Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. Green and Rev. Shoemaker being in charge of the service. The only living relatives of his own family are a brother, Stephen, of Haverhill, Mass., and one sister, Mrs. Wm. McKeown, of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. The daughter, Lillian, brought up by her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, is now Mrs. Alexander R. Wright of Oakes, N.D., and they, with Mrs. Hodges, and the deceased’s two grandchildren, Edward Wright of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Ruth Wright of Oakes, survive and mourn the loss of one whose place can never be filled. Interment was in the Ellendale cemetery, and the burial service was in the charge of the Masons.

Abbie died in Ellendale on 3 April 1939. Obit: SERVICES TODAY FOR MRS. HODGES (April 6, 1939) Well-Known Ellendale Resident Dies Monday Evening, Following Brief Illness – Funeral services will be conducted this afternoon at the Masonic hall for Mrs. Abbie L. Hodges, well known Ellendale resident who died at about 11 oclock Monday evening following an illness of approximately two weeks. O.E.S. ritualistic services will be used and interment will be made in the Ellendale cemetery beside her husband, who died Feb 27, 1927. Abbie L. Banks was born Dec 30, 1852, in Nova Scotia, where she spent her girlhood. Early in 1887, she came to Dickey county and her marriage to Boardman S. Hodges took place in June of that year, following which they lived for several years on a farm five miles west of Ellendale. Later they purchased a home in Ellendale and moved to town where her husband engaged in the shoe business and where they lived until his passing. After the death of her husband she went to Massachusetts where she made her home with relatives for nine years, returning to Ellendale in 1936 to again establish her home among her old friends. For the past three years, she had lived at the home of Mrs. C. P. Crary, but when stricken with her recent affliction she was moved to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Rose because of the illness of Mrs. Crary. Although every care was tendered her, she passed peacefully into the Great Beyond late Monday night. Surviving her passing are her step-daughter, Mrs. A.R. Wright of Oakes, a nephew, O.A. Banks of this city, a sister, Mrs. Hattie Dunham of Haverhill, Mass., and a brother, Burpee Banks of Oakham, Mass.

Boardman, Eliza (and her parents) and Abbie are all buried at the Ellendale City Cemetery, northeast of the city. Sharing the lot is Oceana (Porter) Anderson, Eliza Martin’s aunt.

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1 Comment

  1. Evelyn Laber said,

    January 9, 2011 at 19:41

    Boardman and Eliza”s daughter was Lillian Ruth. A coincidence that we have Ruth Lillian Hodges (Ricker) today?


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