Hodges, George S. (ca. 1793-1855)
George Hodges (1793-1855) was a carpenter who served as master carpenter on the large construction project of the United States Arsenal in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A native of Virginia, he put down roots in Fayetteville, where he continued as a builder and “architect,” became a respected citizen, and raised a family. He evidently built numerous local buildings, including some in the Hay Mount area near the arsenal, but these have not been identified.
According to the history of the arsenal, Captain J. A. Bradford, officer at the facility, went north to recruit skilled workers, including William Bell, a Scots-born craftsman, for masonry and George Hodges for carpentry at $4 per day. They began work in 1838. To build the immense complex of brick structures, construction continued from 1836 until the Civil War, with as many as 200 men at work. George S. Hodges was listed as head of a large household in Fayetteville in the 1840 United States Census.
At the arsenal, Hodges worked with various other artisans. Among these, according to Vaughn family tradition, were the local carpenters, Christopher and Ruffin Vaughn. According to a Vaughn descendant, Robert Clark, Ruffin Vaughn named his eldest son George Hodges Vaughn, and when the boy died young, named his next son Edward Hodges Vaughn.
Hodges also sought other projects. Hodges of Fayetteville was one of several men who offered to plan and superintend the new United States Custom House Wilmington in 1843, but the project went to architect-builder John S. Norris, already known to prominent Wilmingtonians. Noted architect Robert Mills of South Carolina had also tried for the project. Hodges evidently left Fayetteville for a period, but in 1844 he advertised in the Fayetteville Weekly Observer of February 7 that he had returned to the town and was ready to contract for buildings.
George S. Hodges was listed in the 1850 United States Census as a builder aged 57 in Fayetteville and head of a household that included his wife, Martha R., and daughter Rebecca A. All were natives of Virginia. George owned $2,500 worth of real estate. Occasional references to him, including advertisements he placed offering his services as a builder and architect, appear in local newspapers during the early 1850s.
The Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer of May 17, 1855, reported his death on the previous Monday. The account stated that Hodges was 63 years old, a native of Princess Ann County, Virginia, and a longtime resident of Norfolk. He had been for more than 18 years a citizen of Fayetteville, “where he had secured general respect and regard as a skillful architect, a public spirited citizen, a frank and honorable gentleman. . . . intelligent, faithful and upright.” A short time later, his daughter and son-in-law advertised for sale Hodges’s residence “situated on Haymount, at the junction of the Western and Centre Plank Road.” The “nearly new” house was built of the “best materials and had a wide entrance hall, parlor, dining room, and pantry on the first floor and four bedrooms above; front and back stairs; and a “double Piazza in the front and one in the rear.” Whether it survives is unknown.
Hodges and his family continued to be well regarded in in Fayetteville. The Fayetteville Weekly Observer of January 21, 1897 reported the death of Susan H. Hall, widow of Egbert Hall, at Red Springs. The notice identified her as one of the “accomplished daughters of the late Mr. George S. Hodges, one of the architects of the U. S. Arsenal at this place.” Mrs. Josiah Bryan (Sarah) and Miss Rebecca Hodges were identified as her sisters. “Like their father, all these ladies possessed excellent minds, and these they carefully cultivated.” In 1900, the same newspaper noted on April 5 the death of Sarah Bryan and likewise identified her as a daughter of “the late George Hodges, the well known architect of this city.”
- Dates:1830s-1860sLocation:Fayetteville, Cumberland CountyStreet Address:Fayetteville, NCStatus:No longer standingType:MilitaryImages Puslished In:H. G. Jones, North Carolina Illustrated, 1524-1984 (1983).