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JAMES HODGEN, written by Nancy Prevost

     James Hodgen, eleventh child of Robert Hodgen and his second wife Sarah LaRue, was born 18 Jan. 1795 in Hardin County, Kentucky. Both Robert and the extensive LaRue family had moved to Frederick County, Virginia, from Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. They knew the Boone family well, and it is said that Daniel Boone’s brother Squire explored and secured their first land grants in the wilderness of Kentucky. On 3 Feb. 1783, Robert Hodgen claimed 10,000 acres under Treasury Warrant #14790 on the north side of Green River. In 1784 he moved his family there by flatboat down the Ohio River, and settled on Nolin Creek, in what was at first Nelson County. He was granted permission to build a mill on the Nolin River in 1788, as well as to operate a store and tavern. Many notable guests were entertained at Hodgen’s ordinary, including the famous Frenchman Michaux in Jan. 1796, and the exiled Prince Louis Phillippe in Apr. 1797. After Hardin County was formed, Robert was appointed one of the first justices of the county court. He was elected to the state legislature in 1795, and became sheriff of Hardin County in 1800. He was also a deacon of the Severns Valley Baptist Church for many years. Among the neighbors of the Hodgens were Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, who had a home three miles south of the mill, where their son Abe was born on 12 Feb. 1809. One of the LaRue wives served as midwife, and in his younger years Abe spent many hours playing with the Hodgen children. Robert Hodgen died on 5 Feb. 1810. On 7 Feb. 1818 his widow and son John petitioned the Hardin County Court at Elizabethtown to have the town of Hodgenville established on his plantation. The town became the county seat when LaRue County was later created. Sarah (LaRue) Hodgen died 27 June 1825.

     James Hodgen was just 15 when his father died. He inherited 200 acres of land in Bullitt County, Kentucky, from his father’s estate, but it is doubtful he ever lived there. On 1 Dec. 1825 he married a distant cousin, Deidamia McDonald, the daughter of John and Mary (LaRue) McDonald. They had two children born in Hardin County, and about 1828 moved to Warren County, Illinois. Five more children were born there, and in March 1850, Deidamia died of consumption. James married again on 12 Dec. 1852 to Mrs. Malinda (Shirley) Boydston, a widow with four young children. Malinda was born 27 Nov. 1806 Kentucky, the daughter of Daniel E. and June (Allen) Shirley, and had married first as his second wife, John Gardner Boydston. Her step-daughter married James Hodgen’s oldest son the following spring, and shortly afterward the families set off for Oregon.

     Partway across the plains, the company they were travelling with merged with the Washburn train for mutual protection. Although they had no serious trouble themselves, they heard that a party just two days ahead of them had been surrounded by a band of six hundred Indians. A young man in that company had shot an Indian woman while out hunting, and the company was compelled to turn him over to the Indians, who reportedly "skinned him alive" before their very eyes. The Hodgens arrived at the Umatilla Agency on 20 Sep. 1853.

     On 12 June 1854, James and Malinda settled on a donation claim (Oregon City #2588) in Linn County, several of their children settling nearby. They resided near Springfield, Lane County, at the time of the 1860 and 1870 censuses, James listed as a ferryman on the former and a farmer on the latter. He died there in June 1871. Malinda survived him until 9 Nov. 1891, when she died at Colfax, Whitman County, Washington.

Children of James and Deidamia (McDonald) Hodgen:

  1. Isaac Robert HODGEN, b. 27 Aug. 1824 Hardin Co., KY; d. 20 Oct. 1913 Harrington, Lincoln Co., WA, buried Willows, Glenn Co., CA; m. 27 Mar. 1853 Knox Co., IL, Louisa Jane "Sarah" BOYDSTON. He settled on dlc #1422 in Linn Co.; and moved to California about 1864.

  2. John S. HODGEN, b. 1827/8 Hardin Co., KY. He settled on dlc #1412 in Linn Co.; and was listed there on the 1860 Census as a singing teacher.

  3. James W. HODGEN, b. 1829 Warren Co., IL. Not located after 1850 in Illinois.

  4. Jacob Adkins HODGEN, b. 15 Apr. 1831 Warren Co., IL; d. 6 July 1903/4 Pine City, Whitman Co., WA; m. 23 Oct. 1853 Springfield, Lane Co., OR, Martha Ann THURMAN. They settled on dlc #1423 Linn Co.; and in 1877 moved to Washington state.

  5. Sarah L. HODGEN, b. 1834 Warren Co., IL; d. 1871 Linn Co., OR, buried Halsey Pioneer Cem.; m. 17 Nov. 1853 Linn Co., OR, James RUST. They settled on dlc #1421 Linn Co.

  6. Hugh McDonald HODGEN, b. 18 June 1835 Monmouth, Warren Co., IL; d. 21 Apr. 1930 Burlington, IA, buried Omaha, NB; m. 17 June 1860 Henderson Co., IL, Nancy Jane HUSTON. He returned east after helping the family move to Oregon in 1853.

  7. Mary L. HODGEN, b. 1837 Warren Co., IL; died probably Portland, OR; unmarried.

Children of John Gardner and Malinda (Shirley) BOYDSTON who came with their mother and step-father James HODGEN to Oregon in 1853:

  1. Louisa Jane "Sarah" BOYDSTON (daughter of John G. Boydston and first wife Elizabeth Atterberry), b. 20 Dec. 1835 Knoxville, Knox Co., TN; d. 8 Aug. 1894 CA, buried Willows, Glenn Co., CA; m. 27 Mar. 1853 Knox Co., IL, Isaac Robert HODGEN.

  2. Mary Frances BOYDSTON, b. 17 Feb 1839, Warren Co., KY; d. 13 Sept. 1922, Colfax, Whitman Co., WA; m. 10 June 1855, Linn Co., OR, Cornelius Gooding WHITE.

  3. Benjamin BOYDSTON, b. c1841 IL.

  4. Tabitha E. BOYDSTON, b. c1843 IL; m. 16 Jan. 1859 Linn Co., OR, Michael MILLER.

  5. Martha Ann BOYDSTON, b. c1845 IL.


  1. Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, vol. 22.
  2. Collins’ "History of Kentucky," vol. 2.
  3. Haycraft’s "History of Elizabethtown, Kentucky."
  4. Hardin County Court, Will Book B.
  5. Mather’s "Six Generations of LaRues and Allied Families."
  6. Hardin Co., Kentucky, Marriage Book 1793-1851.
  7. Warren Co., Illinois, Marriages.
  8. 1850 Warren Co., Illinois, Census and Mortality Schedule.
  9. 1860 and 1870 Census, Lane Co., Oregon.
  10. Oregon Donation Land Claims.
  11. Lane Co., Oregon, Probate Records.
  12. Correspondence and Family Papers in possession of the author.

Contributed by Nancy Prevost -, October 23, 1998.

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