Samuel F. Hodge
Samuel F. Hodge, founder of the extensive marine engine works in Detroit which still bears his name, was born in Cornwall, England, March 6, 1822. His father was chief blacksmith at the Great Consols Mine, and at a very early age the lad himself was employed in the shop, being made foreman of a department when but seventeen years old. He remained in Cornwall working at this trade until 1849, when, becoming dissatisfied with his surroundings and prospects, he decided to try his fortunes in America. Leaving behind his young wife and two children, for lack of means to bring them with him, he sailed for New Orleans, upon reaching which port he made his way northward to Toledo. After a short stay at the latter point he pushed on to Detroit where he afterward made his home.
Mr. Hodges' first work was at Fort Wayne, which fortification was then under construction, his employment continuing until the completion of the fort in 1851. Here his earnings were sufficient to enable him to send for his family and establish himself in a modest but comfortable home. At the end of his work at Fort Wayne he became foreman of a blacksmith shop at De Graff & Kendrick's Iron Works, where he remained until 1854, and for the next four years was in the employ of the locomotive works. In 1858 he opened an office in Detroit for the sale of mining machinery, for which there was a constantly increasing demand from the Lake Superior mines. The knowledge gained in Cornwall in his boyhood made his advice to purchasers of mining machinery particularly valuable, and he soon became, practically, a consulting and constructing engineer, as well as a contractor.
In 1863 he gave up his business, and together with William Cowie, Thomas S. Christie and William Barclay organized a firm of Cowie, Hodge & Co., established a shop at the corner of Atwater and Rivard streets. This firm continued to do a successful and increasing business in the manufacture of engines and machinery until 1865, when the Messrs, Cowie and Barclay retired, leaving the firm Hodge & Christie. In 1870 Mr. Hodge purchased Mr. Christie's interest, and continued the business alone. In 1876, notwithstanding the business depression from which the country was suffering, he erected the main shops occupied by Samuel F. Hodge & Co., and equipped the plant with what was at the time the most complete machinery obtainable. Concluding to withdraw from the cares of active business life, Mr. Hodge, in 1883, organized the corporation now known as the Samuel F. Hodge & Co., retaining the presidency of the company until his death, April 14, 1884.
Mr. Hodge was a member of the Detroit Water Commission from 1871 to 1879, but declined any other office, having repeatedly refused to allow the use of his name for the office of mayor. His handsome fortune was left to his wife and to his five children, his son, Harry S. Hodge, succeeding as president of the Corporation owning the manufactory plant.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.