1887 William Elisha Hodges

Birth: 28 Jan 1887 in Englewood, Kansas, USA
Death: 10 Jan 1972 in San Diego, California, USA

William Elisha Hodges, or “Buster,” as his children and grandchildren called him, was the baby of his family. His parents had migrated from Kentucky where his siblings were born to Kansas where he was born. His mother, Nancy Louisa Hawkins, died when he was nine. Then his father, James L. Hodges, died when he was just fifteen.

A lawsuit was brought by James L. Hodges over a piece of land acquired during the Oklahoma land rush. James died before the case was decided in the Supreme Court in Washington, so the results were given in the name of the children as heirs of the case. This Supreme Court decision binds W. E. Hodges with his siblings from Kentucky.

One of Buster’s sons told the story of how his dad survived in the his orphan years. He lived with a man who ran a tavern. Buster, who was small anyway, would sit behind the counter with a bottle of whiskey and a six-shooter. His guardian would tap one shoulder for him to pour a drink or the other shoulder to hand him the gun. It was life in a territorial frontier.

Buster (William Elisha) Hodges married Ruby Pearl Schlesinger in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ruby was a musician and an art (painting) teacher. With her brother she had a band in Denver, Colorado. Sometime about 1909, Ruby purchased a house in Colorado Springs. She had her piano there that she practiced over two hours every night. In the days, she taught painting.

The next year, 1910, they had a son and he lived there with them from 1910 to 1925. The family moved to San Bernardino, California in 1925, where the son went to San Bernardino High School. After he graduated, he went to college in Oregon and fell in love with the state. After he left, his mom had another son, so the brothers grew up as only children. The younger brother’s career led the family to move to Hollywood as a child actor. Ruby taught painting in San Bernardino and Hollywood, as well as Colorado Springs.

We’ve often heard the story of the trip to California, but we never heard what happened to the house in Colorado that Ruby had lived in. Through Ancestry.com genealogy, I discovered a cousin that was her brother’s granddaughter. This cousin is currently living at the house in Colorado Springs.

Like the walls in Ruby’s house in Hollywood, the house in Colorado Springs is covered with her early paintings, which we western descendants have never seen.

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