Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

January 25, 2014

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Meet two John Hodges

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Hodge also belonged to many civic and fraternal organizations and was one of the highest ranking Masons in New York State. When only in his 50s, Hodge began to experience heart problems and passed away in 1895 at the age of 56. He was buried with full Masonic honors in Glenwood Cemetery. In 1902, his second wife Ella Daniels Hodge, had the “John Hodge Memorial Hospital” added to the Home for the Friendless. The name still appears over one of the entrances to the current facility. 

The Niagara Falls John Hodge was born in Cambria in 1851 and attended the Lockport Union School. He then graduated from the University of the City of New York and completed his medical studies at the New York Homeopathic Medical College in 1881. He practiced in Lockport for one year before moving to Niagara Falls in 1883.

He also held some beliefs that were considered unorthodox for the time. Dr. Hodge was an anti-vaccinationist who was outspoken against what he called “authoritative efforts” to immunize residents during a smallpox epidemic in Niagara Falls. In addition to being a critic of vaccinations, Dr. Hodge was a great supporter of animal rights. He was “for many years a relentless prosecutor of all those guilty of mistreating animals and was ever seeking to improve the lot of creatures which could not help themselves.” 

He was also considered something of an eccentric by some because of his decided opinions, which were in direct contrast to accepted beliefs of the day. One of these was his non-belief in a supreme being. He was an affirmed agnostic at a time when religious belief was paramount to everything else in one’s life.

Of one Dr. Hodge’s claims to fame occurred on the evening of Jan. 9, 1889. He was returning from visiting a patient on the Canadian side of the river and was crossing the Falls View Bridge during a horrific gale. He was the last person to cross the bridge before it collapsed into the river below at 3:20 a.m. Jan. 10, 1889.

Dr. Hodge continued to practice medicine well into his 80s. He died Feb. 18, 1937, of heart complications at the age of 86. His body was cremated according to his wishes. There is no record of where his ashes were interred.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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