The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

William Marcellus Hodson
September 19, 1869 - May 9, 1944
Central Point IOOF Cemetery

Myrtle Creek, Oregon:
Enos Hodson, 30, farmer, born in Iowa
Mary, 27, born in Oregon
William 10, born in Oregon
Jane, 7, born in Oregon
Margaret, 2, born in Oregon
James, 4 months, born in Oregon
U.S. Census, enumerated June 10, 1880

Hodson patent
West Roseburg precinct, Oregon:
William M. Hodson, 30, bicycle repairman, born September 1869 in Oregon, father born in Iowa, mother in Oregon
Elizabeth, 21, born September 1878 in Oregon, father born in Germany, mother in Vermont
Roscoe M., 2, born August 1897
Lee R., 4 months, born January 1900
Mary A. Chenoweth, mother-in-law, 63, widow, born August 1836 in Ohio, parents born in Virginia
Maggie Scott, sister, 22, born December 1877, father born in Iowa, mother in Oregon
U.S. Census, enumerated June 7, 1900

W. M. Hodson & Co.
    The business of W. M. Hodson & Company, dealers in automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, gasoline motors, etc., is ably managed and conducted by W. M. Hodson, whose picture accompanies this write-up.
    The firm transacts a general business in the line of automobiles, motorcycles, gasoline engines, etc. The repair department is one where the most intricate piece of mechanism may be correctly handled with perfect accuracy.
    Safe and bank work, locks, guns, etc. all come under this head, and Mr. Hodson is a thorough mechanic in his line.
    For seven years the business has been so conducted that no piece of work requiring repair attention, no matter of what nature, cannot be adjusted and remedied by this firm.
    Mr. Hodson was born in Roseburg, in 1869, and has been a resident of Douglas County ever since.
    His wife was formerly Miss Lillie M. Brown, an Oregon lady, and their home goes to make the collection of which Roseburg proudly boasts.
Douglas County Oregon To-Day, Spokesman Job Print, 1906

Hodson Auto 1907
1907 Buicks in front of Hodson Auto on the first block of North Fir

    W. M. Hodson & Co., of Roseburg, have decided to locate and establish a garage shop in Medford for the accommodation and convenience of the several automobiles in and near Medford. There are, at the present time, twelve of these machines in and about Medford, and as there are not nearly so many as that in Roseburg they decided to shift.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 31, 1906, page 5

    C. W. Palm let a contract this week for the erection of an automobile garage, to be occupied by Messrs. Hodson and Myrick. The building will be located on F Street, between the Day planing mill and Weeks & Baker's undertaking parlors. It will be 25x100 feet in size and one story high. G. W. Priddy has the contract, which calls for the completion of the structure within thirty days. Hodson & Myrick were formerly located at Roseburg, but have decided to move here on account of the better prospect for business in their line. They have already shipped a greater part of their machinery here, and will be in position to do anything in the line of repairing or taking care of all kinds of automobiles as soon as the building is ready for occupancy.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 5, 1906, page 5

    W. M. Hodson & Co. have their automobile garage nearly in readiness for business. Their building is nicely arranged, and in it they will have machinery for repairing all of the many breaks which automobiles are subject to. These gentlemen are experts in this repair work, having had years experience. They have ordered a full carload of auto cars from the factory, but these they do not expect will be here before about in March next.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 9, 1906, page 5

W. M. Hodson, 1907 The Sketch, Portland
1907 The Sketch

    J. A. Elmhirst has purchased an interest in the Wm. Hodson Automobile and Garage Company. These people expect to make a specialty of the sale of automobiles, but in connection will conduct a general garage business. The cars they handle are the Pope Toledo, Thomas Flyer, Thomas Forty, the Oldsmobile and the Buick touring car, the latter being the one to which they will give most of their attention. The establishment of this institution in Medford is a source of much satisfaction to the many owners of automobiles in this locality. They will also conduct an auto livery and will have cars to send out at all times.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 22, 1907, page 5

    The partnership heretofore existing under the title of W. M. Hodson & Co. has this day been dissolved by mutual consent, L. W. Myrick retiring. All accounts of the late firm will be settled by W. M. Hodson, who will continue the business, he assuming all liabilities.
W. M. Hodson,
L. W. Myrick.
Medford, March 22, 1907.
Medford Mail, March 29, 1907, page 1

    W. M. Hodson, the automobile man, went to Roseburg this week to complete the sale of his residence property there and move his family to this city. We are glad to welcome them among us.

"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, March 29, 1907, page 4

    W. M. Hodson has purchased the interest of L. W. Myrick in the automobile garage and stock, and will hereafter conduct the business. He has twelve automobiles of various sizes and classes and can send you on the road--when the weather clears up--with any kind of convenience in his line that you may want.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 29, 1907, page 5

    The enterprising firm of Wm. M. Hodson & Co. is daily expecting the arrival of another carload of fine automobiles. The new garage presents a lively appearance these days, since the streets and roads have become suitable for the use of these modern conveniences in traveling.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, April 19, 1907, page 8

    A. C. Allen boasts a handsome new Thomas Forty automobile. The big touring car attracts much attention as it speeds through the streets of our city. It was purchased through the local firm of Wm. M. Hodson & Co., who also report the sale of a fine Buick $1550 touring car to Geo. F. King and another car of the same make and price to Hon. W. I. Vawter. This brings the total number of automobiles now in use in this city to nineteen, and there are eight more ordered and sold to parties in this vicinity, as soon as the next carload arrives from the factory.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 19, 1907, page 5

    The carload of automobiles mentioned in the Mail two weeks ago arrived for Hodson Auto Co. on Monday. The Thomas Forty was sold almost as soon as it was unloaded to Dr. Reddy.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 28, 1907, page 5

Hodson chauffeur's badge

    W. M. Hodson is figuring on a trip through Klamath and Lake counties in an automobile. He expects to go to Lakeview, thence back to Pelican Bay, visit Crater Lake and return via the Rogue River road. He will take two cars, and as the trip will be a long, hard one he will take Buick cars. Mr. Barker, of the Hodson Auto Co., is now in Portland figuring on putting in a twenty-passenger sightseeing car for use in the valley. If this is done, probably a twelve- and a seven-passenger car will be added, thus making a complete auto livery service.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 19, 1907, page 5

    Mr. and Mrs. C. P. True of Medford left their home Monday morning by auto and made Grants Pass by 8 o'clock on their way to Crescent City for an outing. Mr. True had just returned Saturday from a Crater Lake trip with W. M. Hodson, and it is claimed that their two machines are the first to make the round trip to Crater Lake, the gentlemen driving their machines to the rim of the crater. They went out by way of Green Springs Mountain, Klamath Falls and Fort Klamath, returning by the Rogue River route.
"Items of Personal Interest," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, August 23, 1907, page 5

    W. M. Hodson and Chas. True expect to leave soon for the terminus of the Weed railroad, and from which place they will go to Crater Lake, the purpose of the trip being the selection of an automobile route from that point to the lake. They have already made a tour of inspection from Eagle Point to the lake, and after they make this Weed inspection they will determine from which of the two points they will start their automobile transportation line to the lake. They have formed a partnership for this express purpose and are very anxious to determine the route as soon as possible so that they may be in readiness to accommodate the travel when it starts. A little boosting for the Medford and Eagle Point route might not be out of place right at this time by the people hereabouts who are interested--and we all are--in having the route mapped out from this valley.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 31, 1908, page 5

    Last week an item in this paper stated the fact that W. M. Hodson, the automobile man, had been in Klamath County, looking over the situation with a view to establishing an automobile stage line from the terminus of the California & Northeastern road, building into Klamath County, to Crater Lake.
     Right now is the time for Medford to get busy on this tourist traffic to Crater Lake. This is the nearest point from which to leave the Southern Pacific main line for the lake, and there is but one obstacle to the establishment of an automobile line, running on a regular schedule line between here and the lake, and that is known as the Flounce Rock grade.
    Mr. Hodson said to a Mail reporter in discussing the matter: "If that bill was placed in good condition, by a change of route so that a machine could be gotten over it easily, there is nothing to prevent a successful auto line being run from here to the lake. The government has agreed to put the road in shape as far as Prospect, the border of the forest reserve, and if this bill is fixed I will put on an auto section gang to do the minor repairs. This would give Medford the advantage of the majority of the tourist traffic to the lake and unless something of the nature is done the traffic will start by way of Klamath Falls and it will stay there. If it starts from here it will likewise stay here, as even when the railroad runs through Klamath and within twenty miles of the lake, a good road from this side, together with the many scenic attractions along the line, will induce the majority of the tourists to start from this side. It would cost between $7,000 and $8,000 to eliminate that Flounce Rock grade, but there would be more than that amount spent in the county the first year by parties visiting Crater Lake. The visitors will be greater than ever in number this year, and most of these people have money and know how to spend it.
    "No," said Mr. Hodson, "I am not considering the proposition of leaving Medford. If I start the eastern line it will be merely a side line, but I would much rather start from this side."
Medford Mail, February 7, 1908, page 1

Medford Mail, February 21, 1908
Medford Mail, February 21, 1908

    On another page of today's Mail appears the big advertisement of the Hodson Automobile Co. Mr. Hodson's reputation as an honest man need not be reiterated here. That he is honest everybody knows, and that he handles only honest and serviceable goods is also an established and undeniable fact.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 21, 1908, page 5

    The Hodson Auto Company have received a handsome 1908 Buick car. It is one of the most complete and handsome cars in the valley. They are showing a number of improvements over last year's model.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 27, 1908, page 5

Hodson on Crater Lake Highway, April 1909 Medford's Magazine
April 1909 Medford's Magazine. An annotation on an original print of this photo--
and comparison with recent photos--confirms that the photo was taken above Canyon Creek,
not on the road to Crater Lake.
    The Hodson Auto Co. received a handsome Buick runabout during the past week. The company reports the sale of a number of machines recently.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 3, 1908, page 5

    H. U. Lumsden and C. I. Hutchison have each purchased a 40-horsepower Thomas touring car from the Hodson Auto Company. The cars are the latest model and are equal to the best in the valley. The machines were delivered on Sunday last. They are fully equipped with Gabriel horns, magneto ignition and speedometers. These are the cars that have maintained the record in New York and Paris races lately.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 1, 1908, page 5    The writer is probably referring to the 1908 New York to Paris Race, won by a 1907 Thomas Flyer.

    The two-cylinder Buick runabout belonging to the Hodson Auto Company made a record for itself the other evening. On the high gear it climbed the Jacksonville hill that leads to the Applegate country in six minutes and thirty seconds, a distance of two miles. This is certainly "going some."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 1, 1908, page 5

Medford Autoist Expects to Make Run to Roseburg in Seven Hours.
    MEDFORD, Or., June 1.--(Special.)--W. M. Hodson, of the Hodson Auto Co., of this city, will endeavor to lower Nelson's record to Roseburg Wednesday, the weather permitting, with a two-cylinder Buick of 22 horsepower. Nelson's record is 8 hours 43 minutes. Hodson expects to do it in less than seven hours. If successful, he will try a run to Portland next.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 2, 1908, page 12

Medford Motorist Drives from Medford to Roseburg in Six Hours and Fifty Minutes,
Beating Record Made by Nelson a Fortnight Ago.
    ROSEBURG, Or., June 8.--(Special.)--Billy Hodson of Medford, who has gained considerable fame as an automobile driver, accompanied by Van R. Gilbert, his chief driver, arrived in the city this afternoon at 1:49 p.m.
    They left Medford at 6:55 o'clock this morning, the time consumed in the trip totaling 6 hours and 44 minutes. The trip was free from accidents of any nature. The Buick machine which he drove worked excellently. Seven miles of heavy road was encountered between Glendale and Canyonville, but aside from this stretch the roads were in fine condition. The only stop was at Glendale, where a delay of 11 minutes was met, due to reporting to the telephone exchange. The railroad time, train No. 15, is 5 hours and 36 minutes. A large crowd thronged the streets here awaiting the arrival of the car.
    W. M. Hodson today lowered the auto record from Medford to Roseburg, covering the distance of 131 miles in 6 hours and 50 minutes. The previous record was held by Ferdinand Nelson, with Bill Slimmons driving a 30-horsepower White steamer, in 8 hours and 30 minutes. Hodson drove a 22-horsepower Buick.
    Mr. Hodson left the Medford post office at 6:55 a.m. He reached Gold Hill at 7:33, 14 miles; Graves, 49 miles, 9:20 a.m.; Glendale, 10:05; Johns, 69 miles, 10:55; Canyonville, 83 miles, at 11:55; Myrtle Creek, 12:35; Roseburg, 1:45.
    It takes the train about six hours. The roads were good to Johns, but poor to Myrtle Creek and good from there on.
Medford Daily Tribune, June 8, 1908, page 1

Roseburg, Or., June 8, 1908.
The Morning Mail, Medford, Or.
    I arrived in Roseburg at 1:49 this afternoon after a splendid trip without a mishap, although a great portion of the way was over a muddy road, seven miles being very bad. The Cow Creek was not as bad as I expected. Stopped in Glendale to report progress. The total time of traveling was 6 hours and 44 minutes. I expected to make the trip in less than seven hours, and I kept my promise to myself. The day was splendid; very little dust.
    A great crowd was gathered on the streets here to witness my arrival. Was warmly welcomed and found they had news of my progress from the start. The 22-horsepower Buick is a dandy. Ran smoothly and well throughout the entire trip. Will return to Medford leisurely unless present plans are altered.
W. M. HODSON.               
    Billy Hodson made good. The races in Portland may interest some people, but they did not excite any more comment than did the run against time made by Billy Hodson of this city in his run to Roseburg yesterday. All day in front of the telephone company's office did the crowds linger, reading the bulletins which manager Patterson obligingly displayed for all who would read. It was a test of a local man in a local machine, and all Medford was loyal, as Medford always is to a local man who goes after a record. And when Mr. Hodson made good there was much said in his praise and of the machine he was driving.
    Hodson left Medford at 6:55 a.m. and arrived in Roseburg at 1:49 p.m., his actual time on the road being 6 hours and 44 minutes. His time along the route was as follows:
    Mr. Hodson left the Medford post office at 6:55 a.m. He reached Gold Hill at 7:33, 14 miles; Graves, 49 miles, 9:20 a.m.; Glendale, 10:05; Johns, 69 miles, 10:55; Canyonville, 33 miles, at 11:55; Myrtle Creek, 12:35; Roseburg, 1:45.
    The fact that Mr. Hodson was to try for a record was exclusively reported in The Morning Mail of last Tuesday. He announced at that time that he would beat Fernando Nelson's time to Roseburg, and he has accomplished. The time of Nelson was 8 hours and 43 minutes.
    Mr. Hodson will next try a trip to Portland after a record. He will start within the next two weeks. He will also endeavor at that time to cut down his time between this place and Roseburg. The road that he covered yesterday is said to be the worst between San Francisco and Portland.
Medford Mail, June 12, 1908, page 1

Hodson Returns from Trip.
    W. M. Hodson returned to Medford from Roseburg on Sunday night, arriving at 10 o'clock. Mr. Hodson took the trip back leisurely and reports better roads than when he made his record-breaking trip to Roseburg last week.
    The actual running time of Mr. Hodson on his record trip was five hours and 39 minutes. He made the trip without a hitch of any kind, and the stops that were made were made of his own free will and not through any accidents to the machine.
    Mr. Hodson reports seven miles of very bad road between the Eleff place and the Packard hill. A bad storm had settled over that portion of the road the day before, and the road was very rough and muddy.
    "The little Buick," said Mr. Hodson, as he affectionately patted the car, "is a little dandy. An examination after I reached Roseburg failed to show any part of the machinery out of order. I sold one to Stauffer & Taylor of Roseburg for livery purposes. The fastest time that I made at any time on the road was 55 miles an hour."
    Mr. Hodson will leave shortly for a trip to the Klamath country.
Medford Mail, June 19, 1908, page 3

Hodson Will Do It.
    W. M. Hodson and his chief chauffeur, Van R. Gilberts, left yesterday afternoon about 3 o'clock for Crater Lake. They are traveling in a Buick, Model F, and expected to reach their destination sometime during the night, and will return tomorrow. They are making the trip for the purpose of inspecting the roads. As a result of the inspection it is not altogether improbable that Mr. Hodson will establish an automobile line between Medford and the lake.
Medford Mail, August 21, 1908, page 4

Medford Mail, October 2, 1908
Medford Mail, October 2, 1908

    W. M. Hodson has recently made and will make more improvements at his garage, having dug a pit to enable him to work under machines to much better advantage.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, December 11, 1908, page 5

    The Hodson Auto Company has unloaded a new Chalmers-Detroit car, consigned to them by the Keats Auto Company of Portland. It will be used for demonstrating purposes.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, January 29, 1909, page 6

    The Hodson Auto Company received two "White Streak" four-cylinder, shaft-drive Buick Model 10 roadster automobiles Friday morning. The cars are built for speed and power, and Mr. Hodson thinks will prove the most satisfactory in the Rogue River Valley. They are light and are arranged with four individual seats, two in front and two in the rear. The cars are painted white, so as not to show the dust. One was purchased by J. E. Enyart, president of the Medford National Bank.
"Automobiles Are Coming in Bunches," Medford Daily Tribune, March 26, 1909, page 1

The Rogue, March 1910
Hodson (apparently) and a Buick "White Streak" on the Union Creek Bridge, The Rogue, March 1910

    W. M. Hodson of the Hodson Auto Company is one of the most enthusiastic men in Medford over the passage of the Crater Lake road bill. He says it will be worth thousands of dollars just from the advertising the town has received through getting the appropriation.
    He states that the auto men will build the bridge over Union Creek this spring and improve the road to the lake at their own expense, so that travel will be better to the lake this summer than ever before.

Medford Mail, March 26, 1909, page 1

Hodson Auto Company ad, April 1909 Medford's Magazine
April 1909 Medford's Magazine

    Charles True in his auto started yesterday afternoon for Waldo, Josephine County, where he is expected to meet some parties coming this way from Crescent City. He will take them in tow and hasten their arrival here.
     Charley True, from the Hodson garage, returned at 1 p.m. yesterday from his trip over to Waldo. He left here Monday at 1:20 p.m., making the trip of 110 miles in good time over mountain roads without a single mishap.
"Local and Personal,"
Medford Mail, April 16, 1909, page 5

    A friend arriving in the city yesterday from Northern California reports having been treated to an auto ride from Hornbrook to Hilts by our townsman, W. M. Hodson, who is over in that section with one of his white cars--calls it the White Streak, and the way in which he has made this trip certainly entitles it to that name. Over rocks and ruts, through water so deep they had to hold their feet up to keep from getting wet, up and down hill they went, without a single hitch of any kind, leaving only a white streak of dust behind.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, May 21, 1909, page 2

Trip to Crater Lake Can Now Be Made Without Difficulty by Automobiles.

    The bridge over Union Creek beyond Prospect on the road to Crater Lake has been completed, and it is now possible to make the trip to the lake by automobile without difficulty. Union Creek was the one bad spot on the road where teams were necessary, and with this repaired the trip can be made the entire distance.
    For some time the Hodson Auto Company has had a force of men at the creek putting in the bridge. To that firm the thanks of the community--at least that of those who run motor cars --are due. Many machines will be driven to the lake during the next two months.
Medford Daily Tribune, July 26, 1909, page 8

    Phil Loosley, who recently returned from Crater Lake, tells that all kinds of things are doing up that way. Chief among the good things being done are the road improvements which Mr. Hodson, the Medford auto man, is putting in on the road leading to the lake. The rocks are being removed, chuckholes filled and the high places in the center of the road leveled to be out of the reach of automobiles. He is also building a bridge across Union Creek.
"Crater Lake Road,"
Medford Mail, July 30, 1909, page 3

The Rogue, March 1910

    William Hodson and "Happy" Harrington returned yesterday from Union Creek, where they have just completed a bridge across that stream. Mr. Hodson, who is one of the proprietors of the Hodson Auto Company of this city, has put this bridge in at his own expense, and by putting it in he has made it possible for automobiles to travel the entire distance to Crater Lake with their cars.
Medford Mail, July 30, 1909, page 5

Machine Backs into Rider and Wordy War Follows
    A regrettable and yet a careless accident occurred yesterday, but opinion differs as to who is to blame.
    As C. O. White of Myrtle Creek, a wealthy rancher and mine owner of Douglas County, was backing his automobile, a Rambler, out of W. M. Hodson's garage, he accidentally run into P. A. Children, who was riding a wheel, and knocking the rider off, run over the wheel and bent the frame.
1909 Rambler ad
1909 Rambler ad
    Children had tried to ride around the back of the machine and, seeing he was going to be caught, tried to ride up the bank, but failed, and the next minute milk [sic], man, wheel and auto mixed it. The wheel came off second best.
Fault of Both.
    Children stated that the driver did not blow his horn, and all the bystanders agree with him on this point, but they all said that he could have gone in front of the machine, as he had lots of room, and since the machine was moving backwards this was the logical direction.
    Mr. White offered to settle immediately and was very reasonable, and if there had been no words over the affair would have settled for $20, as he asked W. M. Hodson if that would be enough.
Hot Dispute Follows.
    After a hot dispute over the cause and the responsibility for the accident he offered $10, and then, getting angry, stated that he would give $5 and no more.
    As had been stated before, the accident was the result of carelessness on one or the other's part, but as to who was to blame, opinions differ. Each side, of course, says it is the other fellow, but close examination will prove both at fault.
    The affair turned out very fortunate, in that the rider, who has just recovered from an attack of typhoid fever, was not hurt.
Medford Mail, October 15, 1909, page 5

    Medford's unparalleled progress was early availed of as a lucrative field for automobiles, and the most famous makes of the United States and the world have been on the market here from the first. W. M. Hodson opened his garage in 1906, and has $11,000 invested, giving employment to six people. Repairs are made on autos, gasoline engines and motorcycles, and sundries and supplies of all kinds are handled. This is one of the most complete plants in the city and has 25x100 feet floor space, giving room for 18 machines. Mr. Hodson has cars for rent and makes a specialty of long trips. He has sold some of the most celebrated machines, and his superior business capacity and knowledge of machinery has been of great service to the owners of autos and motorcycles.
Medford Mail, January 2, 1910, page B3

Hodson Auto Co.
    Medford has more automobiles than any place of its size in the world. This fact has been published repeatedly, and has never been denied, as far as we know. Yet in July 1906 there were six machines in the town, now there are more than two hundred.
    The Hodson Auto Company are the pioneers in this industry in Medford, and have always made the Buick car a specialty.
    Mr. Hodson was the first one to put an automobile on the rim of Crater Lake; the car that made the trip was a two-cylinder Buick.
    The road to Crater Lake at that time was in terrible condition, in fact there were places where there was no road at all, but the little Buick made the trip and returned home none the worse for the journey.
    Mr. Hodson has been very active in the "good roads" movement and has devoted much time and money in the improvement of this road.
    The company recently received a large shipment of Buick cars, many of which have already been sold. Among the latest buyers are John D. Olwell, Mose Barkdull, W. F. Rau, H. C. Stoddard and J. A. Westerlund.
    The company will erect a large garage and repair shop in Medford this summer.
The Rogue, March 1910

William Hodson, June 10, 1908 Oregonian
William Hodson, June 10, 1908 Oregonian

    Chauffeur registration began in 1911 (1911 Oregon statute, chapter 174). Registered chauffeur No. 1 was William M. Hodson of Medford.
Oregon State Archives, Department of Transportation Records Guide

    Two Medford automobile enthusiasts are planning an auto trip for the early summer that promises to not only test the durability of their machines, but their skill and ingenuity as drivers as well. Dick Slinger and W. M. Hodson are the principals of the trip, and their destination will be Fish Lake. No automobile has ever made the trip, but they are sincere in their belief that they will be able to pilot Slinger's Buick to the lake this summer.
    Mr. Hodson is an experienced driver and was the first man to take an automobile to the rim of Crater Lake, and has made many other trips of like nature. Mr. Slinger has spent many years in the mountains in the vicinity of Fish Lake.
    The road into the lake is not much more than a pack trail, and it is quite an effort to put a common wagon over it, but these men expect to go equipped with boards with which to raise their machine over stumps and rocks and with sundry other devices for simplifying mountain travel. They expect to make the trip as soon as road conditions will permit.
Medford Sun, February 15, 1911, page 1
Neighborhood of Fir and Main Excited Over Prospect of Having Stable in Midst--
Charles Palm Rents Store Room for Purpose.
    Business men and merchants in the vicinity of Fir and Main streets are highly incensed over the prospect of having a livery stable in their midst and have raised a fund to fight its installation in every possible way as a public nuisance.
    The store room on North Fir and the alley, formerly used by W. M. Hodson as a garage and later by Mordoff as a second-hand store, has been leased by R. H. Bradshaw for livery stable purposes. It was proposed to remodel the structure and transform it into a livery stable, keeping a number of horses there.
    As necessary repairs cannot be made without a permit, the city council will be asked to refuse the permit.
    The building is owned by Charles W. Palm.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 7, 1911, page 6

    The first automobile to cross the Siskiyou Mountains for the season of 1912 was a 25-horsepower Buick roadster. This car is owned by George E. Kremer of Medford, Ore., and was driven by Roy Hodson, also of Medford. Hodson was accompanied by three passengers and carried 150 pounds of baggage. The journey was undertaken on the morning of March 1 from Medford, and was completed at Hornbrook, Cal. at 8 o'clock that evening.
San Francisco Call, March 24, 1912, page 41

West Roseburg precinct, Oregon:
William Hodson, 51, auto mechanic, born in Oregon, father born in Iowa, mother in Oregon
Lizzie E., 42, born in Washington, father born in Germany, mother in U.S.
Leroy O., 19, jitney chauffeur, born in Oregon
William L., 13, born in Oregon
U.S. Census, enumerated January 2 and 3, 1920

First Auto Visitor Revisits Lake After 26 Years' Absence
    CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Ore., July 20--(Special)--Back to the days when automobiles were a novelty, and had not yet threatened the prestige of carriage horses, wandered the thoughts of J. O. Shively, recent park visitor from Los Angeles, in recalling experiences in 1906 as the first automobile passenger to have ever visited Crater Lake.
    At that time, roads were distant kin to the high standard highways of today, constructed only for the needs of slow-moving wagons and horses. Under these conditions, a two-cylinder machine, driven by W. M. Hodson, a former Southern Oregon resident, found progress badly handicapped by deep ruts, dust, rocks and narrow width.
    The car chugged along painfully, at times entirely refusing to operate but, prepared for all emergencies, the pioneer motorists used horses to pull the vehicle over difficult grades. When the motor was functioning properly, the horses were fed. With mileage covered so slowly, several days elapsed in making the trip from Medford.
    However, another year elapsed before the first automobile, operated by Charles True of Medford, was driven under its own power to the rim, up one of the steepest grades in the park. Since then the route has been changed, eliminating difficult grades and resulting in a high-gear road, hard surfaced and comparable to city boulevards in driving comforts.
Central Point American, July 21, 1932, page 2

Here's Introducer Horseless Carriage
    This well-known resident of Jacksonville (shown above) introduced the first automobiles into Southern Oregon, then hooted as "horseless carriages." He also has the distinction of establishing the first garage this side of Portland for the newfangled contraptions, setting up his shop in the city of Medford near the turn of the century.
    This Jacksonvillian first sponsored and worked for the Crater Lake Highway and himself plowed out high centers which made roads to the famous national park passable for motor traffic--such as it was in those days nearly three decades ago. It was in 1908, too, that he hewed and hauled timbers for the bridge at Union Creek which he built, the first structure making it possible for horseless carriages--one and two-lungers of that day--to proceed toward the park, and in that same year he was the first person to drive an automobile to rim of the lake.
    Although the Miner is not publishing the famous character's name this week, most old-timers will recognize him from the picture, which was taken by an Oregonian reporter in the same year, following another of his pioneering stunts in Southern Oregon, which will be detailed later.
    This Jacksonvillian sold the first petrol-propelled vehicles to arrive in this part of the state, and introduced the miracles of putt-putting gasoline burners to a skeptical public. Today he makes his home in Jacksonville as a quiet, happy pioneer looking back on many years of championing an infant business which now has become one of the nation's leading industries.
    (Editor's Note--Although credit for the above accomplishments was given to a prominent Medford businessman a few months ago by a Medford daily paper, the local resident pictured above has shown credentials from the National Park Service, from the late Will G. Steel and from Washington, D.C., which remove any shadow of a doubt as to who actually drove the first car to the rim of Crater Lake, and who erected the first bridge at Union Creek which permitted the passage of motor vehicles. There will be more about this interesting Jacksonville man and the thrilling story of his pioneering with the automobile next week. The stories will be based only on verified, accredited fact. And as for his identity, that pan, sans handlebar mustache, should be instantly recognizable to any old-timer, as well as to all Jacksonville folk.)
Jacksonville Miner, October 26, 1934, page 1

Yeah, It's Bill
    The daring young man with the flying trapeze--er, handlebar mustache--is none other than Bill (William) Hodson, Jacksonville's blacksmith who set up shop under a spreading locust tree, just to be different. Two weeks ago we told you he was the first man to introduce motor cars to Southern Oregon, and he was. We said he was the first man to drive an automobile to the rim of Crater Lake, and he was him, too. And we also warned that Bill is the guy who built the first bridge over Union Creek which permitted auto travel over that stream, and he was.
    But of even more interest than that is the story of how Bill happened to have the above photograph taken and the copper halftone made of it back in 1908 by the Oregonian newspaper, no less.
    You see, it was like this: At that time one of the swellest cars made was the White steamer, a product of San Francisco factories, and it was touted as the fastest thing on wheels save for the iron horse, which (although it may be hard to believe today) was the fleetest mode of traveling known, people not knowing what to do with all the time they saved when traveling by train. The White steamer attempted to beat the railroad's running time between San Francisco and Portland, and when the White contraption popped off at Medford, the guide who was to ride from there to Roseburg showed up missing and Bill was drafted for the job. And, as Hodson remembers, if you think crossword puzzles are tough, you should've tried to direct a racing car in the good old days from one town to the next.
    The White steamer sheared off a wheel up in the mountains, and stood motionless for several hours, but that didn't count. They were only counting the actual time when the steamer was in motion. Time out for beers, trouble and horses in the road. Total elapsed time between Medford and Roseburg was 18 hours, and actual running time eight hours 59 minutes, recalls Bill.
    Hodson, as every old-timer will recall, established the first automobile garage this side of Portland and was peddling two-lunger Buicks to a skeptical world at the time, and vowed to the White steamer racing car driver he could take his putt-putting kerosene burner and drive to Roseburg in less elapsed time than it took the steam streak in actual running time. The bet was called and $800 each was placed in a Roseburg bank.
    Now here is where Bill Hodson's inherent cunning came into play. Bill advised the Buick people of his scheme and they sent him a faster sprocket for his chain-drive, and an aluminum body, transforming the contraption into the fleetest thing afoot, er, on wheels. Bill picked his day, contacted the telephone company as official starter, and chugged away with a tank filled with half ether and half gasoline. He had sent word along the line to have all jittery horses unhitched and over on the south forty that day, and Bill sped on his gambler's mission over rutted and bumpy roads, sometimes at the rate of nearly 50 miles an hour. And Bill swears that's no exaggeration.
    Well, people up and down the route turned out to see the man on the flying trapeze, duster and goggles and all, go whizzing past in his effort to completely humble a steam-propelled automobile. To make the story shorter than the trip, Bill met but one horse on the road which, of course necessitated a delay while owner of the animal unhitched. Bill's total elapsed time was only 3 hours 13 minutes, a margin of 3:46 over the White steamer's actual running time. He collected his $1000 stakes at a Roseburg bank and rode home like a conquering general.
    Yeah, it was the same old Bill Hodson who today sharpens miners' picks and shovels and sips an occasional glass of beer in fond memory of the days that was. Bill's credentials for all these incidents, by the way, are bona fide and plentiful. Although others have made claim to the signal distinctions listed two weeks ago, Bill Hodson is the original, as most everyone who was in Medford or Jacksonville along about 1908 will recall.
Jacksonville Miner, November 9, 1934, page 4

    William M. Hodson of Jacksonville passed away at his home early this morning after a prolonged illness.
    He is survived by two sons, living in San Francisco and Seattle. A complete obituary will be published upon word from them. Perl Funeral Home in charge.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1944, page 4

    William M. Hodson, 74, of Jacksonville, passed away at his home May 9. He was born at Roseburg on Sept. 19, 1869.
    He established the first automotive concern in Medford, "The Hodson Auto Company," in 1905, and sponsored the first car to drive to the rim of Crater Lake in 1906 or 1907. He was a mechanic and followed that trade most of his life.
    Besides his wife, survivors include three sons: Lee Hodson, Fresno, Cal.; Lester Hodson, Spokane, Wash., and Roscoe Hodson, Portland, Ore., one brother and one sister, Roy Hodson, Seaside, Ore., and Mrs. C. B. Austin, Glendale, Ore.
    Funeral services will be conducted from Perl Funeral Home Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with the Rev. Louis C. Kirby, pastor of the First Methodist Church officiating. Interment will be in Central Point cemetery.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 12, 1944, page 3  An edited version of this obit was printed in the Medford News of May 19, 1944, page 4.

Last revised May 8, 2024