Erastus Hodges 1782-1847, Connecticut Manufacturer, Merchant, Entrepreneur

by Theodore B. Hodges
(NAWCC Special Publication No. 3, 1994).
6-1/2" x 9-1/2" hardcover, 360 pages, and many photos.

Erastus Hodges was the sixth generation of Hodges in America. His father, Elkana, was a medical doctor; typically, doctors had another profession (e.g., preacher). Elkana also had the vision of an entrepreneur. He was chief merchant in Torrington, CT, because he opened a store to market farmers’ produce, cheese, cider, and potash. Erastus inherited that visionary gift. His mother Rebecca was widowed at age 40, but she maintained all of her husband’s enterprises. In 1807 she willed everything to Erastus, who thrived on the sales and marketing of these products, especially cheese, which he sold as far south as Savannah, GA.
Always looking for a growth industry, Hodges entered the clockmaking industry in 1823 and used his sales and marketing experience for his cheese business to sell the wooden shelf clocks that were made in the factory that he owned. Hodges was familiar with the hazards of marketing goods in distant places: competitors with better and cheaper clocks, bartering, bad weather, and sickness. After some partnerships had failed, he closed his clock shop n 1859. He also was selling fabric, cotton, and brass collectors of wooden shelf clocks have given this little-known producer of clocks a place in history. To Hodges a clock was a product to be marketed like a brass pull or a box of cheese.