Mr. William Sterling Hodges

William Sterling Hodges
New York Times, Sunday 16 May 1915.

William Hodges, 36, was a United States citizen from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was traveling aboard Lusitania with his wife Sarah and children William Sterling, Jr. and Dean Winston. All members of the family were lost when the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German u-boat U-20 on 7 May 1915.

Life


William Hodges had been in the employment of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for 16 years at the time of his death.  He first worked as a draftsman, then in sales, finally becoming a mechanical engineer.  He had represented his company in China and Russia.

In community life, he had been the organist at Harper Memorial Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

Hodges had been appointed manager of his company’s offices in Paris, France, in which capacity he made at least two transatlantic crossings. The second of these trips was the Lusitania‘s last completed voyage.  He was in Paris to take charge of the Baldwin office to sell locomotives to the French government and to supervise the assembling of engines sent to France in pieces. Presumably on the Lusitania‘s last voyage, Hodges was relocating his family to Paris so that they could be together while he worked.

On 30 April 1915, the day before he sailed on what proved to be the fatal voyage with his wife, Sarah, and two sons, William Sterling, Jr. and Dean Winston, Hodges signed a new will appointing Sarah his heir.  The will also contained the ominous note that should they “all die simultaneously or on or about the same time”  his estate (consisting principally of an $11,000 insurance policy) would go entirely to his mother.

Lusitania


Aboard Lusitania, the Hodges were on ticket 14677 and stayed in cabin A-16.

During the sinking, Blish and Maude Thompson encountered the Hodges family in the crowd climbing the stairs to the boat deck.  As the ship was listing to starboard, the Hodges were having trouble, so the Thompsons assisted them up the staircase. Later on, Wallace Phillips saw Mr. Hodges exit his portside A Deck cabin with lifebelts in his arms. Phillips asked Hodges if his family was all together, to which Hodges answered yes, that they were all together.

The entire Hodges family was lost in the Lusitania sinking. Hoehling and Hoehling’s The Last Voyage of the Lusitania (1956) makes an error in stating that the children had been saved.

Photographs of Mr. Hodges and sons, Dean and William, appeared in The New York Times, Sunday, 8 May 1915, page 3. The Monday, 17 May issue of The New York Times, page 1, said that Dean’s body had been recovered and identified.  Dean’s body was later returned to Philadelphia. Sarah’s body was #209, interred in Common Grave B in Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland.

One odd note:  William Sterling Hodges appears on a December 1914 Orduna passenger list, the next passengers upon which sequentially are the Mrs. Mary Hoy and her daughter Elizabeth whose deaths aboard the Laconia in 1917 finally propelled the U.S. into World War I.

Related pages


The Hodges at the Mixed Claims Commission


Contributors:
Jim Kalafus
Michael Poirier
Judith Tavares

References:
Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956.

The New York Times.  Sunday, May 8, 1915, page 3.

The New York Times.  Monday, May 17, 1915, page 1.

About the Author