Joseph ("Black Joe") Hodge

By Nancy Blumenstalk Mingus
Excerpts from
Buffalo: Good Neighbors, Great Architecture
, by Nancy Blumenstalk Mingus. Pub. by
Arcadia Publishing 2003

Although they did develop forts and trading posts, the French explorers did not build permanent residences in the area. Depending on the source you choose to believe, this honor fell to

These individuals may have been here prior to 1790

There is no dispute, however, that by 1795, when La Rochefoucault Liancourt visited Buffalo, there were already at least four houses belonging to Winney, Johnston, Lane, and Middaugh.

According to Joseph Landon, who was a member of a 1796 surveying party, Jesse Skinner and Hodge were also here.

Another source says that Asa Ransom was a resident by 1796, as were John Palmer and Sylvanus Maybee by 1798.

Joseph ("Black Joe") Hodge

Joseph Hodge was a former slave who had been captured by the Seneca Indians during the Revolutionary War. He was released in 1784, married a Seneca woman, and they settled in the area sometime prior to 1792. They lived in a log cabin near Winney.

Hodge is also known as Joe Hodges and "Black Joe,"

Hodge was a tavern operator / Indian trader. According to some, Hodge was a partner of Winney's and a resident since 1771.

Since Hodge was fluent in the Seneca tongue, he was an active Indian trader and sometimes functioned as interpreter, too. In 1796, he was hired as a guide and interpreter for Moses Cleaveland's surveying party working west of Buffalo to Conneaut Creek near present day Cleveland, Ohio.

Some reports say that Hodge and his wife later moved to the Cattaraugus Creek Reservation, where he died, yet others claim he moved on to Canada. Regardless of where he went,he was no longer in Buffalo by 1810.

There are also rumors that Hodge was involved in the Underground Railroad activity in Buffalo, but this isn't likely unless it was in the very early 1800s and not the more traditional Underground Railroad time frame.

Text Copyright 2003 Nancy Blumenstalk Mingus

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