Family Find for April
William Claude & Clarence Emmett Dodgen
In this photo, William Claude Dodgen (1899-1978) stands beside his older brother, Clarence Emmett Dodgen (1896-1957), in Walnut Springs, Texas. The boys were the last of ten children born to Joseph Washington Dodgen (1852-1927) and Mary Frances Gurley Dodgen (1853-1928).
Originally from Georgia, Joseph and Mary relocated to Bosque County, Texas, before 1875 and farmed in or around Clifton. Sometime before 1920, the close-knit family moved to San Antonio, where Joseph managed a grocery store.
About the same time, Clarence and Claude may have set out for Denton County, where they courted Katie Belle Chism (1898-1929) and Gladys Nail (1901-1946). The girls lived in Krum, where their pioneer fathers, O.J. Chism and Nicholas C. Nail, had been postmen. The couples married and settled in San Antonio.
Clarence and Katie had their first child, Weldon Chism Dodgen, in 1917. Before and after the baby came, Clarence worked with Claude and their father at the grocery store. He was also a driver for a laundry service – a business interest shared by several of his brothers. Soon, he became a freight clerk for Southern Pacific Railroad.
Clarence and Katie returned to Krum, where they had four more children. The family prospered until early 1929, when Katie died. The advance of the Great Depression cast an even longer shadow on the grieving household. To support his children, Clarence may have had to leave them with his in-laws while he lived and worked in Waco. In 1931, he married Bonnie Mae Greene (1904-1989) from Denton County. The couple moved to Elgin, and increased the family by three. They finally settled in Austin, where Clarence subsequently died.
Back in San Antonio, Claude and Gladys had had two children, Aura Mae Dodgen (1920-1996) and Cecil Joe Dodgen (1922-1974). Like Clarence, Claude provided for his family by working various jobs. Besides serving at his father’s grocery store, he worked for a laundry service and even tried his hand at real estate.
In the midst of the Depression, Claude and Gladys relocated to Cameron County. They lived in Brownsville, where Claude remained in the laundry business. After a series of misfortunes, the pair divorced.
By 1940, Claude was in Houston. He lived with, and evidently worked for, another brother, John H. Dodgen (1888-1965), service manager for a laundry service company. Four years later, Claude married Eunice Orea Robertson (1923-1997). According to the 1958 city directory, she was an operator for the telephone company, while Claude was a driver for Yellow Cab Company.
Claude’s second marriage ended in divorce, but he remained close to his children. He stayed in the Houston area and, at some point, was a motel clerk. Eventually, he was admitted to a local nursing home, where he succumbed to pneumonia. He was 79.
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