The Dodge Family Association

Heading West, Dodge Style
by Edward Dodge
(Dodge Journal, April 1997)

Lewis(9), Edward(8), Issachar(7), Frances(6)(m.Sarah Dodge), Charles(5), John(4), Jonathan(3), John(2),William(1)

[Line 2] Sarah(5)(m. Frances Dodge), Asa(4), Mark(3), Edward(2), Richard(1)

Lewis Dodge had moved his family from Newton, Massachusetts to Rhode Island, where he built a new home.

Imagine, coming home from visiting relatives to find that your home had been destroyed by fire. This would be very discouraging to many folks, but to Lewis Dodge, it was the chance to follow his dream - that of moving to California. Following is the story in the words of Edward Dodge of El Cajon, California.

"It was November 1923 when my dad packed up his family and started out for the Golden State. The first night we camped in Pennsylvania, and our 1922 Dodge Touring car broke down. This meant that a new car had to be found. We had a lot of camping gear including cots and a tent. It was 'quite cool' for camping that time of year, and we camped every night.  I don't think we made 200 miles in any day. We crossed the Mississippi River at St. Louis. It was the first muddy river I had ever seen. The bridge was one mile long and we thought we would never get to the end of it.

The next stop was Dodge City, Kansas. It was raining, and we stayed there several days, living in a hotel. waiting for the rain to stop. There was no camping in the rain.  We headed west from Dodge City. There were all kinds of roads (two ruts in the mud) following the railroad track. Take your pick! We picked the wrong one and got stuck down to the axles. It took several men with a rope tied to the front of the car to get us out. There were other cars behind us waiting to pass.

As we came to Colorado, it got COLD. At Trinidad we turned south to Raton, New Mexico, then to Albuquerque. In the campground, there were fires of Eucalyptus wood, the odor of which I can still recall. We crossed the sand dunes of Arizona on a plank road with turnouts every half mile so someone else could pass. It was about 7 miles long, and some of it is still there.

Our next stop was Yuma, Arizona. From Yuma, through the Imperial valley, up over the Mountains to San Diego.  Going down the Alpine grade, we broke down, but with repairs we made it to a campground at Balboa Park, by Roosevelt High School, where we stayed for a few days. We then moved to Kensington Park were we lived until father built a house for us.  I worked with him for four years learning the trade, becoming the third generation of carpenters in our family as far as I know.

In 1926, I got my first car, a Model T Ford Roadster with a mother-in-law seat in the rear. I put 100,000 miles on it before it wore out.  In 1927 I married Gertrude O'Connell and continued working in construction. Our first child, a daughter, was born in 1929, and she was followed by a son born in 1930, while we were living in Pacific Beach.

By 1930, the country was heading into a depression. There was little construction going on, and things were slow with not very many jobs to be found.  In 1931, I got a job working for the San Diego and Arizona Railroad at $4.00 a day. Room and board was $1.00 a day, as we lived with a work crew.   I helped to rebuild a tunnel that was burned out in Mexico, and needed all new timber, as well as a bridge and a tunnel to bypass one that had caved in. That was in Carrizo Gorge. The bridge was 185 feet high, and 75 miles east of San Diego.

In 1935 I returned to San Diego and continued to work in construction. I bought property in El Cajon and built a house were we lived for 25 years. Our youngest son Henry, was born there in 1935.  My daughter, Margaret, became a nurse, and both of the boys went into the service. 

In 1960, I suffered a heart attack. At that time, I was in the construction business. My doctor told me that if I knew when to quit, I might live 5-10 years, so I quit.  Later, I took on the job of being maintenance person and manager of the Valley Gun Club, a public shooting range, where I worked for 11 years.

In 1972, I retired, and now live in a Mobile Home park. The last 20 years, we spent the summers in Northern California. fishing, and camping in Trinity County. We were hosts at Preacher's Meadows for several years, and we made several trips over most of the west.  At last count, we had 7 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren."

Ed Note:Ed Note: Edward Lewis Dodge was born June 29, 1908, in Medford, Massachusetts, the third child of Lewis Henry Dodge and Edith Farwell Dodge. He went to school in Newtonville, Massachusetts through the 8th grade. The family moved to Rhode Island in 1923, the same year that he built a new home there that subsequently burned. He is a tenth generation from William Dodge who came to Salem in 1629. The fourth child of this family was Earl Farwell Dodge, the father of your Editor. Edwards wife, Gertrude, died in 1995, and Edward died in 1998.