University of Texas
Clarence Albert Hodges
December 13, 1889–March 18, 1922



Clarence Albert Hodges

Clarence Albert Hodges


When asked to provide information about her grandfather, Professor Clarence Albert Hodges, Nancy Coste Diehl, wrote, “My memories of him are colored by being an adoring granddaughter who thought he was quite perfect... however, I would be happy to provide any information I can. He loved his time in Austin, with his young family of 3 little girls. They had a little house in town, provided by his father-in-law, where they kept chickens and a cow. That location is now part of the campus. He completed his doctorate at Cal Tech in 1928, then came to Philadelphia to teach at Temple University until his retirement. He instilled a respect for education that resulted in his children and many grandchildren all completing advanced degrees.”


Albert Clarence Hodges, (1889-1979)
Clarence alternated the order of his given names. In early documents he is Albert Clarence, later he became Clarence Albert.

His Parents

Albert Clarence Hodges was born in Covina, California, on December 13, 1889, to James Rousseau (1861-1937) and Ollie B. Judd (1870–1959) Hodges. James and Ollie were married January 7, 1889, in New Jerusalem Ventura, CA. James was born in Hart County, Kentucky. He moved to Santa Ana, California with his family at the age of twelve and and took up residence in Covina in 1882. James worked as a landlord and as a horticultural inspector in the horticultural industry. He conducted many experiments with various citrus diseases and formulated several highly praised cures. He is credited with having brought the first orange trees into the Covina valley. Many of the orchards were a result of his efforst as nurseryman, budder and grafter.He also served as the City Clerk for a long period and Justice of the Peace for the Rowland township when the entire valley was under one lower court jurisdiction, for twelve years. Ollie was born February 9, 1870 in Baltimore, Maryland. They had four children, Vivyenne E. (Campbell), Louis A., (Covina City Councilman), James G. (Manager of Valencia Heights Orchards, Inc and president of the Chamber of Commerce) and Albert Clarence (professor of physics).

Here is an entry from Covina, CA history site, "Fall, 1886 – J. R. Hodges builds Covina's first permanent structure out of concrete on the south side of Badillo Street east of the Pioneer Blacksmith Shop."

Another history entry, "At first, farmers from the East and Midwest wanted the crops they knew — grain, vegetables and deciduous fruit. Pioneer nurserymen John Coolman, Michael Baldridge, James R. Hodges, Madison Bashor, J.R. King, G.W. Lee and A.L. Keim started Covina’s citrus industry by raising seedlings in their nurseries, often bringing barrels of water from the canyon to water them by hand. Gradually, tiny trees covered bare land. These nurserymen planted groves for absentee owners and tended them until the owners moved to Covina. As time went on, citrus became the major crop. The growers realized that transportation and improved marketing would make their industry grow. Azusa, Covina and Glendora formed the first Citrus association to pack and market their fruit. Community leaders persuaded the Southern Pacific to bring a line to Covina. Later they persuaded the Pacific Electric to also provide service."

More history, "In 1886, the first telephone was installed in the Hodges Building located on the south side of Badillo east of the Pioneer Blacksmith Shop. Later, this telephone was moved to Eastman’s Store. In 1895, private telephone lines were installed between the Covina Bank and their branch in Azusa, also between the citrus packinghouses in Covina, Glendora, and Azusa. In 1897, the Sunset Telephone placed a switchboard in Isaac Greenlaw’s store." Photo at right is first telephone in Covina.

"Historical Notes In 1873, Dr. Daniel M. Berry of Indiana visited the area in search of a place that could offer better climate to his patients, most of whom suffered from respiratory ailments. Berry was an asthmatic and claimed that he had his best three nights sleep at Rancho San Pascual. To raise funds to bring the company of people to San Pascual, Berry formed the Southern California Orange and Citrus Growers Association for which he sold stock. The newcomers were able to purchase a large portion of the property along the Arroyo Seco and on January 31, 1874, they incorporated the Indiana Colony. The Indiana Colony was a narrow strip of land between the Arroyo Seco and Fair Oaks Avenue. On the other side of the street was Benjamin Wilson's Lake Vineyard development. After more than a decade of parallel development on both sides, the two settlements merged into the City of Pasadena.*" The Berry name appears in the Hodges family, whether there is a connection with Dr. Berry is not known at the moment.

Mystery Information

The following section is related to some information about various entries for an Albert Clarence Hodges in California, unlikely to be our Clarence.
In 1901, there is a Albert Clarence Hodges who is superintendent of the Oakland Preserving Co. Since Clarence’s father James R. is in the horticultural industry, this was suggestive of our Clarence, however he would be only 12 years old, so likely there is another Albert Clarence, maybe a relative.

In 1903, a Clarence was in Hedges, San Diego, CA. There is also a Albert Clarence Hodges who is superintendent of the California Fruit Canners Association. The previous comment applies, our Clarence would be only 14.

In 1906-11, Albert C. Hodges is a mail contractor at a pay of $1845/yr. Again this Clarence would be only 17 in 1906.

His Early Education

Clarence attended Covina High School where he was champion debater. The 1908 photo from the Covina High School yearbook shows his team. He is at left on the front row.

The June 1917 WWI Draft Registration record states that Clarence was single and teaching school in Holtville, CA, for the Imperial County School District. He served as principal of the school. He would be 29. Where Clarence attended school to qualify as a school teacher is not known currently. He also taught in San Bernardino, CA.








His Marriage

Clarence married Cecilia Elizabeth Murphree (1889-1980) on June 12, 1917 in the Methodist Church of Holtville, CA. At the time of their marriage, Clarence was superving principal of the Holtville grammar schools in the Imperial Valley. Cecilia was teaching in the schools with Clarence. Cecilia's parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Murphree were living in Quanah, Texas. Cecilia was born on November 15, 1889, in Murfreesboro, TN. She is pictured at right. They had three children, Evelyn Elizabeth (Coste) (1918-2010), Margaret Helen (Purnell) (1920-2010), and Amy Ruth (Boxwell) (1925-2001). Clarence served in WWI.

Cecilia’s family offered Clarence and her support while they attended UT.








Study at the University of Texas

Clarence earned his AB at Texas in 1921. He was a tutor in physics in 1922. Cecilia was studying at UT also. In 1925, The Daily Texan, student newspaper, announced that there were six PhD candidates in physics. Clarence was among those listed.

Below right we see Cecilia Hodges with daughter Margaret Helen in October, 1921.


Clarence continued at Texas earning an MA with a thesis entitled, A Determination of the Constant of Gravitation and the Mean Density of the Earth. The Austin American reported a University of Texas physics professor’s claim to have determined the "weight of the world," calculating it to be 6,650,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grams. The paper was referring to Clarence’s thesis.

His Phd at Cal Tech

In 1926, the UT Board of Regents granted Albert Clarence Hodges a leave of absence to do graduate work at Cal Tech.

In 1928, Hodges earned a PhD at Cal. Tech. His thesis was titled, Effect of Change in Pressure and Current Density on the Spectrum of Helium. His supervisor was Robert Andrews Millikan, at right. Millikan had won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1923 for his measurement of the elementary electronic charge and for his work on the photoelectric effect. Clearly he could select from the best of graduate students.

Hodges’ Thesis Committee:
Millikan, Robert Andrews (chair)
Houston, William Vermillion
Bowen, Ira Sprague



A description of Hodges’ dissertation is provided by the Cal Tech Library web site:

“A study has been made of the intensities of the various lines of the neutral helium spectrum, with the particular view of obtaining regularities in the variation of the relative intensities with changes in current density and pressure.

The method used is a modification of that developed by Ornstein at Utrecht. A study has been made of the lines 5876, 5016, 4713, 4472, 4387, 4143, 3964, 3889 and 3819, at pressure of 27,9 and 3 mm., and currents of 64, 20, and 4 milliamperes in a capillary discharge.

The results show little variation with current density except for the trial at 3 mm pressure. At this pressure, the higher members of the series seem to be relatively stronger, and the singlet system is relatively stronger with a decrease in current density.

There is a very definite shift of energy into the higher members of the various series with a decrease in pressure. There does not appear to be much change in relative intensity for the two higher pressures. The singlet system is made more prominent by decreasing the pressure.

Tables are included showing the relative intensities of three members of the diffuse series of the triplet system, 2 members of the principal series of the singlet system and three members of the diffuse series of the singlet system.”

While at Cal Tech in the Norman Bridge Laboratory, he published a paper with W. C. Michels entitled, Intensity Measurements in the Helium Spectrum, Phys. Rev. 32, 913 – Published 1 December 1928.

Following the receipt of his PhD, Clarence became an assistant professor at Temple University. He was an assistant professor between 1928-35. He was promoted to associate professor in 1936 and to full professor in 1949. He became Emeritus Professor in 1960. He was a member of the American Physical Society, The American Association of Physics Teachers and The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.








Clarence died on August 8, 1979. in Wallingford Delaware County, PA. He is buried in Grove Hill Cemetery, Rockville, Connecticut. Cecilia died December 22, 1980, also in Springfield, Delaware County, PA, and is buried with Clarence..

Children of Clarence Albert and Cecila Hodges

Obituary for Margaret Helen Hodges Purnell

MARGARET HELEN (HODGES) PURNELL- Helen, 89 peacefully left this life February 27, 2010. She was born on March 9, 1920 in Austin, Texas, daughter of Clarence Albert Hodges and Cecilia Elizabeth (Murphree) Hodges, where she started school and lived until 1925.

After two years in Pasadena, California and Chillicothe, Texas, from 1925 to 1927, the family then moved to Philadelphia, PA, where she completed her elementary education at Wagner Elementary School.

In 1937, she earned the highest award, the equivalent of today's Gold Award, from the Girl Scouts of America, Troop 197 in Philadelphia. She went on to serve as a leader in Troops 197 and 39. She graduated high school in 1938 from the Oak Lane Country Day School, Philadelphia, and in 1941 earned her B.S. in Nursing from Temple University. She received her R.N. from the Cornell University School of Nursing in 1943 and became a nurse at the Cornell University Hospital in New York City. Her nursing career continued until 1949.

During World War II, she enlisted as a First Reserve Nurse in the American Red Cross Nursing Service. She was also a volunteer for the American Red Cross while in N.Y.C. and Virginia. She met Dr. Oliver James Purnell, Jr. in N.Y.C. whom she married in Philadelphia in 1947. They raised their four sons in Rockville, CT, all of whom became Eagle Scouts, and she found time to volunteer at the Child and Family Services' Thrift Shop located in downtown Rockville. She was a deacon and very active member of the Union Congregational Church in Rockville, and of the Jensen Beach Community Church in Jensen Beach, FL where she spent winter seasons near her sisters.

She was an avid hiker with her husband especially in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and on Mt. Khatadin in Maine. She and her husband spent summer vacations at their "camp" located on Cathance Lake in Cooper, ME. Helen was a passionate collector of teddy bears and gave well-loved "bear talks" to elementary school children in Rockville. Much of her collection was donated to significantly enhance the collection of the Teddy Bear Museum in Naples, FL.

She was a member of the Capt. Noah Grant Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Hope Chapter #60 O.E.S., Ellington, CT, St. Lucie Chapter #322 O.E.S., Stuart, FL, and the Vernon Historical Society. An enthusiastic genealogist, she was a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Connecticut Society of Mayflower Descendants, The Pilgrim John Howland Society, Daughters of the Confederacy, Murphree Genealogical Association, the John Berry Association, and the Society of Indiana Pioneers. She was also a contributing member of AARP, the American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals, the Wilderness Society, The American Red Cross, and the American Heart Association.

Helen was predeceased by her beloved husband in 1989, by her son William Hodges Purnell in 1992, by her sister Amy Ruth (Hodges) Boxwell in 2001 and by her sister Evelyn Elizabeth (Hodges) Coste in 2010. She is survived by her sons and daughters-in law, Hon. Oliver James Purnell, III of Rockville, CT, John Howard Purnell and Karen Jane (Kareski) Purnell of Stafford Springs, CT, Nancy Marie (Coutu) Purnell of Ashford, CT, and Dr. Robert Campbell Purnell and Atty. Charlotte Elizabeth Parsons of Hot Springs, AR, as well as eight grandchildren, Oliver James Purnell, IV of Manchester, CT, Amy Susan (Purnell) Hood and her husband Patrick Shelby Hood of Manchester, CT, Carl John Purnell of Baltimore, MD, Matthew Robert Purnell of Stafford Springs, CT, Leigh Ann Purnell of Hadley, MA, Kevin Andrew Purnell of Jensen Beach, FL, Elizabeth Grace Parsons Purnell and Margaret Merriam Parsons Purnell both of Hot Springs, AR, and by her brothers-in-law Charles R. “Buck” Boxwell of Pasadena, MD, and Dr. Peter E. Coste of Port St. Lucie, FL, and by numerous nieces and nephews. She leaves behind many dear friends and especially her closest friend, Evelyn Reiske of Vernon.

She was specially blessed by the faithful visits from Dolores and Bob Hoermann, and Clifford and Judy Wood, all of Vernon. She is also remembered by numerous friends in Jensen Beach, Florida. Special thanks go to Mrs. Ellen Fagan who wrote faithfully to her every week, and to the staff of Stuart Nursing Home in Stuart, FL and of The Fox Hill Center in Rockville, CT where she received loving care. Helen was a strong and loving wife and mother, loyal friend, and an unequalled letter writer. She had definite opinions, and her gentle humor and good sense will be greatly missed by those who knew her. Calling hours will be Saturday, March 20, 4-7 PM at the Burke-Fortin Funeral Home, 76 Prospect St., Rockville. The Eastern Star will hold a service at 5:30 PM. The funeral will be held Sunday, March 21 at 1:00 PM at the First Congregational Church of Vernon, 695 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon, followed by a reception at the church. Burial will be private at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The American Red Cross Connecticut Chapter, P.O. Box 5003, Hartford, CT 06102-5003 or the charity of the donor’s choice. For online condolences, please visit

Evelyn Elizabeth Hodges Coste

"Betty" Coste, 91, died January 16, 2010, at Martin Memorial Medical Center, Stuart, Florida. She was born in Loma Linda, San Bernardino County, CA on December 31, 1918, and lived on the Treasure Coast for 25 years, coming from Swarthmore, PA.

She was a graduate of Wilson College.

Before retiring, she was a teacher at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia.

She was a member of the Jensen Beach Community Church and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Survivors include her husband of 65 years, Peter E. Coste; daughters, Margaret Cooper and Nancy Diehl; sons, Peter, Thomas, John and Andrew Coste; sister, Helen Purnell; 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.


She was preceded in death by her sister, Amy Ruth Boxwell.

Services: Arrangements are by Aycock Funeral Home, Jensen Beach.

Peter and Elizabeth Hodges Coste's wedding photo at right.



Amy Ruth Hodges Boxwell, 76, died Friday, (September 21, 2001) at a nursing facility in Annapolis, MD. She resided at S. Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach, FL.

Amy was born in Austin, TX, March. 24, 1925, daughter of the late Clarence A. and Cecila E. (Murphree) Hodges. She moved from Maryland to Florida in 1995. She was a retired teacher and administrator from Anne Arundel County Board of Education, Maryland. She was Lt. Col. in the Civil Air Patrol in Florida.

Amy is survived by two sons, Stephen Hartley of Cherry Hill, NJ, and Jonathan Hartley of Linthicum, MD; and four daughters, Cecila Ann Weakley of Ft. Wayne, IN, Patricia Snodgrass of Annapolis, MD, Rebecca Muller of Severna Park, MD, and Apryll Steen of Virginia Beach, VA; two sisters, Helen Purnell of Rockville, and Betty Coste of Jensen Beach, FL; and 11 grandchildren.

A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 1:30 p.m., at Pasadena United Methodist Church, 61 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, MD. Private interment will be in Grove Hill Cemetery, Rockville. Memorial donations may be made to Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 18341, Baltimore, MD 21240. White-Gibson-Small Funeral Home, 65 Elm St., Rockville, is in care of arrangements.


Acknowledgment: Many of the family pictures were made available by Nancy Diehl, granddaughter of Clarence and Cecilia Hodges.

Albert Clarence Hodges Photo and Document Album

Albert Clarence Hodges, Temple University, second from the left.
Clarence died on August 8, 1979. in Wallingford Delaware County, PA. He is buried in Grove Hill Cemetery, Rockville, Connecticut. Cecilia died December 22, 1980, also in Springfield, Delaware County, PA, and is buried with Clarence.
Albert Clarence Hodges Registration Card, 1916
Margaret Helen Hodges birth record, 1920
Olive B. Judd Hodges, mother of Albert Clarence Hodges
Lois Berry Crocker Judd (1849–1896), grandmother of Albert Clarence Hodges. She was wife of Charles Judd (1843–1888)
Lois Berry Crocker Judd (1849–1896), grandmother of Albert Clarence Hodges. She was wife of Charles Judd (1843–1888)
Olive Crocker Berry (1805–1879), mother of Lois Crocker Berry Judd (1849–1896),
Olive is great-grandmother of Albert Clarence Hodges.


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