By Duncan Adams The Roanoke Times
© May 18, 2013 ROANOKE
The aging but apparently vigorous Civil War veteran married a teen bride. The couple had eight children.
Research by members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy shows that Nathaniel “Nat” Hammock was 67 years old and Lessie Gray Myers was 16 when they married Aug. 8, 1908. Nat died at age 84 in 1925, just two weeks after the birth in Pittsylvania County of a daughter whose impressions of her father have relied solely on others’ accounts.
Isabelle Hammock Hodges of Franklin County said cards started flooding in early last year after word spread among UDC chapters that Hodges, 88, is a “real daughter” of a Confederate veteran.
The cards keep coming. Hodges recently received a $5 gift card to Walmart from the Florida-based Bonnie Blue Flag Chapter 2329 of the UDC.
Research by the Franklin County-based Jubal Early Chapter 553 of the UDC had determined that Hodges and her older sister, Mildred Adkins, who lives in Danville, were survivors among 15 known offspring fathered by Nat Hammock during two marriages. Hodges was formally admitted to the UDC on Jan. 28, 2012.
And she says now that her induction and the bushels of cards that followed helped keep her alive early last year when she was suffering a variety of ailments.
“I knew I had to get better,” she said.
On Saturday, Hodges and Adkins will be among the guests of honor during a Veterans Memorial Ceremony presented by the Franklin County Historical Society to recognize county residents who were casualties of the nation’s wars.
The tribute begins at 10:30 a.m. on the lawn of the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount.
Linda Stanley, the society’s special projects coordinator, said Saturday’s event will emphasize what she described as “antique wars” — the Revolutionary War, Civil War and War of 1812. Memorial Day activities often focus on more contemporary wars, she said.
Hodges and Adkins will receive cotton boll corsages, Stanley said, in honor of their father’s service to the Confederate States of America. She said the two women are the last known surviving daughters of Confederate veterans in Virginia.
Nat Hammock reportedly signed up for the Southern side in Pittsylvania County in August 1863 and joined Company E of the 57th Virginia Infantry.
He apparently spent much of his military career sickened by severe diarrhea, a condition that required his hospitalization in Danville, Farmville and Lynchburg, according to the Jubal Early Chapter’s research.
Hodges was 3 years old when her mother died in August 1928. She and five of her siblings went to live on a farm in the Truvine section of Franklin County with the family of Benjamin Dickerson Hammock, a half brother born during Nat Hammock’s first marriage.
“We just called him ‘Brother Ben,’ ” Hodges recalled. “I didn’t know he was my half brother until much later.”
Hodges was not yet 16 years old when she married Walter Raymond Hodges.
She said that when they first met she knew he was “going out with different girls” and was surprised when he courted her and then proposed.
“He told me he was just messing around with the others waiting for me to grow up,” Hodges said.
The couple had no children but raised three offspring of Isabelle’s youngest brother. One of the three, Delano “Hippie Joe” Hammock, died from an apparent heart attack in 2002 when he was 40 years old.
Walter Raymond Hodges died nearly one year later at 84.
Isabelle Hodges worked in textile manufacturing at the Angle Silk Mill and successor J.P. Stevens for a total of about 33 years before retiring in 1988.
Although she had been told that her father had served in the Confederate army, the reality of that service became more tangible, she said, after her recognition by the Jubal Early Chapter.
Hodges said she had known next to nothing about Nat Hammock. People had told her he was “a good man.”
The Jubal Early Chapter’s research and the attention it drew made her father seem more real, she said.
“I could almost touch him, I’d been with him so much,” Hodges said.