Chili Hodges honored by Texas Historical Commission
By Jan White
CROCKETT – In January of 1970, the Houston County Courier ran a story about a new business starting up in Crockett. “C.R. (Chili) Hodges, Crockett native who has had nine years of experience in surveying as an employee of two Crockett firms, is now in business for himself, he announces.” That was the beginning of an enterprise that has taken Hodges all over Houston County and surrounding counties and garnered him an award few businesses these days can claim.
In recognition of his achievements, the Texas Historical Commission honored Hodges with the “Texas Treasure Business Award.” The certificate given to Hodges reads, “C.R. Hodges Surveying, Inc., Family owned and operated in Texas since 1970. For exceptional contributions toward the economic growth and prosperity of Texas.”
On Wednesday, August 24, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell was at the surveyor’s office to present the Historical Commission award to Hodges for his years of serving Houston County and surrounding areas.
Hodges gained his surveying experience while working for W.O. Kirkland and Bill Dabney. After obtaining his public surveyor license, he decided to embark on his own, setting up shop in a small building on East Houston Avenue in 1970. Later, Hodges inherited the property adjacent to his original building and converted it into the headquarters from which he now works.
Patti Rains, Hodges’s secretary and “Girl Friday” for over forty years, calls the place “his museum.” And she would be right. His office is filled with trophies and treasures Hodges has collected over the years. A cabinet holds shelves packed with all types of shell casings and perfectly preserved arrowheads and spearheads. The walls display turkey beards and tailfeathers, mountings of his two best fish, a ring-tailed cat caught in the woods near his house, the bobcat that he found on his farm, the hornet’s nest he brought back from Colorado, and scores of pictures and portraits, each with its own story to tell. And you can’t miss the mound of deer antlers piled so high they’re taller than his desk. When asked how many antlers he thought were there, Hodges’s answer was short but sincere, “Too many to count.”
In the hallway are pictures painted on turkey tails by a gentleman in Kennard and a painting made by Hodges’s daughter-in-law of the “Over the Hill Hunting Club,” where Patti says Hodges and his buddies used to go hunting in the hill country. And Hodges himself is no stranger to the arts. “He doodles,” said Patti. “And he can cut a straight line better than anybody you’ve ever seen.” Several of Hodges’s “doodles” are displayed underneath the glass of the office’s front desk.
Hodges’s grandson, James Bond, started working for the surveying company right out of high school. Bond says he learned everything about surveying from his grandfather. “He taught me how to do it all. I do parts work, fieldwork, office work,” said Bond. “I’ve been working with him for 18 years.” When asked what kind of surveying they do, Bond answered, “Anything to do with land surveying – houses, big ranches, commercial. As much buying and selling as there is right now, we’ve got a pretty good backlog of work to do.” Hodges has served as the county surveyor of Houston County for more than 50 years.
Bond is waiting to get his surveyor license as he carries on the family business, and what a business it has been.
“I’m honored to be able to present him this award,” said Lovell. “There’s not many businesses that stay in business for 50-plus years.”
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