Around Town
Times Herald, Carroll Iowa

Friday, October 3, 1980
by Wilbert Reitz

One of the most popular card games played in the Carroll area many years ago was Somerset. Some people are still playing it, according to Mrs. Don (Mabel) Hillyer.

The inventor of the game was Arthur J. Hodges, father of Mrs Hillyer’s first husband J. Howard Hodges, a Carroll building contractor.

The name of the game comes from the fact that in bidding, zeal to win sometimes outweighs judgment and “some are set”.

The game is played with 28 cards printed with numbers. There are no face cards. “In this respect,” the rules state, “the game is unique. Do not be misled by their (cards) appearance, however; these figures have no reference to tiresome fractions or mathematical problems.

“The game will not weary you and, unlike some games, you will not grow disgusted after playing a few times. The more you play the better you will like it and while you are amusing yourself in a delightful manner, you will also be developing the powers of memory, observation and deduction, faculties of the utmost importance in a successful life.”

Hodges was born in 1870 and came to Carroll in 1896. His ambition was to be a lawyer but the fates ruled otherwise. He did manage to become a court clerk. After coming to Carroll, he became a mail clerk and worked for many years on the mail trains of the Chicago & North Western Railway.

The Hodges lived in a large home on the southeast corner of Carroll and Seventh streets. Mrs. Hillyer also lived there and, in later years, rented rooms. Several years ago she sold the property to the Commercial Savings Bank and the house was torn down to make way for the bank’s present drive-in building.

“The game was easily learned”, Mabel says. “It is not a game of numerals or fractions. The lower numbers on the cards merely represent suits and the upper numbers the individual values of these suits.”

Stamp collecting of both U.S. and foreign issues was another hobby of this unusual Carroll resident. He was an avid reader and, at one time, had a home library of between 500 and 600 books.

He was a great horticulturist; irises were his top floral interest. He grew many species of this plant in his spacious yard and every year he held an iris show and invited the public to come and look at them.

Another hobby was genealogy. He compiled a complete history of the Hodges family and always wrote in great detail about the many trips they made to other states.

Hodges was married to Mary Young at Boone. In addition to the late J. Howard Hodges, their other children included Edna Sheffield, Storm Lake; Helen Evangeline Smith, Florida; and Thelma McCleary, Des Moines.

Copyright © 1980 Daily Times Herald.