Social Justice Activists | Joseph Hodge 


Joseph “Black Joe” Hodge is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, non-native settler in the Buffalo area.  Although a former slave who was captured by the Seneca Indians during the Revolutionary War, Hodge became a successful businessman.  (Mingus, 2003, p, 15).  He married a Seneca woman and they moved to the area in the early 1770s.  (Mingus, 2003, p. 15). 

Hodge’s fluency in the Seneca language allowed him to trade easily and successfully with the Native Americans.  (Mingus, 2003, p. 15).  He also acted as an interpreter between other settlers and the native peoples living and trading in the area.  (Mingus, 2003, p. 15).  Hodge opened a prosperous trading post and tavern on Buffalo Creek near the Niagara River.  (Eiss, 2015).  His tavern, opened in 1789, was the first of its kind in the area. (Eiss, 2015).  Most believe Hodge and his wife left Buffalo in the early 1800s, but the exact details of his life are very scarce.  (Mingus, 2003, p.16).

Although there is not much written about Hodge, it is clear that he was an important figure in the early settlement of Buffalo.  He triumphed over his past as a slave and became one of the first non-native settlers and business owners in the Buffalo area.  His accomplishments are beyond just the personal, as he was clearly an integral part in shaping Buffalo as a future trading center. 

Mingus, N. B. (2003). The making of America: Buffalo: Good neighbors, great architecture. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing.

Eiss, J. P. (2015). The first breweries on the Niagara Frontier, Buffalo, New York. Retrieved from