George I. Hockensmith Papers

DSpace/Manakin Repository

George I. Hockensmith Papers

 

George Ignatius Hockensmith was on October 6, 1887 in Wooster, Ohio to George Hockensmith and Mary Burns. He had two sisters, Mrs. Harry Pickering and Mrs. Ray Williamson. He had lost his parents and home during a raid by Mexican bandits, thus was raised by Texas Rangers. He was married to Anna F. Withrow from Newett, Colorado. The couple had seven children.

In 1914, the Hunkin-Conkey Company hired Hockensmith to oversee the construction of the Detroit-Superior High Level Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio in the position of Superintendent.

During World War I, Hunkin-Conkey won the bid to build the Goodyear blimp factory at Wingfoot Lake southeast of Akron, Ohio. Hockensmith was contracted to be the superintendent overseeing the construction of the rubber plant facilities. Over a 1,000 balloons of various types and makes were assembled for the army and navy there. At the Wingfoot Lake Air Naval station, because of a balked landing by the test flight of the first dirigible, Hockensmith, without prior training or experience, volunteered to fly the airship.

In 1918 he received his Dirigible Balloon Pilot License and after the construction of the Wingfoot Lake facilities were completed, Hockensmith stayed with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The latter established at strategic points in the country facilities to support their dirigible program.

Hockensmith worked as field manager at the Goodyear flying field at Los Angeles, CA and was elected director of the Aero club of Southern California. In Los Angeles, Goodyear developed a small version of a dirigible named the Pony Blimp for commercial use, with which Hockensmith went onto promotional tours.

In 1929, Hockensmith started his own construction company. He was again approached by Hunkin-Conkey to oversee the building of the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. Upon completion of this monument, Hockensmith worked for Booth and Flinn in Pittsburgh as General Superintendent supervising the construction of the George Westinghouse Bridge and the Ohio River Boulevard.

During the 1930s, he built the British Guiana Air Base at Georgetown, British Guiana, and air bases in Brazil for which he received the Ordem Do Cruzeiro Do Sul or Medal of the Order of the Southern Cross.

Until his death at age 64 on October 31, 1951, Hockensmith had built many bridges, among which is the Trinity River Bridge in Dallas, Texas.

Hockensmith passed away in Newark, New Jersey and was survived by wife Anna F. Hockensmith, two sons, George L. and Harold N., five daughters, Mrs. Clement Smith, Mrs. John J. Moffet, Mrs. A.G. Ford, Mrs. E.K. Gleason, and Mrs. John A. Crawford, and thirteen grandchildren: Arthur Smith, Terry Smith, Guy Smith, Susanne Steele, Patricia Steele, Sally Gleason, William Gleason, Judy Gleason, Theresa Ellen Gleason, Barbara Jean Gleason, Joan Hockensmith, Sandy Hockensmith, and Lorraine Hockensmith.

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