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HOHN, CAESAR [DUTCH]

HOHN, CAESAR [DUTCH] (1887–1971). Caesar (Dutch) Hohn, agricultural extension service worker, was born in Yorktown, Texas, in 1887, of German descent, the son of Louis and Joanna (Behringer) Hohn. He lived in Yorktown until, at the age of twenty-one, he enrolled in the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (later Texas A&M University). He worked at odd jobs to pay his way through school, most successfully as a candy salesman, until he graduated in 1912 with a B.S. in agriculture. At A&M he was captain of the football team in 1911 and of the baseball team in 1912; he eventually won a place in the Texas A&M Hall of Fame. During his early college career a group of hazers made him sing a song first in Spanish, then English, and finally German; the audience preferred the German and gave Hohn his lifelong nickname, "Dutch." He worked first as a coach and a teacher of chemistry at the Seventh District Agriculture School of Albertville, Alabama. After a year he returned to Texas A&M, where he earned his M.S. in agriculture in 1914, the first ever given at the school. In 1916 Hohn married his college sweetheart, Eleanor McDonald. They had two children. He managed Pease Ranch in the Corpus Christi area until 1919. In 1920 he was hired as county agent of Grimes County where he worked for four years before quitting to try his hand at selling insurance in Houston. After four years he was ready to return to his interest in land reclamation, so he took a job as county agent in Washington County in 1928. During the ten years Hohn held this position, he was responsible for the reclamation and terracing of 3,600 farms that had declined after long years of soil abuse. He also made it possible for poor young men to attend Texas A&M by building residence buildings that rented for half the standard rate.

In 1938 he became soil and water conservationist at the Texas A&M Extension Service. He worked there until 1939, when he accepted a job with the state extension service, which led to his becoming the assistant state agent, a post he held in 1941 and 1942. When the war broke out, the extension service took over farm-labor work from the United States Employment Service and named Hohn to head the program. Utilizing his previous experience with migrant Mexican labor, Hohn worked toimprove communication and trust between laborers and Texas farmers. He was responsible for providing hospitable accommodations and friendly advice to thousands of migrant laborers, a task he accomplished by helping farming communities build reception centers to provide necessities and information and encouraging farmers to treat their laborers fairly. Hohn's actions on behalf of migrant laborers won him national renown.

In 1947 he left the state extension service to take a job with the Lower Colorado River Authority, where he worked until he retired to Independence, Washington County, in 1950. In retirement Hohn continued to improve the quality of the farms and fields around him. In 1963 he published his autobiography, Dutchman on the Brazos; Reminiscences of Caesar (Dutch) Hohn, which contains wonderful anecdotes and information about soil conservation and labor negotiation, not to mention Hohn's experiences during the early years of Texas A&M and many of his experiences dealing with the infamously stubborn Texas farmers. He lived in Independence until his death on February 11, 1971.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American-Statesman, November 17, 1963. Houston Post, February 13, 1971.

Keith Pounds

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Keith Pounds, "HOHN, CAESAR [DUTCH]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fho98), accessed September 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 29, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.