David Hudson

Founder of Hudson, Ohio
Anner Marie Hudson Baldwin
Four generations of the Hudson family. Hudson Library & Historical Society photograph collections (P.04.00.00895)

David Hudson was born in Branford, Connecticut on February 17, 1761, the son of David and Rebecca Fowler Hudson. When David was a young boy, his father uprooted the family and moved to the town of Goshen in northwestern Connecticut.

In 1793 David Hudson married a girl from Goshen, Anna Norton, the first cousin of two of his friends, Nathanial and Birdsey Norton. Seven children were born to the Hudsons while they lived in Goshen: Samuel (born April 4, 1785), Ira (born September 19, 1787), William Norton (born November 8, 1789), Milo Lee (born October 15, 1971), David Norton (born February 27, 1794), Timothy (born May 20, 1796), and Abigail Laura (born June 30, 1798). David Norton Hudson died in August of 1796. The rest of the children would come with their family to the Western Reserve.

When the Connecticut Land Company began to open northeastern Ohio to settlement in an area we now call the Western Reserve, David Hudson formed a partnership with five others. These investors included Anna Norton Hudson’s cousins Nathanial and Birdsey Norton, as well as David Hudson’s brother-in-law Theodore Parmelee (who was married to David’s sister, Keziah), Stephen Baldwin, and Benjamin Oviatt. The group of co-proprietors paid over $8,000 for a five-mile square section in the wilderness called “Range Ten, Town Four” which today is called “Hudson.”

None of the other five owners ever set foot on their new land. David Hudson chose to be the one to come to the frontier, survey the new holdings, and prepare Range Ten. Town Four for settlement. Leaving Goshen in the spring of 1799, the Hudson party consisted of David Hudson, Ira Hudson, Jesse Lindley, Mr. and Mrs. Thadeus Lacey, and William McKinley. They traveled overland in a northeasterly direction. In New York State they were joined by other settlers, notably Joseph Darrow, Jonah Meacham, and Richard Blinn. The Hudson party later merged with that of Benjamin Tappan, the founder of what would become Ravenna, Ohio.

Part of the crew went overland, while Hudson brought most the party up to Lake Ontario. The group sailed west until reaching Niagara Falls. After portaging around the falls, they entered Lake Erie, continuing westward. The journey took them to the mouths of the Conneaut and Grand Rivers, and later reaching the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on June 10.

The group then took a ten day journey south along the Cuyahoga, then followed the Brandywine Creek into Hudson. When they reached the southwestern corner of what is now Hudson Township on June 26, 1799, they began to survey the new land.

On October 12, David Hudson headed for home in Goshen to fetch his family and bring the next wave of settlers to the new land. The second Hudson party left Goshen in January, and by May 28, 1800, reached Range 10, Town 4 to find that all was well. After offering public thanks for a safe arrival, one of the first tasks David Hudson had was building a cabin for his family near where Main and Baldwin Streets intersect today. It was in this cabin that Anna Norton Hudson gave birth to a daughter, Anner Maria Hudson, on October 28, 1800, the first settler child to be born in what is now Hudson.

In 1802, Range 10, Town 4 officially became “Hudson”, and the first elections were held that year. The final Hudson child was born on September 7, 1805, and was named David Hudson Junior. In 1806, the Hudsons left the cabin and moved into a spacious house he had built to the north.

That house, which stands today at 318 North Main Street, is not only the oldest frame structure on its original foundations in Summit County, but it was continuously occupied by members of the Hudson family until 1967.

Anna Norton Hudson died on August 31, 1816 and is buried in the family plot in the Old Hudson Township Burying Ground on Chapel Street. On January 1, 1817, David Hudson remarried, this time to Mary (Polly) Robinson. David and Polly had no children together, although she helped to raise David Junior, who was eleven when the marriage took place.

David Hudson achieved many “firsts”. He was a founder and one of the first deacons of the First Congregational Church of Hudson, which was founded in 1802. He was also the first postmaster. He was also instrumental in the founding of Western Reserve College (now Case-Western Reserve University), and served on its first Board of Trustees. An ardent anti-slavery person, he was one of the first Hudson residents to allow his property to be used to shelter those seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad.

David Hudson died on March 17, 1836. He is buried in the Old Hudson Township. Of his children, the only ones not to survive him were David Norton, who died in 1796 and Ira, who died in 1817. Anner Maria (later Mrs. Harvey Baldwin) lived the longest of the Hudson children, dying on April 25, 1892.

Anner Marie Hudson Baldwin
Photograph, four generations of the Hudson family. Hudson Library & Historical Society photograph collections (P.04.00.00895)

David Hudson’s descendants are widespread today, many of whom carry the Hudson surname. More importantly, though, is that David Hudson’s concept of a New England town on the Western Reserve is indeed, exemplified in the modern town of Hudson, Ohio.

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