Hudson was just the fourth township in the Western Reserve and the first in what would be Summit County to be settled. At that time the entire Western Reserve was part of Trumbull County.
The year was 1799. David Hudson and party had great hardships in getting to New Connecticut. They started out with three boats. One boat sank and another overturned but was recovered. The livestock ended up having to be driven overland while the others continued on water. Suffice it to say that it took nearly 2 months just to get from New York to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.David Hudson’s settlement party consisted of; himself. his 11 year old son Ira, Jesse Lindley, William McKinley, Mr. & Mrs. Thaddeus Lacey, their 2 young children, and Hudson’s 3 hired hands, Joseph Darrow, Jonah Meacham, and Richard Blinn. Part of the journey to Ohio they traveled with Benjamin Tappan and party of Ravenna.
This crew surveyed the township into lots and built a more permanent structure in the middle of the township. Having “procured” enough provisions for those who would stay to last through the winter, Hudson, Ira, and 2 of the hired hands left for Connecticut in October. Hudson returned in the spring with his entire family, and several other families of settlers. Hudson had touted the rich soil and plentiful game. Like a good salesman, he left out the fact that the soil was rich because it was in a forest. And with the game came bears, wolfs, and rattlesnakes. He also may have forgot to mention the mosquitoes. A fact that nearly drove his wife back to Connecticut.
Due to the low water level that year, Hudson and crew had to drag the boats, up river, through the shallows for 10 days. During one of the nights, while the men slept, one of the boats was plundered and relieved of a large part of its cargo, including flour, pork, whisky, and many hardware items. It was never discovered whether it was local squatters or the natives, but of coarse “Indians” were suspected.
When Hudson’s crew got to Brandywine creek, they could go no further. David Hudson began to cut a path into the forest to look for the posts that marked the corners of township 4, range 10. Once out of the valley, he followed the high ground near what is now Hines Hill Rd. till he came to the Indian trail that is now Olde Route 8 and State Rd. After a 6 day search they finally found the post marking the southwest corner of range 10, township 4. Hudson spent that night in the rain under a large oak tree, cold and wet, but satisfied and grateful to be on “his own” land. The present location this marker post would be on the north side of Seasons Road about 4/10 of a mile east of Wyoga Lake Rd.
David Hudson’s settlement party consisted of; himself, his 11 year old son Ira, Jesse Lindley, William McKinley, Mr. & Mrs. Thaddeus Lacey, their 2 young children, and Hudson’s 3 hired hands, Joseph Darrow, Jonah Meacham, and Richard Blinn. Building sleds from parts of one of the boats, they immediately started to work unloading supplies and using ox teams, hauled them out. The first wheat field and structure, a bark-sided shanty, were planted and built just south of the new section of Barlow Rd. (connecting Kendal and the old Barlow Rd.) just east of the expressway.
Later a new trail to the center of Hudson would be cut continuing on the high ground near Hines Hill Rd. all the way to Valley View. It would follow a southeasterly course along that road and Rt. 91 till it came to the center of town. This would become the main artery into the village. The settlement party also surveyed the township into lots and built a more permanent structure and larger wheat field in the middle of the township. Having “procured” enough provisions for those who would stay to last through the winter, Hudson, Ira, and 2 of the hired hands left for Connecticut in October. Hudson returned in the spring with his entire family, and several other families of settlers. Hudson had touted the rich soil and plentiful game. Like a good salesman, he left out the fact that the soil was rich because it was in a forest. And with the game came bears, wolfs, and rattlesnakes. He also may have forgot to mention the mosquitoes. A fact that very nearly drove his wife back to Connecticut before she ever made it out of the Cuyahoga Valley.
Range 10, township 4 (Hudson Township) was deeded inferior by the surveyors of the Western Reserve because nearly the entire western half was covered in bogs and swamps. Compensation was given in the form of tracts of land in Norton. Today the swamps have been drained and filled till only Mud Lake remains.
David Hudson, though the town was named for him, and though he was the leader of the group of original settlers, was not the sole owner of the township. He was only one of a group of investors who paid $8,320 for the 16,000 acres that encompassed the township that would bear his name. Other investors were: Birdseye and Nathanial Norton, Steven Baldwin, Benjamin Oviatt, and Theodore Parmelee.
As previously noted, since such a large portion of the township was worthless swampland, as compensation, 10,000 acres in other townships were part of the deal. A quick search on Yahoo Real Estate lists homes in that “worthless swampland” at between $180,000 and $450,000, with the most expensive at this time going for $1,450,000 – more than the full amount originally paid for the entire Western Reserve – but it is a nice house.
Lets take a look at the man David Hudson.
Born in Bradford, Conn. Feb. 17, 1760, his father moved to Goshen, Conn. when he was 4, where he grew up. Even after he married Anna Norton in 1783, Hudson remained on his fathers farm and raised sheep for wool and dairy cows for milk and cheese. In his youth, he was influenced by the writings of French Revolution philosophers that turned him against the church and Christian way of life. He still was convicted, like many others of his time, to live by the “Protestant Work Ethic” (work hard, live a good life, and you will be eternally rewarded). He bought up small shares in the Connecticut Land Company with his brothers-in-law, and had already made plans to go west to the new frontier, when several other life altering events happened. His father died when he was 39. It is not known if it was a result of this, but he attended a revival meeting and became a true Christian. So with renewed vigor, he sold off the farm that he had just inherited, bought more tracts of land, traded others, and set out for Township 4, Range 10, in the Western Reserve. I wish we knew more about his wife, how she felt being left with a baby in her arms, and 3, 9, 10, and 13 year old boys. Also the oldest boy was “afflicted” (mentally challenged). Remember, David Hudson had taken their 11 year old son with him.
At age 39, David Hudson was much older than most all the other settlers that would come with him or come later.
David Hudson cared about the people that he had brought into this wilderness. Before he left the settlement that first year, he went through great hardship to make sure that their needs were going to be met over the coming winter. Hudson must have had a bit of salesman in him, because he was able to bring several more families and a doctor with him that second year. And when, during the first night of his return journey in the spring, he was struck with the responsibility of leading his family and co-settlers. Not able to sleep, he would write in his journal about the dangers they all confronted in crossing the lakes and facing the Indians, committing them all to “Israel’s God.” His compassion for fellow humans even went to the Indians as well. He would welcome them, as he did anyone who needed help, into his home.
Just a few years later the community of Tallmadge was also built with dedication to be a religious community. The difference as one settler would observe was that while Rev. David Bacon of Tallmadge demanded spiritual purity in his community, Deacon Hudson chose to lead by example.
During the following years Hudson would hold several duties, and just as many titles; Postmaster, Squire, and Justice of the Peace. The name and title he preferred though, was, Deacon Hudson.
The spot on the Cuyahoga River near Brandywine creek, where that first settlement party unloaded their provisions became known as “Hudson’s Landing”. In what would be lot 55, near the present downtown area, David Hudson found a spring of fresh, sweet water. Signs of wildlife were abundant, and this is where they built a 16×18 log cabin that would keep them through the winter. With the 9 acre field of wheat and the other vegetables that were planted around the cabin, they had a good start. But during that summer, rations became low several times and Hudson would have to go to other settlements in the Reserve to procure food. One family and 3 men would spend the winter in that cabin while Deacon Hudson and his son would return to Goshen. The next spring the Deacon would return with his entire family and 3 more besides. Hudson would persuade a Doctor to come as well as several more other men.
For the next two years the road from Hudson’s Landing to the settlement would be the only “road” in what would be Summit County. In 1802, another road was built that went from Hudson to Ravenna, passing through Franklin Mills (Kent). A road in this definition was little more than a path through the forest wide enough to accommodate a sled or a cart pulled by a ox team.
David Hudson had several goals in mind for the little colony in the woods that would bear his name. One of the first was to build a church, and another was to build a school. These were both accomplished in 1801 in building a single log meeting house. Through the week it was a school, and on Sunday a church. The first services were led by Hudson himself.
Speaking of the old log school house, this is an excerpt from the book Western Reserve and Early Ohio by P.P. Cherry, published in 1921.The first school taught on the Reserve was taught in Hudson, Summit county, in 1800, antedating the first school taught in Cleveland, by Miss Anna Spafford, by one year. George W. Wright describes the inside of the early school houses: ‘The benches were of logs, split in halves and legs put on the round side, while the split side was smoothed up with an axe. Not a plane ever touched them and they were not the most comfortable seats in the world. It was not necessary to resort to bench pins, the school-boy’s device, in order to produce a sensation, for all that was required was to pinch some one and get him to slide along the bench. Some of the bad boys are said to have lined the seats of their pantaloons with large pieces of buck-skin for their protection, both from the roughness of the teacher’s ferule and the roughness of the benches. There were no fine desks with all the furniture of a modern school house, but simply these benches along which the children ranged themselves and which had to serve the double purpose of seat and desk, each pupil piling his books and slate on the seat beside him. These seats of learning were in the midst of the forest near some blazed path which the settlers expected to make a road some time. The pupils gathered from all directions, coming through the woods by paths known only to themselves, crossing streams on logs or fallen trees. On one occasion, in time of high water, a family of some half dozen children were crossing on a fallen tree when the youngest, little girl, becoming dizzy, fell into the rushing water; and was being whirled rapidly down stream, when in plunged her older brother who swam lustily after her, finally capturing her some rods below, bringing her safely to shore, after which they hastened on to school. This shows that even the children thought little of such hardships and paid little heed to mishaps that would produce consternation in a whole neighborhood today.” Later came the puncheon desks, a slab of puncheon, or a board, when they could be obtained, was built up in front of those who ”wrote or figured”, while the smaller children contented themselves with the simple forms first furnished. The scholars paid a tuition fee of fifty cents per month, and the teacher “boarded around”. The majority of the earliest teachers were young women. Lois Ann Gear, the survivor of an Indian massacre at Upper Sandusky, in which both parents were killed, taught the first school in Boston and received for her services the magnificent sum of seventy-five cents per week, and “boarded around”. Mr. Stiles, who taught the first school in Northfield, kept irregular hours, and received one dollar per scholar for a term of three months. In some localities school was held sometimes in one house and sometimes in another. In truth the schools for many years followed the scholars. The teachers of that day were, as a rule, good disciplinarians and competent instructors.
Deacon Hudson decided the next project had to be a mill. Wheat grown in the new settlement had to be taken to Newburg, the closest grist mill, but still a day and a half away by ox cart. At one point a entire seasons harvest was lost when a cart tipped while crossing a creek on the way. Hudson sent for his wife’s brother, Aaron Norton (remember that name, he will pop up several more times in the history of other townships), a millwright back in Connecticut, and Ezra Wyatt. They would build a mill on Tinkers creek at what is now Aurora Rd. in the northeast corner of the township. The mills, a grist mill and a separate saw mill were fated from the beginning. During construction, no solid ground could be found for the foundation. The Deacon would give an extra 100 acres to Norton to persuade him to continue building. The mills and a distillery were completed in 1802. The first lumber cut at the saw mill was Black Walnut, for the barn of David Hudson. Yes, the entire barn was made of Black Walnut. Two years later the grist mill burnt down and even after it was rebuilt, it never prospered. The barn that Hudson built is gone, swallowed up by the Western Reserve Academy. There is a shed (maybe 10′x15′) to the side of the David Hudson house that appears to be made of walnut.
By the end of the year 1800, the population of Hudson had reached 35. The newest arrival hadn’t had to travel from the east. Anner Marie was born, Oct. 28, to David and Anna Hudson, the first “white” child born in what would be Summit County.
Dr. Morris Thompson left in the fall of that year* with a gift of $50 from David Hudson, on the condition that he would use it to buy medical supplies back east and return. He did better than that. He arrived back in the spring with a cavalcade of people, animals, carts and a covered wagon heavily loaded with supplies. He had brought with him; his family, his parents, his 2 brothers, and their families. This extended family would reside and farm 750 acres southwest of the center of town.
In the spring of 1801, a letter arrived from the new Governor of the Northwest Territory, General Arthur St. Clair. (Ohio would not become a state till 1803) The letter authorized David Hudson as Justice of the Peace. He would perform his first wedding Nov. 5 1801, marring Stephen Parker and Ruth Bishop. Being nervous about his first wedding, Deacon Hudson requested to keep the ceremony private, but when he got to the cabin he found it full of townsfolk. News of the nuptials was leaked by his wife and passed through the pioneer grapevine.
In the early spring of 1802, range 10, township 4, became Hudson township by the authorization of the Commissioners of Trumbell County, which consisted of the whole of the Western Reserve. On April 5, 20 eligible voters**, gathered in the cabin of David Hudson to elect a township council. Early seats on the council included; Chairman (David Hudson, no surprise there), Clerk, Trustees, Constables, Fence Viewers, Appraisers of Homes, and Supervisors of Highways. Names and seats can be found in A Short History of Hudson.
*On the trip back to Connecticut, Dr. Thompson would cover the 650 miles on foot, through the mountains, in just 12 days.
**Voting rights differed greatly in early America. To vote you had to be; male, age 21 or over, white, and own land.
***The cabins that this group built had bark roofs that only slanted one way. The floors were also bark and when they became dirty, would be replaced, rather than scrubbed.
Two large droves of settler families would arrive that year. Most would settle in the northwest quadrant***, but one, the family of Herman Oviatt would settle on land already purchased about a mile south of the center of
town. Oviatt had cleared 4 acres of land the prior year and planted a crop of wheat. The cabin that he would construct was very near a main east-west Indian trail. He would begin trading trinkets to the Indians for animal pelts, but found that they much preferred whisky.
From the book Historical Reminiscences of Summit County by Gen. L.V. Bierce.
“A few anecdotes of the early settlers will not be inappropriate to illustrate the hardships they had to endure – the character of the inhabitants, and show, by contrast, the present state of the town to better advantage.
Soon after John Oviatt arrived, his wife went to the house of Herman Oviatt, who lived where Justin Kilbourn now resides, and on her way home stopped at the house of Elijah Noble where Rev. Mr. Pitkin now lives. On leaving there she had two miles to go without a house, and no road but blazed trees. Mrs. Herman Oviatt, on her leaving there, had given her several pieces of dried venison, which she was carrying home. Soon after leaving Mr. Noble’s, a pack of wolves, attracted by the smell of the meat, set off in full chase after her. She commenced running and hallooing as loud as possible, and when the pack came up with her, she threw a piece of meat to them, and while they were fighting over that, she made good her headway. In this manner she made good her retreat, untill she came so near home that her husband heard her. Seizing his gun and a brand of fire, he ran and met her, just as her meat was all dealt out, and she was so exhausted that she was falling. He gave her pursuers one shot, on which they left.
Gen. Bierce does not give a date for this story. He does say it was “Soon after John Oviatt arrived”, and just doing a quick search, I found that he “arrived” sometime between the birth of his second daughter in 1807 and his third daughter in 1809.
July 4th, 1801, The entire population of the settlement that would become Hudson and invited guests (it’s not said, but the only other people around were Indians and David Hudson was known to be a friend to the natives), gathered together on “The Green”*. Men, women, young and old, 43 in all congregated to give thanks to The Almighty for bringing them safely to their destination. Children played, adults sang, toasts were delivered and orations given. A feast was prepared that included wild turkey and venison, and a large table was constructed made of posts stretched across forked stakes driven in the ground with Elm bark for the table top.
From the book Historical Reminiscences of Summit County by Gen. L.V. Bierce
“At this time (1800-1805) the Indians were plenty in and around Hudson. Among others was a celebrated Ottawa chief, named Ogontz. He had been educated by the French missionaries, at Quebec, for a Catholic Priest, but no sooner were the restraints of civilization removed, than he exclaimed with another of his race, “I hate these antiquated halls; I hate the Grecian poet’s song”, and left for the freedom of his forest home. He lived on what is now the site of Sandusky City, and a fort, called Fort Industry, was located on his territory, where the treaty of 1805 was concluded, by which the Indians ceded all their lands, in the Connecticut Reserve, west of the Cuyahoga. Ogontz was brave, talented, and well educated, but, like his race, wild and intractable. At the time of the first settlement in Hudson, he had no power other than what his talents and education gave him. Coming along one day, near dusk, on horseback, he inquired of Capt. Herman Oviatt the path to Ponty’s camp. Capt. Oviatt walked along into the woods to show him, when Ogontz ordered him to go further; but the captain was the wrong man to order- the more he was ordered the more he wouldn’t. Ogontz drew up his rifle to shoot him, when the Capt. Sprung, and seizing his rifle, wrenched it from him, and ordered Ogontz to “right about!” The haughty Indian, knowing whom he had to deal with, obeyed orders like a drill
sergeant, and the Captain drove him back to Hudson, where, after discharging his rifle, and taking from him his ammunition, he discharged him, in no very pleasant humor.
* “The Green” is a term common to Hudsonites. It is the public square in the center of town reserved as an open space and common in New England towns.
Heman Oviatt’s general store/trading post was 1 mile south of the center of Hudson. Probably near where the Sagamore path (a branch of the Mahoning …Trail) crossed the path that would become Rt. 91. Items of trade were blankets, powder, lead, cloth, shawls, and trinkets, but the barter of choice for the Indians was whisky. Originally Oviatt bought the sprits, but found it much more profitable to distill his own. Indians would bring animal skins to trade and the exchange rate was as follows;
1 Raccoon skin…… = ½ pint
1 Deer skin………… = 1 pint
1 Bear skin………… = 1 gallon
1 Beaver or Otter.. = 2-3 gallon depending on size and grade
When Oviatt had a full load of pelts for his pack horse, he would take them to Pittsburg to sell, buy a new supply of stock and start the process all over again.
Before selling any whiskey to the Indians, guns, knives, and tomahawks were confiscated. Without weapons, the Indians would dance off their intoxication. The women, who liked to drink as much as the men, would give their “papoose” to another mother that would remain sober (sounds like the first designated driver to me).
When the Native Americans left this area after the war of 1812, Oviatt lost business, so he moved his store into Hudson and started a General Store selling everything that a frontier family would need. Heman also hired an assistant/apprentice named Peleg Mason. Remember the name, he will come up again in another township/city.
Ogontz would furnish materials for a romance. In 1808, the Indians, holding a grand pow-wow, became greatly excited by whisky. Ogontz, almost alone, remained sober. In the frenzy of intoxication, the chief of the tribe struck Ogontz, who immediately laid the head of the chief open with his tomahawk, and him dead at his feet.
On the following day the Indians held a council, in which Ogontz was acquitted, and made chief instead of the one he had slain. Ogontz, having no children, adopted the only son of the deceased chief, and with all the tenderness of a father reared him to manhood -but no sooner had the lad arrived at the age prescribed for a warrior, than, with the retaliating spirit of the savage he shot his benefactor, and avenged the blood of his father.”