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Sunday, March 16, 2014

52 Ancestors # 11: Benjamin Melvin Hudson, From Lumberjack to Railroad Man

     Benjamin Melvin Hudson was born on 11 Mar 1865 in Bristol, Pontiac County, Quebec, Canada. His father, Benjamin Lester Hudson, was born in Canada while his mother, Mary Yuill, was born in Campsie, Stirlingshire, Scotland.  The family moved to Saginaw, Michigan in 1868. Ben's father and grandfather were lumbermen and the Saginaw Bay was the new up and coming area for lumber.  So the whole family moved there. Unfortunately, Mary Hudson died in December 1874, leaving 6 young children. His father farmed the children out to family as he could.  His three middle sons he sent to work in a lumber camp. In the 1880 Census we find Alfred, Robert and our Benjamin working in such a camp.  They are listed as "raftsmen". A lumber raftsman is one who takes the cut logs down the river tied together like a big raft. Ben was 15 at this time. As you can imagine this left little time for school-in the 1940 Census under "highest grade completed" Ben said "0". While in Saginaw, Ben met Agnes Cookson, whose father was also a lumberjack. When she moved to Arkansas with her family he followed.  They were married in Fayetteville, Arkansas on 20 October 1888.

     Ben got a job working for the Rock Island Railroad (made famous by the song, "The Rock Island Line").  He started out as a carpenter but soon was promoted to Master Carpenter. In Arkansas they lived in a house built by Agnes' father, right next to his own. Here their first two daughters were born, Edna and Mabel. Then Alma and Elizabeth ("Bessie") were born in Texarkana. They moved to Union, Missouri as Ben became the superintendant of Bridges. However, they lost their house by signing for someone else's  loan that he defaulted. They then moved to Fort Worth, Texas. Ben was appointed Superintendant of Bridges and Construction for the Texas and Brazos area.

     His daughters did well in school with both Edna and Mabel going to College and becoming teachers. Alma attended college and worked for awhile as a Stenographer-Secretary.  Bessie attended College and met her husband there. Ben, along with his family, was active in the Hemphill Presbyterian Church. Edna never married and lived at home, Mabel was on and off at home.  Alma came back home when her husband died at a young age. Bessie and Walter lived nearby early in their marriage and continued to visit often. So Ben had his girls close by through out his life. His wife, Agnes, died 27 Dec 1936 of pernicious anemia. In 1940 Ben and his daughter, Edna, took a trip to the West and visited Bessie and Walter in Seattle and went to Edna's Alma Mater, the University of California Berkeley, for a visit. Edna died 3 Apr 1953 and Ben, himself, died on 16 Apr 1955 at the age of 90.

     I have a letter he wrote my father on Jan 28, 1942. Here is some of it: "Its changed up so much you could hardly understand its all built up to the T&P Ry yards and so many Gov institutions the Bomber plant is not far north of us and the Tarant field where so many are in training and the Hicks field north of Saginaw the planes are going over us all the time night and day most of them are 3 motor bombers...the airplanes make this place noisy too but it will be much better when the war is over...well about the old place I had to reputty all windows and I painted the house to as the paint was all coming of so that with moving and me bussy and none to well either and had to put in a new piece in front porch 8 ft wide and take up the roof in the bathroom and renew the floor  and put new linoleum on the kitchen floor so it cost nearly $100 to do that and my time painting too I had a time with the painting a count of the shurbry and had borrow a ladder and I sliped and slid of the roof and spilled about 3 qts paint I had the ladder siting up to the front so I caught the ladder and saved a bad fall I will be 78 in a month so am getting to feal the age quite a bit...I and Edna were both so pleased to hear of your wedding Your mother wrote us about it and Edna likes your choice very much so am sure you will get along fine...so hope and wish you both the best of luck and hope to hear from you often so with much love and best wishes will say by for now. Grandpa Hudson". And we say good by for now as well!

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