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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's Day Family Love Stories #5: Ben and Agnes

          Ben and Agnes (Cookson) Hudson were the parents of my grandmother, Bessie Hudson Peterson. They were both born in Canada, he in Quebec and she in Ontario. Their fathers were involved in the lumber trade. By the mid 1860's this was playing out in Canada somewhat but booming in the Saginaw Bay area of Michigan. So they followed the lumber and moved their families to Saginaw Bay. Ben's family arrived in Saginaw in 1866, Agnes' went to Au Gres, a bit farther north on the Bay from Saginaw, in 1870. In 1880 at the age of 15 Ben went to work in a lumber camp as a raftsman.  I don't know exactly when and where they met but Au Gres was a major logging center so it is likely that he eventually came to work there. Agnes taught school in Au Gres probably from 1885 to 1887. It was during these years they would have met and fallen in love. I never heard the story of their courtship and romance but in researching them a story seems to present itself.

         In 1887, Agnes father, John Marshall Cookson, decided to move his family from Michigan to Arkansas. It was a major move and I have no idea what prompted this. I know they had moved by 29 Dec 1887 because his wife, Elizabeth's, uncle wrote to Sarah Kay, her mother, on that date, saying, "I am very anxious to learn the outcome of John Cookson's adventure to Arkansas, hope it has turned out well but fear it was a rash act.  How does Lizzie's eldest girl get along and the rest of her children, you must send me all particulars." So, what of  Ben?  Had he proposed to Agnes before she left or not? Did she think never to see him again? I don't know.  What I do know is that less than a year later, on 20 Oct 1888, Ben and Agnes were married in Fayetteville, Arkansas as recorded in the County Courthouse. She was 20 and he was 23.  He came four states and about 910 miles to marry her and he stayed in Arkansas.  That's why I am including this in my group of love stories. I imagine it this way: Ben shows up at her door one day and says, "I couldn't live without you by me, will you marry me?" Whether he said something like that or not, that is obviously how he felt. And they were together for the rest of their lives.

       Finally I want to add one thing.  I found this photo of Agnes around 1925.  She is dressed to the hilt in the height of fashion: a cocoon coat, black leather elbow length gloves, two long necklaces, cloche hat.  She stands proud, dignified, a real personage. I thought, this is a woman a man would move half way across the country for.  Absolutely!


  1. Great Story Wendy. It is funny your great grandparents were Canadian and my 3x grandfather is american. If only our governments would realize how close we really are.

  2. In the photo of the two of them, they're both very good looking! Given that, it seems like they would have had other young people to choose from. So it certainly points to the power of love to leap distances without a second thought!

    It would be interesting to research what was going on in Arkansas in 1887 that would have made an attractive opportunity. In the next census, what does Ben Hudson say his occupation was?

  3. The 1900 Census says he was a RR Bridgeman. Daddy's notes from a conversation with their daughter say that he got a job with the railroad to be near her father but the family assumed that they had married in Saginaw. He probably got the job so he could marry her! I'll have to do further research to see if there's an explanation for the move to Arkansas. (Although the Michigan winters might be reason enough!)