Biography of Joel Hudson

Joel Hudson. The following biographical sketch of Joel Hudson, who is still living, was written by himself for the Springwater Enterprise in 1883, He then being in his 89th year: I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia, N.Y., on the 10th day of October, 1794. In 1799, my father went to the town of Scipio, Cayuga county, and bought 145 acres of heavy timbered land with no improvements. In the winter of 1800, we moved to Scipio with an ox team, and were about three weeks on the road. In the spring, father put up a log house with one room, about 18 feet square. For the want of boards he split out and hewed stuff to lay the upper and lower floors. He had bargained with a man the summer before to chop the timber on three acres of his land. He burned the brush, and planted it to corn in the spring, among the logs, and had a good crop. We brought two good cows with us from Columbia county, and the second spring after we moved they both died, which to us was a great loss, as we had left no others except a two-year-old heifer. Cows were very scarce; none for sale, and not much money to buy with. There were then eight in our family. Times were very hard, for there was no market short of Albany. It was almost impossible to get leather there, and we had to go the most of the time without boots or shoes. We cleared our land as fast as we could without hiring it done. When I was about 15 years old my father cut his leg very bad and bled almost to death, and never had good health after that. I was the oldest son and had to take charge of the business, and I well recollect that I took as much interest in it as I ever did of my own.

It was some eight or ten years before we had any addition to our little house. We built a log barn too. All the settlers in that part of the town had log houses and barns. The tools used seventy-five years ago were very different from those used now. If our young men of the present time should see such a plow as the first one I remember seeing, they might not guess what it was made for. The iron part, called the shear, was flat, with cutter fastened to the forepart of the shear which went up into the beam and was keyed on top. There was a piece of wood fastened to the hind part of the shear, called the chip; the handle was fastened to the beam. The mould-board was made of wood split out of a winding tree, and was fastened to the plow, which raised and turned over the ground not much better than a cultivator tooth. The auger that the carpenters used had no screw to it, and they had to begin the hole with a gouge. Wagon tire was made in as many pieces as there were fellies in the wheel, and was piked on so as to break joints on the fellies. They did not know that a tire could be put on whole. The buggy seats were set on wooden springs. There were men who followed teaming from Auburn to Albany, drawing wheat, pork and potash. Their price generally for taking wheat to Albany was 75 cents a bushel. Some of them had six heavy horses on one wagon. Their wagons had three widths of tire on the wheels which were about six inches thick. I understand that such wagons went free on the turnpike as they packed the road.

Near the first part of September, 1814, I was drafted, to go to the front at Buffalo. My mother and sisters said that I must not go, for if I did I would never return. They influenced father to hire a substitute for me. We were ordered to meet at the Cayuga bridge on a certain day; so we fitted out my substitute with a knapsack, a blanket and some provisions, and I went out with him to the place of meeting. He was a man who was in the habit of drinking to excess sometimes, and the captain refused to accept of him. I was at first at a loss what to do, but concluded that I would not go home and be called a coward; so I shouldered the knapsack and went on to Buffalo. When we got there we had nothing to cook our meat in, so we had to borrow of the people living there for a number of days. They were very willing to lend, as they had been burned out that year. I think that there was then not a house in Buffalo that was worth $400. After the Erie battle there were two companies ordered to guard the prisoners to Greenbush near Albany. Our company was one of them, and we were glad of the arrangement. We were tired of being in Buffalo, for we drew nothing to eat but fresh beef and hardtack, and that was very hard. We could not eat it until we soaked it in cold water. It was not fit for a dog to eat. We drew each morning, I think, a half pint of whiskey. I did not drink much of mine. I used to give some of it to the prisoners. I should have much rather had thy worth of my whiskey in something fit to eat. The prisoners that we guarded were Germans, and said that they had been hired by their government to the British and pressed into the service; that they did not want to fight Americans, nor would not if they could avoid it. After we started with our prisoners we fared better. We drew potatoes by the tops to eat with our beef. We traveled, I should think, 20 miles a day. We shut our prisoners in a barn at night, two of us to guard them. We had to go back to Batavia and were then discharged without any pay, which seemed to me to be wrong, for our company’s home was in Cayuga county, and probably not half of them had any money. How they got home I cannot tell, as I did not go home with the rest of the company. I had some money with me, but not half as much as I needed. I started for home on foot, for I could not pay fare on the stage. It was near 100 miles. I recollect, and always shall as long as I remember anything, the last morning, when I was some thirty miles from home. I got a scanty breakfast, such as I could pay for, and started off. I thought I must get home before I could get anything more to eat. I traveled as fast as I could until some 2 or 8 o’clock P.M. I was then some ten miles from home. I was very hungry and thought I could not get home unless I could get something to eat. I did not know what to do. Not a cent of money. I did not know how to beg-I had never reached that-but after a while I ventured into a farm house, and told the woman that I had been soldiering, and had been discharged without receiving any pay; that I had no money, and if she would let me have something to eat I would pay her when I could. She set on the table some cold boiled victuals and bread and butter. If she had cooked all day she could not have suited me better. It seemed to me the best dinner I ever ate. I told the woman that I would pay her for the dinner as soon as I could. She told me I need not pay anything, that I was welcome to them. I then put on for home much refreshed. I was very glad to get home again, and my folks appeared to be very glad to see me. In the summer of 1817, I came out to this town and bought 40 acres wild hand. In 1819, 1 shouldered my ax and pack with some provisions and clothes, came out to this town again, and chopped off a piece of said land, and cut logs to build a long house. After harvest I came back, cleared off the piece chopped and sowed it to wheat, and put up the body of a house. The next winter I moved out with my wife and child, to a house near my land. In the spring I put a slab roof on my house, laid the floors, and moved in it, where we lived until fall without any chimney.

I have added to my little farm as could pay. I have been permitted to live here to see and assist to bury almost all of my old friends and acquaintances. There are very few living that were here when I moved into the town of Springwater. I once was young but now I am old. I have been blessed with good health for the most of the time, for which I am truly thankful.



Walbidge, Orson. Early History of the town Springwater, Livingston County. 1887.

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