April 18, 1827|
Carmel, Putnam County, New York
|Died||April 1, 1891(aged 63)|
|Resting place||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Known for||Developing Ludington, Michigan|
|Parent(s)||Lewis Ludington, father|
James Ludington (April 18, 1827 – April 1, 1891) was an American entrepreneur, businessman, lumber baron, and real estate developer. The town of Ludington, Michigan, bears his name, however he never lived there.
James was born in Carmel, New York on April 18, 1827. In 1843, the Ludington family moved from New York to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when James was 16. James and his father, Lewis Ludington, founded Columbus, Wisconsin in 1845. In 1849, Utah Territorial Governor, Brigham Young, wrote to Ludington, soliciting his help in the construction of a paper mill in the Salt Lake Valley. Ludington planned to travel west to supervise the mill's construction, but the deal was never completed.
On October 11, 1854, Ludington loaned funds to George W. Ford for a sawmill operation in what was then known as the village of Pere Marquette in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. When Ford defaulted on the loan and became insolvent in 1859, Ludington took over the operations of this sawmill.
In 1854, Ludington filed for the purchase of unsold school land from the state of Wisconsin that was believed to contain some 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares). The sale was challenged and ultimately cancelled when the parcel was identified as containing over 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares). The purchase was re-filed after a further effort to specify which parcels were included. In 1855, the arrangements behind Ludington's purchase were investigated by James Halpin and Dr. Hunt, as to the amount of funds and whether they were properly appropriated. In 1856, Ludington was implicated in a bribery and fraud scheme surrounding the sale. He was cleared of wrongdoing after a lengthy legislative investigation and public testimony.
Ludington platted the village of Pere Marquette in 1867. In the same year, he built a large commercial building, called "The Big Store" that sold a variety of goods. In 1867, Ludington founded the first newspaper in the village, the Mason County Record.
The sawmill that Ludington acquired developed into an independent entity, called the Pere Marquette Lumber Company, which operated and managed the sawmill and The Big Store. On July 24, 1869, Ludington sold his interests to the company for half a million dollars—making him a very wealthy person. Ludington used a portion of this money to develop the village. On March 22, 1873, the city of Ludington was chartered. The streets of Ludington Avenue and James Street are named after him. The streets Lewis, William, Robert, Charles, Harrison, Emily, Lavina, and Delia are all named after his family members.
Ludington lived in New York state as a boy and in Wisconsin as an adult, but never lived in Ludington, Michigan—the town that bears his name. He died on April 1, 1891, in his residence at Plankinton House Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
At one time or another, Ludington held the following positions:
- Treasurer of La Crosse Railroad (La Crosse, Wisconsin)
- President of Bank of the West (Madison, Wisconsin)
- Vice-President of the Juneau Bank (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
- Alderman in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
References and notes
- Mason County 1980, p. 303
- Mason County 1980, p. 11
- Johnson 1907, p. 227
- Ludington to Young, 1850 Jan 7, Feb 22, Mar 20. Brigham Young Papers. Church History Library. Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Cabot 2005, p. 14
- Joint Committee 1856, pp. 26–63
- Tuttle 1875, pp. 293–296
- Michigan Sesquicentennial (April 18, 1987). "Focus on our history". The Ludinton Daily News. Retrieved April 1, 2017 – via Google News.
- Mason County 1980, p. 303
- Johnson, Willis Fletcher (1907). Colonel Henry Ludington: A Memoir. His grandchildren L.E. Ludington and C.H. Ludington. OCLC 963773012.
- Mason County Historical Society (1980). Historic Mason County, Michigan, 1980. Ludington, Michigan: Mason County Historical Society. OCLC 7429821.
- Cabot, James L. (2005). Ludington: 1830–1930. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738539515.
- Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee for Investigation of State Offices (1856). Report of Joint Select Committee of the Senate and Assembly, Appointed "to Investigate the Offices of the State Treasurer, the Secretary of State, and School and University Land Commissioners. Calkins & Proudfit. OCLC 4219653 – via Google Books.
- Tuttle, Charles R. (1875). An Illustrated History of the State of Wisconsin. Boston, Massachusetts: B.B. Russell. OCLC 499559545 – via Google Books.