James Ludington

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James Ludington
James Ludington c 1880.jpg
Born April 18, 1827
Carmel, Putnam County, New York
Died April 1, 1891
Resting place Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Residence Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Occupation businessman, entrepreneur
Employer self-employed
Known for developing Ludington, Michigan
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) never married
Parent(s) Lewis Ludington, father

Charles H. Ludington, brother four sisters

  • Amelia
  • Delia
  • Lavinia
  • Emily
James Ludington signature.jpg
Father to James, Lewis Ludington, son of Col. Henry Ludington
Statue of Sybil Ludington in Carmel, New York. Sybil Ludington, ARW herione, was his aunt.

James Ludington (April 18, 1827 – April 1, 1891) was an American entrepreneur.[1][2]


The Ludington family moved from New York to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[1] when James was sixteen. James and his father, Lewis Ludington, founded Columbus, Wisconsin in 1845.[1][3]

In 1849, Utah Territorial governor Brigham Young wrote Ludington soliciting help in the construction of a paper mill in the Salt Lake Valley. Ludington planned to travel west to superintend mill construction, but the sale was never completed.[4]

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.[1][2][5] Ford defaulted on the loan and became insolvent in 1859.[1][2][5] Ludington then took over the operations of this sawmill.[1][2][5] The post office for the village was established in 1864 in Ludington's original store at this sawmill.[2][5] A boarding house called the Filer House was constructed in 1866 to house the employees of Ludington's sawmill.[1][2]

In 1854 Ludington filed purchased and paid for nearly 70,000 acres of unsold school land from the state of Wisconsin. The sale was challenged and ultimately cancelled when the parcel was identified as containing over 200,000 acres. The purchase was re-filed after further effort to specify which parcels were included. The arrangements behind Ludington's purchase were investigated in 1855. 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.[6][7]

Ludington platted the village of Pere Marquette in 1867.[1][2][5] In the same year Ludington built a large commercial building that sold a variety of goods called The Big Store.[1][2] Ludington founded the first newspaper of the village called the Mason County Record in 1867.[1][2][5]

The sawmill that Ludington acquired had developed into an independent entity called the Pere Marquette Lumber Company that was the operator and management of the sawmill and The Big Store.[1][2] Ludington sold his interests to them in 1869 for half a million dollars - making him a very wealthy person.[1][2] Ludington used a portion of this money to develop the village. On March 22, 1873, the city of "Ludington" was chartered.[1][2] The streets of Ludington Ave and James Street are named after him.[2] The village city streets of Lewis, William, Robert, Charles, Harrison, Emily, Lavina, and Delia are named after his family members.[2]

Ludington lived in the state of New York as a boy and in the state of Wisconsin as an adult.[1][3] He never lived in Ludington, Michigan - the town that bears his name.[8][9]


At one time or another Ludington held the following positions.

Family reunion of the Ludingtons[edit]

According to the Ludington Daily News the descendents of Ludington have a family reunion about once every three years in the town of Ludington consisting of some 50 to 75 people. According to this newspaper article James Ludington is a descendent of William Luddington (with two "ds"), who arrived in Massachusetts in 1637 from England. Ron Ludington is the grandson of William and the family genealogist who wrote the newspaper article. He says in the article that the branch of Luddingtons still in England spells the name with two "ds." The name was apparently changed to one "d" when Col. Henry Ludington of the American Revolution married his first cousin and had it changed to avoid confusion in the family. A past prominent family member is Sybil Ludington, an American Revolutionary War herione that rode her horse at night to alert the American forces of an eminent attack by the British, much like that done by Paul Revere. Ron points out that the family members come from all parts of the United States and Canada, as well as from England. Their relationship to each other has been confirmed by DNA testing.[10] There is a complete genealogy family history at Google Books of the Ludingtons in a memoir of Colonel Henry Ludington, printed by his grandchildren L.E. Ludington and C.H. Ludington in 1907.[3]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n HMC, p. 303
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n HMC, p. 11
  3. ^ a b c Memoir, Colonel Henry Ludington
  4. ^ Ludington to Young, 1850 Jan 7, Feb 22, Mar 20, Brigham Young Papers, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cabot, p. 14
  6. ^ Report of the Select Committee, 26-63
  7. ^ Tuttle, Illustrated History, 293-296
  8. ^ HMC, p. 303 He never married and he never lived in the city which bears his name.
  9. ^ "Are you a Ludington or Luddington by birth or marriage?". Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  10. ^ Ludington Daily News, front page, Saturday, August 15, 2009


  • Memoir, Colonel Henry Ludington, printed by his grandchildren L.E. Ludington and C.H. Ludington, 1907 (Google Books)
  • Historic Mason County, Michigan - HMC - Ludington: Mason County Historical Society, 1980.
  • James L. Cabot, Ludington: 1830-1930. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7385-3951-1
  • Report of the Joint Select Committee of the Senate and Assembly Appointed To Investigate the Office of the State Treasurer, the Secretary of State, and School and University Land Commissioners.... Madison, Wisc.: Calkins & Proudfit, 1856. (Google Books)
  • Charles R. Tuttle. An Illustrated History of the State of Wisconsin. Boston: B.B. Russell, 1875 (Google Books)