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.svg

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


James was born in Carmel, New York on April 18, 1827.[3] In 1843, the Ludington family moved from New York to Milwaukee, Wisconsin,[1] when James was sixteen.[3] James and his father, Lewis Ludington, founded Columbus, Wisconsin in 1845.[1][3] 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 superintend the mill's 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 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 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, called The Big Store, that sold a variety of goods.[1][2] In 1867, Ludington founded the first newspaper of the village, called the Mason County Record.[1][2][5]

The sawmill that Ludington acquired had developed into an independent entity, called the Pere Marquette Lumber Company, which operated and managed 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 Avenue 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.


Lewis Ludington, father to James

James was the sixth child of Lewis Ludington.[3] Lewis was the son of Colonel Henry Ludington.[10] Henry married his cousin Abigail. Their children were Sybil (b. April 5, 1761); Rebecca (b. January 24, 1763); Mary (b. July 31, 1765); Archibald (b. July 5, 1767; Henry (b. March 28, 1769); Derick (b. February 17, 1771); Tertullus (b. April 19, 1773); Abigail (b. February 26, 1776); Anne (b. March 14, 1778); Frederick (b. June 10, 1782}; Sophia (b. May 16, 1784); Lewis (b. June 25, 1786).[11] According to the Ludington Daily News, the descendants of Ludington have a family reunion consisting of some 50 to 75 people, once every three years in the town of Ludington, Michigan.[12] These Ludington are descendants from Robert Ludington, a sixteenth century Levantine trade merchant from Worcester, England.[13]

James Ludington is a descendant of William Luddington (b. 1608), who arrived in Massachusetts in 1637 or 1638 from England with his wife Ellen (b. 1617). Records show they lived in Charleston, Massachusetts in the 1640s.[14] Ron Ludington is the grandson of William[clarification needed] and the family genealogist who wrote the 2009 newspaper article on the 3 year increment family reunion.[12] The Ludington name has various spellings of which some others are Luddington, Ludinton, and Ludenton. Ron says in the 2009 newspaper article that the branch of Luddingtons still in England spells the name with two "ds." The name was apparently changed to one "d" when Henry Ludington of the American Revolution married his first cousin and had it changed to avoid confusion in the family. He points out that the family members come from all parts of the United States and Canada, as well as from England, for the family reunion. Their relationship to each other has been confirmed by DNA testing. 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.[15]

A past prominent family member is Sybil Ludington, an American Revolutionary War heroine that rode her horse at night to alert the American forces of an eminent attack by the British.[16] Sybil was the aunt of James Ludington. Her 40 mile ride was much like that done by Paul Revere. Poet Berton Braley wrote a poem of the event. Following is a shortened version of the full poem that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal in 1940.[17]

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of a lovely feminine Paul Revere
Who rode an equally famous ride
Through a different part of the countryside
In April, Seventeen Seventy-Seven
A smokey glow in the eastern heaven
A fiery herald of war and slaughter
Came to the eyes of the Colonel's daughter
"Danbury's burning," she cried aloud
The Colonel answered, "Tis but a cloud"
A cloud reflecting the campfire's red
So hush you, Sybil, and go to bed
The door's flung open, a voice is heard
Danbury's burning—I rode with word
Send a messenger, get your men!
His message finished, the horsemen then
Staggered wearily to chair
And fell exhausted in a slumber there
The Colonel muttered, and who my friend,
Who is the messenger I can send?
Who is my messenger to be?
Said Sybil Ludington, "You have me."
So over the trails to the towns and farms
Sybil delivered the call to arms,
Up! up! there, soldier! Your needed to come!
The British are marching! —and then the drum
Of her horse's feet as she rode apace
To bring more men to the meeting place
Such is the legend of Sybil's ride
To summon the men from the countryside
A true tale, making her title clear
As a lovely feminine Paul Revere.[17]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mason County 1980, p. 303
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mason County 1980, p. 11
  3. ^ a b c d e Johnson 1907, p. 227
  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 2005, p. 14
  6. ^ Joint Committee 1856, pp. 26–63
  7. ^ Tuttle 1875, pp. 293–296
  8. ^ Mason County 1980, p. 303
  9. ^ Ludington, Ron (Feb 8, 2009). "Are you a Ludington or Luddington by birth or marriage?". Ludington - Luddington. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ Johnson 1907, p. 224
  11. ^ Johnson 1907, p. 217
  12. ^ a b Ludington, Ron (August 15, 2009). Ludington Daily News. p. Front page.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Johnson 1907, p. 3
  14. ^ Johnson 1907, p. 8
  15. ^ Johnson 1907, pp. vi–ix
  16. ^ Hotchkiss 1894, p. 291
  17. ^ a b Stevens, Maryanne (April 23, 1975). "Ludington History Lives in Oar Park". News Journal. Chicago, Illinois – via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read.