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Joshua Bains Hudson

by Nancy Christofferson
GARDNER- Joshua Bains Hudson homesteaded in the upper Huerfano Valley in 1865. He made his home along the river about two miles west of Gardner. He was one of the earliest settlers in the area.
Joshua B. was born March 7, 1831 in Maryland. Joshua B. should not be confused with Joshua T., who was born in Delaware in 1847. They were cousins, and Joshua T. moved into the upper Huerfano Valley in 1868. To compound the Joshua problem, both Joshuas had sons named Josh. Then, just to really irritate researchers, Joshua B. moved to the St. Vrain ranch at the St. Mary’s community, west of the Huerfano Butte, and Joshua T. moved to the Sefton ranch at St. Mary’s, and then Joshua T. bought the St. Vrain place! According to Mary Tirey, a granddaughter of Joshua B., the two cousins did not really get along, but you sure can’t tell at this late date considering their usual proximity to one another. Josh B. is the subject of this story. Josh T. deserves his own.
Joshua B., furthermore, was obviously on Cousin Josh’s turf in 1856 when he married Charlotte Anne McCabe in Delaware. The couple moved to Missouri but the border wars preceding and continuing through the Civil War sent them back to the safety of the East. Their two oldest children, Isaac Walter and Hetty or Hattie, were born in Missouri. The name was spelled Hetty in the 1870 census and Hattie in the 1880 census.
What brought J.B. to Huerfano County is unknown, but there were plenty of Missourians populating the county in those early days and it is possible he was acquainted with one of these.
It is written that J.B. was on his new ranch on the Huerfano River for three years before his family came west. They took the train as far as they could at the time, 1868, to Cheyenne, WY, and traveled by wagon pulled by oxen to the homestead. Josh received the patent on his original 160-acre homestead in 1874, and on another 160 in 1879, but gradually built up his ranch holdings to 1,200 acres.
J.B. also bought up some water rights, and owned at least three ditches. One of these was known as the Mill Ditch because it ran across a mesa into a 16-inch pipeline to an impressive drop over a cliff onto his flour mill wheel, providing excellent power. The mill was located on his ranch, though farther north than the house.
The ranch ran along the Huerfano and the bottom land was ideal for raising crops. J.B., along with others, was said to have grown the first alfalfa in Huerfano County. The higher ground was used for livestock. J.B. sold some of his beeves to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as it worked its way west.
Once settled in their log cabin on the Huerfano, Josh and Charlotte had more children, namely Timothy McClure in 1870, Virgil Dillon about 1872, Dollie about 1875, Charlotte about 1877 and finally, Joshua B. Jr. in 1880. The log cabin gave way to a larger home. With a growing family, J.B. saw the need for a school, and put up a one-room building for that purpose on his ranch. It doubled as a church until 1881 when the community gathered to donate $400 to build a bigger building for the same purposes, and no doubt closer to town.
Josh B. was elected county commissioner in the 1870s and served one term.
About 1874 J.B.’s mother, who had emigrated west with the rest of the family in 1868, died. She was buried on the ranch and J.B. gave over use of the land around her grave for the future Gardner Cemetery. Her gravestone reads “Dollie A. Hudson, 86 years, the first to sleep in this sacred spot.”
Around 1892 J.B. established the Hudson store in Gardner in the former Sam Jacks mercantile. This he later turned over to his son Tim to operate. Tim married Addie Viola Cropsy in 1896, and her stepfather, George J. Ingraham, bought into the business, resulting in the Hudson-Ingraham Mercantile Company.
Mary Tirey recalled her grandfather considered the area around Gardner too crowded in the 1890s, so took up freighting farther west. Charlotte died at age 54 on November 4, 1896. The daughter Hetty or Hattie had married Ernest Graham and was said to have died about 1890 with her twin infants.
In 1902 J.B. sold the ranch on the Huerfano, along with the flour mill, to Joseph M. Murray and Graves R. Benson for $11,750. It was later sold to the Meyer brothers and bits and pieces of it have been changing hands since.
It was then J.B. moved to the former St. Vrain place lower on the Huerfano. Here he had a big apple orchard, from which he supplied the nearby coal camps with fruit, cider and applejack. His son Walter (not to be confused with his cousin Walter), may have been providing J.B. a home, as Walter’s home address was in the St. Mary’s community. Meanwhile, Dollie had married H.H. Churchill of Pueblo and Charlotte married M. Young Farr of Walsenburg. These two couples eventually moved to California. Virgil, too, had moved to Pueblo.
Joshua Bains Hudson died Sept. 8, 1905, 106 years ago today.
Josh B. Jr. married Theodosia Evelyn Thorne in 1907. He joined his brother Tim in the mercantile business. By this time the store had one of the first telephones in Gardner, a millinery department and an elevator, probably the only one EVER located in the upper Huerfano Valley. Tim also had one of the first automobiles in the community, purchased in 1910. That same year, the Hudson-Ingraham Mercantile was incorporated.
Tim left the store for other interests, mostly banking and publishing. In 1933 Josh teamed up with Nick and Bill Agnes in the Hudson-Agnes Mercantile. Tim still owned the building the store occupied. He had built it in 1895. Josh sold out his interest in the business after many years. In 1961 the Huerfano Valley or Gardner Co-Op took over the building and it burned down in 1966.
Tim was elected to the state senate in 1924 and served one term. His wife Addie was a poet and earned the honor of being named Poet Laureate of Colorado. They had no children.
Josh Jr. and Evelyn had two children, Tim Thorne Hudson who died at 15 in 1927, and Mary Viola, born in 1908 and died in 1985. Mary was something of a legend in her own right, teaching at the Gardner School for 35 years and working as the Gardner correspondent for the World-Independent and later the Huerfano World for nearly 50 years. Her last column was written just a week before she died. She had married Alton Tirey in 1929 and their only child, Ray Allen, was killed in a truck accident at age 21.
Josh and Evelyn celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1957. He died in 1963 and she in 1964. They are buried with their grandmother, parents and brother in the Gardner Cemetery on the old Hudson farm.