Thomas J. Hudson.Forty-six years ago, in 1866, there came to Kansas a young Indiana school teacher, who, like the state to which he had come, had but entered upon an independent career and had yet to prove his merits. Kansas in the interim has achieved a remarkable record among states, and the young teacher, Thomas J. Hudson, has lived a full life, a life of honor and usefulness, which in its accomplishments has made his name stand preëminently among his fellows as a man of superior ability and intelligence. Born Oct. 30, 1839, in Boone county, Indiana, he was reared and received his earlier education in his native county. Later he was a student in the academy at Lebanon, Ind., and also attended Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, Ind., one year. He then taught several terms of school in Boone and Hendricks counties, Indiana, but in 1866 the call of the West brought him to Kansas. He taught school at Coyville, the first common school in Wilson county, and assisted in building the first school house there. After teaching one year in this state he began to prepare for law, the profession he has made his life work. After diligent reading from books furnished by Ruggles & Plumb, of Emporia, he was admitted to the bar, at Iola, Kan., in June, 1869, and immediately located at Fredonia for the practice of his profession. From that time to the present, a period of over forty years, he has been one of Wilson county's most prominent men of affairs. As a lawyer he soon displayed great aptitude and ability, rose rapidly at the bar, and early acquired a large and profitable practice, which as years have passed has extended to adjoining states. He is admitted to practice in the state and Federal courts and in the United States Supreme Court, and his clientage is a representative one. Along in the '70s Mr. Hudson was the attorney for Fredonia in the county seat contests of that period. An adverse decision from the supreme court of the state lost the first election for Fredonia, but in the meantime Mr. Hudson, with characteristic energy, set about to secure a second election, and that time he won out in the supreme court and Fredonia became the county seat of Wilson county. He was then a young lawyer, and the same energy and determination shown in that case have marked his whole subsequent career. He is a Democrat, and early in his career began to take an active part in political affairs. In 1869 he was elected to the state legislature, as a member of which body he gave his vote in favor of the adoption of the Fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States, that amendment giving the right of suffrage to the colored people. He served four terms as county attorney of Wilson county and an equal number of terms as mayor of Fredonia, and for several years was a member of the Fredonia board of education, of which he served as the first treasurer. While in that position he effected the sale of six per cent. school bonds at par, a transaction then unprecedented in Kansas. In 1892 he was elected to the Fifty-third congress by a majority of 2,500 votes and was unanimously nominated for reëlection, but declined the nomination. During 1897 and 1898 he was a member of the board of regents of the Kansas State Agricultural College, at Manhattan, and was its loan commissioner, in which capacity he handled several hundred thousands of dollars without the loss of a dollar. In 1908 he was the Democratic candidate for Congress, but was defeated, owing to the large Republican majority in his district. He has long been a close student of political economy and has given deep thought to many of the vital problems that confront our government. For over twenty years he has contended for such legislation, both by the National Government and the state, as would require all banks chartered by either the National Government or the state to guarantee their depositors, thus effectively preventing money panics. He has always opposed class legislation and particularly tariff laws, contending that the general government should levy instead as much tax as is necessary to meet its expenses. He has always fought graft in every form and generally at his own expense. He has long favored an amendment to the constitution, providing for the election of federal judges and United States senators.
Fredonia is well favored in its railroad facilities, in the securing of which no one labored more earnestly than did Mr. Hudson. When the building of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad was contemplated he was one of a committee of Fredonia citizens that went to St. Louis in an endeavor to persuade the capitalists of that project to build their road through Fredonia. This mission was successful, largely through the efforts of Mr. Hudson, who was spokesman for the committee. He helped to organize and served as the attorney for the local company of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad when that road was being built, and in a similar capacity contributed liberally of his time and means to secure the assistance of the New York capitalists in the building of the Missouri-Pacific railroad through Fredonia. He wrote and circulated the petition asking for a new court house for Wilson county, and in the litigation which followed this request represented the petitioners through each court to the supreme court of the state, where he won their cause. He was one of the organizers of the Wilson County Bank, and in connection with Isaac Hudson, his brother, built the opera house block, one of the handsome and substantial structures in the business part of Fredonia. Besides those interests he owns a fine ranch of several hundred acres near Fredonia, where he is extensively engaged in the breeding and raising of Short Horn cattle.
On Oct. 5, 1870, Mr. Hudson was united in marriage to Miss Emma Campbell, of Topeka, but a native of Pennsylvania, from which state her parents, Francis and Elizabeth (Nichols) Campbell, removed to Kansas, in 1858. The father's people originally came from Massachusetts. Mrs. Hudson is a descendant on her mother's side of Peter Brown, of the Mayflower, and of Capt. John Brown, of the Revolutionary war, who was the grandfather of John Brown, of Osawatomie. Mrs. Hudson was educated at Washburn College, having been the first young woman enrolled in that institution, then known as Lincoln College. Mr. and Mrs. Hudson have two sons and four daughtersLois (widow of the late Guy Allen), Andrew, Elizabeth, Thomas J., Blanche, and Marjorie. Mr. Hudson and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Fredonia, of which he was one of the organizers. Fraternally he affiliates as a member of the Masonic order, in which he has attained the Scottish Rite degrees. He is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he was one of the organizers and charter members at Coyville, and later at Fredonia.Pages 280-282 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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