Few realize is how the dedication of Hudson’s namesake family made the coastal area what it is today.
This week, we look back at the beginnings of Hudson and the efforts put forth by the Hudson family to establish and name what eventually became the thriving settlement that we now know.
The Hudson Family
The Hudson family first arrived to Pasco County ca. 1869. However, their first choice in residency wasn’t the coast; instead they opted for 40 acres in the small, east Pasco community of Chipco where they lived for about 8 years.
After Isaac Washington Hudson Sr. became stricken with bronchial troubles, believed to have been caused by the many un-drained swamps and bay-heads around Chipco, the family sought a healthier climate.
Believing like many that the salt air would relive his ailments, the family headed west to the Gulf coast.
According to the recollections of Joseph Byrd Hudson, in 1877, the family built a couple of small log houses near a big spring and by February,1878, had decided to permanently move—settling on land they did not yet own.
With them, they brought enough corn, bacon, sugar, and syrup to last until they could plant crops. The small log houses built the year before sustained the family until a permanent home was built—one house being used for the storage of supplies while the family of 11 lived in the other.
Within just a few months, on August 3, 1878, the Hudsons suffered the tragic loss of their beloved daughter Ida Melissa Hudson, who became the first burial in what is now known as the Hudson Cemetery.
But, this loss didn’t dismay the family and instead they drudged on to carve out a new life on the coastal frontier.
By 1880, construction of the family’s new home was completed and Isaac Sr. began selling produce from his crops, which brought good profits. From these proceeds, the family purchased 200-plus acres, including the new cemetery and the location they settled a few years prior.
But, this was the only the beginning of a decade-long venture to establish a new town and all the amenities that went along with it.
A Town is Born
Following Isaac Senior’s significant land acquisition, the family went to work to build a town.
One of their first objectives was to establish a small mercantile store where goods and provisions could be bought and exchanged.
Situated on the banks of the big Hudson Spring and built with a deck extending out to accept incoming boats, brothers John William and Joseph Byrd Hudson built the Hudson Mercantile Store—the community’s first general store.
Here, they frequently marketed a variety of goods, including cured pork, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and 30 gallon barrels of cane syrup which they imported by boat from Cedar Key.
From there, the family went to work to establish a post office. On May 4, 1882, John William Hudson signed and completed the application requirements to establish the community’s first post office.
According to the original post office application, the new post office was to be located on land owned by John William Hudson, who would also serve as its first postmaster.
While young Isaac Jr. suggested the name Gulf View Post Office, Isaac Sr. and John William decided on the more appropriate name of Hudson’s Landing, which was submitted.
However, when final approval was received from the Postmaster General in Washington, they must have been shocked to learn the name Hudson’s Landing was shortened to the simple name of “Hudson”.
But, with this change, the post office was approved and a new community name was born.
With its general store, post office, and a few scattered settlers, the new Hudson community was beginning to take its shape.
Sometime between 1882 and 1884, Isaac Sr. hired survey crews to formally plat their land into a town site, which also carried the family name and that of the new post office.
Following this move, the family began marketing their prime coastal land to prospective buyers, who mainly relied upon farming and fishing for their livelihoods.
However, their attentions would soon divert from creation to expansion as a new era of development began.
A Legacy Continued
On August 3, 1892, at age 67, Isaac Washington Hudson Sr. died and was buried next to his daughter, who died 14 years earlier to the day.
However, it’s likely he died knowing that his legacy of building a town would be carried on by his heirs.
In 1894, two years after Isaac Senior’s death, the services of resident surveyor Henry Clay Bush were retained, and the town site was expanded to cover an area stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to today’s Fivay Road.
According to plat maps, this expansion not only included the burial ground of Hudson’s founder, Isaac Sr., but it also formally designated the site as a cemetery.
The turn of the 20th century not only brought new industry, but there was also a new generation of pioneers who made Hudson their home and expanded upon the key concepts of a town created by founder Isaac Hudson.
Hudson witnessed new growth which included the arrival of the railroad, a telegraph office, several new general stores, a hotel, boarding houses, churches, the expansion of the fishing and sponging industries, and let’s not forget the major highway we now call U.S. 19.
In 2010, the community of Hudson boasted a population of 12,158, according to censusviewer.com. That's a 76,000% increase since 1886 when the population was recorded at 16, according to the Florida Gazetteer.
Today, we can say Hudson, Florida has been placed on maps because of the courageous pioneers who worked towards a better community for all, and nearly 140 years after the arrival of our first settlers, Hudson continues to grow with the addition of new roads, subdivisions, schools, and churches.
For more information on the early history of Hudson, check out my book Images of America: Hudson.