|General William R. Judson was born in the town of Butternuts, Otsego
Co., N.Y., Oct 25, 1810. His father, Silas B., was a lineal descendant
of William Judson, who came from Stratford-on-Avon, England, and settled
in Stratford, Conn., in the 1634. His parents coming from Newtown,
Conn., were early settlers of Otsego County, and in the year 1812 removed
to the Chemung Valley, first settling on the memorable battle-ground of
1779, where Sullivan won his victory over Butler and Brant. They
subsequently removed to Seeley Creek, where the father died in the year
1842, the mother dying three years previous. His father, Silas Burton
Judson, prior to leaving Connecticut, was ensign of a company of militia,
with commission dated 1793, and subsequently ranked as lieutenant, with
commission dated 1791.
General Judson spent his boyhood days at home, and at the age of sixteen
was apprenticed for a term of three years with Major L. J. Cooley, to learn
the saddlery and harness trade; at the close of which time, after serving
one year as a journeyman, he purchased his stock and trade and with W.
Merwin as a partner, continued the business until 1841, when he sold out
his interest to Wm. Hoffman, Jr. In 1844 he engaged in the lumber
business, which he continued for some six years; and from then until
the time of writing this sketch, 1878, he has been engaged in the purchase
and sale of real estate in Elmira and the States of Michigan and Kansas,
retaining his home at Elmira. From 1856 to 1866 he made twenty-one
round trips from Elmira to Kansas.
General Judson’s military record runs through a period of some thirty years, and forms no unimportant part in the outline history of his life. In 1834 he volunteered in the light infantry company called the “Elmira Guards,” commanded by Captain Wheeler, and was associated in the company with many honored citizens of Elmira, as General Gregg, Colonel Hoffman, Captain J. Hoffman, George W. Hoffman, John D. Williams, Captain Stephen Lewis, Lieutenant Vorhees, and many others of distinction, and it was frequently said by the brigade and division commanders to be the best company in the division.
April 30, 1834, he was commissioned captain of the 79th Regiment of Infantry, State of New York, by Governor Marey, and June 20, 1835, lieutenant-colonel, and June 16, 1842, colonel of the same regiment by Governor Seward. July 21, 1846, he was commissioned captain of a company of the 6th Regiment of Volunteers, State of New York, for the Mexican war, by Governor Silas Wright, with R. E. Temple as colonel and adjutant general.
Loyal to the patriotism of his country, when the late Rebellion broke out, and the enemies of the government were in the ascendency on the frontier of Kansas, General Judson offered his services, ranking as major of Frontier Battalion, State of Kansas, with commission dated Aug. 5, 1861. Sept. 10, 1861, he was commissioned colonel of 6th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and for gallant and meritorious services rendered during the war was commissioned, March 13, 1865, brevet brigadier-general by Andrew Johnson, President of the United States.
To trace General Judson’s military history in the West would be to give a sketch of the various battles, marches, and privations of the regiment with which he was connected; hence we give a few extracts from records written at that time.
From the Fort Scott Bulletin, April 3, 1863: “Last Monday witnessed an ovation on the part of the citizens and military of Fort Scott to Colonel Judson and his gallant regiment worthy of their valorous deeds in the many hard fought battles which crowned with laurels the victorious banners of the Army of the Frontier in their recent splendid campaign in the southwest. Passing the Wilder House and turning to the right to the outskirts of the town, the escort formed in front of Lieutenant Clark’s camp, and the Sixth formed immediately in front and facing them, the escort giving ‘three rousing cheers and a tiger for Colonel Judson and the gallant Sixth.’ A ball in the evening to Colonel Judson at the Wilder House, where the guests tripped the light fantastic toe until the ‘wee sma’ hours of morning,’ thus closed a day long to be remembered by Fort Scott.”
Correspondent of Leavenworth Conservative, Aug. 10, 1863: “I see here many of the old Kansas favorites; of course they cluster around the chief favorite-the noble and gallant Blunt. Colonel Judson’s calm smile, pleasant manners, sagacious prudence, his zeal and courage, and ripened judgment have an admirable field for their exercise. He has reduced confusion to order, and shaped the stragglers, the Indians, and the irregular troops into something like the order and form of an army. There are few men of his rank in the service who have more strictly military ideas, or a better method of carrying them into effect than Colonel Judson.”
During the entire military service of General Judson he was only wounded once, which was at Fort Smith, Arkansas. In the year 1834 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Major Charles Orwan, an early settler of Elmira. By this union there were born three sons and three daughters, - Mrs. George A. Reynolds, Charles O., Mrs. E. S. Lowman (deceased), William R., John, and Clara B. (deceased). His wife died March 1, 1859, and he married, in 1861, Mrs. Aurora H. Danforth, daughter of Thomas Hulitt, of Rutland Co., Vt., by whom he had one son, -Thomas H. His second wife died June 19, 1870, and he married Sarah K., daughter of Dr. Erastus L. Hart, of Elmira, with whom he now lives.
Charles O. and William R. Judson, Jr., volunteered at the time of the first call for troops on the Kansas frontier, and remained in the service during the entire war.
C.O. Judson was captain of a squadron of cavalry, and detailed as provost marshal of the post at Fort Smith, Arkansas. W.R. Judson, Jr., was appointed first lieutenant in the same company, and came in command of the company after C.O. Judson was detailed as provost marshal; both of these sons were in the same service over four years in their father’s regiment.